This weeks feature comes from @louis_e.f_hendrickx who tell us about his recent trip to the Scottish highlands where he spent a couple days exploring the local area including a summit to Ben Nevis. Here’s what he had to say about it..
I’ve always wanted to see scale, and by that I mean mountains, valleys and lakes. Where I live, in the heart of England it’s nothing but flat yet beautiful and often inspiring rolling farmlands views, which I am lucky to call my home but never the less leaves a craving inside to see what the world has to offer. My uncle was and continues to be a mentor for me in many facets of my life, but none more important to me now than being engaged with the outdoors, and when I go to his home in Shropshire to help renovate his garden space and interior he would tell me about great and fascinating places for me to visit, None more elusive and exciting than the Scottish highlands…
I left this idea alone for a while and looked further afield for my mountain dreams like North America and the alps, but my budget would never allow for such places , so me and two of my close friends, who also enjoy seeing the backcountry, sat in our local weather spoons and gathered our thoughts around where to go and what to see. so many lofty goals and ambitions, but one that we were all agreed on, Ben Nevis.
Time passed after our booking was finalised and time off was accepted until the day finally arrived where we would pack my trusty VW golf and set out on the long drive up. I found myself not feeling any inner excitement which was odd as I was the one who championed the idea in the first place, but as soon as we got past Glasgow and entered the cairngorms I knew I was spiritually returning home. Seeing the scale of the mountains which weren’t even close to the tallest and passing by the mighty Loch Ness uplifted me and gave me a sense of real pride in the uk, that we had such majesty on our geographical doorstep, the weather, opening the door with a kind face with the sun beating down made the views that little more special. We made it to our little cabin in the small valley of Cannich, nestled on the steps of the highlands, and settled in ready for the week of unplanned adventures…
For our first summit, Ben Nevis, I was told by many it was ‘a very long set of stairs’ which wasn’t all the way wrong as it was a very well maintained track with plenty of space for the busy foot traffic we experienced as it was such a perfect sunny day for it, but I wasn’t aware all my fellow hikers stairs had such a huge layer of snow at the top ! It was truly like stepping into little slice of the alps, with the heavy cornices which adorned the summits expanse, and the happy trekkers using their gore Tex trousers as sledges as they slid down the icy slopes. I was very aware of the stares that I was gathering by being topless on the summit trig point as my mid layer wasn’t allowing air to pass through and was causing me to over heat, a small thing to learn for my next summit push….
Following a rest day we decided it was time to really see what the highlands were about, so we set off to see the ‘black water falls’ which didn’t disappoint as it gave me exactly what I was looking for, grand flowing falls encased by towering pines and decorated with a bridge which had its history as far as the very first pioneers of the area, We had some food and was back on our way through the huge valleys of twists and turns until we found ourselves at the viewpoint over looking the Isle of Skye, which was as far as we planned, so we could at least say we saw the landscape, but as soon as we set our eyes on those misty mountains, we all knew we had to push on, so with our LOTR sound track we made our way into the very heart and surrounded ourselves with the most impressive mountain scape I think I will set my eyes on for a very long time.Just as we were pinching ourselves with the luck we were having, we topped the day off with a cloudless night sky to gaze upon uninterrupted stars, perfection.
Many great memories were made on this trip, thanks to my two close friends who kept my spirits high as the miles were climbing on my golf’s metre, but I didn’t feel sad to leave, as I knew this was the first of many, many visits to come.