Having overnighted in Stirling we all had a fairly leisurely drive up to Fort William through the wonderful scenery of Glen Coe and The Trossachs. We arrived in Fort William around early afternoon, and after a stop at the local supermarket to stock up on pasta bowls and similar for the trip between the peaks we arrived at the Glen Nevis visitor centre. Our planned start time for our trek up Ben Nevis was 4pm and we all quickly got organised filling our rucksacs with drink and food, and getting our boots on.
A number of Three Peaker groups were leaving before us, and after a brief stop for team photos we finally left at 3.37pm. The rain started falling as we left and headed over the bouncy bridge, which takes you over the river by the car park.
After following along the other side of the river and across a couple of fields the path quickly starts to wind along the hill leading towards Ben Nevis. Soon the path leads upwards and starts to zig zag. After about 30 minutes we came across a group of stationery walkers and it quickly became apparent that an accident further up the path was causing the congestion. This incident is already described in another blog on this site Rescue on Ben Nevis.
We hurried past the casualty quickly to get out of the way before the helicopter arrived to lift him to safety. The path continued to rise up the side of the hill and then passed a cascading stream. By this point we had reach cloud height, the temperature fell and so did visibilty, until we could no longer see anything apart from the immediate path in front of us. The path then got steeper and by a series of 8 zig zags took us closer and closer to the summit. By this time a lot of us were feeling the aches in our legs (this is where our hours of training walks up and down the steep hills around Lulworth Cove were really valuable as we were all able to push on without stopping).
In the mist we could see an area of white ahead. The last day of June and we were slipping across snow! Shortly after this we all reached the summit. It was very cold, and there was no view to see in any direction so after a brief stop for food we turned around and retraced our steps back past the snow and down the mountain. One of our team was taken ill shortly after we started our descent; we think it may have been related to the cold conditions, but she was able to continue down the mountain unaided.
Halfway down the zig zags the cloud cleared to show wonderful views north and west to Fort William and the Isle of Mull. It really is a stunning area; many of the other Three Peakers who pushed past us on the descend hardly lifted their gazes from the path, and definitely missed some fanatastic views. Most of the descent was spent walking in the dry, which was a welcomed change after the climb. We finally arrived back at the car park after 6 and a half hours, a reasonable time considering the hold up for the rescue and the wet weather.The support team were impatiently waiting for us as they were getting bitten to bits by swarms of midges! We all quickly changed, grabbed some food and made off back to Fort William and the drive down to ther Lake District- and Scafell Pike.