A mixed group of 24 from the south Leeds community this month (21-22 October) travelled to the Highlands to hike up Ben Nevis – the highest peak in the UK, at 1345m.
Early on the Saturday morning, the group left Beeston’s Hamara Centre with an 8 hour drive up to Fort William ahead.
The mood on the bus was excitement: talk about the trip, and what lay ahead. I noticed a few familiar faces from previous trips to Nevis and Snowdon. The weather was wet, but spirits were high.
We arrived at the hostel before dark, allowing those camping time to pitch their tents in the daylight, while those staying in the hostel booked in. We had a warm meal together, and the campers got a fire going – but it was pretty dull with the rain.
We awoke early, before dawn – eager to start. The rain was still pouring, with no sign of it stopping: the forecast was more rain, and wind with gusts of 35mph. And cloud covered much of the mountain.
But undeterred, we set off!
The walk is quite a steep climb along paths and steps up to the 700m halfway mark: to even get here is an achievement in itself. Then it’s steadily upwards along loose stone paths all the way to the top. The cold hits you around 800m up, and many turn back – but the reward is the top for those brave enough to go on. I was walking with a friend, encouraging him to push himself as far as possible – while keeping in mind our safety, and timings (we had to get back down for 3pm). It was his first time attempting Nevis, and he did well to get as far as he did.
We made good time on the walk down, enjoying the views as we came back out of the clouds. At the bottom, the others slowly returned – with smiles on their faces, satisfied at reaching their own goals. Then onto the minibus, and homeward. Everyone was tired and some slept. But after a break, we talked non-stop – and I think we all learned lots about each other, and made a few new friends. We arrived back in Leeds at 2am!
The trip was amazing, I enjoyed every minute, and look forward to the next adventure. Thanks to Hamara and St Luke’s Cares for providing the minibuses, and everyone who made the trip happen. For anyone interested in planning next year’s hikes, join us on Wednesday 8 November, 6pm at the old Holy Spirit church on Tempest Road in Beeston.
This post was written by Colin Mabey using our Create an article for South Leeds Life page.