Our Day with Mr. Nevis

Boy, thanks for all of your fun comments about our UK trip.  I promise, this will be the last of it, and then we’ll try and get back to some regular posts around here.  (Although, the weather is changing around here, and when that happens, I go more into planning mode than actual doing mode, so not much exciting is happening around here.)

As I mentioned before, we had one day that didn’t exactly go as planned.  One thing I really wanted to do on a visit to Scotland, was hike Ben Nevis — after all, 100,00 people a year can’t be wrong, can they?  It’s the highest mountain in the UK and I thought it would be fun to make the hike and check out the gorgeous views.  The hike was planned for our last day in Scotland and it’s estimated to take 8 – 9 hours, so I knew we needed to get an early start.  At the end of the hike, we had to drive 3 hours to be able to spend the night near the airport to fly out the next day.  The afternoon before our hike, we went to the visitors center so that we would know where we needed to be the next morning.  I asked the people at the desk what the forecast was for the next day.  She said not as rainy but the winds were predicted to be pretty high.  I thought Great! and made some stupid comment about “What’s a little wind — as long as it’s not rainy.”  They were probably laughing hysterically as we left and thinking poor, dumb American tourists.

Anyway, we hit the trail, bright and early the next morning.  Awww, look at SweetiePie — doesn’t she look happy?  We’d been hiking for about 45 minutes and the drizzly rain had stopped.  We took that as a good sign.  It was a little breezy though (it’s hard to tell, but the wisps of SweetiePie’s hair give it away.)

Hike Ben Nevis

At this point, we’re getting a little higher.  I commented to SweetiePie, “Look how quickly and easily we can gain some altitude.”  Ha.

Hike Ben Nevis

Onward and upward.  Those rocks are fun on the way up.  Not so much on the way down.

Hike Ben Nevis

Shortly after that little break in the drizzle, it started to pour.  And the wind came with it.  Oh that sweet little wind that I thought would be no problem.  Fighting the wind made the climb seem twice as hard.  After about 2 1/2 hours, we passed a couple coming back down.  I asked them if they’d been to the top already and they said no, they decided to turn around.  Hmmm, that’s kind of sad, I’m thinking.  Then about 30 minutes later (and a LOT more wind and rain) the family of five that had been behind us split up.  The mother and the youngest little boy turned around, the father and the two older boys (only about 8 and 10) continued on.  I knew that they had been on this hike before, the fact that they turned around should probably have been a clue.  We hiked on.  The thing about Scottish weather is, that it changes every 15 minutes.  Shortly after the family split up, the sun came out.  And then, I saw sheep on the mountain.  Sheepies!  NOW we’re talking.  We’re soaking wet, the wind is howling, and the temperature is dropping, but there are sheepies.  It MUST be worth continuing, right???  (You can see the trail where we’d already been in the picture below.)

Hike Ben Nevis

So, higher, we go.  Notice, the sheep are gone.  And so is the sun.  At this point, I’m managing to stay a little ahead of SweetiePie.  And while we’re on this little sun-just-went-in break, lets take a minute to talk about our attire.  We had layers of shirts and jackets and then we each had a big poncho thingy to keep us dry.  And jeans.  Funny thing, the sign at the visitor center recommended no jeans.  I just chuckled and said, but we’re tourists and jeans is all we have.  We were SO unprepared.  Those “tarps” were worthless in the wind.  Therefore we both ended up mostly wet.  Soaking wet jeans are No. Fun.  But hey — the view is getting pretty good up here — when the clouds part.  See SweetiePie back there with her plastic poncho?  And uncovered head?

Hike Ben Nevis

That didn’t last very much longer, as the temps were dropping.  Luckily, we had both bought souvenir hats and mittens the day before, so we busted them out.  At this point, we passed a couple who had been to the top and asked them how much longer.  They said about 45 minutes and it was really cold at the top.  They sort of eyed our attire and hopefully said, “Be Careful!”.  We talked about turning around, but thought, it really couldn’t get any worse, could it?  The wind and rain were awful, but couldn’t we stand 45 more minutes of this?  WE are continuing on! That little comment about things getting worse, probably shouldn’t have been uttered by either of us.  As they say, all hell broke loose and it started sleeting, and WIND-ING and visibility dropped.  (Please notice the fine hikers below.  They were properly dressed, had a walking stick, and were clearly not clueless like us.)

Hike Ben Nevis

Moving right along, we kept climbing.  About 30 minutes later we passed another couple and asked “how much farther”.  “About 30 minutes, depending on your pace”.  I also asked them if there was a shelter on top — I envisioned a little place where we could hide from the wind, have a little snack and catch our breath.  No shelter — just a wall from some ruins and a lot of sleet and ice.  We hiked on a little longer, but by now, my pace resembled that of a snail.  My legs were so wet and cold they were barely working.  SweetiePie asked me again if I wanted to turn around.  “I” didn’t want to be the one to say “yes”, so she finally put me out of my misery and said it.  Only 30 minutes from the top and we threw in the white flag.  But, before we turned around, we had to take a few pictures.  See?  We were higher than the other mountains.

Hike Ben Nevis

We’d just barely started back down and that blasted sun came back out!  Arrrgggghhhh.  This is a forced smile, I’ll have you know.  And notice the billowing poncho — the wind had let up at this point, but it was still blowing.

Hike Ben Nevis

At least it cleared up enough to take a few pictures.  We thought it might stay this way, but we were Oh. So. Wrong.  Winds and sleet, just as bad as before, all the way down.

Hike Ben Nevis

And Ha!  Look at SweetiePie.  She can’t get out of here fast enough LOL.

Hike Ben Nevis

Sadly, she’d hurt her knee on the way up, so it wasn’t easy getting back down. It took another 3 1/2 hours to make it back to the car.  Notice that plastic poncho is gone — we finally gave up fighting them in the wind.  Wool mittens and hats aren’t very exciting when they’re wet.  And they’re smelly.  Ewww.

Finally, almost at the end.  You can’t really tell it, but it’s still raining.

Hike Ben Nevis

When we got back to the car, we went back to the visitor center to change out of our wet clothes.  I asked the people at the desk if they’d been laughing at me the day before.  She said the winds had been 70 mph in the valley, so they estimated that they were 80 – 90 mph up on the mountain.  No Kidding!  F1 tornadoes are 90 mph.  We both got knocked over by the wind at least twice up there.  We were probably lucky we didn’t get blown of the mountain.  If there hadn’t been so many other stupid people up there, we seriously would have feared for our safety.

And really, I’m probably just lucky SweetiePie didn’t push me over a cliff for getting her into that mess.  She definitely deserves some sort of reward for putting up with my little folly.  After it was all over, I started analyzing what we’d done wrong.  “But, SweetiePie, if we’d just ….” implying that we should try again sometime.  She made some disparaging remarks as to my sanity.  But, you know what?  It’s just like childbirth.  You forget how awful it was.  By the time I get back over there, I’ll probably be too old to attempt it again, but for SweetiePie?  You never know!  (Although, at the height of our misery, we both agreed that TheFirstChild would not be likely to make that hike, so she’s going to have to find some other adventurous soul!)

Whew!  Sorry to ramble on.  It was a grand adventure — someday when she’s a grandma, she can tell her grandchildren about that crazy thing she did with their great-grandma.  Thanks for sticking with all my travel posts.  How ’bout a  giveaway?  A little British bunny pincushion, perhaps?

Bunny Pincushion

You know the drill — leave a comment and we’ll do the RandomManoftheHouse generator in a week — Sunday, September 30 (wow, the end of the month already!)


62 Thoughts on “Our Day with Mr. Nevis

  1. Loved all your UK posts Anna! Such a scary adventure to climb the mountains just with the two of you! The pictures are wonderful!
    And you know I love your pincushion bunny! Thanks for a chance to win one!

  2. I’ve lived in Scotland all my life and have never climbed Ben Nevis … and never will. I admire you both greatly, though, for getting so close. Well done! :o)

  3. Wow, what a story! I probably would have turned around 15 minutes into the rain, I’m pretty whimppy when it comes to rain.

  4. Oh, Anna, I’m so glad you both came back to tell about it! That does not sound like my idea of fun at all. But I will have to say that you must have one of the best daughters in law in the world. Even the pincushion bunny does not look as if he approved, does he?

  5. Sounds like an awesome adventure that you will never forget!

  6. Oh dear. You really really have my sympathy. I have been out in bad weather, gotten, cold, wet, bedraggled. You know what they even about the best-laid plans… I admire your gusto anyway. And yes, this will always be a prominent memory, if not entirely a warm and happy one.
    Please do enter me for the drawing. One of these days I will win one of these giveaways!

  7. I have been on hikes like that here in the smokies. You always think “I’ll just go a bit more, and if it doesn’t get better, I’ll turn around” but you don’t. Thanks for sharing your adventures. Beautiful pictures.

  8. I was with you most of the way, but really, I wanted to yell, “Let’s go back! I’m freezing!” Beautiful views.

  9. Oh Anna, I just laughed and cringed all the way through your story! You are far more adventurous than I, I’m so glad one of us is! You almost made it sound like fun!

  10. Anna, I’m so impressed that you would even attempt a hike like that! Eight to nine hours? Even to give it a go is amazing in my book.

  11. That was quite an adventure. The rain would have gotten to me long before the wind. I can’t stand being wet and COLD! Love your British bunny!

  12. Wow! Those pictures are amazing! I am impressed with your ambition! I don’t think I would have lasted 5 minutes…wind, cold, and rain/sleet..oh my! I don’t think I could handle that! You made some great memories on your trip :) Thanks for sharing!

  13. Terri Fisher on September 23, 2012 at 9:23 pm said:

    Loved the stories of your trip. So many memories

  14. Suzie Lambert on September 23, 2012 at 9:35 pm said:

    Enjoyed your pictures. I was blessed to travel to Scotland with my husband on a business trip 2 years ago and was able to see almost the entire country in a weeks time. Extremely beautiful place! Love Love Love the little English bunny pin cushion!

  15. Glenda in Florida on September 23, 2012 at 9:59 pm said:

    I enjoyed this story! Hubby loves to hike, and many of our vacations include hikes, but never in 90 MPH wind. The most memorable from our last trip was called “Top of Texas” and was in Guadalupe Mountains national park.
    My energy was fading fast, but I declared that I was going to make it “even if I had to crawl”. The blisters lasted more than a month. And, the sunburn wasn’t very pleasant either. But, my name it in the log book at the top of the peak!
    I’ve been collecting bunnies for 36 years.

  16. Wow!! You are THE woman!!! I am impressed! I’ve enjoyed “traveling” to Scotland with you. Thank you for sharing with us!

  17. Wow, what an adventure! I’m such I wimp I would have turned back with the mom and her young child! Congrats for perseverance. Loved all your posts. Thanks for taking us along!

  18. Lynne Tilley on September 23, 2012 at 11:24 pm said:

    What a great adventure, and something you’ll always remember. Thanks for sharing!

  19. This reminded me of clawing our way to the top of Croagh Patrick in the west of Ireland many years ago through fog and wind and cold. The views were worth it though as were yours! Now that you’ve thawed out I’ll bet you’re glad you did it. I’m just happy they didn’t have to send in a helicopter to bring you back down!

  20. Judy1522 on September 24, 2012 at 12:17 am said:

    Great story and pictures. I totally get your not wanting to turn around. When you have put that much effort into a goal and you are that close it is hard to give up. I am glad that you both made it down safely. What a cute pin cushion I absolutely love the fabric.

  21. I tip my hat to both of you. You are brave souls. Glad the ending was happy and that you both still all of your limbs.

    Great photos and stories from the UK,

  22. Hey Anna! You mustn’t hv spoken to the old man behind the desk at the Visitors’ Centre. He took one look at our jeans and told us we wouldn’t make it all the way to the top. He was quite grumpy. Although we were so cold and tired from stupid VWcamping by that point we aquiesced politely.

  23. Oh Anna, I know I shouldn’t giggle but … You’re safe and sound so that’s all that matters but I know exactly how it feels to be up a mountain in the wind and rain. Never had snow, but fog that was utterly terrifying, and a helpful GPs toting husband saying “well, I think the path is this way but we are rather close to the edge and i can’t quite see …”

    Oh and I highly recommend proper walking trousers. They’re ugly as sin but they dry out very quickly after being rained on!

  24. LOL, oh Anna, what a lovely trip! I would of loved that hike…but NOT on such a windy, cold day. I’m so glad you both didn’t get hurt too badly. Beautiful pictures, thanks so much for sharing!

  25. You are all troopers! Oh Pioneers!
    I applaud you all and you are so right that your daughter will never forget (or regret) despite the weather, wind and rocks.

    I’d love to win your little British Bunny – so cute!

  26. I was smiling the whole time I read your post. Some of my family’s favorite and fun stories are about experiences that were….miserable at the time. I’m glad you made it to the top! Now you don’t have to try it again, ha, ha! Although, now you’ve added another item to my list of places I want to go.

  27. Fabulous story on the hike and touring, it just puts me in the vacation get away. Thanks for sharing. Love the British Bunny and the fabric.

  28. It is time to rename your blog to Adventurous Anna! I am so glad you both made it back without incident.

  29. glad you got down safely, I suppose now isn’t the time to tell you that someone died last week on Ben Nevis…….

  30. At least my husband and I aren’t the only ones to do not very smart stuff on vacations…it gives you something to talk about years later though!! LOL! Glad you made it back ok!

  31. That’sthe price you pay for wonderful memories.What surprises and impresses me more than your “dare deviliness” is that you holiday with your daughter in law.You are soooooo blessed xxxxxxxxMAry

  32. Oh my goodness that was an adventure – (mis)adventure!
    And the end of the month really snuck up on me this month….

  33. I love all your vacation pictures and stories.
    My goodness you two were so brave to climb as far as you did in those weather conditions. Just the thought of 8-9 hours spent hiking is enough to send me to the nearest blankie for a cuddle. Glad you made it down safely. Hoping to win your lovely
    British bunny. Cheers!

  34. At least you tried. Me? I would have been in some pub somewhere drinking tea and asking where the closest quilt shop was!

    Would love a Thimbleanna Bunny!!!

  35. This story gave me nightmares…sounds miserable. You are both such sports! Love the bunny! He would fit in well at our home as we’re about all things London since the Olympics (plus my daughter’s crush on the British boy band 1D!). Happy Monday night. Denise

  36. Hello Anna
    Well done for getting so far up. I have walked up Ben Nevis twice (the second time for my 40th birthday in June that year) and it can get really cold and nasty, the June trip was so foggy by the time I got to the top I couldn’t see a thing!
    I would love the cute bunny as well so please include me in your giveaway!

  37. What an awesome trip. What a great story. You’ll remember that forever! The views were great, even though the weather stank! You are one brave soul. I don’t know if I would have made it that far!

  38. Bridgidk on September 24, 2012 at 6:36 pm said:

    OMG!!! I am sooo jealous of your trip. Someday I hope to go anywhere in Europe. The pictures were gorgeous!!! Thank You for sharing!!!

  39. Oh dear – well, you’ll know better next time ….. I might even join you, as I’ve never done the climb. I wouldn’t have a problem with the “no jeans” rule, as I don’t own a pair of jeans!! I’m writing this in the lounge at Sydney Airport, as we wait for our flight to Singapore ….. one more week of fun before we head home!

  40. Oh my Anna, you were both quite brave to go for as far as you did wow. You saw some wonderful views though . It’s been absolutely bucketing down here for the past few days and that’s been just awful so I can sort of imagine what it was like for you two up there.Definitely something to remember.

  41. Well, you are both more determined to reach the top than I would have been! Thanks for the giveaway of the cute British bunny pincushion.

  42. All I’m gonna say is: we should have just gone for Timp. In May. With snow. Because I’m pretty sure you are tough enough to take it. ;)

  43. Anna, I have loved reading about your UK adventures! It is wonderful viewing the world through your blog. And though you didn’t crest Ben Nevis, you have a great story and pictures to prove it! Looking forward to your next trek!

  44. I am glad that you both survived the hike emotionally and physically intact! You got to see Scotland and its weather in all its glory – they don’t talk about 4 seasons in one day for nowt ;-)

    I hope to get posting again soon – my computer had a breakdown but it’s fixed now. I have trips to Spain, Portugal and Switzerland to go and heading off to Italy today……

  45. I do not do rain and bad weather and would have been down that mountain in a flash. We once went up the tallest mountain in Wales because we were on holiday not far away and my husband insisted on it, it was foggy and just not worth the effort for me or the kids but sometimes you have to let a husband get his own way. Glad you enjoyed Britain though. I would love an adorable British bunny, so cute.

  46. Wow! You two are real troopers! I’ve walked uphill and downhill on trails in Yosemite with light snow but I refuse to risk life and limb in the rain and wind. Too easy to slip! Like I said, you two are real troopers! ;p

  47. Wow! You really had an adventure! I would have thrown in the towel much earlier than you did. Bravo even if you didn’t make it to the top.

  48. Karen Snyder on September 26, 2012 at 8:34 pm said:

    Oh my goodness!! You guys are pretty amazing to make it that far, it does sound a little scary! Loved hearing all about your trip – now that I finally made it to Paris in 2012, Scotland is next on my list!! : )

  49. Gosh – what an adventure! Thank goodness it all ended well!

  50. Oh, Anna! My goodness you did have an adventure, didn’t you? Gorgeous pics even though you had crappy weather. Loved all the London shots. Glad you had such a lovely time across the pond. :)

  51. Oh MY! What a hike! That’s one for the family history books…for sure!

  52. Gwen Taylor on September 27, 2012 at 9:04 pm said:

    What an Adventure!! So glad Sweetie Pie didn’t push you over!! That is the sweetest bunny!!! Hope I win!!

  53. Mary ann on September 27, 2012 at 9:07 pm said:

    Such troopers for sure. I couldn’t have gotten anyone to sign on for that hike including me! Glad you’re safe and sound with a family tale (with photos!) that will only grow in drama over the years!

  54. ooh the comment before mine look like spam! Does that go with your credit card?

    All I kept thinking as I read your post is ..You DID decided to holiday in the U.K. WHAT did you expect!? I know I posted about 10 glorious days in Scotland, but that was LAST year and will never ever happen again! LOL

    Please count me in for you bunny..I’d love to have one and it would feel right at home here :o)

  55. i followed the Ben Nevis link before i read your sad tale and thought, “phoosh – not even 4500 feet?!? i’m already a mile high, even i could probably hike that one” … and then i saw the pictures and read your story … sheesh – SweetiePie and Thimbleanna lasted a WHOLE lot longer than Auntia and dianne would have (i almost gave up on the Volksmarch at Crazy Horse – and it wasn’t windy OR raining) and i think that if i ever make it to Scotland, Ben Nevis will NOT be on the List – unless they have an elevator installed by then.

  56. I would love to go to Scotland some day. I don’t think that I want to do any hiking in the Highlands, though. Although, if Jamie Frasier was leading the way in plaid, kilt, and bonnet I might be tempted.

  57. Wow, that would be a super anniversary present for me..hehe :) I am just loving your photos I hope you don’t stop them coming.

  58. It seems everyone I know who has tried to climb Ben Nevis has the very same experience you did. Not fun! Lovely pictures though ;-)

  59. I simply cannot believe you did that. How amazing. A once in a lifetime thing.

  60. Loving those sheepie socks! Glad you had a wonderful trip. :-)

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  62. Enjoyed examining this, very good stuff, thankyou . “Whenever you want to marry someone, go have lunch with his ex-wife.” by Francis William Bourdillon.

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