I recently entered the Armchair Mountaineer’s Wild Writing competition, sadly I wasn’t shortlisted, but nevertheless I think it’s a worthwhile story to share on how I got hooked on Munro-bagging and ultimately what ignited my love for the great outdoors.
During a period of extended leave from work thanks to a football injury, I found myself at home with time to burn. I began looking online, indulging a long held childhood dream of owning a VoIkswagen camper van and fantasising of potential adventures on the open road, there’d be no stopping me! Perhaps, just maybe, this dream could become a reality. Increasingly, my enthusiasm grew and I feverently raked through pages and pages of online auction sites. Then, all of a sudden, there it was. Everything I was looking for. I nervously waited for the last few seconds of the auction before placing my bid. With baited breath, I waited. Those last few seconds laden heavy with anticipation and excitement. The van was mine!
Within weeks my partner Nicola and I were enjoying weekends away in the Scottish Highlands. It was everything I had dreamed of. The freedom, the spontaneity, exploring places that we had never been before. Inspired by these new and mystifying surroundings, I had a light bulb moment.. Why don’t we climb Ben Nevis? Just a one off you understand, to say we’ve been to the highest point in the British Isles. Having never done anything like this before, we cobbled together suitable clothing and bought cheap walking boots. We were as ready as we’d ever be.
On a fine July evening we travelled to Fort William and checked into the campsite. Our humble little van was amongst fancy motorhomes and caravans but we didn’t care. In the morning we set off to climb the Ben. Our excitement, although tinged with apprehension, was immense. It was warm and sunny as we walked up the mountain path. We joined the constant stream of people all at different stages, flowing up and down this demanding mountain. We regularly passed familiar faces. We’d ask each other how we were getting on. ‘Great thanks and you’… Those on descent seemed to take great sadistic joy in telling us ‘you’re nearly there’.
We eventually reached the top and what a feeling. It was euphoric. The adrenaline was pumping and the sense of achievement exceptional! Such a great vibe around the summit with other jubilant summiteers. We could see mountains in every direction. I now know these to be the Mamores, the Grey Corries and the Skye Cuillin. After a well earned lunch, we made our way back down. With tired legs and a fading euphoria, we told anyone who dared to ask how far to go that ‘they were nearly there’.
There was no denying it. I was hooked and began researching the Munros. I wanted that feeling again, to feel like I’d climbed to the top of the world and to be greeted with the most sublime views imaginable. The foundations of my fantastic Munro bagging journey were set. The humble wee van has long since been sold, but it was undoubtedly and unexpectedly the catalyst to unlocking my passion for the great outdoors. For that I will be forever thankful.