Rachael recovers from the West Highland Way...with the highest mountain in Britain!
After 8 days of walking, covering 96 miles of varied terrain on Scotland's West Highland Way
, your average hiker would be forgiven for feeling a little weary and taking advantage of a lie in and a relaxing day in Fort William.
Rachael Moseley is not your average hiker! After turning 10 years of age on her final day of the West Highland Way, she was keen to keep the momentum going and tackle Ben Nevis the following morning!
If you haven't read our blog about the inspirational young hiker
, you must!
Rachael called us on Thursday to thank us for the sheep shaped birthday cake which had been waiting with her at the Myrtle Bank Guest House in Fort William, and we had a good chat about the hike, and I arranged to meet her and dad Ian the following morning to hear more about it, and possibly climb Ben Nevis (depending on how the pair felt).
I joined Rachael on Friday morning in Fort William, partly expecting them to feel a little less enthusiastic about climbing the highest peak in Britain, but when I arrived both were ready and raring to go!
Rachael's enthusiasm rubbed off, and we were soon clambering up the rocky path on one of the finest sunny days of the year so far. We chatted about her favourite part of the West Highland Way (feeding the wild deer at King's House), how resoundingly she had beat her Dad at their "spot the..." contest along the way, and the most fitting way to dispose of her walking boots (currently on their final hike, as she had almost outgrown them): Set fire to them? Turn them into a plant pot? Frame them? Her first pair, which she completed the Coast to Coast in, are on display in their guest house Old Water View in Patterdale dad Ian informed me; "They are so tiny, and quite a talking point".
I told her to keep them... I don't doubt she'll be a big celebrity one day and they'll make fortunes on e-bay!
We knew there would be some snow on the route, being early in the season, so were prepared for the cold. Despite low temperatures though, climbing in the spring sunshine was a sweat-inducing experience and we were soon panting. Rachael quickly solved that by dropping some ice down her back, with the inevitable accompanying squeals! We made it as far as the path went before being blocked by ice and snow. There was another route to the summit, but it was a bit of a scramble. Being a clear day it was safe and many other walkers were taking it on. "Do you want to stop here and go back?" asked dad Ian and I, surveying the scramble. There was a resounding "no" and we carried on!
We made the tough scramble and reached a cairn within sight of the summit, however we declined the final stretch across an icy snow-field (even on a clear sunny day, Ben Nevis can present dangers and Rachael wisely agreed that we wouldn't take any risks).
Feeling on top of the world, Rachael and Ian took celebratory photos for friends and family, and we enjoyed a rest. The descent offered a few challenges; having started 2014 on crutches with an ankle injury, Rachael was feeling some effects but bravely soldiered on and we took great delight in a celebratory cola (beer for dad!) in the Ben Nevis Inn at the bottom of the mountain.
"Fran", said Rachael, "I'm really glad you joined us today". On the contrary, the pleasure was all mine, and I was honoured to meet such a bright & enthusiastic young lady, bursting with determination and charm. We had a wonderful day, and all at Macs Adventure wish Rachael many more fantastic adventures (and hope she remembers us when she's a famous explorer!).