Won't bore you with the details but my first munro is to be featured in Trail magazine. Long story about how that came about, ask me for the details if you're interested.
Anyway yeah I'm ashamed to say I'd never been further north than....... well .... Pitlochry! I know, I know shameful living in our lovely country and not having ventured out in it. I'm making up for that now. So I started out on Tuesday afternoon, after a morning at work, for the drive north to Aviemore. I notice the rain coming in and the scenery getting lovelier the further north i drive. I'm hoping it's not raining for my big day tomorrow. I arrive at the guesthouse (Ravenscraig guest house http://www.aviemoreonline.com/index.htm ) and check in, then head out to see the bright lights of Aviemore!! (joke!) and take a drive along to Glenmore Lodge so i know where I'm going the next day (I've to be there by 9am). It's only about 15 minutes drive and the views are amazing so i stop off at a lay by and take some pictures of Loch Morlich and Cairngorm.
I'm undecided about what to have for dinner and settle on the Cairngorm Hotel (plus it's the only place i can find that showing the football ). So there i am settled in, ready and they put two different games on each tv. Sound goes up on the Italy V France game, I'm happy - Holland V Romania doesn't mean much after all, then in walks 4 Dutch people and they request the sound up for the boring Holland game! Rubbish. Oh well i can still see the Italy game so it's fine. So after the games have finished i make a quick exit as the Tuesday night pub quiz is about to begin!
Anyway my day starts with a hearty breakfast at the guesthouse and i have to admit I'm a bit nervous so i can't finish it all. Fruit juice, eggs, bacon, sausages, tea and lashings of toast. Too much for me on a week day but i force as much down as i can as i know I'll need it today. I say my goodbyes ('m not paying as it's all been paid for me!!) then i set off for my adventure. Oh no the butterflies are starting to happen now. At least it's not raining, it's a nice sunny morning in fact. I arrive at Glenmore Lodge and get my boots on, lock the car and head to reception. It all seems very friendly and I'm met by Alison who will be my mountain guide and Nigel (head of training). We head for a cup of tea and a chat then Claire and tom from Trail arrive. They all seem like really nice people.
We head off at about 9.30am along a long, easy smooth track that runs straight from the lodge through a forest of old scots pine trees and passes a beautiful lake with the greenest water you've ever seen - Lochan Uaine. We come to a fork in the track and go right - the left one takes you to Ryvoan Bothy. The track goes on for a bit more and becomes a bit more gravelly. We come to a small wooden bridge and decide this is good for our first break. It is here i get my first sight of Bynack More. It looks pretty high! I get some guidance from Alison on how to read the map and use the compass. I have done some a way long time ago at school but geography was one of my favourite subjects. (Yes, i am a geek!). So we head on again and in between time we stop for a few minutes while Tom takes some pictures (hope he gets my good side ha ha). I am not entirely comfortable with this picture taking malarkey but I do it. Alison confides she is not liking this part either - phew, thought it was only me. The chat ranges from tips and hints for a first time munro bagger (me!) to the use of the words 'munro-bagger' - apparently some people get a bit sensitive and do not like being referred to as a 'munro bagger' or deny that they actively use a tick list! Why?? Anyway we are now making a steady ascent and I'm starting to feel the burn in my legs. We decide to keep going and I'm told I'm a natural and am making good progress at a steady pace. I worry I'm going to be left at the back! I say this worries me a bit and am told that you should go at your own pace and if you are out with more experienced walkers they should be considerate and not rush way ahead of you. I'm told that you'll get there just the same at a slow and steady pace - the tortoise and the hare story!!
We're now about half way there and stop for a bite to eat and more water. We are on a fairly level plateau now, a vast gently rolling upthrust of pink granite and the wind is starting to become stronger. The views are fantastic and more photos are taken. I look up and see what i think is the summit but am told the summit is out of view (I'm finding a pattern to these summits!) A jet flies over in the distance and twists and turns from side to side and i wonder what it muse be like to do that!!! But no, i have to focus on my current task in hand. After about 20 minutes we head off again and up ahead i can see a much steeper part that doesn't appear to have an obvious track (uh oh!). Alison gets me to scramble over a fairly large flat rock, the camera clicks in the background, that was a fairly easy thing i think to myself. I'm not scared of heights or anything but never imagined I'd be climbing over rocks and stuff. High five Ange! So we head off and start our ascent to the summit.
The weather is kind of closing in so it's time for the waterproofs to go on. I already have my jacket on and then proceed to embarrass myself by struggling trying to get my trousers on. What an idiot. Now if you've been reading these blogs form the start you'll know that i have only recently taken up this hill walking business and am slowly buying kit. I realised as i struggled on a rock in the wind and rain, that this was the first time I'd tried getting my waterproof trousers on over my boots. Of course I've tried them on in the house - in my bare feet, but not with the boots. I tried to play it cool and pretended the zip was stuck, i don't think they noticed ha ha. So i got them on eventually and this was another to be another photo op on the rocks in the rain (well it was really on a small shower).
So onwards and upwards, I'm getting used to this rock climbing thing apart from a few hairy moments and slips but on the whole it's fine and a pretty good feeling when you look down and see what you've done. I look up and see what i think is the summit and I'm told, yes you guessed it, this is not the summit it's about another few metres away - of course it is! So then i catch sight of the summit cairn and reach it at just over 3 and a half hours, not bad going for a first timer i say. Woohoo! congratulations all around and few souvenir snapshots are taken, then we take shelter from the wind and have another food/drink break. The views are amazing and Alison is showing me different hills and river in the distance. Tom suggest it's Ben Nevis next for me as i seem to have found this one easy - eh I think not!! Claire has meanwhile not asked me many direct questions but has been busily jotting notes down in her tiny waterproof notepad with her broken pencil. Time for the gloves and hats to go on the wind is so strong. I realise now too that my face is starting to sting from the wind and maybe sun too. I have put sunscreen on but not since the morning so i put some more on. I hope i don't have a bright red face in the pictures - oh well if I do it'll match my jacket!
Ok i'm going to stop here as it's taken me an age to write this (and Italy V Spain is coming on too). I'll come back in a bit with 'the descent'...
Angela and Alison at the summit
Tom, Claire and Alison (team 'first munro') Huge thanks guys!
More pics can be found here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ange77h/sets/72157605721766334/