We got to the foot of Ben Nevis around 5:30. The weather was Scottish, in the “Glasgow Kiss” sense of the word. When we set off, the guide said we would go slow. He had a dog, and so I trusted him. This was a mistake. Because of the wind, the rain wasn’t so much falling as it was streaming horizontally across my face. Incidentally, I learned that the term “waterproof boots” was intended as more of a hope than a promise.
We got about halfway before the guide got a text saying the winds were too strong to continue; at around 70mph, they could blow us off the peak, so we had to turn around and go back. This was, in a way, disappointing; we’d made the journey this far, and “The 2.5 Peaks Challenge” didn’t have quite the same ring to it. But there was a bright side. By getting ahead of schedule, we could arrive at Scafell Pike four hours earlier, when it would still be daylight and dry, instead of the original plan which had us climbing at night in the wind and rain. So there was that, and I was, for a moment, happy for the blessing in disguise that would have us speeding ahead up the mountain.
The coach broke down. We lost all the time we had gained earlier in the programme. You’d think we were the Track team.
After waiting around in the wrong car park for half an hour, we finally began our climb of Scafell Pike. The weather was English, in the “Millwall fan after a loss” sense of the word. There was a small stream to cross, and I succeeded in not getting my feet wet. Half an hour later, the rain had taken care of that for me. Visibility was about five metres; when we reached the peak, there was a stunning view of some rocks being rained on.
I can’t sleep in cars or coaches, so by the time we reached Snowdon I was so tired I could almost forget that I was in Wales. The climb, and the climb down, was actually quite good. Uneventful, but relaxing, like a T-40. There was a café at the peak, and a shop selling waterproof gloves, about 24 hours after I needed them. But my socks were dry, and a man needs his victories where he can find them.
So on the one hand, it was about as much fun as bringing a stairmaster into the shower and going up and down for twelve hours. On the other hand, we achieved something, and on a weekend too, which is rare for a DWWP team that wouldn’t know physical labour if it deservedly punched them in the face. So there’s that.