Microadventures: part two
"After nine years of being a university student with an infinite amount of free time, I recently made the transition to working full-time as a doctor. Becoming a normal person with a real life was a shock to the system, but, I have learned that it is so easy to keep active and adventuring if you alter your perspective on what accounts for a sensible idea!
Sometimes after a hard time at work, there is temptation to rest and recover. But the type of energy involved in having an adventure is so entirely different. It allows your mind to recover and be filled with inspiration and motivation. I have always returned feeling revitalised and energised and ready to start again!"
It’s Friday afternoon, the sun is shining through the window, and I am really enjoying my new job as a GP in Fort William, right in the heart of the mountains.I spend my lunch break browsing OS maps to choose a route for a little adventure I’ve planned. My bag is packed and waiting for me in the car, but I have no idea where we will be going yet, my original plans having gone awry with the unexpected late April snowfall.
I decide on an area at the end of Glen Loy. I’ve never been there before, but at less than 800 metres, the summits should be below the snowline. Maps printed, my excitement builds as the afternoon progresses. 7pm comes and goes I still find myself at work. Not something I’d planned but I don’t mind because the purpose of my adventure is to practice navigating in the dark and spend the night under the stars. As long as I am on a summit by sunrise, I will be quite content!
Driving up Glen Loy I am taken aback by the scale and beauty of my destination. I can’t believe how many breath-taking places there are hiding all around, and how relatively few people will ever find them. As I hike up towards the ridgeline, the sheep scatter – surprised to see me - whilst a deer watches on from above, a majestic silhouette on the skyline. The last rays of sun set behind me over Ben Nevis and ahead I can see the snow-capped remote mountains of Knoydart. There is an almost full moon, which reflects sublimely from the small lochans on the ridgeline.
I succumb to tiredness as I arrive on a plateau just short of the summit of Meall a’Phubuill and decide this will be the perfect vantage point from which to see the sunrise. I tuck up warm inside my sleeping bag under a sky still light from the brightness of the moon.
Waking up during the night, the moon has set and I am treated to a sky laden with a million stars. A few hours later and I wake again to see the most incredible burning bright red light on the horizon behind Ben Nevis and the Grey Corries as the sun gets ready to start the day. But it’s an hour until sunrise, so I drift back to sleep and wait for my alarm to wake me at 5:30. It’s a hard-won battle to draw myself away from my cosy slumber into the surprisingly cold morning, my sleeping bag and rucksack are covered in a thick frost, and my water bottle has frozen solid.
The first rays of sun burst over the horizon as I pack up, lighting up the magnificent landscape; I feel truly privileged to be here. My body warms up as I walk up to the main summit and take in the sensational sights that surround me. The rising sun melts away the thin layers of ice that cover the boulders and puddles, and I descend the mountain on an unexpected yet welcome hot sunny morning that feels akin to midsummer. I am completely revitalised as I walk happily back along the Glen.
I only left civilization twelve hours ago, but I seem to have hit a reset button. Injury has meant that it’s been several months since I’ve been able to rock climb hard or spend a long day in the mountains, and I’ve desperately missed the feeling of pushing myself. In this micro adventure, I found a simple and easy way to spend some time totally immersed in the environment I love. I am reminded now of the simple pleasure of just being in the mountains and I can’t wait to go back for more.
Read more of Anna Wells' microadventures in Microadventure: part one