Thursday, 28 July 2011

A bath with a view (and what a view!)

A bit out of left field this one, but this was a photograph that we thought was worth sharing, in a location that many of our readers have probably visited.

I must have been to the summit of Ben Nevis 50 times. I haven't counted them, but it's a reasonable guestimate. I've run the Ben Nevis Race 10 times now; my 11th is only a month or so away. And for each year I tend to average 3 training runs to the summit in advance of the race itself. So that's 4 a year for 10 years. Add to that the numerous other ascents including traverses in from the Carn Mor Dearg arrete and several winter routes back in the days when I did such things and it must add at least 10 more.

No wonder then that it's all very familiar up there. Even in a thick mist it's usually quite easy to tell where you are by the easily recognisable rocks and features. And this year I've found myself remarking on how the rocks on the path and the scree on the Red Burn have moved since last year, as each one is so familiar.

So what a breath of fresh air to discover something new on the very summit.

I'd met a couple of pals on the summit, as you do at 8.30pm on a Tuesday evening. They'd come up from the CMD and we quite literally arrived at the summit cairn at exactly the same time. It was all fairly quiet, very warm and perfectly still, so we sat and chatted a while. Another group arrived from the CMD with much drama about being dehydrated and I made the rather glib comment that they should visit the spring that lies close to the ruins of the observatory. Unsurprisingly, this led to disbelief that such a thing existed, and as I'd never seen it myself we went looking.

And there it is. There's a very evident path in the summit stones leading off towards the Steall side the mountain, zig-zagging down past the spring, and ending at the old holding tank. If it had been full of water, I would have been sat in it, enjoying the view, and preferably with a cold beer and some bubble bath.

It's not really surprising that a permanent building on the summit of the mountain would require some sort of nearby regular water supply. What is surprising is that the timber tank is still just sat there, 100 years on, exposed to the elements and the finest weather the Scottish climate can throw at it.

And what a night it was too! What a pleasure to be up there.

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