ben nevis scotland, highest mountain in the uk

Ben Nevis Scotland – climbing the highest mountain in the British Isles, United Kingdom

Ben Nevis Scotland

I am a Scotsman. I am not a separatist, or a nationalist. I was born in Scotland, and Scotland is the place that made me. I am British because of an ambiguous ‘treaty’ that was signed in 1707, and my granny was born in Dublin so I have Irish roots.

But I have a Scottish accent and a good, ‘firm but fair’ Scottish attitude and upbringing, and identify myself as a Scotsman (as well as being a citizen of Planet ‘Earth’). And even although I have spent my whole life (46 years) trying to escape Scotland’s damp and dreary shores, she always draws me back again, in a kind of ‘love / hate’ relationship.

Note: I am not anti-English – far from it  – I have loads of English pals; I am anti-Westminster, and a punk rocker/hippy punk, and anti-establishment at heart.

When I added the ‘Other Destinations’ tab to the menu on my Thailand Travel Blog http:thai-nomad.com (I am married to a Thai national and have two Scottish/Thai children). My first post was about a country that I love – Nepal. I trekked the Annapurna Circuit in 2012 and fell in love with Nepal. Anyway, I’ve been around the world a bit and was brainstorming a country that I could write about for my next blog post when I read a blog post by an Australian girl giving an Australian’s perspective on the Province of Victoria in Australia.

So… here we are – SCOTLAND, from a Scotsman’s perspective.

My first post about Scotland is… BEN NEVIS...

Mountains – BEN NEVIS
Ben Nevis is Scotland’s highest mountain. It stands at 4413 feet or 1345m. In some countries that would hardly qualify as a hill never mind a mountain but Scotland is a small country and our mountains are big lumps of rock that rise to those elevations from more or less sea-level,  and they are oftentimes deadly in adverse conditions.

Scotland is part of the United Kingdom (England, Scotland, wales, and Northern Ireland). In 2014 – we Scots blew the opportunity of a lifetime when we rejected Independence. ‘YES’ voters (for independence) were gutted; ‘NO’ voters (or ‘NawBags’) were relieved. But democracy is democracy and sometimes it doesn’t seem fair, and that, unfortunately, is the way the RIZLA rolls… ‘YES’ (45%)

Anyway, moving on…I am a keen hill-walker, as is my twelve-year-old son.  We live on the outskirts of Glasgow in a rundown ‘New Town’ called East Kilbride. East Kilbride has been my home on and off for forty-six years and I am quite fond of it in some ways, and loathe it in others, ‘The Jesus and Mary Chain’, a well-known, East Kilbride band from the 80’s indie-music scene, once described East Kilbride as being a suburban nightmare, and in many ways, I can’t disagree.
for Glasgow Hotels see here

But I digress – back to the topic… The West Highland region of Scotland starts about 40 miles north of East Kilbride (Glasgow), where the most southerly ‘Munro’ is located, BEN LOMOND  at 3,196 feet (a ‘Munro’ is a Scottish mountain over 3000 feet, named after the Scottish Aristocrat Sir Hugh Munro, who compiled the first list of 3000+ feet peaks in Scotland).

We (my son and I) have climbed Ben Lomond 5 or 6 times and recommend it for first-time hill-walkers. A reasonable level of fitness is required for climbing Ben Lomond, but you don’t need to be an athlete to climb it, just don’t underestimate it,  people have died on Ben Lomond, so get well-equipped, as this is Scotland and the weather can change drastically very quickly.

BEN NEVIS is a further 60 miles north of BEN LOMOND, near the gateway to the Highlands – Fort William, a town of about 10,000 inhabitants. There is a famous walk in Scotland called The West Highland Way. The West Highland Way is a 95-mile trek from Milngavie, near Glasgow to Fort William and is well-worth the effort if you have the time to walk it (typically 5 days), especially if the weather is in your favour.

Note: the dreaded midgie in Scotland can ruin a good summer holiday, always remember to take plenty of midge repellent and face nets.

The drive up to Fort William is stunning. From the shores of Loch Lomond – with Ben Lomond looming large in the background, to the valleys and steep mountains of ‘Glen Orchy’ and ‘Glen Coe’, the latter being the site of the infamous ‘Massacre of Glen Coe’, when the traitorous Campbells slaughtered the sleeping MacDonalds of Glen Coe, after the MacDonalds had given the Campbells refuge and hospitality. 39 people were killed that fateful morning  on the 13 February 1692; another 40 women and children died of exposure after their homes were torched.
for Fort William Hotels see here

There is still a bit of a rivalry between the Macdonalds and the Campbells, not dissimilar to the Celtic and Rangers rivalry, I suppose – although, unlike Celtic and Rangers, the rivalry has nothing to do with religion. I remember seeing a sign in a shop doorway in Glen Coe Village when I was a boy that read: ‘No dogs or Campbells’. I am a McDonald (my mother’s maiden name was McDonald), but I try not to hold grudges and have some friends who are Campbells… they know who they are.

We drive up to Fort William the day before the climb and camp in the Glen Nevis Campsite at the foot of the mountain. My cousin – Stephen, who is originally from the Wine Alley, in Govan, Glasgow but who lives in Bournemouth now, has arranged to meet us at the campsite with his son. I have another cousin who lives in Fort William – Gerry, Stephen’s brother; he has lived in Fort William for more than 30 years, and his son Jamie will be climbing with us in the morning, as will Colin – another Scotsman, from Castlemilk, but who lives in Bournemouth also.

The following pictures tell the story of the climb – we were blessed with a glorious, sunny day that day, which is unusual for Scotland…

Note: My son Sean was only six years old at the time of this climb, and my cousin’s  son – Stevie, was only nine.

Ben Nevis Scotland

Ben Nevis Scotland

Climbing Ben Nevis - The Highest Mountain in the UK
Climbing Ben Nevis – The Highest Mountain in the UK

_____________________________

Only Raising Dust On The Road
The first Part of my book/novel (novella – approx. 25,000 words in Part 1) is available for download at Amazon in Kindle format.

only raising dust on the road, part 1 - buckfast, lager & Fags
only raising dust on the road, part 1 – buckfast, lager & Fags

Only Raising Dust On The Road
By Raymond Carroll
A novel set in Thailand

Part 1 – ‘Buckfast, Lager, & Fags’

‘Only Raising Dust On The Road’ is a novel set in Thailand. The book has been serialised into 4 novella length books.

Part 1 – Buckfast, Lager & Fags (approx. 26,000 words), follows a group of friends from around the globe as they embark on a money-making enterprise to Thailand.

Micky, is a heavy-drinking, drug-using Scotsman who has been hired by his friend ‘Slim’ to manage a bar on a tropical island on Thailand’s eastern gulf coast. Slim’s business partners: Sanjit – a South African-born Indian, and Connie – a white, Afrikaner Durbanite and Sanjit’s girlfriend, have recruited Winston (Sanjit’s South African Indian – ‘hood-rat’ – cousin) to be bartender. Can the mismatched motley-crew make this venture work? Nothing in Thailand is ever as it seems and dangers abound along the way.

The story is told from a multiple character first person point of view and takes place in the late 1990’s.

‘Only Raising Dust On The Road’ is a work of fiction.

Lots of profanity throughout. 18+

Part 2 – ‘Same-Same But Different’ on sale at Amazon

Buy Part 1 of Only Raising Dust On The Road on Kindle and paperback at Amazon

‘In the end, we only regret the chances we didn’t take.’

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Copyright © 2017 Raymond Carroll

32 thoughts on “Ben Nevis Scotland – climbing the highest mountain in the British Isles, United Kingdom”

  1. Beautiful personal and informative post. It’s great to have “political” beliefs and I’m happy that you can write about them with such confidence.

    Talking about one’s homeland is always difficult I have found. While we always want to showcase the best for the world to see, we are also the ones who have forever seen the cracks that are hidden and sometimes it’s like a double edged sword where, when writing about one’s own home, we don’t know what we should omit or include.

    I loved how you move back and forth between your personal experience, thoughts on the region, and of course the hike. Scotland, although I have never been there, has always been considered as one of the most beautiful places on the planet for its scenic beauty, among other things, and rightly so.

    1. What a lovely comment. Thanks for posting it. Scotland is indeed a beautiful country. I have been in many beautiful parts of the world throughout the years and Scotland’s beauty on a clear, sunny day is second to none, especially in the west highlands. All the best to you and good luck in everything!

    1. Thanks Michaela, I enjoy hill-walking, and the beauty that lies just beyond my doorstep is spectacular. Sadly, there are many Scots who, for one reason or another, are confined to the dull, grey housing schemes that they grew up in. A lot of these people are young adults, restricted in what they can do, and how far they can stray, due to being shackled in liquid handcuffs (methadone) – a big problem in Scotland that ultimately erodes their dreams and kills their spirit. Part of the reason I write is to help and inspire those less fortunate than me. Thanks for commenting. All the best!

    1. Best time to visit Scotland is spring/summer. We usually get some decent weather in April/May (spring time), and then June through to the end of August is summer, although summer in Scotland can be a bit ‘hit and miss’; it rains a lot in Scotland (even in summer) but when the sun is shining it is a stunning location, especially up in the highlands. The dog’s name is ‘Bingo’ (‘Ben Nevis Bingo’, says my son), and he was shattered after the climb, as soon as we got back to the campsite he collapsed in a heap and didn’t move for about an hour or more. Bingo has bagged a few ‘Munros’ (mountains), and he loves the outdoors. I toured the Scottish Highlands for 10 days in my friend’s 1985 (left-hand-drive) Winnebago Lesharo a few years back. I have lived and worked and visited many countries over the years and those 10 days touring the Scottish highlands are one of the best holidays I have ever had. It helped that the sun shone for the whole ten days, which is unusual for Scotland. Thanks for commenting.

  2. Your pictures are beautiful. But it’s really stunning to know that you have climbed Ben Lomond 5 or 6 times and so has your son. What a travel spirit!!

    1. Thank you, Neha. There aren’t many 6 year-olds that have climbed Ben Nevis… And I have been travelling the world since I was 12 (first trip abroad was to visit family in California) – I’m 46 now, and still love to travel. Thanks for your comment

  3. This post makes me want to go back to Scotland so badly!! My only experience there was last year in Edinburgh (for about 4 days) and I was super bummed I didn’t get a chance to explore further. Loved reading this Scotsman’s perspective on the country. I love nature/hiking so I’ll definitely be back.

  4. I love how you’ve included some light-hearted political points. One of my good mates was gutted (as many were) when she got word Scotland rejected independence… seems like there may be a second chance?

    Anyways, I’ve always wanted to visit Scotland but haven’t had the chance yet and Ben Nevis has been on the list ever since a friend told me about the 3 Peaks Challenge – have you done that yet? I love hiking but that challenge sounds mental. The craziest thing related to hiking that I’ve done is visit 3 of Norway’s famous hikes in 4 days.

  5. Gutted is an understatement. And Yes, with the Brexit mess, we may still be in with a shout, but I’m not holding my breath in anticipation of it.

    Anyway, you should come to Scotland. If you like hiking then you’ll love bagging ‘Munros’. I haven’t done the 3 Peak Challenge, but my cousin attempted it – the cousin in the pictures, but he floundered at the last hurdle with a bout of diarrhoea in the Ben Nevis Bushes and had to retreat to the comfort of the Karzi in the campsite at the foot of the mountain. It was a pity because he’d already done Scafell Pike, and Snowdon. Norway sounds cool. I’ve got a sister-in-law in Vasteras, Sweden. Thanks for commenting. Good luck with everything, and safe journey on your travels!

  6. I have hiked all over the world but very little in the UK. I am hoping to do a trip to Scotland this year and to hike Ben Nevis. It looks amazing, but I know its not likely to get as nice a day as that!!

    1. You never know, Clare – you might be lucky. The sun shining in Scotland does happen, albeit – not often. Hope you get a nice, crisp, clear day for hiking the Ben; I’ve been told that on a day like that (crisp and clear) it is possible to see the coast of Ireland from the summit. safe Travels…

  7. Really enjoyed your storytellling, I’ve always dreamed of visiting Scotland as it has such a rich albeit bloody history. I’ve never consider d hiking (actually I never do lol) but I’d been keen to give it a go, to capture these amazing views. I’m also rooting Scotland can become independent after the whole Brexit mess, was completely surprised about the vote! But we live in strange times!

    1. Thanks for commenting, Star – yes, strange times indeed… ‘President Trump’; still – coulda been Hillary, and World War III. You should give hiking a go – if you ever make it to Scotland. Our highlands are beautiful, especially in the Sun – if you’re lucky enough to get some. Scotland, Independent? Maybe one day, when the oil is finished! I’m glad you enjoyed my post. Good luck, Star. And take care!

  8. When talking about Scotland, I never though of going to the mountain because I didn’t know about it. I love trekking, mountain, climbing although I am not a hardcore and it seems Ben Nevis is a nice outdoor place to go. Bookmarked it for now. Pinned it, too. 😃

  9. Love scotland. We did a 3 day road trip and were blown by its beauty. Skyee is our fav. Lovely pictures and would love to explore other parts on our nxt visit/

  10. Raymond, my granddad was Scottish, we could be related! I have a Yorkshire accent though but it’s a bit messed up after living in Bangkok 8 years. I can now pronounce all my words and say it, the, something and hello! This is a great post for Scotland, starting with the highest point. I think Scotland is probably becoming just a popular destination as Thailand nowadays so looking forward to more Scotland posts. I never knew exactly where Ben Nevis was, I do now. It looks like you guys had a great day up there too!

    1. Hi James, My sister was married to a Yorkshireman, and my uncle Graham in America is a Yorkshireman too. They are both Sheffield United Supporters – ‘Eeh by gum!’ And don’t really win ‘owt’. They also support the Mighty Glasgow Celtic though and get to see our bhoys picking up titles and cups which keeps them happy. Thanks for commenting, James… Si ‘Thi’ later, and safes travels!

  11. Sounds like Ben Nevis is a really great hike. The views in your pictures are incredible. I was planning to visit more of Scotland this year, so it’s definitely going to be a consideration, thanks for sharing!

  12. What an informative post. I loved Scotland when I was there and did see quite a bit of the country. I never got to Ben Nevis, but it sounds quite remarkable. I didn’t know about the Glen Coe massacre and find it so sad that the Campbells killed the McDonalds after providing refuge. It’s nice to read that you are proud of your heritage as well.

    1. Yes, Janine – I’m not a pure, radical nationalist but I was disappointed when Scotland voted ‘No’ to Independence. I believe in Scotland, and in our people, and advocate that ‘CHANGE’ is good. Ben Nevis is an amazing climb on a good day – the views are mind-blowing for a first-timer. And the ‘Massacre of Glen Coe’; just another – of the many, bloody, colonial footprints across Scotland.

    1. So proud of my wee boy- he was only 6 years-old at the time, a 4413 foot march up the highest mountain in the UK. we were very lucky with the weather, you dont always see views like that. Thanks for commenting!

  13. I loved my visit to Scotland so much that I definitely want to visit again. As a foreigner, I really appreciated the hospitality from the Scottish people and the culture, as well as the stunning landscapes. The highlands were incredible. Didn’t get to visit Ben Nevis but hoping to make it there on the next one. But it is interesting to hear a native Scot’s perspective on political matters. I didn’t realize that there was that kind of divide in those areas, though I guess I shouldn’t be surprised given what’s been going on. Hopefully we’ll make it back to Scotland soon.

    1. Glad u liked mu country. Scotland is such a beautiful location but its our weather that lets us down. I toured the Scottish Highlands for 10 days in my friend’s camper van and it is one of the best holidays I have ever had in the world.

  14. Super interesting info!!! I love the part about the sign that says ‘No dogs or Campbells’ – so funny that it actually said that. I haven’t been to Scotland but it looks gorgeous! Thanks for sharing

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