This time last week, when it dawned upon me that I would be attempting to climb the three highest mountains in Great Britain within a few days, I remember thinking to myself that I say “yes” to new challenges far too easily. Now, I reckon I should say “yes” more often…
The weekend started with a long long drive in the back of a mini-bus from London to Fort William in Scotland, where I proved my incredible ability to sleep anywhere, anytime. Accompanying me were my fellow walkers / escapees from the clinic – Abi, Kathik, Karen and Louise – and our two drivers / accomplices – Mark and Nina. I had been told that it’s grim up North, but never had I realised how true this is – moving from 25 degrees plus in London to constant grey drizzle in Fort William was not the best wake-up present I’ve ever had.
After some last minute shopping and prep, we moved over to Glen Nevis to meet the NDCS events team, Emily and Clare, and the challenge event organisers. Our equipment was checked, we were given a safety briefing and posed for the obligatory “How crazy are we?!” photo at the start line, and off we went. I felt a mix of emotions. Nausea was one of them. Dread was another. Nervousness completed the set. More than anything, I wanted to get it over with.
Half an hour later, I was walking steadily upwards and enjoying some gorgeous scenery. I began to relax, and entertain the possibility that I might actually not only pull this off, but do so in style. Before I knew it, I had walked so high up that I was now among the clouds. Visibility dropped to a minimum. The path became rocky and I was surrounded by snow and ice fields. I half expected Gollum to go bounding by muttering something about his precious. I could barely see a thing and all I kept thinking is how cool it this, to be walking among the clouds.
I dragged my team mates up and before we knew it, we were up at the very top of the highest point in Great Britain. I can safely say I’ve rarely felt so exhilarated and thrilled. I couldn’t see a thing, it was incredibly windy and freezing cold but I didn’t care. I was quite literally bouncing around on top of the world.
Another drive though the night later and we were off up Scafell Pike. A much steeper path upwards and the drizzle of rain now turned to a deluge. It was too much for one of our team members but the rest of us persisted. Sadly, we weren’t allowed to the very top, due to 90mph gusts at the top – pah! A little disappointing but I knew full well it was going to be murder getting down the slippery rocky steps in the rain, and we’d made it so high to be in the clouds again, that I didn’t really care. By now, the feeling of exhilaration was tempered by a rather strong desire to be wearing dry socks once again.
Happily, the weather cleared for Snowden and we were able to climb it among some gorgeous sunshine and some even more gorgeous scenery. The climb up was much less severe and again, I was bounding about with excitement. Sadly again, we were denied a shot at the very top due to gales, but once again, I didn’t really care. We were high enough and my Mum had explicitly warned me not to go and get blown off a mountain.
Ironically, walking down was the biggest challenge of all. I really wanted to nail it. But I was also by now dealing with a rather sharp and niggling pain in my ankle. I was determined to walk through the pain and would have chopped my leg off and crawled if necessary. Happily, it wasn’t necessary. A few hours later, I was running to the finish line and bouncing up and down on my dodgy ankle (which had now cured itself, or I’d forgotten about it).
NDCS were kind enough to feed us with the hugest portion of lasagne I’ve ever had at a special party afterwards which was a really nice relaxing way to end the challenge. In the end, the biggest reward was knowing that I had helped raised lots of money to help deaf children and pulled off something I had previously thought would be near impossible. I wouldn’t say it was a walk in the park, but I have completely surprised myself on how do-able the challenge was to me. It turned out I had it in me all along, which is a very nice feeling to have.
Which leaves me to point you in the direction of our fundraising page if you’d like to sponsor our efforts. Any donation is much appreciated. And if I’ve inspired you to take on a new challenge, I see the NDCS Challenges team have a range of challenges to satisfy all levels of insanity. My advice is to say “yes”; it may be the best thing you’ve ever done.