I spent yesterday helping a couple of novice hillwalkers negotiate the Mountain Track up Ben Nevis in the name of charity.
They were nervous at first and exhilarated at the end when the snowy top of Britain’s highest mountain was reached and thousands of pounds had been raised for the fight against cystic fibrosis.
Some purists turn their noses up at what was once known as the Tourist Route; from what I can gather their main objection is that it is too easy! But yesterday the vibe of this 19th century pony track became apparent – it is one of excitement and genuine anticipation.
People always nod a greeting as they pass each other but on the popular trail up the Ben there are also words of encouragement – no bravado is on show, this is about people getting to the top.
At the summit there were “well dones” all round, rather than people keeping themselves to themselves. An Edinburgh University student from New Jersey was passing round his large bar of chocolate to celebrate while my companions were chuffed to have overcome their fears and enthused to try more mountains in the future – one person was making a pan of soup.
Altogether, this enthusiasm meant I had as much fun on a mountain walk as I can remember. Yes, there are more dangerous routes but none that allow you to see such a sense of enjoyment in achieving a summit.