Sgurr a Mhaim and Scurry ower The Devil's Ridge

As I went to pick up Mrs B’Dass at 4.15pm I was wishing I’d said I was too busy. After all, they’re used to me saying that - whether anyone believes me or not is neither here nor there.

As we met Curly and Lady N, it was recording 27 degrees in Fort William - at 4.30pm. N had misinterpreted Curly’s message suggesting "an evening walk - no running." The no running part was because Sgurr a Mhaim is so steep that even Mrs B’dass is fine with not running up it. N had envisaged a stroll by the river and an early night - a slightly different kind of evening.  By the gate through the deer fence higher up the lower slopes I was feeling dizzy and extremely uncomfortable after about 30 minutes of ascent. Curly had meandered and chatted as if it WAS a stroll by the river but I’d put so much effort into appearing fit that I was feeling sick. We waited for N and Mrs B’dass. N was experiencing some discomfort too, so we encouraged the other two to continue their exchange of pleasantries without us. Funnily enough,despite the steep gradient, ravaged breathing and heat, we couldn't quite resist conversation but the reduced pace was a relief and as we got our feet and breath into the same rhythm I no longer felt that the task was too great. I haven't done any exercise that doesn't involve being attached to the end of a vacuum cleaner for at least 2 months - probably 3 - and each year I do get a little older. There was no pressure from the 2 companions above but it just felt better to let them make their own easy pace which was an entirely different pace from ours, which was merely about ensuring that the motion was upwards. But they were happy to wait and in this warmth, there’s none of the accustomed shivering as the sweat cools. It was a walk of about 4 parts. The first was to the summit....


The mountain is famously topped by quartzite that looks like snow from the distance.  It was a long time before we even saw this.


As my companions assumed power positions, discussed gin and ice that lurked in houses far below and firmly out of reach, I couldn't quite keep my eyes off stage 2 of the walk....

The Devils Ridge - described as "airy" in the guide books.  There was just no point in my hanging about and putting off the inevitable so I headed off myself.  I knew we were destined for stage 3 - the wee lochan nestled between this mountain and Stob Bhan, on our way down the hill.  


If only I could survive that far.....


At one particularly unnerving point, I heard guffaws of laughter and a shout encouraging me to stand up to make a better photo.  I didn't even look back.....




 From the Sgurr a Mhaim side it’s not such a frightening start (though bad enough) and I met 2 mildly unnerved young German men slithering down a rocky section on their bottoms as they glistened with sweat - heat or fear, I couldn't say, but probably both. I laughed and said I wasn’t loving it either. They said it was a little discomforting and the biggest issue was not knowing what was coming next or how long it was going to go on for.  With a sympathetic grin, I pushed on without considering the optional reassurance of female companionship - fear is a lonely place!!!!  I couldn't believe how long it took them to catch me up but my fevered breathing suggested that panic had leant wings to my feet (or rather my knees.) There didn't appear to be any panic in the rear guard.


 Lady N said she was pretty nervous, but she hid it well - so much more dignified than myself.

 Finally we got to the 3rd stage. The lochan. It was freezing, stony and alive with tadpoles so there was a fair amount of screaching echoing around the hillside. But there was no way these women were not getting submerged.


It's a gradual process...


Are they or aren't they?  You'd have to be hanging around, high in the hills, late on a summer evening to find out.

 I had to get in there too, despite my allergy to anything that makes me feel uncomfortable. But then there is always that magical photo opportunity. Otherwise, why get out of my narrow comfort zone?



It was time for Stage 4 - the long and winding descent as the sun set.


There's no need to hurry on a lovely mid-summer night.

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 We came off the hill around 10.30pm all of us feeling a sense of something special, I think. Such a feeling came from a little adversity (or a lot depending on whether you were at the front or the back) and good companionship, along with truly majestic landscape. I’m so glad I resisted my very very strong temptation to say no to the invite. As time has gone on, it has become easier and easier to say no. But I’d forgotten how deeply a little effort nourishes the soul. (Various levels of effort are available. No terms and conditions apply).