Just last week Nina the Nerpa reached a landmark moment in her exploration of Scotland. She reached the summit of Scotland by climbing to the top of Ben Nevis!
There are multiple ways to reach the summit of ‘The Ben’ but being a humble little nerpa Nina elected to ascend the Mountain Track. Even this non-technical route (ability to navigate is still vital) is a demanding day out as the start of the asccent is close to sea level. The summit lies high above at 1345 m (4411 ft) and the distance covered is approximately 17 km from the campsite in Glen Nevis.
Nina joined a group of very keen hikers from St. Columba’s High School in Gourock. She bobbed her way up The Ben with this great group of determined hikers.
At the start of the day everybody was full of beans at least figuratively if fortified by other breakfasts. The weather yielded cloud cover but not a breath of wind fortunately. Everyone set off from the camp site and headed towards the Youth Hostel to reach the spur on to the Mountain Track.
Nina discovered that she was not the first mammal to climb Ben Nevis as many canine companions of walkers had made the ascent previously. More interesting for Nina was to learn that ponies used to climb Ben Nevis and indeed the Mountain Track upon which she bobbed up is also known as the Pony Track. Ponies used to help carry equipment and supplies up to the Weather Observatory on the summit during its operation from 1883 – 1904.
Another revelation for Nina was that the ‘Halfway Lochan’ (Lochan Meall an t-Suidhe) was in fact less than half way up the mountain. It did, however, provide a welcome place for a rest and a bite to eat.
After the Halfway Lochan Nina bobbed up the track with her companions towards the Red Burn. This was a good place to take some water onboard before the long pull up the zig-zags.
On her way up the mountain Nina was always on the lookout for flora and fauna.
The mist seemed to come and go tantalising wee Nina with glorious glimpses of all the scenery surrounding The Ben.
The progress through the zig-zags was slow and steady and Nina ensured that she took took time out every so often to steal more views whilst up high.
Nina was very happy that she had a view to Loch Linnhe and Loch Eil to savour. The mist and wind had been kind to her so far.
Nina was delighted to find some Alpine Lady’s-mantle (Alchemilla alpina) flourishing by the side of the path. She took some time out to enjoy basking in a lush little forest of these dainty little beauties.
On reaching the summit plateau Nina was overwhelmed by the grandieur of The Ben. The rock faces of the North loomed left and the prize of the summit started to seem palpable.
Nina was very careful not to mis-navigate whilst on the plateau as distinct dangers lurked either side of a mis-calculation.
Nina has seen plenty of snow and ice in her homeland of Siberia. She managed to seek out some snow on Ben Nevis even though the seasons said that it was summer.
A final push was made and finally after a long, long hike Nina and her companions made it to the summit. Nina the Nerpa had reached the summit of Scotland! She was so happy and shared in merriment with her companions. She had built up an epic appetite and devoured plenty of calories to replenish all the fading minerals.
Looking all around the summit Nina discovered an emergency shelter and also the ruins of the weather observatory. As she looked around she could see other happy hikers, some from charity teams.
Nina certainly knew that she would have a bee in her bonnet as a result of this great day out.
Nina was so happy and proud that a humble little nerpa all the way from Lake Baikal in Siberia could travel across the world and make it to the summit of Bonnie Scotland.
After posing for photos Nina started to bob her way back down the path with her companions on a long descent back to camp.
Once again, Nina took time to savour the views and anchor the memories.
Down the path she bobbed to meet the spur with the path to the Youth Hostel.
The last section of the descent was steep and quite trying for a weary wee Nerpa.
There was one last hurdle to climb: the stile to the bridge over the River Nevis.
Nina sauntered over the bridge as the emotion of completion satisfaction surged.
A final dawdle back to the campsite completed an epic day out.
Nina would like to thank the team from St. Columba’s High School for their company on the way up and down Ben Nevis. She was very impressed by the determination that all the team demonstrated to tackle the highest mountain in the land. Nina congratulates the team on a great job well done and wishes them well in all their outdoor pursuits.
More adventures await Nina…