Over a month ago, a new bunch of Gap Year participants turned up at Ardeonaig to work in the house and kitchen for the year. We don’t just work them hard though, we want to give back to them as they help us.
So, in the first couple of weeks, we had various meetings and talks with them. One of which was about goal setting.
Now, I had been asked by Kerri if I wanted to help her and Steph plan and run the Gap Year programme for the year, to which I agreed and therefore sat in on the meeting to see what sort of things they brought up.
It was interesting to hear some of their desires and aims for the year, but I also found myself getting caught up in thinking of my own goals.
Shortly after that night we had a team fellowship with some space to set some goals. Now was my chance to get my ideas onto a sheet of paper. One of my goals was to summit 10 new Munros by the end of December.
Since that night, we have started reading a book together and discussing the chapters in team fellowship. It’s called “Simplify” by Bill Hybels and it is great, so far. I’ve only read three chapters! The first chapter talks about identifying the things we fill our time with that energise us and the stuff that drains us. I noted that time in the mountains rejuvenated me.
Chapter two was about organising a schedule around the important things in our lives and not just filling it up with stuff, and writing it down so that it is harder to ignore your plan! There is even a hard question asked of you: what would your schedule look like if God planned it? A challenge for sure.
The long and short of the above two paragraphs is that I recently scheduled in two hill days, and I was on days off on my own.
The first day I stayed close by, just outside of Killin, close by. A simple and lonely Munro called Meall Ghaordaidh. It was an out and back, short jaunt, in the cloud. However, I had a great time due to downloading some podcasts from Bethel Church prior to my day out and I listened to them on my way up and down the hill. 1 Munro down and some God time too.
My next hill day was not a Munro but Dave W and I took the Gappies for a local-ish hill day. We settled on Ben Ledi, a mountain near Callander, a short drive south from here. The weather was due to be a little damp, but clear and with a cold northerly wind blowing through. I loved actually having to put a hat and gloves on. We had some good views of the surrounding mountains and finished our walk with a cheeky visit to Mhor Bread (a bakery with a sit in cafe attached) in Callander for cake and coffee.
My second Munro bagging trip was rather more spontaneous. As my day off approached, the weather forecast became increasingly exciting. It was the Tuesday just gone, I had worked the Monday, had Mountain Rescue training on the Tuesday evening, and was working on the Wednesday through to today (Sunday). It was going to be tight, and effort, but the weather was too good to miss.
What a blessing to live a mere two hours from Fort William. I quickly packed up some bits and pieces after work on the Monday and shot off into the night and headed north. After a cosy nights sleep in the car and a car park cooked breakfast, I left on my proposed route – The Ring of Steall.
I quickly stumbled upon this glorious sight, and less quickly made my way past it; the ground was quite soft.
I stormed my way up to the first summit and first Munro, An Gearanach, thankful for the cool of the shade the mountain provided. From the top was my first chance to eye up my task for the day.
Almost immediately it became narrow, then it became rocky and narrow, finally it became rocky narrow and steep. If it was like this all the way around: it might take a lot longer than I was expecting. It relented… certainly the narrowness did and I was soon on my third Munro, Am Bodach.
I knew there was a section coming up called the devil’s ridge and hoped it wasn’t as bad as it sounded. On my way towards it, I met a group of walkers coming the other way and they asked me where the devil’s ridge was. When I told them that they had just done it they seemed surprised as it had been a breeze for them. This put me at ease for my onward journey, and then I walked on no more than 100m to find this in front of me…
I paused to build up some courage and ponder why it is I fear heights more than I do God, and then asked him for help and to steady my feet as I wondered in His creation. I got through and from the other side of this narrow and precarious part of the route, I had a moment to enjoy the views.
A short sharp push and I was on top of the last summit, Sgùrr a’ Mhàim. A little breather, a summit selfie, my last pork pie and I set off down the steep slope and back to the car.
It was a steep and long downhill which has claimed many a knee and/or ankle, but I must have been walking enough recently as I survived the unrelenting gradient unscathed. Hooray for mountain fitness! From the bottom it was a two and a half kilometre speed walk back to the car and some water, but not before I was buzzed by a very agile Eurofighter.
16.6km and 1632m of ascent in 7 hours 4 minutes. Not too shabby and I’m now five Munros down and five to go with my goal.
I set off home and did make it in time for MR training, phew.
I have really enjoyed spending some time in the hills on my own, but am super excited for next weekend as it the first of this year’s walking weekends with Derek and the gang. It will be so good to catch up with everyone and share some time together in the wild Scottish highlands. I can only hope that weather is as good as it was on Tuesday!