Written on 26/09/2014, Isle of Mull
Today we bagged our first ever Munro. After years of finding excuses not to climb Ben More conditions this morning finally meant that we would be waylaid no longer. Admittedly the force five to six winds and changeable weather were perhaps not ideal for reaching Mull’s tallest summit but sometimes you’ve just got to say to hell with it and get stuck in.
Standing 966 meters tall Ben More is the only island Munro outside of Skye and dominates the landscape as you travel down Loch na Keal. What makes it all the scarier however is the realisation that you have to climb that height from sea level. No starting from half way up here a la Snowdon. Oh no. Every one of those meters is there for the taking and that’s exactly what we did.
A little more than two hours after setting off we stood atop Ben More with the islands mountainous interior laid out before us. Spectacular, awe inspiring, breathtaking – choose you superlative and it still wont come close to describing the scenery on offer nor the feeling as we gazed out across a landscape virtually unchanged for hundreds of years. I’ve been higher, I’ve certainly walked longer, but for some reason this climb stands out as something really rather special. Perhaps it was the fact that we were on an island and could see open water whichever way we looked, or maybe it was simply the fact that this was Mull which somehow seems to elevate everything just that little extra. Either way Ben More turned out to be an absolute beaut and I can’t wait for our next visit to its slopes.
Of course the photographs above show off the views better than any words I could ever write, and believe me they’re even more impressive in the flesh, but don’t be mistaken for thinking we had sun throughout the entire ascent. Far from it. Strong winds kept weather fronts moving through at an alarming pace with each one being watched carefully for clues as to what would be discharged. It was something of a relief therefore that we were able to summit in the clear and with many of the surrounding hillsides bathed in sunshine. Unfortunately such tranquillity was not to last as after having a quick lunch the cloud base lowered, temperatures dropped to near freezing and the wind picked up to gale force levels. Needless to say we made our way off the peak pretty sharpish as rain droplets as hard as nails were sent speering into our faces. Thankfully the storm was brief but never before have I experienced such a rapid deterioration in conditions with little to no warning. It just goes to show how careful you need to be when out in the mountains.
This being Mull there were of course the obligatory gob-smacking wildlife moments including a male Hen Harrier quartering the hillside about half way up and a low flying White-tailed Eagle a little lower down. The latter once again gave stunning views as it seemed to come in to investigate our presence before continuing on its way.
Back home I may now be pretty whacked but there’s a contented smile playing across my face. For as long as I’ve been coming to Mull Ben More has stood out as something that I had to climb and not doing so year after year had built it into some kind of near impossible task. To have finally broken through that apprehension and found the experience both enjoyable and rewarding has really made my day. The only downside is that now we’ve bagged our first Munro, I guess we’d better get cracking on the remaining 281.