Mark Hunter, an event attendee, shares his personal account from our Ben Nevis walk last October…
It was July 1979. I was 8 years old, I remember it was a Saturday morning. I stood there frozen to my spot with an incredible amount of fear, dread, panic and confusion. I couldn’t move, my soul went cold. There was a knock at the door, although I didn’t need to know who it was, I knew who it was …. It was my neighbour’s son, a 14-year-old boy who has come to abuse me again and this was to continue for 3 more years.
Fast forward October 2019. I am 48 years old, I remember it was a Saturday morning. I stood there full of fear and panic but also …. excitement! I had just drove 7.5 hours from Manchester to Fort William and I was staying at the Glen Nevis Youth Hostel which was such a lovely clean and reasonably priced place to stay.
Meeting the group the very next morning, I was instantly at ease as it was such a lovely group of people. After a short brief on health & safety from Andy we started the trek and it was raining a little but the adrenaline was flowing and everyone was in great spirits. The views on the trek were absolutely amazing and beautiful to see. After a couple of hours I started to feel weak, I believed I wouldn’t make it. Some of the group carried on but Steph and Struan stayed behind to help me, Struan gave me something to eat and after a short rest I was feeling better, so we carried on.
As we gained a higher altitude the views again were out of this world, the weather started to change and there was now snow all around. It felt really surreal to experience different weather conditions in such a short space of time. After a few more hours I finally started to believe in myself. It was like a metaphor of life, the journey to the peak of Ben Nevis was like the times in my own emotional journey and recovery from alcoholism where there were times I didn’t feel I would ever make it but here I am finally there, at the peak of Ben Nevis! The highest mountain in the UK!
I felt extremely ecstatic and I literally felt on top of the world. The weather conditions was getting worse but the views looked like something out of a dream, simply stunning. Due to the bad weather we couldn’t stay too long so after a few snaps we started our descent. This was painful, so much more painful than on the way up, however I would put that down to the fact I wore my brand new boots for the first time that day, a painful rookie mistake!
After a few hours and being closely monitored by Black Dog Outdoors team I always felt safe and never alone. As any journey in life we need others to guide us and I was so grateful to Steph and Struan for their help and support.
Shortly after I had finally managed to get to the end of the trek where there was a welcome sight of the pub. I took some time to get warm, a quick change of clothes, a coke, rest and then our final goodbyes.
I spent the 7.5 hour journey home recapping on one of the best journeys in my life, I felt an intense amazing achievement that would never been possible without the support, care and professionalism of everyone involved with Black Dog Outdoors charity and because of them I shall always be grateful for helping me achieve a lifetimes ambition and brand new wonderful memories to help keep my own black dog at bay.
Mark Hunter, Event Attendee