How did it all begin?
We didn’t really go hill-walking as a family, apart from a few of the local hills. I can remember scrambling on rocks as a wee boy, though, while the rest of the family was on the beach, so the desire to climb must have been there from an early age. I also remember reading books about ascents in the Alps and Himalaya.
My first real climb, I guess, was Goat Fell. It was July 1971, and I was at a SU camp at Kings Cross on Arran. It was hot and sunny, and we were a large group of teenage boys. I’m not sure what I had on my feet, but i do remember an enormous blister on my heel.
The following year, I climbed Cader Idris in Wales with my older brother, Andrew, then in 1975, on a family holiday in Harris, we climber Clisham (799m) on a very windy day. I remember having to go on all fours on the summit so that we weren’t blown over! Typical Scottish summer day!
And so to the first Munro …May 1976, on a weekend outing with members of the Edinburgh University Physical Society (Physical as in Physics – my University degree subject) to Firbush on Loch Tay. We spent one day sailing (but were becalmed, and needed a tow back to the shore!), and one day climbing Ben Vorlich and Stuc a’Chroin.
So, here it is: Ben Vorlich, 8th May 1976 – my first Munro! Photo taken with a wee Kodak Instamatic 50 camera – image a bit faded now.
What can I remember from the outing?
1. plodding steadily up the path on the north ridge of Ben Vorlich;
2. looking across to Stuc a’Chroin, and wondering how on earth we would manage to get up its steep craggy nose (but finding it great fun when we got there!);
3. the long trek back down Glen Ample.
But I was hooked!