When I was young we had several holidays in Scotland. My parents had a caravan that we towed on the back of the car up through Scotland as far as Inverness and Fort William.
When we were in Fort William it was in the summer of 1976. We stayed on a campsite at the foot of Ben Nevis which, as you may know, is the highest mountain in the UK. The summer of '76 was extremely hot, so when we set out to climb Ben Nevis we took careful note of the advice to take layers of warm clothing.
My mum, my sister and I started off with everyone else but it was so hot and the thought of swimming was so much more appealing than spending the day trekking up a mountain.
I don't remember how far up we got, but it wasn't that far. In those days I didn't have the interest in climbing mountains. I'm still not that mad about it but I suspect that I have more "stickability" now than I did as a young teenager.
The boys continued on but the rest of us came back down to go swimming in the Fort William pool and spend the rest of the day lazing around on the camp site.
After a few hours the menfolk returned triumphant. They'd reached the summit of Britain's highest mountain on one of the hottest days of the year.
The two of them did a lot of grumbling about how they'd carried all these extra clothes but never wore anything thicker than a t-shirt.
In later years though my brother came to respect mountain weather much more. He went on to climb Shap Fell and Mount Snowdon, the highest mountains in England and Wales respectively. The weather on the other climbs never equaled August 1976 and he was very glad of the extra layers of clothing to keep him warm and dry.
If you want to climb Ben Nevis take the time to prepare well. The weather can change in a matter of minutes and not all Scottish summers are as long and hot as the one we enjoyed all those years ago.
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