The first moun­tain I ever climbed...

Trail (UK) - - Inspiring Hills -


Helvel­lyn. I was 15, taken up by teach­ers from Northaller­ton Gram­mar School on a sum­mer camp in Pat­terdale. It was wet and very windy – enough to put most teenagers off. I was nearly blown off Strid­ing Edge but it didn’t put me off. I wanted more! I rev­elled in the ex­cit­ing, chal­leng­ing ex­pe­ri­ence and knew it was what I wanted to do.


Helvel­lyn in the Lake Dis­trict when I was seven years old. My par­ents took my sis­ter and me to the Lakes for a week, it was the start of regular moun­tain hol­i­days through­out our child­hood – usu­ally camp­ing in hor­ri­ble weather! For me it set up a life­long pas­sion for the moun­tains. My sis­ter went the other way!


Helvel­lyn as a 14-year-old. I’d ar­ranged to go camp­ing with friends in Glen­rid­ding, I ar­rived first and while wait­ing for my friends I went for a wan­der and ended up do­ing Helvel­lyn via Strid­ing Edge and down Swirral Edge. It un­locked a whole new world of free­dom to me and set me on a path to a life­time in the moun­tains.


Cadair Idris , aged three. Though I will have to take my par­ents’ word for that. Ap­par­ently on the same trip I banged on the neigh­bours’ door at 5am shout­ing “lit­tle pigs, lit­tle pigs, let me in!”. I think my mum makes these things up.


Prob­a­bly The Chief in Squamish, Bri­tish Columbia. Maybe it’s too small to be called a moun­tain, but my whole fam­ily hiked up there when I was lit­tle and I re­mem­ber feel­ing the dan­ger and ex­cite­ment of the abyss when we peeked over the cliffs at the top. Since then it’s also been the site of some of my bravest rock­climbs. It’s a great lit­tle moun­tain!


The Old Man of Con­is­ton on a Guide Dogs' hike, bike and ca­noe chal­lenge in 2006, with my old Vet­eri­nary Nurs­ing Jour­nal col­leagues. I've been in love with the Lakes ever since.


I was 13 years old when I first as­cended a large hill and that was Fair­field along with St Sun­day Crag in the Lake Dis­trict. Be­ing a lover of the outdoors, wan­der­ing into Pat­terdale on a fam­ily hol­i­day I was truly dumb­struck by the fells en­velop­ing me and I couldn’t wait to beat a trail up them! Need­less to say, this visit had a pro­found ef­fect on my life and I’ve been ad­dicted to hill­walk­ing (and wild camp­ing) ever since.


I’m not sure of the first but it would have been some­thing in the Lake Dis­trict. My fa­ther used to book ac­com­mo­da­tion for a week each Easter in Bor­row­dale and drag me up hills there from an early age.


Moel Fa­mau in the Cl­wydian Hills. It’s not re­ally a moun­tain form but it felt like one when I was lit­tle. It was a leg­end amongst Scousers, schoolkids and Scouse schoolkids that there was a chippy on top. There wasn’t, it was a tower that was built for the ju­bilee of Ge­orge III in 1810. Prob­a­bly why, in my mem­ory there were al­ways an­gry Scousers on top.


I can’t be cer­tain but I’ve lots of child­hood mem­o­ries of climb­ing Corn Du and Pen y Fan with my dad and younger brother. It’s got noth­ing to do with the moun­tains, as fum­bling our way through the dark en­trance to the wartime gun em­place­ments at Storey Arms was al­ways the high­light of the day.


Aged 11, I went on a school trip to north-west Wales. The names of the hills were as for­eign as the land­scape (I come from flat Nor­folk) and I don’t re­call which was the first, but I do know we climbed Snow­don. I re­mem­ber peer­ing through the minibus win­dows at the shad­ows of gi­ants looming in the dark. I knew then moun­tains would be a ‘thing’ for me. I still get a buzz from see­ing ground ris­ing above the rooftops of build­ings.


Snow­don, I was 20 years old, want­ing to climb Ever­est and it was my first peak. I re­mem­ber the in­cred­i­ble view and want­ing to be sick (I had run to the sum­mit).


I’m not sure what my first hill was, but my first Munro was Stob Bin­nein, from the In­ver­locharig side. I’ll never for­get the feel­ing of an­tic­i­pa­tion, the joy of the climb – even though my mus­cles were burn­ing – and how a steep pull opens into a wide grass­land then ta­pers to a ridge with the sight of the rocky sum­mit above. The feel­ing of free­dom and joy was like noth­ing I’d ex­pe­ri­enced be­fore.

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