A favourable set of circumstances recently gave me the chance to complete a day out on the Cuillin Ridge that I have had in my head for years. I have often wondered what it would be like to do a journey from one end of the Ridge to the other and back again, doing all the tricky bits. Pinnacle Ridge, Naismith’s Route, short and long side of the In. Pin., An Stac, King’s Chimney, the TD Gap. A challenge of personal fitness, stamina and above all the will to go out and put myself in a situation where I would have to get on with it and put some effort in. Travelling light, totally unencumbered, food and water, just me.
Wednesday 10th July was a hot day and I would have had to drop off the Ridge to find water a few times if I had not had a two litre bottle stashed at Gars Bheinn and friends Kirsty, Alf and Finlay mad enough to give up their time. They offered to drive me over there from home in Wester-Ross. Let me get a brief sleep in their camper bus. Saw me off from the Sligachan at 4am. with a belly full of porridge. Walked up to the In Pin with food and water to help me along and generally be there to deal with whatever might happen.
Three smiling faces to greet me at the end of the day, pat me on the back, put the kettle on and all that. Get me safely home to my own bed. Very good friends indeed and all without any forward planning at all, just a throw away comment in a conversation. As I set out the Karma was good, I was going to have a great day.
When I popped out of the thick fog of a valley inversion into the soft rays of the early sun at the top of the first pinnacle on Pinnacle Ridge, Sgurr nan Gillean, I knew everything was as right as it could be and I was feeling pretty happy. Getting back to the Sligachan sixteen hours later was an amazing feeling of pleasure and satisfaction. Everything was hurting and I was tired to say the least but I was very, very happy. The day had been a lot of fun and as hard as I thought it would be.
The little chats I had had with friendly people I bumped into along the way (some twice!), the dryness of the rock, the odd shady, overhung spot to lie in and rest for ten or fifteen minutes of blissful stillness, the taste of a sip of water, very familiar holds and mountain features for constant company. It is no record, that is for sure, but for me it is. I can’t imagine ever doing it again. I told my wife, Angela, to stop me if I tried. But would I take any notice? Anyway, another sequence of memories to cherish forever, for as ever as I am alive. I love that.
Sixteen hours car to car. I would describe it as fast walking, certainly not running. I am a climber for heaven's sake, I am really not a runner but might be going that way if I don't watch out. That is inspired by my great friend Colin Meek who spent thirty days last summer running the Watershed of Scotland. Talk about digging deep!
Paul Tattersall - originally published on Go Further Scotland