Ben Nevis is a big hill in Scotland. Scotland isn’t exactly a country, but is part of the United Kingdom. The Romans couldn’t really be arsed with Scotland when they showed up in Britain – they figured it wasn’t worth the bother, and hung out further south in places like England. I am English. When I am in Scotland, which is not a real country, I tell people I am British. Before yesterday, no-one had hit me for being English in Scotland.
Ben Nevis is not just a big hill in Scotland, but the biggest hill in the whole of Britain. I started to walk up it yesterday. Ben Nevis is in quite a pretty setting. If you try to look up Ben Nevis on t’internet, you’ll find more about distilleries than hills, but don’t let that put you off. The hill is not that high – less than 1500 metres. The only other hill I climbed lately was Mount Kinabalu. That was on a really poxy piece of rock island, and even that was about 4000 metres.
One Scot ran past me on my ascent of the highest mountain in Britain. I had read the leaflet telling me what to take. In the baking hot sun I carried a compass, torch, waterproofs, thermal underwear, food, water, first-aid kit, my companion’s midge hats, and pretty much everything else except for the emergency flares. The Scot ran past. He was wearing shorts and trainers, and carried a sponge tucked into the belt of his shorts. He ran past twice, as he did two ascents in the time it took me to haul my heavy climbing boots up and down the footpath. This was no climb. It was a stroll, or a run to the determined.
The Scandinavians were ambling along. They sometimes wore sandals. For them it was merely a hillock on the way to some scenery. French children ran vertically down the hill, avoiding the tedium of the shallow angled zig-zagging path. I trudged on. Eventually the smalltalk with passing amblers petered out. I didn’t say any smart arsed comment to the helpful Scots who said things like,
“Black’s a bad colour to be wearing in the blazing hot sun on a mountain.”
So I still haven’t been hit in Scotland.