It was more than an ordinary walk of the iconic mountain, Buachaille Etive Mor, on Sunday. It was an extraordinary walk that included many memories – both sad and uplifting – as well as a birthday, a first Munro, a random meeting and a dream achieved.
I believe it was my third time on the top of the Buachaille. I have ascended the Glencoe mountain via Curved Ridge (never again because the exposure unnerved me!). And I have twice hiked the “tourist” path, both times with a group of former newspaper colleagues in memory of a man, Trevor Walls, who died while climbing the 1022m tall mountain in 2004.
Trevor, the editor of the Glaswegian newspaper at the time and a former Daily Record executive, had been on the Buachaille the day before his friend Alan Rowan’s 50th birthday that July. A member of the “Daily Record Mountain Club”, he had planned to surprise Alan with a bottle of champagne on the summit.
Sadly, Glencoe Mountain Rescue Team members found the bottle smashed inside Trevor’s rucksack near his body.
I worked in the same office as Trevor for several years and I remember him as a smiley, bouncy man who was always talking about some adventure he had just been on.
The birthday Buachaille walk has since become a joint memorial outing, with Alan, known as the Munro Moonwalker, continuing to organise the walk for friends and old colleagues each year.
This year, Alan celebrated his 65th birthday and laughed about the benefits of becoming a senior citizen. Impressively, he continues to walk mountains, including Munros, Corbetts, Donalds and Grahams as if he were 30 years younger.
Of course, the day is always tinged with sadness, although generally it is also up-beat, chatty and spirit lifting.
A chance meeting, a Munro first and a dream
A group of at least 20 people (I didn’t count, actually) met for this year’s Buachaille walk. They included Hubby G, my good friends Tina and Ben, and also many people I have previously worked with or have known for years through the newspapers.
It was a chatty and steady walk made all the more enjoyable by the calm and sunny conditions.
Around a third of the way up the trail, I turned round to see a friend and former colleague from another newspaper, The Herald, smiling up at me. Beth, by chance, had decided to hike the Buachaille that day with a friend. It was an amazing coincidence given that I was walking with journalists from another Glasgow newspaper.
For Lana, an ex-colleague, it was to be her first Munro. Rather than start with one of the Munros normally identified as an “easier option”, she was encouraged to join the large group and enjoy being surrounded by friends, more experienced walkers and on a day that was forecast to be balmy.
For Tina, the Buachaille had long been on her bucket list since she first saw the mountain while walking the West Highland Way. A dodgy knee had left her anxious about achieving the summit but she was delighted to reach the top.
For several others in the group, including Ben, it was their first time on this majestic mountain. For others, it was one of countless ascents.
Everyone I spoke to during and after the walk had a fantastic day. It would have been exactly the sort of day that Trevor would have enjoyed – and another memorable birthday hike for Alan.
Long may these annual Buachaille walks continue.