Ben-Nevising: Climbing the UK’s highest mountain virtually
Have you heard of Everesting? It is climbing the height of Everest by bike or on foot on the same hill, but locally. Ben-Nevising is similar, but you aim to reach the height of the UK’s tallest mountain. I also did “Goatfelling” during lockdown one.
Ben-Nevising on Dumgoyne Hill
The Covid pandemic restrictions have made me creative with my local adventures. Rather than doing the same routes, I have been keen to explore new ones – and rather than doing the same hill once, I have sometimes set myself a challenge to do one hill multiple times.
Last week, my Glasgow Triathlon Club came up with a Badge-athlon challenge, with lots of different and creative activities to complete over the course of a week. One challenge was to climb the height of Ben Nevis (1345m) over the week.
I decided it would be a great idea to climb 1345m in one go on the same hill. I was joined by my tri club friend Nic Dawson (Epic Trails).
Ben-Nevising on Dumgoyne Hill
Dumgoyne is a steep-sided hill in the Campsie Fells. It rises to 427m above Glengoyne Distillery and the A81.
I thought that the vertical gain would require four ups and downs to reach 1345m. For three of these ascents and descents we started from the stile next to the burn at the base of Dumgoyne. For the first and last rep we started close to the road.
In the end, it took four ascents and another 90m of climbing to reach more than 1345m.
The first ascent seemed fine. We had fresh legs and fresh chat. We were looking forward to pushing ourselves. On two previous occasions, I have ascended Dumgoyne three times in a row and that was fairly sore but I thought that four times might be doable.
Our plan was to walk briskly uphill and run downhill. By the second ascent, I could tell it was going to be tiring and quite painful. But we were still fairly fresh and we still have enough chat to take our minds off the exertion.
By the third ascent, the weather had changed from mild to wet and windy. The wind close to the summit had become so strong that that Nic and I had to almost crawl along the ground to reach the stone marker.
My quads were starting to tire and, on the descent, I was beginning to feel the lactic acid kicking in and making my legs feel a bit wobbly.
I remembered to eat bits and pieces – I like Babybels and cereal bars – to maintain my energy.
Ascent four was sore. We were both much quieter and slower and I realised, with a sinking heart, that we were not going to have enough accumulated height gain to have Ben Nevised.
After reaching the summit for the fourth time, we descended right back to the road and then simply pushed back uphill until my watch definitely recorded more than 1345m.
I had very weary legs – and I was a little fed up with the same old hill. I am not sure I’ll be keen to return to Dumgoyne for a wee while!
We were both thrilled to have Ben-Nevised in around 3.5 hours. We were not aiming for a speed record and when people asked us what we were doing, going up and down multiple times, we stopped to chat. We were out for an adventure, rather than to set a time.
What surprised me over the following week was how long it took for my legs to recover. I wouldn’t normally think twice about a walk that included almost 1400m of ascent. But I think that because we have not been able to reach the Munros and Corbetts recently, my usual running and walking has become less “hill intense”.
Then again, it might be that the repeated ups and downs on such a steep hill simply caused greater stress on my leg muscles than I had imagined they might. A week later and I could still feel the effects.
How about 10 times Dumgoyne?