Thursday, July 28, 2011

A Week With Julie, Paul, Megan, Abbie, Jack & Kieran

Last Friday Julie & Paul came to visit us again. This time they bought their children Megan, Abbie, Jack & Kieran. On Saturday we set off on the bus to Whitehaven, Lakes Alive were having an event there with street entertainers, Made in Cumbria stalls & in the park free activities for the children to celebrate 1 year to the start of the Olympics. Firstly though we went to The Beacon as the BBC's Walking with Dinosaurs exhibition was there. Unknown to us The Beacon was celebrating it's 15th birthday so they had an impressive Dinosaur cake made (which had been cut when we finished & was rather tasty). They suggested we started on the 4th floor & worked our way down. Views across the harbour from the 4th floor. And towards the town centre
The harbour walls
Kieran taking a closer look with Paul
The dinosaurs were quite impressive, this is a Cynodont
The kids all filled out activity sheets as we went round
About half of The Beacon was taken up with the dinosaurs whilst the other half was their permanent exhibition about weather and the local area.
Here is Megan having a go at reading the weather forecast
And Abbie too
In another local exhibition Jack has a go at gurning (Egremont holds the annual World Gurning Competition)
Abbie with a Monolophosaurus
After a few hours in The Beacon we went & sat on the harbour for lunch before heading over to Castle Park where the kids enjoyed bouncy castles, climbing walls & a lot of other activities.
On Sunday we set off on the 240mile trip from home to Fort William. On the way Julie & Paul stopped off at Loch Lomond
The kids enjoy a paddle
Paul & Julie
Abbie & Megan
Jack & Kieran
Abbie & Kieran
Jack & Megan
Julie (who is nearly 6months pregnant)
We all met up again at Glen Nevis campsite where we were to spend the next 3nights
We got the tents up & decided we had earned a beer
For dinner we had a bar-b-que (the dogs hoping some will be going spare)
Megan sets to work making frisbees from some wooden sticks
Whilst the boys play one of many games of football
The sun starts to set on Ben Nevis, you can see the path zig-zagging it's way up. You cannot see the summit although what you can see is higher than Snowdon
What a beautiful setting as the sun sets on Carn Dearg
And on Meall an t-Suidhe
The only drawback was the quantity of midges, Andy (the bee keeper) has a solution
More football & the dogs join in, by pure luck we had pitched in a corner & they were able to be off their leads for the rest of the time on site
The next morning dawned & the weather (& forecast for the day) was really good so we decided to make today the day we climb Ben Nevis. This is one of the last bits of flat path until we reach the summit plateau.
Andy & Karen bring up the rear
Looking across the valley to Nevis Forest
And down the valley to the mountains the sun had been setting on the night before
And down onto the campsite
Jack & Kieran take a rest on a rock
Abbie & Megan
Paul probably shouting at the boys!
And one for the camera
Higher up & looking down the valley again
Julie, Paul & the kids
Megan & Abbie
The majority of the path is maintained as well as this
Karen & Abbie chatting
Across the valley to the forest again
Some fellow walkers top up their water in the crystal clear waters of Red Burn
Lochan Meall an t-Suide & the path we walked earlier
One of the last views of the campsite before we go higher than we could see from the ground.
The mountain & lake look so small from up here (the mountain is the one towering above the campsite)
Then a bonus, its really hot here but a patch of snow to play in (when Karen walked this in July 2002 the snow was there then so I guess this area never loses it)
Everyone including the dogs enjoy a snowball fight
You can see most of Fort William from up here
Back to the important business of snowball fights
Someone has even built a little snowman
Then its back to business & the final push to the summit. This is the last climb before we reach the summit plateau
Loch Lochy (is that Lake Lakey in English?)
And looking out to sea
Loch Eil
More snow up here but we wont be playing in this as it is a sheer drop below
Looking back along the summit plateau
Stunning views to the valley below (when Karen was here in 2002 it was a white-out so this was the first time she had seen the views from the summit)
The summit of Ben Nevis & the now disused observatory
Two plaques on the big cairn to the right in the last picture. This one erected in 1965 celebrates the work of the UN "blessed are the peacekeepers"
And this one is Britains highest War Memorial
Jack & Kieran wait for the summit cairn to be clear
And the family has it all to themselves. Ben Nevis summit 1344m the highest point in the UK. I would imagine their baby is one of the youngest to have made this ascent?
We have to share it with a crowd
Megan has a celebratory picture taken
Jack gets even higher
Unknown to us Paul has carried a bottle of champage up & we have a celebratory drink
Abbie & Megan (is Abbie having a secret drink of champage?)
Jack having fun on the summit
Crag has the sense to have a nap (although it doesn't look too comfortable!)
Keeping one eye open just in case he misses anything
Bess has a wander/scrounge around the summit cleaning up any food that has been dropped before deciding to have a rest too
Yes I know you are taking my photo but I am too tired to get up and walk away
Both dogs eventaully settle by us
Some views from the summit
The observatory which was designed by Thomas Stevenson (father of Robert Louis Stevenson) was built in 1883. This followed Clement Wragge who starting in 1881 making daily ascents in the summer months to take meteorological measurements, he was aided by his wife Leonora who would take comparable measurements at sea level
Abbie & Megan take a look over the top
Just before we left the summit another highlight of the day was when two Eurofighters "buzzed" the summit about 100ft above us giving us a very noise but spectacular display. Unfortunately we weren't quick enough with the camera.
What the following pictures can't really capture is just how far we could see & just how many ranges of mountains were in sight, it was hard to believe you were in the UK
Then we start our descent back down the same track
We retrace our footsteps & just have to have one last play in the snow
A short video clip of the kids & dogs playing
On the way up as we looked back it was impressive how much height we had gained on the path below, on the way down it was a bit depressing just how much height we still had to lose
The first views again of the campsite only about 1100m height to lose! (the campsite is 25m above sea level so you really do climb the whole of Ben Nevis)
A short break & play at the waterfalls
From further down you can see the full drop of the beck
Nearly down to the valley bottom again
This is the route the GPS tracked & the elevation, it really is straight up & down. We were out for about 10hours (we did have quite a long stop on the summit) but it was depressing that the distance walked was only 10.1miles, it certainaly felt a lot longer. Back at the campsite again. We chose the campsite because we could walk directly from it up Ben Nevis. It wasn't the cheapest we have ever stayed at but the facilities were excellent, the owner is making good profits as he has a Range Rover with the number plate NEV15 & a BMW with the number plate NEV1S!
Tuesday was a recovery day & although the kids played all day we just sat around & enjoyed the sunshine.
And for dinner Paul bar-b-que'd again
After dinner Bess (as she had done on Monday) decided to go straight to bed. Crag however spent his time being the nosey neighbour to the people camping the other side of the beck to us
The boys sporting hats trying to keep the midges which appeared when the breeze dropped out of their hair
On the way back the kids stopped off at Loch Lomond again
It was a massive achievement for all of us especially the kids (Kieran (5), Jack (8), Abbie (9) & Megan (10)) to reach the top of Ben Nevis. There were plently of times when they all had to push themselves harder than they have ever done before to make the summit, but they did & WELL DONE guys.
This morning they left us to head back to Kidderminster & they all made us these wonderful cards to say Thank You.
We had a lovely week with all of them, made extra special by the fantastic weather we had here in Cumbria & also in Scotland & we hope to see tham all again soon (after Julie has had the baby) to complete the hat-trick of fells & climb Scafell Pike.
Thanks to Julie & Paul for many of the pictures in this blog