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Notes from the Isles

An Island Journal by Kate Francis

My son Lucian came to stay with me recently. He was in training for a trek he is about to embark on to celebrate his 56th birthday, retracing the steps of Robert Louis Stevenson, described in his book Travels with a Donkey in the Cevannes. This entailed not only some rigorous exercise but also a strict diet to shed a few pounds and restore him to his usual weight; a diet that included fillet steak, salmon, chicken and some extremely exotic salad, so it wasn't too punishing.

The morning after he arrived, he announced that he would like to climb Ben Wyvis, one of the 284 Scottish hills over 3,000 feet known as Munros, of which Ben Wyvis, being 3,432 feet, comes 85th in order of height. It was a glorious sunny day with a cloudless sky and hardly any wind, so I decided that Cronie, my Border terrier, and I would accompany him for a little of the way and then go back home. With this plan agreed, we departed in two cars to drive the half-hour route northwest to the car park whence we set off, our only refreshment being an apple each.

In Cameron McNeish's book The Munroes, Scotland's Highest Mountains, the approximate time given for the round trip is from six to ten hours, and he describes it as, "not the most dramatic mountain in Scotland and neither is it the prettiest, but it can nevertheless throw down a challenge which can cause problems for the unwary." I think I could be classified as one of the unwary.

The full text of this column is available in the Winter 2018 issue of Scottish Life.

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