Hiking in Scotland – Training for Ben Nevis


In sixteen days my husband is taking me to Scotland for our 30th anniversary.  Scotland is not his dream trip. It’s mine. Since he is a hiker, the trade off is that I agreed to hike Ben Nevis, the highest point in the Scotland.  Actually, it’s the highest in the UK.

Reality check.  The last time we went hiking, we were backpacking in Colorado with our daughter.  I had a meltdown. I broke down and started crying on the trail.  In my defense, we weren’t just hiking.  We were actually backpacking.  I was carrying a 45 pound pack, beginning at an altitude of 8,000 feet. The destination was Conundrum Hot Springs, 11,200 feet.

I was completely unprepared for that adventure.  The altitude in Scotland is quite a bit lower though.  We will be starting at just over sea level and climbing to 4,406 feet and just over 4 miles.  No backpack.  I can do that right?

Let’s be real though.  I’ve established that I am fat and out of shape.  I get winded walking up my driveway.  It’s a steep driveway, mind you, but how on earth am I going to do this?

Training. That’s how.

Step one – proper footwear.  

My New Keens

The terrain in Scotland can be brutal.  I may have mentioned before that I have plantar fasciitis.  Being on my feet for long periods of time can be excruciating.  I went to the Good Feet Store and got myself some proper orthotics.  In the right shoes, they help tremendously. Unfortunately, I had a pair of Keen hiking boots and the orthotics made the shoes too small.  

Last weekend I purchased a new pair of Keens. Aren’t they cute with the purple lining and laces?  I took them out for a spin and they feel great. Yeah, they were a bit pricey for me but I think that they will do a great job.

Step two – get moving!  

I had intended to start walking weeks ago.  We have a great lake close to our home. It has challenging hiking trails that would be perfect for training for this hike.  Well, the weather this spring has been rather frustrating. I know that shouldn’t stop me since it’s Scotland, and there’s a good chance that we’ll be walking in the rain anyway. The trails can be awfully muddy at this time of year.  

Light bulb! The solution presented itself a couple of weeks ago. I work in a six story building and decided to start doing the stairs. I climb all the way at least three times a day. This week, I’ll increase to four times per day and so on. Now, there’s no way to climb the stairs necessary to equal that 4,400 foot climb, but it’s a start.

We’ve had a lot of rain so the trails are still sloppy but the mornings are decent and the roads are fine.  If I just put in a little effort, I can get some miles logged in to start building my endurance. 

All in all, it’s about chipping away at that goal but nothing will happen if you don’t start.

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