A Shelter On Ben Nevis

An undoubtedly welcome sight, should the weather turn against you.
An undoubtedly welcome sight, should the weather turn against you.

This simple shelter crowns the summit of Ben Nevis – the highest mountain peak in the whole of the UK (although tiny when you include continental Europe), and is built atop the remains of an old meteorological observatory constructed in 1883, before closing in 1904 due to lack of government funding; and then surprisingly, turned into a hotel that proved successful up until the outbreak of the First World War, after which it was subsequently shuttered and left to the (harsh) elements.

Scant remnants of the former observatory/hotel that once stood atop the mountain.
Scant remnants of the former observatory/hotel that once stood atop the mountain.
The sheer 400m drop of Gardyloo Gully, which often <a href=cornices in Winter, adding to the danger." />
The sheer 400m drop of Gardyloo Gully, which often cornices in Winter, adding to the danger.
Believe it or not, this photo was actually taken in late Summer, on a day where temperatures in the region averaged around 13°C
Believe it or not, this photo was actually taken in late Summer, on a day where temperatures in the region averaged around 13°C

I hiked the mountain with my dad in late Summer, but even with dwindling temperatures, being the tallest inevitably draws the crowds, so our ascent wasn’t exactly a solitary affair; but it also ensures that the trails are in decent condition and so the going was easy enough. Temperatures plummeted into the minuses after breaching the cloud cover though, and I wasn’t keen on lingering at the summit, with that stiff, cold-induced pain that results from exposure, slowly spreading through my (gloved) fingers, making any activity that involves even slight dexterity (like doing up zips) unreasonably difficult. Not that there was much of a view anyway – fog had reduced effective visibility to just a few metres so you could replicate what I saw for yourself by holding a blank piece of paper to your face close enough so that it envelopes your peripheral vision – Not exactly a vista that will be gracing the cover of National Geographic anytime soon I’d imagine.

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