Last night I enjoyed a great chat in the Drouthy Cobbler in Elgin by the Munro Moonwalker, Alan Rowan. He told some great tales of seeing the mountains at first light after walking through the night. It was a wonderful chat and enthralled us all. His photos and more importantly his enthusiasm was infectious and I was put back into a world that few experience. Alan journey so well told in his book is of early starts, long drives and the love of being in the mountains at night and he travels from one mountain to another often on his own on so many adventures. I did much of the same and many were on wild call – outs through the night and awaiting if we were lucky for the sun and its warmth to keep our spirits up. Few will every appreciate some of the wild nights we had and many were in wild weather. One an epic in Skye for an aircraft crash was an extremely hard night in December in fresh snow and rain, the kit was so basic then 1982 and it was survival that night. I also have been privileged to walk through the night on some of my big walks, 24 Hour days like Tranters Round and The Kintail Traverse and feel the mountains as a new day starts. In the Alps and the Himalayas this is the norm to get the best conditions and there is nothing finer than a sunrise or sunset from a mountain peak. We also did plenty of night navigation with the new Team memebers and this is essential to travel safely especially in the short winter days and it was a big part of the apprenticeship of becoming a mountaineer.
Allan says it can be is like a religious experience on the summit alone awaiting and watching the sun rise and it is. As is the start of every new day. If you have not got Alan’s book it is a great read and I am looking forward to my day on the hill on early Monday morning the 20 th June at midnight for our walk up Ben Rinnes, there are still place if you fancy it ? website http://www.moraywalkingfestival.co.uk/
If you fancy this experience is worth ensuring that you have a good torch and batteries, I always carry two and it has made life very easy at times. Check it before you go. Once you start using your torch you will lose your night vision so if it’s a moonlight night try without and see how it goes.
Navigation at night is not easy and it is a new world to many. Practice in the dark in a safe place low ground and learn how slowly you may have to go and take this into consideration. Get used to reading the map, taking bearings and working out times to key features and always be aware paths a hard to find in the mist and dark and the ground can be difficult. A watch is essential and an altimeter is handy as will need to use this for checking your progress. Have a good look at the route planned and break the journey into small pieces and always remember it slower in the dark and learn how to estimate speed your travelling over various terrain.
In the early days try a hill you know and always leave a route where you a going with a pal or friend. Be aware even in summer it is cold on the tops and you may have to hang around for your sunrise so have some warm clothes and food,drink with you.
If going alone as I love be extra careful and make sure you have a camera to get this unique experience that you will never forget. It is well worth the effort and you will see things that few see or experience and rarely see a soul.
Sunday 19 June to Monday Morning (If weather is an issue then this event will be held on Monday 20 June.)
Midsummer Sunrise Summit on Ben Rinnes
Meet at 12 midnight
Join Alan Rowan the Midnight Mountaineer and former RAF mountain rescue team leader David “Heavy” Whalley for a midsummer trip to the summit of Ben RhInnes where hopefully a sunrise will been seen in with a drop of Ben Rinnes whisky. This is a wonderful opportunity to walk & talk with two very experienced walkers to have many tales to amuse you to the top and safely back down too! On a good day eight counties can be seen, ranging from the Moray Firth to the hills of Sutherland, the Cairngorms and Monadhliaths. A welcoming tea & coffee and breakfast rolls will be served at the bottom.
Notes: Dogs are welcome on the walk but must be kept on the lead at all times. Headtorch plus spare batteris and basic walking gear is essential , boots, warm jacket, waterproofs, gloves, hat, sunscreen and please bring a snack and a drink. There may be an opportunity for transport from Elgin. If you are interested in this service, please contact the event provider.
Meet & End Point: NJ 2852435956 Car Park
Duration: 4 hrs approx
Distance: 7.5k approx
Difficulty: 4 = moderate to strenuous
Book through the Moray Walking Festival – 5 places left – bring a head torch and spare batteries and some warm clothes! – Book through Moraywalkingfestival