I received this through my blog and it a lovely tribute to Steve Perry and gives you an insight into who he was.
I am sorry that I did not know Steve but I had heard of his exploits and what a good Mountaineer and good man he was .
Many thank to L.M for allowing me to publish this .
“I put this together, as kindred spirit of big hill walks, to tell something of the connection between Steve Perry and Ben Hope.
I can offer nothing but sadness at his and Andy Nisbet’s tragic passing on that mountain.
Rochdale was Steve’s hometown, but he lived most of his life in Todmorden ( a town on the route of the Pennine Way).
In March 1999, Steve walked the Pennine Way , and on day 2, climbing Black Hill, he met another walker, Chris Booker. They stayed together for the rest of the walk. Steve told me it was Chris who inspired him to visit Skye, where he climbed his first Munro, Sgurr nan Gillean, in August that year.
4 years later, and Steve walked between Land’s End and John O’Groats, taking in the English and Welsh 3000’s, and all the Munros, along the way, with Ben Hope as the final hill. In an email, he described it thus:
‘One of the greatest years of my life’
‘I didn’t want the trip to end, so much in fact I’d tried to convince my girlfriend back then to let me walk back home, she was having none of it, though she was pregnant so had just cause I suppose. Going back to work was the pits but I decided then I’d move to the Highlands one day and that helped me get through it’.
4 years on, and in 2005/6, Steve went on to complete the only solo unsupported Winter round of the Munros, his journey ending on Ben Hope.
This mountain, being the furthest North of the Munros, merits its’ iconic status in the minds of those completing a continuous Munro round, and uniquely so in the case of Steve Perry.
9 years on from Steve’s 2003 walk, purely by chance, I bumped into a Chris Booker on the slopes of Ben Cruachan- the same man who had accompanied Steve along the Pennine Way. At the time, I was out on a similar journey across the British 3000’s. It was Chris who asked me to remember him to Steve.
I got in touch after my walk, and soon we were on the subject of Ben Hope.
I said this to Steve about that journey’s end:
‘There’s something about the way those last munros play out past Seana Bhraigh and the landscape unfolds in a totally unexpected way-and then there it is- Ben Hope. Like the last ember in a wood fire, catching the draught to shine fiercely – and then it’s gone…For me that was journey’s end. If you were carrying on to JO’G on your first round, was the hill a more significant place on your winter journey?’
At the time of this exchange, Steve was living ( I think) near Bettyhill. He said:
‘I can see Ben Hope from my house and I walk or climb on that hill quite a lot, it means a lot to me after hiking two rounds and all the way dreaming of standing on its summit.’
Steve’s affinity for the far North shone through:
‘Mike and Kai really looked after me on the LEJOG Munro round so it was very fitting to have my party their at the end of my Winter Munro round. I usually always see Mike in the fields there when I’m driving home or down to work and I’ll stop for a chin wag. I’ve had some great nights in The Crask though I must admit its been too long now since the last one’.
‘I was up and down Ben Klibreck today before dinner,… the sunrise was spectacular, from Ben More Assynt to Ben Loyal, every summit glowed pink with fresh snow’.
A few years went by, and still the topic for discussion was Ben Hope.
This, in a more recent (2014) email from Steve:
‘I could see Ben Hope from my garden but I’ve now moved to Dalcross near Inverness.’
‘I think I’ve climbed Ben Hope by the most various of routes, including 4 ascents of the normal route, an ascent of Bell’s Ridge in winter, Brown’s Ridge in summer, Tower Ridge in winter, 2 new winter ascents – Hopefall with Andy Nisbet and Gracefall solo. I certainly have a fondness for that mountain.
Rest in peace, Steve, and Andy.”
I know how he feels at the end of a big walk and seeing the vast open spaces of the far North. These hills are unique and to look across from the Fannichs or Ben Dearg and see the Northern hills is uplifting. I always thought that about Ben Hope when I was young on my first Traverse of Scotland it felt special. I did it with a group and Ben Kilbreck we rushed up it recently. These mountains need to be savoured as Andy and Steve did.
Thank you for the insight into a small part of Steve’s life.
Some more lovely pieces below .
Thanks to Dan , and Lorraine for the photos.