The Via Ferrata – Iron walkway, Scotland

“I DID IT – I ACTUALLY DID IT!”

With a huge smile on my face, I faced the biggest challenge I have faced in years. I’m not going to lie, it wasn’t easy – I hurt for days afterwards but I would do it again in a heartbeat. It was truly amazing and breathtaking. The team working that day at vertical descents (Scotland) Danny and Ellie were amazing – full of encouragement and support. I can’t thank them enough, nor my best friend who came with me, supported my every step and filmed it too and then put up with me for the following few days while we were still in Scotland exploring and enjoying a well deserved family holiday, up the mountains, on the beach and by the rivers – it was wonderful to be able to recouperate after the climb in such a beautiful place with such great people around me.

I woke in pain, not a good start to the day but I managed to shake off the disappointment and put on a brave face, I got up and got ready – hair in plaits and looking a little like a children’s tv presenter – we made our way to Kinlochleven, Glen Coe – the starting point for the Via Ferrata. We booked in and as I realised I could be responsible for slowing down 12 other people who may otherwise enjoy a peaceful, rapid climb, I started to feel awkward. With my children watching I had to continue to smile, so instead of panicking or keeping the awkward feeling I spoke to Ellie one of the instructors who were going to be keeping us all safe. She reassured me not to worry spoke with Danny the lead instructor and they moved me to the front to start the climb with Danny right by my side. This was so they would know if I was struggling, they could encourage and support me and the climb couldn’t go faster than me and leave me behind.

The walk to the start of the waterfall was over 10 minutes on uneven ground and it again had me worried, photos were taken at the bottom again by my children so a smile was painted on, then Danny came to fetch me and we began – over a log, balance and walk, I could feel myself shaking, Danny was reassuring me and held my hand as I stepped down from the log, a little desperate for a secure step – I never was good at balance beams. Then I saw what lay ahead and excitement, that sense of wow! kicked in. I was really going to do this, we had had the safety talk it was going to be perfectly safe so long as I remembered to always stay attached to the safety wires. I certainly wasn’t going to forget that – the climb is the height of 2 thirds of the way up the Blackpool tower, I will certainly stay attached but would it scare me? I wasn’t sure, I was just stood in awe of what lay ahead, surrounded by people supporting me, my best friend, Danny and Ellie and I was doing this for Leicester Western Ward Linking Lives – to make a difference to lonely elder people – one of which had passed away on the day I drove to Scotland – I was doing this for her, I was doing this for our wonderful Link Friends – everyone of them. I was doing this to ensure I can truly say I give it my everything, so we can ensure that the befriending scheme has a long life – making a difference to many. One friendship at a time but for a long time, with lots of volunteers – I was leading by example and I was doing this and it was HUGE! Standing at the bottom looking up with all that running through my head and all I could say was “It is Huge!”

I started the climb, with a smile on my face, the sun thankfully shining. Part way up it was getting far too warm for 2 fleece Jumpers – I hadn’t wanted to be cold instead I was hot, too hot so part way up I attached my safety clip leant back – with the support of Danny and Derek and I took off my Jumper, had a drink and then continued to climb – still with a smile. Up ladder type steps, over a wobbly plank and wires, it was amazing and there wasn’t the option to not look down so I made the most of it, the views were breathtaking and the experience was so amazing, we climbed some more then had to walk over a wire bridge, “look down” said Danny as I got to the middle of the bridge – I savoured that moment as the waterfall passed at the side of me then way beneath me, I love waterfalls and I love God – I felt so close to him right then and there, amazed by his creation, amazed by the sun shining down, I know lots of prayers were said asking for that sunshine for my climb, I was amazed that I was doing this climb and I was doing it with a smile on my face and I knew God was right there with us. As the climb continued Danny let me lead he said I was doing so well and so I did but I actually didn’t want the climb to end it was so beautiful. It did have to end though, so after creating some of the most amazing memories I climbed the final steps out over the ridge at the side of the waterfall, I walked those final steps – first to finish a moment completely alone, then my best friend arrived to share the moment, my shrieks of delight at having made it to the top, then one after another the whole group and the instructors arrived. I asked Danny “did I do ok – did I slow everyone down?” His reply surprised me and Ellie agreed “the pace was the perfect pace” they said I did well!

I did it and that was what really mattered to me, so as I took a drink and ate some dark chocolate at the top, looking over the Scottish countryside, thinking of my reasons for doing the climb, I said a prayer and I smiled a huge smile, I knew right then I would happily do it again and I would recommend the experience – it was truly amazing.

The climb itself was an hour and half, but in total including walking to the start point and from the finish point back to the Vertical Descents offices, and safety talk, it took a little short of 2 and half hours.

I raised a little over £700 doing the climb – every step was worth it. I am so proud to be able to say “I did it!”

To see me doing the climb it is on You tube to watch use our link

https://youtu.be/-i1efjBRQYE

THANK YOU To Cally, Zara, Derek, Kim, all who have sponsored my adventure and Danny & Ellie – the Vertical Descents team. http://www.verticaldescents.com/

or help by donating at https:/www.give.net/LWWLL