Leech Attack on Ben Nevis

It was a cold misty morning when a group of us decided to drive up to summit Ben Nevis. The “road” where the trailhead starts can scarcely be called that. More like an overgrown logging track that is just wide enough for a 4WD vehicle. There’s not even a real place to pull off, so if another party would come in they’d likely block you in.

Just as we’re approaching the trailhead our friend who organized the trip casually mentions that this area is in fact known to have “some” leeches. Yay. But I’m told they only come out when it’s misty and wet -- great…

15 minutes in to the hike my ankles start itching. Weird, but i’ll keep walking. 10 minutes later they are really itching. I look down (I shouldn’t have looked down), there are at least a dozen leeches on each ankle. I frantically start ripping them off (the itching increases by factor of 10). I’m told not to stop as more will just get on me. Sound advice as the ground is literally MOVING with leeches. Holy. Shit. The “good” news is that if we walk fast and get out of the forest there will be no leeches on the rocky top. I walk fast.

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We break through the forest line and everyone stops to remove the leeches the second we get onto the rocks and we continue the misty march to the top. There are no views but walking through the mist above the tree-line has its own eerie beauty which I quite enjoy. When we reach the top we take off our shoes, ring out our wet socks and remove a few leech stragglers.

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We hang out at the top hoping for a break in the clouds but one never comes. As the mist comes and goes we get views below us and it’s surprising how high we climbed from the tree-line. Heading back down the mist get thicker and it takes a second to locate the saddle we climbed up on. Once we find our trail it’s every person for themselves as we race through the leech infested forest.

I’ve never been so happy to see the car.

If you dare to go: