Ben Nevis and Glen Nevis
Sunday, our last day in Scotland, we followed Benny’s directions to Cow Hill for a view of the mighty, 4,000-foot hump of Ben Nevis and its verdant adjoining valley, Glen Nevis. Zigzagging up the ridge, the sun shone unimpeded for the first time on our trip. We chased sheep, lay in the sweet heather and made up stories about a Highland Goliath as older hikers passed us. I promised to be less of a miser—within reason.
Atop the hill we saw the sparkling expanse of Loch Linnhe and Fort William, and finally got a peek at Ben Nevis as it emerged from its cloudy wreath. We chased sheep back down the hill before returning to town. We only had a few hours left, but Bijani had one more thing on her agenda: the Harry Potter Waterfall in Glen Nevis.
It was too far to walk, and the only way to get there was by cab. I wanted to renege on my promise.
“You only get to go to Scotland once, but we have the rest of our lives to be broke,” I muttered.
“What’s that?” Bijani asked.
The taxi driver pointed out the sights along the way: a field where Mel Gibson filmed a “Braveheart” battle, hiring local amputees to fill in as the wounded; a bunch of shaggy highland cattle. He kindly agreed to pick us up in four hours.
A thin but strong current ran along the path to Glen Nevis. We walked through ferns and conifer trees. It seemed like a long way to go for sights from a movie. I walked ahead, rounding a bend past the stony face of a huge boulder and into the opening of the valley. A vast meadow unveiled itself. In the foreground stood the cloudy edifice of Ben Nevis; in the background, the forked deluge of Steall Falls.
A wire bridge traverses the stream to the waterfall trail, and gripping the coiled metal I forgot my fear of heights in the pale mist from the falls and the smell of wet grass. We ran slipping and losing our shoes in the thick mud, to the base of the falls.
It was time to return to the cab. I looked over my shoulder one more time as we re-rounded the bend. Bijani and I waited in the parking lot for the cab that would take us back to the train that would bring us down from the Highlands to our cold London apartment. I looked in my wallet. I had $30, just enough for the return trip and to buy some snacks for our homeward journey.
She hugged me and for a moment I felt rich.
The End…(for now)