(Written by Stuart)
We arrived about lunchtime. Putting on a light daysack without a load of camping equipment was a delight after the descent of Ben More, and it was with a feeling of boundless energy that we took off on up the path into An Caorann Beag. The weather was beautiful, and as we walked I didn’t care about the road nearby, or the possibility of meeting people, I was ready to strip off and run naked up the path.
And I would have done, were it not for the clegs. Those of you not familiar with these evil little things should count yourself lucky! They are great big nasty blood sucking flies that can be even more annoying than the midge, if such a thing can be possible. Had we stripped off we would have been eaten alive, so we reluctantly kept our clothes on.
A walk of about 3km took us to the Bealach a’ Choinich, where we took our first rest stop. We encountered a passing walker here, and unless he reads this, he’ll never know that had he turned up 30 seconds later he would have encountered a very naked Karla, posing for the first of the photos that we took after he’d disappeared back towards the road.
When we continued, the weather was turning colder. The sun had gone behind thickening clouds, and the wind was rapidly increasing, making nudity a rather unattractive proposition. In fact, it was turning into quite a rough day weather wise and I was half expecting to find a storm on the summit. But the weather held, and we climbed steep, grassy slopes for 150m to find ourselves on the ridge.
The ridge was fantastic, if a little scary. After bypassing the first peak, we headed on up to the second peak and dropped steeply to a col. The short descent felt very exposed in the high winds, with a huge drop over cliffs in the direction the wind felt quite capable of throwing us.
The path was sound, however, and progress was quick, so the summit cairn appeared almost without warning. It was a stunning view, with the Five Sisters of Kintail and the Glen Affric mountains surrounding us, with deep glens cut into the land beneath us.
Stripping for nude photos in high winds is always a bit scary, and I’m sure one day I’ll be careless and watch my clothes disappear in the wind, but we got away with it today. Karla leant into the wind at the cairn while I just posed casually, as I was eager to get down off the ridge. I actually found the experience a little scary, as I knew from previous experience that narrow ridges, high cliffs and strong winds don’t go together. By now I had very little interest in naturism. I was really enjoying the hill walking, but it was just too cold.
Ten minutes down the ridge everything changed. We were off the scary and exposed part of the ridge and it made all the difference. It seemed a good place to strip for photos with a lot of the ridge still to go and when I got undressed I felt the familiar sensation of burning muscles being stimulated by cold air. It was 5pm, the temperature was dropping and we were 5km from the road with over 650m to descend, but we were going to be nude all the way down!
Walking down was an absolute delight. The cold wind blowing made this a naturist experience as far removed from a day at the beach as possible and that’s what made it so fun. Nature can be cold, harsh and barren, and if you truly want to know what its like to get back to nature, then you have to try it in a cold, harsh and barren environment. And let me tell you its worth it. As long as your muscles are warm and its not super cold, it seems that hiking nude is considerably more comfortable than wearing windproofs. In fact, it almost feels like you’re supposed to hike nude. The free circulation of air definitely made my body much more efficient at cooling down, meaning I dehydrated slower, and required less water. But I never felt cold, in fact, I felt great!
Once we descended to the Bealach a’ Choinich, we found the peat bogs again and a real sense of impish delight overtook Karla as she jumped and squelched through every soggy, damp, squishy bog she could find. When you’re nude, you don’t care about keeping your £100+ technical clothes clean, in fact getting all muddy is fun! “Oooh, that was a sqelchy one!”, or “wow, that splash almost reached my bum” were regular comments from Karla as we merrily bounced down the glen onto the path that would take us back to the car.
But alas, the path made for quick progress, and we knew we would have to be dressed soon. It was with a heavy heart that we got dressed near the end of the path, but an area overgrown with sundew insect eating plants made for a pleasant diversion before we got back to the car.
I learnt something important on this climb. If climbing in summer, it’s only in bad weather that you can ever feel cold nude if your muscles are warm. This means that future Munros will often be as naked as this one, if not more so...
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