Hugo Sherry Conquers Ben Nevis! – guest blog by Samu Taukei

Published by Jo on 9th November 2023

Hugo Sherry Conquers Ben Nevis! – guest blog by Samu Taukei

The challenge was set in Summer 2019.  Hugo, along with the help of his team at Big Wig, set himself a personal goal to participate in the 3 peaks challenge: this would consist of Hiking the three highest points in the UK.  The peaks would include Mount Snowdon in Wales (1085m) Scafell Pike in the Lake District, Cumbria (976m), and finally Ben Nevis in the Highlands of Scotland (1344m.).

Having climbed successfully to the summits of Mount Snowdon and Scafell Pike, Ben Nevis was the final summit left for Hugo to conquer.  This was by far the highest and toughest challenge for him, with the peak being 1344 m above sea level.  With the help of his team at Big Wig, alongside Samu Taukei, Nat Walmsley and Hugo went on a mission to achieve his goal: to climb the final mountain of the three. Together they travelled just over 600 miles from a little village in Holywell Bay to the Highlands in Scotland.

On the 9th of July Hugo left Newquay just after his Sunday morning breakfast, with a brief stop in Bristol for lunch.  During the drive Hugo enjoyed singing along to his favourite radio stations; Pirate FM, Planet Rock and Classic FM. Hugo made his way up the country and stopped over for his second break just past Manchester, and then his final stop just outside the borders of Scotland for a dinner and a cup of tea.  Thirteen hours later Hugo arrived safely in Spean Bridge – a small town just a few miles outside of Fort William.  We spent some time soaking up the incredible mountains, valley and lake land scenery.  We picked up some provisions from a local shop, and checked into an Airbnb to rest before the epic climb to come the following day.

On the day of the climb, July 10th, Hugo got up early and had a big breakfast before he embarked on his epic journey to the top of Ben Nevis.  The conditions were perfect for the climb; the sun was shining brightly and the temperature was a mild 19 degree Celsius with a gentle breeze.  Hugo, alongside his team, prepared his backpacks with lunch, drinks, energy bars and snacks. Hugo reminded his team about his music and Nordic walking sticks before leaving the AirBnB.  Extensive research and assessments were done to select the best possible route to complete the challenge. There are three possible trails to complete the hike with each having its own difficulty level. The Mountain Trail, Càrn Mor Dearg Arête trail and the Coire Leis. After careful planning, the Mountain Trail was by far the most convenient and safest way to ascend and descend for Hugo. This is the most straightforward way to ascend Ben Nevis and a memorable experience! A well-built path aids the ascent, though at times it is very rough and the solid rock can be tough on the body when descending. In poor weather conditions, the summit plateau can be difficult to find your way and keep to a safe route. 

Along the way, Hugo admired the beautiful valley and the streams running down the mountainside.  After a first bit of climbing Hugo took a break where he was able to take a quick drink of his energy drink and a quick splash of the fresh spring water running down from the mountains which Hugo felt refreshed after.

Here the second climb began and the terrain started to get tougher. The weather took a turn and in the distance Hugo could see rain coming in which gave Hugo enough time to put his coat on and gear himself up in order to keep himself dry and within 20 minutes, the rain finally caught up with us and  Hugo rose to the challenge using his sticks as he bravely marched on in the rain and kept shouting phrases like “its raining” and “the weather isn’t going to change”.  Hugo listened carefully to guidance, approaching every obstacle with care; telling himself “Hugo, be brave” and “Keep going Hugo” which was amazing and quite moving and inspiring to hear.  Hugo made it to his last stop for a break before his final ascend, some sweets to boost his energy levels and a drink to stay hydrated, ready for the final ascend.

At the third and final ascent Hugo tightened his bag straps, put on his music and went for the final climb of about 250 metres to the summit.  At this point the terrain became very challenging due to large amounts of loose rocks and the paths becoming harder to find as Hugo was above the clouds and as Hugo got higher, the Fog was getting thicker but the trail was still visible. Finally, after just over 1 ½  hours, Hugo made it to the top to touch the pillar sitting at the top of Ben Nevis.

As Hugo soaked in the view from the highest point of Scotland, the UK and the British Isles, he was so proud of himself for being able to complete one of his yearly goals; his third and final Peak Challenge.  Hugo had a cup of tea from his flask and enjoyed a packed lunch and a double chocolate brownie , spending about 30 minutes at the top but it got cold and wet quickly, so Hugo put on his gloves and winter beanie and tightened his bag straps, before setting off back down the mountain.

The descent was just as hard and challenging as the ascent.  But as always, Hugo took it on like any other challenge, overcoming his fear of heights to make it back to the car. 

In total, Hugo completed the hike in just under 9 hours, an amazing achievement for anyone. Hugo got back to the car where a medal and a shirt was waiting for Hugo which he appeared to have been very happy about. Hugo was tired but very proud of himself for achieving this goal.  Once again Hugo proves the sky’s the limit!

On our way back to the Airbnb, Hugo stopped over at McDonalds in Fort William for dinner as he wanted a Big Mac Burger and a large chocolate milkshake, which he thoroughly enjoyed after his epic day.  

That evening Hugo was just happy to sit and put his feet up and watch episodes of his favourite tv show “Only Fools and Horses” and enjoy a nice cup of tea and biscuits.

On the 11th July 2023, Hugo asked for a lie in, which he did till about 11am before getting up ready for the day. This day was all about rest and recovery for Hugo and his team. His activity for the day was nothing too physically active and just a bit of sightseeing and taking in what Scotland had to offer. So Hugo with his team travelled up further north to a small town called Drumnadrochit where there was the Loch Ness Centre learning about the history of the Loch Ness Monster called Nessie, a creature in the Scottish folklore that is said to inhabit Loch Ness in the Scottish Highlands. After Hugo went out to the local café where he treated himself to Scottish haddock fish and chips and a can of coke.

On the 12th July 2023, our last day in Scotland Hugo helped pack up the car and make his way home in Cornwall.  After 12 hours and a total of 1400 miles Hugo was happy to be home again.  We are all so proud of what Hugo achieved during his time in Scotland and what we as a team have been able to achieve together supporting Hugo with his personal goals. 

Thank you to the whole team and to Hugo’s family for supporting him!  – It’s time to hang up the hiking boots and look forward to more new adventures! 

Mòran taing

Samu Taukei

Senior Support Worker

Hugo Sherry Conquers Ben Nevis! – guest blog by Samu Taukei