Wedding Bells on the Ben
By Alan Smurthwaite
I will lift up mine eyes to the hills from whence cometh my help. I seem to remember those words from schooldays in the fiftees, possibly from some good book? I have changed them for 2007 to "whence cometh my HELL" Way back last year I was contacted to conduct a wedding for a couple from Forres. It is to be at the top of Ben Rinnes I was told. In response to my query I was told 'it's an hours walk. An easy hour and a half. My mother can do it in an hour.' Yeah, sure and good for mother.
The file for that wedding, although bright orange, has come up through the pile getting a darker shade of black as the day approached. Maybe it'll rain or snow (I was getting desperate) and the wet weather option apply. Huh! A beautiful day, bright sunshine for the whole fifty mile trip. Light fleecy clouds, warm breeze, all nature smiling. Arrived at the car park, blast it, thought I might get lost, and watched the buses disgorge their passengers. Brght young things in cheery warm anoraks carrying walking sticks and haversacks, with water bottles conspicuous. Chatting happily and flexing muscles, stretching legs, some even carrying children.
The bride and groom seemed glad to see me, I suppose they had to be because without me it was just a climb for nothing. "Oh!" said the bride, "Here's Mum" and I looked to see this thin wifie, thin and only slightly younger than me. So this is the one that climbs it in only an hour - no problem for me then! So off we went, led by Mum, who went off at such a pace that gravel sprayed out from behind her luxury walking boots. I was next to see her at the top.
The first half of the climb was ok - at least compared with the second half. At the halfway mark I stopped to rest, planning to have regular stops thereafter, the gaps between which became less and less. Over the last ridge and there was the top, bloody miles away, up a steep zigzag. Hardy souls who had been up and were making their way back kept saying "not far to go now". Liars the lot of them. At last I got there, lungs bursting, legs knackered, sweating profusely and feeling like I had been through the mangle.
Of course it had become much colder by then. The sun was gone and hail showers swept in. I ate my meagre rations, chilling dramatically as I tried to find shelter. "Right" said the groom, "Let's get on with it" and ordered everyone down to the sheltered bit. The 90 idiots, that had come to see the wedding, huddled around looking nothing like wedding guests.So the ceremony started and we stood there for twenty minutes or so before, with immense releif, I started back down the hill.
The journey down was painful and nearly as bad on the way up, but an hour later I was back in the car in a state of physical collapse. As if the walk, (what a misnomer!), wasn't bad enough I made a hash of the grooms name. He was called Jeremy but for some crazy reason, possibly altitude sickness, everytime it came out as Jeremony! I departed quickly for home and a blissful rest.
Well, not really, as I had a baby naming ceremony the same evening. It was held at Beauly and attended by hordes of hyperactive children that ran riot during the whole inaudilble performance. The little darlings!
Were you the Bride & Groom?
Perhaps you were one of the "90 idiots" Alan refers to in his tale
Do you have photos of this wedding march?
We would love to hear from you.
All correspondence to Bob Fuller please
Post: Tales, FOBR, c/o Bob Fuller. Braeside, Beatshach, Aberlour, AB38 9NJ