Monday, 22 July 2013

Lillington's Training Goes to Europe!

By Tommy Lillington

I'm always looking for something a bit different when it comes to training so imagine how excited I was when I was offered the opportunity to climb Pic de Neulous by fellow Kilimanjaro hiker Jane Massey who has a holiday home very close to this mountain. So my wife Lou, my son Albert and I flew down to the beautiful Laroque des Alberes in the south of France.

 We were greeted by beautiful weather and spent a lovely weekend with Jane and her family. On the Saturday, Jane, myself and Albert headed off on a brief walk to the village where we met our guide for the day Bernard.

Bernard is a veteran of this mountain and could probably climb it with his eyes shut!! so we were in safe hands. Mount Neulous (1,255 metres high) stands at approximately the same height as Ben Nevis so we knew we were on for no small climb. The immediate difference between the two mountains is that this is a wooded mountain and so lovely shade was provided for most of the way up.

It was a good steady climb with some very steep scrambles in places. It took us just about four hours which wasn't bad considering we couldn't help but stop and take pictures of the stunning views. Eventually we got there and the first thing you notice is that despite leaving in searing heat it was significantly chillier at the top. But wow what a view – it was well worth it. The best bit though was to come which was lunch at the restaurant at the top with Lou and Mark, Jane’s husband, who drove up to meet us. It was fantastic and well earned I can tell you.

 Next for the 2 hour descent. Anyone who has done any form of mountain climbing will tell you that coming down is as hard, or harder, than going up. Most trips or falls happen on the way down. In this case it was Jane and Bernard who took a tumble but nothing too serious just bruised bottoms!!

 I always feel that when you are coming down a mountain you see and appreciate the views even more simply because you’re facing away from the mountain and can take it all in. That day was no exception. The views were stunning all the way down. After a couple of hours we were back in the village where Bernard made us all a well earned tea.

This was my fourth mountain and I have to say my favourite. l loved every minute of it and to have my son with me made it that little bit more special.

Thank you Jane and Mark for a wonderful weekend.

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