Molly exploded into our lives in June 2007. She was a Border Collie from a working farm on Dartmoor. The farmer said ‘she’ll need a lot of exercise’ when we collected her and we took him at his word. Molly was loud, boisterous and excitable with endless energy, so she was ideally suited to life as a mountain dog. She spent her puppyhood on the moors of Devon before moving to Scotland and climbing her first Corbett, Beinn an Lochain, when she was a year old. Before we knew it Molly had climbed her 50th Corbett on Beinn Maol Chaluim and then, not long after, her 100th on Beinn Spionnlaidh. Her 150th was on Sail Mhor in deep snow and her 200th on Beinn an Eoin in a heatwave.
The idea of Molly completing the Corbetts begun in 2011 when I was updating her hill log and realised she only had 20 to go. The trouble was they were somewhat widely distributed and the last few months meant some lengthy drives from Aviemore, south to the Borders, Galloway and Tyndrum, west to Skye, north to Foinaven and finally across to Ardgour.
Climbing The Cobbler was a lot easier than I anticipated. We dressed Molly in her harness and attached a sling to it and she walked through the needle and up the ledge, posed for a photo and walked down again like it was the most normal thing in the world for a dog to do!
On paper it looked like the most straightforward route to the remote Ben Aden was by kayak up Loch Quoich. However, Molly did not enjoy the experience and spent the whole journey sitting on my lap shaking and getting her back into the kayak for the return journey was a two man job.
We traversed the A’ Chir ridge on Arran which required a couple of short abseils and despite being somewhat bemused by being suddenly airborne, Molly took it all in her stride and was far less nervous than I was watching her.
Molly’s completion was a lively affair with her invited guests gathering from afar and 5 of her doggie friends adding to the general air of bedlam. As we approached the summit, we were greeted by Hamish Brown who had made the journey specially to congratulate Molly on her achievement. We celebrated with cookies and champagne and Molly and her companions were presented with a packet of sausages each.
For me, hillwalking without a dog is an empty experience. Molly lived in the moment, the sights and smells of the hills invigorated her, she may not have appreciated the views in the same way that I did but she did not worry about what had passed before or what lay ahead. Maybe we should all learn to ‘be more dog’.