Anne Lister diary transcriptions Anne Lister's diary 1828 Anne Lister's diary July 1828

Tuesday 15 July 1828

9 10/60

Went to her this morning. Two hours with her and had a kiss but not very good to her. She had been too long and too much previously excited. Looked at and saw her queer for the first time.  Breakfast at 12¼. A young man as guide & off to the top of Ben Nevis at 1. [1]

Ben Nevis
Photo by Loek037,  licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license

In 20 minutes at the ferry over the river Lochy. Cart & horse in the large boat & over in 5 minutes. Very fatiguing up the heather & very hot. Soon begun to feel sickish. At 2 35/60 threw up my breakfast & felt relieved but still walked with difficulty. Rinsed my mouth. Languid & unfit to set off, to say nothing of having my breakfast in my throat. Knew not what I attempted. But determined to get on if possible. At 3 5/60 got to the little loch ½ way.

Lochan Meall an t-Suidhe, ‘the little loch half way’
Photo by Nilfanion, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license

In about ½ hour more got to where vegetation quite ceased. The mountain seemed almost perpendicular. Nothing but a heap of stones. Wondered how we could possibly get up. Found the stepping from stone to stone something like going up stairs &, at all rates, far less fatiguing to me than the heather. Fancied the high ridge above us the top. No such thing. The top a bluff head of rock, not seen till apparently just upon it. At the 1st rude, artificial pile of stones on the summit at 5½. Never in my life till today did I know what thirst was. Had it not been for water about an hour from the top I know not what I should have done. My mouth was dry & swollen that I could scarce speak. 35 minutes on the top. Went up to the pile of stones heaped up at the far end of the summit. Looked all round. Read the Scottish Tourist account. Cannot think that even with the best of glasses one could literally see from the German to the Atlantic. But magnificent view. Loch Eil & the fine Loch Linnhe very fine. The deep rocky valleys at my feet. The red mountains, the white ditto. The green ditto & verdant glens. Very fine. Not quite clear. A little hazy but not enough to hurt the view much. Merely to take off the glare.

 Loch Linnhe and Loch Eil from Ben Nevis
Photo by Nilfanion, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license

An hour getting down the [shiver] mountain (lost my pencil going up). Obliged to stop again at the water. My mouth had got bad as ever again. From that moment obliged to rinse it at every run of water I came near. Never suffered so in my life. In about 1½ hours more got to the ferry. Crossed in 2 minutes. Walked home from there in 25 minutes (Miss McLean met me about 200 yards from home, had been to Inverlochy castle, anxiously looking for me at 7). In these last 25 minutes that I had not rinsed my mouth it became bad as ever. The moment of getting home had warm whiskey toddy & was in bed in 10 minutes. All my linen, & in short every thing I had on, wet. Drank several glasses of the toddy & a small basin of chicken broth & ate a little rice pudding & fell asleep about 10. Awoke in the night from thirst and drank afterwards several times. The Ben Lomond piper struck up O Jonny Cope at 4 and roused me. Drank a couple of tumblers of very weak toddy during the night. What could make me suffer so from thirst? [2] Pain too on getting into bed about the muscles of my knees, particularly the left. Had ascended in 4½ hours & descended in 3 hours all but 5 minutes. Considering the state I was in wonder how I did it. Very fine day. Ben Nevis – or rather the neighbouring summits, could not see Ben Nevis himself – clouded very soon after we got down.

Neptune inn to the top of Ben Nevis & back, 14 miles

[1] Ben Nevis, at 1,345m tall, is the highest mountain in Britain and Ireland, although that was not confirmed by Ordnance Survey until 19 years after Anne Lister’s ascent. John Keats climbed Ben Nevis in 1818 comparing it to ‘mounting ten St. Pauls without the convenience of a staircase.’ The Ben Nevis visitor centre website says ‘[t]he path is rocky and dangerously slippery, especially when wet, and visibility is often limited by cloud, rain and fog.’

[2] The Ben Nevis visitor centre website advises taking at least 2 litres of water with you if you are going to attempt the climb.

You can read the original diary entry here: Https://

One thought on “Tuesday 15 July 1828

  1. sounds as tho Lister had totally threw her electrolytes out of wack via lack of fluids on this jaunt …sometimes, her ego truly gets the best of her intelligence…however, sounds like she may have been already getting ill after breakfast…mmmmm

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back To Top