A Grand Day Out

In September 1928, Fort William lad, John MacDougall climbed Ben Nevis.  What was so unusual about his ascent and descent was that he achieved it on a bicycle in the days before mountain biking had become a popular local sport.  He pushed the bike up Britain's highest mountain and then rode it back down the path.  John managed this amazing feat on an Overdale Cycle.  To thank him for his accomplishment, the bike manufacturer, James Robertson of Glasgow gifted John a silver pocket watch, engraved with the words "Presented by James Robertson to John MacDougall for Climbing Ben Nevis on an Overdale Cycle, Sept. 1928.  John worked in Fort William High Street for local retailer Marshall and Pearson, a family firm that still operates in Fort William High Street to this day.

The watch was gifted to the museum last month by John's daughter Ann and will soon be on display in our Highland Life gallery alongside other Ben Nevis related memorabilia such as a Ben Nevis race medal.  Also in the museum are a film and exhibits relating to the ascent of Ben Nevis in 1911 by Henry Alexander in his Model T Ford.  This feat has been honoured with a bronze statue of Henry sat in his car which is located in Cameron Square outside the museum.


Vanessa Martin


1.  John MacDougall with his Overdale Cycle on the Ben Nevis path in 1928

2.  The silver watch gifted to John by James Robertson