The First Time I Nearly Died

The first time I almost died was in summer 2002, aged 19, when I nearly fell off a waterfall on the Isle of Arran.

My friend Ben and I had scrambled up the side in shorts and flip-flops and we were about 140 feet up. We were about to leave but I wanted to have one more look over the exhilarating edge.

At the edge itself was a rocky ledge about two feet deep, and to get down to it you had to lower yourself about five feet down off the huge shelf where we’d been standing. The water wasn’t flowing fast, and we’d even been able to swim in a natural pool that had formed in the rock of the main shelf.

So I lowered myself gently down, but for some reason I let myself fall the last 6 inches down onto the ledge. As I landed I slipped – my £3 flip-flops did not have a lot of grip – but thankfully I slipped sideways rather than forwards.

Sideways meant I landed with a crash on my left arm and ribs. Forwards would have meant plunging down the 140 foot waterfall, and into oblivion.

I lay there for a moment, stunned by the blow to my side and by the narrowness of my escape. My face was less than 6 inches from the edge of the waterfall, and I stared downwards into the void and at the water spilling past and over me into it.

For six months I would wake up in the middle of the night with that flashback in my head: staring over the edge of the waterfall where I had nearly died.

Life lesson: never buy cheap flip-flops.

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Photo: Fotolia/AP

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