How little change in the basic Compass from 1744 apart from the cost! Reverse Polarity ? Looking for a new phone for the hills?

This compass was said to be used by Bonnie Prince Charlie in 1744 just before Culloden !

This compass was used just before Culloden by Bonnie Prince Charlie it is made of ivory. It can be seen at the Culloden Visitor Centre at Inverness. I wonder how much that is worth today?

It is amazing how close it looks to a modern compass even though this was nearly 375 years ago !

The modern compass is very similar !

It is incredible to think that the compass is still so well used today despite the use of modern technology! Always look after your compass, treat it carefully and check it regularly I have broken a few over the years?  I wonder what in 1744 they would have thought of people in 2017 navigation on a phone or GPS?

Phone mapping battery and connector not in photo.

I use all the technology I can when I go out especially on my own but always carry a map and compass with me and try to pass on navigation skills when out with inexperienced walkers in the hills.

The photo above is using modern technology on the Cairngorm plateau . The GPS a great addition to navigation that I use now on my phone, through an ap, any comments! I always still carry a map and compass as back up.  It is also worth ensuring if using a GPS or Phone for navigation always carry a spare battery and keep them out of the elements as much as possible.

Reverse Polarity in Compasses

“Reverse polarity is where the magnetism in the compass needle becomes permanently reversed so the red end of the needle points south instead of north. This is different to the magnetic needle being temporarily deviated a little when near a metal object or weak magnet and correcting itself as soon as it is moved away. It can affect any brand of compass.


Working in the outdoor industry for 40 years, I had never come across a reversed polarity compass until about 8 years ago. Since then I have personally seen about 30 and heard of quite a few more cases, at least 3 of which ended in a mountain rescue call out for competent navigators. This problem is unlikely to be caused by proximity to ordinary metal, a penknife for instance (how would the military survive with all their armoured vehicles and weaponry?). I have a box of about 20 assorted compasses all mixed together, they are strongly affected by each others magnetic needle yet once separated they have never reversed as their magnetism is actually quite weak. So what is going on?

Could it be batteries? Many of us will have repeatedly had AA or AAA batteries in a head torch or GPS for instance adjacent to our compass in the rucksack over many years without effect. Pass these items by your compass, it hardly affects the needle, in fact less effect than another compass would. So that does not explain the sudden increase of incidents. Mobile phone batteries are different being rechargeable, but remove it from your phone and put it by your compass – little or no effect, now try the mobile phone without the battery – it has a strong effect from a magnet in the speaker system. This also illustrates that whether the phone is switched on or off is irrelevant.

Mountain rescuers and sea kayakers carry radios with a speaker with a strong magnet in it which will cause a change in polarity if left rubbing together in a rucksack or hatch regardless of whether switched on or having a battery in. For a sea kayaker in poor visibility this could be a very serious situation as they may have no other features to support their navigation decisions. Walky talky devices will do the same thing (I used one recently in the field to correct a reversed polarity compass).

The guilty culprit seems to be anything with a speaker system in it. Additionally some phone cases have a small magnet in that puts the phone into a hibernate mode, that too will change needle polarity. An experiment of stroking one of these devices on a compass reversed the polarity after just a few minutes. It is not hard to envisage this happening quite by accident with a phone and compass lying together in the lid of a rucksack or jacket pocket on a days walk. The needle can be reversed back by again repeatedly stroking a magnet along it. However there is no guarantee as to the strength of the re-magnetised needle and how easily it might reverse again. The compass manufacturers would not support you sorting this problem yourself. They will do it for you, however they do warn against leaving compasses near metal objects in the instruction leaflet so they may not feel obliged to offer a replacement.

It appears that a A conscious effort is required to keep the compass isolated from other gadgets, from phones and radios, to digital cameras, GPS, avalanche transceivers and SPOT devices. Try experimenting with all your devices near your compass so that you are aware of the ones that have a significant affect and keep them apart whether using them or storing them. A challenge for MR personnel with suggestions that transceivers can be affected by phones as well, they are often carrying a phone, a radio, a transceiver and a compass!

If you suspect your compass has reversed then compare it with one that you may have on your GPS, phone, or watch, or think of other natural signs such as the expected wind direction or position of the sun.

A reverse polarity compass could have a life threatening consequence; try to treat it as a delicate scientific instrument.”


Nigel Williams – Glenmore Lodge – Revised Jul 2016

I am looking for a new phone when my contract is out I have had an I phone but find them so expensive any ideas any one and also a protective case which for me is a must?

Any comments?


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The Walk ” some prisons have no walls “- a story to make us all think how lucky we are?

This is a plug for a man I admire Mikey Kay and his love for his brother Spencer who is a severely autistic. This autism means he has had around-the-clock care since he was born. His mother literally looked after him until the day she died. Mikey in an interview on “Good Morning Britain” said “On the morning that his Mum died, she got up, she bathed him, she washed him, she washed his sheets then she went back to bed and she passed away,” Mikey told Susanna and Ben on Thursday’s Good Morning Britain.

I watched the interview and it made me cry as I lived a few doors along from the family when I was at RAF Valley in North Wales. Spencer was Nikki’s life and there was no other thought in her life than for Spencer and his well-being.

With submissions to Sundance, Berlin, Tribeca and Edinburgh film festivals, The Walk is a film passion project 45 years in the making, about my severely autistic big brother, Spencer, a powerhouse of energy whose only solace lies in his daily walks across the majestic and rugged Welsh terrain – a simple, yet fundamental freedom jeopardized by social stigmas and the threat of institutionalization – as told by the few who have fought every step of the way to ensure Spencer’s unhindered ability … to Walk.

Mikey Kay

Filmed over three years, The Walk is centered on the life of my severely autistic brother Spencer. Gifted with phenominal fitness and boundless energy, Spencer’s peace comes from walks across North Wales, whether it be the beaches of Anglesey, or among the mountains of the Snowdonia National Park. Our mum, Nicola, devoted her life to Spencer, caring for his every need, day and night. At the center of mum’s daly struggle was a fear that one day Spencer would be taken away and institutionalized due to his challenging behavior. Mum paid the ultimate price for her unwavering devotion to Spencer.

The WALK not only looks as Spencer’s fitness and freedoms as the key to his peace, it follows the journey my sister and I had to take in battling to prevent him from being institutionalized. If you’ve seen ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’, you’ll appreciate the fear we had. Keeping up with Spence is a task, filming and recording his audio is like running a marathon, a feat of endurance! After a 20-year military career flying assault helicopters, with many tours of duty under my belt in Iraq and Afghanistan, I turned my focus to journalism and story telling. Working as a multi-media journalist for ABC News combined with producing and filming stories for networks such as The History Channel, I now have the skill sets to tell Spencer’s story. My hope is that the film will bring more awareness to the spectrum of autism, and the crucial and loving dedication of family and friends.

Risks and challenges

I have self-funded the film which has taken three years to produce, film, write and edit. The Walk is my first feature film, and the skills required to turn this project from an idea into reality, I taught myself. Every moment of my spare time over the last three years has been dedicated to telling my brother’s story. An important tale that I believe will provide a little solace for many many families across the world, blessed with children like Spencer, and who struggle everyday to overcome severe challenges; physical and mental.

The scoring (music) I have used in the edit gives the film a cinematic and powerful feel, however that comes at a premium which is what I am hoping kickstarter will facilitate assistance with. Without the funding, the film will lose a significant element of its emotion, and with that, its influence to affect viewers in a positive way.


The Walk

Mikey was on Good Morning Britain at yesterday morning (7th Dec) talking about the making of the #TheWalk – a film on my severely autistic brother Spencer. Then on Sky News at 3.30pm. If you’re near a telly- would love you to tune in. After 3 years of filming and over 9-months of editing and writing; I’ve finally started submitting #TheWalk to film festivals. I’m also launching a Kickstarter to raise money to pay for the music/scoring that accompanies the film. The entire project hitherto has been self-funded. Link to Kickstarter here. Thank you for the kind consideration->>…

You’ll recognise Mikey Kay as Good Morning Britain’s security expert – but today he joined us to share a personal and moving story of strength against the odds.

Mikey’s older brother Spencer has severe autism and has had around-the-clock care since he was born. His mother literally looked after him until the day she died.

“Spencer, 45, is unable to dress, wash or feed himself – but has found a release through incredible physical strength discovered over years of hiking. Accordingly, Mikey has made a special film called The Walk to tell his brother’s story.

On making the documentary, Mikey said: “How do you make the viewer not feel sorry for that person? How do you make the viewer empower the person and focus on the positive of that person?”

Watch him tell us more above

From Good Morning Britain website.

If you can help Mikey make this film  see the website below.…

Thank God for Mikey and family who care and he is so true that some “prisons have no walls” when you see Spencer out in the wild places and his joy and freedom it is a wonderful sight. His mother Nikki would be so proud of what he is doing.


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35 years on – 7 December 1982 – The F111 USAF crashed on Sgurr Na Stri (The hill of Strife) Isle of Skye.

I heard from another person from the USA who had read my blog  last night, he was on this incident on the enquiry team after the crash for the F111 aircraft on the Isle of Skye. I thought it was worth updating my thoughts on a huge sad call out 35 years ago yeterday.

“At about 8 pm on the night of 7 December 1982 after descending to about 1000ft over Loch Scavaig, an F-111F aircraft struck the southern face of the 1620 foot peak Sgurr na Stri,  The unarmed aircraft, serial number 70-2377, was on a regular training mission from RAF Lakenheath in Suffolk.

The pilot in the left hand seat of the aircraft was Major (Lt Col. Selectee) Burnley L. (“Bob”) Rudiger Jr., aged 37, from Norfolk, Virginia. Major Rudiger was survived by a wife and two children who were then resident at Risby, Suffolk.

The Plaque at Elgol

The weapons system operator in the right seat was 1st Lt. Steven J. Pitt, 28, from East Aurora, New York. Lt. Pitt was survived by a wife and two children, then resident at Icklingham, Suffolk.

* The Strathaird estate was at the time owned by Ian Anderson otherwise more famous as the lead singer and flautist of the rock group Jethro Tull.”

1982 f111 crash Skye Sgurr Na Stri

In was December the 7 th 1982 I was stationed at RAF Kinloss in the Morayshire Coast in Scotland. The Falklands war had just finished but RAF Kinloss where I worked was still working 12 hour shifts. I had done the early shift from 0600 -1800 in In Flight Catering rationing the Nimrod planes; it hadalready been a busy day. I went back to the Mountain Rescue Section where I was a part-time member and was sorting my equipment of for a weekend’s winter training with the Mountain Rescue team. As I finished the phone rang it was the Rescue Centre at RAF Pitreavie saying that an American F111 Fighter aircraft  from RAF Lakenheath with two crew had crashed in the Isle of Skye. They initailly  thought that it was on the main ridge and another aircraft in the two man formation was flying over the area.

Skye in Scotland is a mountaineer’s and climber’s paradise, in winter it becomes Alpine with ascents of the easiest peaks only for the experienced.   The time was just after 2000 hours it was already a wild winter night, pitch dark and with snow at sea level. I was told to get a fast hill party together in 15 minutes and get to the aircraft pan as a Sea King helicopter from RAF Lossiemouth was on its way to take us to Skye. 15 minutes is not long to sort out your life. There were 6 of us I was the party leader:Allan Tait, Joe Mitchell, Keith Powell (RIP) Chris Langley, Paul Whittaker and my dog Teallach were the fast party. There was little time to get kit sorted and I took as much climbing gear and rope as we could carry and ditched most of my personal gear, weight was critical. The Skye ridge in a December night was not the place to be but this was payback time for us this is what we trained for.RAF Mountain Rescue primary task was the Rescue and Recovery of crashed aircrew in the Mountains. The forecast as I said was awful and there was a good chance of the helicopter not getting us to the crash position due to the weather.  It would be a long hard night ahead. The position we were given at first was right on the main ridge between Sgurr Greta and Sgurr a’ Mhadaidh a nightmare scenario in winter and at night.

The hill though small was a tricky as nay mountain in a wild winters night

This was 1982 before modern phones and communications and the kit we had was still basic, our bivouack kit was still a big orange polythene bag, which was next to useless in wet weather. We carried hill radios that were efficient, line of sight but heavy and suffered in the cold and wet. The helicopter was at RAF Lossiemouth a few minutes away we were flying with 15 minutes in the darkened aircraft. I was told to go to the front of the helicopter for a brief and stayed there most of the trip out to Skye. The snow was falling very heavily and the crew would have to use all their cunning and experience to get to the incident. This was also in the days before night vision equipment and the modern GPS, It is hard to believe we flew low near the roads to get updates on our navigation. I do not enjoy flying at the best of times and this was areally worrying trip. My 5 team companions were in the back oblivious to what was happening. When a military aircraft goes in all the efforts are made by all concerned and the rest of the team would follow by road a journey as bad for them in roads plastered with snow and ice and taking up to 6 hours! We would be on our own for at least 12 hours. My head was on fire with plans but we had to get there first and I was helping picking out snowy land marks on the way. At Achnasheen about half way there after about 35 minutes we had to land down on the road as the weather was awful. We were soon off again and all the time getting updated on the situation and a new fix for the crash site. It was now near Loch Coruisk a remote part of the ridge with no road access. There was another aircraft an F111 over the site that was now pitch dark covered by snow and cloud. The local Skye Mountain Rescue team were trying to get to Egol and help us with their local knowledge; this would be invaluable in these hills. As we neared Egol (This is a village on the shores of Loch Scavaig towards the end of the Strathaird peninsula in the Isle of Skye.) I moved to help the winch man by going on the harness near the aircraft door. The weather was still wild and snow was blowing everywhere as we were dropping down to pick up the Skye Mountain Rescue party. The winch man saw Hydro electric  wires nearby and we had to rise steeply to miss them, we were very lucky. The aircraft pulled away and I was told we had one chance of a drop off as the aircraft had a problem now due to the power used. We flew out to sea and I had a quick look at the map, winching was not possible so picked a spot at sea level  I knew well. I had been here a few times before at  Camasunary Mountain Bothy near a hill called Sgurr na Stri. This was near where the aircraft last known position was it the place to start our search. We could not wait to get out of the helicopter and my party inside had a good idea how near we had been to a disaster. That landing near the shore and on flat ground at last was a great feeling.

The old Mountain Bothy at Camusunary now a private house. The hill behind is Sgurr na Stri “the Hill of Strife”

A few months previously we had been to another F111 that crashed in Strathcarron we had been involved and the crew were okay they had ejected in the capsule that was unique to this aircraft and both were taken to hospital in nearby Inverness. We were sure that the crew of two would be waiting for our arrival somewhere on the mountain.

The F111 Crash in Strathcarron this was a happy occasion when we recovered both crew safe and well.

We were on our own as the helicopter flew off, leaving us alone in the dark, with the smell of fire and aviation fuel about.    Out of the bothy door came three figures

They were staying at the bothy for a few days and they also had night to remember, they had just had a wet day on the nearby Munro Blaven. Paul Rosher, John Foggin and Paul Robson had the fire on in the bothy and the dinner was getting cooked. In Paul’s own words “Everything happened so fast, a bright red light lit up the whole bay, we could see right across it. Everything started shaking, door windows and table objects on the table. Then there was a shockwave, not a sound but a physical pressure that moved from right to left and when it did the fire went out, the air was briefly sucked out of the room. Kit was flying through the air and part of the ceiling fell on Paul, who ran into the white light covered in plaster. I remember thinking that a nuclear war had started after all it was very much still the cold war years and the Holy Loch did harbour nuclear submarines.


I am sure Paul (who was one of the boys in the bothy when the aircraft crashed) he does not remember but I am positive that the three of them came out of the Camasunary Bothy with their hands up in the air and covered in white dust from the roof.  They had an epic time after the F111 aircraft hit the mountain behind the hut. Sgurr na Stri though only a small hill, was on fire, the explosion, the shock wave and the blast had nearly destroyed the bothy and they like us were fairly shocked. I asked Paul if he knew whereabouts of the crash was as by now the aircraft that was circling the crash site had gone. It was snowing heavy the cloud was down and it was as dark as hell. The hill is defended by a big river and a very steep South Face, typical Skye, with gullies and steep cliffs. Worse now as even the shoreline was covered in wet snow. Paul said he knew the hill well, I had never climbed it but it was only small by Skye standards, or so we thought! We had some additional lighting with us, state of the art Sharks eyes which though heavy and needed 6 bicycle type batteries helped illuminates the ground. We took Paul with us and asked the others in the bothy to wait until more troops arrived.

Looking down on the old bridge no onger there. The river was huge that night.

The first obstacle was the river but there was a rickety bridge which we crossed with trepidation, but we were high on adrenaline and were soon across, my dog swimming the fast flowing river. It was bitter cold and the smell of aviation fuel and burning was unmistakable.

This is a complicated mountain and in winter a wild place.

I am asked what do you do at times like this, it all seems to work well and we tried to split up to search a bigger area but the group was too hard to control in the dark. I got everyone together again it was too dangerous. The ground was wild like a Glencoe corrie steep and slippy in the wet snow, route finding was tricky as small buttress’s appeared in the dark all the time. A slip would have been serious but my dog Teallach has a great hill sense and always picked the best line. We very quickly came across small pieces of wreckage- sharp pieces of aircraft metal lying in the ground the light from our torches and lights glinting in the gloom. You have to be aware of the dangers even after a crash, fire, sharp metal and explosives even if the aircraft was unarmed as this one was. You also have so many chemicals goodness knows what you are breathing and nowadays you would enter a crash site in full protective gear, this was 1982.  It was time for Paul to go down as we were nearing the impact point and I feared what we may find. There was also still a good chance that we may find the escape capsule and the crew and that may be on more dangerous ground, we would need all our small team to assist. It was better we carried on alone and Paul was taken down though he wanted to stay but we had no choice Allan Tait (Gus) escorted him down. It is also very wise not to put people who do not need to be there in such close to proximity to what we were about to find. By now we were finding large bits of aircraft but no sign of the capsule, it was passed midnight we stopped for a break, it was now very wet with heavy snow falling, and we were soaked and needed to gather our thoughts. Everyone was cold and tired but I had a fine bunch of troops and we agreed to search and spread out, it was not long before we found pieces of the cockpit and sadly the crew. It was fairly easy to decide that no one had survived the crash. In moments like this life stands still. We wereall working in hope that we would find two people, I was sure they would have ejected, it hit me hard, though you cannot show it at the time. Two unknown men to us American Aircrew with families, children and lives just like us had died where we now stood. It is impossible to explain our feelings at the time.  Due to the sensitivity of this crash and where we were it was now about 0300 and we decided to bivouac at the scene until the reinforcements from RAF Kinloss arrived.

Looking down from the main ridge to the bothy.

We had no radio Communications all night and I tried every hour to get through transmitting what we had found, there was no answer, even Gus at the bothy could not hear us, we were alone. It was a hellish night, and looking back after 40 years in Mountain Rescue it was one of my worst nights ever on the mountain’s. In the end the rest and bedded down on the main ridge there was little shelter and we were soaked and wet all night with the fresh snow and rain making the ground slushy and wet. I could see the two young ones suffering so by 0500 we were all up waiting for daybreak; it was a very cold night.  By 0800 the weather had cleared and we heard the team on the radio, they had an epic drive 6 hours and stayed the night at Jethro Tull  Ian Andersons Farm(the musicians farm) and set out at first light. They managed to drive in to near Camusunary a crazy road and eventually reached us by midday. We showed them around the crash site which was all over the area where we had bivouacked. We could not get back down quick enough and were soon back at Base Camp in Skye by mid-afternoon.  We had been on the go that day for over 24 hours. Gus had a good night in the bothy and the Paul and the boys were amazed when Gus produced a bag of hidden food from a wall near the bothy. He had hid it a few weeks earlier for a walk across Scotland in the summer; they ate like kings unlike us.  We were exhausted but still high on adrenalin and after some food sleep took over.

2017 May Wreckage still all over the mountain. The force of the crash is evident.

Over the next few days the RAF Kinloss Mountain Rescue and the USAF recovered the two casualties a grim task after some USAF Investigating officers allowed them to be taken from the crash site. I then spent a week working with the Investigation Team on the mountain walking in every day for a week with them looking after them on this amazing little hill. We started in the dark and walked out in the dark it is short days in December, it was a difficult time for all.We got the odd helicopter lift when weather allowed and I learned so much from this incident and met some incredible people. I learned so much about communications, leadership and fought for decent kit for the team. After this so many lessons were learned that stood me in great stead for other big call outs like Lockerbie 6 years later in 1988. Paul who I met on the hill that night is now a great friend, living in Skye and a member of the Skye Mountain Rescue Team. The others in the team remain friends for life and Keith who was a power that night on the hill is no longer with us.

1982 at the crash site with the Board of Enquiry.

Return to Camusunary –  2012

“In the storm lashed car we hide from the weather, we have to leave it warmth.

The simple track to Camusunary, effortlessly works its way, heads down in the sleet and snow

Taking a route over swollen streams and sticky bog.

Blavens Southern ridge climbs, long, fingered snow-covered winds its way to the heights.

Cresting the beleach. we see the meadow,  the beach and there “Falkland like” the bothy Camusunary!

So many memories of that wild night in 82 thirty years to the day″

The families of the crew have been in touch over the years and sent some wonderful words thanking us for our efforts and happy we made a trip in 2012 on the 30 th anniversary in memory of their loved ones. For Gus, Paul and myself  it was some trip.

Myself and Paul Rosher on a call out in 2000 now a great pal.

I was back again in May 2017 staying in the bothy at Loch Coruisk with my local Mountaineering Club and visited the crash site for 2 days. There is still so much wreckage about and some even 2 kilometres from the impact site. It is a wonderful poignant place it has incredible views of the Islands and the Skye ridge but is full of memories for me and those families involved that we could do little for. I still hear from some relatives every year, through my blog which is heart-warming and few knew of our story and our efforts.

In 1982 I was 30 and in my prime as a mountaineer but that night tasked us all to the full, looking back what a sad event and one I will never forget.  There is a small plaque at Elgol with a view to Sgur Na Stri with a view to the incredible mountain and lots of memories.

2017 a visit to the crash site in May still so much wreckage there.

In memory of the crew of that fateful night Magor Bob Rudiger and Lt Steven Pitt and those with me on this sad event. Allan Tait, Joe Mitchell, Keith Powell (RIP) Chris Langley, Paul Whittaker, my dog Teallach and Paul Rosher and pals.

1996 visit by boat to crash site.

I have visited the crash site on 6 occasions since 1982 and it is always a wild place to reach especially in winter where it is an expedition. If you visit T ny time of year please be careful this is a serious mountain though small by comparison of the huge Cuillin giants. Route finding to the crash site is tricky in poor weather and their is still plenty of loose rock about.

Sadly the bothy at Camusunary is now a private house but the Mountain Bothies have a bothy nearby which can be used.

A bit of the wreckage located in late 1980 near the shore now at RAF Lossiemouth located by myself. This was about 2 kilometres form the crash site

David “Heavy” Whalley Dec 2017

There is a book that has recently produced and has this incident in it and many others ” Lest we forget”

Posted in Aircraft incidents, Articles, Bothies, Corbetts and other hills, Friends, Gear, Mountain rescue, mountain safety, Mountaineering, Other hills Grahams & Donalds, Poems, Recomended books and Guides, Views Mountaineering, Weather | Leave a comment

F111 Crash on Stron Na Stri – The Island Of Skye 7 Dec 1982.

My thoughts as always with the families of the crew and all those involved in the recovery.


The Plaque near Egol in Skye The Plaque near Egol in Skye the plaque is near the path a grid reference of its location would be great! Photo Ian Wright.

During the Christmas period I had a quite time socially but met a visitor to the village, Ian Wright he was over with his family for the festive period. He is working in the oil industry in Houston the USA and comes from this great area. We began talking and found we had a love of Scotland and the West Coast especially Skye and the mountains. I told him of my love of the Cullin ridge and especially Coruisk in the back of the Island and either a long walk in or by boat.

The view of the heart of Skye The view of the heart of Skye and Stron Na Stri

We began talking more and more about Skye and found that he had noticed a memorial near Egol   one of…

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A windy December night and more to come.

Last night the wind picked up and the forecast is  for a wild few days. Living near the sea the windows were rattling and they are forecasting a big storm from the effects of Hurricane Caroline. When I am asked what have been your scariest moments on the mountains in my top 10 is pals getting blown over on call outs. On pal was dropped off with me of Beinn Alligin on a big search the winds were about 50 – 60 knots and as soon as the helicopter left he was blown about 20 feet by a gust, he was lucky. If it had not had been a call out we would not have been there. Give wind great respect and add blown snow and you can have a serious problem.

The last place you may want to be at the end of route in winter that is sheltered is up on the plateau in a big wind?

7 December, 2017 –  This is from the MWIS website for the Cairngorms.

“Exceptionally severe Scottish Highlands: storm or hurricane force upland
winds (strongest N/E), considerable snow (centred western hills) giving
sustained whiteout. Upland gales elsewhere and progressively dropping
temperature will result in showers being increasingly of snow.

British Mountain Summary:
Based on forecast chart for noon 7 December, 2017
Headline for Cairngorms NP and Monadhliath
Very severe: Hurricane force winds; heavy snow; sustained whiteout.”

The Met Office is very similar –  Weather

Very stormy conditions with gusts over 100mph on high ground, easing slightly during the afternoon. Snow or hail showers becoming frequent through the morning with blizzard conditions and a small chance of thunder, showers merging at times. Rain showers at low levels through the morning and early afternoon then snow to most levels.

Time to take it easy and hope it all goes with as little damage as possible, definitely not a day for the mountains.

Wind warnings.


General wind direction is forecast, but can vary locally, particularly when speeds are light. Wind speed can also vary, sometimes within a few strides, as the air blows over a ridge or summit. Forecast speeds are where exposed, and thus will be an overestimation overall – although locally on some very exposed crags, may be an underestimate.

Mountain winds are frequently above the normal speed range experienced, particularly in inland cities. Thus, we major on describing the impact of the wind. Words used are varied but are based on the tables showing the effect of the wind on you and surroundings and wind chill.

Wind speeds from Mountaineering Scotland !

We use a wind chill of 12 degrees Celsius as the limit for specific mention of wind-chill in the text – except on the rare windy days in July and August, when with the expectation of people on the mountains in ‘summer’ clothes, we lower the figure by a couple of degrees (especially if there is a sudden change from warm weather).

Maybe a day for indoors?

Posted in Avalanche info, Enviroment, Mountain rescue, mountain safety, Mountaineering, Views Mountaineering, Weather | 2 Comments

Yesterday was International Volunteer Day thanks to all who give of their precious time. Fittingly a presentation night with Daedalus Explorers  Scouts  

A got a few reminders that today is a day to thank all those who give off their time voluntary to help others.

The country would not exist with out them and their are so many who help I all fields mostly under the Radar! Sadly many of the big Organisations have well paid full time executives who sometimes forget the effort put on by unpaid volunteers and at times take them for granted. There are others like the Mountain Rescue who have have great professional folk ensuring that the organisation run well! This is so necessary in the modern world where everything is accountable.They never forget or take for granted the efforts of volunteers without which most organisations would fail.

It is never easy to get the right compromise at times and it is easy to forget that a volunteers time is so precious in this modern world. Sometimes it seems that at times you may need great wisdom to keep things right for all concerned and this is true in all walks of life.

So thanks to all who volunteer for so many great causes from looking after kids, the old,the infirm the needy and the Rescue Agencies. There are so many doing their bit to help each other! I wonder if those in high places or on the big wages really appreciate the volunteers?

Last night I was invited to a presentation night with Daedalus Explorers  Scouts  my local Explorer Scouts at Kinloss. The Bronze Duke of Edinburgh Team that I met and gave a chat to in 2015 were presenting on their Gold Award Expedition. There was also another group that had completed the Bronze Award and another group spoke about the years activities they had been up to. They all gave an illustrated chat on their adventure that was an eye opener to me. They chose  various areas  for their adventure on a 3/4 day wander with 2/3 nights under canvas. They all took turns to speak and revelled in their experience in these big mountains and the grandeur of such places.

There were some great tales of the planning,  meals, pitching tents, weather, being tired, the Munros, the big bags and as always for youngsters the need for more food. Their chat was exciting and those who take these places for granted want to listen to these youngster, they were so visual in their love of these places and what they had experienced. They spoke about working as a team not at first but by day two the were a well-oiled machine according to the Assessor and they answered questions from the audience of proud parents and friends. What a presentation they gave.

When I spoke to them 2 years ago we talked about the love of the wild and the experiences that make your life by going into the mountains and wild places and the pals you meet on your travels. I showed them some gear and we had a laugh and a few of the adventures/ mishaps I have had and a few Rescues one of the Scout we found alive after 3 days on Ben Nevis many years ago. We ended with where and what can they do next for their Silver Expedition and I gave them a few ideas and maybe able to help them. I spoke about the need to look after the wild places and the environment and they were well versed in this, these youngsters were well-trained indeed and a credit to their families and leaders. Two years later it was inspirational to see how they have developed.

After this theyhad a drink and festive food and I spoke to a few of the proud parents so happy that they had been to see the journey their kids had travelled. A few were worried about the trip when it was being planned but the safety systems were in place and the band of assessors and leaders are to be congratulated on their efforts. In these days of a risk averse world their reward was like mine in the faces of these young people speaking about their great adventure. I left then to it feeling humbled by the enthusiasm and effort by all concerned.

Thanks to Kinloss Explorer Scouts for a rewarding and entertaining night, enjoy the mountains and wild places and keep that unbounded enthusiasm it is infectious even to an old man like me.

These organisations are always looking for help can you, it can really make a difference.

John Muir got it right again!

“Fantastic the DofE is still inspiring the young to put down their I/pads, Xbox or Playstation’s an explore the real world.”

Kinloss is where I started my RAF career in Catering and with the Mountain Rescue Team in 1972, the building I visited last night was part of the NAFFI  where as a young lad aged 17 I loaded the rations for a busy station of over 3000 people. It was hard back-breaking work, no health and Safety in these days and for a skinny lad it was so physical, but what training for the mountains!

My pals were going to gym after work I had done it all during the day and just needed to rest!

What a great end to Volunteering Day maybe you can help?

Comments as always welcome?

Posted in Charity, Friends, Local area and events to see, Mountain rescue, Mountaineering | Leave a comment

Heading home from Glen Clova A glen for all seasons?Memories of past days with the RAF Wessex from Leuchars. Neil Robertson stretchers?

The Glen Clova Hotel was packed the small bar only a few seats the rest were full with meals being served that looked great so I has a quick pint after dinner and back to the bunkhouse. It would be a long night and though 3 had left that evening a day early they had felt that the bothy was so tight to sleep in with 10 bunks in a small place. I had another  restless night and was up early meeting a man from Dundee in the kitchen half asleep with a dram!  He vanished into the night/ morning he was a bit drunk and hard to chat to. The plan was that we also were going home as one of our group was unwell that morning. I looked at the plans for the new accommodation as the bunkhouse was to be renovated in January and it will change beyond belief with no kitchen planned. I think that will mean that only those with cash can now afford it. We paided £20 a night the usual price was £25 and it was warm and dry and had showers but crammed into one room and the kitchen with only a few cups, one kettle and a few bowls was poor. What can you do, 3 left early and have to pay for the night they missed and it sours my memories of a great place. Things change  but I visited this place for many years when at RAF Leuchars and we used to have a great time with the local keepers and climbers.”

A few of the group went for a short walk Joe had walked back to Auchallater over Jocks Road in the thaw carrying all his gear rather than spend another night in the bunkhouse. Yet it was a lovely morning a huge thaw had stripped the hills bare but the sunrise was special.

The drive back was fine the roads black again and the thaw taking snow away at an alarming rate, the A9 was quiet and after a stop at Ballinuig for a bacon and egg roll  it was head for home. We met Elgin City young footballers heading down to Stirling for a match and caught up with an old pal  Graham Tatters  and his pal giving up his Sunday to drive the kids down, it would be along day for them. Getting out of the car the body was sore after the hill day previously I had the” tin man legs”.

Lovely drive back

In all a good weekend and I got my washing done early and gear sorted. Also had a look what gear I can offer away to someone who may use it as winter mountaineering is a costly business. I am amazed what I find that I have hardly used and trying to minimise my gear.

1984 Stampy  awful belay  with Heavy  in the Classic  Look C gully How not to belay?

The hill was great as always and the hard work the long drive and the limited sleep but what a great day on the hill in a superb area that has so many memories. I had a great adventure on the Classic ice climb Look C gully many years ago (1984) when it was not really in good condition. I ended up climbing as a 3 as my partner ran off he did not fancy it and was with Grahan Stampyand Dave Tomkins. Most of the others had abseiled off due to conditions but my mate Dave Tomkins lead the crux a wild pitch on thawing ice, poor belays in the dark by head torch. We pushed on and the top was very avalanche prone and I was so glad to get to the relative safety of the fence line on the plateau. Then we had to get off it was a long night and the gear was still frozen when we arrived off the hill and took ages too get off. We got to the pub just after closing time but it stayed open and we had a grand night. That was another special night and many others climbing mainly in winter in these two Corries where many were introduced to winter climbing.

Loch Brandy

We used to stay in the Youth Hostel Squash Court it was freezing especially in the winter the temperature was well below zero and the only warm place was in your sleeping bag. Now I moan about a 10 man room in the heat?  The helicopter from 22 Sqn RAF Leuchars used to use this area for training as it have everything with winter corries and summer cliffs for winching. We also used to do some winter skills with the aircrew in winter corrie and helicopter drop offs were grand, sometimes even to Lochnagar or Creag an Dubh Loch. The Wessex would at times park near the Hotel and have lunch using the Hotel phone as a contact in the days before mobile phones. In the bar there is still an old Neil Robertson stretcher a last memory from another era?

The Neil Robertson Stretcher a memory of another era of the helicopter.

I have so many tales a few that can never be told but what a stunning glen, lots of wild life and fauna and great hills that offer so much more the summits of the popular Munros, Corbetts and tops. The area has a few aircraft crashes that can make a navigation day a bit more interesting and worth a look round if you fancy something different as is the great glen walks and the wander into Corrie Fee or Winter Corrie. The forestry has lots of tracks ideal for mountain bilking and the summer rock-climbing is great fun with most of it roadside unusual for Scotland.

Glen Clova a glen for all Seasons?

Posted in Aircraft incidents, Bothies, Corbetts, Equipment, Family, Mountain rescue, mountain safety, Mountaineering, Munros, People, Recomended books and Guides, Rock Climbing, Sailing trips, Scottish winter climbing., Views Mountaineering, Views Political?, Weather | Leave a comment