Don’t get down – There’s lots of good news about. Cairngorm Mountain Rescue did a great job in wild weather and I had a visit from one of the Ladies of Lockerbie.

Yesterday I had returned from a couple of days away at Achnasheen in a bothy. I was a bit down as I had hurt my leg falling in a big hole covered in fresh snow. I also had an upset stomach so I returned a day early feeling a bit down. It’s short daylight and dark now early its easy to get down at this time of year.

It was great to see the great video of Cairngorm Mountain Rescue Team in action in the wildest of weather. They evacuated a climber and had a very hard carry off at night. The wee video brought back memories. Yet all those involved were volunteers who risk their lives for others for no payment. It’s the same with most of the emergency services they do it to help others . Yet you get the usual “keyboard warriors” putting in there views much of it with no clue of what’s happening. So well done all involved stay safe this winter.

Cairngorm MRT in action photo Cairngorm MRT taken from there Face book video.

CALL OUT:- CMRT just back from a call out for an male with a lower leg injury sustained during an avalanche. The climbers were able to self rescue down to the coire floor, where they were met by team members and stretchered back to the Cairngorm ski area. There were multiple reports of avalanches in Coire an t-Sneachda this afternoon. Many thanks to Cairngorm Mountain for their assistance during

We rely on public donations to fund the work that we do, if you would like to contribute, you can also go to our website – https://cmrt.org.uk

Yet when I got back I got a message from a lady one of the “Angel’s of Lockerbie” who had been up visiting. Sadly I had missed her but will never forget what they did to help us at Lockerbie. They made meals for us round the clock looked after us as only Mothers and Grannies can do. Helped us by having a few words as we returned from such awful scenes. They were the true heroines of the tragedy. To this day they help relatives from all over the world as they visit where so many died. 1988 was many years ago and I learned to live with my demons but also remember that out of such a tragedy comes so much love and care. The world is in a mess yet I am sure if we concentrated on the great people who do so much for others in their own quite way and never get a mention.

Let’s keep the good stories going think positive and remember the world is full of kind caring people. They should be the ones that influence our young folk. Every town every village has there stories of people who give so much yet rarely get recognised.

I get a buzz from being out on the hills though the body struggles but when you get glimpses in a wild day of the huge snow covered hills life is good. To see the Stags crossing a river in full spate and to see an Eagle and buzzards about is awe inspiring. It helps clear the mind and regenerate your soul. It’s dark at this time of year and yesterday I never ventured from my wee house as my knee was still sore. Today I will get out for a wander.

Please don’t forget that many older folk love a card or a letter it makes there day so have a look and despite the cost send it. It’s been a lonely time for many we are lucky to have so many who dare for us. Can we share the love?

Posted in Family, Friends, Lockerbie, Mountaineering, Weather, Well being | 2 Comments

A good short day – Maurader crash on Beinn Na Fuesaige.

Location of Crash site

This aircraft struck the north western flank of Beinn na Fuesaige in Glen Carron to the south west of Achnasheen, at 1,900ft a short way below the summit and at about 200mph. Sadly all the crew died .

Updated Grid ref NH 087 542 height 584.7 metres. 3/12/21

Height 584.7 metres

Yesterday was a short day we did not arrive at the Jacobite climbing Club hut at Invercroft till just after 1130. I picked up Maggie from Forres and met Alaister and Mark who were coming for a walk. We had a short walk to the bothy across the gangway with our kit and fuel the fire. Thank goodness for the walkway as the ground was soaked.

As we had brought coal and peat for the open fire it should be a good night and the bothy was on a tidy state a bit damp but that’s expected!

The walkway

We had brought fuel for the fire and dumped our gear it was a short walk to our hill a few miles down the road. It was a wet steep walk onto the main ridge some steep Heather in places. We took our time me at the back but saw two Eagles and a few hinds. My cough was not great but just took it easy as it was so good to be out again. The hills were soaking with all the rain but it was a steady plod to the two tops.

It was cold in places on the main ridge but little snow as we climbed we got good views of the Torridon hills snow covered as the mist and rain came in. These wee view points give grand views.

At the crash site

We had a rough grid reference and height of the crash site and after a snack on the summit did a sweep search for it. In the end we located it tricky in these conditions and spent some time before heading down before dark.

Back at the hut.

We were glad to get in fire on as the rain got heavier. We had a low key night in front of the fire and Dan arrived later on. The bothy warmed up a bit and it was good to get some company. I was coughing a lot so slept downstairs this chest problem is hard at times. It was comfy though and warm in my sleeeping bag.

We managed to dry some gear and get sorted for next day. We will see what the weather brings.

Posted in Articles, Books, Bothies, Corbetts and other hills, Friends, mountain safety, Mountaineering, Munros, People, Recomended books and Guides | 1 Comment

At last a weekend on the hills. Some tips for early season mountaineering.

The day started early with a Covid Test as I am away for a weekend with the Moray Mountaineering Club . There are only a few of us out staying at the Jacobite Mountaineering Club hut near Achnasheen Invercroft.

The hut

These are strange times but it will be good to be out again despite the big changes due to COVID. I am lucky I am all jabbed up and will take it easy.

I will hopefully depending on weather get upa hill. It’s good to see that folk are winter climbing and there is lots of information about on conditions. This is a lot different from when I started winter climbing.

Winter tips: If your starting to winter climb keep an eye on conditions especially early in the season. There are a few good sites about conditions. UKC climbing and A few others are worth a look. It is so important to look at the weather the days before you go. The SAIS avalanche reports give a good guide as well. Most areas are covered and look at them and build an idea of what the snow is doing. The Met office and MWIS are a good Source of weather reports again well worth a look.

Even better every one who is out winter mountaineering should go on an avalanche course and get information from experts.

I had a few mishaps over the years a couple of Call outs when with hindsight we should not have been there. Also early on I was involved in a big Avalanche on Lancet Edge in 1972 I was unaware of the dangers.

Yet winter is a great time to be out and about. The benefits are enormous of a good winter day and even a wild day with a battering from the wind and weather leaves you with that “ready break” glow. It’s hard to explain to those who do not venture out.

Home

Start of Season 2021/22 – Be Alert to Early Winter Snowpack Instabilities

A standby avalanche forecast service will be provided mostly for the Northern Cairngorms and Lochaber regions during the months of November and early December. When significant blanket snow cover is present in the mountains SAIS avalanche forecasters will carry out field observations and produce public avalanche hazard reports. Lochaber reports will be a good reference for the western highland ranges and Northern Cairngorms reports for the eastern highland ranges Daily Avalanche Information Reports for the 6 operational areas of Lochaber, Glencoe, Creag Meagaidh, Southern Cairngorms , Northern Cairngorms and Torridon regions will be issued from Friday 10th Dec 2021.

Beinn Eighe 1951 photo Joss Gosling.

We are lucky having all these aids to make our winter days safer please use them and remember it’s not winter walking but winter mountaineering on the hills.

Finally be aware of the Deer on the road or transiting at dusk or early morning it could stop your adventure if you hit one.

A must read !
Posted in Articles, Avalanche info, Books, Bothies, Enviroment, Equipment, Mountain rescue, mountain safety, Mountaineering, People, Recomended books and Guides, Scottish winter climbing., Views Mountaineering, Weather, Well being | Leave a comment

Tomorrow I hope to visit them Maurader aircraft Crash Accident Site near Achnasheen It was on the 3 rd June 1943 – Beinn na Feusaige (625m / 2,051ft) Hill of the beard

Tomorrow I hope at long last to be visiting this crash site near Achnasheen. I have not been before and as I am staying nearby at the Jacobite hut I will leave early and hopefully the weather will be kind . Many will know that I am interested in aircraft crash sites in the mountains, this is one site I have not visited yet Maurader aircraft Crash Accident Site: it crashed on the 3 rd June 1943 – Beinn na Feusaige (625m / 2,051ft)

Beinn na Feusaige shows a steep slope to the north of Loch Sgamhain in Glen Carron but is really just an eastern extension of Càrn Breac. Walk Highlands

This crash site is on the hill of Beinn na Feusaige on the road to Achnasheen SW of the A890. A while ago I was sent a letter from a father who lives locally and his young girls are trying to raise some money for a small memorial near the crash site. It is lovely to see that these two young girls are interested in the mountains and want to have the site remembered where the American crew sadly died.

USAAF Martin B-26C Marauder 41-34707 was on a transit flight from the USA via Meeks Field (Keflavík, Iceland) to Prestwick in Scotland. This was a recognised aircraft ferry route, which should have taken the Marauder over Stornoway in the Western Isles. However, for some reason, the aircraft was flying too far East of the prescribed course, and therefore over high ground on the Scottish mainland.

As the Marauder continued on its course through mist and rain, it struck the side of Beinn na Feusaige (625m / 2,051ft) in Glen Carron, near Achnasheen [map] on the NW mainland of Scotland.

ttp://www.aircrashsites-scotland.co.uk/marauder_beinn-na-feusaige.htm

The crash site photo Andy Lawson

Accident Site: Beinn na Feusaige (625m / 2,051ft) [map]

Sadly all the airmen died in this accident. The crashed aircraft was destroyed by an ensuing fire.

  • 1st Lt Merritt E Young (26) (O-662715), Pilot, USAAF.
    (Buried, Payne, Paulding County, Ohio, USA.)
  • 2nd Lt Robert A Anderson (O-729949), Bomb Aimer, USAAF.
    (Buried, Madingley Cemetery, Cambridge, UK.)
  • Staff Sgt Vincenzo (Vincent) Bravo (24) (11021367), Flt Engr., USAAF.
    (Buried, Medfield, Massachusetts, USA.)
  • Staff Sgt Marshall R Miller (38111816), Radio Op., USAAF.
    (Buried, Oakwood Cemetery, Austin, Texas, USA.)
  • Master Sgt Lewis M Cross (14069227), Gnr., USAAF.
    (Buried, Madingley Cemetery, Cambridge, UK.)

Aircraft Type Designation: 179 / B-26 (Medium bomber) 

Aircraft Type Nickname: Widow Maker (due to high casualty rate in early models).

This aircraft was designed for the USAAF as a medium bomber. It first flew with that Air Force in 1942 in the SW Pacific. However, early models earned a reputation for difficult handling and landing characteristics. Later, the B-26 Marauder operated with the Ninth Air Force from bases in the UK.

Depending on the variant, the aircraft could be fitted with two 1,400kW (1,900hp) or two 1491kW (2,000hp) Pratt & Whitney Double Wasp R-2800-43 radial engines.

The Marauder had a maximum speed of 460kmh (287mph) at 1,500m (5,000ft), and a service ceiling of 6,400m (21,000ft). Armament consisted of two 0.50 gun in the nose, and also in the waist, dorsal and tail turrets. It had a maximum bomb load of 1,814.37kgs (4,000lbs).

3 Jun 1943 – Accident Site: Beinn na Feusaige (625m / 2,051ft) [map]

(Glen Carron) Nearest main road: A890

Comments – J Henderson – ” have been to this crash site on my first visit to this hill, but could not find it on a second visit. I think it is SW of the summit and not particularly large. It is a long scorched scar on the hill side with a small amount of metal debris.”

This book aims to give readers access to the tangible remains of hundreds of historic aircraft that still lie at crash sites on the moors and mountains of the British Isles, all of which can be visited. It covers almost 500 selected sites, with emphasis given to those on open access land and including; accurate verified grid references, up-to-date site descriptions and recent photographs. Arranged geographically, the areas covered include:

South-west Moors – 15 entries. ~ Wales – 93 entries. ~ Peak District – 82 entries.
Pennines – 76 Entries. ~ Lake District – 32 entries. ~ North Yorkshire Moors – 23 entries.
Isle of Man – 18 entries. ~ Scotland: Lowlands – 47 entries. ~ Highlands and Islands – 85 entries. ~ Ireland – 19 entries.

Representing the main upland areas of the British Isles, each of these sections is introduced with a brief narrative describing its geographical characteristics and aviation background, discussing the factors and trends lying behind the concentration of losses within each area and noting any especially significant incidents. Individual site entries include precise location details including, where required, additional references for scattered major items of wreckage and any relevant notes to aid finding or interpreting the crash site, together with details of the aircraft, names and fates of those onboard and the circumstances of the loss.

Product information

Publisher‎Pen & Sword Aviation; First Edition First Printing (16 July 2009)Language‎EnglishHardcover‎352 pagesISBN-10‎1844159108ISBN-13‎978-1844159109Dimensions‎15.88 x 2.54 x 23.5 cmBest Sellers Rank1,035,487 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)1,734 in Military Vehicles2,224 in Military Aircraft2,339 in Hiking & Walking HolidaysCustomer Reviews4.5 out of 5 stars 57Reviews

Posted in Aircraft incidents, Articles, Friends, Mountaineering, Other hills Grahams & Donalds, Well being | Leave a comment

Keep smiling / these are tricky times for all.

Suilven.

It’s a bit of a crazy place just now and a lot of folk are feeling the world is mad at time’s. Yet sadly there are so many good stories about. Look at what the Nurses, Doctors Para medics, health support workers are doing.

There are so many good folk out there. I was so lucky to meet so many in my life in Search and Rescue I’m so many Agencies. These were normal folk in the Police, Mountain Rescue Teams. Helicopter crews, Search and Rescue Dogs. We worked with many more in the Coastguards, Lifeboats so many folk giving up time to help others.

These folk rarely make the news, their stories are seldom told sadly good news seems not newsworthy.

I never knew the term “Black Dog” now I understand a lot more how some folk get depressed. I am glad people are talking about depression and you would not believe how many it effects.

So let’s keep an eye on each other just now even those we think are strong still struggle. Many who read this will all be part of helping others over the years. We all need love and support so let’s not forget our friends and those we love !

As the kids are getting ready for Christmas the trees and decorations are going up. Let’s enjoy this happy period but not forget those less fortunate !

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Last days of the West – East of Scotland walk.

Day 21 – Nov 17 – Linn of Dee – Carn Bhac – Braemar

It is amazing how you get used setting of in the dark and at least we followed the road into the wilds and the rough track after helped. The guide for these hills says navigation is not easy in this area with an abundance of peat hags and drifting snow and featureless ground, it was correct. Maybe that is why this hill is called the hill of the Peat Banks! I was glad to get to the summit, again it was a real slog out back to Braemar, constant wind and weather breaking us down and the reserves were running low. My knee was very sore but the hill bag was lighter, we passed lots of deer running effortlessly over the ground and felt jealous. We reached Braemar eventually and the Fife Arms where we were staying in the cold bothy. I was so glad to get there after a real wild few days. It seemed like ages ago we were at Dalwhinnie, not once did the weather give us a break but we had 2 days left it was in the bag? Distance 21 k and 972 metres 1 Munrp  Total 42 Munros.

This was another very hard day over peat hags filled with snow, we had seen no one on the hill for 10 days!  After getting sorted and picking up the rations we called RAF Kinloss who told us that they were playing War Games, it was the Cold War and the Station was playing war. This was a real blow as we expected the RAF Kinloss Team to be out and meet us when we finished on Mount Keen at the weekend. We may not even get a lift back as it may go on over the weekend if the Station did not achieve the desired results. We were pretty down when a friend arrived at the pub it was our mate Sid Green who was on holiday and wanted a day on the hill. He had an epic drive from England and was keeping away from RAF Kinloss and its war games. Sid was a breath of fresh air and it was great to have a chat with someone new and it would be different company on the hill tomorrow.  He would meet us on Lochnagar if he could get his car up to Lochnagar Car Park. It was a very cold night in the bothy the temperature was very low in the old squash court and our gear was frozen in the morning.  Two days to go was a bonus and only one day’s food to carry over the Lochnagar hills. The forecast was again wild, but we were used to it!

Day 21 November 18 – Breamar – Cairn An – t Sagairt Mor, White Mounth, Lochnagar –Spital of Glen Muick . Sid was amazed we were up and gone by 0700 just as the light was arriving, we wandered up the road to Auchallater and up to Loch Callater Lodge on Jock’s Road and met many deer sheltering by the Lodge. Then it was up the windswept hills plastered with snow and on to Carn an Sagairt Mor at 1047 meters. It was then onto the open plateau it was wild but by now we were so slick with our navigation and our gear and onto White Mounth and Lochnagar. The weather was brutal and with an Easterly wind it bit into the core of your body. We still had to watch the navigation it was tricky and were glad to meet Sid he was frozen it was a quick snack and get off the hill. Lochnagar in a blizzard is not easy you hug the huge cliffs and have to take care, again it is not simple but Sid was happy to give us a break as we tried to head down out of the weather. We were soon down in the Glen then along the track to Spittal Of Glen Muick we were staying with Mr Robertson the keeper an old friend of the team. Sid headed back to RAF Kinloss and said he would be back tomorrow what ever happened and meet us on Mount Keen tomorrow. (Sid was to die of cancer within a year a great big strong man and a great mate; I will never forget his kindness meeting us on that second last day.) It was real shame that the team would not be there but they were still involved in War Games poor souls. Mr Robertson had a good chat and we stayed in the MR bothy for the night, we had a dram with him and could not believe we only had one day left. We had definitely aged and lost lots of weight but were extremely fit. We slept well and were as usual away early it still was a bit of a walk to go much on our favourite ground peat and bog! It was another steady day of 24 k and 1219 metres in the wild weather again all day but only 1 day to go. 3 Munros and Total 46 Munros

Weather clearing

Day 22 November 19 – Spittal Of Glen Muick – Mount Keen and Auchromie. It was a bit of a road walk to start then up onto the hill tracks and then over heather and peat hags in deep snow to the most Easterly Munro Mount Keen. This was the last day and we were still alive absolutely exhausted There was little joy just head down let’s get home .There were amazingly a troops there to meet us, they had been playing war games at RAF Kinloss. This was the Cold war era and the game/ war was over and they had come straight out to see us. Mick Trimby (RIP) ar great mate brought my lovely girlfriend June out and though she had worked like the troops for 5 days with little sleep it was great to see them. I was a very embarrassed on the top of Mount Keen with June being there (how daft is that) and it was strange to have company and then we walked down to Glen Mark. We just wanted to be on our own there was little chat poor June was not impressed. The weather was clod but clear and we were of the hill in the daylight and then a long 3 hour drive home. The walk was over and we were alive.  What a trip what an experience for us all. Total 1 Munro  47 Munos in Total

.

 Total 47 Munros Climbed, 506 Kilometres and 33429mteres of Ascent most in wild weather!   

Notes

Looking It was a massive undertaking at the time with the lack of daylight and the weather we had nearly every day in wild weather. Navigation and Fitness were key elements and the area knowledge we had saved us in a few places. Maps were very basic not like today (2014) no GPS, we planned the route in advance but each day was dependent on the weather.

The gear was very basic, no Gortex but the polar fleeces were life savers. We were wet every day and had to keep moving to keep warm. We always carried a spare pair of gloves and basic kit to change into it was limited as we were carrying everything. We carried plastic bivy bags very basic!

Food was simple porridge and simple lightweight food, mashed potatoes and pasta, lots of soups and tea coffee etc, we were always hungry. Hill food was simple chocolate and sweets! We cooked on a primus it never let us down. I laid out the food in advance and the food caches were for the time great being a caterer by trade helped and still we were always hungry. I lost a stone on the trip and I was a skinny lad then.

The late Sid Green with Jim Morning

Communications – we phoned whenever we got to a phone and were on our own a lot, weather forecasts were hard to get and it was always similar, snow, wind and cloud!

The road walking was hard work and we carried RAF Sandshoes basic but a great change from boots, everything was limited due to weight.

Bothies were used whenever and a great bonus the Mountain Bothies is a great asset we only met one person in a bothy on our travels. The fires were so important to try to dry the wet gear very night.   We used the Scottish Youth Hostels twice at Affric and Ossian again we were the only people there!

The keepers and team contacts for Base Camps from Tom Rigg ,Mr MacRae in Skye, Kintail Cluannie Lodge, Mr Oswald at Culra ,the keeper at Gaick, the Keeper and his wife at Linn Of Dee  and  Mr Robertson at Lochnagar were all great to us. We had such hospitality meals and drams and I can never forget them and apologise for losing the names of everyone but my diary got soaked.   We at times arrived very late very tired yet we always got a welcome. The hills were very quiet in 1977 and we only met our friends in the team on the hill imagine that today. These people were what going on the mountains were all about and remain so vivid memories even today.

Jim and Terry my companions were exceptional never complained unlike me and were to become incredibly powerful mountaineers, we never fell out on the trip and we learned so much for the future.  The planning was a great just on maps and when you look back with the technology today it was impressive. Our navigation improved as did our fitness and mountaineering skills. As the days went on we did I still I feel at one with the mountains over this period of 21 days and became as one! This was to be a great help when we were under great pressure. The great thing is we are still great friends.

The assistance from RAF Kinloss from Jim Green  , Mick Trimby and Sid Green all sadly deceased  who came out with ice axes, food and transported us home, I have many wonderfull memories and

poor June who I was so embarrassed when you arrived on Mount Keen I am sorry. Our families who worried about us and I know my Dad and Mum were praying for us and we needed it.  Ray Sefton and Don Shanks the Team Leader and Deputy at RAF Kinloss who worried if their careers were over as the weather came in. I never realised the level of responsibility for us until I became a Team Leader.   Finally to John Hinde RIP – you really set the” cat among the pigeon’s with your Walk idea in the depths of November. But did we learn from it and many call –outs in the future were successful from  the local area knowledge learned on that walk.

That is it nearly 9800 words on our Walk from West – East in 1977

Before !

Hope you enjoyed the adventure as I enjoyed remembering the trip.

After !

This book is an outstanding read and a must for all winter mountaineers.

The Munros in Winter: 277 Summits in 83 Days by Martin Moran

In 1985 mountain guide Martin Moran achieved the first completion of all 277 Munros* in a single winter with the support and companionship of his wife Joy. Their success was a feat of dedicated mountaineering and effective teamwork through the storms, snows and avalanches of an epic winter season in the Scottish Highlands. Martin’s account of the winter journey became a classic mountain narrative, combining his passionate enthusiasm for the mountains with humorous insights into a marriage put to the test through three months of living in a camper van. It was described as ‘the best guidebook to the Munros’ by mountain writer Jim Perrin. The book inspired many other climbers and runners to pick up the gauntlet in pursuit of new feats of endurance on Scotland’s hills, and is now reissued with full colour photographs plus an introductory update by the author on how the ‘Munros in Winter’ changed his life.

Posted in Books, Mountain rescue, mountain safety, Mountaineering, People, Recomended books and Guides, Views Mountaineering, Weather, Well being | Leave a comment

In memory of my Mum.

This is the anniversary of my Mum’s passing she died in 1980 I still miss her every day she was a all Mum’s area a special lady. As the youngest of 5 children I was spoiled in every way, always in a scrape or trouble and being a Ministers son a bit of a rebel.

My beautiful Mum – thank you xxx

Mum was always there for me and we had a great bond through her love and care! She loved her family, their kids, the church,  the mountains, football the tennis and dedicated her life to her family her grandchildren and the church. Money was tight but we never wanted for love and she brought us all up almost single handed as Dad pursued his life as a minister.

During my wild years she saw something in me and as I grew up we got a lot closer! When I went and joined the RAF she loved that I was in Mountain Rescue and though she worried about me as only Mum’s can do! We spoke every week on the phone as most of my leave was spent chasing mountains I was a rare visitor! I can never get these times back and like many regret my selfishness. How many feel the same?

When mum got ill with Leukemia she never told me till a few days before she passed away and I was summoned home. Yet we has spoken every week, she hid it as did the family. She did not want me worried as I was in a relationship and now in North Wales as full – time Mountain Rescue my life was so busy. I rushed home and was shocked poor Mum was so frail and yet every week on the phone she never said a thing or complained and just listened to me and gave me advice. Poor Mum was in terrible pain for a long time but never moaned, she was incredible during these last few months. We were told to get my brother back from Bermuda and she died shortly after he arrived home. We got some special time two days together near the end and she was so upset she told me that she had little to leave us a monetary sense. Yet she had given us a lifetime of love and care and that is what matters. In this modern life I despair at times when I families ripped apart after a loved ones death over money and possessions. To me love, care and kindness is the greatest gift ever that parents can bestow on their kids.

The next few short days were awful and I think I was programmed to seeing so many tragedies in the mountains that it took me years to realise what had happened. Even at the funeral I was like a robot and had to rush back to work next day to North Wales. How I miss her and wish I could have done more for her and when in trouble or down she is stillalways still there for me!

She was such a beautiful person in every aspect who loved us all yet had time to guide and be there for us. I shared so many secrets with her over my life and she was always there to listen when I needed! How she would have loved to see her grandchildren and their kids now. I would have loved her to have met all the great Grandchildren and Lexi and Ellie Skye and shared their lives! I also got the love flowers and got that from my Mum so every few weeks I buy some or pick them and they always remind me of her. I have her deep love of the wild places and still feel her with me when out and about, what would she have made of today’s world, I wonder. She would have been so proud of Andy Murray and his brother in the tennis world and I believe she watches them in heaven.

Please give your Mum and Dad a hug or a visit we all owe them so much they make us who we are.

Mum I miss you as we all do thanks for being there for me!

I am off to get some flowers for the house and for my good friend Wendy, she reminds me so much of my Mum in every way.

Mum told me just before she passed away that she worried so much for me and the team when we were on Callouts. If I was helped by a keeper or person on my big walks Mum would write and thank them. She told me that she could sadly leave us nothing financial. She gave her whole life to us and the Church and I was so lucky to have her in my life. I hope I manage to have a few attributes that my mother gave me.

Posted in Articles, Family, Health, Mountaineering, People, PTSD, Well being | 2 Comments

A time I felt we pushed it to far?

It’s good to see that a few excellent comments on some of the past blogs. Please remember that I do not write them to put folk off mountaineering. Many are thoughts on a mountaineering career of over 50 years. I loved the battle with nature we had and often that was on Call outs after a long day on the hills. This was assisting many of the local teams across Scotland. Here is another memory! Take what you want from it.

I have been writing about our East – West walk in winter In 1977 it was a wild time. Weather forecasts were poor gear was basic and any contact was by Public Phones. There were days when we out of touch in the severest weather ( The A9 was shut no gates in theses days) We were very fit Jim Morning and Terry Moore were outstanding mountaineers with first ascents in the Himalayas later on. Also two attempts at the rarely climbed Everest West Ridge both getting very high. I was a very mediocre mountaineer but pushed myself all the time. On several occasions during that walk were we running on empty and navigating for our lives. Fitness and hill qknowledge got us through only one day did we stay low from Gaick Lodge to Glen Feshie even that was hard work. The snow was deep and we took turns at breaking the path. Next day was one of the hardest of my life deep snow and featureless hills. An Sgarsoch and Càrn an Fhidhleir.

These two rounded, featureless hills are given distinction by their remoteness. In the heart of the wild country between the main Cairngorms and the Atholl ranges, few Munros can match these peaks for the feeling of solitude or open space. The day could be shortened by the use of a mountain bike on the approach. In winter on a bad day they can be very serious. Our route was from Upper Glen Feshie and Ruigh Aiteachain Bothy even in the 70,s it was such a great bothy with lots of wood to dry our gear. As usual there was no one about the roads were blocked anyway.

Running on empty – We were extremely tired the big days from Ossian 5 munro 4 more on the way to Culra bothy with an epic getting off the plateau in a white out then a big day on Beinn Alder and Beinn Bhoil had knackered us. The police met us at Dalwhinnie saying we had to stop the walk as the RAF were not happy and worried. We were lucky was my pal Jimmy Simpson who said he had missed us . Jimmy was a great pal now sadly gone who we met with his massive dog on Call outs all over Scotland. A real character.

Hard Navigation most of day – That day will remain in my thoughts forever we left the track after a long walk from the bothy. The navigation was so tricky over peat hags and frozen bogs snow covered. It was artic conditions with spell of White out. The navigation was vert tricky Jim had just passed his Winter MLC and Terry was a superb navigator. We all took turns checking each other breaking the route as the weather got wilder. It would be a very late finish as we were heading for Braemar. I doubted we would make it. As we descended absolutely exhausted the weather cleared. It was dark but a moon came out our gear froze on us but we were getting lower.There was still a lot of snow about but we carried on the burns were frozen over and the deep snow had a crust. This was such a hard day we had little food and drink and still big bags. Yet looking back what an eye opener and a great reality check for our egos,

Near the end of the day keep concentrating We could see the path below us the moon lit up the hills. It became still and bitterly cold. We made the descent to the path and on to White Bridge. While crossing the icy river Jim fell in and was soaked with the temperatures now about minus 15 we were in a rush to keep going. We arrived at Linn of Dee the road had tons of snow we were exhausted. We made a decision that Braemar was to far and I was sent to the last house the keepers house to ask if we could stay in his garage. It was about 2100 the keeper brought us in and his lovely wife made us egg and chips. He told us he had a bothy 2 miles down the road and would take us to it. A young keeper was there helping with the shooting. After our meal the keeper thought we were crazy as we could not take a lift even though we were exhausted. We also phoned Kinloss telling them we were alive and our families my Mum was very worried and thanked the keeper and his wife for looking after us. I went back to see the Keeper and his family took them some bits and pieces to thank them. I sadly lost their names so if anyone can help get me them that would make my day.

The Stalker was waiting at the Stalkers bothy with the young lad and he had some whisky. We had a brew Jim and Terry went to bed and I told him what we were up to. My adrenaline was still very high. He was a cracking lad a hill man though young full of a love for the hills. We arranged to meet up sometime. Sadly this did not happen.

.

Sad day – The young keeper and I never got our day on the hill. A few weeks later he was found near Landseer Falls near Feshie bothy dead of exposure after getting caught out in a big storm heading from Linn of Dee to Glen Feshie Lodge on Jan 11th 1978. I could not believe this when told that the hills could kill such a powerful young man We were on he search as well unknown to us it was our young pal.

Looking back – That day we had walked 35 k and climbed at least 1325 metres mostly in the worst weather possible. We had really pushed it out. If anything had happened there in my opinion would have been little we could have done. We were in a remote area, extremely tired, yet wanting to get more hills in (ego) we did think we were invincible then as many of that age do. I was just looking after myself in the end. There were no communications for 4 days we could have been anywhere as we changed our route due to the extreme weather.

Pushing it we certainly did. We were strong and fit but what would we have done if one of us had run out of steam? I had always tried to have something left in my tank so I can deal with any emergencies. It was empty when we hit Linn of Dee!

Wild weather
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Great article on the effect of wind in the mountains.

As the weather gets a bit wilder and winter returns to the hills it is so important to read the weather forecasts. There are so many available now compared with when I started mountaineering. There are many great website

MWIS https://www.mwis.org.uk/forecasts/scottish

The Met office

https://www.metoffice.gov.uk/weather/specialist-forecasts/mountain

Mountain weather forecast

Mountains can be inhospitable and dangerous places for the ill prepared. From one hour to the next, from one hill to the next, they can exhibit a dramatic variation in weather conditions. Whether it’s a well-planned expedition or a spur of the moment decision to go to the hills, it is important to check the forecast.

This is a great article published about the effect of the wind. Many have limited knowledge of the strength of the wind on the mountains,

www.ukhillwalking.com/articles/skills/series/skills/wind_in_the_mountains-12609

Thanks Helen and UKC

The wind is a killer the forecast is not good for this weekend take care.

Always remember as I have seen often a gust of 40 – 50 blow a climber or rescuer off their feet. Very unlikely you will get a helicopter coming in so it’s up to the Mountain Rescue Team to get you off the hill. I feared high winds so many of my pals blown over and a few hurt on Rescues. So when you go out spare a thought for those who have to risk their lives for you. Everyone is a volunteer unpaid and do it to help others. We can all have an accident but if the wind is forecast very high stay low level or go to the cake shop.

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1977 Winter West – East Scotland. Kintail to Fort William heavy snow and a meeting with the Sea King helicopter.

Day 8. – 4/11/77 – Kintail Sheil Bridge – A very steep start to the day after a walk up the road and then huge hills on the 5 sisters of Kintail ridge. This is classic walking/ mountaineering. I feel a lot better today that we have axes and crampons. We see no one, the hills are very quiet no wonder it is November. Sgurr Na Ciste Dubh, Saileg, Sgurr a. Bhealaich Dheirg, Aonach Meadhoin, and out the long ridge to Ciste Dubh. It was a great day with lots of height, snow on the ridges and left early at 0630 and just got in to the bothy in Glen Affric at Altbeithe Youth Hostel in the dark. It was a wild descent into the bothy which we could just make out between the storms, with the rivers giving a bit of trouble in the dark. The bothy is the Youth Hostel very remote and access by a long walk. It is left open to help walkers and is a magic place and in winter solitude. There was lots of food in left by others it so we ate well, this was great but will have to leave early and start in the dark; it is a big day in the tomorrow. Knee hurting with all the descent will it cope?

Affric Youth Hostel

What a cosy night in the Youth Hostel am still amazed that is was left open in winter for the few that venture out. The new polar fleeces are magnificent well worth the expenditure; Jim is still wearing “curlies” the team issue boot. I am in my big winter boots but still getting cold feet due to the constant wetness. 18k/2412mtrs – 4 Munros Total 17 Munros

Day 9. – 5/11/77 – Altbeith Youth Hostel Glen Affric.  Away in dark as always it took a bit of time to cook and get sorted, wet socks and gear is never easy to put on, especially with the snow about. Snow is at 1000 feet – up the glen big rivers and onto Tigh Mor Sleige, Sgurr Nan Conbhairean, Carn Nan Ghlusaid, all new hills for Terry and Jim. Tricky navigation in poor visibility, it is a head down day only 3 Munros. Down onto the road A887 where we were buzzed and met by a RAF Sea King  with the late  Mick Anderson the winchman from RAF Lossiemouth who stopped and brought us some goodies, it was out of the blue and magic. We had a long road walk along the road to Greenfields near Loch Garry. They left us some goodies at the Bridge at Greenfields; we took ages finding it in the pitch dark. We also had trouble finding the bothy as we had never been there before far less in the dark. This is an new area for me and it will be a huge day again tomorrow. These hills and the road walks are very hard, body aching, gear very wet, great to have dry gear on after a day being wet. This is the best part of the day along with the soup and tea. I crave for bread, we have some now thanks to Mick and the Sea King. Looking at the map and reading my battered book before I fall asleep. This was a big day 39k  2274 metres 3 new Munros 20 Total Munros  . We see lots of Deer and many are now down very low a sign of wild weather. I hate the roads not easy on my knee; we wear our RAF sandshoes on the road and look like tramps now with our stubbly beards.

Where next ?

Day 10. – 6/11/77. Greenfields is a beautiful place at the back of the Glengarry Forest and the plan is the Corbett Ben Tee and the Loch Lochy Munros Sron A Choire Garbh and Meall Na Teanga. It is great to be out of the forest and a new way up old favourite hills. This is big country and great to see a new aspect to these popular hills, I wonder how many come this way? There are few paths coming from this side until we reach the hills. It is a very steep descent to Clunes battering on the knees and all more new ground. High winds and more snow we are battered and nearly drop off at the beleach due to the weather but push on. We sign the wee book hidden under snow on the summit hidden in a tin. The ridge walk was great and these hidden Corries are full of deer and we see many hares turned white already for the winter, we have yet to meet anyone on the hill! We are rewarded with a great view in the clearing of the big hills ahead and Loch Lochy; they are plastered with snow as are the hills behind us to the West. This walk is turning into a winter walk and we are glad to hit the road and the long walk to Fort William to make the next day easier. The road walk is awful, feet are battered and we are soaked bags very heavy but stop at Spean Bridge for some food and then the long walk into Fort William. We are staying at the ATC Hut so no chance of getting our gear dry. There is a wee shop nearby and we stock up and sleep the sleep of the just, even Jim is feeling it. My knee is getting worse but once I get going its manageable. We make use of the phone box and I phone the Team and the weather forecaster it looks awful for the days ahead same again with more snow and high winds. I also phone Mum and Dad they are watching the weather to and worried?. These hills are usually fairly easy but with the long approach and the long walk out make it and each day a slog. A day off planned after tomorrow. I need it. This is another big day 40 k and 1828 metres. 2 Munros Total Munro’s 22

Meall na Teanga and Stron Na Coire Garbh

Day 11. 7/11/77 – Fort William ATC Hut – the plan was the Big four The Aonachs Mor and Beag and Carn Mor Dearg and Ben Nevis but again the weather is awful and we are running on empty. We decide to climb Carn Mor Dearg is tricky in the wind and snow and we meet out first few people on the Arete. We feel that they intrude in our solitude and by now are walking at our own pace, I am grinding it out and glad we have only to climb the two Munros. We get great views of the North Face the gullies and ridges are favourites and we pick out familiar climbs. Jim and Terry going very well but good to see they are tired. We met a few on the Ben summit with no kit, it is winter now and icy, the wind batters us but we are now used to it after 10 days on the hills. There are big Cornices on Ben Nevis already and we take care as the navigation can be tricky and we are tired, no errors yet and all are checking. Jim and Terry so powerful and I feel the pressure but they make use of my area knowledge at times and I take my turn breaking the snow. I feel that we are becoming at one with the mountains and see a storm coming and are ready for it with the gear on quickly, no faffing about now. I noticed this on my other walk how the mind and body is aware of the weather and the terrain after several days out in a row on the hill or is it just me? We travel light today no sleeping bag or cooking gear as we have a day off in Fort William, the body is battered and the gear needs a bit of sorting but a day off bliss. What a difference going light weight is and the effect on the knees is great. Note to myself never do a walk unsupported again! 20 k 1700 metres easy day at last! 2 Munros Total Munros 24 .

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Winter West – East 1977 some big days Part 2 Kinlochhourn – Kintail via a few hills and heavy snow,

Day 5. November 1  – Kinlochourn-Gleouraich-Spidian Mialach- Cluanie Lodge Kintail. This was another massive pull from sea level; to both Munros, they were steep then a big walk to Cluannie Lodge at Kintail there was lots of snow my thoughts “we may have to pull out because of weather is so bad”. We had  been wet all day worried about frozen feet, no ice axes with us, hills now plastered and very tricky on the very steep  wet grass snow covered  descent. Winter was with us on the hills, we may have to relook at our plans. .The keeper gave us a huge dram when we arrived at Cluannie Lodge and told us the weather was going to get worse he gave use of a house near the big Lodge. We had a great fire and tried to get our clothes dry wet gear in sleeping bag every night.  I told Terry that my knee was bad he stayed with me Jim pushing on with navigation and route, just hanging in.   I phoned RAF Kinloss from the Lodge and asked for ice axes and pain killers to be sent out ASAP.  A very long hard day, these are serious big hills, the wind is constant as is the wet gear. The walk after the hill went on for ever. 35k/2816mtrs. – 2 new Munros and Total Munros 7

Munros Gleouraich Spidean Mialach

Day 6. – November 2  Cluanie Lodge Kintail – We did not want to leave the comfort of the bothy and the fire. Jim still wanted to complete the 9 Munros of the South Cluannie despite the weather conditions. We had some day and used fence posts as ice axes. In the end we settled for seven of the Cluannie Munros in deep snow and heavily corniced. Drum Shionnach-Aonach Air Chrith-Maol Chean Dearg-Sgurr a Doire Leathain-Sgurr an Lochan-Creag nan Damh-Sgurr na Sgine-Sheil Bridge, no ice axes lots of snow. It was really tricky coming off in the dark with the deep snow all the way. The area knowledge I have is very handy and saves time, we have to watch as we are getting white out conditions at times then it clears.  Another huge day of 25k/2841mtrs.  7 new Munros Total 14 Munros

No Axes

We needed a day off after 14 Munros in pretty wild conditions. Knee very sore had a big chat as we are heading into wild Affric but will be slower but will get there, pain killers help! Terry has a bit of a limp but still chasing Jim. The weather to wild to be left behind and snow too deep to break own steps, all took turns today over the 7 Munros.

Day 7,- 3/11/77  At last a day off at Sheil Bridge Kintail  well needed in the small bothy, we got our ice axes  picked up our winter gear and another wild weather forecast for the following week! It was great to have lie in and sort out the gear and get it dried off. We picked up our rations for the next few days anaxes and more winter kit the bags were very heavy! We went to Kintail Arms for lunch and were soon back at our tiny bothy and slept like logs.

Drying off

Our daily routine is always the same up at 0500 porridge on the stove and try to be gone by 0700 earlier as the weather got worse. The daylight was getting less every day and at the end we had about 6-7 hours daily.   We usually finished in the dark first things was the water on for a brew as we changed into our one change of clothes and socks, get a fire going if possible. The meal was always porridge in the morning the food of Gods, soup and a ready meal never enough at night and on the hill we carried chocolate about 3 bars a day was what we planned and carried. At the food caches we had some lovely things like tinned fruit and custard, I loved it. I hardly eat the chocolate and Jim on one day ate 10 bars, it is scary now thinking about it.

There are some big days ahead, remember these were the days before GPS, Good weather forecasts and some basic gear. Comments welcome more to come!

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A short “Welly wander” to the bothy at Corrie Fionnaraich – Coulags .

I am over in the West visiting a friend the weather is wild the rivers are in full spate and the rain has been driving most of the day getting worse in the West. I had a pal finishing his Munro’s on Maol Chean Dearg and overnighting in the bothy. Maol Chean-dearg is a dramatic, steep sided dome of Torridonian sandstone in the wonderful Coulin Forest between Torridon and Strathcarron. On the north side it plunges in crags down to a lochan and has an awe-inspiring outlook over the Torridon peaks. (Walk Highlands) it’s a grand hill in a wonderful setting and spending a night in the bothy is a great way to enjoy the hill.

I had decided to pop in on my way and see them if they were of the hill. The wee car park had 6 cars in it as I arrived early afternoon. They had left earlier in the morning. It was full metal Gortex on from the start.

I decided to wear my Welly’s as I was only going a few miles to the bothy. It was a day for Welly’s snd a good choice as the big river had a bridge but the hills were full of white water bounding down. Showing me a few winter lines for future forays.

Welly boot time !

The cloud was down very low and the rain torrential I met the gillie we waved as I set off into the pouring rain. The path was flooded and signs keep you way from the Estate house I was soon wandering in my own world hood up and crossing the small Burns that come over the path.

The main river moving so fast uncrossable apart from the wee bridge.

There were few views and just before the bridge I met another stalker. We had a great chat and had seen the Munro team high up near the beleach. He said the weather was awful and they would be off on the dark. I said I was only going to the bothy where they had left their gear. I had 2 hours of daylight left but had my gear and a torch . I only wanted to drop of a can of Guinness for the Munro king,

The bridge needs a few planks repaired .

I was soon on the bridge taking it easy. I met 3 other walkers pretty wet heading down. They had stopped at the bothy as well seen where my pals had left their overnight gear. I left my token can of beer in the bothy. They had coal and wood in the bothy it was very tidy and hopefully they had a great night after getting off the hill.

The bothy in the mist .

It was a wet walk down cross the bridge again and back to the van. I had stuffed my waterproof trousers inside my Welly’s so my feet were damp now.

Potential winter lines on the hills in a cold spell.

It had been a short wet day but the rivers and the colours on the hill are superb just now. There can be great danger in the rivers so be careful and with about 7- 8 hours daylight you need to plan your day accordingly. The West has been wet for several days so be aware of the dangers of river crossings.

Lovely colours

Today’s tip – start early for your walk at this time of year.

What Welly’s do you recommend ?

Do you support the Mountain Bothies Association ! (MBA)

To maintain simple shelters in remote country for the use & benefit of all who love wild & lonely places.

A recipient of the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, the Mountain Bothies Association is a charity which maintains about 100 shelters in some of the remoter parts of Great Britain.

With the permission and support of the owners, these shelters are unlocked and are available for anyone to use. All of our maintenance activities are carried out by volunteers. We welcome new members who want to support our work, either by attending work parties or by contributing financially through subscriptions and donations. Without this support, many of these unique shelters would be lost forever. If you love the outdoors and wild places, please consider joining us.

Posted in Articles, Bothies, Equipment, Friends, Mountain rescue, mountain safety, Mountaineering, Munros, People, Views Mountaineering, Weather, Well being, Wildlife | 1 Comment

Getting away for the mountains in the short daylight of Mid November and December.

These are the days of shorter daylight – This time of year you get into the short daylight hours on the hills. Around now we have less than 8 hours before it’s pitch dark. Many of us learn this the hard way. Stumbling of a hill in the dark especially a mountain you do not know is never easy. In winter the clock is always ticking .

Imagine descending this ridge in the dark – Lancet Edge.

Navigation in the dark or poor weather – Navigating in the dark can be tricky add fresh snow and poor weather the odds begin stacking against you. River crossings in the dark are not easy and you will read of a few folk every year who cannot cross swollen rivers and some get benighted. Yet coming of the mountains on a starlight night is special.

Guidebooks time’s – Guidebooks for the times for hill routes on the popular mountains are just as it says a guide. I used to like to be down on a good path before darkness fell. Walking on the dark can be a lot slower and trickier in winter. Add in a bigger hill bag big boots and maybe a winter climb this is why many set of in the dark to get the best of the limited daylight.

Wild weather on a call out in the Cairngorms.

Be flexible – It’s always worth changing your plans if you are running late “flexibility is the key to safe day” . As the weather changes we will read of folk needing assistance as walking in the hill in the dark is a key skill. Sadly there are still many who rely on their phone as a torch and to navigate. The battery does not last long in a cold winter day. Always carry a good torch check it every time you go out and carry spare batteries. The same goes for navigation carry a map and compass.

Route planning – Plan your day look at your route have cut off times. Always check the weather and the avalanche reports (that start in Mid December.) Remember that new overnight snow or drifting snow can change your safe route and you may have to come off a different way. These all add time to an already short daylight.

Getting to your hill – Driving to your hill setting off in the dark on icy roads can make even a short journey a slow process. Be careful as many roads will not be treated/ cleared for ice and snow especially the remoter areas. Carry a shovel and some emergency gear.

Always tell someone you trust your route. This makes things so much easier if you have problem. At least the Rescue Agencies will have an idea were you were going and where to look?

Have fun, be safe and remember that late starts in winter, bad weather and pushing on despite the weather changing are cutting your odds of a safe day. Try navigating in the dark in a safe area and look after each other. Stay together and keep an eye on each other. It’s easy when the weather is wild to be in your own world and miss how your companion is doing.

The mountains will always be there the secret is to be with them !

Now we have to get off the hill Lochnagar winter.

Comments as always welcome .

Posted in Articles, Avalanche info, Books, Corbetts and other hills, Equipment, Mountain rescue, mountain safety, Mountaineering, Munros, People, Recomended books and Guides, Scottish winter climbing., Views Mountaineering, Weather, Well being | Leave a comment

The Anson Crash – Aeroplane Flats near Conival – Assynt

The Memorial to the Anson a very place. Britain’s highest War Grave.

This paragraph below was written by a relative of the crew of an Anson aircraft that crashed in the far North of Scotland.

“Sgt Harry Tompsett with Sgt’s Jack Emery and Charles Mitchel at 19 OTU RAF Kinloss Scotland in 1941. All were killed on 13th April 1941 when Avro Anson N9857 flew into severe weather condition over NW Scotland. With icing and the loss of an engine the aircraft lost height and crashed in a blizzard on Ben More Assynt. Reported missing they were found by a shepherd on 25th May 1941 as the snow gave way. Killed in the crash was Flying officer James Steyn pilot from Johannesburg S. Africa who had recently been awarded the DFC for bringing a badly damaged bomber back from a raid in Europe. Flight Sgt Brendon Kenny, Sgt Instructor, who parachuted from a burning bomber over France in 1940, evaded capture and aided by the French Resistance returned to the UK and last but not least Pilot Officer Bill Drew. All were buried where they fell on top of the mountain and where they lie today marked by a memorial placed by the War Graves Commission in the highest UK War grave.” Bernie Thompset.

Lest we forget Photo Bernie Thompset.

I have written in the past about my many visits to the Anson crash in Assynt. The old memorial was not in a great state and thanks to lots of effort there is a new memorial in place. Many were involved Assynt MRT, Commonwealth Graves Commission the local Air Training Cadets, The RAF Lossiemouth MRT and the many others involved including the RAF Engineers and the Chinook crew. We met so many on the journey to many to name. Thank you all and to Bernie for allowing me to quote his words.

The crash site in Assynt is an wonderful place to visit and a place of incredible place . When you read the full story one cannot help think of what happened on that winter night. The shepherd who found the crew 6 weeks later is an untold story as it when the family visited and the kindness shown to them in the dark days of the war. These are stories that deserve telling and despite the tragedy of the loss of the crew and many others that were lost at the prime of their lives. “Lest we forget”

Comments welcome.

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An Lurg Wellington crash a special visit for Remembrance Day.

The Cairngorms are a wonderful place and apart from the well tramped Munros and superb climbs there are places of great wildness and the area is full of tales and secrets. During the war there was a huge military presence here and also a lot of training taking place. It is also a place where sadly many aircraft crashed in these high lonely mountains many far away from help. There were few survivors. This is one of the stories that was nearly lost in time.

A few years ago after I had been pretty ill I had the great privilege to take Phil Paterson and his sons to the crash site of a Wellington aircraft from RAF Lossiemouth in the Cairngorms where his father and the crew of this aircraft lost their lives 78 years ago. Flying Officer P. L.B.Paterson Phil’s Father aged 23 was one of the crew and Phil was born in 1944 sadly 6 weeks after his Dad was died, he never met his father.

This was to be the family’s first visit to this tragic place and he was accompanied by his two sons John and Julian.   The crash site is deep in the heart of the Cairngorms and just off the Munro Bynack Mor it is a pathless walk up to the plateau where the crash site lies. It was a 2 – 3 hour journey to the area and a big day for a 71-year-old regardless of weather. One of Phil’s sons had read my blog on a previous visit last to the site and got in touch and we planned this visit over the next few months.  

The family knew little of the crash and where it was. They asked if I would assist them to this place that means so much too them especially their father.

On the day we met in Aviemore at 0800 it was an early start for me .

Phil and the boys had driven up from the South late Friday night.  On the day I had some help from pals Pete, Yeni and Bernie for the day and the weather had been great week and was still holding up.

We met at the Cairngorm Hotel in Aviemore and after a quick chat set off for Glenmore and the start of our trip.

The midges met us at Glenmore but it is a great path all the way past the beautiful Green Loch to the old site of Bynack Stables where we met Yeni’s nephew Greg a giant of a man with a group of young people out for over a week in the Cairngorms. What weather they  have had and what an adventure over the last few days and more to come. They were camped in a small tented village with great views down Strath Nethy.

The path leaves the site of the Old Stables and we had a break here all were going the weather was good and a good breeze kept the midges away.

From here it is a plod up onto the ridge but we stopped to get views of the wild Strath Nethy and the Cairngorms we were now heading into the remote part of the Cairngorms. There were a few mountain Bikers about and I met another old friend Robin Clothier biking to Braemar!

The path is superb it is being maintained by these incredible path workers who were working ahead of us and we were soon on the ridge between our destination An Lurg and Bynack Mor.

From here it is hard work across an open moor covered in huge peat hags, deer grass and bog this is a pathless wild place. On the journey Phil had been telling us about his father and the family and how often with his Mum he had visited Elgin where his Dad is buried. We were getting to know a small bit of the story of Phil’s Dad short life from his pilot training in America learning to fly and his arrival at RAF Lossiemouth in these dark War days as a qualified pilot.

The wreckage

This last kilometre is hard walking ground and the route is never easy poor. My pal Pete got his foot stuck in a bog and had to be helped out.  We were each in our own thoughts and this is a featureless plateau, route finding is not easy and you do not see the crash site the last-minute.

In past visits we had gathered some of the wreckage that was scattered around and made a small memorial cairn and this is what we first saw. It to me is beautiful with some of the stainless steel and twisted metal glinting in the sun  I was amazed it was still standing.  This area is artic in winter with regular winds of 100 mph plus and huge dumps of snow, the wind batters this place with such force at all times of the year. That day it was so peaceful a slight breeze and the tops mainly clear, this is wild land.  We left Phil and the boys to have some privacy and to have a look round, this was to be a special hour in a place of wild and tragic beauty.

The family

This was their time and we left them as a family, they produced 6 crosses with the details of all the crew on them and placed them by the cairn it was a moving moment for us all.

Phil’s wife had put on each cross the details of each crew member it was a lovely thought and very humbling. No matter how many times I visit these places they are to me special humbling and moving places but today was very even more so with a family there? We must never forget how these young men died for our freedom in this lonely place.

•  P/O Philip Lionel Bennett Paterson (23), Pilot, RAFVR. (Buried Elgin New Cemetery, Morayshire.)

•  P/O Denis Henderson Rankin (24), W/Op. / Air Gnr., RAFVR. (Buried Carnmoney Cemetery East, Belfast.)

• Sgt James Michael Downey (21), Flt Engr., RAFVR. (Buried Leytonstone (St Patrick’s) Roman Catholic Cemetery.)

• Sgt Harold Tudhunter (22), Navigator, RAFVR. (Buried Whitehaven Cemetery, Cumbria.)

•  Sgt Stephen Fraser (21), W/Op / Air Gnr., RAFVR. (Buried Lossiemouth Burial Ground, Morayshire.)

• Sgt Robert Arthur George Bailey (19), Air Gnr., RAFVR. (Buried Bungay Cemetery, Suffolk.)

After a while we had a break and some food, Phil produced some lovely cake that his wife had made and we short work of it. We all felt it right to have a few minutes silence before we left and it was a moving period and with a backdrop of the wild Cairngorms.

Phil said a few words and it was a peaceful scene and one I will never forget.  As we finished the sun came out and the new SAR helicopter flew by overhead it was a powerful sight for us all we could hear it approach from deep in the Cairngorms. It was soon time to head back and try to keep out of the Peat hags, everyone was going well but there was little chat each deep in thought and the family happy they had been to such a place that meant so much to them.

Back on the main path we stopped and enjoyed the sun Phil showed us his Dad’s medals still in the box and as they were the day they were sent to the family. He also had his Dad’s pilot certification from his pilot training in the USA all as pristine as the day they were issued.

The medals.

We also saw his Dad”s service knife that Phil had treasured all his life with the date 1940 stamped on it. All day we were getting to know Phil’s father and the difficult time the family had after the war, after a break we then headed of along the path back to the cars at Glenmore in the sun.

To me this was a special day; some people ask why do I visit these tragic places?  This story to me sums it up.  It was wonderful that Phil at 71 had managed a visit to where his Dad was and his pals had lost their lives and with his two sons it was an incredible effort by them to get to this place.  What a day it had been and it was so emotional at times for us all especially for the family and a huge insight to the tragic loss during the war that so many families accepted as part of life.

We must never forget what these people did for us and that each of these Mountain Crash sites has a unique story and a huge effect on the families even over 70 years after the crash.

Thanks to Phil and the boys for sharing this day with us all. I hope you take some of the peace and beauty of these wild Cairngorms Mountains with you on your journey home today. Soon the snow will sweep over this place and the winter will be with us, few know of this other side of the secret Cairngorms that means so much still to those who gave so much.

Thanks to all for helping make this a day to remember for the family and the huge sacrifice of those who lost their lives for our freedom. I wonder what they would make of this crazy world we live in?

Thank you for everything you did for us on Saturday. It was a both a pilgrimage and an adventure for me, John and Julian to visit my Dad’s crash site. It was a pleasure to meet you and your friends Pete, Yeni and Bernie and to be on the mountain with you and enjoy the camaraderie of a group of mountain rescue men. The visit to the crash site was an experience to be remembered and valued forever. We wouldn’t have known quite where in the Cairngorms the crash site was if John hadn’t seen your blog and we would never have found it or got to it without your guidance. Thankfully we were all fit enough to get there and back – although my legs ache now!

We were certainly blessed with the weather – perfect conditions for the walk and fantastic views from the paths and from the top. The quiet and solitude on the mountains and the desolation of the crash site was something not experienced in our everyday lives. When we first heard the helicopter but couldn’t see it the engine noise was atmospheric. When we heard it again and it came into view it was like a fly-past in honour of the fallen crew. I was pleased to be able to leave the six poppy crosses with the wreckage as tributes to my Dad and the other five men who were killed there in the course of their wartime service.

The vision of the site will stick in my mind, filling in a hole in my family’s history, and I am sure my sons will remember the day for the rest of their lives.

Thanks again for taking us on the visit and for making it such a good day all round.

Phil Paterson”

This is why I visit and will continue to do as long as I am fit enough. Thanks to Phil and family for the use of their photos and a specail insight into their family.

A huge honour to be sent this photo of 45 Commando on Beinn Eighe Remembrance Day by RSM Scotty Muir. At the 1951 Lancaster Crash Beinn Eighe a few years ago. 45 Commando.RM @royalmarines

Flying Officer Paterson’s Medals – The War Medal and the Defence Medal, Phil his son pulled them out at the end of the day on the Cairngorms. This was a moving tribute at the end of a wonderful day and an insight into one of those who did so much for us all.

Thank you to the family for letting me being with them on that special day.

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The Munro Tops – some classic days especially with a dog !

There are 227 subsidiary summits over 3,000ft in Scotland, but which aren’t included in the main Munros list. First published by Sir Hugh Munro in 1891. Munro Tops are considered to be a subsidary top of a nearby Munro.

I wish I had realised about the Munro Tops when chasing my Munro’s in the early 70,s it was later on when I got my dog Teallach it became a just a bit more fun and as I was chasing the tops and no one else would come with us.

Many of my hill companions would head off leaving us to it a wee top in the distance “why bother ?” Poor Teallach had no option.

Yet that journey of the tops was eased by knowing we might as well do them when Teallach was on his Munro Round! We might as well get these tops done. I was at the time chasing fitness for some big hill days and these extra tops at the end of the day helped.

We were lucky being at RAF Kinloss for a period covering the North of Scotland and RAF Leuchars in Fife covering Southern Scotland. Most weekends at least one day was bagging Munro’s and tops in all weathers . So we had the hills covered. It led to a bit more planning for weekends and weekend breaks.

Going for the tops It often led to longer days and some really interesting days. Great views where we were often alone. I often wondered what Teallach thought as we sat and looked when the weather allowed and even Teallach had a wee nap.

These are the best Munro tops some of the ones I remember : one was the Am Bastier tooth in Skye . I heard it’s status was in doubt as a Munro top a few years ago . But the result, that the Basteir Tooth is still a top pleased me. The result was confirmed by Ordnance Survey recently is that the Tooth is 917.16m (3,009ft)

I found that Am Basteirs tooth was harder than the In Pin in my mind, mainly to get my dog off. Skye is hard going on the dog paws especially a big one like Teallach but he always found a route and was so sure footed . Even Teallach after a few days in Skye on the gabbro his paws would hurt. He would be rewarded by sitting in the sun watching us climb on a crag or swimming . The nine Munro tops on Skye are all great hills but hard going.

Another great top is Meall Dearg on Liathach that was a bit of a winter epic in places but what a mountain to be on . In summer it’s loose in places. It is an incredible Corrie and ridge so Alpine at time’s and well worth the effort. The descent from the main ridge can be loose and the Torridon team had a tragic accident here in the past.

Heading to Meall Dearg Liathach.

Lurg Mor – We had many a great weekend out on these remote hills one with two young lads. Sleeping high on the tops doing some cracking Munro’s and tops. The far top of Lurg Mor not be the hardest,but Meall Mor which as is the outlying top of Lurg Mhor will test the most ardent of top baggers. It is about 800 metres from the summit of Lurg Mhor its an interesting scramble.

After a long day you are left with the hike out to the end of the ridge to take in that one in. We then walked down the tight ridge and along to the Loch Monar past Piat Lodge and back to Strathfarrar. I have done that classic day a few times.

A couple of other Tops that might involve a bit of scrambling are the South Top on Ben More Assynt. We did this on our South to North Walk what a spectacular Corrie. Coming back can be tricky as it can involve some hard navigation.

Jim Morning – The scramble on Ben More Assynt.

Kintail has some great tops and the top on the Forcan ridge Sgur Forcan is a grand way up onto The Saddle. What a summit.

On the other side Mullach Fraoch Choire and Tighe Mor na Seilge at the back end of Kintail has some crackers. This is remote country

An Teallach- 7 Munro tops classic scrambling and views yet many miss them as the two Munro’s are easily done on a good day. What a mountain how many miss these great summits. Lord Berkeley’s seat what a “wow factor”

Beinn Eighe – 4 tops a classic outing especially if you include the tops. The tops give some insight into the size of this mountain. They can also introduce new ways up this Torridon giant. Go visit these high place syou will not be disappointed.

What’s your favourite Munro top ? Comments welcome.

Sail Mhor and the superb Tripple Buttress.

Posted in Articles, Books, Islands, Mountain rescue, Mountaineering, Munros, People, Recomended books and Guides, Views Mountaineering, Well being | Leave a comment

The Gaick Avalanche – a wild area in winter.

First let me apologise as I have not been on the internet recently as I had a bad Gastro bowel bug and been laid up for 4 days. At least I lost some weight a rather drastic weight loss and do not recommend it. The old “Pakistan towel” became my dress wear.

This photo came up of the sight of the Gaick Avalanche. It was taken after a search in this wild area.

I have always had a keen interest in avalanches after a near brush with death on Lancet Edge (Beinn Alder area) in 1972. I remember a few years later meeting the late Blyth Wright in a bothy who told me the tale of the Gaick Avalanche. Blyth was so helpful over the years and gave us lots of advice.

Years later it was in his book written with Bob Barton “A Chance in a Million” Blyth was one of those instrumental in the Modern “Scottish Avalanche information Service” SAIS.

One of the tales like the huge avalanche that hit Gaick Lodge on the first of January 1800 when a notorious recruiting officer and four friends were killed when a huge avalanche hit the shooting lodge they were in.

Map of area.

Also another one where the keeper lived on the spoils of another avalanche that missed the Lodge but brought down 2 Stags and lots of grouse in its wake helping feed the keeper for the winter!  

Gaick is in a remote part of the Cairngorms but now well used by mountain bikers and Corbett bashers. Most come on from the private road. Which can hold snow late on after a big winter.

Gaick Lodge

The descent to Gaick from this area if your on the nearby hills can be tricky as I found out in my winter traverse of Scotland in 1978. We arrived on the other side of the Glen from the munro Meall Chuaich. Normally an easy Munro but this was during a big blizzard that had the A9 shut. These were the days before there were gates on the A9. As we walked into the blizzard into the wilds of Gaick in very heavy snow I was worried. We had 4 days food left and some serious walking and navigation to do. I was wary of the steep descent I was the only one who knew the story of the avalanche on the other side of the Glen. The descent down the path to the Loch was harrowing but I was so glad to be in the Glen but wary of the snow that was on the hills. The tale of the next few days was one of survival!

1978 Arriving near Gaick big bags and a heavy snowed descent.


Gaick Corbetts: An Dun and Meall Creag an Loch

The two, steeply flanked Corbetts that rise on either side of Loch an Duin at the top of the Gaick Pass give an excellent hillwalk in a unique corner of Scotland, with a feeling of remoteness. The tops of the hills are flat and spacious, but are divided from their neighbours by great ice-gouged trenches. A mountain bike could be used to shorten the approach.

TERRAIN

Good approach track (suitable for mountain bike). Short stretches of very boggy ground and a burn crossing which could be tricky in spate. Extremely steep heather and grass ascents and descents on the hills. In winter with heavy snow be aware.

Posted in Avalanche info, Mountain rescue, mountain safety, Mountaineering, Munros, Recomended books and Guides, Scottish winter climbing., Views Mountaineering, Weather, Well being | 2 Comments

What’s your favourite hill food?

When I first went on the hills as a very young boy my Dad always carried a huge bar of Cadbury’s chocolate. That was the highlight of many a walk getting a few squares.

In the old days we used to take a few Guinness the night before / not recommended today ? On the hill it was chocolate and the odd sandwich. I remember carrying a can of self heating soup for years “Mock Turtle” never tasted it though! Nothing healthy. On my big walks it was porridge and soup at night we would have rice and whatever we carried there was little in way of lightweight meals. Macaroni, packet soup mashed potatoes and MOD composite rations. They were mainly tinned stew, beans , sausages tinned fish. Tinned custard and Rice were the highlights of the day. Plus lots of tea ! It was in these days that foodstuffs were pretty heavy to carry.

Other ideas jelly babies, sports mixture sweets, cereal bars, crunchies, nuts, dried fruit. M & M’s dates wine gums, pastilles. Harribos various sweets. Flap jacks various , malt loaf and cake. Bananas and fruit! Nuts raisins peanuts were well liked.

Butteries, Oatcakes and cheese, wraps sandwiches jam/cheese, peanut butter. Pork pies mini, crisps, cheese cheddars. Cold cooked sausages. Dried mangos, nuts and raisins.

Nowadays there are so many gels, drinks etc full of balanced ingredients. How things have moved on, Yet I cannot take Gels I do carry a couple and have given them to a few folk who are struggling. I also carry a sports drink “iron brew” a lot cheaper again I hardly use it but gave it away recently on Beinn Sgreathail.

A good breakfast Porridge !

Finally : Have a good breakfast porridge seems very popular with fruit. Drink plenty of fluid before you go and when you return.

If your talking your dog ensure you are carrying some food for the dog!

The classic Mars Bar – how many broken teeth in winter ?

Nowadays I hardly eat chocolate on the hill but carry a mixture of nuts, cereal bars, jelly babies and brownies. It took me years to take sandwiches on the hill honey, jam and peanut butter. I carry a small flask in winter so worth the weight with honey tea or hot chocolate .

Insulated bottle cover.

Fluid can be a problem in winter but I have a good insulated bottle when it’s cold I put in hot Ribena or Orange. I used that bottle in Alaska a great bit of gear. Rehydrate when you can.

Classic Jelly Beans !

What’s your favourite hill food ?

Posted in Alaska, Equipment, Mountain rescue, mountain safety, Mountaineering, Munros, Scottish winter climbing., Views Mountaineering, Weather, Well being | 2 Comments

Favourite Corbett’s and memories – only one left no rush its taken 60 years.

My first Corbett was either The Merrick or Goatfell definitely aged about 5 . I did many more in my youth living in Ayrshire and so near Arran that was over 60 years ago. Over the years I became fascinated by the Munro’s and did not climb that many Corbetts so it’s taken over 60 plus years to get to my last one. Looking back I did many great Corbett’s on my mountaineering trips.

A great book !

What is your favourite Corbetts ? Hear are some of mine.

As I said I rarely went out to climb just a Corbett then not being so wise tagging them onto a big Munro day or a rock climb and the odd winter Climb .

Here are some of my favourite Corbetts a few that I rock climbed on to the summit.

The Arran Corbett’s (Four of the Arran hills qualify as Corbetts – Scottish peaks over 2500 feet, but less than 3000 feet.)

The Arran Corbett’s

Cir Mhor -799 metres ( Great Comb) Arran – is one of the most magnificent of the Corbetts. ( Walk Highlands) Rising at the very heart of the Arran hills, it forms a perfect rocky cone when seen from almost any direction. I remember seeing rock climbers on the huge Granite cliffs on my first trip to Arran.

I rarely walked up it but climbed it many times by the famous Sou Wester Slabs, South Ridge Direct and many other classics.I will never forget walking with my Dad aged about 8 talking to real climbers with ropes below Cir Mhor. I vowed to climb on these great cliffs and that was accomplished many times. A great day is all the Corbett’s on Arran in a day.

2021 walking up Glen Rosa to Cir Mhor.

Many of my early Corbett’s were rock climbed on one of my first away from my home ground was on the Cobbler via a “mod route”near the South East Arête?

The Cobbler – This is one of the most easily accessible Corbetts from the Central Belt of Scotland, the Cobbler occupies a perfect spot on Loch Long, near Arrochar. Easily navigated, it’s one of the best walks in the country with a scramble to the summit. Also great rock climbs as a grand way to the summit. I have been so lucky to climb many of the routes climbing onto the ridge then to the summit.

Ben Aden 887 (hill of the face) – Knoydart

To me this is classed as one of the finest Corbetts in Scotland and one of the toughest to climb, remote and the mountain is steep and rocky on all sides. The nearest village is Inverie . I have climbed it from the bothy at Sourlies in summer and winter. It’s a real mountaineers mountain and can offer some great route finding. It is situated amongst some of the finest mountains in Scotland. Descent in bad weather or in winter can be tricky. I did this mountain on a few bothy trips.

An Ruadh – Stac 892 metres ( The red Conical hill) . What an area to wander in.

This Corbett is missed by many for the Munro’s and in many views is no way overshadowed by its higher Munro’s all grand hills . It makes up for the marginally lower height by being incredibly rocky. It was on a good day a classic outing with quartzite, and provides a memorable scrambly ascent. In winter it os not to be taken lightly.

Fuar Tholl – Cold Hole 907 metres

On the way you pass Fuar Tholl another classic. This is a mountain that I had on many adventures in winter in its Northern Corrie regularly meeting the late Martin Moran climbing or Guiding. On the way you pass the famous cliffs. This is a multi-faceted mountain of Torridonian sandstone. A few worthwhile summer routes have been recorded but it is in winter that the cliffs offer the best climbing on the Northern corrie. The normal approach by the wonderful stalkers path This has good views of the huge Mainnrichean Buttress.

Garbh Bheinn Ardgour (rough mountain)- 885

This hill like all the Ardgour Corbetts is another classic. Especially if you get the wee ferry over Loch Linnhe, near Fort William, Garbh Bheinn is a lesser-climbed Corbett but is well worth checking out for the stunning views throughout the ascent. Again there are great rock climbs to the summit. My first ascent of many was by The Great Ridge and Butterknife ( what a climb) classic as are all the Ardgour hills.

Beinn Lair 859 metres (Hill of the Mare) – is a mountain in the Northwest Highlands, Scotland. It lies in the Letterewe estate on the northeastern safe and egg hore of Loch Maree in Wester Ross. The mountain has two contrasting sides. I first climbed the Corbett by Wisdom Buttress At that time little was little known about this climb to us and we had an hard day especially route finding. It’s a long route and then as now not great in protection. I carried the rope “Big Al”and took minimum gear (as always I carried some extras) it was graded Very Difficult but it seemed med a lot harder it was pretty wet near the top and the route finding was serious. My extra gear as always came in handy at times. Al managed as always to get up the route, he was a big strong man and I kept him on the rough line. He was dressed in his very light red wind-suit he never felt the cold and we ticked the Corbett and ran of the hill to get warm. My wee Olympus camera got wet and I lost all the photos.

Beinn Lair

Foinaven – Ganu Mor ( White hill ( big wedge or head) 914 metres.

In the Far North is nearly a Munro by just a few metres short of being a Munro .m Foinaven in Sutherland has in fact got six separate summits connected by ridges. Reaching the top of all six is possible in a single day, though it’s not for the novice. There is also a grand scramble if you want onto the main ridge. Walking in this way by the track and the Loch shows the wonderful Corries at there best.

It was another Corbett never just Walked on but rock climbed often was a real adventure over many years involving a few late nights. There is a great long day if you add Arkle, Meall Horn.

Quinag

Quinag ( Milk bucket or water stout)

Spidean Coinich 764 metres

Sail Garbh 808 metres

Sail Gorm – 776 metres.

Three Corbetts in one day !

This great hill has triple summits of Quinag provide a dramatic backdrop to nearby Loch Assynt, in Sutherland. It made up of three separate Corbetts – Spidean Coinich, Sail Gorm and Sail Gharbh, that make for an incredible day’s walking for experienced hikers. In winter it’s a cracker! Again with a few winter routes climbed on it.

Beinn Dearg Mor – 910 metres

Beinn Dearg Bheag – 820 metres

These classic hills are usually climbed as a pair, making one of the most spectacular and challenging Corbett outings; they are also extremely remote. As a day walk, the approach from Gruinard given above is extremely long but avoids any serious river crossings; the route can be amended by including the scramble over the north ridge of Beinn Dearg Beag if required.

The other main approach is via Shenavall bothy; this is shorter but involves a great deal more ascent and descent to reach the bothy. After fording both rivers this route then climbs very steeply up the lower slopes to reach the corrie south of the summit.

Another classic climbed a few times by the big Gully on winter exploration.

Off course there are the Corbett’s on the far Islands.

Rum Corbetts

Rum

Corbett Askival – 812 metres (hill of the spear.)

Corbett Ainshval – 781 metres ( rocky ridge hill)

Graham Trallval

One of the best days in my opinion in Scotland. The journey over to Rum is superb a ferry is always the most wonderful way to travel. The views as you approach Rum are superb. The complete traverse offers some of the best scrambling in Scotland outside Skye. Add the views of the sea and Skye. The traverse of the 5 summits is a long day with a long walk in or out but so worth it.

Paps of Jura

Beinn Nan Oir – 785 metres ( hill of gold)

The steep, scree-girt cones of the wonderful Paps of Jura . They

Offer a challenging and memorable hill round, ranking amongst Scotland’s most distinctive groups of peaks. Beinn an Oir – the Mountain of Gold – is the highest but actually also the easiest to ascend. Look out for the Colby camp on the summit ?

Clisham

Clisham 799 metres ( The rocky hill) An Cliseam) horseshoe.

The best way to climb Clisham is as stated by Walk Highlands. This was the way I climbed it one winter when I was a regular visitor to RAF Stornaway. I was there bi – monthly doing audits and checking prices for foodstuffs. I have climbed it over 20 times. The ridges were tricky in the winter snow.

The long approach to Clisham (An Cliseam in Gaelic and on OS maps) over the dramatic and rugged ridges of Mulla-Fo-Thuath and Mulla-Fo-Dheas is a Hebridean classic, with views to match. The route makes a full days’ hillwalking but is much more demanding than the standard. I have been so lucky to see St Kilda looking like a scene from a picture. What a privileged that is as was my visit last year spending an hour on the summit looking in awe. Despite forgetting the sandwiches !

What a great read

The Corbetts & Other Scottish Hills was first published in 1990 as a companion volume to the Scottish Mountaineering Club’s comprehensive guide to The Munros. This new edition has been fully updated by both previous and new authors and is complemented throughout by new mapping and a large number of new photographs. The guidebook details routes up all 222 Corbetts (Scottish hills between 2,500 ft. and 3,000 ft.) and many other popular lower hills. Other hills include popular classics such as Criffel, Tinto, The Pentlands, The Eildons, The Ochils, Ben Venue, Mount Blair, Bennachie, Stac Pollaidh, Suilven and a wide range of hills throughout the islands, from Lewis to Arran. The book has been edited by Rob Milne and Hamish Brown.

Posted in Corbetts, Corbetts and other hills, Friends, Mountaineering, Other hills Grahams & Donalds, Recomended books and Guides, Rock Climbing, Scottish winter climbing., SMC/SMT, Views Mountaineering, Well being, Wildlife | Leave a comment

Some more winter tips from pals! Thanks.

I got lots of additions to asking for winter crips most were on Facebook but I feel are worth adding together for others to see and comment on.

Goggles ……a lesson I learnt the hard way. I was on the hills with Dave Fisk many moons ago and I ended up nearly blinded by spindrift. Mr Fisk had spare. Thankfully.

Mark – Plan route with consideration of folk fitness, experience & the weather, then plan again with an ‘A’ and ‘B’ plan. Ensure don’t get sucked into heuristic errors. 👍

Andy M. – Always be willing to turned back (mind, that applies all times of the year!).

Always assume the route will take longer than you expect.

Don’t carry a torch and gloves. Always carry at least 2 torches and 2 pairs of gloves.

Helen – Get at least one easier winter day in before stretching yourself. It takes at least one winter day to ‘winterise’ or get your ‘winter head’ in gear to reduce the faff factor. At least two spare of the essentials e.g. torch, gloves, map.

Alaister – torch with a spare battery… but got at micro torch only 26g but shines 10m in case the main one fails.

Andy B – Never abandon less experienced companions. Shouldn’t need saying but it happens too often.

Don enjoying the winter.

Richard – only take Cadbury’s chocolate a s frozen fruit and nut can break your teeth!

Alister – Also got a couple more: if you have OS locate you can print out your 1:50K map at double size i.e. 1:25, which with tired eyes and wet goggles or glasses makes seeing the map a million time easier.

So all we have to do now is get out and enjoy the winter. It’s a great time of year.

Posted in Mountain rescue, mountain safety, Mountaineering, Recomended books and Guides, Scottish winter climbing., Views Mountaineering, Weather | 2 Comments

An update from Mountaineering Scotland if you need assistance !

A Facebook post has been doing the rounds recently advising people what to do if they find themselves lost or stranded with low battery or no phone signal. It involves changing your voicemail message to give your approximate position and circumstances so that anyone who calls you will receive this information even if you totally run out of battery or signal.
Whether or not this would actually work, it’s hardly the best use of a failing battery.
Mountaineering Scotland’s Mountain Safety Advisor Heather Morning says: “If you are in an emergency situation the most important thing to do is dial 999, ask for Police, and then for Mountain Rescue. A 999 call will get through on any network, even if your own is not available.
“If the signal is poor, it may still be enough to allow you to send a text message to 999, with your position and brief details of the problem. Although you have to pre-register your phone to be able to do this, it’s quick and easy to do.
“You can also find out your exact location using the free OS Locate app, which gives your position in the tried and tested format used by Mountain Rescue Teams.”
Find out more about calling Mountain Rescue and how to register your phone for 999 texts at: https://www.mountaineering.scot/safety-and-skills/essential-skills/mountain-rescue/calling-for-help
Find the OS Locate app: https://shop.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/apps/os-locate/

Scottish Mountain Rescue Association of Mountaineering Instructors Mountain Training Glenmore Lodge Sportscotland VisitScotland DMBinS

Photo Mountaineering Scotland

Comments welcome !

Posted in Articles, Media, Mountain rescue, Mountaineering, Views Mountaineering, Well being | 3 Comments

How many still wear at watch on the hills ?

How many folk still wear a watch on the hill? I did a night navigation exercise last year and some were relying purely on their phone ? I still use a watch on my wrist and always have . I find it very navigation in bad weather when I am timing and step counting. In other years I had a watch and altimeter and used the altimeter often whilst navigating in wild weather. On searches it was a great tool especially the altimeter if we were contouring.

Comments welcome ?

A few comments from my tweet on the same subject: Mark – I do, I find the altitude readings invaluable, especially in poor visibility, works best when continuously calibrated at known spot heights as barometric pressure can change over a few hours.

John – Always wear a watch, even got an old one attached to my walking pole, handy to see.

Vagabond Vicky – I have a clip on watch, a chunky version of a nurse’s watch, that attaches to a shoulder strap of a bag. Cost about £10. We’d use these in Antarctica clipped to our radio harnesses. No need to take off gloves or move jacket sleeves. I don’t usually wear a watch on a daily basis.

Your ideas tips comments as always welcome !

Posted in Articles, Equipment, mountain safety, Mountaineering, Well being | 4 Comments

What’s your winter tip?

There is a great article in Walk Highlands that I recommend you read no matter how experienced you think you are!

http://www.walkhighlands.co.uk//safety/winter-skills.shymkent

Preparation – One of my tips is to prepare your route I even have my back up GPS with prepared bearings ready just as a back up.

Eat on the move – I have some easy to eat food handy in my pockets ready to eat on the move.

Whats your favourite hill food

Goggles – the time you need them in a blizzard it’s to late to realise you do not have them.

A watch – Many folks do not wear one now and really on phone ? Or am I wrong ? I still think a watch is essential on the hill. If the phone dies on you ? Comments welcome .

Bothy bag

Navigation skills.

Look at weather and avalanche forecast’s.

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Comments from blog about Dealing with getting old on the hills.

Many thanks for all the comments on yesterday’s blog. It seemed to have brought a lot of interest from a lot of folks. Here are some of the comments that others may not have seen on Facebook. Thank you all keep doing the things you love as long as you can! Getting old – no way ! Thanks for all the messages.

On Garbh Bheinn Ardgour !

Very well said, Heavy. I noticed a big difference in my performance post lockdown and it came as a bit of a blow, but slow and canny still gets me up there.

I remember speaking to the late Freddie Malcolm once and he said some of his mates said they were jealous of him that he could still get up the hills, and he told them he was no healthier than them – the difference was that he WANTED to get into the hills and was prepared to thole the pain for that.

Steve – Great blog Heavy, as someone diagnosed with Parkinson’s three years ago I can relate to a lot of that despite not being old…59 isn’t old is it?! 😉 Like you say you can still get out there by taking a sensible approach!

Angus – Absolutely spot on Heavy, likewise 55 years of pounding the hills and punishing MR loads have taken their toll, mostly on the knees and I wish I had started using poles much earlier in life. I can still make good time ascending but descending is painful but the only solution is to keep going. Shorter routes but still love that day on the hill and Assynt ticks all the boxes for me.

Bill Rose

Stalkers pace. You miss so much racing up. Go gently , stopping awhile, spying wildlife on the hills on the way up is far more rewarding. Do not scare them off. You are a visitor to their home.

Aliaster – Good perspective that Heavy. And I think it’s true. It doesn’t matter what you do and where your limits are regardless of age (or not). You just have to know to stay within you own limits and get out to the hills to free yourself.

Posted in Articles, Friends, Health, Mountaineering, People | 2 Comments

Getting old in the mountains a few tips? The secret is do not give up.

I was on a wee hill yesterday when a pal said at time’s I get sad that I may not be able to get big days on the hills anymore. As you get older the body does show signs and mine has done well. The years of big hill days Callouts soaking crazy weather have taken there toll. Yet it’s wonderful to go out and though I struggle up the hill see the power of nature.

A young Bairn before the ageing started! Ben Hope 1973

The clouds just now are majestic-the light unique even in heavy rain showers and the stags roaring is a special time. The first blasts of winter the cold hands and the wind blasted face make all the effort so worthwhile. Seeing the great hills again remembering a thousand stories meeting old pals is so good. Meeting new folk with the same love of wild places makes my heart glow. You feel alive despite the coughing on the way up or the stops. This is the result of many days out over now over 50 years on the hills. Often in weather training or call outs averaging 150 days a year fir at least 35 of them. The abuse the body has taken its amazing how it’s still going. Carrying stretchers, ropes and all night Call outs take there toll. Yet what fun?

We all talk about “mental well being” but the best cure for me is out in the wild places. It makes up for the pain and effort at time’s and the great feeling of getting on your first brew on a summit or sheltered spot is unique.

Just now the world frightens me we are in a real mess and I see few leaders about. Yet on the hill this rubbish is left behind! You concentrate on the day see things differently.

So no matter how you feel my days of huge mountain days are gone but I can still slowly get up there and see the day the world in another light. From the rivers in full flow, the forest changing colours and the Stags roaring it’s wonderful to be about snd see folk again. It’s great to see others a lot older than me still powerful on the hill maybe they looked after their bodies a lot better or started later on life?

I felt tired yesterday but happy my body even after a short day hurts but my heart is still full of the joys of the wild places. It’s easy not to go out but so worth the effort when that rain and wind batters your face. Invigorating or not?

Slowly slowly !

So a few tips : one plan your day do not think your 20 again and if going out alone tell someone.

I find that if I slip I am not so agile so take things a bit slower on steep or broken ground.

I wore specs all my life but now got lazer surgery due to Cataracts. Many now in there later years wear glasses. So carry them use them on the hill to read a map. In lots of accidents this I am sure is the cause?

Nowadays on a steep scramble I may use a rope at times as I feel my balance and skills seem to fade it’s no big deal to me.

Pass on your skills to others it’s great to see young mountaineers learn from the “old and once bold”

Driving – your not as young as you were so I think it’s worth sharing the driving to an from the hill. Spending a night in a Bothy or in your car is better than crashing due to fatigue.

Health – tell your companions if you have health issues very important as they may have medicine they may need with them.

Off the hill – I change when I get back to the car dry tip socks too etc nothing better than staying warm on the way home. I also rehydrate with fluid on the way home and as I get cramp a bit take bananas and crisps ( the salt helps ? ) I still get out the car like the kids say a “tin man” and have a walk and an anti inflammatory to help a bit . It works for me.

Gear – I forgot that but my wee mate reminded me. Sadly it does take £ but worth it – buy light gear. Mark Hartree sums it up well.

Hev’s, great piece.


I would add ‘lighten your bag’. I don’t mean being an unsafe renegade but think what is the minimum you can take, appropriate for the day you are planning and the forecast. Also, there is some excellent lighter weight kit about. It doesn’t have to be expensive. As X MRT folk, we are used to big bags full of stuff you never/rarely use. OK, be safe for an emergency (hat, head torch, whistle, foil survival bag, warm top), but try eliminating stuff you have hardly ever used. You will go up and down easier, move further and travel quicker, and recover faster.
If I can get away with a bum bag – that’s what I’ll take!
Cheers, 2ba

All these tips will help ensure you have a great day out safely. Many may think it’s not for them as there’s so many older folk out on the hill now it’s so good to see.

As many say why do you still go out? To me it’s the feeling of being out in mountains as the winter approaches, seeing Beinn Wyvis yesterday with a snow topping and the trees changing. The ptarmigan changing colour snd the streams in full spate crashing down the hills. Meeting kindred hearts on the hill and of course the memories.

At the back now ! Yet still there. Oct 2021 on Am Bachach Kintail.

Stay safe, get our there!

Comments welcome as always !

Posted in Articles, Equipment, Friends, Gear, Health, medical, mountain safety, Mountaineering, Munros, Other hills Grahams & Donalds, Recomended books and Guides, Views Mountaineering, Weather, Well being, Wildlife | 12 Comments

A special day on Terry’s last Corbett with a lot of old and new pals – Am Bachach Kintail.

The forecast was poor and I left early winter must be coming as I had porridge before I left. I was meeting my mate Laurry outside Inverness and going to take my van to Kintail. As always Laurry changed the plan and we left my van.

It was a lovely drive to Kintail a bit wet but the colours of the trees and the hills were magical. Terry though living down South is a member of the Inverness Mountaineering club. We were early and I showed Laurry the memorial just above the Loch to a young student who went missing on the hills in the 60’s , I gave it a clean and told the story to Laurry of how he was found high up on the Affric hills by a keeper after the snows melted. I have written at length about it in my blog.

The Sandeman memorial

3 Jan 1969 – John Sandeman was one of a group of about twenty Edinburgh University students who had come up to Glenmoriston for part of their Xmas vacation for the purposes of climbing and hillwalking. At the time there was a large amount of Hydro-Board construction taking place in the Glen and the construction company, Carmichaels Ltd, had a large work-camp situated on the south side of the road just east of Dundreggan dam. There the party obtained accommodation since the workforce were not on site over the festive season.

On the day in question the students divided themselves into several smaller groups to tackle climbs of varying difficulty and set out into the Cluanie mountains via the large hill called Sgurr nan Conbhairean.

The Munro
http://www.glenmoriston.org.uk/Glenmoriston/Moriston%20Matters/History/Sandeman%20Memorial.php

The Munro where the young climber went missing.

John Sandeman was one of a group of four led by 19-year old Andrew Kerr and their route took them towards Bealach Coire a’ Chait; Sandeman was not a very experienced climber, however, and he found himself in a group who were just too good for him. About 3.10, with little of the short winter’s day ahead of them he had started to flag and had dropped some 100 yards behind his companions. They pressed on , crossed a false summit and returned. Sandeman was no longer following them. They assumed that he had dropped out and gone back down to the road, but when they did not meet him, they retraced their steps back up the bealach. When once more they did not find him, they returned to Cluanie and back to Dundreggan where the alarm was raised.”The whole party went out after dark, searched the lower hills and corries, but returned at 5 a.m. without success. It was just after returning that they learned that the missing climber’s father, 70-year old Mr Robert Sandeman, a retired jute manufacturer, had died suddenly the previous evening. John Sandeman, however, was well enough equipped to survive a night in the open and so the search resumed the next day.

The Police were told “At about 1515 on Sunday the 3 January, John Sandeman became separated from his party whilst walking from Coire a Chait and Sgurr nan Conbhaireen!. He has not been seen since.”

After being called at 0730 on the Monday the 4 Jan 1960 the RAF Kinloss MRT arrived at the Cluannie in at 1100. After conferring with the Police and local civilians it was decided to carry out a sweep search on either side of the route taken by Mr Sandeman after being separated from his companions.

That evening Monday 4 Jan it was learned that civilians from Inverness and Fort William would be available next day to search.  It was decided that the steep ground NE of Sgurr nan Conbhairean. This task was delegated as follows; Area between last known position and Loch Cluannie to be searched by civilians. Steep ground  NE of Conbhairean searched by MRT.  The decision to call of the search was due to the falling snow making it difficult to locate the casualty impossible!

Civilian assistance was on a comparatively large scale, parties coming from Inverness and Fort William. Co – ordination was difficult since the parties arrived at different times. In accordance with the pre –arranged plans they were allocated search areas by the local Constable. The lateness of the start of the civilian searchers and the onset of thick weather made this search virtually abortive. It is difficult to see how an efficient effort by civilians can be achieved unless facilities exist – such as a Youth Hostel  – where search parties can concentrate the evening before the search!

( I would imagine that the road conditions, poor communications did not help. D. Whalley)

Red flares reported were used by the Fort William Police to concentrate their parties.

Mention must be made of the great help given by the following: Mr Tom Ross the local hill farmer with great local knowledge. Constable MacKay of Dornie was out on the hills both days and his initial

Investigation of the students was very much to the point. Finally Mr Tennant of the Kintail Lodge Hotel wh organised the local civilian effort and made freely of his one transport.

It is presumed that he injured himself and died of exposure somewhere to the SW of Sgurr nan Conbhairean.

Footnote – On Friday, September 21st 1962, a shepherd, George MacKay, who was out gathering sheep with his employer, Mr. T. D. Girvan, saw something sticking up in the heather behind some boulders.

It turned out to be an ice-axe with the initials J.D.S. It looked as though its owner had just stuck it in the ground and sat down beside it to rest. With the axe were found some residual human -remains in company with a watch, cigarette lighter, spectacles and boots. John Sandeman had been found some two and a half years after his disappearance.

The area where he was found was at the top of Glen Fada, north of Aonach Shasuinn on the marches of the Ceannacroc and Guisachan Deer Forests.

We all met at the Clunnie Hotel for coffee. Some others came from South Terry’s friends from the past. We had coffee in the cafe and drove to the lay by to the start of our hill. I had all my waterproofs on.

Ready to go !

Am Bachach is only a short day but the weather was changing with heavy rain and winds forecast. I had left my inhaler and took my place at the back coughing and spluttering! It was great company so many wonderful characters and good views at time’s.

Terry and Gillian his wife l.

Everyone was enjoying the day and I just coughed my way up hill. It’s a good but muddy path. I put on gloves and my hat from the beginning and wondered how did o manage to climb in the past the North and South Clunnie in a day?

Me at the back the colours were magical on the hill as always at this time of year.

The group were great and waited for me to catch up and I got some magical views of the exceptional light. The rain was cold at time’s and tomorrow’s forecast of snow for the high tops was in the air.

On the hill

It was great to meet so many folk and myself and Helen Her husband Brian our doctor on Everest in 2001 had a great chat ( when I could) we got views of the big Affric hills and Kintail hills. The rivers were high in the Glen the path muddy and we were soon at the first top. At 734 metres we could see our summit about a kilometre away.

It was then on slowly the rest pulled ahead but waited for me near the summit

We found some shelter out of the wind and had a break were Terry had some champagne photos and food.

I got my breath back ate a piece and then as we were soaked headed down. It was still wet but a lot easier on the way off. At the bottom a cake was produced and we went back to the cafe at Clunnie for a warm drink.

The new Corbeteer.

It was a quick change then to Terry’s bed and breakfast for a superb meal. We were treated so well by the owners and the food was magnificent. I got cramp at time’s first time for ages. Thank you to our hosts for a lovely meal.

Binnilidh Mhor B&B

Situated in the tranquil Scottish Highlands, with stunning views of the surrounding mountains, Binnilidh Mhor B&B offers easy access to outdoor activities such as hill-walking, horse riding, fishing, kayaking, and bird watching. The property is set less than 10 miles from Loch Ness and just off the A887 road to the Isle of Skye.

This property consists of 3 large en-suite bedrooms, 2 of which are suitable for guests with mobility difficulties. Guests can benefit from free Wi-Fi, an iPod docking station, a flat-screen TV, tea/coffee making facilities, hairdryer, ironing facilities and a silent fridge.

There is a lounge area which has a roaring log fire for winter days.

Breakfast is made of locally sourced ingredients and includes full Scottish and a continental option. Evening meals and packed lunches are available upon advanced request.

Binnilidh Mhor B&B is 15 miles from the historical town of Fort Augustus with its medieval Abbey. Guests can easily reach the famous location of Loch Ness and several famous Scottish Castles such as Urquhart and Eilean Donan. Inverness airport and the Isle of Skye is 1 hour’s drive from the property. Magical

We left about 2000 leaving Terry Gillian Ritchie and Alison to some peace and drove back to Inverness finding my cat locked in the Car park. Laurry dropped me off laughing and headed home . I got 5 star lodgings at my stepdaughters and made my granddaughters day. Apart from cutting my head as I slipped! The girls were shocked but soon went into Nurses mode . Yvette and Dave laughed only I could be so daft. I was well looked after and spent the night with my beautiful girls and Dave and Yvette.

What a day met so many great folk forgot about the mess the world is in. Thanks to Terry and Gillian for a great day to everyone who attended it was great to see you. Sorry I was so slow. Yet to be up in the hills despite the weather to see the colours the wind battering your face was wonderful.

The Doc Brian snd Helen !

There’s something about hill folk that make even a wet wild day fun. Even at my pace.

Thanks
Posted in Corbetts, Corbetts and other hills, Enviroment, Family, Friends, Health, mountain safety, Mountaineering, Munros, People, Weather, Well being, Wildlife | Leave a comment

River crossing – memory

These words below are from an incident in 1982 when a USAF 111 crashed on Sgur Na Stri on Skye on December.

“The first obstacle was the river it was snowing pitch dark but there was a very rickety bridge which we avoided in the dark. We were high on adrenaline and were soon across, following my dog swimming the fast flowing river. It was bitter cold and the smell of aviation fuel and burning was unmistakable.” It was so cold and we had an all night search and bivouacked at the crash site till next morning.

The old bridge at Camusunary Skye now gone

I was out the other day over in the West the rivers were so high due to constant heavy rain. I crossed the bridge near the bothy it needed a bit of TLC and took care. A slip here in the water would have been serious.

Bridge to the bothy

My walks across Scotland in the 70’s gave me a great respect for Ricer crossings as we were coming of the big hills often in in familiar territory. I have been on a few Call outs where folk have had to bivy as they could not cross the river due to the it’s depth and power. Coming of in a dark winters night can be tricky enough without dealing with a flooded fast flowing river !

As always – https://www.mountaineering.scot/safety-and-skills/weather-conditions/river-crossings. Has great advice

River crossing in the great outdoors

Blue on the map is water, but what the map doesn’t signify is how easy or hard the water will be to cross. It might be a simple case of jumping from one bank of a stream to another, hopping across a few boulders in the burn, or swapping boots for crocs and braving the cold for a few metres across a shallow river. Or it may not.

You can get a guide to width, at least, by looking closely at how the water is depicted on an Ordnance Survey map. Streams are shown as a single blue line, where thickness is proportionate to the stream’s width, and where the single blue line splits into two, with light blue shading in between, that means the river is more than 8 metres wide.

But regardless of width, in times of heavy rainfall or snow melt the burns and rivers in the mountains of Scotland can present a serious and potentially dangerous challenge.

Lots more information on the website – if in doubt do not cross !

Posted in Articles, Bothies, Local area and events to see, mountain safety, Mountaineering, People, SMC/SMT, Views Mountaineering, Weather, Well being | Leave a comment

Hopefully today a Corbett completion by my mate Terry Moore on Am Bathach – 798 “The Byre” ( Kintail) forecast not great.

Am Bathach

I have not been on the hill for a while had a big tooth removed ( it took two hours to get it out) My mate Terry of over 45 years finishes his Corbett’s today in Kintail.

The forecast is poor wet and windy but we will have a good day. I was with him when he completed his Munro’s with Jim Morning on Sgurr Na Ciche in 1978 That was a long day.

Terry and Jim’s last Munro 1978

Terry has always been a superb all rounder. He has climbed in the Himalayas on Everest ‘s West Ridge done many peaks in the Himalayas. Yet it was on our winter West to East in Scotland in the late 70,s where he was a great companion. We were pushed to our limits yet he always remained Mr Cool along with Jim Morning way out of my league. A strong rock climber as well never phased and climbed the Skye ridge in 12 hours this year on his late 60’s. What a man of the mountains and always unassuming.

The Corbetts & Other Scottish Hills was first published in 1990 as a companion volume to the Scottish Mountaineering Club’s comprehensive guide to The Munros. This new edition has been fully updated by both previous and new authors and is complemented throughout by new mapping and a large number of new photographs. The guidebook details routes up all 222 Corbetts (Scottish hills between 2,500 ft. and 3,000 ft.) and many other popular lower hills. Other hills include popular classics such as Criffel, Tinto, The Pentlands, The Eildons, The Ochils, Ben Venue, Mount Blair, Bennachie, Stac Pollaidh, Suilven and a wide range of hills throughout the islands, from Lewis to Arran. The book has been edited by Rob Milne and Hamish Brown.

The Corbett’s

The Corbett’s are great hills I would say harder to do than the Munro’s. They take you to many places that you may not have visited and the views of the great peaks can be unsurpassed. I have only one left to climb and hope to get it done before the winter!

Today’s final Corbett is Am Bathach is often climbed with its lofty neighbour a Munro Ciste Dubh. It’s often climbed in ascent or descent from Ciste Dubh. The ascent from the main road A87 is an undulating grassy ridge is undulating and an airy ridge especially in winter. Yet the views on a clear day of this wonderful area are inspiring. I doubt we will get them today.

Am Bathach

Weather permitting !

Weather today – Southwesterly 25 to 40mph, strongest in morning when risk 45mph northern tops. Veering northwesterly by evening.


Very blustery with fairly arduous conditions for several hours, especially in the north, with marked wind chill.
How wet?
(Precipitation and its impact)
Passing showers, rain/snow later.
A scattering of showers spreading from the west, mostly brief, becoming sleet or wet snow on higher summits.


Later in the afternoon, rain spreading from the north, increasingly snow on the Munros. As it clears toward evening, snow will descend on back edge to 400-500m.


Cloud on the hills?
Chance of cloud free Munros?
Mostly higher tops, later extensive in rain and snow.
Covering many higher summits in the morning, particularly near west coast plus Clyde lochs, where patches will frequently cap tops above 800m. Inland and much of Lochaber, breaks forming toward higher tops. Increasingly extensive hill fog developing widely later in the afternoon as rain and snow develops.
30% west/south; 50% inland. Lowering widely to 20% later in afternoon.
Sunshine?
Air clarity (below cloud)
Occasional sun, mostly well inland.
Becoming overcast afternoon.
Visibility very good, then widely becoming poor and very poor in rain and snow later.
How Cold? (at 900m)
Freezing Level
3C, lowering to -1 or -2C by evening.
Above the summits up to dawn, but likely to drop during the morning to 1200-1300m. Will then drop markedly toward evening to 600-

Posted in Books, Corbetts, Corbetts and other hills, Enviroment, Friends, Mountaineering, Recomended books and Guides, Views Mountaineering, Weather, Well being, Wildlife | Leave a comment

Self Reliance ( meaning “reliance on one’s own powers and resources rather than those of others”) on the mountains a few thoughts.

It is what many of us call this is the “silly season” it’s already started in my mind. The daylight hours are now shortening and the weather changing. Mountain Rescue Teams are getting busy as the weather, daylight catch folk out. We all make mistakes but I my view we should be a lot more self reliant when out on the mountains and wild places.

The Mamores early winter practising basic skills.

I was taught by so many great mentors one of the things was “self reliance “ a lot of folk still think that if they get into trouble all the have to do is pick up your phone call the Police and a Helicopter or Mountain Rescue Team will appear. Sadly this is not always the case !

How many folk know how many helicopters are there in Scotland that can respond weather permitting to launching an SAR aircraft to assist. They may have so many other things on. Like a rescue at sea a big crash that needs immediate evacuation a sick child that’s need to go to hospital quickly from a remote area. Someone has to prioritises these incidents. So you with your broken ankle or lost in the hills you may have a long wait before the “cavalry” arrive.

Are you prepared for hunkering down and waiting for assistance ? Try it spend some time on a summit and see how cold it gets.

Do you carry any emergency clothing such as an insulated jacket survival bag or bothy bag. A bothy bag is invaluable if it all goes wrong.

Do you carry a spare battery (a charger that will top up your phone there not expensive and a must for your phone) in a waterproof case that’s if you can get a signal, a torch that works a map compass etc . All part of being Self reliant !

So I ask you to look at the weather plan your day as we lose daylight, leave your route with someone you trust. The mountain Rescue teams and Dogs will find you but need to know what your plans were. You must try to be self reliant in every aspect.

Do not be a follower learn to navigate. Paths are snow covered in winter conditions change everything. Guide book time’s can be so different in deep snow or bad weather re appraise your route to suit the conditions.

A simple whistle is such an important tool as is communicating with your companions. Look after your companions do not let them lag behind stay together. Have a plan if all goes wrong.

At this time of year rivers flood and sometimes are uncross able. How would you cope with that? Check the weather forecasts and listen to good local advice.

Yet the hills this time of year with the stags bellowing as the rich autumn colours are a joy to see.

As I said try and find out how many helicopters are available for SAR in Scotland you could have a long wait are you prepared for that. Could you look after your companion if they are struggling ?

The Mountain Rescue Teams are all volunteers, great people who all live the mountains and wild places. We can all do our bit to help by trying to be as safe as we can. Yet if we are in trouble they will and do risk their lives for us. We are so lucky to have them so why not support your local team or an area you love. A little donation can help a huge bit.

Beinn Eighe .

The UK has an unique Mountain Rescue Service that as many envy let’s not take it for granted. There are many out there who will criticise this free service so we have to be on guard for that. There are so many good folk out there doing so much for others that never get the thanks they deserve?

Comments as always welcome you can donate to your local Mountain Rescue team or favourite area through the teams website or Facebook pages. You get this wee blog for free so why not help others.

Enjoy the hills and have fun !

Out in the winter ! Marvellous .

So please check your kit!

Plan your day for the time of year and conditions.

Ensure you carry a map in a waterproof case and compass and be confident in their use.

Carry a back up battery for your phone.

Make sure your torch is serviceable.

Winterise you’re hill bag.

Carry spare gloves losing a glove can be so serious in winter.

Plan your route – early start. Get weather forecast and later on Avalanche reports.

No when to turn round “the hills will always be there, the secret is to be there with them.

Leave your route with someone you trust with what you want done if your late etc.

Do not be a “follower” take part in all aspects of your hill day.

It’s not hill walking in winter it’s winter mountaineering !

A great piece of gear is a simple whistle if it all goes wrong.

As always comments welcome?

There is great information on the Mountaineering Scotland website it’s free and a brilliant tool. Well worth a look Mountaineering . Scotland website

Posted in Articles, Books, Enviroment, Equipment, Gear, Mountain rescue, mountain safety, Mountaineering, Munros, Recomended books and Guides, Scottish winter climbing., SMC/SMT, Weather, Well being, Wildlife | 6 Comments

Past memories of the Lockerbie Tragedy thanks to these two great troops in 2018. Cycle to Syracuse!

It is amazing when photos turn up due to modern media . This one is very special. It was taken on my way to Edinburgh on a wild day cycling through a storm from Lockerbie. It was a hard day physically and mentally and without those two and a few others I would have struggled. I was training to go on my Cycle to Syracuse in the USA for the 30 th Anniversary of Lockerbie in 2018.

Scouse and Mark wet and cheerful.

As part of the 30th Anniversary 0f Lockerbie I took part in the Cycle to Syracuse.

Cycle to Syracuse – A team of cyclists from Lockerbie, Scotland, will arrive at Syracuse University on Thursday, Nov. 1, completing a 3,238-mile journey in honor of the victims of Pan Am 103.

This is from the write up on 2018 :

The Cycle to Syracuse team will arrive on the Einhorn Family Walk in front of the Goldstein Alumni and Faculty Center at 3 p.m. Bagpipers will lead the cyclists up the walk to the front of the Schine Student Center, where a brief program will be held.

Members of the University community are invited and encouraged to attend and welcome the cyclists.

The Cycle to Syracuse team is composed of five cyclists. Four are first responders: Colin Dorrance, representing Police Scotland; David Walpole, representing the Scottish Ambulance service; David Whalley, representing the Royal Air Force Mountain Rescue; and Paul Rae, representing the Scottish Fire and Rescue. The fifth cyclist, Brian Asher, is the head teacher of Lockerbie Academy. The school shares a strong bond with Syracuse University, and is the school from which come the Lockerbie-Syracuse Scholars, who study at the University each year.

In addition to honoring the victims, the ride is intended to raise awareness of emergency services and mental health issues.

The ride has been completed in three stages. Students at Lockerbie Academy and surrounding primary schools rode exercise bikes or their own bikes at their local school throughout September and October, culminating in a final event at Lockerbie Academy on Oct. 10.

For the next stage, a 70-mile cycle ride from the memorial cairn at Lockerbie Academy to Edinburgh Castle took place on Oct. 13. 2018.

Meeting this lady was the climax of the journey.

In the final stage, team members are cycling more than 600 miles from Washington, D.C., to Syracuse, arriving in time to participate in Syracuse University’s Annual Rose-Laying Ceremony to honor the 270 victims of Pan Am 103, including 35 SU students, lost on Dec. 21, 1988.

Look Back Act forward!

The two in my photo were just “young bairns “in the Mountain Rescue Team and were part of a huge effort over 34 years ago! In 2018 they looked after me in 70 miles of pouring rain from Lockerbie to Edinburgh. Thanks Scouse Atkins and Mark Hartree for helping me on that wild day. I had various spills on my bike including a few bad falls and rib injuries.

Thank you for what you and so many others did all these years ago. Sorry for being slow but what an emotional day🚲 Great assistance from the Feechan Flyers sound people so much support from everyone especially the Cycle to Syracuse Team. Your all special.

It was an emotional journey in appalling weather during Storm Callumn and I never really recovered from that soaking. It left me with a real problem that was ongoing in my chest after 45 years of mountaineering in all weathers . Mentally it was an incredible journey meeting so many families who lost their loved ones in that awful night in 1988. As you look back I was so glad I struggled to go on the trip but it was life changing. Thanks to all who were part of the journey. As the days get closer to the anniversary of the Lockerbie Disaster in December it is still dark time for many. Including me. Yet this trip really helped me meeting so many families and hearing there stories of loved ones lost.

Lockerbie window

The World has moved on my health will never be the same I still will never get over those dark days in 1988. Being the RAF Mountain Rescue Team Leader it took so much out of me and so many in Mountain Rescue, SARDA and many other Agencies. It was a different world then and nothing could prepare you for the journey years later. Hopefully the hard won lessons have been learned for future generations. Yet the way the world is going I worry about the future?

Comments as always welcome and a huge thanks to all who helped look after me. You know who you are.

Posted in Cycle to Syracuse Training, Mountain rescue, People, PTSD, Well being | 4 Comments

From Scottish Mountain Rescue.

Over recent months there has been an increase in the number of mountain incidents across Scotland, and now autumn is in full swing we’d like to remind people venturing into the hills to check your kit to ensure you are fully prepared. Ensure you have suitable clothing for any weather conditions you may encounter and have within your rucksack a spare warm layer (jacket, fleece), spare gloves, hat and extra food.

In addition to that it is important to have a map for the area you are walking in, a compass (know how to use it) and a torch and spare batteries. We have moved into autumn and the evenings are getting darker and the temperature is dropping.

We recommend that you don’t use a mobile phone as your only navigation aid as they have their limitations, if you do get into difficulty try and keep as much charge in your phone battery as you can, (in the cold battery life is very short).

Remember, if you do require assistance, phone 999 and ask for Police then Mountain Rescue, try and stay calm and give as much information to the operator as you can (what the emergency is, where you are, size of party, telephone numbers in your party, any known medical issues etc), bear in mind however that given the remoteness of some of the areas, mobile phone signal can be very poor and it can take a number of hours for the rescue team to get to you.

Leaving a route card of your intended journey with family or a friend can assist our Mountain Rescue teams too.

With a bit of forward planning, looking at weather forecasts, thinking about your route and your skills will enable you to have an enjoyable day out in the wonderful mountain environment we have in Scotland.

Picture Credit: Aberdeen Mountain Rescue Team

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Early lesson – Leaving your bag below a route in winter ? I learned about Mountaineering from that.

In the mid 80’s at the “invincible stage” in my mountaineering our annual winter course was held over 2 weeks in the Cairngorms and Lochaber. This was when young team members from the 6 RAF teams came for a winter mountaineering experience. It was a one to one pupil instructor and a hard course weather driven with snow holing and lots of winter climbing.

The pupils were graded by the amount of climbing they did and what winter mountain days they got in. In addition there was usually at least one call out per course. The troops got one day off, most needed it.

That winter it had been a long one already I had climbed a lot and thought I knew the Cairngorms like the “back of my hand” in my experience few do and many learn the hard way about these wild mountains by not treating them with respect.

The Northern Corries especially Coire an t-Sneachda) are ideal for winter climbing only a short walk from the car park at 2000 feet even with a big winter bag. Yet once you climb a route you can be on one of the most hostile places in the Uk the Cairngorm plateau. The central of the three Northern Corries of Cairn Gorm provides one of the most reliable and easily accessed winter climbing venues in Scotland. Its high altitude and northerly aspect allow its rocky mixed routes to come into condition easily. The relatively short approach from the Cairngorm ski centre, combined with plenty of good climbs in the low to mid grades, mean it is often busy, particularly early in the season. There is also a fair amount of worthwhile rock climbing in summer, including the classic Magic Crack.

Guide book

My pupil on that last day was needing one more route to get assessed. So off we went I was climbing okay ( for me) so we picked the Alladins Mirror Direct a mid graded route with a steep ice start. I had done it often and thought we could get up it before the weather broke. In these days the forecasts were not as good as today but a big storm was coming on later in the day.

another day !

Guide book – The Mirror Direct grade 4 – The only obvious blue ice in the couloir. A short ice wall leads to an in situ belay. The upper reaches of the normal route offer some superb scenery.
Very suitable for learners.
Can vary hugely in difficulty and length depending on the current conditions.

Lesson 1 – take a good look at the conditions forecast.

We set off my partner was slow tired after a hard course. The snow was very deep on the way in and we had my dog Teallach route finding as the path was snow covered.

Lesson 2 – think how is your partner feeling tiredness etc ?

An early sign ?

We took it easy meeting a few climbers walking out saying it was not a great day and we’re aborting. We geared up and the climbs were empty and all the steps were snow covered there had been heavy snow overnight.

Lesson 3 – Recent heavy snow a warning sign.

Teallach my dog knew the routine he would dig a hole and wait for us to climb. We decided that I would take my bag with spare gear leaving his bag with the dog. He would have his head torch in my bag plus some spare kit.

We started climbing we were below the ice pitch which snow serpents were coming down. A wee wind was picking up and snow was moving about . There was no one else about I could hear a few of our parties saying they were going for a walk on my radio.

Lesson 4 / leaving bags was not a good idea or was the big change in conditions.

It took a bit of time to get up that first pitch it’s steep but short grade 3/4 all ice. The snow was that heavy I took my specs off and had my goggles on. I got to the belay fixed pegs buried by snow and brought the young lad up.He struggled but got up. I thought let’s abseil off but he wanted to get the route finished to get some leading in. It’s easy ground but can be serious and is about 400 feet to the top.

Lesson 5 – Decision making – we should have abseiled off but I decided to keep going!

He took a long time to climb the easy ground got a few runners in but I could not hear if he was belayed safely or not. After a while I set of and got up to him he was still faffing over a belay. I sorted it and then took the lead. Though easy this can be complex ground.

another day on the Mirror Direct heading up to the plateau.

I moved as fast as I could the snow was deep in places and avalanche prone but kept to the rocks and I kept the pitches short. The weather got worse and I could see he was struggling but in mind the safest way was to keep going.

Lesson 6 – pushed into decisions ?

Eventually I made the plateau it was wild By now a Gale. There was no one was about and I got a message from the troops asking where we were? I gave them an update of about 2 hours ! We ate some food I packed the rope and the gear whilst my partner took a bearing to get us off the hill. I was busy and did not check it (big mistake) but we just wanted off that hill.

Lesson 7 – always check bearings ! We wandered in the white out for about 20 minutes there was no visibility I felt something was wrong. I had given him my Map and asked for it back. He took it out of his pocket and off it went into the void. No map now in a storm this was very serious.

Lesson 8 – Always carry 2 Maps !

This was getting so serious it was full on white out so I got the rope out and took a rough bearing using my area knowledge back to hopefully to the cliffs . After 30 minutes I reached the cliffs I knew roughly where I was. So we headed into the void along the ridge I got the odd landmark by going near the edge found the mushroom stone and worked my way along the Corrie. It was looking back exhausting always ensuring that my partner was attached to me by a short rope.

I knew the way back was down by the Mess of Pottage but in the white out I could not be sure. The weather was full on my companion suffering running on empty. It was dark now but I noticed that my partner had dropped his torch on the way off. So it was all on my head torch light. I found what I thought was the descent into the Corrie. Warily I dropped over the Cornice and we were safe climbed up and brought him down. It was out of the wind at last and how better I felt but the snow was so deep.

We descended the Corrie was full of snow very deep and very avalanche prone. It was late now about 8 pm, pitch dark but I could see a little light in the Corrie what a relief . My partner was in his last legs we so lucky. What I thought was a simple day turned into an epic and a catalogue of simple errors. The light in the Corrie was my mate Don Shanks who was worried about us. We got down to him. He had walked back in to the Corrie what a star.

I was so pleased to see him and left him with my partner and went up to collect the dog.

It was hard pull up to the route only then did I realise how tired I was. I then found him the start of the route out of the snow came Teallach attached to my partners bag. He had been up there for about 8 hours waiting for us to come back. It was then a trudge home with Don’s long legs making a path home. We were so glad to get in that wagon back to Grantown. The warmth of the wagon I realised we were still wearing our harnesses. Don drove us back whilst I talked non stop and my companion slept .

It was then the walk of shame back at Base having to tell the tale to all. Huge lessons learned another day of learning and could have been much more serious. I learnt about winter mountaineering from that ? How exhausted was I that day and how lucky ?

Have you any stories to share ?

Comments as always welcome !

Posted in Mountain rescue, mountain safety, Mountaineering, People, Scottish winter climbing., SMC/SMT, Views Mountaineering, Weather, Well being | 2 Comments

New easy Routes – “sporting lines” in winter Slip, sliding away!

I was looking at a few old photos. It’s great as the memories come back especially when you went a new way up a mountain. Often you did not know what to expect but often the route gave you a surprise. Wandering would take you to some great places and provide some sport. The route below formed in a very cold winter spell in 1990 was only grade 2/3 but was as they say a “sporting line” onto one of Scotland’s finest winter mountains Liathach in Torridon.

Liathach climbing from the path in the Glen Water ice all the way to the ridge.

It’s amazing that in these days we wandered up lines into remote Corries. This gave us so much unique knowledge of these wild areas and great area knowledge. No guide book, or climb by numbers descriptions.

Some of the other mountains like Seanna Bhraigh, Beinn Dearg ( Ullapool) Strathfarrar and An Teallach provided adventures over the years. Rarely did we meet anyone and we were away from the crowds or did we claim the routes. Most were easy but so satisfying to arrive on a ridge by a different way.

Great conditions !

Most were adventures and climbs spotted on summer Stravaigs. We also managed a lot of low level ice routes when the big routes were out due to weather. It’s always worth having a look.

Heavy Handed Loch Broom ice ! Dancing on thin ice.

In the Late 70’s we would wander round cliffs in the winter usually finding some line. Beinn Dearg was always kind to us. I climbed a lot with Mark Sinclair (RIP) who would sing at time’s. The Paul Simon lyrics from 1975!

“Slip slidin’ away
Slip slidin’ away
You know the nearer your destination
The more you’re slip slidin’ away” crazy days but magic.

So if you fancy an adventure it does not have to be hard to be enjoyable and there something about picking a “sporting line”up a mountain or cliff. There still lots to do!

Loch Broom ice .

Comments welcome.

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A new book on the way from the Scottish Mountaineering Trust on Tom Patey .

Hamish and Tom Patey photo SMT publications

From the Scottish Mountaineering Trust

“Tom Patey is a Scottish climbing legend who needs no introduction. His climbing escapades, evening antics and desire for adventure combine to produce a character unlike any other in our country’s climbing history.

We are very excited to announce that we’ve just added his biography to our list of future publications. We’ll be working with the author Mike Dixon over the coming months to bring this extensively researched book into being in 2022.” SMT

I love Tom Patey book “One Mans Mountains is a classic” one of the best mountaineering books I have ever read. I know that the Scottish Mountain Trust will ensure this is another great addition to there publications . I am sure Mike Dickson will do a great job of such a book. I hope many of the unknown tales are included. Tom Patey’s spell climbing with the Marines down South and hope Hamish MacInnes had an input into the research before he left us.

I am sure Hamish had Tom’s desk in his house at Glencoe that he used as an office?

Thank you SMT for this project. If it is anything like their publication of Hamish’s last book it will be superb.

I will be awaiting this book eagerly .

Comments as always welcome !

One mans Mountains a true classic! Have you read it ?

From the SMT website Scottish Mountaineering Trust

We are a Scottish charity that provides grants to projects and organisations that promote public recreation, knowledge and safe enjoyment of the mountain amenities, especially in the mountains of Scotland.

The Trust supports:

  • Publication of guides to, and information about the Scottish mountains
  • Footpath construction and maintenance
  • Land purchases that ensure public access
  • Mountaineering education and training, especially that aimed at young people
  • Mountain rescue teams and organisations, for equipment and facilities
  • Renovation of club huts available to the wider mountaineering community
  • Expeditions with educational or scientific objectives aligned with those of the Trust

Our work is financed by donations from individuals and organisations who share our values, and from the publication of guidebooks for the Scottish Mountaineering Club and other books connected with the Scottish Hills.

Where the money goes

Below are shown the totals of the grants and loans made by the Trust in its major areas of activity in the period 1990-2019.

Footpath Construction and Maintenance

£486,000Funding for Mountaineering Scotland

£235,000 Land Purchase £68,500Mountaineering Education and Training

£36,000Mountain Rescue Equipment and Facilities

£74,000Support of Expeditions

£34,500Renovation of Club Huts£315,000

Others – £321000

Total – £1,570,000

Great work so every time you purchase a book from the SMT some of the money goes to good causes.

Posted in Articles, Books, Mountaineering, Recomended books and Guides, SMC/SMT, Views Mountaineering | Leave a comment

The Torridon hills some memories.

The other day I was up a lovely wee hill An – Ruadh Meallean near Torridon that gave me a great view of the West side of the Torridon Munro Beinn Alligin. I have done several big call outs on this mountain here in my days of mountain Rescue assisting the local Torridon and Kinlochewe MRT and SARDA in the past. These Torridon’s are huge hills with long approaches at times in to remote Corries in poor weather. Alligin is a wonderful hill but few see all sides of it chasing the Munro summits.

Yesterday I could see the West side of Alligin and it was the scene of a tragic avalanche accident in March 1986.

It must be remembered that there was little avalanche information for this area in these days. Weather reports were not as good as nowadays and there were no mobile phones. Big searches in these areas would involve lots of manpower and dogs and local teams would often assist each other in big searches.

In 2014 for the first time, SAIS provide a limited forecast for the Torridon area in the North West Highlands. How things have changed now we have a full report every avalanche season..

This was the Call – out details .

27 March 1986 – West Ridge of Beinn Alligin – Walker killed in 300 metre fall and two companions suffered broken legs and hypothermia. Spotted from the air by a Wessex helicopter and one of the MRT who saw a glove in the snow !

Beinn Alligin the other side.

Looking back it was a lucky break that the glove was noticed in the snow. The weather was not great but sadly one climber died but the other two were saved. Looking back they were in a bad way. Finding someone alive in such circumstances was pretty unusual at the time from a major avalanches.

Heavy and Berty plus Teallach – Early morning at the start of the day on the Torridon Trilogy. Photo D Tomkins

Yet its ok many hills I have so many mixed memories. Beinn Alligin at the end of the Torridon Trilogy with Liathach and Beinn Eighe. At the time in 1980 it was a great day. Coming off Beinn Alligin with my mates Dave Tomkins, Bertie and Teallach was a such an adventure !

The Wilds of Torridon.

As was Liathach and Beinn Eighe in winter classic mountaineering. The Torridon’s have so much to offer. So many great days climbing on Beinn Eighe on the superb Triple Buttresses in summer and winter. Visits to the Lancaster crash and so many ascents of Fuselage Gully in summer and winter. The Northern pinnacles on Liathach a (must) another great day as are some of the great ice routes in the Corries. Meeting friends like Martin Moran often on these hills he loved.

I have great memories of wild adventures coming of in the dark on these great peaks that test you no matter how much you think you know them? Troops trusting you and so glad to reach the safety of the Glen.

Classic painting.

In all I have never had a bad day here in any weather hopefully more to come !

Posted in Articles, Avalanche info, Mountain rescue, Mountaineering, Recomended books and Guides, Scottish winter climbing., Views Mountaineering, Weather, Well being | Leave a comment

Are you ready for the change to winter?

Hopefully we have still got some summer left but I have not been out for a while but heading West this weekend. So I had a look at my kit. My summer bag was light.

I have added some more gear to my bag !

Warm gloves ( plus a spare) A better hat for winter and a buff.

My winter waterproofs are in. Bothy bag checked and torches. I carry two. Worth checking your torch after every trip.

I carry a small flask in winter well worth the weight.

My phone battery is also checked as is my map and compass. It’s easy to break a compass that has been in your bag all summer.

I noticed when I was teaching navigation last year that a lot of guys rely on their phone as a watch. I still use a watch especially for navigation legs and timing . Comments ?

A few tips / Get away early have a cut of point in the day to be down low it’s not easy coming down steep ground in the dark!

Practice navigation now before your in that white out. This is the time to check your taking of bearings timings etc.

Goggles to me are essential in winter. As are glasses if you need them to read the map or your phone.

When the snow comes Practising ice axe arrest 10 years ago is not so good. Practice every year. Go out with someone experienced and learn about ice axe breaking and crampon use. my advice even better take a course. You will not regret it!

Your route for the day all the Munro guides give summer time’s for hill days. In winter it all changes. Routes are dependant on weather and snowfall . Read the forecasts and the Avalanche report (this starts mid December) it will give you a guide to what’s been happening high up. Use these tools there free.

Remember wind has a huge effect on the hill. We always overestimate the wind speed read and understand what the speeds are and the effects on your day.

Eat well before hand porridge is a great fuel hydrate and have some food handy that you can eat on the move.

Carry a small duvet that you can use in an emergency or during your breaks . Plan for what to do if someone has a problem on the hill?

Are your boots in good condition ensure your soles are not worn out . This is the time of year for slippy wet grass ! A slip can be very serious.

Winter is a great time of year but you can prepare yourself for it. Plan a sensible day and remember “the hills are always there the secret is to be there with them”.

There are few paths in winter it’s a lot of route finding and constant checking of navigation.

Do not be a follower we all have our part to play on a day on the hills. Take an active part in the navigation check the leaders bearings and timings. It’s so easy to put the hood up and leave it to others?

Posted in Articles, Avalanche info, Enviroment, Equipment, Mountain rescue, mountain safety, Mountaineering, Scottish winter climbing., Views Mountaineering, Weather, Well being | Leave a comment

Poetry on the hills – How I missed out for so long .

Norman MacCaig.

This is part of his work that made me read lots of his poetry. I love the poetry of the mountains and wild places and coming from Ayr the land of Robbie Burns it makes me sorry I took years to appreciate it. I was so proud that a few years ago the Mountain Bothies Association printed my poem in their book.

Hear my words carefully.
Some are spoken
not by me, but
by a man in my position.’

Norman MacCaig was born as Norman Alexander McCaig in Edinburgh on 14 November 1910. He was educated at the Royal High School, Edinburgh, and the University of Edinburgh (MA with Honours in Classics, 1932). In 1940 he married Isabel Munro and they had two children. He won the Cholmondeley Medal in 1975 and in 1985 he was awarded the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry.  He was made an OBE in 1979.

Yet this is the poem I love:

A Man in Assynt

Glaciers, grinding West, gouged out
these valleys, rasping the brown sandstone,
and left, on the hard rock below — the
ruffled foreland —
this frieze of mountains, filed
on the blue air — Stac Polly,
Cul Beag, Cul Mor, Suilven,
Canisp — a frieze and
a litany.



Who owns this landscape?
has owning anything to do with love?
For it and I have a love-affair, so nearly human
we even have quarrels. —
When I intrude too confidently
it rebuffs me with a wind like a hand
or puts in my way
a quaking bog or a loch 
where no loch should be. Or I turn stonily
away, refusing to notice
the rouged rocks, the mascara
under a dripping ledge, even
the tossed, the stony limbs waiting

. I can’t pretend
it gets sick for me in my absence,
though I get
sick for it. Yet I love it
with special gratitude, since
it sends me no letters, is never
jealous and, expecting nothing
from me, gets nothing but
cigarette packets and footprints.

Who owns this landscape? — 
The millionaire who bought it or
the poacher staggering downhill in the early morning
with a deer on his back?

Who possesses this landscape? —
The man who bought it or
I who am possessed by it?

What words and how they sum up these specail hills. I love them so much. If you get a chance there are some recordings of Norman MacCaig that with his special voice it brings the poem to life.

Shenevall

The journey to Shenevall 

Cars fly by as you cross the road, to another world,

Then silence, the traitor’s gate.

The track winds’ through the trees,

The river breaks the silence.

The glaciated slabs hide the cliffs, then:

Views of An Teallach open at every turn.

Midges and clegs abound here but not today,

 too cold, its winter.

Cross the river, is that bridge in the wrong place?

 Muddy and wet, back on track,

Steep hill, upwards towards the top,

the wee cairn, stop, no rush, drink it all in.

An Teallach, snow plastered, familiar, foreboding.

Open moor, contour round and round, special views,

Every corrie on that great hill has a particular thought. Memories

Fisherfield, these great hills, the light changing, to the West.

 Youthful memories of companions, some now gone.

Epic days, trying to impress?

Pushing it and nearly, losing it?

Descent to Shenevall, steep, slippy and wet,

Eroded now by so many feet.

Collect some wood. The bothy, the deer,

they are still there; Shenevall.

It never changes, only the seasons.

Fire on, primeval.

Tea in hand,

Alone with my thoughts.

The Deer rattle the door, time for sleep.

Memories ­­

Thanks to the MBA! Heavy Whalley for Yvette Feb 2013

Shenevall

I was given a wonderful book by friends many years ago Poems of the Scottish Hills and I read it often. I think that made a huge influence on me.

What’s your favourite Poem ?

Comments as always welcome.

Posted in Books, Bothies, Mountaineering, People, Poems, Recomended books and Guides, Views Mountaineering, Well being | 2 Comments

Staying in touch and a short winter wander Cha-no to that nearly ended with a serious injury.

I often get asked why I write the blog it’s easy to answer as I get so many stories contacts from it. It is great to hear from past friendships and from other mountaineers some now gone and families trying to find put more about them. At least once a week I find or catch up with old pals.

I am back home know trying to sort out a broken boiler but hope to be back on the hills soon. How I have missed them. Yet it was important to stay in touch and visit folk again. So please feel free to comment on anything you read but remember that we should always treat everyone with respect whatever their views.

It’s also important to remember the lesson from Call outs or adventures. It’s the way we gain experience yet few offer up tales and many lessons are lost. So let’s hear the odd tale “I learnt about mountaineering from that”

One of my tales:

I was recovering from several operations a few years ago and would wander alone up from the lower Cairngorm car park Coire Na Ciste onto the cliffs overlooking Strath Nethy. It had a huge healing effect on me. There is a winter climbing cliff that is not too busy away from some of the crowds that throng the Northern Corries.

This small east-facing winter crag was first developed in the 2010/11 season. The cliff has a short approach (less than one hour from Coire na Ciste carpark) and short routes allowing you to climb many routes in a single day.

Whilst it’s still nowhere near as popular as Lochain/t’Sneachda, Cha-no is no longer as secretive as it once was. As such it’s very likely that you’ll bump into other people. However, if you turn up with a mindset to climb anything (including unclimbed routes) as opposed to just the small number of popular routes, you shouldn’t be queueing!

You can download a SMC PDF mini-guide to this crag from https://www.smc.org.uk/publications/downloads/creaganchano

It’s only a short walk about an hour and your up on the plateau. It was very early winter December and I arrived about 1100 and decided to wander up to the cliffs. I had all my kit crampons etc with me the snow was down to about 800 metres and blowing across the plateau slowly like a silent serpent.

It’s a pretty quiet area at that time of year but I thats why I love it. I was soon crossing above Coire Loagh Mor. There were patches of hard water ice in places where the streams had frozen but they could be avoided as there was also a lot of snow as well. It was not worth putting crampons on as I could see the ground and avoided the ice by going to the snowy areas. This is a wet area and low lying ice that forms here quickly as its very high up.

I was loving being out again walking slowly but enjoying the wildness and the views. I love early winter and could make out other footsteps ahead so there may be a few climbers on the cliff. It’s a lovely wander but it was clear but often I have had to navigate to where the routes start. I often go to the 1028 metres high point to confirm my navigation then look for familiar landmarks.

This day it was fine though no problems finding the cliff and most most folk abseil or down climbing from the ridge to the bottom of the cliff. I could see a pair climbing and was surprised by the amount of snow about.

The Crag

I watched them for a while and had lunch and took some photos. I noticed that the weather was changing and snow started to fall steadily and quietly . The wind got up and I decided to head home. I was now in cloud so took a bearing and headed back. It was getting late and the light was slowly fading.

Busy cliff.

I had been recently advised that I had the start of Cataracts in my eyes. I had noticed this in poor light that my vision was not 100% and was aware as was my doctor but on a long list with the NHS to get fixed.

I wandered back the snow was drifting and I followed my bearing. To be honest I forgot about the water ice and as the snow hit heavier I never saw the frozen stream. I fell and even though it was flat I went sliding down the ice on my back. I could not stop and I could see the Corrie rim in front of me ? My ice axe was on my bag I was using my poles. The only way I could stop was to direct myself into a Boulder.

The area on another day covered in snow but has ice underneath.

I stopped lay there my ribs were sore but I had not gone into the corrie. That would have been serious. I felt a right idiot but stumbled back to my van and was aching. It was getting dark and managed to get home. I had visions of what could have happened and how serious it could have become . Even worse it would be the Cairngorm team who would have picked me up.

There are lots of lessons to learn.

Lesson 1 – Treat a winter walk with respect even a short one. Get away early !

Lesson 2 – I should have put my crampons on or at least had my axe out and poles away.

Lesson 3 – as you get older you do not react so quickly so take it easy.

Lesson 4 – in poor visibility or light be aware of your limitations. My Cataracts did not help.

Always tell someone whenever you are going into the mountains !

Comments welcome

Posted in Friends, Mountain rescue, Mountaineering, Scottish winter climbing., Views Mountaineering, Weather, Well being | Leave a comment

All well in Crianlarich – visiting Aunty Elma a lady who always looks after RAF MRT.

On my way back from the deep South from a good trip with old pals I drove to see Aunty Elma at Crianlarich. My old mountaineering mates tell me I need to post cheery posts. Elma has looked after many of us over the years on our visits to Crianlarich. She is a wonderful person who looks after RAF Mountain Rescue. Her wee house has always been a haven for many.

She was in great form and as usual had a wonderful spread of homemade cakes, Soda Scones and fresh pancakes.

I got all the updates on everyone and many will be glad to know she is in good health. She loves her letters, cards, photos of the families and phone calls so please keep them coming. It was raining as I arrived but a rainbow came out as I left so fitting. It is a place of memories her wee house to many.

Just for me!!!

How many stores have been told here by all who had tea, soup and cakes after a call out at Elma’s. I wonder how many did she fit into her wee house?

Elma had always been there for us giving us advice in all things and often telling us things that we needed to know. I got many rollockings here in the past.

So as we start to move about again if you can give Elma a call and drop in and see her.

She sends her love to all as always. you are all her bairns. So get writing or give her a phone she loves hearing about her Mountain Rescue Family.

Stay well and happy.

Comment – Bill Rose “Kindness to others is rewarded with true friends. Love thy neighbour no matter how far they travel.”

Posted in Bothies, Family, Friends, Health, History, Mountain rescue, Mountaineering, People, Weather, Well being | Leave a comment

45 years on – the Big Walk some thoughts of a winter West – East .

The West – East of Scotland Skye to Mount Keen 1977.

Looking through my notes from what seems another era I looked at my preparations and worries to get ready for a big undertaking then our winter walk in October / November in 1977. These were days of simple gear, no mobiles GPS and the maps I am sure were still inch to the mile?

The idea of a walk across Scotland from West to East in late October/ November with hindsight was crazy, with no support a pretty serious undertaking.  My pal Jim Morning and myself had just completed a huge North to South Of Scotland Walk in 1976  in May and along with Paul Burns we had pushed the boat out in the way of hills done. We thought we were ready for an unsupported winter traverse. After speaking to a few people most said go in late March/April making use of the long daylight and reasonable conditions. I never for a moment thought we would plan it for November. This is usually a wild month with various problems. The daylight is very short and the weather can be very unsettled and on this trip it was wild nearly every day. This ended up as a story of “A walk nearly a walk to die for.”

At the time I was a member of the RAF Kinloss Mountain Rescue Team a young party leader who had just completed his Munros in 1976. The Team was myself Heavy Whalley, Jim Morning (JM) and Terry Moore (TM) this was the first expedition in to attempt a Traverse of Scotland mountains West to East in November. Jim and Terry were just posted in from Stafford and Valley in North Wales , both were incredibly fit and extremely strong mountaineers . This walk was the based on an idea by the late John Hinde, one of the founder fathers of the Big Walks.

At the time we were cocky young lads invincible or so we thought and I think John had the last laugh. He said do you think you are that good try a walk in early winter that will test you, how right he was so right.

Some quotes “Few civilians had the time or the organisational support to try it [a long walk]”…  Hamish Brown. “… It is not a competitive game, any cutting corners leads to lack of safety…”  John Hinde.

Past Walks up to our attempt in November 1977

1962  RAF Kinloss  East – West MRT  Season – Autumn Munros 11 Team Shaw, McKerron, Ballantyne.

1964 –  RAF Kinloss – North – South Season – Summer  – Munros – 37  Team – Armstrong, Golton, Raven

1966 – RAF Kinloss – North – South – Season – Summer – Munros – 32 Team – Ward, Morrison, Bradshaw.

1966 –  RAF Kinloss – West – East – Summer – Munros 30 – Members – Hinde, Shaw.

1967  – RAF Kinloss  South  – North –  Summer – Munros – 26 – Members – Gilligan, Ward, Wagg

1968 – RAF Kinloss/ Valley – North – South – Autumn – Munros 48/58 – Members – Hinde, Blyth, McGowan, Tomlinson, (Rabbits, Millgate) 350 miles/30480 metres 19 days.

1970 – RAF Kinloss – North – South – Winter – Munros 20 – Members Roney, Tindley, Luff, Higgins. 300 miles/18288 metres. 20 days.

1970 – RAF Stafford – North – South – Autumn – Munros 44 – Brewer, Keane, Gillies, Penning, Goldsborough.282 miles/21236 metres, 22 days.

1976 – RAF Kinloss – Spring – North – South – Munros 62 – Whalley, Burns, Morning.334 miles/31185 metres, 21 days

1977 –  RAF MRT Team Leaders – Spring – 62 Munros – Shanks, Weatherill, Aldridge (USAF 345 miles/29628 metres.

There was some great names on these lists and we were already on it, lots would be watching us and We spent a lot of time planning it we used the RAF Kinloss  MRT briefing room floor and had access to all the maps we needed. 

The walk with we had done with Jim unsupported the year before South to North in May gave us an idea of what the effort needed. We laid  all the maps out on the big floor over several days and planned our route. Jim and Terry were chasing their Munros and they had big plans. I just looked at the vast distances and hills and thought how hard this would be. Jim and Terry were another level both had just arrived in Scotland from RAF Stafford and RAF Valley they were so keyed up to get these hills done.

I had just completed my Munros in 1976 which was a big event in these days and was really amazed at the routes they were planning. They also wanted to go unsupported and the only time we could get off work was late October and November. Alarm bells rang in my head, but we were at the invincible stage of our mountaineering life and we could do anything? The gear was so basic as the photos show, heavy breaches or “breeks” that when wet rubbed you raw all over and when frozen became like armour. They took ages to dry, we had bought Polar jumpers and polar trousers from Helly Hanson they were a lot of money at the time but they proved the best buy I have ever made. They dried quickly and were a life saver. The rest of the gear was so basic; we carried one pair the forecast for the week was awful. Winter was coming early.

The boys at the beginning of the walk fresh and clean with no clue what was to happen to us.

We spent a lot of time planning it we used the RAF Kinloss  MRT briefing room floor and had access to all the maps we needed.  The walk with we had done with Jim unsupported the year before South to North in May gave us an idea of what the effort needed. We laid  all the maps out on the big floor over several days and planned our route. Jim and Terry were chasing their Munros and they had big plans. I just looked at the vast distances and hills and thought how hard this would be. Jim and Terry were another level both had just arrived in Scotland from RAF Stafford and RAF Valley they were so keyed up to get these hills done. I had just completed my Munros in 1976 which was a big event in these days and was really amazed at the routes they were planning. They also wanted to go unsupported and the only time we could get off work was late October and November. Alarm bells rang in my head, but we were at the invincible stage of our mountaineering life and we could do anything? The gear was so basic as the photos show, heavy breaches or “breeks” that when wet rubbed you  raw all over and when frozen became like armour. They took ages to dry, we had bought Polar jumpers from Helly Hanson they were a lot of money at the time but they proved the best buy I have ever made. They dried quickly and were a life saver. The rest of the gear was so basic, we carried one pair of socks as spare and a simple change for each night that we tried to keep dry inside the sleeping bag.

We carried plastic bivouac bags and head-torches and spare batteries.  In addition we carried chocolate for the hill food, which I hardly ate 3/4 days food at a time, a stove, pans, cups, knife fork spoon, fuel, matches, sleeping bags and a mat. It was basic equipment and weighed in about 25 – 30 lbs. Crampons and ice axe were added as was a small rope for river crossings.    We carried little in the way of luxuries, RAF plimsoles were used for the road walking  and what a bonus they were the fore runner of trainers. I had a book,camera and film, small first aid kit and some sweets.  We shared the communal gear each taking our turn, we planned to stay in bothies or with keepers. When we left we still had no accommodation for 4 nights to get?

The daylight is very short in October/November at the best 6-7 Hours and the weather is notoriously poor. Jim and Terry were incredibly fit and competitive a different class on the hill from me. It was going to be a wild walk and in the end we went in late October and early November as this was the only time we could take our leave or holiday .

We learned so much from this walk, lessons never to be forgotten in a lifetime in the mountains. During the walk we had set up food caches and were completely unsupported and self-sufficient, we walked the whole way no lifts were taken.

At a few points we were running on empty and without a doubt we nearly died, the weather was awful and even the A9 was blocked for a time. There was no gates on the A9 then.

Our Team Leader Ray “Sunshine” Sefton tried to get us to stop as the big blizzards came in, we kept going.

We had planned/hoped to stay in bothies and with local gamekeepers but we had several nights where we lived rough and had to change our plans. We had food dumps in some places and got re – supplied twice on the route. Jim and Terry were as always chasing Munros and that added to the pressure, no matter the weather.

I had completed the year before so had to follow and was supposed to be an expert!  I did a diary every night in an exhausted state! On reading it now it shows how worried I was and how exhausted I felt most days.

We arrived in Skye on 28 October 1977 to start the traverse West to East of Scotland. It was wild weather in Skye, the ferry nearly did not run. We were dropped off by the team at Glen Brittle staying in McRaes Barn and enjoyed a meal of steaks over a primus one of the perks of being a Caterer. The forecast was awful winds of over 80 mph on the Skye ridge we had big bags and 4 days food. Jim still had plans for a few Munros and then drop down to the other side of the ridge, sounds easy but not in Skye. This was our first night was at the JMCS Hut on the dark side of the ridge at Loch Coruisk. Jim and Terry slept well I listened the wind and rain batter the barn roof and feared for tomorrow. 80 mph on the Skye ridge. I was really worried especially about getting off the other side of the ridge and down to Coruisk. Jim and Terry were in their own world and were a lot better on the rock than me, that wee rope I was carrying may be used a lot tomorrow.

I was to be honest full of worries, would I cope? Or let them down and this was only day 1. I phoned my Mum and told her not to worry from the old phone box in the rain. As always she said she would pray for me, we may need it.

We left early in the morning from Mac Rae’s barn in Glen Brittle it was pouring and windy. The owner Gideon saw us leave and wished us well.

We were off !

 

 

 

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One incredible day on Garbh Bheinn in a heatwave to Ardgour visiting Alan Grouts (RIP) Memorial.

It had been my plan for many years to visit Ardgour and visit the memorial to a young RAF Kinloss Team member Alan Grout who was killed whilst rock climbing on these cliffs. The story is vague as it happend 60 years ago but young Alan was a new team member at the time in 1956 and it seems that he climbed above the leaders belay and took a big fall. In 1956 there was little gear, no harness,no helmets and protection was very basic. The story is told in Frank Cards book “Whensover ” He took a big fall according to the book falling 50 – 70 feet and the pendulum meant he sadly hit the rock !  He was killed instantly ! The photo below shows gear of the same era on Waterfall Buttress near Slioch and a new severe climbed by the RAF Mountain Rescue Team.  The team was climbing all over Scotland in these early days many were new climbs for the time.

1956 on Waterfall Buttress 1952 on Waterfall Buttress on a new route Dan Stewart Tuti  100 metre severe – Beinn A Mhuinidh near Kinlochewe. photo J Lees

Whatever happend to Alan it would be a tragedy and the RAF Kinloss Team in 1957 built a memorial to Alan in this wild corrie, nowadays Memorials are scorned  quite rightly on the hills but  it was the thing to do in that era. For years when I was in the team at RAF Kinloss we visited this wild place and climbed many of the routes in this incredible corrie.  It became a place of pilgrimage for me  and one to show even the best young climber that mistakes can be made  and at times they can be so costly. Few who arrive here are not impressed with the situation. There are so many climbs about all defended by a usually wet long walk in. The  Great Ridge dominates the corrie and is the classic as is Pinnacle Ridge, Great Gully and many more incredible rock climbs. There are acres of cliffs and gullies and this is wild Corrie and one of the finest in Scotland for rock scenery.

The long walk in and it was so warm The long walk in and it was so warm.

I was going to go myself into Garbh Bheinn no one else was available but felt I had to go and visit the Memorial. I had been there on the 50 th Anniversary in 2006 with Jimmy Coates another Team member . The RAF Kinloss Mountain Rescue Team is now sadly  gone but there is still a RAF team at Lossiemouth and I managed to get my old mate Dan Carrol to come with me. Dan was a former RAF Kinloss/ Leuchars and St Athan Team Leader and I was glad of  such great the company. We had talked about it in the past and as I have a small operation on Thursday the only day we were free was Monday and he wanted to come. It was a long 3 hour drive across to Ardgour and the short Ferry crossing from the Corran Ferry was incredible it was a blue sky day, hot even at 0600 in the morning and there was a wind so no midges. This wee ferry takes you into another land Ardgour is some place that few realise missing this area out for the big hills of Glencoe and Ben Nevis.

Views that were specail. Views that were special.

Argour is such a wonderful place and the ferry makes it special and the views of these hills are superb. These are really rough wild mountains, there are few paths and the hills are covered in rock and steep ground and days on these hills are precious and few venture in. We parked at the old road and the very wet and boggy  path takes you into Coire an lubhair it was hard going and so warm today. This is some walk in and I found it really hard going, we had taken some rock climbing gear with us which did not help as we maybe fancied a climb after our visit to the memorial. The memorial used to be marked on the map but we had to use our battered memories to remember where it was. Off the path it was hard going no path and real rough ground but we found it and what a situation it is in. It is on the top of a small buttress and looking spectacular in the sun.

Dan at the memorial. Dan at the memorial.

Dan was well ahead by now  but I stopped to take photos and the memorial  on the top of the small crag that glistened in the sun. It has a wonderful backdrop of huge cliffs and buttress it was a long 2 hour walk in the heat. The memorial was in great condition for 60 years old and we had a great break here. It was strange but we thought of what may have happened here. The accident must have been awful for all concerned, no phones in these days and someone had the awful task of going for help, then the long evacuation by your pals so many sad questions.  After this notifying the poor family and the loss of a young life so many years ago. This was a tragedy that would effect many for the rest of their lives a tragedy.  I suppose as Team Leaders it had always been in our thoughts how would we have dealt with and accident like this to our team and we had a few near misses in our 30 odd years. We spent some special time here and decided that time was moving on we wandered up into the corrie. We had not enough time to climb and it was a day to relax and enjoy this stunning place and we were left to each other thoughts as we wandered around. 1956 was along way back but what a sad time that day all those years ago must have been. I wonder if there is anyone with information on the accident as I can find little around. Can you help and the piece in “Whensover” is vague?

2000 Al Grout mem

I have always wonder why was the memorial is in this place well off the path and rarely visited?

P1050364

I was feeling a bit rough the sun and my neck injury hurting and sore so it was the right move to enjoy this place and not climb. We would have had a rush and long day that I would have struggled with. Dan as always was fine about it.  There was no one around just so many memories of  many ascents of this fine cliff and opening new team member’s eyes to this wild place. There were some good  past winter ascents, grand climbs a few epics and always the pilgrimage to the Memorial and the thoughts of why we climb. It is also at times the consequence of a mistake and the long-term effect on the family and those involved?

The Great Ridge another day? The Great Ridge another day?

Dan took the rock gear off me( he is still a bairn in age) and we had a long wander back stopping and drinking,lots from the river. It was great cooling down and enjoying the views and I had feeling a bit dizzy at times until I drunk more fluid and then it was okay. It was the effect of the sun was battering down all morning it must have been about 25 degrees. Time was moving on and we were soon back at the car and then the Ferry back to the mainland.

Dan heading off in the sun! Dan heading off in the sun!

It was so warm the sea so flat calm and a quick visit to see Hamish and later Sue at Onich and coffee at Crafts and Things in the Coe and then the long drive home. It was great weather the hills were sparkling  and what an incredible day we had. No summits but a lot of reflection, thanks Dan for the company and understanding on this special place and looking after me on a wonderful day.

P1050376

The Memorial is at NM 9097962798 and worth a look it is some wild place.

Take care if out in the sun, walk slowly, drink plenty fluids, wear a hat and use sun screen or you will have snags!

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No summit on Fionn Bhein yet a stunning day with the weather clearing and snow devils.

I was out with the Moray Mountaineering club at the Jacobite Club hut at Invercroft near Achnasheen. There were only 4 members out we did our COVID checks. It’s a grand bothy situated just of the road and has a gangway to the hut across the flood plane we were glad we had that as the river was in spate and the ground flooded. We had a day out and arrived back pretty wet and soon had a good fire on. It was an early night I slept downstairs to ensure I did not wake the others with my coughing. To be honest I had a poor nights sleep but we were all up early to make the best of the short daylight. It was a short drive to Achnasheen and very wet. There were no other cars parked the weather forecast was putting folk off.

Fionn Bheinn SMC Munro App

The path to Fionn Bheinn is well signed but the ground was so wet rarely have I seen the mud and wetness. Sadly as we started up the hill we found a dead snipe on the path. What a sad start to the day and it was a beautiful bird.

The Snipe sadly not long dead lying by the fence a beautiful bird.

Fionn Bheinn to those who do not know it classed as a boring hill. Yet to me having done it from many angles it not . In winter many ski it and there is winter climbing on the back corrie. I have seen this Corrie often and the cliffs are interesting.

There are some routes on it now. The views on a good day are stupendous a 360 degree panorama of Scotland’s great hills. It is a slog as much of it is bog higher up and you have to pick a line through it. So to me this is the way you should in my mind judge a hill. I had a great day many years ago from the Fannichs and the views of hidden back Corrie’s and the views of so many hills are spectacular. The snow hard going from about 600 metres with slush and wet ground making the walking hard going. I was with Maggie who was loving the day doing some navigation and like me stopping as we were hit by the spindrift blowing across the hill. I fell in a hidden hole in the Peat hags covered in snow right up to my knee. Maggie had to help me out and it hurt. Maggie took breaking the snow now thigh deep and I took some painkillers. We had a break and pushed on, the Spindrift on the ridge was spiralling up the winds were a lot higher there. At 800 metres I said I would struggle going on, Maggie was great so we turned round and set off down.

Climbs from the Corrie on Fionn Bheinn
Maggie up front – snow Devils on ridge .

I took it easy but my knee was very sore each step had to be carefully placed. There were signs of avalanches on the steeper slopes with the ground wet below the snow and the wind drifting. I am sure there will be some trouble on the hill on the big cliffs.

I was glad to get down Maggie was patient as I had stomach cramps as well. Not my day we made it too the car still no one else there but saw a majestic stag cross the swollen river. That was stunning. I had decided to go back home so we went back to the bothy changed and waited for Alaister and his hill partner to come of. They were on a great Corbett near Coulags and had a superb day on one of the best Corbett’s in Scotland An Ruadh-stac.

It was an easy drive home but I was feeling exhausted and glad to have a bath and recover. Yet despite the weather the injury it was so good to be out. The hills were looking great despite the rain and heavy snow winter is here now. There is a lot more snow about than you think so be careful.

Todays tips – I had to change gloves twice snow very wet !

Flask with hot Tea was great

Check weather and avalanche reports.

Thanks to Maggie Alister and Dan and the Jacobite club for the use of the hut sorry we missed Addele we mat on the

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