OS Locate – SARLOC – Views please? Leave a route of where your heading.

I was looking at  some of the great feedback from my winter talks last week where I visited 4 towns on separate nights  and some of the Questions asked are well worth repeating. This lets more folk than the audience that were at the Mountain Aid Talks to share and learn from others.Please fell free to comment. Ochils MRT mentioned SARLOC as an aid for help.

The big thing for me is that “On the OS Locate The ‘Share’ button allows you to connect with friends and family via messaging and social media – let them know where you are, how your adventure is progressing and what time you will be home.” This is so important as is leaving your route with someone and a procedure if you have a problem?

Mountain Rescue Teams across the UK are urging all outdoors people to download the free OS Locate app on to smartphones.

A map and compass and the knowledge of there use is still essential.

OS Locate is a simple app that provides an accurate, easily readable UK Grid Reference. It means that if you were to get lost in the hills or mountains you can easily and quickly tell the emergency operator exactly where you are.

OS Locate – know where you are.

OS Locate screenshots

OS Locate app iconMake the most of your adventures in the great outdoors with OS Locate. Used alongside your Ordnance Survey map, OS Locate is a fast and highly accurate means of pinpointing your exact location on the map, anywhere in Great Britain. If you have lost your bearings or simply would like a little reassurance, OS Locate is the ideal companion for all enthusiasts of the great outdoors.

The app converts GPS location readings from your mobile phone to Ordnance Survey National Grid references, enabling you to determine precisely where you are on an Ordnance Survey map. No mobile signal? No problem; OS Locate does not require a mobile signal to function – the inbuilt GPS system can be relied upon, even in the most remote areas.

Simply download the app and switch on your device’s location services (Settings > Privacy > Location services for iOS devices.  Settings > Location for Android devices).

OS Locate is packed with additional features. The ‘Share’ button allows you to connect with friends and family via messaging and social media – let them know where you are, how your adventure is progressing and what time you will be home.

Use the handy digital compass to take your bearings – always ensuring you are on the right track. For those who are keen to learn more about maps and navigation, the ‘About’ button hosts a wealth of information including hints and tips and a guide to map reading. In addition, you will find simple yet comprehensive guides on how to use eastings and northings.

OS Locate – know where you are.

OS Locate is a complementary tool for Ordnance Survey paper maps. You should always have an Ordnance Survey paper map and baseplate compass when exploring the great outdoors.

Any thoughts ?

Mountain Rescue Teams also have ability to locate smartphones with bespoke SARLOC software but this technology does rely on the availability of a data signal which can be unreliable in the hills and mountains of Scotland.

To download the app see www.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/shop/os-locate

Always leave a route Whatever hill – going activity you are undertaking please remember that it is your responsibility to consider the safaty of yourself and others  leave a route and treat the mountains with respect.

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Posted in Articles, Equipment, Family, Friends, Gear, Mountain rescue, mountain safety, Mountaineering, Views Mountaineering, Weather | 4 Comments

Getting sorted out – thanks to all .

At last I am home and my pal Dan of Everest fame is sorting out my kitchen for me so the wee house is in turmoil! I really need out on the hill but have so much to sort out after being away so long!

It was a hard week on the go every day and the talking every night took its toll! It was well worth it as I met so many incredible folk!

Mountain Aid is a great charity and all the volunteers are unpaid and so helpful it was humbling to work with them! Sadly some charities have so many paid professionals that at times they forget what they were set up for!

Mountain Aid is a Registered Charity with three simple objectives:

• To find ways of helping to improve the quality of life of anyone permanently injured on the Scottish hills

• To promote training and education in the skills required to enjoy the Scottish hills safely, thereby reducing the likelihood of accidents

• To maintain a close relationship with the Scottish Mountain Rescue services, granting them funds for projects, equipment or activities which might otherwise not receive funding

If you or somebody you know is a hillwalker or climber, and you share our passion for the hills, then we hope that our objectives are valuable to you.

The Mountaineering clubs all sorted out the venues and they all worked with great attendance each night.

Every night I met someone who I had contact with during a Rescue or recovery and that was so good to get their feedback after an incident. It was great that now I can contact the teams and tell them and thank all for their efforts and how appreciated the families are to all concerned.

Hopefully the Safety messages got passed on to a few folk and the feedback was great and I tried to pass on any ideas questions on my blogs after each event? I need some information on Tracing mobile phones if Ochils MRT can help ?

It was great to see the Mountain Rescue Teams support the event and they were there every night! Thanks to Lomond, Arrochar, Galloway. MOFFAT, Ochils, Tayside and SARDA.

In all a great 4 days hard work and I am sorry for not staying longer at Cupar. Please forgive me but I had a long journey ahead arriving at 0100 at Onich for a friends funeral!

I had an easy day yesterday if there is such a thing as my kitchen is nearly done and poor Dan my mate I think had had enough of it!!

I would have loved to be out on the hills but so much to do and very tired still throat is still raw and sore . I also start B12 injections tomorrow a series of 6 over 2 weeks on a Mon/ Wed/Fri. Since my illness a few years ago the energy levels have been down this may help it and I am glad that the doctors have found something! Can you imagine me with more energy !!!

We will see anyway getting the floor done on the kitchen today and it is great to have such great pals!

Thanks to all I will get out for a wander today and maybe next week on the hills ?

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Farewell my friend Paddy Heron a real character.

I arrived at Onich near Fort William at 0100 after a long drive from Cupar where I had just finished the last of the 4 winter talks for the Charity Mountain Aid .

The roads were very quite and I was very tired and had to leave straight after my talk in Cupar as I had been asked to do the Eulogy of a longtime friend Paddy Heron by the family. This was to me a huge honour and I hoped my voice would hold up after 4 evenings public speaking on the winter talks!

It had been a hard 4 days with the travel involved Travelling to





It had been well worth it to speak to so many packed venues each night and meeting so many superb people. I hope the talks went down well? For me it was a hugely challenging 4 days but the response I received was at times humbling! I met a few people who had been involved in tragedies in the mountains that I had been on the Rescue or a recovery in and it was amazing how much all appreciated the efforts of the teams and other Agencies. In a lot of incidents in the past years before the internet you rarely heard from families or casualties after an incident. I will pass on the kind words to as many as I can who were involved in the Incidents.

I hoped that my voice would recovered enough and would holdout and I would not let anyone down?

The funeral was held in the church at St Mary’s Church Fortwilliam to a packed church it all went well and the voice held up. As we came out the church the piper played a lament that was so powerful and poignant as the pipes can be .

We then headed for the cemetery above the busy A82 at Innes Na Birrlin near Oinch. The weather had been wild with heavy showers and bitter wind but the weather got better and at the service at the Cemetery the sun came out and the wild views of Ardgour were stunning. The piper again played a lament and we were all left to our own thoughts of Paddy for a few moments. Paddy is a man who will be sadly missed by us all.

Paddy Heron Eulogy

Paddy was born in Ardgour in 1942  on St. Patrick’s day( like his father)   to Irish parents , a heritage of which he was always very proud.

After attending prep school in North Berwick ,  he moved at the age of 12 to the north of England where he continued his education at  Stoneyhurst and Manchester University .  It was here in October 1961 that he met Val, his wife of 55 years , the tone for their long and sparky relationship set by the fire engine putting out the kitchen fire at their wedding reception!  Not only did Paddy gain his degree in Civil Engineering at university it was also where he took to smoking the pipe, and in true Paddy style, the reason for this was just to annoy the cigarette smokers!  Even during his illness whilst he was prepared to forego his nightly pint of real ale but was not prepared to compromise on smoking his twist tobacco!

After University Paddy enjoyed the challenge of working   for Tarmac Construction in the north of England , building motorways and working on other big projects. His first home was in Stockport with Val and Susan, born in 1963.  Sadly ,his father died very suddenly in 1968, so he returned to Scotland to run P L J Heron Ltd until 1977.  Paddy had already had the foresight to purchase a tree covered hillside in Inchree from the Forestry Commission   and had started building chalets mainly ,at first, to keep his mother occupied. Over the following decades he worked tirelessly to develop the site into what it is today: a popular tourism centre which has welcomed guests from all over the world. Alongside Susan and David, Paddy   moved   with the times and adapted to a rapidly changing market.   There was always a new project in the offing;  after the chalets , the famous bunkhouse, then the restaurant and bar, and finally rooms to complete his fiefdom.

Paddy was the original recycler before it ever became popular and the Four Season restaurant is testament to this.  He hated waste(described by an old friend as being like one of his Labradors ,going to retrieve anything that was thrown out). The oldest pews which thousands of visitors have sat on dated back to 1763 and the sycamore floor was reclaimed from the old Rowntree factory in Glasgow. Indeed, Paddy has been aptly described as Onich’s Uri Geller ; Uri bent spoons whilst Paddy straightened bent nails to use again . His shed on the site is legendary not least for his collection of paint pots as old as Rembrandt.

It was at the Inchree Centre that Paddy met people from all over the world and will always be fondly remembered and was seen as a father figure to many.    He built a community for everyone who loved the outdoor;  climbers, canoeists and mountain bikers were all welcome along with many families who visited over the years.  He could always be found of an evening in his smoking shelter , named the Paddygoda , or at the end of the bar with a pint of Red Cullin, in his body warmer no matter what the weather, putting the world to rights.  Certainly non politically correct, his forthright opinions were based on knowledge acquired over a lifetime of reading and enquiry .

Paddy built his business for his family, with David and Susan working with him to make it what it is today.  He was very proud of his 4 grandchildren : Ben, Amy, Michael and little   Alex. That he had indeed , if reluctantly ! mellowed  with the years was shown by his willingness to watch Peppa Pig happily with Alex  when once he had chortled at South Park with young Ben ,Amy and Mike.   He also welcomed David’s wife Justyna into the family and Jim’s fiancee Fi even saying( occasionally! ) that his sons were lucky lads.

In the Heron home there were a variety of pets over the years, ranging, amongst others, from cats and dogs , to snakes for Jim and ducks.  It was the diseased ducks that caused the most controversy, as they almost put an end to Val when she contracted Psciattocis. ( He never denied that he was trying to commit the perfect murder) When the ministry vet appeared down at the house, all suited up, Paddy was still there picking up the ducks with his bare hands!  They spent a few minutes looking at the ducks and then retired to the kitchen to discuss the perfect home brew!  On another memorable occasion, Val came down stairs to make breakfast and found a pig, who had met an untimely demise, laid out on the kitchen floor.  Unsure where it had come from or what she was meant to do with it, it was shipped off to a butchers, but she knew that Paddy was involved in this unfortunate event somewhere along the line!

Paddy was also a keen traveller and had travelled round the world twice, visiting family and friends in Australia and New Zealand as well as America and Cuba amongst other places.  In true Paddy style he always shunned hotels and was more comfortable staying in hostels and mixing with the locals As he left Cuba, to his new Cuban friend he donated his bar of soap and 2 toilet rolls! He loved to learn about other cultures and how people lived and would bring many a story  of his exploits back to the Highlands!

Paddy was a huge character , and even during his illness he approached life with the same courage he always had and wouldn’t allow any self pity to creep in.  One week before he passed away, he caused great consternation at Chisholms garage by turning up in his white van, as they weren’t sure he should be driving.  You can imagine his response to this!  And his final purchase just 6 days before he died was two cans of cleaner for his big wheelie bins, as no one else could clean them out properly. Paddy died peacefully at his home of nearly 48 years , a home very much in his style  complete with an elephant’s foot ,stuffed pine marten  and assorted antique weapons! Sadly , he did not live to see his new front door but Val is grateful he paid for it!

Paddy will be greatly missed by all his family and friends . Nobody said “how’s life” quite like Paddy. In the many tributes his family has received over the past few days the recurring themes are those of a man of integrity , great sociability ,and courage. I think it’s safe to say that there will never be another Paddy Heron!

After the funeral we all headed back to the Inchree Centre which Paddy had built and we had a special night!

I left early tired but appreciative of a thought provoking day! I am sure Paddy would have been happy with the send off and my thoughts are with his wife Val and the family at this time.

Thank you all for the honour of letting me say goodbye to Paddy in a special way. He was a real character and loved by so many from all walks of life!

Posted in Charity, Mountain rescue, mountain safety, Mountaineering, People | 2 Comments

Final night of the Mountain Aid winter talks at Cupar and a day of memories then a long drive to Onich. Some day

◦ Final night of the Mountain Aid Talks at Cupar and then a long drive to Onich

◦ Yesterday was my last night of talks for Mountain Aid on getting ready for winter. I left Dumfries early and had a fairly long drive to Cupar in Fife. On route I stopped at Lockerbie to visit the cemetery where the memorial is

◦ to that terrible night in December 1988 when the aircraft crashed. Nearly 300 souls died that night killed by terrorists and I was part of RAF Teams and Civilian Mountain Rescue Teams SARDA Dogs that were there.

◦ It was then on to Cupar in all about 3 hours driving and have a look at the venue for the last Talk. It was a great location the function room at Watts bar and after that I visited a pal who lived nearby and chilled out sorting out for the final talk.

◦ It was a busy night again with a great turnout my hosts the Ceres Mountaineering Club were on the button and a great help hosting as was Mountain Aid and we were soon sorted. Ochils MRT were there in force as was SARDA with my old pal Rod Stoddart.

◦ It is a busy time setting up and I met an old pal of the helicopter flight Reg who was my officer in when I was Team Leader at RAF Leuchars . He was part of the Wessex helicopter crew and a great pal. Also a few of the RAF team who live in the area and Micheal Mulford a veteran Press man for the RAF.

◦ Amazingly I also met a young man who had recently joined the Ochils Team Neil. He was a young man 18 year old many years ago when out with his father sadly his father fell over a notorious cornice on the Munro Beinn A Chaorrouin near Roy Bridge. He got off the hill one a wild winters day to raise the alarm. I took him back up the hill on day two of the search to pinpoint the area and despite being so young and upset he took me to exact spot. The cornice was huge about 20 feet out and the weather still wild. I had huge respect for this young man for how he coped with the whole tragic episode.

◦ Sadly what followed was months of searching the snow in the Corrie was 20 feet deep in places.I visited the area with team members on 15 occasions. Lochaber MRT and SARDA spent many days looking in the huge Corrie. These were the years of huge snows and that year it lingered and Neils Dad was only located when Hamish MacInnes and Lochaber MRT brought in terrain finding radar that was flown into the Corrie. It was a sad sad incident and I always wondered what happened to Neil and now we are in touch again. To me that period was

a humbling moment for me to meet him. It is great he has joined Ochils MRT and I will meet him again. His father would be very proud of him and he has allowed me to share the story and we will meet again. A tragic tale but what a fine young man and I am sure that all those who searched for those long months will be glad to hear how he is.

I was pretty tired though speaking to Neil it was a great motivator and the crowd was good my voice struggled but hopefully it went well it was another busy night. I sadly had to leave straight after my talk and will update this blog later and arrived at Onich at 0100 a long drive. This was a hard week for me but on every talk I met people that the Teams had rescued or helped and I hope we got the message through to those who attended about being Self reliant on the hills and practising your winter skills no matter how experienced you are?

One thing that occurred to me later about your talk, was the gloves advice. I used to be one of the contributors to the vast lost glove pile until I got some thick flat elastic and made some wrist loops, and attached them to all my gloves . If I buy new gloves now I chose gloves with similar attachments, I have not lost a glove in years now .

Maybe a bit of advice You could pass on .

( Oh and always cut your toe nails, as long toe nails can eventually breach the waterproof membranes of your boots letting water in making you cold wet miserable and affecting moral;)


I am attending the funeral of Paddy Heron in Fortwilliam today where I have been given the honour of giving Paddy’s Eulogy for the family. It will hopefully be a celebration of Paddy’s life.

Posted in Mountaineering | 4 Comments

Mountain Aid winter talks Day 3 heading to Cupar after another full House in Dumfries.

Dumfries Day 3 of the Mountain Aid Talks on Getting ready for winter. Heading for Cupar today !

I left my sisters house in Ayr after being so well looked after and was away by 1000. It was great to be heading down through an area I spent a lot of time in and new well.

On the way down I passed through the sad mining villages where many of Scotlands finest were born. There is little left now after the huge changes over the years. It was then through the rolling hills to Dumfries this is stunning area.

I was in plenty of time had a wander some food in the Stove cafe superb and then a check for the venue. I was down here recently on a golfing trip during the Independence Referendum and went to a “husting”it was interesting times! I also was here in 1988 for a Lockerbie debriefing it has serious memories for me.

I was staying in a Bed and Breakfast near by and then headed over to the Dumfries Police Divisional Headquarters where the lecture was. Our host Graham was there and I was met by Mairi who had driven down from Edinburgh to represent Mountain Aid .

We set up in the Conference room a great venue and were so well looked after and taken out for a meal before the talk, thanks our host Graeme and the DAGMAR club who hosted the event.

It was then back as the folk started arriving great support again with the local mountain Rescue Teams Moffat and Galloway there.

The chat went well a packed room again great support from MOFFAT and Galloway MRT and superb hosting from the DAGMAR club. A few good questions about the emergency text service that I will go into in detail later. Many took on to look at their kit could they cope with a night out? The needs to sharpen navigation and winter skills and what is available through organisations like Mountain Aid and Mountaineering Scotland.

In all a busy night I met a few old pals one who was with me at lockerbie in 1988 and it was a sad time! I hope to stop off on the way to Cupar today and visit this place that means so much to so many!

It was pack up and go say thanks to all off to the last night in Cupar and old stomping ground of mine! The Ochils Team will be there and it’s hosted by Mountain Aid and the Cerres Club. It is in the Watts bar Cupar at 1930.

Hope my voice holds out what an experience this week has been! So many folk all great people thanks for the support !

Our host Graeme gave a last word how much he respected the work done by Mountain Aid and the Mountain Rescue Teams and is was superb to see a Policeman speak so honestly and appreciate and give such support to these organisation.

In all a great night superb support a great venue and special thanks to Graeme and the willing volunteers who gave so much time up!

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Mountain Aid Winter talk last night Kilmarnock full house again tonight Dumfries Police HQ at 1930. Ayr United win what a day.

Last nights talk for Mountain Aid was held in Kilmarnock at the Capringham Golf Club it was a great success with another full house. The event was hosted by the Am Binnien club. Thanks to all.

Despite the dark night I was amazed at the turn out and the venue was great thanks to all involved ! The Galloway Mountain Rescue Team were there and were a great help in setting up. Thanks to all.

My voice is beginning to hurt as it was a long night but with such a great crowd a superb night!

I was born nearby in Ayr and have many happy memories of this area. My local hills in Galloway and Arran mean so much to me. It was great to pass on some thoughts of staying safe in the mountains.

My view of Arran a place I love!

There was also about 20 local Scouts and they seemed to enjoy the evening.

Tonight I was asked about gloves for the hills and having a spare pair with you at all times . Also was what I thought of carrying a beacon emergency on the hill and that we should all aim to be Self Reliant! Tell folk what your plans are for your day out and the big priority navigation practice practice practice.

 I got this in an email when I got back makes the night well worth while!

“but more importantly you gave me pause to consider my own safety on the hills – I promise to be better prepared from now on and to think more about what could happen. My wife

squeezed my hand when you told us about the child shouting for her Daddy at Glencoe – am glad she was with me – it was an important moment and reinforced my responsibility to make sure I come home from every trip.”

Keep going with the book Heavy, we are both looking forward to reading more about your experiences in the wild places ”

On Face book thanks from Air Nan Creagan Mountaineering /hillwalking

“Excellent talk by Heavy Whalley tonight, thanks Mountain Aid for organising and Am Binnein for hosting.

Too much to post about fully but a few things that stood out:

Learn to navigate (don’t be a follower!) – lots of courses available

Everyone in group should have a map and compass

Leave route cards so MR know where to look if you are overdue

Have a glove strategy! ie have a spare pair – same for hat and head torch

Have a whistle and if you need to use it don’t stop until MR are within sight

Be prepared to turn back if weather deteriorates (or do something lower than planned)

Sign up to the 999 text service

Microspikes only suitable for flat icy paths!

Don’t put off putting crampons on/get ice axe out as soon as conditions require them

Plan route carefully in winter and according to experience of whole group

I’m sure there’s a lot I’ve missed please feel free to fill the gaps ”

So far it’s been interesting finding the venues but the Help has been great and the folk attending superb. It was great to see a varied audience and lots of young folk! I was glad my nephew was there as was one of the audience again that I got to know well after months of tragic searching for a loved one! Her words meant a lot to me.

I wish my Mum and Dad had been there as there was a great audience and I even got helping with the raffle ! So many good memories of Ayrshire and it’s folk,

Hopefully my voice will keep going maybe need a mike in Dumfries?

It was a joy to talk so near to my home town maybe one day I will get a chance to speak my home town in Ayr?

Any takers?

In all a great night – tonights venue is Dumfries Police Headquarters start at 1930 should be a great night?

See you there ?

Ayr United win 3 nil last night and now top of the league great win made my day.

Posted in Charity, Corbetts, Friends, Lectures, Local area and events to see, Mountain Biking, Mountain rescue, mountain safety, Mountaineering, Munros, Rock Climbing, Scottish winter climbing., Views Mountaineering, Weather, Wildlife | Leave a comment

Thanks all for a good night at Dumbarton for the Mountain Aid Talk – tonight talk at Kilmarnock at the Caprington Golf Club.

I left Moray in poor weather yesterday it was sleeting as I was heading for Dumbarton about 200 miles away for a Mountain Talk I am doing for the Charity Mountain Aid. It is a serious of talks for the winter tonight I am in Kilmarnock near my home town in Ayr. The venue is the Caprington Golf Club at starts at 1930 free entry all welcome. The event is hosted by the Am Binnein Hillwalking Club and hopefully it will go well.

The drive was a bit wild as I crossed the Dava Moor with snow and icy roads, the Cairngorms look plastered in early snow. I was on a mission and as the A82  was closed due to road works during the day I headed for Glasgow and the snow was gone at Dalwhinnie with a little on the high tops. I was missing out, will that be winter and the climbers are out and the North West has plenty of snow.

Snowy road on way down.

The roads were busy and I arrived early for a quick recce where the talk was at the Concord Centre and book into my Hotel nearby. I then spent a bit of time in Dumbarton in the afternoon.  I met the Mountain Aid and my hosts the local Langcraig Club and set up in the hall and it was busy with a full house which is great on a dark wet night.

The chat was about and hour a break and then questions and a few more photos. I got some good questions about learning navigation, self-reliance on the hills, some basic hill gear for winter and getting the knowledge of how to use it. The essential kit, like torches, ice axes , crampons and planning your day looking at the weather avalanches and always being able to turn back and to have fun. Winter is a magic time so go and enjoy it safely.

I got asked about running in winter over the tops, crampons or spikes for the shoes? Some of the Questions “Could the snow centre in Glasgow/ Kinlochewe teach ice axe breaking, what best gear for hill in winter so many things man asked . Tas I was packing up. I was supposed to be going for a brew with one of the club but time was moving on and we left the address in the hall as the hall keeper was already late. Sorry for that.

I then headed back to the Hotel and got sorted for tonight at Kilmarnock the venue is the Caprington Golf Club starts at 1930, It is a free night sponsored by Mountain Aid.

Mountain Aid is a Registered Charity with three simple objectives:

  • To find ways of helping to improve the quality of life of anyone permanently injured on the Scottish hills
  • To promote training and education in the skills required to enjoy the Scottish hills safely, thereby reducing the likelihood of accidents
  • To maintain a close relationship with the Scottish Mountain Rescue services, granting them funds for projects, equipment or activities which might otherwise not receive funding

If you or somebody you know is a hill-walker or climber, and you share our passion for the hills, then we hope that our objectives are valuable to you.

Posted in Avalanche info, Books, Enviroment, Equipment, Family, Hill running and huge days!, History, Lectures, Local area and events to see, Mountain rescue, mountain safety, Mountaineering, SAR, Scottish winter climbing., SMC/SMT, Views Mountaineering, Weather, Wildlife | Leave a comment