Mount Battock the most easterly Corbett.

Mount Battock

Today I am out with the Moray Mountaineering club on a Bus meet to Mount Battock from Glen Dye over a wee hill Clachnaben with a striking granite tor with its rock climbing cliff it  gives a great view of the North East of Scotland all being well. It will be then a bit of a long haul out to the Corbett Mount Battock.

Crag features

All of the climbs are located on the prominent granite tor at the top of the hill, located in the picturesque Glen Dye, near Deeside, Aberdeenshire. This rocky lump is a distinguishing feature from all the other round topped hills in the area, and can be seen from all around. The cliff provides short routes up to 30m on good, well protected granite – tends to be cracks and jamming.

Dries quickly. Must Dos :

Caringorm Club Crack (S)

Bogendreip Buttress (VS 5a)

“Clachnaben and Bennachie

Are two landmarks near the sea”.

The Moray Mountaineering Club – Bus Meets normally take place on the third Sunday of every month and are a great opportunity to meet like-minded people and have a great day out in the hills.  It is up to you what you do on the bus meet; it could be a gentle stroll around a loch, a strenuous day taking in multiple summits or a short trip to a bothy.  It is best to choose something that is within your level of fitness, ability and experience and appropriate for the time of year and weather conditions.  The outward bus journey provides an opportunity to discuss plans and maybe join a group with similar plans.

One of the main advantages of the bus is that you don’t have to get on and off at the same place.  This offers opportunities for traverses through the hills that would otherwise be logistically challenging.  Irrespective of where the bus parks during the day, you can leave stuff on it, such as a bag of dry clothes.

The bus pick-up points are:
07:00          Lossie Green Car Park, Elgin
07:20          The Cross, Forres
07:35          The Westerlea Hotel, Nairn
08:00          The Thistle Hotel, Inverness

There will usually be a brief pub-stop on the return journey, which provides a great opportunity to discuss the day’s adventures.  The bus usually gets back to Elgin about 21:00 and never later than 22:00. Please note that dogs are not permitted on bus meets.

To find out more information about each bus meet follow the links below or contact the Bus Meet Coordinator, Gordon Eccleston (Email).

Please notify Gordon Eccleston of your intention to attend by 4pm on the Thursday prior to the meet (if insufficient bookings are received by this cut-off, the committee will cancel the bus).

See About for information about your responsibilities, equipment etc.

Posted in Corbetts, Corbetts and other hills, Local area and events to see | Leave a comment

Mark Beaumont and his Record Breaking quest to cycle around the World in 80 days.

I am amazed by the efforts of Mark Beaumont who is cycling round the world in 80 days is an incredible feet and well worth following his epic tales. There are thrills and the odd spills but what an effort by Mark and his team and he is half way through now in an amazing journey. I have now have another new hero, stay safe Mark in this world that is gone mad . What a journey please have look on his web site look at what his average daily mileage please have a look at his journey.  Yet over half way through he has only raised a little of his total. http://www.artemisworldcycle.com/the-challenge/introduction/

Around the World in Eighty Days is a classic adventure novel by the French writer Jules Verne published in 1873.

In the story Phileas Fogg of London and his newly employed French valet Passepartout attempt to circumnavigate the World in 80 days on a £20,000 wager set by his friends at the Reform Club.

Now, more than 144 years later, Mark Beaumont is capturing that same spirit of adventure with the Artemis World Cycle, his Record Breaking quest to cycle around the World in 80 days. http://www.artemisworldcycle.com/the-challenge/introduction/

See Mark’s route »

 

“THIS JOURNEY AROUND THE WORLD IS THE CULMINATION OF EVERYTHING I HAVE PRACTICED AND BUILT IN THE PAST TWENTY YEARS.  I BELIEVE THAT IT’S POSSIBLE TO GET AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS BY MANPOWER, BUT THIS IS A LEAP IN PERFORMANCE AND A STEP INTO THE UNKNOWN.”

 –

Endurance cyclist Mark Beaumont has announced plans to go around the world in 80 days on his bike, which would involve smashing the current record.

To be successful, the Scot will have to complete the 18,000 mile route in less than half the time he took when he set the record nine years ago.

He will also have to knock more than 40 days off the current world record.

Beaumont, 34, will begin his trek on 2 July and will have to travel 240 miles a day to get around the world on time.

Mark Beaumont
Posted in Cycling, Views Political?, Weather | Leave a comment

The Munro Tops – The Northern Pinnacles of Liathach. One of Scotland’s neglected gems?

The Northern Pinnacles Liathach. In summer an interesting place  but care needs to be taken.

There is a good description on the SMC Guide “Highland Scrambles North” and Corrie Na Caime is a wonderful wild corrie. Other guides deride this route as loose in places and there have been a couple of accidents here so care must be taken if descending from the Munro Mullach An Rathian. There are a few loose blocks and screes but in winter it is a superb expedition and one I used in my days in the RAF Mountain Rescue team with up an coming party leaders. It sorted a few out especially in poor visibility these were places we could end up and did on Rescues it is wild land and care has too be taken.

In winter when it is frozen hard it is a long walk in but you are rewarded with a Corrie of great grandeur. There are quicker ways onto the ridge but to climb the full ridge and Meall Dearg is “similar to Tower Ridge” according to Dan Bailey in Scotland’s Mountain Ridges. I agree with that but found the small buttress fairly tricky that guards the buttress !  Dan gives a detailed description in his wonderful book.

Winter on the wild Northern Pinnacles

Scotland’s Mountain Ridges – Dan Bailey

A guidebook covering the best summer scrambling, rock climbing and winter mountaineering on Scotland’s ridges, from the remote Cairngorms to the splendour of the Cuillin. With inspirational photographs, the guidebook is both a celebration of the landscape and a practical route guide.

 

Posted in mountain safety, Mountaineering, Munros, Recomended books and Guides, Scottish winter climbing., Views Mountaineering | Leave a comment

The latest Stats from Mountain Rescue 2016 – Stats why bother, worth a read?

Yesterday the Scottish Mountain Rescue issued their Stats on the BBC News

“Members of Scottish Mountain Rescue (SMR) were involved in 436 incidents last year, according to the national body’s latest statistics.

Of these incidents, more than half, 235, involved the sport of mountaineering.

SMR’s new report added that 74% of these incidents were related to hillwalking in summertime.

The other 201 incidents were described as “non-mountaineering”, and included searches for missing people.

SMR member teams had a total of 733 call-outs, which included phone calls from the public seeking advice, teams being on stand-by and days-long missions.

Across Scotland, 627 people were helped by teams, as well as 19 dogs and “several sheep”.

Busiest day

August was the busiest month, according to the statistics.

Rescues in that month last year included people who were caught out in heavy rain, or had become disorientated in mountainous terrain.

Saturdays were the busiest day, as it has been for many years, said the report.

SMR’s members include Aberdeen, Arran, Braemar, Borders, Dundonnell, Oban and Skye MRTs.

An RAF, two Search and Rescue Dog Association and three Police Scotland teams are also members.

It is SMR’s first annual statistical report since the departure of some of its busiest teams.

Lochaber, Glencoe and Cairngorm left last year saying they believed they could better represent their members’ interests outside of the organisation.”

I wonder if the other teams will issue their Stats ? The reason I feel that this needs to happen is below. To be fair Mountain Rescue seems to be working well teams are very busy and I have visited several teams recently and I am amazed at the work being done by all. To me Stats are important take time and have a look below. I was the Statistician for Scottish Mountain Rescue for several years and feel I am entitled to my view.

Comments welcome?

safety-notice-800x589

 

Stats Why Bother

This is my article a few years ago

I have decided to write about something that few people will be aware of and

their relevance to Mountain Safety and nowadays to Mountain Rescue Funding. I

have been fortunate as for many years I was involved in meeting two of the main

protagonist of the Scottish Mountain Rescue Stats Ben Humble and John Hinde.

They compiled the Stats for the Scottish Mountain Rescue Committee; Ben was a

renowned mountaineer and had a great interest in mountain safety. When Ben

died he left a great legacy through the Scottish Mountaineering Club Annual

Journal where the Stats were put in since the early 40’s. Ben wrote and worked

tirelessly and his article “A survey of Mountain Accidents In Scotland 1925 – 45″

was a breakthrough at the time. After this Ben compiled a yearly listing of

Mountain Accidents in the Journals. It was when Ben passed away John Hinde

took over and did another outstanding job for many years; they left a unique

history and so much information for future generations especially in the aspects

of Mountain safety.

1986 Stats – from the SMC Journal

Nowadays Mountain Rescue Teams are extremely busy and after a call out the

last thing they need is to afterwards is to compile the call –out report. Yet they

are so important especially nowadays. I took over the Statistician job for several

years and had various problems keeping up with the reports. There were in these

days 400 call –outs many involving several teams. The paperwork involved was

very hard work and at times it was a constant battle to keep up to date. It

became nearly a full time job and kept me very busy in any spare time I had.

I did a talk a few years when I was the Scottish Mountain Rescue Statistician it

was to try to get the teams to realise how important they are. None of us like

paperwork but it is so essential especially when trying to raise funding from

Government Sources. I found this out the hard way in the late 80’s when they

were going to cut the RAF Teams or even get rid of them. It was a real panic but I

was the only Team with a history going back to 1944 and could prove to the

“Bean Counters” that 10% of our incidents were for military aircraft and military

personnel. That Bean Counter was put back in his box for a few more years. It

was also very relevant in the early days of trying for funding from the Scottish

Government when I was Chairman of Scottish Mountain Rescue. We had to

explain to the First Minister that Teams put in a huge amount of hours in on

training, courses and looking after equipment apart from attending incidents.

These are a few points from my talk!

 

Information

The information gained from a few years incidents can be so helpful to teams. It

can help show the areas in which Team Training should go. If your Team mainly

does Lowland Urban searches should you spend do much time and money on

expensive equipment on Technical gear? Maybe look more into Search planning

and training? Or if you carry out a lot searches in areas of swift water should the

training be increased in this area? Agree fully on this one. A rich profile of what a

team does and where it does it can help inform not only training (what and

where) but also what kinds of equipment to purchase. It’s all about matching

what the team does in theory to what it actually does in practice. I suspect that

in many cases this is not the case.

Also, an accurate and up-to-date picture about what happens across Scotland

can help advise the Press, Government and safety organisations such as the

MCofS on what aspects to focus on, and also avoid these organisations passing on year after year inaccurate myths (e.g. all mountaineers are ill equipped and

Inexperienced numpties hell bent on jumping off cliffs!)

 

Searches

Team areas will have accident hot spots that are current today it may be

worth having a look back and see if any changes are relevant? Casualties

do get found in areas that were hot spots in the past. At times many of the

current team may have limited knowledge of this historical fact as elder

Team member’s leave and their knowledge could be lost forever? Agree

fully. A recent Professor of IT is quoted as saying “ “The experiences of our

past are still the best road map to our future”. You are correct that hot

spots of the past disappear and new ones appear. Its only we you carry out

an objective analysis that trends like this appear. This can help a present

team to find out more about the new hot spots (where are they, how do you

gain access, what are the technical challenges, and so on). Far better to be

Pre-warned than be caught out on a rescue!

Medical – Look at the injuries your team deals with make priorities in these areas that are

you need to. If you deal with 80% ankle lower limbs make sure all can treat and

the equipment is suitable. How many stretcher carries do you do how often do

you practice? It is easy to get side tracked? Fully agree. No point in spending

£1000s on fancy kit to deal with a broken femur when your team has never ever

had such an injury! Also, if a team mainly deals with searches with no injured

people then why train numerous members to become EMTs etc, when the money

and time would be better spent on training up people to become better at

searching and search management.

 

Funding – The government are interested in Stats – man/ women hours so important. What

about the hours on training and sorting gear and exercises they are never

submitted in the figures only call out hours. What about travel to and from a call out,

sorting out gear, standby hours etc. “Bean Counters” only want numbers but

that is how it works . It is really worth working out how many hours the team

spends training/ courses and kit maintenance? It will amaze you! When you add

up all the hours carried out by every team across a full year it sums to around

40,000 hours (give or take). This translates into many, many full time police

Officers, which goes to show not only what a comprehensive job we do, but also

and how much money is saved to the public purse.

 

Safety/Research – The common causes of accidents in your area maybe worth alerting climbers and walkers to current trends in your area. Is safety not a Mountain Rescue Concern?

The SMR/MRS is the organisation in the BEST POSSIBLE position to advise

everyone – Press, Government, Course Providers, Governing bodies, etc, what

goes wrong. It has a moral obligation to publish its annual statistics far and wide

and in a timely manner – not two years late! Also, as a government funded

Organisation, should it have a legal responsibility to do this too? Some  of he recent accidents on Ben Nevis (winter 2015) have been in the same area and involve walkers ? Why is this trend happening?

 

Historical – So many casualties will come back many years later to find out what happened

to them or a loved one. It is good to have some back ground on the incident and

what happened. Many things re –occur on a regular cycle. You and I can recount

numerous instances where family members have come back to us for

information about someone in the family who died (a grid reference, more detail,

who assisted etc.) and SMR has a moral responsibility to help these people by

providing relevant information.

 

Stats are so important –

The world has changed nowadays with the Data Protection Act and personal

privacy, with new regulations to ensure that this is adhered to. We do not need to

name any casualties but age and other factors are very relevant. With one Police

Force I was assured that we would have current and accurate stats that we can

use for the next generations to learn from, I wonder how far we are from this now

the Single Police force is up and running. The Stats Officer is a hard task and they have done a great job getting the information. I feel we owe it to John Hinde, Ben

Humble and all the other Statistics Officers who maintained and published

accurate and up-to-date records to tackle this problem before it is too late.

Is it only me that sees this as a  potential problem?

 

Any comments welcome?

Worth noting

Mountain Rescue England and Wales (MREW) is very open about what it does and you can download annual figures from as far back as 1980 right through to 2013.

Go to – http://www.mountain.rescue.org.uk/information-centre/incident-statistics

 

Irish MR is not quite as up to date but still open about publishing its annual stats.  Go to –

http://www.mountainrescue.ie/TeamInformation

 

Do we seem to be lagging behind?

Thanks to Bob Sharp for his input and Ben Humble and John Hinde for the inspiration!

 

 

Past Comments –  A comment 0f Congratulations on a very forceful and heartfelt defence of management information in mountain rescue.

All the points you make are valid, both north and south of the border as well as across the Irish Sea. For the last two decades I have been trying to instil these same points into the English and Welsh MRTs. I believe progress has been made but I am still not satisfied that the MREW figures are complete. For what it is worth, my sympathy goes out to all the statisticians who have followed John Hinde; not only a difficult act to follow but one made harder by poor co-operation from teams.

The production of management information is vital for the development of mountain safety and rescue. This point is well-made by Heavy. All the aspects covered by the article are essential if mountain rescue is to develop in a way that reflects changes in society. Without this steady flow of information, it is likely that lessons will be overlooked, will not be learned or quickly be forgotten.

Please consider publishing your article further afield. It might even blow some of the blinkers away.

Ged Feeney
Statistics Officer – Mountain Rescue (England & Wales)

 

Share this: Any comments please. 

Posted in Mountain rescue, mountain safety, Mountaineering, SMC/SMT, Views Mountaineering, Views Political? | Leave a comment

A tragic day on Ben Nevis December 1954 – Interesting historical bits and pieces of RAF Mountain Rescue History.

1951 Rescue Handbook this became a text book for the early Rescue Teams.

The RAF Rescue Handbook – After the Lancaster Crash on Beinn Eighe Torridon in 1951 was a huge event and as it happened in full winter huge lessons were learned by the RAF Teams .The RAF teams which were still mainly made up of National Servicemen on a 2 year stint. Training improved as did the gear and the Team Leaders were trained by some outstanding mountaineers of the day. A training manual set out basic skills for Mountain Rescue published by the RAF Mountain Rescue and became the bible of the day for Rescue Teams. Learning lessons for all.

The early days of RAF Kinloss MRT sadly the team is now gone. RAF Lossiemouth MRT is still in Ohaction though. John Hinde is missing form this photo Ray Sefton is working on it.

 

19-20/12/54 Ben Nevis

NE Buttress

41/171713

5 Royal Navy from Lossiemouth was killed in a glissading accident descending the from the summit of Ben Nevis to Carn Mor Dearg Arete.  This was one of the reasons behind the abseil posts, put up by the team.

Glissading

On the 19 Dec 1954 over 60 years ago Eleven Royal Naval personnel from Royal Naval Air Station Fulmar (Lossiemouth) left to climb Ben Nevis  via Coire Leis. They had stayed overnight and left the CIC hut where they were staying below the great cliffs off Nevis, the party was made up of 8 men and three girls from the Women’s Royal Naval Service. They left the hut finding the weather poor and ascended from Coire Leis at 0900 and reached the summit of Ben Nevis at 1300. They left the summit after a 15 minute break; the conditions were very hard snow (neve’ and poor visibility.) The summit plateau is a tricky place to navigate and in winter 1954 the path would be covered with snow. They had intended to retrace their steps back down to the Carn Mor Dearg Arete.

On the descent they had a navigation error about 200 yards from the summit. This error lead them  to the cliffs between North East Buttress and the Arete (Brenva Face) They were not together there was now a party of six ahead  and the leader he led them away from the cliffs the others tried to catch up. One of the party behind the leader started glissading, lost control, lost his axe and fell; another member ran after him kicking steps and he lost control and also fell followed by 3 others from the party. In total 5 vanished over the huge cliff and out of sight.

SUMMER PHOTO

The Party Leader roped to edge and could see nothing, they then they descended to the Corrie Leis and found all 5 dead below the huge Brenva Face.  They had fallen over 1000 feet, what a tragedy and an awful sight.  They went for help and it would be a long walk there were no mobile phones in these days. They went to Fort William and raised the alarm with the local Police. The Police called RAF Kinloss Mountain Rescue Team and the team arrived. At first light 23 members of RAF Kinloss Mountain Rescue Team, 8 Local Police/ mountaineering Club and 20 naval personnel assisted in recovery.  It must have been a long recovery and it took 10 hours in very poor weather, drifting snow, gales to recover casualties.

This was a terrible tragedy and one that shocked the whole of the Mountaineering world. Few have nowadays ever heard of this disaster and the terrible consequences of this navigation error and the mistake to glissade on such steep ground.

From the RAF Kinloss Archives

The Tragedy of The Royal Naval Party 19th December 1954 on Ben Nevis

 

A party of 11 Naval Personnel from HMS Fulmar set out at 0800 from the Allt a Mhuilinn to climb Carn Mhor Dearg to Summit of Ben Nevis. The weather conditions were very poor, wind a strong wind and heavy snow. The party left the summit at 1315 to return by same route. Six members of the party kicked steps down the snow slope for 200 yards from the summit – they thought to be the slope leading to the Arete, which they had just ascended. This actually proved to be 30 yards to the North East and lead straight to the cliffs between NE Buttress and the Arête. One member of the group behind started Glissading and passed the first party, he lost control, lost his ice axe and disappeared over the edge, another party member followed running down the slope, kicking steps, he also lost control and disappeared over the edge, 3 other members followed also out of control, over the edge. One member of the survivors roped up to the edge but could not see anything.

 

The remainder of the party slit into 2, one went back via the tourist route to raise the alarm. The other descended the Carn MOR Dearg Arête, roped up and found their friends all together – dead. (Location of Casualties 41/171713) The Fort William Police requested the RAF Kinloss Team to assist in the accident and the team was alerted from a training Exercise at Glenmore Lodge at 1530 hours. Due to the weather conditions a large party set of at 0600 to recover the casualties.

 

Twenty three members of The Kinloss Team and RAF Team Leaders Course assisted by 8 Policemen from Fort William and 20 Royal Naval personnel from Royal Naval Air Station Lossiemouth  in the recovery of the casualties on the 20 th Dec 2005. The recovery was lead by one of the survivors of the Tragedy who took the team to the location of the casualties in very poor weather conditions, driving snow and high winds.   It took 8 hours to get the casualties down to the British Aluminium Company’s Railway which was used to transport the casualties to Fort William; an awful task

 

Footnote:

 

Comments made by the Kinloss Team Leader “Due to several accidents in this area Doctor Duff, of Fort William has under taken to erect a barrier and a danger notice at the site of the accident” The late John Hinde and the Kinloss team put up the Abseil Posts on Carn Mor Dearg in 1955? (Photo attached)

 

The old post on the Carn Mor Dearg Arete now gone.

After this tragedy a line of marker poles were erected to show the line of descent to the Carn Mor Dearg Arete. Abseil posts were put up by RAF Kinloss team on the descent into Coire Leis  and in Coire Leis a small shelter was put in. These were removed recently and are no longer there!

How many know of this sad tale?

Navigation is a key skill especially in winter.

Glissading –

The Cardinal Rules of Glissading 

  1. Never glissade with crampons on.If you’re wearing crampons it means that you’re probably on hard snow or ice. This means that should you glissade, you will slide really fast. If you slide really fast and you catch a crampon spike, your leg will snap like a dry twig. As such one should never glissade with crampons on.
  2. Never glissade on a rope team.If one person loses control on a rope team, then others may do so as well.
  3. Never glissade on a glacier.It’s likely that you’ll be roped up if you’re on a glacier so if you do glissade, you will be breaking two rules at once. We don’t glissade on glaciers because of the possibility of hidden crevasses.
  4. Always make sure that you can see where you’re going. This should make sense. If you can’t see, then you could end up sliding into a talus field or off a cliff.
  5. Make sure that there is a good run-out.A good run-out is imperative. One should certainly avoid glissading above dangerous edges, boulders or trees.

These rules are quite black and white. There are few grey areas in glissading. If there is some question of the run out, then the best thing to do is to err on the side of caution. Though you might be tired, sometimes walking down the mountain is the safer alternative, same goes for “bum sliding” down a slope?

“Climb if you will, but remember that courage and strength are nought without prudence, and that a momentary negligence may destroy the happiness of a lifetime. Do nothing in haste; look well to each step; and from the beginning think what may be the end.

 

 

 

Posted in History, Mountain rescue, mountain safety, Mountaineering, SAR, Scottish winter climbing., Views Mountaineering | Leave a comment

A past visit to the An Lurg Wellington Crash site near Bynack Mor in the Cairngorms.

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 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 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 71 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, sadly he never met his father.

This was 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 long walk up to the plateau where the crash site lies 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 last year on my visit 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 an asked if I would assist them to this place that means so much too them.

Oct 2015 Memorial An Lurg distance shot – a lonely poignant place.

We met in Aviemore at 0800 it was another early start for me and Phil and the boys had driven up from the South late Friday night.  I had some help from pals Pete, Yeni and Bernie for the day and the weather had been great this week and was still holding up. We met at the Cairngorm Hotel 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. It was 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 will the weather was good and a 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 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.

This last kilometre is hard ground and the route is never easy poor 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. Today it was 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.

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.

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.  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.

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.

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 71 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?

Phil’s Comments after that wonderful day

“Dear Heavy,
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.

 

 

Posted in Aircraft incidents, Enviroment, People | Leave a comment

Today’s Topic – The shutting of Public Toilets all over Scotland, lack of money or lack of foresight?

Over the last few weeks I have been travelling all over Scotland and noticed a few changes. I was ill a few years ago with a bowel problem that lead to 4 operations and a need to find toilets quickly! It opened my eyes to the lack of Public Conveniences that had been shut down. Thankfully my problem is sorted but I still have to be careful.

On arriving in the Island of Arran I was told by many folk of the battle they are having as North Ayrshire Council have shut various “Loos” all over the Island due to austerity. Now Arran is a big tourist destination and now that Lamlash has had their” loos shut “the locals are trying to take it over as a public toilet run by them it is so needed in such a busy tourist area.

2017 Lamalash Loos

Maybe Visit Scotland should say “Welcome to Scotland but there are no public toilets available.”

As we all get older we need these basics like Public Toilets even more what are the options go into the bushes? I find this is a terrible situation that we have accepted as normal in many locations and how terrible would you feel with an elderly relative with no “loos” available due to Council cuts. Mum no toilet just find a spot to go??????

2017 Lochranza Loos

At Lochranza in Arran the  locals have re – opened the public toilets near the Ferry, they clean it and fund it themselves and ask for donations. Is this the only way forward?  I feel for the locals that have to  clean the toilets on a daily basis is not an easy job. I know this as it was my daily task in Tibet cleaning the toilets on my Everest trip in 2001.

2001 Tibet – My daily nightmare sorting out the toilet on Everest for 3 months.

I am sure if some of the Executives who run these Councils on big wages took a pay cut or they looked at some of their expenses money could be found from somewhere? What is the Scottish Government policy on this they have a policy for nearly everything so why not the toilets maybe they could all agree on it. I want my Country to be place where all are welcome and a basic thing like toilets are available for all.

Yet some places are getting better I was in Glen Affric a few years ago and there was a new toilet run by the Forestry Commission and cleaned daily by a lovely lassie. It was a joy to use and the visitors were amazed. If  it can be done in a remote Glen by some visionary Forestry Commission why not in the towns and tourists areas.

Toilets in Glen Affric a basic amenity?

 

Thanks to the people Lochranza for the use of their loo I left a donation in the box and hopefully the people of Lamlash get their loo sorted out. To the Scottish Councils and Government open their eyes and sort out basics for your people?

Comments welcome.

Alaska Loo

Posted in Enviroment, Family, Friends, Local area and events to see, Views Political? | 6 Comments