Getting ready for the shorter days on the hills?


No head torch this may be your view on the hill if out later than expected.

Getting ready for winter?

I am off to Skye this weekend and the forecast is a bit variable. I have been away recently and missed the mountains. I am looking forward to a couple of days on the hills with the Moray Mountaineering Club. I had a look at my hill bag and have updated it a bit for the colder shorter days before winter arrives.

It is that time of year again, winter is on its way the nights are “fair drawing in”. The fire is on we have lights on the bike and notice the headlights in the car need a new bulb!

If you’re out on the hill and have a long day you may now be coming of in the dark and despite a good “carrot intake” in the dark without a torch this is what you may see!

It is well worth checking it every time you go out or carrying a spare?  It is also the time to winterise  the hill bag, warmer gloves and hat and look at what I am carrying in case of an emergency?

Heather Morning  Mountain Safety Advisor says:

“But when autumn/early winter arrives it’s important to ‘upgrade’ and check the state of my head torch and batteries before making sure it’s in the rucksack for the autumn and winter season. Likewise, I replace my thin emergency duvet with something more substantial and upgrade the hat and gloves to warmer options.”
Kevin Mitchell,

Vice Chair of Scottish Mountain Rescue, added: “This is a good time to check your head torch is in the rucksack, renew the batteries, put a fresh spare set in the top pocket and set off earlier to allow for earlier sunsets.

All good advise, have you checked your gear?


So I am packing for Skye and have no plans as yet will see what the weather brings and be flexible. I love this time of year the shorter days make you plan a bit better but the sunsets and crisp mornings and that winter feel on the hills make it another adventure and every winter we learn again!


The “heart lochan” on a misty Skye in Coire Lagan.

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Missing my sister Jenifer on her birthday.

Yesterday would have been my sisters Jenifer’s birthday she sadly passed away suddenly a few months ago. It was a huge shock to us all and how we all miss her. .

She was one I could talk to about anything and despite the news we could always laugh at times   Many of life crisis, health, family, love, career and so many other topics were discussed. Jen was always a listener and then would advise once I had has my say. I got to know her well when she nursed her husband for so many years until he moved into a Care home and she was there every day till he passed away. Jenifer always saw the good in most of us and was always there in times of need and support!

I was so lucky to have had her in my life  and also two other great sisters Eleanor and Rosemary who miss her dearly. It was a hard first visit to my home town and she was not there, but this is life and you have to enjoy what you have. It is so hard also for my brother in Bermuda who is so far away.

Yesterday in my Dad’s old church in Ayr the flowers were dedicated to her by the family and as we all love flowers  like she did it is a great way to remember her! She would love it but would never want any fuss. A typical Scottish lady.


Photo Kim Bates 

My thoughts are with her family Stuart, Caroline and their families. 

Always make time for those you love that are dear to you! Never put off that visit or call . Even in these busy times in life cherish those you love and be their like Jenifer was for us in times of need.

Miss you Jen xxx


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Great to read again “The Cuillin by Gordon Stainworth” Some thoughts on the Skye trip.

Going to Skye next weekend cannot wait!


Cuillin - Gordon Stainworth Cuillin – Gordon Stainworth

It is great to read again a book you enjoyed and love, this book The Cullin by Gordon Stainforth was excellent. There is so much in so many great wee stories and the poetry is incredible. What pictures and even better the author tells you how and at what time he took them. He spent 150 days on the hill and the ridge was clear for 71 of them and that was poor summer. It is now a collector’s item and I think it is out of print but can be found on Amazon. I met Gordon on Skye and Page 102 is of two RAF Kinloss troops, Ian Ned Kelly and another team member. What a great book, I took it to Skye and so enjoyed reading it.  A book is there to be read and enjoyed and not sat on a book shelve gathering…

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Boat of Garten winter talks Nepal – Event will be held on: 10 October 2016 Times: Start: 7:30pm – One year on following our fund raising event held last September.

Here we go again! 10 th October 2016 at 1930 

Boat of Garten Community Hall
Craigie Avenue
Boat of Garten
t: 01479 831123

Kicking off the Boat of Garten Talks 2016/17 season we have a special double bill revisiting Nepal – One year on following our fund raising event held last September.


Marian Burrows-Smith and Mungo Ross who spoke at last year’s event have both been back to Nepal during the year and will give us their first-hand accounts of how the Nepalese are recovering from the devastating earthquakes of 2015.

Mungo has been in the mountains leading groups in the Annapurna and the Khumbu regions while Marian has been visiting communities where she has been checking on progress with the various projects she supports to build girl’s toilets at schools. She also went to Deurali to meet villagers and pass across the money we raised to some elderly women and couples who are homeless due to the earthquakes.Both have amazing pictures and stories to tell – with a mix of hope and resilience along with political incompetence and cynicism!

This will be a fascinating night – with lots to see, hear and discuss!


Admission – still only £5 (free for under 16’s with an adult) season tickets available – 8 for the price of 6!

Beer, wine and soft drinks bar plus free admission to art exhibition


And you might be interested in …..

A Fitful Sea – Remembering HMS Hampshire – being performed at the Boat of Garten Community Hall on Sunday 16th October at 7.30pm. This is a significant and compelling first world war story told in words, poems and music by the Birsay Drama Group from Orkney.


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I  enjoyed the John Muir program on Radio Scotland Outofdoors today – it’s on the IPlayer. Well worth a listen!

It is sad when I was at School many years ago I was not told the story of one of Scotland’s true environmentalist John Muir. Nowadays we are aware of this great man and his huge part in the setting up of National Parks in the USA especially Yosemite! This was typical of our heroes few were mentioned at school yet this small country has produced so many great people

Radio Scotland and the BBC sent their famous two Outofdoors presenters to the USA  to Yosemite and we got such a great program. It was so enjoyable and even Lee Stetson who plays John Muir was explaining the life of the great man in his “own words” !

I advise all who missed it to catch up on IPlayer it’s well worth it.

I loved my stay with the Yosemite SAR and loved the people and the wild flowers and animals.

We owe John Muir a lot and I advise everyone to read some of his work it’s incredible! He is such a wonderful person and we should be proud of our association with him!

I wonder what John Muir would say about the state we leave our planet in? The mess we leave daily, the waste in modern society and how we treat the planet?

I was looking at photos of the sea of rubbish left after a festival in Reading and like others all over the country it is a disgrace ! Tents, sleeping bags and rubbish is all left ! Some may go for recycling but what lessons are we passing on for future generations? What a culture we have created ? Yet when I was at my grand kids down South and at her primary class where they are taught about looking after the planet and the environment and in many other areas of life. Maybe there is hope for the future.

Maybe we can teach the kids the correct way ? They are the future!
Comments welcome !

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The magic Findhorn River Big Trees Radio Scotland Outofdoors visit Yosemite on radio tomorrow a must listen.

I had planned a day on the hill but life caught up and it was a short walk along the Findhorn river from Slui. It was a magic day with sun and the river looking stunning. The trees about the river are huge and if the great environmentalist John Muir  had been to Moray he would have raved about them. They are so big and seem to reach for the sky and with the Autumn light they were looking stunning. I was wanting to climb them but decided not too a bit scared. John Muit climbed the great Douglas Firs in Yosemite in a storm to see nature in the raw some man. I was with my grand kids over the last week and like all kids they love climbing trees its what kids do. Radio Scotland tomorrow morning are in Yosemite with the program Outofdoors and they follow in the footsteps of the great John Muir well worth a listen its early but you can get it on the IPLAYER if you do not rise that early.


I used to come here in the past with the kids and the path is interesting and care must be taken with young kids. I have seen the Ospreys fishing today there was just two anglers on the river and it was so tranquil and peaceful. I have rarely seen people down by the river but it was great to be out in the sun and enjoy the peaceful noise of this great river.


This is a specail place to be and  it was sad to see that someone had dumped old mountain bikes which were rotting in the forest, who could do this to such a place?  They had been there that long that moss was growing on the saddle, why do this? We had a great walk and the power of the river is there to see, with the red sandstone cliffs and the damge to the banks when it is in flood. This is a powerful place  to be and only a short drive from my house.


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Cummingston sea cliffs – sadly the paths are now heavily eroded what are we doing about it, Who cares?


Most days I walk to Cummingston sea cliffs it is a great climbing venue along the Moray coast. It is place where you can see dolphins and many other wild life and has great views of the Moray Coast. When my grand kids were visiting they are very  young and wanted to visit the caves and pools at Cummingston but the path was in a poor state for the descent down. It was very slippy and eroded and many forget that this is not just a climber’s cliff but one that the locals have used for years.


This is my own local cliff is now very busy with big groups regularly there many use it as a top rope facility with groups at times as large as 15 -20 hammering the cliff. When the weather is poor in the mountains many come over and climb here. Yet there are other cliffs about that you can use with a  big group and share the wear and tear on the crag. Have a look in the guide book? Abseiling takes a regular toll on eroding the soft sandstone and many of the belays put in by the RAF Team and the Moray sea school years ago are needing replaced as does the well-worn path to the cliff. We did some work on it years ago with the RAF Kinloss Mountain Rescue Team.


There has been some work done on the back wall and I wonder who did it but thanks.

Worth thinking about?…/cummingston%20sea%20cliff%20user%20code.p…



Do we need to go there at all?!!!!

  • Can we be imaginative? Extended bouldering session, offering different activities, etc, would all go towards reducing cliff-top erosion. USING THE STAKES. • There should be no moving ropes going over the edge of the cliff other than when leading/seconding in the traditional manner, or in the case of abseil safety ropes and top-roping.
  • All edges with anchor ropes going over them should be protected with either rope protectors or carpet, similarly if abseiling. Carpet provides better protection and its use is to be encouraged– the emphasis is on protecting the rock as opposed to protecting the rope. If you protect the rock you will protect the rope.
  • All rigging ropes should be static ropes to reduce stretch and therefore the sawing effect on the ground. • Ropes should be brought to a single point before the edge of the cliff and then extended over the cliff edge and padded appropriately.


Ropes should not be put down a climb unless it is to be used within a short period of time. The rigging can be prepared and ropes left on the top until needed

  • Group equipment should be kept together and not strewn around the bottom of the climbs.
  • Those climbing with leader-placed protection will always take precedence over a group session. The instructor should therefore make any visiting climbers aware that they will be happy to move the ropes out of the way if the climbers wish to climb that particular route.

FOOTPATHS. • Until appropriate work is carried out, the descent path below Sunshine Wall should be used as little as possible. When used, it should be in such a manner as to minimize any further erosion.

Footpath erosion on descent to cliffs.

Footpath erosion on descent to cliffs.

EDUCATION OF THE GROUP. • On arrival, the group needs to be made aware that the site is a SSSI as well as any access issues, and be encouraged to preserve or improve the status quo whilst they are there. Their instructor is liable for the group’s actions and behaviour.

  • They should not use the cave areas as a toilet. Only areas washed frequently by the sea (i.e. the back of the stack) should be used. Alternatively, there are excellent facilities in the car park.
  • • Instructors should ensure groups do not scratch their names onto the rock or throw stones at the crag, as the soft sandstone will never recover.
  • Groups at the abseil site at the top of Green Crack should be made to sit well back on the grass and not on the turf cornice at the head of the erosion scar.
  • erosion

INTER-USER COMMUNICATION • If the main heavy-user centres can communicate with each other about any imminent large group use it will help reduce both erosion and congestion. Emailing or ‘phoning each other prior to departure from the centre, planning ahead, and communication are to be encouraged.

The following were included in the consultation process: Pete Hill MIC, Adventure Consultants UK, Malcolm Lee MIC, Glenmore Lodge, RAF Grantown, Abernethy Trust, Active Outdoor Pursuits, Outfit Moray, Mountain Leader Training Scotland, Gordonstoun School, Moray Mountain Club, SNH, Moray Council Coastal Ranger, Andy Nisbet-SMT area guide editor, MCofS Access Committee.

(I would add some other groups Fort George, Kinloss Barracks, RAF Lossiemouth, Moray Mountaineering Club and Outfitmoray that I am involved with and we have some amount of organisations that may be able to help and give something back to the area and preserve it for years to come.

Kinloss Barracks has Army engineers maybe they could help as they are local?

So there is a group who care but to me this seems great lots of words and sadly very little action recently many of these groups are making money from these cliffs and giving little back? I feel that what is happening now is unsupportable and the state of the erosion is getting worse.


Any comments welcome


Cummingston replies

Andy Lawson – Could I suggest, given the frequency with which the Moray MC use this venue, that the MMC Committee look into this – establishing who owns the land and hopefully agreeing some kind of repair work to the descent path involving landowner, Council (if necessary), and other interested parties for funding (e.g. Glenmore Lodge). It seems to be mentioned frequently but with no associated action. A FOI(S)A request to Moray Council should hopefully identify who land owner is quite quickly.

Kev Hewkin

Who owns the land, Moray Council or a private land owner? It would be problematic to organise or attempt any remedial work without the land owners permission.

Latest info –  Hi Heavy , when I was at the Lodge we were very aware of this and wanted to do something as this is an area used often by the Lodge. Therefore we allocated some of our environmental fund to pay Pete Hill to do a bit of research to see if we could find a way of tapping into grants and come up with a plan. Sadly it did not come to anything substantial before I left , but I think we all agree we need to do something. Bob Kinnaird.




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