I received this through my blog yesterday about a visit to a bothy in Galloway Backhill of Bush bothy with my brother in 1971 – 49 years ago:
“I once met a chap by the name of Heavy in backhill of bush bothy in the galloway hills.it was new year 1977. He was there with his brother as we arrived at the bothy and made us feel so very welcome making us a brew and getting our feet up at the fire. We went our separate ways next morning and never met again. I have written about the guys in my memoirs. We sat till the wee hours swapping stories and laughs and that camaraderie we formed still lives with me. I just wondered if you were the same person. I am Ian a lot older though!
It’s was lovely to here from Ian all these years later. Sadly the bothy is no longer open I think but it was my first bothy I visited as a young lad through the Boys Brigade. I will never forget arriving about 12 years old and the fire was on and listening to the tales and stories round the fire. Theses smells and memories are still with me nearly 50 years on!
Sadly I think the bothy has been so badly vandalised the MBA no longer look after it. Yet it has so many memories of that great wild area and it’s hills and lochs.
Beinn Spionnaidh is the northernmost peak in Britain over 2500 feet. A whaleback ridge of quartzite scree, it offers unique views of the north coast.It’s neighbour another Corbett Cranstackie is a mountain of 801 m in Sutherland, the northwestern tip of the Scottish Highlands. It is a Corbett located west of Loch Eriboll and northeast of Foinaven. Like Foinaven and Beinn Spionnaidh to the northeast, its top is covered with loose, broken quartzite. On this hill is the wreckage of a de Havilland Mosquito Mk.IV DZ486 of No.618 Squadron, RAF, crashed on Cranstackie NC 350560 at 2000 feet near Durness on the 5th April 1943 while on a bombing exercise from Skitten Mosquito DZ486 – Flew into hill while on a bombing exercise .The aircraft is reported to have flown over Durness and Balnakeil before turning south and flying down the glen towards Cranstackie. 5.4.1943
Crew : F/O (124.814) Donald Louis PAVEY (pilot) RAFVR – killed Sgt (1220369) Bernard Walter STIMSON (obs) RAFVR – killed. I have visited this site on 3 occasions its a grand hill and enjoyed looking for the wreckage not easy in the days before GPS. NC 350560 ROUGH GRID REF
Ben Loyal known as the Queen of Scottish Mountaindis an isolated mountain of 764 m in Sutherland, the northwestern tip of the Scottish Highlands. It is a Corbett located south of the Kyle of Tongue and offers good views of the Kyle, Loch Loyal to the east, and Ben Hope to the west.Ben Loyal has the remains of an Hampden aircraft that crashed on the mountain in 1943. Grid Ref NC 583498 Sgor Chaonasaid at 1600 feet.The aircraft is a Handley Page Hampden, Serial No: P2118 Unit Codes: Z9-D Squadron: 519sqn Crash Date: 25.08.43 Based: Wick Crew:
Pilot; Flt Lt H. Puplett DFC,Navigator: F/O G. Richie,Radio Operator/Air Gunner:F/O C. Faulks Air Gunner:Sgt T Hudson-Bell
F/O Faulks was the only survivor when the aircraft flew into the side of Sgor Chaonasaid, the highest point in the Ben Loyal range. The aircraft was returning to Wick from an aborted search for missing Hampden P5334 when it flew into the hillside in a thunderstorm just before midnight on 25th August 1943. The rescue party arrived Ribigill a large farm house between Tongue and Ben Loyal, the rescue party were led by shepherd Mr E Campbell and Dr F Y McHendrick. The survivor was strapped to a piece of aircraft wreckage and carried him down from the mountain. after a long trip by horse and cart he was taken by RAF ambulance to Golspie’s Lawson County Hospital about forty miles away. He arrived there some 15 hours after the crash and was found to have very serious injuries including a broken right leg, a smashed up left foot and severe facial injuries and was initially not expected to live. Having spent some 18 months in hospital he rejoined his squadron taking up a ground-based role but was keen to be in the air again. He flew again before the War ended. Shepherd Eric Campbell and Dr Fowler Yates McKendrick M.B. Ch.B were both awarded the British Empire Medal for their rescue attempt on that night (Gazetted 3rd December 1943. In all they made six trips up and down to the aircraft that night, recovering the injured man and the bodies of his comrades. Dr McHendrick was also praised for his efforts in keeping F/O Faulks alive as they removed him to safety.
Aircraft Wrecks: The Walker’s Guide: Historic Crash Sites on the Moors and Mountains of the British Isles.
This study of aircraft crashes on hills and mountains of the UK and Ireland covers the period 1928 to 1992, the majority relating to World War II. Drawing upon Air Force records, civil accident reports and news reports, the author has included the accounts of survivors, eye-witnesses and rescuers.
I was up in the far North last week on Ben Hee the views of the distant Northern hills were exceptional. It is an incredible place with stunning mountains each have there own history and tales. A few of the hills have aircraft crashes from the Second World War on them. From this summit I could see a few mountains many with tales of those who gave so much. Few folk know they exist but you can add to a hill day by visiting these poignant places where so many gave their lives for us.
Ben More Assynt and Conival has an Anson crash that I have written about on my blog. It is on the locally known Aeroplane flats and is one of the sites that the crew were buried on site. There used to be a stunning cross marking the site but this was sadly falling apart and was replaced after a huge effort by the War Graves Commission.
The story of the crash site the story of this aircraft and its crew it is a reminder to those who gave so much. The crash site is a moving place at over 2000 feet high on Imir Fada near Ben More Assynt it is in a remote area about 5 miles from the nearest road.
On the 13th April 1941 an Anson aircraft from RAF Kinloss on a cross country training flight crashed near Ben More Assynt in the North West Highlands at Inchnadampth above Ullapool. The aircraft had taken off from Kinloss in less than ideal weather to follow a route via Oban, Stornaway and Cape Wrath before returning to Kinloss. The aircraft had completed the first two legs of its flight and reported passing Stornaway in icing conditions around this time the aircraft’s port engine lost power and failed. Sometime after this having either flown onto Cape Wrath or turning for base near Stornaway the aircraft flew into high ground in near white out conditions to the North East of Inchnadamph. The aircraft was reported overdue at Kinloss and an air search was initiated but this failed to locate the missing aircraft, it wasn’t until the 25th May that the aircraft was located by a shepherd. All six of the crew were killed. The crash site is the only site in Scotland where the crew are buried at the crash site.
Flying Officer JH Steyn DFC. Pilot
Pilot Officer WE Drew. Observer/ Instructor
Sergeant J Emery. Wireless operator gunner
Flight Sergeant T R Kenny. Wireless Operator
Sergeant CM Mitchell. Observer Pupil
Sergeant HA Tompsett. . Wireless operator gunner.
1955 March – Vampire Crash – Ben Klibreck
In the past I have extended a day on Ben Klibreck it by going to an aircraft crash site on the South East Spur of Meall Ailein and to a monument to the crew of a Vampire Trainer aircraft from Royal Naval Station Lossiemouth that crashed in 17 March 1955 sadly killing both crew.
The RAF Kinloss Mountain Rescue team were involved in the recovery and located the crash in a wild March day all those years ago. The weather was wild and after a 6 hours search the aircraft was located. It is a remote site and a very impressive memorial set on the ridge with great views this wild part of Scotland. It is worth extending the day and going out to visit this site that few see. The monument is marked on the map and pieces of the aircraft can be found a grid reference Sheet 16/6182316 and NC 619305
Sadly both crew died –
Lt Peter Leslie Beers aged 24
Lt John Knight aged 23
Lest We Forget
Please if you visit these sites treat with the upmost respect and have a few thoughts for those who gave their young lives for us.
Tomorrow blog RAF de Havilland Mosquito, Cranstackie, crash date 05/04/43 Ben Loyal Hampden crash
I was looking back on a incident that I was involved a while ago. A solo walker left very early from Glasgow area to climb a Munro in February in the West Coast .
He reached the summit did his usual text to his family and stated he was heading down back to his car. The weather came in on his descent and he was in cloud and snow and found had made an 180 degree mistake leaving the summit which took him down into a remote Glen on the West Coast. There are few houses there no phone signal and he managed to get a lift by a passing local to a path that should take him back over the hill.
On his way on the path the weather came in again time was moving and he discovered he had left his gloves in the car. )He only had that pair with him)By now it was getting dark his hands were frozen and unusable when he needed them to use his compass and torch. I was told when he reached the ridge at 3000 ft he could not use his compass or torch and the weather was full on winter conditions.
Having no torch it was now nightfall he was on steep winter ground with cliffs stumbled and fell down the hill. That is the last he remembers. His family phoned the Police when he never called to say he was off the hill and were worried. He had left a route and the local Police located the car.
Due to the information a search was started that night and a the local team and SARDA did a search in wild winter conditions. Extra MRT teams were called in for a first light search. The casualty was located in the Glen early next morning about a mile from the road next to the river bank unconscious in a bad way. He was located near the river bank another foot and he would have been in the river. He was wearing dark clothing it was a great spot by the teams going into there search areas.
I thought that day there was little chance of his survival as he had such a poor pulse etc. There was little we could do try to keep him warm and we got a quick helicopter evacuation that helped save his life.He recovered fully and is alive and well after spending time in hospital.
It’s worth looking back and learning from incidents . I feel there are many lessons from this incident. In my view – He was saved as he had a great back up system: his family knew what hill he was on and his route. He always texted or called when possible on the summit and when he was back at the car. He had kept up the system for nearly 200 Munro’s over many years. The family were great as when he never called in they called the Police.
Points to note
As series of small mistakes added to what happened they built up as the day progressed.
Things went wrong when he took the wrong bearing ( always double check your bearing) especially if on your own.
He left his gloves in the vechile easily done always carry a spare pair especially in winter. When you lose your gloves in winter you use the use of your hands it is nearly impossible to navigate or use your torch.
Bright clothing is so effective if your wearing it on a search a Black and Green jacket maybe environmental friendly but hard to spot in a search if your huddled down or injured .
A few mistakes can cost a lot worth a few thoughts.
I had written this a few years ago and it was tidied up by a pal for the RAF MRT newsletter, its worth a look?
Forty- eight years ago, I climbed Tower Ridge for the first time. It was September 1972. I was a young lad in the RAF Kinloss Mountain Rescue Team in Morayshire, Scotland, a very young nineteen-year old. We had driven through the night and were up at the CIC Hut on Ben Nevis to search for three missing Royal Navy climbers who had not returned from a day out on one of Scotland’s finest ridges.
The RAF Mountain Rescue Service have a particular remit for the search and rescue of military personnel. In any case, for any big searches in these days, Lochaber Mountain Rescue Team called in the assistance of the RAF teams – as at times they still do even today. This was in the days before mobile phones and lightweight VHF communications. I had only been in the Kinloss Team for under a year at the time and the drive down the Great Glen through the night to assist was exciting. I was to have many epics on this road in the years to come. We arrived at the police station in the early hours and were given a brew and a briefing.
The Police and Lochaber MRT had access to a snow-track vehicle in those days. The path to the CIC Hut could be swampy, but with the aid of the snow cat we managed to get fifty searchers to the hut at first light. The three climbers, from HMS Cochrane (Rosyth) had left the CIC hut where they were staying to climb Tower Ridge via the Douglas Boulder. I later found out they were also doing some work on an antenna on the Ben. They were found below the ridge in the basin near Gardh Gully, by the Lochaber Team if I remember rightly. Unfortunately, all were killed, found still roped together after a fall from the ridge, lying in the scree. We all helped to evacuate them to the CIC Hut below the North Face. It took all of us to move them. There were few helicopters those days, and, even though it’s a short carry, it was hard work.
It was a real tragedy, a hard introduction to the world of mountain rescue for a young lad. In those days young members were expected to assist with everything. I helped load a young lad onto the stretcher. Lochaber MRT, as now, was full of incredible characters and a few were ex-RAF who had settled in the area, usually due to falling for a local lassie. They were a hard bunch but looked after you, as did many of our team.
It was one of my first tragedies on the Ben – a place I was to see on many more occasions. Once we had handed the stretchers over to the snow-cat at the CIC Hut, John Hinde was asked by the Police to investigate what may have happened. John Hinde was, even in these days, a legend in mountain rescue. I was asked (no one else fancied it) if I would climb Tower Ridge with John and Michael Rabbit (AKA “Bugs”), both of whom were very experienced mountaineers.
It’s hard to remember everything but it was a wet day, I’d never climbed Tower Ridge before. We more or less climbed up West Gully – not the usual way up the famous ridge. It was wet and greasy and always in my young mind was that three climbers had just been killed on this climb.
Tower Ridge, rated a 2000-foot “Difficult” climb, was first climbed in 1892. It was first descended, not ascended! The first down-climbers were J. E. and B. Hopkins on 3 September 1892. They had ascended as far as the Great Tower the previous day. The first actual ascent was by Norman Collie, Godfrey Solly and J. Collier on 29 March 1894. This is the classic route on the North East face of the Ben, a true alpine day in summer or winter. It remains the most popular climb on the mountain. It has two cruxes: the Great Tower and Tower Gap. It can be excitingin the wind and rain. Never to be underestimated, in my view.As W. H. Murray states,
“Tower Ridge is the pre-eminent example of a mainly moderate route that must be classic by virtue of its big cliff environment, its own great length, its clean sound rock, and the grand scale of its architecture. Whatever more ambitious plans one has on Ben Nevis, Tower Ridge is the first essential climb for the man or women who wants to know the mountain.”
We scrambled up unroped. The gully was loose and wet. I had just climbed Savage Slit in the Cairngorms the week before and felt I was ready for such a long climb. John was wandering all over, looking for signs of the accident. This is where all three had fallen from, roped together. He surmised that they were moving together when someone had slipped. The weather had been fine, yet the rock was greasy and wet, so you needed to take care.
John was a leading light in Mountain Rescue at the time,and very interested in mountain safety. He always analysed the accidents that he went to. He worked very closely with Ben Humble, the SMC Mountain Rescue Statistician at the time, and later became the SMC statistician himself, after Ben passed away. John had noticed that two of the casualties were wearing normal military boots and this may have not helped. They can be slippery on damp rock.
We will never know what exactly happened, but I was a very careful young lad moving along the ridge. It was a long day.
On every bit, even the easy parts, I took my time. I was certainly a bit in awe of the famous Tower Gap, especially as the mist came down. We moved together most of the time along the ridge, John showing the key belays, guarding me on the tricky bits. The Eastern Traverse, just a path in summer, and the Chock stone – then up onto the Great Tower. How tricky it can be there in winter! I learnt a lot that day from two incredible mentors, particularly how easy it is to have a slip or trip. I took extra care all the way, as one would expect after such an introduction to such a special place. I had taken no sleep the night before, and it was a long day for a young lad, yet I kept going, and was even given the rope to carry off – but only after we had climbed to the summit. “Look well to each step” is a great quote, so apt even today.
We were many hours behind the team, which had left to return to camp straight after the casualties were handed over to the police. There was little chat as we headed back to Torlundy to our Land Rover. That is how we dealt with trauma then.Those were the days when few spoke about these things, but, unknown to us, they were buried in the mind. After that call out I developed psoriasis, which was to be with me all my life. I am sure the trauma of these early callouts had something to do with this awful skin disease.
As the day ended, I lagged behind a bit, in my own world after a difficult experience. There was no food, not even a cup of tea, just a three-hour drive back to the base. Gear was very basic in these days and mine was wet, but I was soon asleep in the back of the vehicle. We arrived back at Kinloss late in the evening, very tired. It had been some day.
On my return to work the next day, I was asked by my boss if I had enjoyed my day off. He said that I would be working the next weekend to make up my “time off”!
I have many memories of this climb. Despite this tragic event, for many years I was to climb Tower Ridge with new team members, giving many an introduction to this incredible mountain. I have climbed it over twenty times in summer, yet still always seem to manage to wander off route, even on the most lovely summers day. “Follow the crampon marks” is the best tip. I have managed the classic four Ben ridges in summer in a long day. I’ve also done about ten winter ascents of Tower Ridge. That is a very different proposition. I have waited near the gap for many of the young Troops on their first mountain lead. As the wind howls through the gap it’s imposing. It is, as they say, “only a Diff,” but on a bad day looks horrific. On a few rescues in the past we have climbed down to the gap from the summit ridge. Yet what a climb, what joy you have climbing it, what views, and what a place to be. Another great climb to savour, but never take it for granted, or those you climb with.
I have climbed Tower Ridge on many occasions yet that first time will forever be on my memory .
I get asked so often “why do you go on the mountains often by folk. A day on the hills would be the last thing that some would want to do. “There is the well known reply “because it’s there” yet there is so much more than that. I love listening reading to why folk love these places. I did worry that in these days of so much that’s competitive in life of what the mountains were becoming? To me this sums it up “The mountains are not a gymnasium for your egos”
I was lucky to be out with pals up in the North we are all lovers of the hills and wild places. All day we saw no one just the hills. We are all of a certain age ( old) but it was great listening to some of their thoughts.
Here are some of my thoughts. Why do we go?
We love the space especially the solitude of these wonderful mountains. We love the ever changing skies the colours the “Bigness” of them.
We love the changes in colours of the grasses the plants as the seasons move on. We love how plants can live and thrive in such hostile environments. We love looking into the wild corries the jumble of rocks, the cliffs and the lochans. (We missed all this recently with Covid )
We love seeing the wild life, the deer the birds soaring above. We love the company of like minded folk. We love we no longer have to rush up these hills. We love that we can enjoy the day and take time to look and grasp where we are. We love that we can still slowly get to a summit and can appreciate the views. We love the feel of the rock the changing types the roughness the colours.
We love we live near the hills and can be there in a short time . We love the feel of the wind and weather as it changes. We love the “craic” on and after a great day.
We love that despite lifes ups and downs we get great joy from the best medicine there is being out on the hills.
We love the feeling of being naturally tired and despite the aching body the simple joy a “Stravaig” can bring! ( Stravaig wander about aimlessly)
We love the nights spent in Bothies and tents the conversations and the fellowship of the mountains.
We love planning the next adventure despite our age. We love telling our exaggerated tales to our kids and Grandkids hopefully kindling a love of why we go and one day they will join us.
We love mountain folk, mountain memories and mountain dreams.
We just love it as it makes us feel so good.
What do you love about the hills and wild places ?
I am hopefully heading North its a 2 and a half hour drive up to Merknd Lodge, my plan Ben Hee 873 metres “The fairy hill”. which appears to be a fairly rounded hill from the A838 road – has some wild hidden corries (I hope to get a view of them on this trip) . Especially it’s steeper slopes on its eastern and northern sides. It gives a reasonably straightforward hill walk – revealing spectacular views.” I am lucky to have climbed this hill twice before usually with other hills.
Many years ago I met the late Blyth Wright who at that time he was one of the “Glenmore Lodge Mafia”. At that time I was very interested in Avalanches having been unfortunately involved in a few. We met fairly often and Blyth was also interested in long hill days. He was a good friend of the late Phil Tranter who was the man behind “Tranters Round in Lochaber”. He told me some great tales of big days like the both Clunnies at Kintail North and South in a day. The RAF Teams were heavily involved in some of the Big Walks across Scotland in the 60’s and 70’s and they were good conversation starters away from the climbing and Avalanche tales. It gave me an insight into these incredible mountain days. Nowadays we have the Ramsay Round an incredible day adding extra Munro’s to Tranters Round . It was great to hear of how some of these days were planned and the simple gear they wore. In the RAF Teams we did some big days to us training but compared to today we only scratched the surface. In the RAF Mountain Rescue we met many of the top fell runners of these early years. In these days there were only a few then. Most were incredible fit runners taking their sport to another level. There were not many about in these days and when I moved to Wales I ran the 14 Peaks a few times saw the growth in running in the mountains. It was the same in the Lakes the Bob Graham Round and others. It opened my eyes to the sport and we often assisted in marshalling some of the races. In these early days there was some criticism of hill running but I always had a huge admiration for those involved in moving fast and light over the mountains.
Many will have noticed in the National Media a few recent headlines regarding record breaking runs.
“Ramsay Round record 14h 42m 40s yesterday (solo / unsupported)
Donnie Campbell – 32 Days to do all the Munros !
Donnie Campbell #MunroRound Day 32 10; Am Faochagach, Cona’ Mheall, Beinn Dearg, Meall nan Ceapraichean, Eididh nan Clach Geala, Seana Bhraigh, Ben More Assynt, Conival, Ben Klibreck, Ben Hope
It was great to hear of how some of these days were planned and the simple gear they wore. In the RAF Teams we did some big days to us training but compared to today we only scratched the surface. In the RAF Mountain Rescue we met many of the top fell runners of these early years. In these days there were only a few then. Most were incredible fit runners taking their sport to another level. There were not many about in these days and when I moved to Wales I ran the 14 Peaks a few times saw the growth in running in the mountains. It was the same in the Lakes the Bob Graham Round and others. It opened my eyes to the sport and we often assisted in marshalling some of the races. In these early days there was some criticism of hill running but I always had a huge admiration for those involved in moving fast and light over the mountains.
Occasionally as in any extreme sport there may be an accident but these were few and most hill runners were so self sufficient you could not help but be impressed by them.
The press rarely understood what was going on and as the records fell mainly to no accolade in the media eventually the sport become a lot more popular. The new media outlets helped increase the popularity of extreme running. Technical days like the Skye ridge are now often run and huge distances Munro’s records are shattered.
What used to be a mainly male sport now is incredibly mixed with great feats done by both sexes. What a great example to all sports! It is a great example.
To watch a runner move fast over the hills is a wonderful sight. I was never much of a runner but managed a few great hill days light and slow over the hills. I often found the best way to run was alone with my dog when I was away from Mountain Rescue. Even at my speed it was the way to travel.Nowadays the gear from the footwear to the clothing is specialised a far cry from these early days. It’s now a popular way to enjoy the mountains with World class events held all over the Uk.
Yet in the past most Highland villages had a hill race of some type many are still going. Many were part of the local Highland games its a sport with history. It’s a sport that has been going for many years and looking back I wonder what Phil Tranter would make of these incredible hill days and times today ? So no matter if it’s just a run up your local hill or some mammoth hill day chasing your dreams. Have a look at the records that are being smashed just now. Times may have improved but the heart and soul of those at all levels who run on the mountains remain the same.
There have been some super books on the subject of Hill running some written recently well worth a read. Safety seems to have improved gone are the days when along with Lochaber MRT we assisted in the Ben Nevis Race a few times in the 70’s having lots of casualties. I remember doing safety cover for the Ben Race, The Cairngorm Race, The Mamores and the Glamaig hill race in Skye. There were many more throughout Scotland.
I envy those who run on the hills now but always think back to those carefree days with the dog. I will continue to read especially nowadays about these incredible running adventures of new feats, times and be amazed at the endurance and fitness of these incredible athletes.
Remember that when out alone a broken ankle can stop the fittest. Be careful have some lightweight gear in reserve and tell someone of your plans. Safe running.
Comments as always welcome
Manny Gorman – The Corbett Round.
In my life I have been so lucky to meet some amazing people and Manny Gorman is one of them. I went to a lecture in Boat of Garten near Aviemore and I met Manny he was talking about his incredible trip “The Corbett’s in 70 days. I had met him before on the hill and as hill runner and he is one of its celebrities, they are unassuming men and women with no egos. Today’s sports superstars could learn from these people. “Manny “is of a breed of these unknown athletes, he is a passionate hill runner and he is one of the finest amongst this unique band of people. They are very private people, they are a “family” and this book gives an insight into this incredible sport, their life, the pain, the suffering but the joy of moving fast through wild land.
5 June 1960 – Three climbers set off from Loch Scavaig by boat intending to return by the Dubhs all had been in the Cuillin before. The weather was perfect and the rock dry. The weather broke at about 6 pm when they were near Sgurr Dubh na Da Bheinn but they decided to continue. They reached the Thearlaich Dubh Gap at 8 pm the rock was slippy the leader attempted the chimney pitch. Roped up the leader fell above the first chockstone whilst putting in a runner, he fell back wards injuring his head. He died about 2 hours later. One of the other tried to climb out onto the wall on the Dubh side, he also slipped but was held by the third man. They spent the night in the gap and were found by a party doing the main ridge. They were helped down to Corrie a’ Ghrundha. They met an advanced party of RAF Kinloss MRT who had been alerted. Body brought down to Glen Brittle. SMC Journal 1961
From RAF Kinloss MRT Archives 6 June 1960 – “Three climbers fell in TD Gap. 1 fatal and 2 with minor injuries. 500ft ropes used for lower.” In these days it was a long way to Skye from RAF Kinloss in Morayshire. There was no Bridge at Inverness and Skye and the roads would be very tight. It was a 7 hour drive before they got on the hill. Carrying a Stretcher, ropes, medical kit and gear by a small team to one of the most awkward places in Skye would be a serious proposition.
The descent with the casualty into the gully would be very loose and dangerous not the place to be. Yet this was accepted as part of the risks of Mountain Rescue in these days pre – helicopter. Then the long carry off to Glen brittle on awkward ground again by a small team. Most would have been National Servicemen on short tours. National Service ended in 1960, though periods of deferred service still had to be completed. The last national servicemen were discharged in 1963.
From The Cuillin Ridge Light “the Thearlaich–Dubh Gap This is an awkward severe grade climb with a fearsome reputation and is probably the hardest climb on the ridge.” Adrian Trendall
Mountain Rescue even in the 60’s was pretty basic, if you look at this photo of Skye on the famous TD Gap. The team are using 500 foot ropes and are actually using 2 ropes on the stretcher, there were no helmets then issued and no one is wearing them. Flat caps were the normal attire.
We followed in the footsteps of giants.
From Ray Sefton who was on the Call out “
This was a very long day and night. I was there. In those days the team were issued with Tricouni nailed boots, that sparked all the time and made climbing more difficult on Skye. The memory of the actions and respect by the farmers remains with me.”
In the team this was my first issued rucksack a very simple canvas bag with simple metal buckles leather and canvas straps no padding. We never carried that much and if you had the rope it went on the top. They wore well and lasted years I am sure they were just made for the RAF Teams?
The next Rucksack I remember was the Karrimor Outward bound. A very basic canvas bag with two pockets attached . No padding again even on the straps.
There was a huge range of Karrimor rucksacks around back 70’s then and this Outward Bound version was designed specifically for that market; simple, hard wearing and well priced.
After this I think we had the Troll rucksack issued. In bright Red with no pockets apart from on the top it was a hard wearing hill bag. The photo below is of the late Big Al McLeod on the North Face of the Eiger. Photo Ted Atkins.
I bought so many rucksacks, I loved my MACPACK made in New Zealand it was great for expeditions but I lent it to someone never saw it again.
The classic Joe Brown, the Haston Alpiniste were other rucksacks that I bought nowadays I never carry that much gear and even my hill bags are as light as possible and I like the bright colours. Others I have used the Pod, Hot Ice and many others.
Comment D. WALKER
My original canvas Karrimore Alpenist lasted for years, replaced with the more modern one with plastic clip buckles in the 80s, however technological improvements in fabrics and back support soon overtook it. The Troll, Trolltind made larger for MR was a great and simple climbing bag. With only the pocket in the lid it couldn’t have been more streamlined.
It had been a long time coming but we had an old pal back up Rhys and we had a day on the Cairngorms planned rock climbing. Dan my best pal was free so I was looking forward to a fun day.
The forecast had changed overnight and the Cairngorms looked wet so we had a change of plan and headed for the Coast. ( Top tip keep checking the weather forecasts.) This was hopefully to miss the bad weather and the dreaded midges.
It’s a short drive to our wee fun crag near Portsoy and just what I needed today. Portsoy is a small fishing town on the North East Coast. We had not been here for a while and had to chase the memory of the way to the cliffs. “You pass the Jehovah’s Witnesschurch” a good Landmark and park by the cliffs down a small track.
The Coastal path is fairly quiet and there is a car park at the end of the track. The fields nearby are stunning just now a ripened gold and as you pass the old concrete building on the coastal path its an old wartime look-out post. As you get near to our wee crag the views are excellent. It’s a magical coast and the crag is covered in stunning yellow lichen it looks so friendly. The wild life especially the Cormorants and the sea cliffs tumbling to the sea make this a special place. It’s never a busy cliff and I have rarely seen other climbers here. Grid NJ 575672
From UKC Crag features
“A pleasant low grade venue, with some very soft grading. The rock is not perfect, but is sound enough. A good place to solo.” Tidal
From Scottish Climbs.com Redhythe Point
Near the town of Portsoy on the Moray coast, Redhythe Point is a very good crag for those getting into leading, as well as providing sport for the more competent. Although partly tidal, many routes can still be climbed throughout the day. More like quartzite than sandstone.
Covered in the 2003 NE outcrops guide
The Stack provides a few clean climbs, although the main point of interest is the crossing of the narrow channel separating it from the main crag. It also provides a good deep-water solo traverse at high tide mark above the channel.
Directions & Approach
On the west side of town, follow the signs to the sea level swimming pool (now defunct – ask a local)and park in the large parking area. Walk west along the coast until you arrive at an abandoned target shelter, then bear right along a vague path to the top of the crag – 15 mins.”
It was just a fun few hours easy routes by the sea the tide was in and apart from the friability of the odd holds it’s a grand place to be. We set up a short abseil rope and roped down to the ledges. The weather was great and I told of the day when the Dolphins chased the mackerel into this Geo and had a lunch as we climbed in the sun!
Not climbing for a while it’s “Always worth checking each other no matter how experienced you think you are”. Skill fade is a forgotten danger to many of us who do not climb regularly.
We climbed about 5 short routes it’s amazing how rusty you are. Also how careful you have to be checking each other’s harness and on the abseil Dan keeping us aware as he does. We had lots of stories and even the odd folk song as we climbed . It was so good to be back on the rock great fun and a lovely break for me despite having to carry a rope in.
The crag is covered in yellow lichen on the cliffs is stunning “Yellow scales, also called Shore Lichen, (Xanthoria parietina), lichen species characterized by lobed margins and a wrinkled centre. It is usually found where the air is filled with mineral salts, especially near the sea and on rocksand walls.”
We had some great craic more tales and plans for future days.
As we had a break for lunch we had a superb display of the local Dolphins that made our day. They were jumping out of the water and though to far away to photograph it was a superb display. What more could one want?
It was then a walk back the “Fields of gold” were getting getting cut and the air was thick and dusty. The farmers hoping to get the crop cut before the weather changes. It was then a quick stop for tea and cakes with Dan’s folks who now live locally.
Thanks to Dan and Rhys for a fun day out. It was great to see you both and safe trip home Rhys see you soon!
Many of us older folk still love looking at maps, we find even on a popular map find new things to go and look at. I have spent so much time looking at them I even had a few in my loo and always wanted to wallpaper a room with a series of maps. I look over my old maps and look at some of the wonderful days we had and those still to come. It’s so easy nowadays to pick up a climbing guide or a Munros. Graham, Corbett book and plan your day. You can even get way-points and all the latest information on your hill day or climb. The internet is full of blogs, advice about hill days some great some poor. It’s great to see how things have moved on GPS and maps on phones etc have made life a lot easier. I wonder how many still get the maps out and ponder over them looking at their planned route? To me I got to understand the maps and there make up by looking closely you see the features and you can remember them when the day gets difficult. We carried maps in the early days for the whole of Scotland( Crash maps) as we regularly got called out at a weekend away from where we were training. We carried 12 maps of each area a lot of maps in a big old ammunition box. Maps were hammered on the hill and updated regularly for the military with new power lines for added for the helicopters and low level aircraft. This meant they often changed and you would get the old maps that were now outdated if you were lucky, They were a prized item, put them in a poly bag and you had a waterproof map. Years ago the Bothies most of the remoter ones had secret locations now you can find them through the internet and books. Its all there now you just have to do is ask “Mr Google”. I have great memories of my early days of hill bashing. There were hardly any guides to the hills and a lot fewer paths. The SMC have their District Guides full of detail and hidden information about climbing routes many in new areas. Giving little away but for those that looked so many hidden gems.
On my first Big Walk in 1976 the North – South of Scotland we poured over our route in the Briefing Room at Kinloss in the Mountain Rescue Section. It had a huge space and maps all over the walls they were always constantly looked at for ideas it was also used as a bar and that’s where we planned so many big days. For our walk we moved the chairs and got all the maps out on the floor only then did the depth of what we were planning came in. The planning was fun, we wanted no support apart from food drop offs in a few areas. We descended Munros by different ways heading for bothies and night stops, we saw so much new ground and Glens. We were young and invincible or so we thought. We sent food parcels ahead to keepers and Bothies that the team used. How we got to know Scotland planning that trip. I had completed my Munro’s just before Nov 1976 (Number 146) but the planning was a thing we did every weekend as we moved all over Scotland chasing summits. I would have a plan even bought many of my maps and asked others for good ways up hills. All this practice definitely gave you skills to work out your day especially when the weather comes in unexpectedly? It was so handy in big searches in the Mountain Rescue for many years all over Scotland. In these days when introducing new folk on the hill most were fit enough but getting to grips with navigation was the key skill. We would plan the day the night before just using the maps to judge times and distance. Who remembers the original Naismith’s route and inch to the mile maps, with not a great amount of detail? Add in wind, weather. terrain what your carrying, group size etc and things can change drastically. It to me is still a skill worth using. Be wary of Guide book times. Naismith’s Rule “Thisruleof thumb was devised by William W. Naismith, a Scottish mountaineer, in 1892. A modern version can be formulated as follows:Allow one hour for every 3 miles (5 km) forward, plus an additional hour for every 2,000 feet (600 m) of ascent. Be wary as no stops are planned in this.
Top Tips. In the shorter days especially early winter I have a cut off time for getting of the hill depending on the daylight and weather. I always want to be down on the path or low ground before the light goes. Yet it good to get out and walk in the dark in a safe area and see how tricky it can be and how things slow down? Its time to check that torch and batteries?Always in addition to your modern devices carry a map, be aware that as you get older your eyesight gets worse a top tip you can enlarge a map of the danger areas on the hills like craggy descents. I have to now.
This digital version of the SMC’s best selling definitive hill-walkers’ guidebook provides route descriptions and maps to all of Scotland’s 282 Munros (mountains over 3000 feet), which can be purchased by area or by route. As well as being a handy pocket sized reference for use at home or on the hill, you can log your ascents electronically as you work your way to Munro completion! Since its first printed publication in 1985, all profits from this best selling guidebook have been donated to the Scottish Mountaineering Trust, a charity created to promote the enjoyment, appreciation and conservation of mountains and the mountain environment.
Frank Card RIP Montrose/Edzell 1949-51 Frank wrote the book Whensover.
I saw this on the RAF MRT Association on Facebook Page from Alister Haveron.
“I had a call from Jo with the sad news that Frank passed away on the 18 August 2020. He hadn’t been too well for a while. Frank was author of Whensoever and editor of OTH “On the Hill”for many years.
Whensoever – Book Review From gum-boots and oilskins to Goretex and plastic boots in 50 years is not so remarkable. What is remarkable is that for 50 years the Royal Air Force has maintained an efficient mountain rescue service, both at home and abroad, manned entirely by enthusiastic volunteers. These men and women give their private time and risk their lives. They are of all ranks. They are not paid for the considerable amount of training they are expected to undertake.
Much of their emergency work is involved with recovering and rescuing, not just aircrew as was intended, but also civilians who have underestimated the wrath of the British mountains. They turn out in all weathers. Much of their emergency work is involved with recovering and rescuing, not just aircrew as was intended, but also civilians who have underestimated the wrath of the British mountains. They turn out in all weathers and under all conditions – hence the slogan on their crest, and the title of this book.
They have searched for schoolchildren and pensioners in Scotland, aircrew in Wales, rare falcons in Cyprus, secret devices in an RAF wreck high on a remote mountain in Turkey near the USSR border. They took an important but largely unnoticed part in the Lockerbie and Midlands air crash operations. For many of its volunteers, mountain rescue became a way of life, and veterans of every decade recall their days with great pride and affection. Frank Card has been able to tell the major part of their story: to tell it all would require several volumes; but by careful and diligent research and the willingness of past and present team members to share their experiences, the author can present to you, their story of WHENSOEVER.
Frank Card – He was an outstanding ambassador for the RAF Mountain Rescue Service and Association. The funeral will be a family affair due to Covid 19 and restricted numbers. Jo is hoping to get the service recorded and will provide us with a copy for the website. I will send an Association wreath and a coffin drape.”
BASICS Scotland (British Association of Immediate Care) is a charity based in Perthshire. We specialise in promoting the provision of high quality pre-hospital emergency care to health professionals in Scotland.
It was as always fairly hard mentally talking about things that are buried deep in the mind. Yet I feel its worth doing as I have always been proactive in passing on my thoughts and the mistakes I made over the years in dealing with traumatic situations. Hopefully we can pass on lessons learned to future generations through folk talking openly about their experiences.
I tried to go for a cycle later to clear my head but got caught in a heavy rain shower. I find that getting out and exercising clears my head. When the weather cleared later in the day I go out again on my bike and enjoyed a stunning evening cycling along the coast. Its so good to be able to get out and about.
When the podcast is live I will add a link on this blog. Here are some words I wrote in the past that may help folk understand.
Many will know that I suffered from PTSD after Lockerbie in 1988 and at times it still affects me! I have written about it many times in my Blog and regularly hear from so many who suffer from it. It is sad to see that such a tragedy like Lockerbie that affected a huge number of my team over the years. A few only realising this recently over the last 10 years! So many families have had to deal with this and the strains on the families and loved ones are huge. I know this from my time in the dark room! I also was heavily involved in the Shackleton Crash in Harrris in 1990 where 9 souls died and the Chinook Crash on the Mull of Kintyre in 1994 where there were 29 fatalities. I was unfortunate to be on scene very fast on all these tragedies, so I sadly speak with vast experience on this subject. I also feel that this is so different from a war scenario where you expect to see death and trauma. On all occasions we were not expecting to experience anything so traumatic.
PTSD is one of the mental illnesses most associated with military service but there are a range of other more common mental illnesses which might affect Service and ex-Service personnel. These include depression, feelings of anxiety, panic attacks and substance misuse, most commonly alcohol misuse. Yet many of my friends in the Rescue Agencies have been in touch and said they were having problems as well. This was not just a military problem.
I am proud that in these dark days in 1988 we help raise the huge problems in the military with so many suffering from PTSD. This was not easy as the military and all the emergency services still did not acknowledge PTSD. We have come a long way since these days! I was slated at the time by the establishment for asking for help by those who should know better! Sadly many in the military, Mountain Rescue said I was wrong and to man – up. Our families and loved ones could not understand what we had been through. Yet despite it was worth the effort, heartbreak and problems over many years I feel!
Sadly I still hear from those who served with me in Mountain Rescue and other Agencies and yet only recently after all these years have suffered for years on their own. Many are servicemen and despite the great work of Help for Heroes & Combat Stress it is still not easy for those needing help to get it? Is this just my dealings with a struggling resources?
Trying to get the correct help is difficult and trying to get help through a hugely overworked NHS can be extremely hard. Mental Health is hugely under-sourced due to the huge need of those who want help. At one point I waited for 9 months to get an appointment with a Psychiatrist a few years ago. I was lucky and I coped and am much better but what an awful journey! On my leaving medical with the RAF in 2007 I was asked how could I have PTSD as I was a Caterer by trade? I walked off in disgust this was not what I needed.
It is sad to see that mental illness is the biggest killer of males in Scotland of a certain age. Maybe it is because we Scots especially the males find it hard to talk about our demons!
We have a duty to each other to look after those we love and care for and If we see friends struggle we must to speak to them and get them help! This is not easy and hard to do and many suffer in silence. It’s to late at a funeral to be sad over the loss of a troubled pal a trusted friend yet we missed the signs! We get so close on Rescues or the companionship of the rope on a climb or on a long expedition, yet how often have we missed our pal in trouble but what do we say and how do we say it?
Life in a Rescue Agency gives you many challenges, many of us who read this blog may have spent so much time looking for people and trying to help those we do not even know on the mountains and wild places who are in trouble. Yet at times we miss those who we think are the toughest of men and women who suffer in silence until it’s too late? As I write this it is great to see the Scottish Mountain Rescue is running a TRIM course at Glenmore Lodge this weekend! This helps highlight the problems of PTSD for future generations who hopefully have learned from our mistakes in the past!
Things are getting better slowly.
If you have problems go to your local doctor or for the Military ” Combat Stress and “Help for Hero’s “and there to help as are many other Agencies for my many civilian friends. I would appreciate please could you send me details of any other organisations as I often get asked for advice. There is lots of information on line!
PTSD – that has been left untreated for a number of years or decades will require more intensive treatment. There are still positive health outcomes for sufferers, and the potential for a life beyond symptoms, but seeking suitable, timely treatment is key to maximising the chances of recovery. If PTSD is diagnosed early and the sufferer receives the right treatment in the right environment, rates of recovery are very positive. Veterans can live normal fulfilling lives, able to work with the condition and generally become symptom free for long periods.
There is a risk of delayed-onset of PTSD, where symptoms do not occur for years or decades after the traumatic event. Veterans who present with delayed-onset PTSD have often been exposed to the effects of multiple traumas over a longer period of time. This suggests that those who serve multiple tours are more at risk of developing PTSD several years after leaving the Military.
This does not just effect the military many Rescue Agencies have similar problems!
A look at this book on PTSD.
I have now read the above book by Professor Gordon Turnbull a RAF psychiatrist, now a World authority on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) who assisted the RAF Mountain Rescue Teams after the Lockerbie disaster in December 1988. I must admit I was pretty shocked when I read in a paper this book had been published.
I was mentioned right at the beginning of the book and the paper as I had requested psychiatrist assistance for the RAF Teams after Lockerbie. The RAF and civilian mountain Rescue Teams where heavily involved in Lockerbie and though my experience was pretty varied at this time after 20 years of Mountain Rescue, this was a very different and traumatic experience. Gordon writes the story pretty well, but I feel if he had spoken to those involved a bit more he may have got a better overall view of how it affected many of the people who were there to this day. At the time I was criticised by some senior team members, as they felt help was not needed. Most who criticised were not there and this was a unique event, which was way out of anything I had experienced. Gordon gives credit the RAF MR for the way they dealt with the aftermath but he gives the St Athan Mountain Rescue team a hard time on how they dealt with his team during the debriefing after Lockerbie. I feel if he had spoken to those involved he may have understood why a bit better. You must remember they were there at Lockerbie and saw things that one will never forget. In all I am glad that the book has been written and would advise those involved in Rescue to have a read. A few of those in my team, still struggle with the aftermath of Lockerbie including myself. I am glad that PTSD is now recognised and hope this helps the Rescue Agencies, civilian teams and Dog handlers, some who still suffer badly from the effects of Lockerbie.
We have learned so much from these early days when as very young man or women we were thrown in to the situation recovering broken bodies from the hills. It was the way it was done then thank God things have moved on and we look after the young member’s a lot better. We now try to keep the trauma to a minimum of those who have to deal with it at the coal face, yet it still has to be done but the lessons and protocols are now in place.
Many who read this spent most of their lives looking after or for those in trouble on the hills and wild places. We I feel must look after those who were part of our Rescue Agencies even years after they have left. Keep your eyes on your pals and hopefully they will look after you and yours.
Take care and let’s look after each other!
Since this was written I have over 10 folks contact me thanks its appreciated and hopefully some will find help. I did a trip to America as part of the Cycle Ride to Syracuse in memory of those who died at Lockerbie a few years ago. It was hard for me and the small team to meet so many relatives, I found this extremely cathartic and it was incredible meeting so many folk and telling our small part in the tragedy. I also regularly meet folk of whom I was part of the recovery of their loved ones in the mountains. Again this is hard to do but does help me cope. We all cope differently.
“As always your frank and honest writing about PTSD and it’s effects on military personnel, rescue and emergency services can only help those struggling with their lives. Lives in the aftermath of trauma, lives dedicated to the service of others and lives that have been involved in heroic actions.
Help is out there and that help can transform lives and reduce or negate the effects of PTSD. All GP’s should be able to refer to CBT and EMDR practitioners available on the NHS and these techniques really do work when practiced by empathetic and caring practitioners.
I would urge any of your readers to never give up on seeking help and to be brave in being part of a movement to remove the stigma of mental health in those who have dedicated their lives to the service of others. It is only right that you should receive the help that you need to heal the psychological wounds which left unresolved will determine your quality of life for the rest of your life.”
” yet it’s the elephant in the room….any psychologist will tell you that those most vociferous in denial are often those worst affected…authorities both civil and military are only now beginning to recognise it…..as for “treatment”, it’s a matter of trust…in both organisations it doesn’t really exist as people affected have an innate fear of it affecting their careers…..being more subjective about it, i am glad i have paid privately to address it, worth every penny and although there’s no miracle cures, it’s a sure way to at least begin to function and rationalise….good article though, and cuts through the macho nonsense.”
Top Tips – It’s okay to talk
Who looks after the leader?
Who helps the families of those involved? Take care out there.
Outpost Charity has been dedicated to providing support for Military Personnel, Veterans and their Families since 2014.
Today we continue providing emotional, social and practical support focusing on the Veterans Camp and the provision of household necessities goods and/or services.
Our aim is to provide relief from suffering and hardship for men or women who are or have at any time served with any branch of the British Armed Forces.
Our registered charity number: SC044790
Comment – Great contribution to raising awareness about mental health and lowering people’s reluctance to talking about their darker times. Sadly, in my dabbles and research about young people, I’ve seen how some people’s traumatic family experiences is effecting their present lives. I’m also more aware now of people beyond the military – nurses, social workers, police, care workers and more, who do crazy stuff on our behalf and then lie awake in the night reliving the experience.
Many have spent years on the hills and wild places. Carried lots of unknown folk of the hills. Spent days searching for folk we never knew. Yet I know of several pals that are suffering and in dark places. Some are the toughest folk I have ever met. It’s to late turning up at a funeral look after your pals now.
He ain’t Heavy he is my brother
Doors always open, the kettle can be switched on or, with luck, a beer in fridge 👌
I’m doing a BROTHER check-in, showing support for one another. I need EIGHT men to post, not share, this message to show you are always there if someone needs to talk. I’m pretty sure I can guess those who will say “done” on my post.
I travelled back early the other day from the West yesterday early to miss all the traffic. Most lay-byes were full of camper vans and tents they must be having fun as the midges were out. Yet it was sad to see so many vans and tents around Sheildaig yet the new campsite had space. Please support the locals as its a small village and due to cuts by the successive governments this wee village has to pay for and look after the toilet that many use. It is the same all over the Highlands and to me a disgrace. The census gave the number in the village as around 85 people. The cost of running a toilet is over £5000 annually all raised by the locals. So if you use the facility please leave a donation. It is a sad state of affairs we are in. Why have we let this happen? Surely a working toilet in every village is a right?
Potholes – On my journey home it was so good to see so many groups out cycling. Sadly the road especially the A896 after Kinlochewe to Loch Clair is very potholed and the verges are collapsing due to the heavy traffic. This is dangerous and needs sorted I did report it before. I drove this way in winter several times last year when the potholes were full of water and unseen. I saw a cyclist crash the other day and helped her she was okay but hit a big pothole unseen until she crashed. I have sent a complaint to the Council on “Fix my street” an app on my phone. I will keep chasing.
Folk may think I am always complaining but it helps to alert the authorities to these things. Money is tight but what is more important?
I had come over to the West for a hill day with a friend who lives on the Applecross Peninsula. I love the Corbett Beinn Damh : ‘hill of the stag’ it’s a classic mountain and one I have done several times. Its a favourite of Kalie as well so that was the plan the forecast was good!
It’s a well documented hill in the Torridon area and a lot easier day than the big Torridon Classics of Beinn Alligin, Liathach and Beinn Eighe. It’s starts from the Torridon Inn and parking is available. From here the route is through the wonderful Caledonian pines on a great footpath out of the forest and onto the main ridge.
The path is excellent but sadly getting eroded by mountain bikes in places. There has to be an action plan for this erosion as it in places is getting worse. The midges were wild and we dare not stop. Despite our efforts they were everywhere in your ears your nose and biting a lot despite sprays and midgy net. I had forgotten how awful they can be. Kalie was laughing at my complaining (my threshold for midges is low ) and she seemed to cope so well as I retreated into my midgy hell. She had promised a day of sunshine and a breeze. The agreed forecast was for sunshine after midday Kalie promised it would clear but I had swallowed so many midges I coughed all the way up despite my midges net. Kalie was going great I would have run away but she kept smiling so it was onwards and slowly upwards.
We had Islay the collie with us up front no bother for her and the path was busy. I was even over taken by a 9 month baby on the steep part just below the ridge. Kalie loves this hill there was to be no retreat and wanted to climb to her favourite viewpoint away from the crowds. She was on a mission along with Islay and I just had to keep going.
We had a chat with the couple with the baby from Newcastle enjoying their banter and enthusiasm and the breeze when we reached the ridge. Then we headed up onto the broad ridge; from the far side there are on a good day great views of Loch Damh, Kishorn and the Applecross hills, backed by Skye and the sea. Not today it was misty. From here it is possible to make an hour long detour to the summit Sgurr na Bana Mhoraire – well worth the effort in good weather; the path is clear over the intervening peak with one steep section on the final climb beyond (out of sight from the bealach).
We hardly had any views but the steep cliffs cleared briefly and we got the occasional views. This is the haunt of goats but not today we saw a bird of prey but could not work out what it was.
The heather was in bloom so colourful and there were bees working hard on the collecting the nectar.
We had a long stop on the summit no midges a wee snooze waiting for the weather to clear but it did not. The Trig point is made of the local sand stone and is a classic cairn. Occasional glimpses of the loch and the hills and then the clouds came in.
We set off down the midges were not that bad and were soon back at the car park where we had a soft drink. It was then on to Sheildaig to the cafe for cake and a brew and back to Kalie’s joining the camper vans along the tight single track roads.
It was back for a shower and then a great dinner thanks Kalie. Then we went up to her other viewpoint to see the sunset ask me was there any midges ???
Thanks for a great walk lovely to be out on the West and I think the West Coast midges have had there fill of me. I will be back thanks Kalie sorry for my winging!
Please be aware of ticks there are lots about well worth checking you and your animals wherever you are just now .
I usually golf yesterday but it was pouring most of the night and I gave it a miss. This was a mistake as within an hour the sun was out. Sadly I heard of the flooding lightening storms and later the tragic train crash. My thoughts are with those who lots family and friends and the Rescue Agencies involved. Nature can be so cruel at times?
I had lots to do and was heading over to Applecross later that day. So I managed to catch up with some admin.
I had a Chropodist appointment in Elgin with Pure Podiatry my feet are battered from years of neglect and hill days. It was my second trip during COVID and they looked after me well thank you all.
Top tip – look after your feet. The treatment is done just now in Elgin at the Football ground of Elgin City, Borough Brigs.
I met an old pal from the RAF days Graham Tatters who is the Chairman of the club. We had a great catch up and he has his hands full during this crisis for the club. With no revenue hardly coming in I feel for the club and the town. As always Graham is upbeat and working hard to do his best for Elgin City. I wish them well.
It was then the drive to Applecross the road from Kinlochewe through to Torridon is still awful with huge potholes all over. It’s single track and not designed for all the traffic it gets. Also so many vans on the road and lay-bys it’s so busy. It’s hard to let vans and cars pass and some folk are so rude.
Last year I reported this part of the road A896 in winter and its potholes as it is especially dangerous for bikes and motor cycles. The holes are big they are hidden in the rain but it seems to be forgotten? I will chase it up again with the Council. On my way back I will photograph them again.
The clouds looked ominous and dark but the summits cleared and as always the views were great. Most lay-bys had tents so near the road and it does cause a huge problem for passing especially for the locals. It is such a stunning area but it needs infrastructure and money spent. There has been so much written on this subject I will leave you to your own thoughts.
Money is being made by the NC 500 I wish those behind it would be more active in giving something back to the area. The Council has limited money, who will pay for the needed toilets, camping sites, car parking and road upgrades. For many years Council Tax was frozen by successive governments. Things need to be done. We are being told to Stay at home in Scotland please let’s find some cash to put things right.
I drove round the coast to Arrina where I am staying with a good friend. The last bit of road I met so many more bikes and vans it is so worth taking things carefully. There are many tight blind corners. The views across Loch Torridon were magical and Beinn Alligin always looks superb as does the cliffs of Diabeg across the water. Today they looked pink in the light. I always take a photo of the wee house with the Red Roof overlooking the loch it’s iconic. It’s a stunning area that needs urgent help.
I eventually arrived and we sat outside until the midges arrived when the wind died. I was given a show by 2 Sea Eagles soaring their cry was so shirl and piercing yet they were so high up at times it was magical. I was told by my guru it was a young bird learning the ropes. I had a good look through the Bino’s magical . It was so worth the journey. We had a lovely meal a wander along the coast as the breeze came back sadly no sunset though but with a good forecast tomorrow fingers crossed.
I wrote a few blogs about visits to the Islands mostly on call -outs this was a classic Island tale after a long day on the hill , a call -out, wild midges and a post office party awaiting a lift off by helicopter. I have visited the Island on many occasions three times by our own boat in the early days of Night Vision Goggles seeing whales as we crossed after a huge lightning storm. Most folk arrive via Mallaig on the wee ferry. It used to be hard to visit now its fairly easy. PeRmision had to be granted and it was a tricky place to get to, nowadays it is open. It is the haunt of deer, ponies, eagles so many birds and what hills and a Castle. There is lots of unclimbed rock and the Island has a great history. We even had parties in the Castle but that is another story. Its a grand place for many most only visit once I am so lucky we put up a few routes we never claimed and even had a winter traverse in the 80’s what mountains, what people. This is another tale of a call -out.
1997 – Another Rum Callout .
8 Jun 97
Isle of Rum
After a long day on the hill just leaving Skye. Injured bird watcher /Mountaineer (1 Alive). Technical carry out of casualty with head injuries and dislocated shoulder. Hellish walk in with all the gear after helicopter drop off by Bristow’s Stornoway SAR Helicopter at sea – level due to weather. Locals were of great assistance
The Mountain Rescue Weekend Training Exercise was planned for Skye, even though the weather was poor we had a good weekend on the wet rock in Corrie Lagan. Skye is hard work with sea level approaches making every summit or climb hard won. The drive from Kinloss can take up to 5 hours so Sunday is a short day and I was away early with Martin as he wanted to tick Cioch Direct a classic route on Sgur Na Ciche. It was a quick climb up early and back for a meal about 1600 for a meal then the long drive home. As we were leaving the bothy in Broadford the village Hall to RAF Kinloss a message came in to assist in a callout to the Island of Rum. This is a fairly remote area which was owned by the Nature Conservancy, access was by ferry and boat and in our case by Helicopter from Stornoway. The island of Rum has a population of less than one -hundred and a road which is one mile long! The hills are very rough with only a few paths and the terrain involves serious, remote, mountains although they are less than 3000 feet. It is a place to see nature in the wild and the annual nesting of the Manx Shearwaters is an incredible sight. It attracts lovers of the wild birdwatchers and the traverse of the Rum Ridge is a great day.
From Walk Highlands – “This sustained mountain walk with basic scrambling covers the 5 major summits on Rum, including 2 Corbetts and a Graham. The Rum Cuillin offer arguably one of the most exciting hill days out in the Scottish Islands. The scrambling is simple and unexposed, with good holds and grippy rock, but the route is very long and committing with only 1 water point, and 2 potential escape routes, after the dam. On a clear day you are rewarded by breathtaking views across the Hebrides.
Extremely long and rocky mountain traverse. Scrambling is straightforward if easiest line is found. Return walk is boggy. “
Most climbers’ goal is to traverse this ridge, which is one of Scotland’s finest rock-scrambling routes. There is also some great rock climbs that few have climbed on and lots to do in the future.
Most walkers want to ascend the main peaks on this ridge, including the Norse named Corbetts of Askival and Ainshval, great hills and an incredible ridge walk as good as anything in the UK.
The views of Skye and the Islands are incredible it is an unique place. The Mountain Rescue team had in the past had a few epic callouts in Rum, I had carried out a couple of these, involving long carry – offs in difficult terrain.. The team had only recently visited the Island to train with the local Coastguards and gain some area knowledge, hopefully this would help us! Bristows Helicopter arrived within 10 minutes and a party of nine were sent to assess the situation. High winds and severe turbulence would only allow the helicopter to drop our hill party at Kinloch near the Castle which was four miles away from the incident and unfortunately at sea – level.
As the casualty a birdwatcher looking at the famous Shearwaters had fallen at approximately midday and was just off the main ridge at two-thousand feet, we sent a few of the young stars off as the fast party, led by Kenny Kennworthy who had recently been involved in the team leaders course in North Wales and was needing a bit of real action. Don’t ask Kenny about this Course as he had a bad time playing Call outs, after running real ones for many years.) This party carried all the First Aid Equipment, casualty bag, including Entonox, Oxygen, ropes and all the rest and there was little room for anything else. A few of the locals were about an hour ahead carrying a stretcher and rope , this group was made up of keepers, foresters, coastguards etc. They made great progress and were invaluable with their area knowledge the mountain, even leaving guides on the way into the casualty to assist the team. Fortunately the weather had improved by the time our first -aid party reached the casualty, who was suffering from shock, a deep head wound and a shoulder injury. His girlfriend had looked after him and administered basic First aid, kept him warm, whilst her father had gone for help and had come back up the hill to help the team! This is not bad for a gentleman of over sixty. They had done everything correctly and hopefully the casualty would soon be recovering in Hospital. Its worth noting that these birds nest in a burrow near the summit and the ground is covered in Guano and can be extremely slippy care is needed.
Due to the steepness of the ground it was decided to lower the casualty 500 feet, carrying him to an area where he could be evacuated by the helicopter. It takes a lot more than twelve people to carry a stretcher especially in such a remote area. The weather was changing and we requested the rest of the team to be flown in to assist in the carry-off. Another ten troops and the locals made all the difference and soon the casualty was at a suitable site for helicopter evacuation. The wild Atlantic Corrie is an incredible place and a place few visit, I went back a few times and it is so wild, pretty unique in Scotland. Bristows landed on, uplifted the casualty and was soon off to Fort William Hospital.
All that was left was a long walk back to the Castle and hopefully a lift back to Skye with Bristows, otherwise it would be a long swim. Time was moving on and when we were back at the Castle it was nearly midnight. Bristows had managed to drop off some of the team and the rest were told to wait until the helicopter had refuelled. The midges were out in force and we had to find shelter as the helicopter would be away for over a couple of hours.
The locals were over the moon with our help and wanted to give us a small drink in appreciation. Mountain Rescue will never turn down a offer of a dram and we had a wee drink with the locals before the helicopter came back for us at 02.00. The local Post Office was the bar but that is another story. It was a quick trip back to Skye and a few hours sleep before returning to Kinloss in the morning. I got our bill for the honesty bar we had in the Post office a week later.
This was a great call -out with an excellent result and good liaison between all concerned. It makes all the hassle of being in a team even after twenty odd years, worthwhile. In the past call -outs in these remote areas have, and still are fairly serious but it was great to see the locals and the injured hill party trying to help themselves, this does not always happen. These call – outs are vital to give the team real training in remote areas to ensure we can react to any aircraft or mountaineering incident, An aircraft incident in this area and it will happen one day but at least the remoteness will keep the hassle factor down. Nowadays things are very different but incidents in places like Rum can still prove difficult but Lochaber and Skye Mountain Rescue and the locals are well prepared. It is still worth remembering in these remoter areas to remember that you should always be as self-sufficient to cope with most situations when walking or climbing in these areas. Comments welcome.
1957 Rum – Callout plans – Looking through my research of the RAF Kinloss Mountain Team I found some correspondence for assisting in a rescue if needed on the wonderful Island of Rum. The island was a Nature Reserve and climbers and walkers were starting to come to the Island. The warden was worried about an accident happening and had contacted the RAF Team at Kinloss to see if they could assist (remember this was 1957). It was around this time that Rum was purchased was purchased by the Nature Conservancy Council. It is nowadays a busy place especially when all the birdwatchers are about and there have been a few accidents in the past. The reply was that the RAF team could be used by the Police to assist in any rescues as long as the Team was not needed for RAF operations. The Police said they could commission a boat to take the team 15 troops from Mallaig and one ton of equipment. From here the island boat would transport the team to the Island harbour. The ferry in these days only operated on Wednesdays and Saturday. The plan was to have the boat stay off the Island until the Rescue was completed. The Team did go over and had a magic time what a place to climb and walk or even just enjoy the wildness. The early days of Rescue now a lot easier a phone call and a helicopter comes if the weather is okay failing that there will be support from the Skye/ Lochaber Team. The locals still help where they can I have done 3 great rescues in the past on this incredible Island my blog dated 4 th Aug 2013 for details. There is so much potential on the Island for walking and climbing and I love the place – must get back before I get to too old.
Rum is the largest of the Small Isles, and the fifteenth largest Scottish island, but is inhabited by only about thirty or so people, all of whom live in the village of Kinloch on the east coast. The island has been inhabited since the 8th millennium BC and provides some of the earliest known evidence of human occupation in Scotland. From the 12th to 13th centuries on, the island was held by various clans including the MacLeans of Coll. The population grew to over 400 by the late 18th century but was cleared of its indigenous population between 1826 and 1828. The island then became a sporting estate, the exotic Kinloch Castle being constructed by the Bulloughs in 1900.
Alongside the wonders of the natural environment, Rum’s community is undergoing a period of change. 2009 and 2010 saw the phased transfer of land and assets in and around Kinloch Village from Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) to Isle of Rum Community Trust ownership. This is giving the community and individuals control over their own destinies and creating unique, exciting opportunities for locals and people who would like to come and live here.
So if you come to Rum for a day, a week or forever, there’s always great places to visit.
How many Shearwaters – visit Rum? – Around a third of the entire world population of these splendid seabirds make their home on the Rum Cuillin every summer. There are so many birds (around 100,000 pairs) that their droppings have fertilised the hills and produced rich grasslands (‘shearwater greens’). Shearwaters are expertly kitted out for life at sea but they are wide open to attack on land. These specialised seabirds therefore only dare to be above ground at the colony on dark nights.
Visiting the colony – The noise, smell and activity as tens of thousands of Manx Shearwaters make their night-time return to the high Cuillin is an amazing seabird experience. However, you should note that the colony is remote, high on the mountain, and will involve crossing difficult, wet and uneven ground in darkness. Please seek advice from a member of staff at the Reserve Office, or look on the notice boards to see when a staff-led trip is planned.
The hills are looking superb just now and it’s great to be able to identify some of the plants you see on the hills and wild land. This book is superb to help you get to know familiar flowers and plants. How many times have we missed the beauty of the orchids, the Marsh marigolds or the Bog Asphel ? Just now the heather smells superb it’s so strong in the sun and great to see the bees enjoying the nectar. It took me long enough to learn it’s worth just taking time out to gain some knowledge about the habit and the flowers and mountain plants.
What is your favourite mountain flower or plant.
It’s worrying to see some of the scenes from the highlands right now. Getting out into the hills can benefit us both physically and mentally, but this mustn’t be at the expense of the mountains and delicate ecosystems that exist in and around them.
The SMT publishes Hostile Habitats, a book which introduces each aspect of the Scottish mountains to the read, providing insight that can educate and inspire. Insight that can build awareness of the amazing depth and breadth of the landscape, flora and fauna they contain. Respect starts with understanding, and if you’ve got a friend that has started heading to the hills for the first time why not let them know about this book.
We are a Scottish charity set up to support projects that provides grants that encourage and increase the public’s enjoyment of mountainous regions, especially the mountainous regions 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.
One of the most beautiful things I have seen on the mountains is a natural rockery on one of the Fisherfield hills. It was a piece of magic on a wet day I will find that photo and add to this blog.
Yesterday as promised the weather was superb and I fancied a walk without a long drive. I have had a great week with the Grandkids but needed a fix on the hills.
The Cairngorms looked superb on the weather forecast so I was away early and arrive at the allready busy Cairngorms with vans and cars parked everywhere on route. I arrived at the top car park and the midges were awful. Amazingly I parked next to my pal Babs who unknown to me was panning a big day on the hills. As I was getting ready soon a few others from the club arrived !
They offered me a day with them but I needed a day away from the crowds. Sorry!Sadly I left them to their long day over the tops. I was soon away from the midges and crowds heading for the Goat Track in Coire ant Sneachda. It was peaceful there two parties ahead climbing. One on Pygmy ridge the other on the main buttress. The Corrie was in shadow but the sun was hitting the top of the Goat track. The colours are exceptional. The mosses are so green after the rain and add to the picture.
It was lovely in the Corrie and I went up the Goat Track and onto the plateau. It was getting busy I headed round the crags above Loch Avon and off the paths.
It was a great short wander the snow is still lying in the usual spots in the snow hole areas and even someone skiing on the ground below Feith Buidhe Slabs I sat here for a while and watched.
It was so warm out of the breeze and all the time the view of Loch Avon is wonderful. It was a place to enjoy the peace and sun.
The top of Hells Lum crag is always a great place to be and today it was exceptional. The dark cleft of Hells Lum Chimney looks foreboding but in other places the pink granite shinning in the sun looked superb. Memories of great climbing days are never far from my mind. I try to enjoy the views of Shelterstone crag from here. The shadows on the rock allow the features to appear on this magestic cliff. I could hear folk climbing but not see them. I spent lots of time in the past on these cliffs and on wild mountain searches it is a joy to wander around in the heat and warmth.
I love seeing the familiar waterfalls of the river in the sunlight tumble over the granite down the crag with the backdrop of Loch Avon what a picture. Catching the skier on the snow below the slabs going up and down added to the day.
Feith Buidhe slabs
Add in the snow patches still lingering now a place folk visit to see the snow caves. The light inside the caves is spectacular but not today as I was just enjoying my day.
It was just what I needed today and headed to MacDui not going to the summit it was to busy.
It was then back along to the Goat track and the descent into the Corrie. A few folk were still climbing and a pair walking in. The wee lochans still held water and passing the boulder field another stop and a slow walk out.
The car park was another world busy mobbed with folk. Yet they were all enjoying themselves. Sadly the road to Glenmore so busy especially round Loch Morlich and Glenmore cars on the verges and you have to be careful. It was then the back roads home away from Aviemore I left very quickly .
I had been in the sun all day not even climbed a Munro but had a magical day. I sat for ages at times went slowly in the heat had my lunch and met few folks. I could have fallen asleep on the hill and should have. The smell of the heather lower down the hill was powerful and the wild plants are in abundance. The burns were clear and the rough granite shinning at times.
There were hundreds out on the hills. Many racing over the Munro’s. I just had another special day in the Cairngorms round these great cliffs above Loch Avon.
Yes my pal Babs is so right “the Cairngorms are special” and again they showed my why .
Never rush on an Island and add an extra days if you can. It will be worth it. Take time to stand and stare”. I wrote this after a visit to Jura a few years ago.
Jura – I mentioned before most of my visits to Islands were on Mountain Rescue Call outs. I did two callouts on the Island over the years and several other visits. On my first trip I was amazed how rough the ground was with massive screes and boulder fields and some hard searching.
These hills are often rushed as the famous Paps of Jura three scree covered hills and a remote Corbett Beinn an Oir attract you to Jura if your a walker. These are rough hills and as you arrive the famous Jura distillery is at the ferry point. I love the Islands as away from the ferry it’s very quiet.
Island Ferrys are weather dependant! We used the Jura Passenger Ferry that leaves from Tayvallich on the mainland – Parking available for a donation to the Community Centre Car Park Craighouse Ferry is £ 20 each way 2016 – it was magic but only runs in the Summer months. Cal Mac Runs all year but check the timetable. There is a Lovely Cafe at the Ferry point opens at 0900 in summer recommended.
The Paps in good weather is a superb day and on the day we did it in awful weather. We hid on the beleach after a cycle and boggy walk in. I feared for the wind but Bab’s had failed on this hill before and we got battered until the summit where the wind dropped and we came across the huge Colby Camp near the summit. The views were poor but it was a wonderful place to be. The next day in great weather we cycled about it was a unique few days.
There are two plane crashes from the war on Jura and due to the weather and time I missed them. Has anyone got information on this one and an updated grid reference would help.
2/1/1945 – Fairey Barracuda Beinn an Orr grid ref 61/495745 ( unchecked) – flew from Ayr both crew killed operating from Ayr with 815 NAS, crashed into Beinn an Orr, Paps of Jura. Lt Cdr D Norcock (Squadron Commanding Officer), S/Lt WM Moncrieff and PO LW Gurden all killed)
2000 – wreckage airlifted by 819 NAS Sea King to nearest road
12/2000 – wreckage moved by road from Jura to Yeovilton and placed outside Cobham Hall store
The plane which had crashed on the island of Jura. The aircraft had been flown by the CO of 815 Squadron and had gone missing while on a training mission in January 1945. The wreckage was recovered by the Fleet Air Arm museum in 2000.
Of course Jura is where George Orwell in the late 1940’s wrote his famous book 1984 and the house where he wrote it is a interesting place to visit. The isolation of this Island is the place for peace and solitude to write.
He wrote in the late 1940s in Barnhill, a stout, white-washed house, on the island Jura in the Inner Hebrides, was exactly what exactly what he was looking for: a remote retreat unreachable by vehicle. He described it as “in an extremely un-get-atable place”; somewhere he could write what would be his final work – 1984. Sadly Orwell passed away 7 months later suffering from tuberculosis.
There is so much wild life on the Island and of your lucky you may see the famous sea eagles soar above you. Off course just of the Coast is the famous Corryvrekan whirlpool a famous piece of water. For the fit amongst us there is always the Paps of Jura Race. I nowadays take my bike its a great way to travel about and find so many secrets.
I was here on an call out for an aircraft crash in 1978 when a French Atlantic aircraft crashed in the sea off Colonsay on a big Maritime Exercise. All the crew were recovered safely. The RAF Kinloss Mountain Rescue Team were airlifted in and we covered the West side of the Island looking for classified material. Looking back it was a wild place to be and an trip I will never forget a real adventure. How many have been to these places. In the end we bivied in a cave by the beach and next day we had a walk back to the pub which in these days shut just after we arrived.
Many of the locals recycled much of the survival gear that was washed ashore. It was like a scene from whisky Galore ! The Dingys andc safety equipment may still be in use by locals? We flew back next day after a night of cave living.
There is something special about getting a ferry to an Island, it is always to me a magical experience, especially if the Island has mountains on it. I love being surrounded by the sea and the smell of the sea, the experience of being on a ferry and it always conveys to me a holiday atmosphere. There is a different attitude on an Island there is always tomorrow. At first I was on a mission to visit climb and walk and for many years I missed the others things that matter. The wild life, the coastline and the history now I can enjoy these wonderful insights to Island life at a more leisurely pace.
I am so lucky to have visited so many Islands many was on rescues and training in Mountain Rescue. Its a lot different arriving in a helicopter on a wild day or even worse night. Yet my early memories of when I was brought up in Ayr and Arran was a huge favourite as a young boy we had many holidays on Arran and its great mountains. My Dad was a minister and the whole family did all the peaks including Mum and the 5 kids. We loved the Island, the beach, the old rowing boats, the putting green and the swimming on Glen Rosa amongst the granite pools. The long walks back and maybe if we collected enough bottles from the camp site at Glen Rosa the fish and chips. There was so much to do despite the midges. Later on my cycling trips the Youth Hostels, potato picking on the Island and my first trips with my pal Tom Mac Donald and cycling up Glen Rosa on the rented bikes?
I remember watching climbers on Cir Mor in the late 50’s with my Dad and never thinking I would climb on here many times. Arran has so many great rock routes and hill days how lucky are we. How times move on and in 2017 I was speaking at the Arran Mountain Festival and it brought back many memories. I met many of the Arran MRT a great bunch of folk. We used to sleep at the Ferry at Ardrossan getting woken by the Police these were different times. It was a holiday Island and I had so many great times even in winter when it a lot quieter these mountains were special.
Skye – When I joined the RAF we had so many trips to Skye, the old ferry from Kyle of Lochalsh that used t run for us if there was a call -out and the camping in Glen brittle, or MacRaes Barn and then the village halls. The dances, parties and wild music nights in the local pubs and getting off the hill for that last pint in the Sligachan.
The early attempt on the Skye ridge as a young lad and then many other great days doing the ridge. The rock – climbing on the big cliffs and the swimming in the pools before and after it was called “Wild swimming” Epic call -outs in summer and winter, big carry off in wild corries. In the early days getting lost in the mist, learning about the ridge.
The secrets of Loch Coruisk, the JMCS hut, the Dubhs ridge I never tire of that. The famous Mad Burn and the seals, and others wildlife. The near misses with rock fall and the epic call -out in 1982 when a F111 crashed on Sgur Na Stri That cold bivy that I will never forget before Gortex . The joy of getting folk round the ridge, the In Pin sadly so busy nowadays. The remoter Corries, the wild scrambles, The great days with Teallach my Dog on the ridge and the In Pin and the Cioch always must visit.
Working with the Skye Mountain Rescue Team Lifeboat and the Lifeboat from Mallaig. Big lowers on one rope scary days but well worth it. There was a period every time we climbed someone fell off and that was a day gone.
The sea cliffs, the caves, the history and of course the pubs and the hospitality. Bivies on the ridge and the views of Rum and the other Islands in a setting sun. What a place even in the rain and with the midges. Every time I go and sadly I have not been for some time 2 years now it makes me smile. The new Skye Bridge makes it a lot easier to get there but the pull up the hill mainly from sea – level are getting harder but the views from the ridge are invigorating.
I sailed round Skye a many years ago and harboured below Loch Coruisk for a few days. What a specail trip that was the views from the sea of the ridge are spellbinding. As we left we watched an Eagle soar above us, what more can you want?
Rum, Eigg, Barra, Jura, Pappay, Lewis, Harris, St Kilda and many more tales to tell what is yours?
There are lots of books guides about and well worth buying
From Alister Humne An extract from a wee book I am reading at the moment.
Authors words and very topical at this time.
” I have written this little book in the hope that it may be of interest and of use to the many people who, like myself suffer from Arran-mania, and to the many others who each year fall victims to that most delightful of diseases .
A chapter from the authors book note : first published 1933.
One of the most common features of the Scottish landscape, the notice TREPASSERS WILL BE PROSECUTED, is lacking in Arran, and the visitor is allowed to wander almost at will. He is not compelled to admire the islands beauties and grandeurs from afar, but can explore the secret recesses of her heart, and loose himself in the innermost sanctuaries of her sole.
For myself, I have known few keener pleasures than those afforded by a day in the hills. To loose all contact with the petty restrictions of civilisation , to strip and bathe is a swift clear pool of ice-cold water to live for hours unseen by the critical eyes of others, is a refreshing and strengthening experience. Once or twice, as I lay with the sun beating down upon me,looking out over the broad expanse of the Firth, or halted, panting for breath, upon the steep side of Glen Sannox and surveyed the wide valley, I have become suddenly aware that I was no longer the citizen of a certain town, or a clerk in a certain office, but part of creation itself, along with the sea below and the sky above and the rocks all around me.
And even when the uplands are covered with a dimming, chilling mist or the rain lashes down in biting blinding sheets, there is still the rougher sport of defying the elements, and taking delight in temporary discomforts.”
Colby Camps – Mountain Camps , Trig Stations. How did we get such great maps in the UK? This is part of the tale of the Colby camps. What were they? A few years ago I received an email from a good friend Noel Williams a very well- known mountaineer and geologist about the unusual cairn on Corryhabbie Hill just across from Ben Rinnes in Morayshire. The summit Cairn had a heavy metal hat on the trig point.
This was definitely part of the Colby Camps and we found some ruins not far from the summit.
I also was asked on twitter recently if I knew about the ruins on the far North Munro Ben Kilbreck (Meall nan Con) from Ilona Turnbull who located some ruins near the summit.
This is from Noel “I was interested to see from your website that you were on Corryhabbie Hill a couple of years ago – the one with the metal cap on its trig pillar. I don’t know if you’ve ever come across the term ‘Colby Camp’ before. There’s an great article all about them in the SMCJ 2013 by Graham E Little.
They are ruins of shelters, windbreaks etc on the summits of hills across the Highlands left by OS parties during the principal triangulation of Britain in the 19th century. Colby and his men lived for weeks on lots of mountains taking bearings to other summits when weather permitted.Hardy men. On one trip Colby recce camp sites and triangulation stations over mountainous terrain. He is recorded as walking 586 miles in 22 days , including Sundays! The only summit he failed to reach was the Cuillin in Skye. SMC J 2013
There are only records of nine camps where ruins can still be seen. However, there are lots of hills where OS parties are known to have lived for many weeks but where no remains have been recorded. Ben Wyvis, The Storr, Ben More on Mull are just a few such hills. Have you seen any ruins on your travels?
I was wondering if you’d seen any stone walls or similar ruins on Corryhabbie. Colby is known to have spent some time there in 1819. I located the ruins and sent the details. OS Parties were there again 6 Sept – 21 Nov 1850. (Imagine living there this time of year!) See attached list of observations above.
I was wondering if you’d seen any stone walls or similar ruins on Corryhabbie. Colby is known to have spent some time there in 1819. I located the ruins and sent the details. OS Parties were there again 6 Sept – 21 Nov 1850. (Imagine living there this time of year!) See attached list of observations above.
The Colby camp on Jura on the highest point on the Corbett Beinn an Oir is a superb example and must have been a huge site ! It was an awful day when I was there but its huge and well worth a visit. Sadly I got no photos. It includes a road from the camp to the summit, I must get back. Colby retired as a Major General in 1847 after 27 years as head of the Ordnance Survey.
It seems years ago but I was looking back to some photos of a trip to Lundy Island to climb the Devils Slide Lundy with a great pal Dan Carrol. Where is Lundy Island? North Devon Lundy lies off the coast of North Devon, where the Atlantic ocean meets the Bristol Channel with nothing between it and America, a granite outcrop, three miles long and half a mile wide. In the hubbub of the modern world it is a place apart, peaceful and unspoiled.
How do I get there. Only sensible way to get to Lundy island. The MS Oldenburg sails to Lundy island from Bideford or Ilfracombe three or four times per week, and is the only sensible way to get there. The trip takes about two hours each way, and you can buy drinks and food on board. Or if you are with the RAF Mountain Rescue Service a helicopter may want to train on the Island and maybe you could get a lift?
The Famous book – Classic Rock – Ken Wilson
From the Guide – The Devils Slide – Severe 350 feet West Coast of Lundy first ascent K Lawder and J. Logan June 1961 “A sheet of flawless granite sweeping to the sea “. K. Lawder was an Admiral and had noticed the great cliffs from the sea. What a find.
Well thanks to my friend Dan, I managed to get the climbs done in the Isle of Lundy and a final climb in Cornwall. It was a superb trip, a huge amount of travelling and I we finished in North Wales with a pal Rusty , Nerys and family.
Lundy is a wonderful Island and we were there for 3 days. The trip out takes about 2 hours by boat and we were blessed with great weather. It felt like going to another world .I was not feeling great at the time it just before I was pretty ill yet I managed to climb the Devils Slide and the 350 foot slab of granite which starts at the sea. It is a classic route, a marvelous situation and incredible views. The weather held with just some rain near the final traverse, which made it hugely interesting on the crumbling granite at the end of the climb.
The climb starts with a great walk from the campsite along the 3 mile island Dan had done the climb before and used it as helicopter training getting dropped off. This time he was just back from off shore and pretty tired after his long drive from the North of Scotland. I was down visiting my grandaughter in Henley and Dan picked me up. We were soon away and on the motorway to our climb. I love a boat trip to an Island it’s so calming yet I had forgot my tent. I was helped by a local who lent me one. Next day we were off to find the start then an abseil down to the wave washed boulders and the sea. The cliff looks superb and as you abseil down you see most of the route. It’s a stunning place to be with the seals and the sea crashing about. It was a great climb on the immaculate granite where it climbs the line of least resistance. The belays are fine, the situation is magnificent and it is a climb to savour. Dan and me had a superb laugh on the route and the last pitch on crumbling granite keeps the mind alert.
I had been waiting the do this climb for over 30 years, I was so glad there was no one else climbing so it made it all the better. We had the cliff to ourselves and we spent the next days on the island as it was very misty and raining exploring this great place. I even got a boat trip round the Island and saw the Slide from a different view! I met some lovely people including “Shaun the man” who lent us a tent and made me a wonderful engraving of a rock for Lexi my granddaughter from Lundy. He told us so of the Island and its history.
Looking back there is so much to see on the Island and we only touched a bit of it. There are 3 aircraft wrecks, 2 Heinkel and a British aircraft. From the air the Island looks like an aircraft carrier and you can see why planes crashed here during the war. It’s a place full of mystery and history.
There are also the incredible flowers,wildlife, birds,goats, deer are everywhere. There is so much to see it’s a great place with a pub as well,
The history of the Island is rich in the sea and ship wrecks abound the coast. In all a magic 3 days in a unique environment, what a privileged to have been to Lundy at last. Thanks to Dan Carrol for a great day out after that we drove to Cornwall and I finished my Classic Rock on Demo route early in the morning then drove to Wales. A busy few days but classic.
Memories of 80 Classic Rock Routes in Ken Wilson wonderful book – Classic Rock
There are many other routes on Lundy what is your favourite?
I have always enjoyed poetry and I was on the hill with the “Poet Laureate frae Dunphail”. We had a great day in the rain that involved a cycle up the Affric track a hidden stalkers path a new Corbett for Babs and a poem! In all a great day.
Oot tae the hills wi ma auld freen Heavy
Thank God he’s no a man for the bevvy!
Prior to this we’d made a good plan
But this meant nowt tae the man wi the van!
I turned up to meet him at the time we’d agreed
For aince he wis late, nae quite up tae speed
A’ve got twa bikes here Quine, he announces wi pride
We’ll head for the hill, but first there’s a ride!
Ah’ve nae got a helmet! I shrieked, feeling scared
Dinna fash yersel Quine, Ah’ve come weel prepared
He produces a helmet fur me, Ah’d tae go
Ah weel, it’s a thocht, I’ll jist go with the flow!
We arrived in Glen Affric about quarter tae nine
I convince masel that it’ll a’be fine
I pedal roond the car park tryin tae work the gears
If I figure it oot on flat grun, it might allay ma fears!
Faffin wis deen, and time to go then
Thinkin – nae long tae go, we’ll be there by ten
Cycling up a roch track on a bike I didna ken
The steep hills went up and doon, time and time again
But when the mighty peaks of Glen Affric came into view
Mam Sodhail, Carn Eighe – and in Kintail, majestic Ciste Dubh
The moanin wis ower, I wis feeling so blessed
Let’s take in these hills, Heavy, stop for a rest!
Carn A’Choire Gairbh wis the hill we climbed the day
A hidden track the chosen route to help us on oor way
The weather wisna kind tae us, the rain, the win, the mist,
I wisna affa bothered though, this hill was on ma list!
Up on top the mist a cleared, although it wis real cal
We took oor photos o’ each other, Heavy’s such a pal!
The hills we saw, the memories, o’ days when we were younger,
When off we went to climb Munros wi a passion and a hunger!
Far too chilly tae hing aboot
We were needin oor piece, there wis nae doot,
Doon we went to a place o shelter
Sandwiches eaten, we felt much better
The stalkers’ path wis good, nae roch,
In nae time at a’, we were back at the loch
We picked up oor bikes, oor helmets pit on
Rarin to go fur the final push home
Efter a while, I could hear Heavy cry
“Ma chains come aff!”, he wis getting quite high
He’d had some new troosers fur a metter o weeks
But bikin boy had ripped his breeks!
Catastrophes ower, we pedalled on back
Five mile doon the lochside, we reached the car park
I can remember a few “howffs” that were built often near climbing areas. They were usually near or under big boulders below the crags . I remember one in the Cairngorms in Coire an’t Sneachda below the Mess of Pottage we located it on a search in the 70’s I never found it again! Off course the Cairngorms have many the old favourite is the Shelter Stone beside Loch Avon. There are a few other nearby !
Creag an Dubh Loch also has a few howff’s below the Big routes. I have wandered about and located a few in the past. Of course there is the Secret Bothy This is a wonderful little stone structure in the heart of the Cairngorms National Park. … It has a romantic past, having been built in secret in 1952 by four climbers fed up with carrying the heavy tents of the day on the long walk into the Cairngorms. There’s is a great tale of the building of this howff. Their names are in the howff on a plaque on the wall.
The Cobbler, Ben Narnain and the Brack are famous for its howfs and many climbers in the past spent nights here. John Hinde an old pal told me many years ago they used to have “howfing meets” This was after his old pal Ben Humble used to tell him of the Howff’s under the Narnain and Cobbler boulders. There are great tales in many of the old climbing books of the climbers staying under the boulders well worth a read.
Most areas have howffs Skye has an abundance of them. There are a few Prince Charlie’s caves in some mountain areas. Of course there is the famous Cluny Cave at Creag Dubh near Newtonmore well worth a look.
What is your favourite howff it would be great to see any photos. Many thanks to Andy Brooks of the Moray Mountaineering Club for the use of his classic photo!
Looking back it’s a few years since RAF Kinloss MRT moved to RAF Lossiemouth. It was long overdue as all the RAF personnel had already moved on many to RAF Lossiemouth.
The Kinloss team had a huge influence especially in the early days of Mountain Rescue being formed in 1944 during the war. Some the names are above of the Team Leaders.
This was my first Mountain Rescue team as a young lad posted on on 1972. It and many of the Team leaders and members shad a huge influence on my life and I ended up as Team Leader in 1990. Meeting George Bruce my first Team leader was a great experience and when he passed away I was honoured to take a cord at the graveside of a man who like all the others taught me so much. It was a long exciting journey full of great characters. I managed the Munros a few times, a few Big Walks, lots of winter trips including 5 to Canada in winter, trips to the Alps and most mountain Ranges and even the Himalayas 4 times including Everest in 2001. All the time getting great experience and learning that would stand me in good stead.
One of the things I helped do was with Ray Sefton save the Team albums that are a huge part of the history of the team. Ray also digitalised them all and we have a unique history. I also managed with others to collate all the Call – Outs since 1944 it is an incredible history of these early days. I doubt of few other teams have this history.
We have had some great characters (and still have) the National Service days brought some real stars into the team. Ian Clough, Terry Sullivan, Spike Sykes and many others helped push the standard of the day. Of course previous to this was the Beinn Eighe Lancaster Crash in the winter of 1951. We lost a few as the mountains take many pals when pushing their standards or in a simple accident. My worry as a Party Leader was injuring one of my party especially on a call out and as Team Leader I was always glad we were all safe at the end of a big call out.At times especailly when you were young you thought you were invincible but in some of the conditions we were out in we used all our 9 lives.
A huge learning point for the RAF Mountain Rescue and others. Johnny Lees was brought in to raise standards. It’s great to hear the tales from Ray Sefton of these days and early Rescues on the Ben, Glencoe, Cairngorms and Skye to name a few.
Working with Hamish MacInnes over the years gives a great insight into the early days. He and others have so many stories of the characters. Yet its great to see how things have changed, the gear, the communication yet the folk stay the same!
These are great memories but it’s so pleasing to see Lossiemouth MRT still involved in Rescue and playing their part very quietly. I am so proud when I hear how the team is still well thought of by many.
Many ask what are my best memories of these days. The great thing is bringing someone of the hills alive. As a young lad I grew up quickly saw some awful tragedies and still hear from many families even today. I have memories sadly of finding folk who may have been missing for some time in the mountains. This gives the families involved at least a bit of comfort that they have been located. Our responsibility was aircraft crashes and I had the misfortune to go to many that is what we were there for. they had huge impact on my life and others over the years. In all it was a great experience I learned lots and made pals for life, thank you all. I am glad we now understand the effects of the prolonged effect of trauma and that help it there now we took a long time to accept this. For those involved in Mountain Rescue please, please do not forget that without your families support it would not be possible.
Whats your story of the Kinloss Team ?
In the words of a pal “the present day MRS is very different to the one I joined in 1984 but importantly,
There is a lot in the media just now highlighting the Rubbish left all over the country. The hills and wild places are similar. We can all do our bit by picking up litter and taking it home. We can try to educate others especially the younger folk who in the main are very good about leaving “nothing but footprints”
During the Lock down I brought lots of rubbish back from my daily exercise cycles and walks. I carried a small rucksack and panniers on my bike with a rubbish bag . As things changed so did the quantity of rubbish I brought back We can all do our bit and keep this land clean and tidy ?
It’s great to see Mountaineering Scotland are asking hill walkers and climbers to help keep Scotland’s hills and mountains clear of litter and to ‘Tak It Hame’.
Tak It Hame 2020 is being launched as coronavirus lockdown eases and the lifting of travel restrictions has seen much publicity about littering and ‘dirty camping’ in some of Scotland’s most popular beauty spots.
Following the success of Tak It Hame in 2019, it had been planned to relaunch the campaign in early spring to coincide with the 50th anniversary of Mountaineering Scotland. But due to the Coronavirus lockdown, that was put on hold along with all outdoor activities.
Now that travel restrictions are lifted and with the re-opening of tourism in Scotland, Tak It Hame aims to support the national anti-littering campaign ‘Scotland is stunning – let’s keep it that way’ by encouraging everyone who goes walking or climbing in Scotland’s hills to take responsibility for keeping our world-renowned mountain landscapes beautiful by taking litter home for proper disposal and recycling. The message is simple – “If we don’t do it, who will?”
Davie Black, Access and Conservation Officer for Mountaineering Scotland said: “When we launched the Tak It Hame campaign alongside our Conservation Strategy in June 2019, we hoped that our members and clubs would get involved and that it might start to reach the wider hill-walking and mountaineering community. In fact, it reached much further than we ever expected, with people from all over Scotland and the UK contacting us and wanting to get involved.
“Many of Mountaineering Scotland’s affiliated clubs organised litter picks, and many individuals – both members and non-members – shared photos on social media of the litter they had removed from the hills, using the #TakItHame hashtag. It was really encouraging to see how people got behind the campaign and that’s why we are keen to get it back up and running again this year.”
Hill-goers are encouraged to take a suitable bag in their backpack each time they venture out, which they can use to take litter away for recycling or disposal. As part of the campaign, Mountaineering Scotland is also asking people to think about how they could reduce their use of packaging for drinks, snacks and packed lunches, and find alternatives to single use plastics and food wrap.
How do we change things? I am sure the throw away culture at open air concerts where folk leave everything does not help? Maybe some of the big bands playing could change things so that a message to #takithame maybe be the way forward?
An Teallach one of the finest adventures in Scotland add all the Munro tops and you have a superb day! Very few in my experience do them and miss out. Look how many tops there are to do and the views are wonderful you will see the ridge from so many different angles ! It’s one for a summer long wander and you will not be disappointed.
Another great top for me is the Bastier Tooth. One of the ways to the Basteir Tooth was over the Munro of Am Basteir. Negotiating its ‘Bad Step’ with the aid of a rope, we reached the summit of Am Basteir and just beyond we we abseiled down a short overhanging pitch to reach the narrow confines of the bealach between Am Basteir and its Tooth.
There are some grand climbs on to the tooth that are Classic. There is a rock climb rarely climbed now the Lotta Coire Route Collies Route a 200 metre moderate Grade 3 scramble a classic and well worth the visit and of course the other classic Naismith’s Route a two star Severe .
Bikes – midges – off Route – bike gear snags – great views – down hill – an Eagle – midges – jet boiler – cramp – home.
I was away early to collect Bab’s at 0600 and get bikes in van and head down to Rannoch. It’s a two and a half drive to Rannoch but so worth the effort. The weather was superb and we were looking forward to today. We had been watching the weather and it was well worth it. It’s a great drive after the A9 and all the hills were clear. There were lots of folk camping by the Loch when we arrived! It was so still!
On arriving at the wee car park the midges were incredible. It was so busy tents everywhere by the Loch. Despite our midge nets etc it was murder getting the bikes out and getting sorted. They drove us daft we dare not hang about and the rush let us take another track cycling with Midge nets on its never easy.
We met the man at the hydro station and he said we could take a short cut to our track. That was a mistake and was hellish. We should have left from the Bridge of Ericht. We just had to get going from the dreaded midges. Our shortcut ran out and we did a direct through the jungle of ferns, a never to be forgotten experience.
How did we ended up in these ferns ? We needed machetes at one point. We were just so wound up by the midges and I was in shorts.We were “soon” back on the Hydro track after climbing a deer fence and then heading the 11 kilometres into the hill.
It’s a great track for the bike but climbs steeply to 600 metres. You need the gears to work on the bike on this route.
We made reasonable time on the road it was very hot and hard work. My gears were acting up so I had a bit of pushing on the big hills meanwhile Babs was in her low gears talking to me and laughing. She is not the winner of the “Dunphail Tour de Forres” for nothing.
The panorama of views were incredible and the bike is a wonderful way into these hills. There was no one about and we had the whole mountain to ourselves. We had a few breaks and drank lots of fluid and to see these incredible mountains emerge after lockdown was magical. We could see Ben Nevis, Carn Mor Dearg all the way to the classic iconic pyramid of Schiehallion.
Many will know that the main mountain Schiehallion is such a prominent mountain in Perth and Kinross, Scotland. Schiehallion has a rich botanical life, interesting archaeology, and a unique place in scientific history for an 18th-century experiment in “weighing the world.
There are so many outstanding views to many to name all familiar mountains from a different viewpoint. This is the joy of these Corbetts it changes as you gain height on the road. The huge Hydro Dam dominates but that is what the road is for we should be thankful ? My pal did this Corbett in winter this is a wild place in bad weather.
We left the bikes at about 600 metres just by the river and headed to the summit across what can normally be so wet and boggy moors. Today they were so dry it was easy walking. The final ridge is wonderful with views of Loch Ericht, the huge mass of Beinn Alder and Beinn Bhoil. The deep cleft of loch Ericht and the small outcrops near the summit make this such a wonderful viewpoint. I always drop back near the summit and follow the cliffs it’s incredible to see the dark Loch below.
It was breathtaking and we were soon on the summit. It was such a place to be. The huge Corries of Beinn Alder still with snow in the high Corries give an insight into another world from this lofty viewpoint. Things look so much bigger to me since Lockdown.
We could have spent the rest of the day up here it was so perfect. It was warm and still out of the wind. We had our lunch and chilled out then headed of. This like most Corbett summits is an area to savour.
It is exactly a year since we lost my big sister Eleanor. She was as always in my thoughts as I wandered to the summit. These are mountains and wild places are where I can think about things.
We were soon back down to the track a bit more fluid and it was in just an hour back at the car park. Thankfully it’s downhill on the road most of the way. The gears held out thank goodness. What a way to travel. It’s so well worth the effort with the bikes. There were very few animals about its very dry high up but we saw an eagle soaring. What a sight.
We watched it these incredible birds always brings a joy to me. It made me think again of my sister.
It was then back to the van the midges were out again. There was little time we put the bikes away and in it was so busy. We got away from the crowds and we headed further up the road into a breeze so Bab’s could use her new Jet Boiler stove. She was so pleased with it . Is there no electricity in Dunphail?
She is some girl ! The drive was pleasant and the A9 low key. It was then drop of Babs get cramp as I took the bikes out and then head home.
Nowadays I can pick my days on the hill that I want views, good weather, not busy hills and plenty of time.
This hill is Definitely worth taking the bike the road walk would have been purgatory. Now these Corbetts are in the main grand hills. The midges today were awful and of our wee diversion that’s another story ? Is it time for an ebike I think!
Thanks Babs for a fun day. Now to sort out the aches and pains.
This is a hill I have missed out on so it’s an Alpine Start for me and Babs !
This remote hill enjoys a superb position above Loch Ericht, making it a wonderful viewpoint, revealed only at the last moment to most walkers. The usual approach involves many kilometres along a private hydro tarmac road – if you only use a bicycle to help reach one hill, it should probably be this one.
In Hamish Brown’s book Hamish states that he would not recommend the walking of the hydro road to friends. Hence the bikes !
The late Phillip Tranter, a noted Scottish mountaineer of the day first completed a traverse of these hills in June 1964. It is a classic long distance run/walk of its time it covers over 36 miles and 20,000 feet of ascent 18/19 Munros depending on what book you read. It was called the Tranter Round.
Many have completed this great day added more for Ramsay’s Round those incredible folk who complete the running marathons over the hills will be amazed by 10 times Ben Nevis race winner Finlay Wild and his latest exploits. Finlay is an incredible runner and is also the grandson of John Hinde one of the old and bold and an ex RAF Mountain Rescue Team Leader. His Mum and Dad Fiona and Roger are Mountain folk with Roger being a\Mountain guide and Fiona an very experienced hill runner.
From his twitter feed “Yesterday I started at noon to take advantage of a small weather window and improve my Tranter Round record to 9 hours and 5 seconds! (Previously 10h15m in 2016) Windy but improving to clear and sunny along the Mamores. Into the murky clag from the Aonachs on. What a day!”
Today would have been my Mums birthday, she was a lovely lady who died sadly of leukaemia many years ago. I was down in RAF Valley in North Wales in these days she never even told me she was ill, yet we spoke every week. She always worried about us all especially me as I was a wild child and then my love of mountains she feared as many Mums do for our safety.
I would loved to have been able to look after her life was hard with 5 kids and limited money. Yet she never complained they were a different generation then. Today I was going to climb a remote Corbett by Loch Rannoch but the weather is not great. Instead I hope to remember Mum if the weather holds climbing with a pal.
So if you can give your Mum a hug from me. My Mum loved flowers as I do so I will get some today, she would love the flowers on the hills just now.
I was looking through some old slides for a photo of the famous Gendarme on Sgurr Na Gillian on Skye. Sadly I cannot find them. The Gendarme fell down in the winter of 1986/87
“about two-thirds of the way down, on the West Ridge there is a particularly narrow and exposed section, which forms the remains of a large upright rock, known as the Gendarme which broke away due to the effects of frost shatter during the winter of 1986/87, leaving only the base”. It used to be a really significant and familiar part of the ridge.
It made me think of other land marks that have gone. On Cioch Direct I am sure there was the “Yardarm” another significant piece of climbing history. I am sure last time I climbed it was gone or was that my “memory fade?” Can anyone advise a photo of the Gendarme would be good as would the Yardarm?
How many have you noticed?
Please be aware if now out on the crags especially in the mountains to check each hold as you climb there has been little traffic on theroutes due Covid 19 Lock down.
If you past this ona route someone belaying what would you do?
My pal Babs wanted to show me here area where she enjoys her local walks and cycles near her home. Another friend Maggie wanted a wee wander as well she has been hard at work as a carer for the 4 months of the Virus. We met at the Berryburn Wind farm site and then Babs took us a tour. I am not a lover of Wind farms but wanted to see this area.
Moray – 12km south of Forres STATUS Operational
There is a commitment to pay into a Community Fund £166,750 per year, index linked. In March 2015 a second quarterly funding round of £90,000 was released to support ten local projects including funding playground equipment for Dallas, new Christmas lights for Forres town center and supporting one of Moray’s most popular annual events, ‘Piping at Forres’.
TURBINES 29 turbines
INSTALLED CAPACITY 66.7MW
LINKS & DOWNLOADS
Berry Burn Wind Farm was approved by the Scottish Government in 2009. The 29-turbine wind farm is within the Altyre Estate, 12km south of Forres in the Moray council area. The turbines are sited on the lower slopes of Cairn Ghiubhais and Cairn Kitty, which means that compared to other similar-sized wind farms, views of the wind farm are significantly restricted. The turbines are 99.5 metres high to the tip of the blades. In addition to the turbines, the wind farm consists of a landscaped substation and access tracks. In order to minimise any environmental impacts, connection to the national grid running north of the site is via an underground cable.
Berry Burn is now owned and operated by Statkraft UK Limited.
You park and walk through the wind-farm and Babs and Maggie were catching up as only lassies can. Babs knows this area so well, where the birds are and they were. Where the huge wild fire was that devastated the area last year. Yet much had recovered such is the healing power of nature.
The wee hill Carn Kitty was where Babs wanted to take us a short day and Maggie had to be back for work. They had planned some navigation for maggie and then Babs took us of the track and across the peat hags with Maggie navigating. It was hard work on my knees but thankfully dry. They were still chatting all the time.
The ladies were still chatting all the way to the summit of Carn Kitty! There is a Trig point on the top and the views all the way to Lochnagar were incredible. Babs was as always excited about her views of the Cairngorms and the 360 panorama of the Moray Firth and Northern hills. It is a cracking viewpoint.
We had a longer wander back after a long break on the top. It was sunny and warm and then Babs showing us the many lochs and points of interest in the area. It was warm and we were lucky with the weather.
There were lots of wild flowers and especially the Cloudberry with a stunning red fruit standing out on the hillside.
We ran into a lot of flies on the way back and I noticed that I got bitten on the leg that swelt up when I got back! There was no way out of them when the wind dropped.
We were soon back at the cars and headed home via Babs garden for a brew . Mike showed me round and I left with some lovely spinach. Mike (Babs) husband has a wicked sense of humour and had made this seat.
A good we walk in my local area. We mate a famous local I asked him why the hill had the name Carn Kitty. He said that a young girl Kitty went missing many years ago hence the name. I would like to know more. It was then head home via Forres and try to clean a memorial brass inscription but it is very pitted! I did try !
Thanks Babs our local guide and Maggie for an enjoyable wander.
A few years ago I was contact by a family whose father (Phil) was born 6 weeks after his father was killed in an aircraft crash on An Lurg near Bynack Mor in the Cairngorms during the war.
Info – An Lurg Wellington Crash – 14 August 1944 This aircraft a Vickers Wellington HF16/A of 20 OTU took off from RAF Lossiemouth on a cross – country training Exercise and crashed on the plateau on An Lurg near Bynack Mor in the Cairngorms. All 6 crew were sadly killed.
It was an emotional day as a few pals and I took Phil and his 2 sons to the crash site. Phil was 70 then and I was recovering from some serious medical problems. Phil had read of my visits to these remote crash sites and it was a humbling day for us all. We became good friends.
Later on Phil was on a holiday and met a friend who wanted information of a crash in a nearby town Forres and asked me to check out the memorial’s and see what state they were in. He had visited a few years before.
Forres was the home of 19 Operation Training Unit (OTU ) Forres had a big airfield during the war and many bomber crews were trained here sadly there were many losses of life. Twenty Six Whitley’s crashed during training and 55 aircrew died.
One of the crashes was: The Whitley Crash Forres Tollboth Street.
But the most poignant reference on the new memorial is to the Whitley aircraft which crashed into the heart of Forres in November, 1940, killing all on board. The Tolbooth Street tragedy is marked by an outline drawing of the aircraft involved and a technical description of the type which flew almost constantly from RAF Forres until October, 1944.
FG OFF J F Painter DFC
SGT H.D. Gaywood
SGT S.P. Gallagher
SGT F.W. Lewis.
SGT R. E Rolison SGT F.S Legge
Sadly it needs some TLC.
The site also saw post-war service until 1947 as a billet for elements of the Polish Army.
Their is a plaque and a memorial placed near the site of the crash and a model of the Whitley is off the A96 on the way to Nairn. The cost of manufacturing the plaque was met by funds left over from the original RAF Forres Whitley Memorial Trust and passed to the Forres Heritage Trust in addition to generous donations from the public.
“The Forres Heritage Trust are delighted to have been involved in helping create a link to some of the rich RAF heritage that Forres enjoyed for more than 70 years,” said Mr Duncan. The inauguration was attended by a number of people following the Remembrance Sunday wreath-laying ceremony at the Balnageith memorial, including the Deputy Lieutenant of Moray Seymour Munro, Lieutenant Colonel Andy Sturrock, CO of 39 Engineer Regiment, and his Regimental Sergeant Major, officers and local community leaders.
Maybe someone could sort out the memorial as its sad to see it corroded?
Forres footpath trust has an excellent pdf on this and other memorials in the town and how to see them.
I went into town on the way to the hill and tried to clean up the brass memorial. It’s very pitted by weather sadly.
I have been lucky to get out and enjoy a few days on the hills. I love to be out it all seems new. Yet I am trying going to a few areas away from the crowds as I am selfish and enjoy my space.
It was enjoyable to get to Glen Affric yet to see folk enjoying the wild in a respectful attitude. I notice so many more things just now the craft of the stalking paths that take you up some incredible lines. Then I see the new tracks and Turbines in most directions progress?
Yet the wildness is still there. As are the memories of rushing from summit to summit. Chasing Munro’s fast times like the modern fitness aids like Strava that many love. Yet that is not what it’s about to me. How fast how many hills etc it’s the joy of being in the wild.
We saw no one on our Corbett but a few on the track cycling. Everyone was fine kept a distance and seemed to have joy in their hearts about being out in the wild again.
The flowers this year seem so vivid there seem so more of them on each hill they are at a different stage. The heather is blooming the colours of the Orchids varied and it’s like discovering a new life on every hill.
The Lockdown has changed a few attitudes but many will continue with a fast pace of life. Even my local beaches are busier and the car parks open. People need space and places to go.
We must not become elitist like many these wild spaces are for all of us. Please treat them as you would your own home. Think where you camp take your rubbish with you and be careful we must leave these places for future generations to enjoy.
Let’s educate others on how to enjoy these wild places responsibly and all do our bit for the future. Every year I see how lucky I am to have lived and breathed in these special places.
Enjoy please be respectful to these enjoy educate in these places be safe and “take nothing but photos leave nothing but footprints“
Let me introduce myself: My name is Teallach I was a very soft Alsatian and I have been asked to write about my life in the mountains.
I was very lucky to have spent all of my life on the hills, mountains and wild places. My mother was Dreish another Mountain Dog she told me when I was very young that if I was lucky I may be able to choose this way of life as well. Dreish was an incredible dog a fully trained Search and Rescue Dog in Scotland (SARDA) and Wales, like her owner very fit and strong so I had a great pedigree. She had won the SARDA Madras Trophy in 1977 for best Novice Search Dog she was a machine. After a few weeks where I was bottled fed by Allister’s wife Pat I met my owner a very small loud human, he had a strange name” Heavy”.
He was introduced to me and the other pups but it was my huge feet that mattered to him and for 12 years we looked after each other. Mainly to be honest I looked after him!
It was great we were back in Scotland and straight on 2 weeks on the annual RAF Mountain Rescue Winter Course. The Course was split into two parts the first at Grantown on Spey at the PTI Outdoor Centre for 3 days then we split into 2 groups one stayed and the other went to Ben Nevis. It was a long Course over 10 days on the hills. Grantown where the Centre was fun though I was banned Anne the civilian administrator and the Chef let me come in once the Boss left every night. This was after a day on the hill this was ideal, nice and warm and looked after. The first 3 days of the winter course was hard, there were over 40 on the course many were new team members from the 6 RAF Mountain Rescue Teams. The entire Course in these days learned and were refreshed on basic winter skills and had an overnight stop in a snow – hole, it was exciting stuff.
I loved the digging holes and spent the day chasing snow thrown by the troops. We would also go for night navigation from the snow hole. This was where I could show them at the end of the walk where the snow hole was no matter how bad the weather. Some of the new troops were pretty worried about this but most of the time it went well. On another occasions in a snow hole the weather got bad I started barking in the middle of the night. Heavy told me to shut up . I kept going heavy went outside and he found two climbers who had a bit of an epic, saw the light of the snow hole tried to get in only to be met by a wild dog. They were bivying outside when Heavy brought them in.
In winter on our Courses there was always a call out when some climber fell of a route in the Cairngorms and we were there to help. To a few this was too much watching folk falling or picking up the pieces was not nice. The troops worked very hard often after a day on the hill the call out would come and usually me and Heavy found a route for the stretcher to be carried out. It was hard work but great after the training was over as we could go climbing or in poor weather bothying. If the weather was poor we head to remote areas getting Munros in. I got to know the Cairngorms well and only had one near epic when I went over a small cornice at Windy Gap, I never did that again for a while. Heavy was not impressed as he nearly followed me! I learned to cope with the wild weather, I was used to it and whilst the team was training and would curl up into my ball as the new troops learned simple things like putting on crampons, this could be a slow business. I learned as a dog on the mountains you had to be patient and well trained I was rarely on a lead as Heavy trusted me and I have now a nose for the big Cornices.
The Fort William phase on the Winter Course was great and Ben Nevis was special and we stayed at the famous CIC Hut I was allowed to climb the easy gullies but when they did a big route I would go for a walk with some of the course who were tired and needed an easy day. I met some of the greats of climbing at the time Cubby, The Brat, Doug Scott to name a few and most were okay, if not I marked their bags! I was also not allowed to stay in the CIC hut but I did hiding under the beds if the nasty custodian was about in the end he was okay to me.
Many were shocked when I emerged from one of the gullies and I was getting pretty good at finding 4 gully or a way off the Ben. We had a great course and got very fit and then Heavy was back in the Catering Office but on the RAF Kinloss Mountain Rescue Team and I stayed in the old hut where the team lived. The Team Leader Kas Taylor liked me so I stayed under his desk and the hut was that old that when it snowed the spin-drift would come into the office through holes in the wall. I could be covered in spin-drift and it was like being on the hill. Most days though I sat outside watching the world go by and getting lots of cuddles from the girls on stores. I learned where Heavy worked in Catering and would spend days with him as well. The Butcher was great to me and most days I would get a bone. I would even walk across to where heavy worked get a bone and walk back across the road with my bone. I became a bit of a character on the camp.
The hills were great and even when Heavy went climbing I would go and on an early day on Fionaven up in the North West he was climbing a big route and left me most of the day. They were late off and I worried but got them down to their bags and the torches when I heard him shout. Heavy will never admit that. Scotland was magic and I loved it Heavy was doing his Munros again and trying to get me round them, now that would a great thing for me to do.
My Stafford MRT mates were doing a big walk In May 1982 from East to West and Heavy was supposed to be on it but he could not get the time off as he was in his new job at RAF Kinloss. It was huge walk of 23 days and I went on it and loved it what a trip with of of Munros. The boys looked after me it was non-stop but I went well and learned so much. Jim Morning led the walk and he was a big softie looking after me. After the long walk I had 76 Munros walked about 400 miles and climbed 150000 feet of ascent.
My feet were pretty battered after this walk but I had built up a huge stamina for the hill, my route finding in bad weather was impressive “up always up “was the motto and the river crossings in bad weather and swollen rivers became a new skill. I had done so many of the hills now and was repeating many but Heavy kept a log for me and would tell me.
Heavy was now trying hard to climb Classic Rock and we had some great days though I was only 5 I was in my prime. On Eagle ridge on Lochnagar I was left below the route. Heavy was having his usual epic and shouting a lot and I thought I would investigate and ended up having a minor epic on the cliff. Heavy was not impressed as I popped up above him near the top of the route. We had great days in the Cairngorms biving at Loch Etcheacan and meeting and climbing Talisman. I pinched a few of Glenmore Lodge’s sandwiches that were lying about near our bags. In winter I loved the Northern Corries but got into another bit of trouble when I was up high near Pygmy Ridge looking for Heavy. Glenmore Lodge were on an assessment and I arrived high in the Corrie. I was lowered down, I did not need rescued and Fred Harper at the Lodge at the time said that I could be banned from the Corrie. It was only a joke but I was very upset.
From that day for a while I was tied up if Heavy was climbing and no one could look after me. Many got a fright when they arrived at a route to see a dog and the rucksacks covered in snow. Heavy was getting cocky and would leave his bag at the bottom of the climb. One day he was with a new troop and when they got to the top after an epic winter climb and Heavy’s map blew away, it was a blizzard and black as hell by now. They told me later that they started walking the wrong way heading for MacDui! Heavy noticed it was all going wrong and managed to find the tops of the Northern Corries.He got down into the Corrie it was now very late and the usual blizzard was up. I heard him calling and managed to pull the belay off and drag the two bags up near the Goat Track where we met a worried Heavy. I was a cold hero and Heavy learned not be so cocky and that his belay was poor. The poor lad with him never climbed again!
I came back from my Big Walk from West to East of Scotland very fit and strong. I loved the Scottish Hills but the call -outs were pretty hard. I got to love some places and we went to Skye a lot in late Sept 1982 we had a wild weekend I had been over the back end of the Skye Ridge and had a long Saturday on the Dubhs Ridge , with a scary abseil for a dog, a lower really. On the Sunday we were on Blaven and that meant I only had a couple of Munros left to do in Skye. My paws got fairly battered after the rough ridge and we were getting ready to leave for the long drive back to RAF Kinloss it was a wet day and I was glad to be leaving. The Police arrived and said there was a climber who had fallen whilst abseiling of the In Pin in Skye. In these days there were no mobile phones and if an accident happens and it took several hours to get help. It was about 1600 and the team had to grab enough kit to get someone of the ridge. I went with them and the helicopter arrived and took us into the Corrie, it was wet and windy and a bit of an epic getting in. After that it was a big haul up the screes and rocks, loose and slippy where we met the Skye Team Leader Gerry Ackroyd below the In Pin. He is the local guide and like Heavy can take a bit of getting used to but he was pretty good. The poor casualty was very cold and wet and badly injured. At the time there were only 8 of us it was hard work to get a stretcher up there and the rope was a 500 foot one. Gerry told me to keep out of the way and they soon had the casualty on the Stretcher and lowered him off. It was dark wet and cold and I had to wait with Heavy and John Beattie and lower the casualty off. It was horrible the stones were crashing about but after 3 big lowers we got down to the screes. I had to wait while Heavy and John scrambled down then follow them down. Everyone was worried about loose rocks but I was careful. It was a long night we met the Skye Team in the Corrie and had a long wet carry out to Glenbrittle.
I had been to a few aircraft crashes by now as this was Heavy’s job with the RAF Mountain Rescue and was aware how dangerous they were, with all the sharp metal and fuel about. For a dog this is a very wild place to be and the smell of fuel is overpowering. I was in the helicopter that flew into Strath Connon for a USA F111 aircraft that crashed both of the crew got out safely, pretty unusual as most we went to there were no survivors. The F111 has a capsule like the space shuttle ejects the whole canopy of the aircraft which should come down in a parachute over land or in the sea. This was what the RAF MR Teams are for and we have to pull out all the stops. This was where I was usually handy with the team as they could use me on the crash site as a guard dog? At least I looked the part? The team had to ensure that the security of the crash site was kept until the investigation Board arrived. The team were there for a few days and it was a great place to be but I glad when we left.
Just a few months later in the depths of winter in December, we got a report of another F111 missing in Skye. Heavy had just finished a 12 hour shift at work and was sorting his kit out for the weekend when we got the call in the MRT block a helicopter was inbound from RAF Lossiemouth a few miles away and would be with us in 15 minutes, it would take Heavy plus 5 others. This was December 1982 and the weather was horrendous.
Now Skye is a wild place to be and the last cal lout a few months before had shown me how tricky it is in the wet but in a wild winter night, with fresh snow, it would be taxing. The flight over was awful we were low level and poor Heavy who hates flying was up in the front, we went by Achnasheen and had to land on due to the snow and wait for the heavy shower to go through. We got battered by the weather tried to pick up some of Skye Team at Elgol but nearly hit some wires and the only place to land was by the sea near Camusunary. Heavy has written about that night in his Blog but I will never forget getting told to swim the river it was deep and then work our way up onto the hill Stron Na Stri to find the crash site. I picked a line up the hill it was snowing really steep, wet grass with big crags and after a few hours located the crash. It was very dangerous and scary the smell of fuel was everywhere there was very sharp wreckage about I had to do exactly as I was told. Heavy tied me up as the wreckage was everywhere and we spent the night out on the hill till nearly midday next day. We were frozen, soaked, it was a long night and I was really hungry, even I was cold! It was not until midday that the troops came to take over from us; we had no sleep and were exhausted. The weather had brightened up by the time the team arrived to take over. Both crew sadly were killed instantly so there was little we could do but after the other crash at Strath Connon we were sure we would find them alive. I spent a week with Heavy and the American Investigation Team at the crash site at the scene, travelling in every day it was not an easy week. We stayed in the Broadford Hotel and I was treated like royalty the Americans loved me and despite the sad event we made new pals. I grew up that week. So did Heavy, it was the hardest call – out we had ever done.
I loved Skye the Cioch was a great place to climb and I could meet the troops on the first pitch of Cioch Direct via a ledge. It would make a few climbers laugh seeing me waiting for them. We climbed in Skye a lot got to love it and rarely needed a help. My feet were pretty tough by now out every weekend. The winter to come was a real epic, big snows and a lot of searches with the Kinloss Team, the worst weather was on Ben Nevis looking for two Irish climbers. It was a wild search in some of the worst weather I had been out in. The Teams searched for days and I made friends with some of the SARDA Dogs and even Jimmy Simpson the Policeman and his “War Dog” Rocky got to like me. I think I proved my value in the wild conditions and I was pretty aware of the Cornices and Avalanche slopes that we searched. This was one of the few times that we did not find anyone and Heavy and me would go back a few times later in the year and search the Ben looking for them. I got to know a few of the wild places “ 5 Finger Gully “ and the hidden Corries of the Ben, it is a huge place.
It was all part of my training getting out every weekend meant that I felt was at one with the mountains! During this time I met many of the Characters in Mountain Rescue and got to know the real guys in the other teams. The poor Irish boys we were looking for were not found till late that summer, months after they went missing, they had been buried under a huge amount of snow. These were huge winters.
Most nights after the hill I went to the pub and feel asleep listening to the troops talking the usual rubbish after a few drinks but we were always up for the hill the next day.
We stayed in the local Village Halls every weekend and even camped at times. I loved the camping but in winter it could be pretty rough. In the Village Halls we slept on the floor om mats by now I had my own mat and sleeping bag, I was part of the team, this was my 5 th winter, I was gaining experience and even getting a bit cocky, not a thing to be in Scotland in winter!
Let me introduce myself: My name is Teallach I was a very soft Alsatian and I have been asked to write about my life in the mountains.
I was very lucky to have spent all of my life on the hills, mountains and wild places. My mother was Dreish another Mountain Dog she told me when I was very young that if I was lucky I may be able to choose this way of life as well. Dreish was an incredible dog a fully trained Search and Rescue Dog in Scotland (SARDA) and Wales, like her owner very fit and strong so I had a great pedigree. She had won the SARDA Madras Trophy in 1977 for best Novice Search Dog she was a machine. After a few weeks where I was bottled fed by Allister’s wife Pat I met my owner a very small loud human, he had a strange name” Heavy”.
He was introduced to me and the other pups but it was my huge feet that mattered to him and for 12 years we looked after each other. Mainly to be honest I looked after him!
Dog Tales – part 2 Wales visits to Scotland and down in the Flatlands.
In Wales things were going very well and life in the mountains was indeed good but poor Heavy had problems his selfish life in the mountains was a lonely one for is partner. She left with her daughter to go back to Scotland and it was a hard time for us both. I had got used to family life and loved them all. Heavy was very upset at the time (us dogs worked that out) and the house was very empty. Gone were the easy nights of being pampered by my new friends and Yvette who was only little was very special. We had got up to all tricks together and it was as much fun as going on the hills. Many are scared when they see a big Alsatian but I was very soft and loved kids. I was jumped on dressed up and ridden as a horse, it was just like the troops did at the weekend.
After they left we got out a lot on the hills and days got longer and harder as the mountains became all consuming. We visited Scotland for a long Grant and had a 12 hour day On Beinn Eighe, Liathach and Alligin and next day we climbed the Cioch Nose in Applecross I ended up in the Loch due to the midges. This was 10 days in Scotland and then we moved to Fort William and I did the big 4 on the Ben and next day all the Mamores. The Aonach Eag followed both ways on the same trip and other great hills I loved Scotland, open, wild and few humans on the hill. It was such a big place and so few dogs even. Then it was back to Wales back to the hills and climbs that I knew . We were always busy in Wales and I got to love it. We had so many Call outs and a great bond with the Wessex helicopter at RAF Valley. We got to know the local teams and SARDA they had heard of me by now. Dreish my Mum was on the team at Valley and kept me in my place and I learned a lot from her. Wales was the ideal place to learn about the mountains.
I was often on Crib Goch on Snowdon and many a climber got a fright as we ran along the ridge on the Annual Bike race. Even I was in fancy dress one year. All the time we were learning we had big lowers of the Idwal Slabs plenty of call outs and then we had a big winter. I would hear the helicopter before the team and new I may get a lift home. One time after 6 Call outs in one day as we were leaving the Wessex called in it now was pitch dark the hills were plastered in ice. They had to leave a crewman on the hill as they were running out of fuel. The helicopter was told to leave him there and we would get him near the top of The Glyders. It was full on winter we were tired and raced up the hill.
The helicopter crewman was wearing flying boots, the aircrew had little kit in these days. Darkness had come in and these were the days of the Wessex helicopter had no night vision goggles they were to come years later. They had to leave the Winch man on the hill to refuel at Valley. The troops had their sharp crampons on and it was even hard for me on the icy snow. I was now aware and when things got serious just kept out the way.
There was a bit of carry on and the helicopter came back to get him despite the weather and being told to leave him. We had moved him down the hill. I was in front with Heavy route finding. It was a tricky rescue and the RAF enquiry was interesting. Heavy getting into trouble as he was the “mountain specialist” for his decisions in support of the crew and giving them proper boots etc later on. This brought us even closer with the helicopter crews at RAF Valley they loved us and I was by now part of the team.
He was always in a bit of trouble very outspoken even on the hill. At times on a rescue and I knew when to keep out of the way. I must have looking back a fierce looking dog yet few knew how soft I was. We did a big call out on Idwal slabs in the dark when the head torch batteries fell apart in the wet the problem was a new cheap battery MOD had bought. Why do humans need torches anyway I have no problem? He wrote a signal to someone high up and got into trouble. We were near our time to end at Valley Heavy was hoping for a tour in Scotland and despite the Team Leaders assistance we ended up posted to the Deep South at RAF Innsworth near Gloucester.
I think the powers that be thought that was the end of us but it was not to be. At the same time his Mum and Dad passed away and Dad took ill whilst he was on the Team Leaders Course in the Peak District. He was climbing when the Policeman came up to the crag and told him. The troops dropped us at Crewe Station and we got the overnight train to Kilmarnock, the train was a great way to travel for me. I had never been on a train before and just got under the seat and slept. We arrived in at 0500 at Kilmarnock and we walked into Ayr 12 miles away rather than wake anyone up, we were to skint for a taxi. We were a funny sight walking along the main road.
It was a hard time and his Dad wanted to see me and we went to hospital where I was allowed in. I knew he was upset when Dad died and when we got back home to Valley when he went to bed I followed him up and slept under the bed. I was never allowed to do this and did so afterwards. Looking back we had two great winters in Wales and Heavy was climbing the ice a lot. This took us to some great places and I learned to wait until they were at the top of the climbs. It was good training for things to come. In summer I would watch the gear left below the great cliffs of Wales. At this time there was a lot of gear getting stolen from climbers our gear was safe with me on guard. We never lost anything and I became a celebrity on the crags. I would usually get bored and climb up and meet them on the top of the route. Many climbers got a fright seeing me climbing past.
The Flatlands – There were hard times in 1981 Heavy went to RAF Innsworth in Gloucester back to his job as a Caterer it was awful. There was no Mountain Rescue Team and when we arrived Heavy was told that no dogs were allowed on the station by the Station Warrant Officer. (SWO) Heavy said what shall he do put Teallach down. The SWO was a wild man and not impressed. As always Heavy ignored authority and we moved into an accommodation block with others and I slept in the room until the SWO found out. Heavy was back to working in the Catering Office and his boss let me come to work every day. I sat outside a lot and played with all the high ranking officers that lived there, they all liked me and played sticks and things. The SWO was not happy but could not get rid of me. As the powers that be loved me.
I left the SWO a message in the guardroom when Heavy was orderly Corporal one weekend! We were saved by joining the Stafford Mountain Rescue Team and had many great weekends as Heavy met them in his car at weekends in Wales or the Lakes. It was great to be back with the troops and I made many friends and climbed a lot more at the Peaks and other venues. At times we would meet the “odd jobs worth” on the crag or scrambled about or as I sat by the bags who wanted me on a lead but Heavy just gave them a hard time. It was long drives back at times 0300 in the morning and then straight back to work. It was great though I made new friends and the troops looked after me.
When we got back I slept Heavy had to work. We did a few callouts one for an aircraft during the week a Harrier that crashed in Wales and I sniffed the fuel on the ridge in a night search. I had to watch as this was tricky place to be at the crash site and there were many sharp bits of metal about and Heavy kept me away once they found it. The smell of fuel was overpowering and I was to find this out on many other occasions.
I was glad to leave after the casualty had been recovered. We came back to Innsworth as heroes and life got easier, I was now a celebrity on the camp. Heavy upset more people on the camp and within a year we were heading back to Scotland. I had been back twice with the Stafford Team and what a trip. Once we went to the North West a huge journey and so no other humans, I did some big days, The Fannichs I think 9 Munro’s in a day , The An Teallach hills and Fisherfields, The Beinn Deargs, Seanna Bhraigh hills my Munro book was getting ticked. I was also allowed to go to Stoer and had fun swimming round the Sea Stack with the seals whilst the troops climbed. We were posted from Innsworth for the RAF Annual Winter Course and then to RAF Kinloss in Morayshire. Heavy was so excited the car was packed with me in the passenger seat. The road was blocked on the A9 and we had to go by Braemar it was some drive and Heavy is not a great driver I was terrified.
We arrived at Grantown for the winter Course where Heavy was instructing I was immediately told again in no way could I stay in the Centre – Welcome to Scotland!
through some photos especially with modern media of a
few pals and great memories come flooding back. I saw a photo today and my mate was full of life with that huge grin of
Al MacLeod the big Highlander from Blairgowerie. One of the most powerful
mountaineers I ever met. He sadly lost his life on the 14 July 1989 on the
North Face of the Matterhorn while soling the North Face. Sadly he had no
Insurance as was living on a tight budget and we had an epic getting him home
to his family.
Rescue you meet some great characters and my great friend Al McLeod was one of
them. He died after a fall on the Matterhorn North Face whilst soloing. It was
a tragic day when we got the news. Al was just leaving the RAF and had planned
a year’s climbing. He was a superb mountaineer and just back from an
unsuccessful attempt on Everest West Ridge, he had attempted the summit and was
1000 feet from the top after climbing the Hornbein Coulior, the weather came in
and they had to descend. As a young man he had so much to live for, he like the
rest in our prime of youth felt so at one in the mountains. He had climbed some
great routes on Shivling and the Alps. He was so powerful and regularly ran
back to the bothy after a huge hill day. He never showed tiredness, just pure power
and though not a natural climber on rock he was so strong. As a winter climber
he was exceptional this was his love, he was the ideal companion on a route. He
loved the mountains and the wild and as a local boy from Blairgowerie he had
spent his life in the hills.
the RAF as a driver and the RAF Kinloss MRT and I watched him grow in the team.
He had become superbly fit, every big day was added to and new challenges were
always beckoning. He climbed the North
Face of the Eiger with the late Ted Atkins and many other big routes in the
Alps yet he loved the challenge of the Scottish hills. Always moving fast on
the hill he would be off in his red wind suit for another top or climb as we
struggled in his wake.
We had some
great days and he enjoyed pulling me up some good routes we always had a laugh
whatever we did. In winter we had fun in the Gorms, night ascents of the Mirror
Direct in the Cairngorms. In summer after work climbs on Savage Slit and
chasing Patey’s classic climbs. He was fun to be with and every day was
entertaining. We had some magic days is Skye and he ran the ridge and then
climbed some great routes next day with me on the Cioch. He would not untie me and I was dragged up one of my best days on Skye,
“Cioch Grooves, Bastinardo and the Nipple” after a big scary fall!
Yet we went many times to Coruisk in Skye by our boat and climbed some classic lines,
it was days on the hill and the company that mattered.
Al was a
wild guy who lived life to the full, as a friend he was one of the best and we
got on so well despite the huge differences in ability in the mountains. He
loved the social life, the bothies, the dances the ceilidhs and the local
girls. He always had a huge smile. At times we had to look after him he lived
for every minute of every day. When
after Lockerbie the man who looked after me was Al – he came over from Fort
William after Christmas as he knew I was in a mess, few would do that. He was
the one that helped me he drove over to Newtonmore and we had a drink into the
wee small hours. He sowed the seed for our trip on Everest that night. We went
for a wander on the hills and talked through it and he looked after me when I
relaxed that night. It was long overdue for me this is true friendship.
He decided to leave the RAF and wanted to become a guide, so off he went to the Alps to climb the other North Faces. He and a friend were soling the North Face of the Matterhorn when he went off route and fell 1000 feet to the glacier. We were driving out for the weekend when we got told. I was the Team Leader at RAF Leuchars and was stopped by a Police car on route to Braemar, we were all devastated. I had to tell the team and it was a solemn weekend. I went to see Al’s family next day in Blairgowerie, it was a hard experience. The family were devastated, they had lost such a son, they are great people and we had a difficult time. We found out that Al had no Insurance for the Alps. This was a disaster at the time for the family. I was very lucky to get some great help from the RAF and we solved all the problems eventually. It was a real fight though but we got Al back home to the family. The funeral was an emotional day and a huge wake at RAF Leuchars Mountain Rescue Team but I was worn out and left the boys and all Al’s girlfriends celebrating Al’s life. The Officer who helped me was a Sqn Ldr in I think 111 Sqn he was the effects Officer he was one of the finest men I have ever met and helped so much. We both chased the RAF until they brought him home. I wonder if anyone can help me with the name so I can contact him.
What a loss
to his family and friends it has been hard over the years and how we all still
miss him. I am sure Al could have achieved so much more if he had not been
taken so early. I lost a great mate and the family a son and brother. On our
first trip to the Himalayas in 1990 we took a bit of Ben Nevis rock out and
left it high on our hill as a memory of our mate. I never grieved for Al at the
time I was still suffering from PTSD after Lockerbie and organising the funeral
and Al’s Repatriation. It shook me to the core yet I had lost so many pals
take care if out in the big hills,” make sure you look well to each step” and
remember those who sit and wait for you.
Enjoy the weather and if in the Alps ensure you have Insurance in case you have a problem.
I still miss you big man, I still see you dressed as the “Highlander” “There can only be one Connor MacLeod” and Queens want to live forever blasting from the tape. When you did so many things and what a life you had we were all invincible then. I wish you were around now to advise me on this cycling game. I will never forget how you cycled into a parked car and went through the back window, like a torpedo. For that episode you got a police ticket and a big bill for that and a face full of character. I still see you and that Red wind suit and yellow Lion Rampant hat on the hill always two hills ahead and then running back to the bothy usually with my dog as no one else would follow you!
up that remind me of you and others and yet though you’re gone I still laugh
when I think of you and as your Boss some of the scrapes you got in. I tell the
tale that at you Wake several lassies turned up thinking you were their boyfriend.
I had to explain that to your Mum and Dad and the girls were all fine. Right up
to the end you kept us on our toes. I
wonder what you would be doing now with the new gear and climbing tools. I met
many characters but few like Big Al, RIP.
always in my memory Big Man.
Some comments – “Awesome piece Heavy. One of those legendary guys who inspired so many young troops, and I’m sure a fair few older ones! His ‘stealing the boys’ to go to a ceilidh on Lismore, via fishing boat, remains one of my most treasured memories. From Scouse”
Life moves on and we lost your mate Ted Atkins two years ago yet we have so many incredible memories of you and that era.
As the helicopter vanished we were on our own now at Loch Etchachan in the Cairngorms lying at a height of 930 meters the highest notable expanse of water in Great Britain. There was no water to be seen it was covered in winter ice, more like the arctic than Scotland but this is the arctic Cairngorm. The wind was howling there were 22 of us many had been there for over an hour, the windchill was incredible and it was decision time. We had a huddle and in wild conditions, trying having a discussion with 5 strong leaders in a blizzard is a lesson in management. I explained that as it was now midday and the weather was as bad as had ever seen we needed to get out. There was no point Breamar MRT were also having a very hard time and some of their party’s on the hill were descending. Many others I would imagine were waiting for this decision to get off, which is wrong but a human frailty. There were still 2 young climbers missing but it was decision time and it was decided we were getting out. The last thing you need is the Rescue Team needing rescued and we were pretty far out in the depth of the Cairngorms. Some of the team were not happy it is hard to call off a search but this was not a search this was survival it was time to go.
This photo is on a great day it shows behind the climbers head the descent that we may have made down to Loch Avon. In the wrong conditions not the place to be.
We had three options: One to go over the plateau and head back to the Northern Corries, the weather would make this very difficult and with a group of 22 I thought very unmanageable. Many were struggling after a hard two days searching and this could prove fatal. Option 2 was favoured by the stronger team members a few was to drop down to Loch Avon then pull up onto Cairngorm or out by Strath Nethy an awful thought. This would involve going down very dangerous avalanche slopes that I had noticed on the epic flight in. The climb up back on to the plateau also took you into Avalanche terrain, the walk down Strath Nethy in deep snow is purgatory. Blyth Wright a great friend at Glenmore Lodge and also the Avalanche Coordinator had advised me on the dangers of this area when I told him where we may be going to search. His words rung in my ears as I spoke to the team.
The long walk out down Glen Derry past the hut.
The other option was crazy but safer, our transport and Base Camp was on the Northern side of the Cairngorms but that was the least of our troubles. We would go out by Glen Derry ! Miles and miles but mainly down hill, out of the weather with no transport at the end of a hard day. Decision made let’s get going. In the deep snow I let the young fit troops break trail as I spoke on the radio to my good friends at Braemar MRT and Aberdeen MRT. They had also pulled off the hill out and were trying to send some transport to help us up Glen Derry I had little hope as the snow was very heavy by now. To my amazement after about one hour I heard John Drysdale a real character on the Braemar Police and his side kick “Beano” on the radio.
Kassbg – Braemar MRT Photo
They were coming to get us on the Braemar secret weapon. Out of the blizzard came this amazing vehicle. How we all got in all troops plus all the kit, ropes, avalanche probes, huge bags,shovels on was amazing. I got a seat in the front cab and with the heater on the world changed. The boys were out in the open but they were getting off the hill. How they knew where they were going in the blizzard was incredible but I was in the hands of great people. These are the people that make Mountain Rescue so special, amazing how they looked after us.We were soon down in the Glen, then how they did it but we were taken to the Fife Arms Hotel in Braemar still iced up with all our kit. We had no money but credit was good and we all had a meal and lots of hot drinks. It was by now about 1900 and eventually we got 5 land-rovers to drive round and pick us up from Glenmore.
Braemars secret weapon a newer version the helicopter was long gone. One of the best and most exciting drives in my life! John Drysdale and Braemar & Aberdeen MRT I cannot thank you enough.
We got back after an epic drive via Keith not long before midnight, the roads were closing most of us were soaking wet and the troops asleep and unaware of the epic drive. What a day, what an adventure and what great help by Braemar and Aberdeen MRT who went out of their way to help us. Getting back late to the bothy at Newtonmore we then had all the kit to sort, radios to charge and gear to put away. The face was blasted and the nerves were a bit shot, we were all alive no mean feat after an exciting helicopter drive, a wee epic on the hill and the drive out of Glen Derry with the Breamar boys and girls..
This is a must read for all who venture on the Scottish Mountains in winter. Worth rereading every year. A great Stocking Filler for Christmas, but give it to them now the snow is here! The Chapter on the Black winter is an incredible piece and a must read even by those who think they are invincible to what the mountains can throw at you.
The call -out was called off next day and unfortunately the two climbers were found weeks later in Coire An Lochan by Cairngorm MRT. It looks like they had fallen/ avalanched whilst descending the West Flank a tragic end to an epic call – out. This was a tragic period called ” Black Winter” when many died on the Scottish Mountains 0f 1994/1995. This is well written about in the book A Chance in a Million written by Blyth Wright & Bob Barton there is a chapter on the ” Black Winter” a must read for all winter walkers/ climbers and skiers. Even the very experienced as this period spells out in the book can have fatal accidents.
An interesting view of Rescue in the Cairngorms!
I have a photo I must find it is of the helicopter on the loch it is poor quality but it is just visible in the snow and shows conditions we were in. When I show it many cannot believe what it is but it shows the epic weather we at times take for granted. We must never forget the work done by the helicopters and the Mountain Rescue Teams most of it never reaches the news or public view. In these huge call – outs over 100 people, Search Dogs and helicopters go out to help or find missing walkers and climbers. This is typical winter weather in the Cairngorms where life can be very difficult indeed.
I hope this wee tale has given a feel for some of the decisions made by teams, leaders and helicopter crews on a rescue. We must never take what they do for granted or think that technology and modern kit makes rescues easy. At times programs in the media about Rescue make it all look so easy. It is not easy at times and I hope those who make the decisions continue to ensure at the end of the day all who are out there come back safely.
I spoke to Graham Gibb the Team Leader of Breamar at the end of the incident, Graham a good friend agreed and was pulling his teams of the hill when my broken messages came through. There was no problem just a quite agreement that the correct decisions were made.
In the early 70’s I had taken a party off in a similar incident on a wild call – out, things were getting out of control and a young troop on the Cairngorm plateau had broken a crampon on a descent into Loch Avon. Everyone else was off the hill except my party and one Lodge group of two. It was Allan Fyffe and another top climber on a search in Loch Avon. I decided to get out of it and came back to Glenmore lodge to meet Fred Harper who was running the search. I apologized and he told me that what we did was correct and no problem and to make the right decision especially in a situation like that was brave and correct. It would have been easier to try to save face and have another epic on our hands, everything was heavily iced but we got off. Always know when to get out of a situation it is never easy but as Fred said “better to live another day”
I had a look at the Breamar MRT Twitter account last night and a few others, there looks like plenty of snow about. They were deep in the heart of the Cairngorms at Loch Etchachan with the burn full of green ice and the hills scoured by the winds and it looked very wintry indeed. With a bit of blue sky weather at the weekend it may be busy on the hills and climbs. I love this area deep in the Ciarngorms and the Hutchison hut recently has been renovated by the Mountain Bothy Association (MBA). It is still a place of great wildness and beauty and in winter only visited by a few.
Typical Cairngorm weather.
I had a real epic in this area in winter it was during the Black Winter in the 90’s a sad crazy spell when there was a huge amount of accidents. The date was the 4 th March 1995 We were looking for two climbers who never returned from a days climbing in the Cairngorms. It was day 3 of a wild Cairngorms Call – out we were not sure where they had gone to climb do as is the norm the net was thrown even wider. I was with the RAF Kinloss Mountain Rescue Team and we were asked to search and assist the Breamar and Aberdeen Teams in the Southern side of the Cairngorms. The weather was crazy huge winds and a big avalanche hazard at that time. We met at Glenmore Lodge for a pick up by the Sea king helicopter and I had over 20 troops pretty exhausted from two days searching. When we were given our area in the middle of the Cairngorms they would drop us by loch Etchachan and we would search from there! I was pretty worried but thought there would be no way we would get in to this area not in the current weather. How wrong I was, as we waited at Glenmore Lodge with the usual cups of tea a normal kindness shown by the lodge staff. We got the message that the helicopter was inbound. There is a refuelling dump at the Lodge so the helicopter can make great use of this facility and make several flights from this base.
As usual the brave boys from Lossiemouth helicopter flight said they would have a go and I was in the first attempt. It was poor visibility and heavy snow showers but we sneaked up Strath Nethy – me up front the rest in the back oblivious to what was happening. It was some great flying we sneaked in through Loch Avon getting buffeted by the wing but what views of the great cliffs of Shelterstone and the aptly named Hells Lum We eventually landed down near a frozen Loch Etchachan. It was as wild as I can remember the hills were packed with snow and as we flew over huge drifts of snow were scoured on the hills. I am never the best of flyers but this was one scary flight. As we got off the spindrift was awful one minute you are in a warm helicopter next minute in a white hell. You are ready in the aircraft for what the weather can give you and as soon as we were down on the ground and I thanked “The Lord” The goggles and face masks were on and we watched the helicopter make use of a break in the clouds and fly over a clear but wild Cairngorms. There was no shelter just get the bothy bags out and sort out a plan! I was sure the weather was coming in again so we had a break and looked at our search options. We had 20 minutes till the rest arrived it was a windchill of -20 and spindrift and very cold and uncomfortable.
Our friends Breamar Mrt were on the hill and having a hard time they were amazed that we had arrived and I asked to keep in touch as there was a huge avalanche danger. A lot of my team were unaware of this as many were tired and on a rescue just want to get the job done but safety comes first.
The crazy conditions and the depth of snow about in that winter. This was a search in Glencoe 15 feet drifts. The Black winter.
I was just sorted out when I heard the helicopter coming back again making use of the break in the weather and we soon put up a flare and in came the Yellow helicopter. When he comes in on a day like this the spind- drift is incredible and you have no chance of seeing anything. We could hear him and stayed where we were wanting him to drop the guys and go. This was soon done and soon there were now over 20 team members in the middle of the Cairngorms. As the helicopter started to move away a whiteout came in along with a wind and visibility became zero! We all huddled together and heard the helicopter try to break off but after a few minutes it was still very close. The visibility cleared and it was over the frozen loch Etchechan and struggling to get out. then it seemed lost again in the spindrift. Trying to speak on the radio was no use so in all the din and wind I got the message to a few of the troops and we started heading onto the frozen Loch to give the helicopter some visual reference to get out. I had to get to the front of the helicopter and give the crew a reference ? Most of the troops had got the message and formed a line about 10 metres apart showing the way out down the glen eventually the crew saw us and turned the helicopter over the Loch and headed out. That was a close call.
We regrouped after the helicopter left – I was pretty shaken as were a few of the more senior troops a lot of the younger ones were unaware of what had occurred. It all became silent as only this wild place can be and apart from the constant snow, wind and spind – drift awful but beautiful. it was well after midday by now and we had decisions to make. This is where things really got interesting, Braemar Mrt were a lot higher than us and having a rough time I could hear it on the radio. I was unfortunately in charge and said we can do little here in a rescue capacity it was getting into a survival scenario we will have to make a decision. We got a message not to expect any helicopter support we were on our own and the weather was getting worse. Our transport and Base Camp were over the Cairngorm side of the hill a long serious epic walk in these conditions. There was no way I was taking over 20 troops down to Loch Avon and back over the Cairngorms in these crazy conditions of weather and the very serious Avalanche danger?
This is the classic tale of the early days of mountain rescue mainly in Glencoe, Scotland. Hamish is a world-class mountaineer and yet he spent so much time helping his fellow man and women in distress on these wild hills. He has contributed greatly to safety on the mountains by his huge contribution to Mountain Safety and by his major involvement in mountain rescue, its equipment and design. This was a period where rescue in the mountains was done historically mainly by locals who lived and worked in the glen. Many were forestry workers, fisherman, shepherds and climbers. These were days of simple gear, before mobile phones, GPS and the early days of helicopter rescue. Glencoe is a climber’s mecca, it can be a wild place and it is here where Hamish pioneered many advances in mountain rescue, avalanche techniques and founded the Search and Rescue Dogs Association. He is known as the ‘Father of Mountain Rescue’ not just in Scotland but throughout the world.
I have known Hamish throughout my forty years in mountain rescue from when I was a young novice with the RAF Mountain Rescue teams to more recently when I was a team leader. He is without doubt a world authority on mountain rescue and was always willing to advise and assist many of us throughout our mountain rescue lives. He was always at the forefront of rescue and I owe him so much for his advice over the years, as do so many that climb in these great hills. His knowledge and his skill as a mountaineer are well known but it is Hamish the man, the leader in his own quiet way that stands out in this book. He is a very caring and private man, yet is in regularly in contact with those relatives he has rescued in the past.
I am so glad this book has been republished as an ebook, as it opens these great tales to new generations. These are the stories of real life rescues many that involve many personalities and characters involved in the Glencoe Mountain Rescue Team. It gives a rare insight into their humanity and why they risk their lives to help those in trouble in the mountains. These were the days before rescues were highlighted by the media, and there are so many wonderful stories in this book it is refreshing to read them as many are now climbing folklore.
This book takes you into the heart of rescues: the tragedy, the triumph of recovering a badly injured walker or climber. I first read it in 1973 when it was published I could not put it down – I was riveted to it and learned so much from it. I reread it often and it is still the same – a riveting insight into the world of mountain rescue. This was written before things like PTSD were accepted as part of a rescue hazard for rescue team members – many of the tales are harrowing and yet told in a dignified manner to those who were involved. This is a book that makes me feel that despite what the world throws at us, there are those out there who will give everything to help their fellow mountaineer in trouble. The rescuers in the book are unpaid volunteers, and in this world of taking and rarely giving it gives me a heart-warming feeling, which continues to this day amazingly.
This is not just a book about mountain rescue but also an incredible series of tales about rescues and the people and personalities involved. Many of the rescues in the book are epics, and yet Hamish and the Glencoe team go about their job as if it were a normal occurrence to risk their lives for people they do not know. These rescues are not without risk at times and yet despite avalanches, rockfall and the wild Scottish weather, Hamish and the team rarely get into trouble. This is not due to luck but to the skill of Hamish and the team. It also covers a huge history of Scottish mountain rescue and the characters involved. It shows the time they give away from families in the dead of a winter’s night, no matter what, and we must never take this for granted.
This is the classic mountain rescue book, yet so many of the rescues are in the same places that occur regularly now. I advise all mountain rescuers to read this – there is so much to learn in each chapter. There are so many similarities to today’s rescue and its politics! It is a must-read for all climbers, walkers and armchair adventurers. These are true stories and all who love the wild places especially Glencoe and Scotland and will be enthralled by the stories. Hamish and his band of brothers in Glencoe have left a great legacy in pioneering mountain rescue in Glencoe. Hamish’s Call-out is a wonderful tribute to those special people and this book has already stood the test of time. To anyone starting in the mountains – read this book there are so many lessons to be learned.
This is a book of one man’s life and team who have given so much for others. I would advise all to read it and learn that life and nature can teach us so much and build a bond that lasts beyond the experiences that this book covers. Thanks Hamish for a great book, and to Vertebrate Publishing for republishing this book – it’s a classic. You have to read it.
I visited Hamish with a pal last Sunday Sept 2020 he was on great form. What a man, what a life.
The RAF Mountain Rescue Team and the other RAF teams are there to recover aircrew from crashed aircraft and also work with the Air Accident Investigation Board (AAIB) after an incident at times this can be on steep and difficult ground. At times like this is when the RAF teams and their leaders are under incredible pressure. It is fortunate that we lose few aircraft but every few years 3 or 4 an epic occurs this was one of them.
On the 27 November 1979 a Jaguar aircraft crashed in the Ben Lui area. It was heading in a two ship formation for Bridge of Orchy, intending to turn west at the main glen towards Oban on the coast. Suddenly the cloud came down, and the leader told the No 2 to abort and pull up; this he did. However, on pulling out of the top of the cloud, he could not see his leader and could make no radio contact.
The two RAF Scottish MRTs, Leuchars and Kinloss, were called out, as were several helicopters and several civilian teams, Killin, Lomond, Strathclyde and SARDA. In all over 200 searchers were involved. The weather was atrocious, remaining so for the whole of the search apart from one day. In the early hours the overnight parties returned soaked through to the skin,and soon had hung up their wet gear from every hook and nail in the Tyndrum Hotel’s hut, a pattern that was to be repeated time and again over the next three days. Wet clothes were put on every day as we ran out of kit very quick.
It was a civilian team, eventually, that found the Jaguar crash site on a nearby Munro Beinn A Chleibh the pilot was located in the steep Coire just over the north-west ridge of Ben Lui next day. It had impacted vertically and totally disintegrated. At the time it was not possible to tell at that stage whether the pilot had ejected or had gone down with it.
The pilot Flt Lt Alan Graham Procter RIP
With no further chance of searching that day, a massive sweep search would be required on the next day. The team from RAF Valley in Wales was called in from the second day to provide extra manpower, and flew up that same night in a Hercules. Then on by Navy Sea kings to Bridge of Orchy. I was with the Valley team in Wales at the time as the Deputy Team Leader and was called off the Cfwry arete in Wales for the call-out in Scotland! We were out on a training exercise.
When we left Wales all we had a hill bag each and a box of composite rations with very few spare clothes. A huge mistake! We raced back to Valley and then flew by Hercules to Prestwick. We overnighted in Prestwick and were at Crianlarich for a first light search.
The next day was another of vile conditions. All teams went on the hill, and attempts were made to get the accident investigation people to the wreck, but with their lack of climbing expertise this had to be abandoned due to weather for the time being. The casualty was located and the RAF in their wisdom winched a photographer to the site not dressed for winter mountaineering. It was very steep winter conditions.
The photographer dropped his camera and some where up there is still a very expensive camera! It was an epic getting him off the hill and we had a discussion with the senior officer that sent him up!
In all a very difficult search and showed that an aircraft could still go missing even in this modern-day.
In 1990 A RAF Team was deployed by aircraft another Hercules years later to assist in the Shackleton Crash in Harris in the early 90’s. I learnt lots of lessons again from this incident by now I was the Team Leader at Kinloss . The huge search on Ben Lui had taught me so much and how important the civilian teams Coastguards etc who were heavily involved were so much part of the incident.
At times the military tended to keep the information fairly tight and to get the best result you must share it as it is the casualty that counts in the end.
Hard lessons to learn especially when dealing with senior officers with limited knowledge of rescue or recovery!
A few points were the incredible flying by the helicopters, I still cannot say how many we got on a Wessex on one drop off, on Ben Lui I was terrified as usual.
Also the oldest guy in the RAF teams Colin Pibworth from RAF Valley did the link on the summit of Ben Lui for 3 days. This was in the wildest of weather as communication’s were so important as the teams were all over the nearby mountains.
Lots of lessons learned for the future.
Looking back there were limited communications then no GPS comms were by landline or VHF radio.
The crew of the Shackleton “lest we forget”
W/Cdr Stephen Roncoroni,
W/Cdr Chas Wrighton,
F/O Colin Burns,
S/L Jerry Lane,
F/Lt Al Campbell,
F/Lt Keith Forbes,
M/O Roger Scutt,
F/Sgt Rick Ricketts,
Sgt Graham Miller,
Cpl Stuart Bolton.
There was little Trauma care in the early days even in 1990 when we recovered all the casualties from the Shackleton aircraft in Harris. There were 10 fatalities on that incident.
Things have changed a lot communications are better as is GPS and gear. Yet a crash in poor weather it’s up to the folk on the ground to sort it out. Add in a remote location like Harris and you learn from every incident.
Aircraft still fly over mountains and I know that most carry beacons but in wild weather when helicopters cannot fly it’s still very similar.
These things happen even today and for any eventuality you have to train hard for the unexpected. I am sure we are all in safe hands.
When I was in Wales we loved climbing at Tremadog the weather was usually good when the rest of NorthWales was wet. We loved the Cafe that the legend Eric Jones ran. He always looked after us and we even gave him a stretcher as he was dealing with so many fallen climbers in the 70’s. Eric even came to our First Aid Course and what a lovely man. I never climbed that hard but did many of the classics on this beautiful cliff. It was a place to enjoy and being able to come down for a brew was part of the craic. On these days there were a lot of top climbers there. It was at one time a whose, who of Welsh climbers. My favourite route was the Classic Creag Dhu climbed by the members of that incredible group of Scottish climbers on a visit to Wales in 1951. I was lucky to climb it 3 times what a great route and to a man who missed Scotland so much it was always a joy to climb here. Especially the short walk ins !
Another Classic Route in Wales Creag Dubh Wall Craig y Castel. Tremadog North Wales
First ascent – J Cunningham, W Smith, P Vaughan. July 1951
UKC Logbook Description A wonderful route. Head up and right to large ledge (belay). Then fabulously exposed 2nd pitch goes out left along the huge flake. Head up obvious line above, good holds. Tricky crux, entering the groove near top. 3 stars.
I wonder how busy this classic route is nowadays ?