Is the weather going to improve? New Ayrshire Potatoes, and Hazel Strachan hopes to complete 100 Munros in June on Lochnagar on Friday for Charity.

On Skye a long time ago what route a classic? Missing the rock climbing, is it time to get rid of my rock climbing gear?

The summer is a time I love and the unseasonable weather juts now is not great but at least on the East Coast the weather is okay, that is why I live here. The Summer is also the time of lots of local produce and it was great to see Ayrshire new potatoes for sale as they are in season. I have great memories of my Dad growing Ayrshire’s in our garden in Ayr and the seaweed/ horse-manure he used as fertilizers were the secret ingredient. Add some butter and they were a specail treat, I may be wrong but is seaweed now not allowed to be used by the Food Safety Police?

Ayrshire provides some of the first new potatoes grown in Scotland, which are in season from June to early September. Ayrshire New Potatoes are harvested and packed locally and can be with you as soon as 24 hours after lifting. You can taste the fresh, earthy and sweet flavour of a true Scottish potato. Ayrshire is an ideal location to grow early potatoes because it is on the south west coast of Scotland, which benefits from the warming waters of the Gulf Stream


The weather on the hills seems fairly hard going this June and a friend Hazel Strachan is near completion of 100 Munros in June for the Charity Scottish Mountain Rescue. Summer is usually a great time to be out on the hills at least the wind may be keeping the midges away?

“Rock and mist. Mist and rock. The only way to go was to follow the ridge. A light drying wind on #AonachEagach this afternoon.91/100 #Munros

Thanks for taking the time to visit my JustGiving page”

In June I’m climbing 100 of Scotland’s Munros (mountains over 3000ft in height) to raise funds for Scottish Mountain Rescue.

Scottish Mountain Rescue represents 23 mountain rescue teams based across the length and breadth of Scotland.Teams are comprised of over 800 volunteers who provide a world class search and rescue service. It’s a service which is available any hour, any day and in any weather. Teams can find themselves operating in challenging and at times hostile conditions in all mountainous terrain throughout Scotland. The teams are dependent on public donations to fund training and equipment.

My 30 days will be a whistle stop tour of Scotland’s best and most spectacular mountains. I’ll be in Glencoe climbing the iconic Buachaille Etive Mor which guards the entrance to Glencoe, and its smaller brother Buachaille Etive Beag. One of my shorter days out will take me to the top of Britain’s highest mountain, Ben Nevis, then on to climb the mountains to the east by the spectacular Carn Mor Dearg Arete. I’ll be hoping for good weather while climbing on the Black Cuillin on Skye for an ascent of the most difficult Munro, the Inaccessible Pinnacle, which is a graded rock climb. Argyll calls for Ben Cruachan, The Blackmount and Beinn Dorain. In Perthshire I’m looking forward to a big day on Ben Lawers and the neighbouring Munros.

I’ll spend long days in Kintail and near Ullapool wandering along big long undulating ridges taking in up to seven Munros in a day. In the Cairngorms I will virtually spend all my day above 3000ft on the desolate plateau. These days will take me up to 12 hours of continuous walking.

Even with an extensive history of Munro bagging (I have climbed all the Munros eight times) my month on the mountains remains a big challenge for me. The scale of the continual effort required to climb the mountains day after day means some part of my body is going to hurt.

I have no itinerary, just a bunch of maps to help me find my way around Scotland. Hopefully I will get enough wi-fi connection to lead me to the areas with the best weather. I’ll be camping, bivvying (sleeping out in a waterproof bag0 up on the tops of the mountains or sheltering in the campervan if the weather is horrible. My husband, Ian, is acting as my support – making my tea and ensuring the wine is chilled for me coming down off the hill to the van.

I hope you will support me by donating to Scottish Mountain Rescue. It doesn’t have to be much – the cost of a pint or a coffee always makes a difference.

Donating through JustGiving is simple, fast and totally secure. Your details are safe with JustGiving – they’ll never sell them on or send unwanted emails. Once you donate, they’ll send your money directly to the charity. So it’s the most efficient way to donate – saving time and cutting costs for the charity.

Many thanks

Hazel x

Well done Hazel hope Friday goes well for you and this great cause.





Posted in Aircraft incidents, Articles, Charity, Corbetts and other hills, Enviroment, Equipment, Friends, Hill running and huge days!, Mountain rescue, mountain safety, Mountaineering, Munros, Other hills Grahams & Donalds, Rock Climbing, SMC/SMT, Views Mountaineering, Views Political?, Weather, Wildlife | Leave a comment

Is this the way to treat our planet? The mess left at Glastonbury, it seems environmental talk is cheap but what a mess we leave for the future generations.



What a mess was left by those who were at Glastonbury of course it will all be cleaned up and the site back to normal after a huge clean up but what an example to show the world how we look after our planet?  No one seems to care or bother at the amount of waste that is left by our throw away society and every year is the same all over the UK. I wonder what those with very little all over the world feel about the complete disregard we seem to have for our environment and few say anything. No one mentions it at the festivals that are now full of political commentators but few mention the mess the place is left in, is that dangerous politics and to near home for many?

Comments welcome?

It is as bad on the hills that I love and especially round the bothies and popular hills where folk should know better. I do not understand what is wrong with folk that go to the wild places yet leave a mess.  Surely we can all do our bit to teach those that there is a payback for all the mess we leave. Yet the young kids at school are taught to respect the environment what is going wrong how do teach the kids as adults to learn not to waste and throw away their rubbish and recycle.

Why is this mess acceptable by society?

In the past before Health and Safety  sorted us in the RAF MRT we would do our bit and with the helicopter after winter we would go round the Mountain Bothies and the back of the CIC hut on Ben Nevis as the snows left. We would take as much rubbish as we could away, we were lucky we managed to get a SAR training sortie/ area knowledge to carry it all away and dispose of it. It was an awful job as it was not just rubbish we were removing at times? On the hill whenever possible I always took out as much rubbish with my hill parties when we stopped at a bothy and carried it out and it is still a constant problem in some popular bothies.

Every picture tells a story! This was 1993 ! will give you lots of information on the Mountain Bothy Association (MBA).

Sadly few things seem to have changed and despite the knowledge we have and the education about we still treat this planet terribly.  The sea is in a worse state and the effect of plastics and rubbish on sea life and the food chain will be a huge problem for the future?

Is it time to act for the future ?

Posted in Bothies, Enviroment, Equipment, Views Mountaineering, Views Political? | Leave a comment

A short hill but some Memories of better weather and summers.

I was going out for a wander  today even though I was not feeling great as the hacking cough is still with me and my pals needed two cars for a drop of, I decided I would see how it went.

When your feeling rough with an  ongoing cold with awful cough maybe you should not go out but I get so fed up sitting about and despite a few lovely local coastal walks I needed the hills. The boys needed two cars to drop of for a wander from the Slochd (high point on the A9) across to the Dava Moor. I was roped in an easy start 0900 and picked up Bernie and Derek in Forres and met Brent at the Dava Moor !I took my car to the Slochd on the busy A9  and parking was not that easy and as soon as we arrived at the track I had  a memory reminder of a call out .  In November 1984 with the RAF Mountain Rescue Teams, SARDA and Cairngorm MRT did a big search round here many years ago looking for the Mail plane that went missing from Inverness. That was a wild call – out involving a few teams over several Days. It was a hard area to search and I am sure we searched all night on one day it was hard going huge moors and very rough ground, with winter snow down.  We stayed in the Tomatin village Hall near the Distillery and were given some whisky by the locals, who looked after us very well !

It was a sad call-out in poor weather, we located the plane and the pilot on the third day of searching! We had located another light aircraft the year before and found 5 alive after an all night search at Ballbeggie near Perth we were hoping for the same but it was not to be. It is amazing that I had forgotten about this incident, the hard drive of the mind cleared again.

General Wade he gets everywhere?


We parked and headed past General Wades Road (he gets everywhere) and headed up the onto the Moor. This is wild grouse Moors and heavy going today as I coughed my way up the first  wee hill ! It was bitter cold on the first top at 634 meters and I was holding them back and felt awful so I left them and headed back to the car arriving back soaked and cold!  There were lots of hares about and they were everywhere as I struggled in the rain and it was very cold for mid June. I then had a wander above the crags above the A9 and was amazed at the work (wire netting )holding the loose rock together! It was a change at the car get warm and head into Aviemore for a brew and have some lunch.


It was bitter cold on my wee hill.


Kinloss MRT Callouts


Tomatin area


Missing Banderanti mail plane. Located after a 3 day search over a large area  Wreckage found.  1 fatal. This is a wild remote area of high moorland about 1500 -2000 feet. Hard going in poor weather


It was then a walk and back to pick up the boys on the Dava Moor, the sun came out as did the odd shower but I was still coughing badly so just chilled out. This is where a big wind farm is being built and the roads head out into the moors the whole area will change for the better or worse?

The arrived but  boys found the hills hard going at times but enjoyed their wander, they had mixed weather. I just wanted to get home so I dropped them off and was soon home a bit fed up but it was the right thing to do as that day even though not over big hills would have not been easy with a hacking cough. The heather was out and looking great and so many wild flowers so I did enjoy my short spell out hopefully a bit of rest will sort it out. Oh how I long for past days in the long daylight of the summer solstice, huge days, Tranters Round, Kintail North and South ridges and the Torridon Trilogy but not just now. One hill and I am knackered. Must get rid of this cough any tips, honey is good! How could my mind forget about that call – out all these years ago the mind is some thing?

1981 The Torridon Trilogy Beinn Eighe, Liathach and Alligin.

Posted in Enviroment, Hill running and huge days!, Local area and events to see, mountain safety, Other hills Grahams & Donalds, Views Mountaineering, Weather, Wildlife | Leave a comment

July 1944 – Wellington Crash in the Mondaliaths and the very early days of RAF Kinloss Mountain Rescue

July 1944 – The Early days of RAF Kinloss Mountain Rescue Team

July 1944 – With the increasing number of flying accidents in the mountains, Mountain Rescue was playing a more important part in RAF Kinloss Station activities based in Morayshire Scotland. A voluntary team had been in existence for some time but in July 1944 a Mountain Rescue Instructor Sgt Hanns J Pick was posted in to organise and train a proper Mountain Rescue Team.

The team was equipped with a jeep and a ambulance which had a radio receiver fitted in October 1944. The first major task of the newly formed RAF Kinloss MRT was the collection pf the bodies of Lancaster PD 259 which crashed with no survivors South of Tomatin on 31 August 1944. A lot of this aircraft are still to be seen at the site of the crash. I visited this site a few times in my days with RAF Mountain Rescue as navigation training for the new member’s.   It is as always a lonely poignant place a lot of the wreckage has been removed see article below.

Wreckage a lot gone since this photo .



Monadhliaths – Grid ref 35/730110/37/7251106

LancasterCrash.  PD259-463 Sqn.  Mid air break up returning from ops over Konigsberg.  RAF – Waddington Aircraft. 7 Killed.  . RAF  Kinloss MRT First official recorded Call Out

RAF Avro 683 Lancaster B I (Mk.I) / PD259 coded JO-G

RAF Operations Record Book.

Wellington Crash site

Extract of operations record for the morning of 1st September, 1944.

Time 0010  – 
Crash party under Station Medical Officer and Flight Sergeant Engineer left by road for KINGUSSIE in which area a ROC (Royal Observer Corps) post had reported a crashed Lancaster Bomber. This party was out for approximately nineteen hours in very wild hilly country.


The bomber had apparently exploded in mid-air at an estimated altitude of 10,000 feet, for the debris was spread out over some two square miles of country.

Six bodies of the crew, five Australian and one British were discovered, but due to the nature of the country it was not possible to bring these remains in at once. A seventh member of the crew was still missing when the party returned to LONGMAN.

The aircraft was traced as Lancaster aircraft J.O.G. belonging to R.A.F. Station, WADDINGTON. The “Mountaineering Section” KINLOSS relieved the LONGMAN crash party in order to bring in the bodies of the air crew the following day.

Those who died in this accident were:


All except Warrant Officer Middleton were Australians. W/O Middleton was British.

During 2008 – 2010, almost all of the wreckage was recovered from the crash site. The following links show photos and video of the recovery operations and photos from RAF Waddington Heritage Centre.

Much of the wreckage is now stored at this Centre; although a propeller blade from the aircraft has been placed at Balavil Estate cemetery.

Posted in Aircraft incidents, Mountain rescue | 2 Comments

29 July 1980 – Mick Hernon RIP Pic Badile – Stafford MRT. A plea “If your climbing abroad please have Insurance?”

I was in North Wales on 29 July 1980  I had seen plenty of tragedy in the mountains and learned much of the effect that personal loss brings when  we lost one of our own Mick Hernon in the Apls.  Mick was a great pal and on  29 July 1980 was killed whilst descending the Pic Badile after ascending the West Face. Mick was a well-loved man by the RAF Mountain Rescue Teams and joined as a member of the Stafford Mountain Rescue Team. Mick was at RAF Valley in North Wales  when he was killed in the Alps and climbed with us often. I had just taken over as Full Time Deputy Team Leader at RAF Valley when we received the news. It was a tragic day for us all Mick left a  young wife and two young children who were with him in the camp site in the Alps when the news came of his accident .

Stafford MRT – Photo Eric Hollister.

This was one of my first times I had lost personally a close pal in the hills and Mick’s family were with him on a RAFMA Meet where Mick training for a magor Himalayan Expedition. It was a sad time made worse as Mick had limited Insurance for an accident in the mountains at the time and we had to pull a few strings to get Mick home.

I met Mick on my MLC ( Mountain Leadership Certificate) in Llanryst in North Wales and we partnered up. We had some fun he was an incredible mountaineer even then it was November and we had snow. I will never forget our steep ground assessment on the “Parsons Nose” complete with snow and then the camping phase and run along Crib Goch. After that we became big pals and as he progressed to one of the best climbers in Wales we met many of the top climbers of the day at the climbing Walls where Mick would at times climb with a heavy sack to improve his skills.    He came winter climbing with us in these days we got a winter in Wales and we did some of the big routes of the day then in Wales. We did some good stuff on the Black Ladders/ Ogwen and Llanberris  some of the best ice climbs at the time.  He was often at our local crag Gogarth where he and Stan Owen were on the big routes regularly after a days work. It was all go  we all climbed and he was making a big name for himself in his unassuming way. He only joined the team at Valley for a short time as he had a young family and wanted to spend his valuable time with them. Yet he was always willing to help our young budding rock stars improve. He was such a valuable asset to us and hugely helped pushed the Valley Teams standards.


The funeral at Stafford was a sad affair and one that took a long time to come to terms with for many of us that someone of Mick’s talent should get killed in the mountains  Mick at the time was an outstanding climber and was destined for greatness. We all still miss him and what a hard lesson to us all at the time and throughout life. To leave a young wife and two girls was the real tragedy and I always wondered about them as we all moved away from the South ?

The late Mick Hernon

This tragedy made me push the troops and pals to get insured when in the Alps or overseas. This is still so good advice even today and I have lost a few pals in the big mountains in the past and you must always have Insurance if it all goes wrong. My best pal Big Al MacLeod was killed on the Matterhorn North Face in the 90’s he had no Insurance and what a tragedy that was at the time. Please , please get Insurance if you are going abroad.

I know go forward to 2017 in June Mick’s daughter Marie has been in touch she read a piece I wrote in my blog a few years ago and was touched by the words and sent me a photo of her Dad. I wonder  does anyone have any photos of Mick in the Mountains? I got some lovely replies and will pass them on to Marie

Please share and get in touch with me if you can help.

In Memory of Mick Hernon.

Some words on Mick Hernon  – from pals

We heard about Mick’s demise while at a party in Seattle, prior to Valley/Leeming’s ascent of Mount Rainier. Alister received the sad news during a phone call from Tony Jones back home. Incredibly sadI remember Mick trying to customize a Maciness Massey ice hammer by attempting to convert it into a form of ice pick. Back in work shops he grinded off about two pounds of steel and shortened the shaft. A wee bit too top heavy but a good idea.. ….EHollister –

RAF Stafford MRT – photo E Hollister.

Woody Woodyart –   remember Mick very well , on his first weekend with MR , I ” took ” Mick climbing on a gritstone crag ,Robs Rocks , he just flew up every route that I was capable of leading , ended up dropping him a rope on several HVS s .
A great climber and a lovely, lovely man .
There is a Stafford team photograph 1976 with Mick on , I will post it on you .
I remember Micks wife and children, and have often thought about them .
Rest in peace Mike , a great loss .

Keith Atkinson –  Great friend who introduced me to climbing. At my wedding reception he spent loads of time trying to convince my new bride to forgo my honeymoon so that I could go to the alps with him. Sadly just after the honeymoon news reached us of his untimely death. I will always remember him for his mentoring that caused my love of climbing.

Pete Weatherhill – Did a lot of training with Mick and a few epics, like trying to do Dream of White Horses and ended up on Concrete Chimney! Also did the Karrimor Mountain Marathon.

Eric Joyce – A very talented climber. Mick was my instructor on my first summer course and an inspiaration for me to push my own limits of ability. I cant remember how it came about, but we met up by chance one afternoon just before he departed to the alps. Turned out to be quite a hard bouldering session at Caley Craggs, Otley near my hometown. He was a natural gritstone climber. We arranged to get in touch when he returned from his trip. A great loss.

Thanks all any photos appreciated thanks. Heavy

Posted in Equipment, Expeditions - Alaska - Himalayas etc, Family, Friends, Himalayas/ Everest, Mountain rescue, mountain safety, Mountaineering, People, Views Mountaineering | Leave a comment

A visit to Aberdeen and Insch and a wee talk for the Guides with some old pals.

Yesterday was a busy day I was off to Aberdeen to see Ashleigh in her new flat in Aberdeen it was pouring when I left home. The rest of the UK had a heatwave going! The usually busy Aberdeen road was quite today and it was an easy journey especially when the sun came out. Aberdeen was sunny and I had a great few hours together some lunch and dropped of some things for Ashleigh! She fixed my computer and updated my website it was all magic to me thanks Ashleigh.

After this I was going on to Insch for a fundraiser for the Local Guides and  I stopped at Benn Achie Centre and had a short walk !  What a great facility full of interesting information about this incredible wee mountain. This is a great place to visit and was busy with fold walking cycling and enjoying the amenities. Sadly my time was precious but what a great Centre and a special hill so well looked after and a place I must revisit again!

It was then on to Insch the sun was hot and I had a great few hours with my niece Judith Graham and the family! We even had our dinner outside in the sun ! Her daughter Holly is off to Mexico with the Guides and is fundraising for the trip hence my visit to give a chat in the Community Centre! Before that Lucas her brother batters me on his football game as he is recovering from an appendix operation and his brother Gregor kept us busy with his gymnastics it was a full on 2 hours.


Judith and the other Mum had been busy baking for the lecture  teas and it was a hectic hour at the hall setting out the seats and getting ready! I was worried that the weather was so good few would come but in the end we had a great crowd and raised nearly £250 for the Guides. We had a break in between and tea and cakes.

Thanks to all for your support and keep kindness! I left just after 2200 for my journey home the sun and sky was a red orb on the hills and the roads quite again. Getting near home, the Moray Coast  and the sea the views were wonderful and I was soon home!

It had been a busy day but so enjoyable. The world is mad again with the latest terror attack in London. Yet I met so many kind folk again some old pals from Mountain Rescue who are the best of people and some great kids who are our future! You have to keep going and not let the world problems just now and drag you down!

Time with folk you love is special try and make time for each other! Thanks to my niece Judith for a great evening and all the work you all did! Family support is so important and the tea and cakes are superb I share them with Wendy today! In my mind good things happen and  Karma comes around to those who keep giving and loving!

Thanks all for your support, care and love!

So much to do , so little time!



Posted in Books, Lectures, Local area and events to see, Mountain Biking | 2 Comments

Fathers Day thoughts.

Father day. 2017 –  Many would not believe that I had a minister as my father a “Fire and Brimstone minister” a tee – totaller.  We had a great child hood though, very little money in a big manse in Ayr, (he tithed his small salary to the Lord) Yet he was a good Dad loved sport, football and the mountains. He was a dedicated Church Of Scotland Minister his life was the Church  and Mum single-handedly  brought us up all five kids in a the Manse in Ayr .

Dad and me at Galloway.

I  was the last of 5 kids and was more than a bit of a wild child as the Ministers son maybe it was because  you got some grief and folk expected more from you as  was usual for a son of the Manse!  I was always playing up a bit rebellious and getting into many scrapes. Dad was very strict and I needed it  but looking back he gave me a great  start to life though like many I never appreciated it at the time.. The rest of the family were well – behaved and as the youngest of the family  with three sisters and one brother I was spoiled and often in trouble.

Dad and Mum gave me a love of the mountains and sport  and we used to go to all of the Ayr United games home and away. Dad always wore his dog collar and this often got us into the games for free. I would vanish among the crowd and Dad and Mum would be in the stand. (Mum was always worried I would get arrested) He had a booming voice and it like me could be heard all around the ground and was a bit of a local character. The Church was his life and he worked so hard we hardly saw him. He was an old-fashioned minister who visited his people and was a true hard worker and was always there when you needed him. He was a very talented runner and won the Arthur’s Seat Race on, several occasions  and Captain of the Hares and Hounds and Edinburgh University Athletics club. He was a fit man playing tennis right into his later life.

It was in the Mountains  he spent his early days in the 1930’s at Loch Arkaig in the West Coast as a student Minister visiting the far-flung parishes in Glendessary and about, small Churches with great people. He was looked after by the Head Keeper Cameron Of Loch Eil who carried all the heavy  Sacrament communion  cups bits and pieces of gear for my Dad  minister to some far-flung parishes.  They would do a few Munro s after the services, he loved these days. He never forgot and always remembered Cameron and his care and loved the mountains and we had some great days out. It was in the hills that I really started to get to know my Dad and when I joined the RAF and joined the RAF Mountain Rescue he was happy and that my wildness was being tamned? We managed a few great days in our amazing Galloway Hills, The Merrick, Corserine and  Back Hill of the  Bush and of course Arran were spent so many holidays.  We had so many great days on the Arran Ridge, Goatfell, A’Chir and the other great peaks. We all went as a family and had such holidays, huge days 12 hours at times and fish and chips on the way home. These are days I will never forget.  The family holidays swapping manses in the Highlands were great fun and more big days on the mountains. He never wore any kit a jumper  as his spare kit and old pair of shoes and trousers, he wore the dog collar at times to get up restricted tracks! We even met Hamish in Glencoe on the aptly named Church Door Buttress when we were having a small epic in the wet and mist.

Goatfell 1957

We had a plan to go round the big Hotels in the Highlands, the Clachaig in Glencoe, Kintail Lodge and Skye and do the big hills is comfort. Sadly it was not to be for once we had a bit of money but Mum died suddenly of leukaemia and Dad took it very hard.  He was never the same and he collapsed in the pulpit during Easter week Services and never really recovered he was in hospital till he died. He was all there mentally but the stroke never allowed him to get out of hospital, it was a sad time for all.

You are who you are and family makes you who you are, I was very lucky to have had such a Dad and Mum, special people who you have no clue at the time what you owe them. Money means little, love and care is far more precious, I was a wild teenager and yet they still loved me and did their best, I will never forget that.

On Father’s day and every day give Mum and Dad your love and tell them how much you care for them.

Thanks Dad.



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