Off to the Hills – beware of sunburn in the Cairngorms. Heading out to the Corbett Creag Mhor .

You do not often get a forecast like this – EFFECT OF WIND ON YOU? –  Small.

HOW WET? – No rain

CLOUD ON THE HILLS? – Not expected


SUNSHINE AND AIR CLARITY? – Bright sun (beware sunburn). Superb visibility.

HOW COLD? (AT 900M) -5 to 7C.

FREEZING LEVEL – Above the summits, but terrain at least partially frozen from valleys up in morning after a frost.

Taking the bike – after a bit of a faff sorting the bike rack out.

Bike on ready to go.

Sunburn we will see?

Creag Mhor is an unassuming hill in a remote Cairngorms location, topped by a granite tor. It rises to the northeast of the Fords of Avon and is usually climbed using the Lairig an Laoigh.


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Fun day in the Roseille forest with Burghead primary school and Outfitmoray! Moray Mountaineering Club AGM a slide show -Hills on Horseback / General Wades Roads: 

Yesterday it was a busy morning helping Outfitmoray a local charity that I am the patron of with their Active Schools day at my local Burghead primary school.
Outfit Moray Outdoor Adventure Activities Charity Lossiemouth

Changing Lives Through Learning and Adventure Outdoors

Outfit Moray is an award-winning charity and social enterprise delivering outdoor learning, adventure and nature exploration programmes which transform lives.

Founded in 2003, we have worked with over 14,000 children and young people; building confidence, self-esteem and resilience, providing positive role models and encouraging the acquisition of life skills and new experiences through challenge and positive risk taking.

We are a visionary, ambitious and passionate organisation committed to making a difference to the lives of others and particularly those who are vulnerable and disadvantaged.

Our unique approach to learning, education, training and development applies to all that we do, whether working one-to-one with children referred to us, running holiday and respite weeks for vulnerable children, outdoor learning and adventure programmes with schools, or activity sessions to improve health and well-being in adults.

We take a holistic approach to our work; founded on the principles of charity, care and compassion, building trust, valuing courage, patience and integrity, developing social skills and team work, respect for human dignity and taking a selfless approach to the needs of others. It is our aim to encourage positive growth: mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually, to provide hope for a better future, to improve happiness, health and well-being and to create a sense of life purpose.

Outfit Moray provides a supportive structure for a number of charitable and socially enterprising projects to flourish in line with our Vision and Mission, and in particular Earthtime and Bike Revolution. We apply our core values to these projects and actively promote them as part of our work in caring for others and our planet.

Outfit Moray strives to be carbon neutral, to reduce waste and to encourage recycling and upcycling. We are signatories to Scotland’s Climate Change Pledge.

The Den !!!

I met Martin from Outfitmoray in Burghead and along with 7 of the kids we had fun on our local forest at Roseille building a den from dead wood! We split into two teams and it was a great laugh with lots of learning and new skills learned!

We then all had a hot chocolate as a reward cooked on the Kelly kettle and then back to school it was a busy few hours but enjoyed by all! The kids were having fun and hopefully picked up a few skills on the way! It was great to see them out in the fresh air and I was tired after a few hours old age!

The Kelly kettle what a great bit of kit!

  • BOIL WATER ULTRA-FAST in the outdoors with the famous Kelly Kettle®. Use the fire-base of the Kettle as a simple Wood CAMPING STOVE.
  • NO Batteries, NO Gas – FREE FUEL! Simply use a handful of sticks, Pine cones, Birch bark, dry grass…even dry animal dung! This kettle boils in just 3 – 5 minutes. Enjoy hot water for tea, coffee, rehydrating food, bathing, cooking, etc…..irrespective of weather conditions or your location. Just look at our Pictures! Boil water & cook at the same time when fishing & hunting, Car Camping, trekking, backpacking, Scouts, power cuts, working in the outdoors or simply having a fun family picnic.
  • This Aluminium ‘Trekker’ 0.6ltrs (now with upgraded Steel fire-base) is currently the smallest and lightest kettle in the range. Fire-base and drawstring carry bag are included as standard. Diameter: 14cm Height: 27cm (Packed) Weight: 0.54kg Capacity: 0.6ltr
  • Kelly Kettles are available in various sizes in Stainless Steel or Aluminium. Add our various high quality accessories to complete the Kelly Kettle camping range. No open fire (the fire is contained within the kettle & fire base)! Carbon neutral green camping. No travel restrictions (planes etc.)
  • Extremely popular camping equipment for Wilderness Survival, Emergency Preparedness or Disaster Kit. Lightweight, compact and durable, the Kelly Kettle® works in extreme storm or hurricane conditions. 2yr anti-leak warranty with excellent customer service.

Any comments on the Kelly Kettle – my Grand-kids will love it and my “Den Building skills”

It was then a quick snooze (old age) and get ready for the Moray Mountaineering club AGM at the Glen Moray Visitor Centre in Elgin! We had a lively debate and then a great slide show by Simon on the hills on horseback. It was a wonderful insight into the old drove roads and General Wades huge influence in Scotland! What a wonderful chat! Thanks Simon and the Glen Moray Distillery for their sponsorship.


We had a sell off of old gear and I managed to raise over £100 for Torridon MRT from some of the kit I sold at the end of the night – so hopefully those who took some gear will donate to this great team who are building a Base in Torridon at long last!

They need to raise £50000 to meet their costs, they currently use a cupboard at the Youth Hostel!

In all a great day thanks to Outfitmoray for all they do for local children! Also the Moray Mountaineering Club who are always looking for new members! Most of the members are walkers so do not let the name scare you! Many of us are willing to teach you the basics of hill walking safely and the mountains and wild places are a great place to be and the company is great!

Have a look on the website !

The Moray Mountaineering Club was established in 1931 with the declared aim ‘to encourage mountaineering and serve as a bond of union amongst lovers of the Scottish hills’. Membership is centered on the Elgin and Forres areas but enthusiasts from Keith, Fochabers, Inverness and further afield attend meets.

Club activities include monthly ‘bus’ and ‘weekend’ meets, regular rock climbing sessions and social functions.  A nominated committee member manages each activity.  The main interest centres on summer and winter hill walking, but there are also rock-climbers, winter mountaineers and ski tourers.

A small elected Committee manages the club on behalf of the membership, with decisions being ratified at the Annual General Meeting in March or April each year. There is a small annual membership fee, which provides individual third-party liability insurance through the Mountaineering Council of Scotland, the quarterly “Scottish Mountaineer” magazine, a monthly club newsletter, occasional training sessions and discounts at some outdoor retailers.

Your responsibilities

Members of the Committee are generally happy to share their knowledge and skills with less experienced members and guests.  However, please be aware that committee members are not necessarily experienced and are unlikely to possess any formal mountaineering qualifications.  Ultimately you must take responsibility for your own decisions.

The Moray Mountaineering Club supports the UIAA participation statement, which states, Climbing and mountaineering are activities with a danger of personal injury or death. Participants in these activities should be aware of and accept these risks and be responsible for their own actions and involvement”

The weather looks good this weekend so I hope to get out.

Posted in Equipment, Friends, Gear, Lectures, Local area and events to see, Mountain rescue, mountain safety, Mountaineering, Munros, Views Mountaineering, Weather | Leave a comment

Achnacarry and Loch Arkaig a kind keeper can you help identify this photo?

Maybe Achnacarry Glendessary can you identify the keeper?

Does anyone have any information on the above photo. I am sure it was from when my Dad was a student minister at Achnacarry in the late 1930’s. He was often out giving communion to the various  outlying remote settlements in the area. I was brought up on the many tales of the keeper who carried the communion cups and wine and was looking after my Dad on these trips. They often went over the hills and the tops and that made a huge impression on my Dad who was super fit and at Edinburgh University and captain of the Harriers. He spoke about visits to the big house and the Cameron’s of Locheil and there work during the war.  I was very young  about 13 when we got our first car I remember the wild drive up to Achnacarry, Loch Arkaig and Glendessary to see this magical place. I was sick most of the way yet I never forgot that road or the hills and they remain majestic to me. I was often up in this area and it became somewhere else I bonded with.  I am sure we met the keeper and his family but my memory fails me, I was just a wee laddie. My Dad often spoke about with great warmth for the way he was looked after by the keeper and the locals.  His mode of transport was a bike and he cycled back to Spean Bridge at times after some of the services.  I am trying to chase this up so if anyone can help that would be great My Dad was called Bill Whalley. He and Mum gave me a huge love and respect for the mountains and the people who work in them.  I always had this vision of him and the keeper bagging a Munro or a big hill on the way home.

He often spoke about this part of his life in his sermons. I wish I had listened a bit more in these days!

My Dad in Ayr – still miss him.

He had huge respect for this special place area and the people many who went to war or trained the Commandos in this area.

Can anyone help?

Sadly I wonder what he would have made of the tragedy in London yesterday? My thoughts are with all those who have lost loved ones and those who gave their lives to protect our way of life.

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Am  I a wind coward or just getting old?

I always look at the weather forecast and the wind speeds, the forecast is a guide so when I arrive in an area I keep my options open. I spent 40 years many times out in weather where only the mad would venture or Rescue Teams had to go. I have crawled across the plateau on Cairngorm roped up for over an hour trying to get off the hill after an unsuccessful winter search at night. We were not searching but surviving and I spent many years giving new team members the experience of extreme winds as this is what they may have to be out in on a rescue.  These were never easy and at first you think you are invincible and then you  learn from  your epics. I have watched a team-mate on Beinn Alligin again on a search get out of helicopter On the ridge and thrown in the air 30 feet and be lucky not to be blown over the edge. These and many other adventures make me wary of the wind. My mate a few years ago was going out for a look the winds were forecast to be high and he was picked up by a gust and smashed into a rock in Coire an Sneachda in the Cairngorms. He is a big strong lad and yet he smashed his ankle badly and could not walk out, it was a bit of an epic getting him off the hill. 

A quote from Pete 

“The result of being disrespectful to the wind (and weather forecast). 2 months in plaster!”

He is a hugely experienced mountaineer and had climbed some of the world;s big Alpine routes plus several Himalayan summits yet a Scottish wind a gust in the wrong place gave him one of his hardest days.  He was also off work for several months and that did not help. Thanks Pete for letting me use your photo – and words !

Wintry search in the Cairngorms not a bad wind but look at the dog!

As a young troop just 8 stone it was a fight to stay up in a bad wind and I learnt fast, small steps, use poles and crampons on icy ground, keep low as possible and  learn from every adventure. Yes I have a fear of the wind after a few of my own epics being blown of  a ridge and over a cornice in the past. At over 60 I feel I do not need to batter my body any more and enjoy my hill days. Even more important I do not wish anyone else coming out in these conditions for me and risking their lives or that of a helicopter? I have had many scary rides in a helicopter in big winds going in for an injured climber sometimes at great risk to all concerned?  So my days are over of fighting the big wind but I can still get caught out by a quick change in weather and the secret is to get down as quick as possible and into shelter. The forecasts are a lot better from my early days and can still be wrong but if we see the crowds and the spin drift on the tops wisping away this means high winds will be on the summits.

Wind coward – Yes I am  – Any comments?


The wind on the hilltops tends to be stronger than at ground level, and you should allow for this when planning your walk.

Wind speed at the top of a mountain can be two to three times greater than the valley, i.e. two to three times the wind speed quoted on lowland weather forecasts, e.g. the MWIS /BBC ETC .


Vulnerable Areas

Mountain summits, ridges & cols/beleachs tend to have strong winds, as it’s here that the fast rising air is funnelled.

  • 30 – 40 Mph blowing you about on the hill. Very hard going
  • 50 Mph + really difficult.
  • 60 Mph + wild, existing – chance of getting blown off!
  • How would YOU COPE WITH SOMEONE IN YOUR PARTY GETTING BLOWN over AND INJURED? The helicopter would struggle to get to you, it would be a Mountain Rescue Team that would try to assist?

Yesterday the Lochaber Team and the RAF Lossiemouth Team were out on Ben Nevis and located a hypodermic walker a great result well done all.  It is still winter on the hills be aware many are getting impatient but good weather may be on the way soon.


Posted in Enviroment, Equipment, Mountain rescue, mountain safety, Mountaineering, Views Mountaineering, Weather | 2 Comments

The Mountain Bothies Association MBA.

At the weekend a lot of us enjoy a break out of the wind and rain in a Mountain Bothy we were up in the far North at Lochiveraon at the West end of loch a’ Bhraoin. It was great to get out of the weather and the bothy was spotless no litter or rubbish left. A few of the newer member of the club asked about the bothies and it is worth looking on their website for some information.

1973 Galloway Heavy Back Hill bothy great memories.

I was privileged to speak at the Mountain Bothies Association  AGM on their 50 th Anniversary in 2015 and the bothies have always been a big part of my life. I spent a lot of time as a very young lad in Galloway where Back Hill of the Bush my first bothy became a place I loved as a young lad when out on the hills. I will never forget my first night about 13 years old spending a magic night in the bothy. We got a fire going after a wet snowy walk in and some great person had left us some dry fire wood and the wood smoke on my clothes smell and memories remains with me to this day . Sadly Back Hill of the Bush is gone it was vandalised and the forestry I am sure had to shut it and this is so sad that idiots do this to a bothy and the landowners have no option but to close them.

Back-hill-o-bush-winter MBA Photo

Many times I spent time in them on the Big walks I used them walking through Scotland and we stayed in them often with the RAF Rescue Teams and spent many nights introducing so many new comers to the outdoors to the bothy life. After a long day a fire a meal and a dram are special in a bothy.  If someone goes missing one of the first checks is the bothies and how many have been saved by a night in a bothy? So many tales to tell of the epic days in the Cairngorms and arriving in the bothy after a wild day.



The bothies are tolerated only by great work by the MBA and the many landowners and there has to be mutual respect by all sides to see the MBA continue their great work. This is why I am a member it is only a few pounds annually but all helps as they are maintained by volunteers who do  great work. So next time you stop out of the weather or overnight spare a thought for the MBA or even better send them a donation, do we not owe them that?

Join the MBA.


Founded in 1965, the Mountain Bothies Association exists to maintain remote buildings for which the owner has little or no use, yet remain important to walkers and others who make use of the shelter that they provide. We only own one of these buildings – Over Phawhope bothy. The remainder are maintained with the agreement and encouragement of the owners. All maintenance work is financed from our own resources, mainly membership subscriptions supplemented by generous donations from benefactors, some of whom wish to commemorate a relative or friend who was a hill  walker or climber.

The maintenance work along with the bulk of administration is carried out by volunteers. Each bothy in the care of the Association has one or more Maintenance Organisers who are responsible for arranging routine maintenance. You will find more information about the bothies that we maintain and about what we do elsewhere on this site. If you are not already a member, why not join us and help to preserve these unique shelters?

Shenaval-Beinn-a-Chaliaim-jly-Corbett or Munro?

What is your favourite bothy one of mine is Shenavall,

The journey to Shenavall.

Cars fly by as you cross the road, to another world. Then silence, the traitor’s gate.

The track wynds through the trees, the river breaks the silence,

The glaciated slabs hide the cliffs, then:

Views of An Teallach

Views of An Teallach open at every turn.

Midges and clegs abound here but not today, too cold, its winter.

Cross the river, is that bridge in the wrong place? Muddy and wet, back on track,

Steep hill, upwards towards the top, the wee cairn, stop, no rush, drink it all in.

An Teallach. snow plastered, familiar, foreboding.

Open moor, contour round and round, special views,

Every corrie on that great hill has a particular thought. Memories

Fisherfield, these great hills, the light changing, to the West

Memories – the wilderness Beinn Tarsuin

Youthful  memories of companions, some now gone.

Epic days, trying to impress? Pushing it and nearly, losing it?

Descent to Shenevall, steep, slippy and wet,

Eroded now by so many feet.

Deer rattle the door

Collect some wood. The bothy, the deer, they are still there;

Shenevall. It never changes, only the seasons.

Tea in hand – One of my favourite bothies.

Fire on, primeval, tea in hand, alone with thoughts.

The Deer rattle the door, time for sleep.


Thanks to the MBA!   Heavy Feb 2015 For Yvette.

Posted in Book, Bothies, Corbetts, Equipment, Gear, Mountain rescue, mountain safety, Mountaineering, Munros, Views Mountaineering, Weather, Wildlife | Leave a comment

Four seasons in one day at Loch a Bhraoin the Fannichs. 


The Bus and the weather on the apply named road of Destitution !

The plan was a day out with the Moray Mountaineering Club Bus Meet to the Fannichs yesterday. The forecast was wild on the tops so I planned an easy day on the lower Grahams! Weather permitting! The photo below shows the sunny spells we had where the great peaks looked incredible in between showers. The rain started with black clouds and o views as we headed North West in the bus, the further West we went the darker the skies got and there were a few changes of plan on the bus for what to do today.


A bit wet in the walk in.

In the end most of the group stayed on the bus till the last stop and five others managed a varying of tops in interesting weather. We got of the bus on the “Road of Destitution” at the big lay-by near the end to Fannichs! This is the third time I had been here this winter! I had a managed a few summits in the past and it was a big crowd that gathered to walk to the Bothy and assess the day!

Still happy – Just

They did well in the conditions that were pretty wild in between showers and winter squalls. Winter is still with us on the hills and it was pretty chilly as we left the bus as the rain started again and once we left the shelter of the bus it was full waterproofs on.

Wet walking at times

I was happy not to be on the summits as the winds forecast were big 50 mph on the tops! The walk in to the Bothy is easy about an hour and a bit but the small burns were pretty full on even at this level. The squalls came in every half hour heavy rain, hail and bitter wind. Then the sun would come out and the tops would clear.
We met 3 folk leaving from the Bothy hoods up and we just said hullo they had a wet day and were heading home.

Our walk up the Loch and then up the glen for a bit. We were hoping to get views of the great Munros of Fisherfield –  Ruadh Stac Mor (919m, Munro 273)
A’Mhaighdean (967m, Munro 188)
Beinn Tarsuinn (937m, Munro 239)
Mullach Coire Mhic Fhearchair (1018m, M115)
Sgurr Ban (989m, Munro 157)

The Bothy was a great place to get out the weather and what a bonus thanks to the MBA. Maybe the club may donate to the MBA as we regularly use them to shelter and stop in! I am a member and well worth supporting the Mountain Bothy Association(MBA) We decided to have a wander on but the river was wild and few fancied trying to cross it today.

In the bothy – worthy of a donation from all those who use these great shelters?

We wander up the Glen hoping to get views of the great Fisherfield Hills and the slabs but the path was awful, so flooded by the river and muddy and then the storm came in again (on the video) we decided to return to the Bothy and then at the Bothy it cleared again! Then  in came the showers and it was head down back to the bus!

We had another stop at the bothy the sun was out again but darl crowds were brewing so we had a stop, a sun bathe and then off again.

The bothy!

It was then a wander back.

It was a short 4 hour walk but that was enough soon the crazy three Irish returned from Meall a ‘ Chrasgadh hard-won Munro in big winds.  We were all soaked but got changed dry gear essential on a Bus meet. It was then a tourist visit to Corrieshalloch Gorge at Breamore junction! A spot I know well from my Rescue days and a wee epic in the 70’ s chasing ice with the late Mark “Cheeky Sinclair” involving an abseil in to the gorge while chasing ice climbs! Today it was a great place to visit.

Corrieshalloch Gorge.

We then picked up Stuart at Loch Droma he had climbed the Corbett Ben Enaiglair and walked to Loch Droma where we picked him up.

Loch Droma bothy now no longer is use a few nights spent here in the big walks.

I stayed at the small Bothy on several occasions once for a Christmas period from Valley in North Wales. I also stayed here in my walks after some huge days so that wee hut is etched in my memory!

It was then off for a cup of tea and a beer at the Inchbae Lodge Inn where 20 walkers were welcomed by Richard and Sarah Eaton a friendly place that welcomes all! Thanks for your hospitality!

The bus then head home for an earlier than usual arrival but all fairly happy of a day in the vagaries of a March day.
My gear is soaked and drying out now and a reminder to take plenty of dry clothes for the bus! Ray has only so many spare pairs of socks to loan the damsels in distress!

Ray the sock man.

Yes it was fun, honest.



We did catch a view of one of my favourite hills. Mullach Coire Mhic Fhearchair (1018m, M115) with its huge slabs a day to remember in the past and Sgurr Ban (989m, Munro 157)

Mullach Coire Mhic Fhearchair (1018m, M115)
Sgurr Ban (989m, Munro 157)


Posted in Enviroment, Equipment, Friends, Gear, mountain safety, Mountaineering, Munros, Other hills Grahams & Donalds, Weather | Leave a comment

Off to the North West

Heading to the North West the Fannichs with the Moray Mountaineering Bus meet. Weather not great so will sort out what we are doing when we arrive!

Early start long day but need a wander! 

Posted in Bothies, Corbetts, Enviroment, Friends, Mountaineering, Other hills Grahams & Donalds, Weather, Wildlife | 2 Comments
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