The Cromdales and a visit to the crash site of a RAF Armstrong Whitworth Whitley, Carn a’ Ghille Chearr, 710 metres Cromdale Hills.

I have visited the Cromdales a few times mainly on the odd winter course when we skied from Grantown on Spey. This was due to heavy snow at various years stopping us going to the Cairngorms. Yet I have never found the remains of crashed aircraft near the summit of Carn a’ Ghillie Chearr. It is a sad reminder of the war where 4 of the crew died. It is usually hidden by snow in peat hags near the summit.

As many will know I have not been on the hill for a long time. I have a terrible cough that is getting investigated and awaiting the results of a scan. I was very worried how it would go but so looking forward to getting out.

On the way to the Cromdales my pal Terry Moore who was visiting and me visited Jim Morning in Grantown On Spey. We had a coffee and cake then a wander down to the Old bridge. Jim and Terry were soon chatting of climbs past and The two Everest West Ridge-expeditions. There was also a great tale of an abseil of the Ben in wild winter conditions on a dodgy peg. I was filming them chatting on the bridge when my North Face jacket was picked up by the wind and deposited into the Spey. We left Jim in Grantown and headed for our wee hill.

Before my jacket went into the Spey . Jim, Terry and Islay .

It was last seen heading down the river with Islays lead in the pocket. Jim and Terry could only laugh I was so glad my car keys were not in the pocket.

My jacket before it’s trip down the Spey.

Càrn a’ Ghille Charr the more northeasterly of the two Grahams in the Cromdale Hills. Though a simple rounded hill it has fewer visitors than its neighbour, and the old paths that lead up onto the ridge from the Cromdale side have become overgrown which means parts of the route involve harder going through deep heather. Walk Highlands


Pathless for much of the ascent, with sections of deep heather. The ridge is soggy in places with an intermittent path. This description is very apt there is a lot of Heather and burning of the hillside. After not being on even a wee hill it was steady going. Poor Terry and Islay the collie had to listen to me coughing like I was at altitude.

Slowly going with another spare top on.

The weather was fine very windy at times but once we got onto the ridge it was easier and had some shelter, food and a drink. The Wessex little wild life but I have rarely seen so many Cloudberry plants about.


Cloudberry is closely related to the bramble family s, but unlike those, possesses no thorns. It spreads from creeping rootstock very low along the ground, never reaching more than 8 inches in height. It inhabits damp or wettish acid moorland and peaty bogs. The leaves are palmate, crinkly and usually solitary, and not in threes like most other brambles.


Cloudberry is a very shy flowerer.

The berries change from red to pale orange, and are edible. They have an unusual fused appearance rather reminiscent of a mass of conjoined soap bubbles.

Cloudberry is a dioecious plant with male and female flowers on separate plants.

Cloudberry ?

Islay who I am looking after just now was ahead with her new pal Terry but it was just great to be out. We met no one, Terry waiting for me to catch up. The views were great Ben Rinnes and Morayshire looking so green. We had one shower but missed the rain we descended from the summit and after a short search near the start of the burn located the wreckage we were looking for.

At the wreckage

On 31st January 1943 this aircraft took off from Kinloss airfield at 10.35hrs to undertake a cross country training flight. At around 17.00hrs the aircraft flew into high ground close to the summit of Carn a’Ghillie Chearr; one of the larger peaks in the Hills of Cromdale, Moray while returning to base in poor weather. Three of the crew died at the scene of the crash, one died two days later and one other survived his injuries.

Grid ref and height from summit of crash site.

Pilot – Sgt Peter William Barrett RAFVR (1425570), aged 20, of Beverley, Yorkshire. Buried Beverley Church Cemetery, Yorkshire (A/K/43).

Observer – P/O Sidney John Stenning RAFVR (129370), aged 20, of North Kensington, London. Buried Kinloss Abbey, Moray (50/B).

Bomb Aimer – Sgt Joseph Raymond Charles Rugeroni-Hope RAFVR (1387054), aged 20, of Edinburgh. Buried Edinburgh Mount Vernon Cemetery (O/148).

Wireless Operator / Air Gunner – Sgt John Douglas RAFVR (980831), aged 23, of Glasgow. Buried Glasgow (Riddrie Park) Cemetery.

Air Gunner – Sgt A P Wilson. Injured.

We spent some time looking about found various bits and pieces in the peat hags. I always think of those who died here. Yet one survived and we know little of his story ?

Out of the wind.

We descended heavy going in deep Heather seeing several mountain hares and a deer. Terry and Islay were ahead I took my time the ground at times covered in deep Heather hard going. We were soon down at my van then home via Elgin and Lossiemouth after Terry bought me dinner. Islay was fast asleep. We then drove home had a bath sorted the kit and Islay slept all night after a big meal.

Dog tired

It was a fun day met Jim and had a great chat with Terry true pals. Not feeling bad today but hope the medical world can stop my hacking cough. Lost a jacket had so many laughs and great to feel the wind battering your face ! I do not care how slow I am just to be out on the hills is great. As I was walking this folk song by the Corries was in my ear all day.

The Haughs Of Cromdale – The Corries

A s I come in by Auchindoun,
Just a wee bit frae the toun,
To the Hi’lands I was bound
To view the Haughs of Cromdale.
I met a man in tartan trews,
Spiered at him (asked) what was the news,
Quo’ he, “The Hi’land army rues
That e’er we come to Cromdale.

A great book .

This is the first colour definitive guidebook to The Grahams & The Donalds and follows in the footsteps of the Scottish Mountaineering Club’s best selling guidebooks to The Munros and The Corbetts. There are colour location maps of each group, together with their neighbouring hills, plus 175 detailed colour route maps and over 250 detailed descriptions, including links to other hills. The guidebook is illustrated by 320 colour photographs of the hills. There are Gaelic hill name translations plus an indexed list of Grahams and Donalds in height order, together with a full standard index.

Posted in Articles, Books, Corbetts and other hills, Enviroment, Equipment, Flora, Friends, Health, Himalayas/ Everest, Mountaineering, Other hills Grahams & Donalds, People, Plants, Recomended books and Guides, Weather, Well being, Wildlife | Leave a comment

An Teallach memories. Recent and Past.

An Teallach – to see it’s jagged profile in the distance makes any mountaineer want to reach its summits. This to me is best seen from “Destitution Road” the A832 which has a sad history built during a time of famine.Even the road has a story:

During the 1840s there was great poverty in the Highlands. The failure of the potato crop in 1846 meant starvation for the people. The Central Board for the Destitute Highlands was set up and paid for various improvement projects. The ‘destitution roads’, such as this lonely road across the moor, were built by labourers in return for food. A day’s work involved eight hours of labour, six days a week. Oatmeal rations for the workers were set at 680g for men, 340g per woman and 230g per child.

My question to many “Is there a finer mountain in Scotland than An Teallach? “ I was speaking to a good pal just back from a weekend on the North West. They had enjoyed a great day on An Teallach as I have done so many times. To many it is most peoples top 5 it is a hill I love and I been privileged to climb it over 50 times. I have climbed the ridge several times in winter adding in a few of the Classic Gullies and what an adventure this mountain is. I have also added it to the Fisherfield 5/6 Munros in one huge summers day, it is a place I love and always try to visit. Yet how many did I introduce team members family and friends to An Teallach’s wonderful ridge.

My last visit was last year a lot slower but still as much fun with Tommy a friend for many years. He loved it and we had the mountain to ourselves chasing the weather.

2021 On the wee sandstone pinnacles.

Many just grab the two Munros on the ridge as it can be so wild looking. Yet the pinnacles Lord Berkeley’s seat but can be a great adventure with so many ways to go. This mountain has so many Munro tops plus the two Munros and many secrets hidden in the big Corries,. To me it is a mountain to explore and the best way to do it is along summer day and take in all the Munro tops as well.Then you of lucky can see views of the Fisherfield wilderness and these great wild hills they ate a place to stop and savour. I always advise when you climb An Teallach climb all the ridges and tops and then you will appreciate this mountain fully.

I love the area so well it is famous for the wild Goats that you may meet and smell before you see them on the ridge as they come wandering by. They make you feel so insecure of your abilty to climb especially if you meet them on the main ridge on a tiny ledge. They also hang about by the main road and be careful as you drive to hill, they may be about in a big group.

It is also the gateway to the great wilderness of Fisherfield and of course the famous Mountain Bothy at Shenaval a place to spend a night after a a day out. This to me is a place of great peace and tranquility,

The hidden Corries of An Teallach are wonderful and all sides of the mountain have huge Corries and ridges away from the crowds that offer incredible ridges on to the summits. When I was ill a few years ago as I was slowly recovering I wandered into these places and was as always in awe of the cliffs and the grandeur of thees wild places. It was so refreshing to be in such a place and just to look at wonderful Corries was worth the slog from the road. It was cathartic in my healing and trudging through the deep snow to Loch Toll an Lochan covered in ice was a sight I will never forget. That day I just made the ridge then turned for home. With a hea torch and pathless in the snow and icy path it cleared my head. The healing process was starting.


An Teallach is a complex mountain massif, with ten distinct summits over 3,000 feet (914.4 m). From 1891 to 1981, only the highest of these, Bidean a’ Ghlas Thuill, had the status of a Munro – a separate mountain over 3,000 feet. In 1981 the SMC granted Munro status to Sgùrr Fiona, in recognition of its considerable topographic prominence (150 m) and distinct nature.] The complete list of Munros and Tops (subsidiary summits appearing on Munros is now as follows:]

  • Bidean a’ Ghlas Thuill 1062 m (3484 ft)
    • Glas Mheall Mòr 979 m (3212 ft)
    • Glas Mheall Liath 960 m (3150 ft)
  • Sgùrr Fiona 1060 m (3478 ft)
    • Corrag Bhuidhe 1040 m (3412 ft)
    • Lord Berkeley’s Seat 1030 m (3379 ft)
    • Sgurr Creag an Eich 1017 m (3337 ft)
    • Stob Cadha Gobhlach 960 m (3150 ft)
    • Sàil Liath 954 m (3130 ft)
    • Corrag Bhuidhe Buttress 945 m (3100 ft) – deleted from Munro’s Tables in 1997
Winter 2007

In the RAF Mountain Team we wore a helmet when scrambling and I think it is a good idea as you never know what can fall on you. It can be an especially tricky on a busy a mountain which in winter can become a huge expedition under heavy snow. Never take this mountain lightly is can be a serious proposition and the navigation can be tricky and if you get it wrong at the least you may have a long walk out.

On my last Munro top

The pinnacles on the ridge are great fun and the sandstone so rounded at times and weathered takes care, This is especially true when as it can be have the sandy gravel on the ledges, take care with your feet and test the holds. The exposure will keep you aware but newer walkers may find this intimidating so it is well worth while using a rope on the easier parts of the ridge to gain experience and familiarity with the rock and terrain.

The hard parts on the ridge can be avoided as there are paths that cut below the ridge but again these can be tricky and care is needed. As always when descending take your time and a short rope and the ability to use it may be handy for those who need a bit of confidence.

The famous Climber Tom Patey carried out a massive call – out in winter 1966 on his own. The story is of a huge fall on An Teallach and the survivors attempt to save them. Hamish McInnes did a film on it “ Duel on An Teallach”

RAF Kinloss MRT 18-19/04/66

An Teallach 

Two climbers killed on Sgurr Fiona. This incident was recently reconstructed and filmed for television. Hamish McIness film “Duel with An Teallach” Tom Patey was awarded a medal for his part. Well worth a watch lots of lessons from this sad event. 

On my last trip my mate Tommy who was a young lad many years ago after a day on the hill last years said:

“My face is sore with smiling all day on the hills.” What a mountain.

An Teallach

Leave the road and Cross the river,

No path, pick a line up quartzite slabs.

Blue skies, no wind, frozen ground.

In the Glen that few visit.

All rushing for a summit or a route.

Now sandstone slabs.

Pebbled and glaciated, the odd cairn.

Views of snow covered cliffs, frozen loch,

No words for this beauty.

Toll an Lochain.

2014 April Heavy Whalley

In my younger days in running shoes / Walshes

Finally – I named my dog after this great hill he was a great dog and completed Munro’s on An Teallach.

Climb it in winter with a winter route and continue along the ridge watch the sunset over the sea. Then complete the journey by torch home one of Scotlands great adventures.

How many have a tale of this mountain?

Last year
Posted in Articles, Bothies, Films, Friends, Health, medical, Mountain rescue, mountain safety, Mountaineering, Munros, People, Scottish winter climbing., Views Mountaineering, Weather, Well being, Wildlife | 6 Comments

Fathers Day ! Thanks Dad .

Today is Father’s Day it always makes me think of my Dad who passed away over 35 years ago.

Early days in Galllway

I wrote this piece a few years ago and memories came flooding back of how incredible parents I had.  

My Dad was a Church of Scotland Minister and I was the wild son of the manse.

As a minister my father a “Fire and Brimstone minister” a tee – totaller.  Yet we had a great child hood though little money but my Dad loved sport, football (Ayr United ) him and Mum were season ticket holders. Mum was always worried I would get arrested at a game . They both loved the mountains and wild places .

He was a dedicated Church Of Scotland Minister and Mum brought us up all five kids. He was a great visiting minister when folk were Sick or dying. Unlike many these days.

I was a bit of a wild child as the Ministers son maybe it was because  you got some grief which was usual for a son of the Manse!  I was always playing up and getting into many scrapes. Dad was very strict and I needed it  but looking back he gave me a great life. 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 a very fit man playing tennis right into his later life.

It was in the Mountains  he spent his early days. He often mentioned this in the 1930’s at Loch Eil in the West Coast as a student Minister at Achnacarry 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 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. My Dad 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. 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 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 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.

It upsets me how many families do not look after their families in these modern days.

Thanks Dad.

“I am still a bit wild but slowing down now! “ Heavy Whalley June 2022

Posted in Articles, Corbetts, Corbetts and other hills, Enviroment, Friends, Mountain rescue, mountain safety, Mountaineering, Munros, People, Views Mountaineering, Weather, Well being | 7 Comments

Takithame ? Good Karma seeing the Dolphins . Marine waste.

Plastics and old fishing gear left by Burghead – Hopeman cycle track

The other day I dragged a lot of plastic netting old fishing gear near the cycle track. I had passed it for several years like so many but decided to do something so I dragged it onto the fence. Hoping the “rubbish fairy” will take it away? Nothing happens.

More rubbish.

I had some time to spare and so dragged the rubbish to the main road and took it to the skip today.

On way to skip.

It’s sad as on the way back I stopped for a rest. I saw I sold dolphin on its way to Inverness. Was this my reward for getting rid of some plastic from the sea ? Good Karma I feel.

I wish there was places handy to get rid of marine waste such as plastics. I am lucky and have a wee van to take it to recycling. I told my Grandkids the story yesterday they love Dolphins and the were very happy.

Comments welcome ? Is there any plans to place Marine Recycling nearby?

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More On Quotes.

There were some great quotes I thought I would share them with you all.

“You can’t carry experience youth”

“There’s old climbers and there’s bold climbers. But there’s no old bold climbers”

The mountains are not a gymnasium for your ego!

Sticking feathers up your butt does not make you a chicken.

Climb if you will! But remember… what time the pub shuts 🙂 Dan Carrol

The ascent isn’t over until you are down😉

G Ackroyd

“…going to the right place, at the right time, with the right people is all that really matters. What one does is purely incidental.” Dan Carrol

Life without risk is like a candle without a flame – it lasts for a long time but is not very illuminating! Dan Carrol

“There’s a pecking order on this team and you’ve not got a beak yet”

Heavy Whalley

“The mountains are not a gymnasium for your ego!”

Kev Hewkin

“If you’re not living on the edge you’re taking up too much room”

“If you hoot with the owls, be sure to soar with the eagles”. Mark Hartree

Pete Kay “Mark Hartree can’t hoot with the owls and soar with eagles tube, in other words you can’t go on the lash till the early hours in the fort and expect to do great things on the Ben. It never made much difference with me, I was never destined for great things 😂😂”

Pete Greening “”Never get out of the boat. Absolutely goddamn right. Unless you’re goin’ all the way. Heavy got off the boat. He split from the whole f***kin’ program” (with apologies to Martin Sheen)”

Good judgement is the result of experience, while “experience” is the result of poor judgement. Pete Greening

“Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law” – Mr A Crowley

“Live every day like it’s yer last” Innes Cronshaw

Do unto others as you would have them do unto yourself. Innes

One of yours Hevs ” we are all god’s children”


mantra: Qui va piano, va sano. Qui va sano va lontano!

Motto of Alpini Italians – difficult to comprehend as they are some of the

Most fleet of foot mountaineers in the world. Charlie Cartwright

“There’s no I in Team …. but there’s a me and no U”Steve Price

Steve Price alternative exchange when a make team member said “There’s no I in team” his female boss replied “but there’s a U in c**t, so do what you’re told!”Rodger John

Jim Walton “If you can keep your head whilst those around you are losing theirs then you are probably misreading the situation.”

Andrew Woolfstone “Trust your feet.”

Dave Tomkins “never worry about things you cant change”

“To rest is not to conquer “

“Don’t put of what you can do tomorrow what you can do today” Coxy

“The retirement watch has no hands “

“Have no fear, ‘cos there’s no gear” Pete Greening

Ken Hughes “Steady away” usually said by Val or myself high up a route as you set off on your sketchy pitch.

“Trust everything and trust nothing” (Gerry Ackroyd) Alan Rowan

Steve Price “If it ain’t raining, it ain’t traing …. if it ain’t snowing we ain’t going”

“Anything goes in winter”

Heavy Whalley

Heather Lawrie Smith – Knowing is not enough – we must apply, Willing is not enough – we must do. Bruce Lee

Helen Howe “Short cuts make long delays: Tolkein”

Eric Sharkey

“Love many, trust few, always paddle your own canoe. A mantra for life.”

I think from a Gaston Rébuffat book “Ice he cried, and disappeared”Peter Anderson

Posted in Articles, Mountaineering, Well being | 2 Comments

What’s your favourite quotes?

One of my favourite is : “Looking back on these wild free days in the open I realize my happiest memories are of the suntanned faces of my old companions”

Belmore Browne

1973 Masirah Persian Gulf

Another: “A man’s best moments seem to go by before he notices them and spends a large amount of life reaching back for them, like a runner for a baton that will not come.” David Roberts.

1973 Ben Dorian with my late mate Tom MacDonald.

Looking at the photo above I did many great hill days with Tom MacDonald when we both joined Mountain Rescue on 1972. Tom sadly passed away recently and look at our gear ? I am wearing “hairy breeks “ and Curlies . Tom has a state of the art Norwegian jumper we bought most of our own gear as soon as we had cash. Most of the RAF gear was to big for us !

Its funny when you look back when you were fit and strong. I have this ongoing cough that is really making things difficult to sleep or go on hill or climb. Still walking every day but how I miss the hills. Hopefully they will get to the bottom of it as I cough a lot and in these Covid Days I think folk think you have it.

Anyway I am still getting about and doing what I can just now. I just can’t wait to get back on the hills. We just have to make the best of what we have !

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Sept 1978 – Dutch Atlantic aircraft crashed in the sea off Colonsay . All crew recovered safely.


14 September 1978 – A Dutch surveillance Breguet crashed in the sea west of Scotland after the explosion of the right RollsRoyce engine.

Everyone was okay and they were all rescued by helicopter. The sea luckily was flat calm and there is a photo of the crew on the wing waiting for Rescue. I was a member of the RAF Kinloss Mountain Rescue Team at the time. Kinloss and Leuchars MRT we were asked to search the coast for “sensitive stuff”

It was one of these. Call outs I will never forget. I love the Islands so many have been fleeting visits so I am trying to spend a bit more time on them. We met many characters on the Island.

1978 Sept 17 – Isle of Colonsay and Oransay A / Dutch Military Atlantic aircraft crashed in the sea and stayed afloat for a while just off the Islands. Some of the wreckage washed ashore and all the crew survived. When we arrived by Wessex helicopter we had no communications and searched most of the day and I sure we lived in a Cave one night and much of the wreckage washed ashore vanished in true Island Fashion. It was very like the film “Whisky Galore” It was very difficult trying to get some of the sensitive items from the locals! They had a few dinghies, life jackets and other bits and pieces! A bit of barter and trading was called for was called for? The locals did well on dinghy, and life jackets spoils of the sea . Plus a few bottles of whisky for there trouble. We did locate some classified material that was handed over to the Military police.

One the second day after bout search we just made the pub it shut at 2200 but managed a few beers but no food? We had a good night with the locals. I wonder if anyone has any photos of this!

I know there is a photo of the crew waiting at sea on the wing for pick up. It’s in Moravia at Kinloss I will try and get a copy.

From my pal Nick Sharpe a Guide in Canada “RAF Leuchars Mountain Rescue Team also deployed to the west coast of Jura and did the same thing. “Spent a night in a huge cave sleeping on a soft bed of goat droppings!“

Comment / Comment Don Shanks – “If I remember right we were shocked that we didn,t get a lock-in…however we managed to cadge a lift back to our billet in a cowshed on the back of a council lorry..happy days”

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Colonsay Day – 4 visit Dun Gallain an ancient Fort. Great last day wandering.Seeing the Waverley Steamer.

At last we had a day out Kalie as she had finished her bee course. We had the ferry late early evening so we had a wander from Colonsay Golf course to look for the old fort at Dun Gallain. We parked near the golf course near the airport. It was a great wander along the coast lots of rock to scramble on and a wander up to the hill fort well hidden.

Colonsay Golf Cpurse : If you would like to enjoy a golfing experience similar to that enjoyed by the very first golfers in Scotland (therefore, the world), then this course is for you. Colonsay Golf Course may not be the grandest in the world, but it’s certainly one of the most beautiful.

The 18-hole course is situated on indigenous machair, shortish grass growing in sandy soil, typical of the finest Scottish links golf courses. When you arrive at the first tee, you will be struck by the beauty of the course’s setting. Two beautiful, sandy Hebridean bays form the western fringe of the course: the first is called Traigh an Tobair Fhuair (“Bay of the Cold Well”). The second is called Port Lobh (which, unfortunately, means “Malodorous Bay”). Two burns traverse the course from east to west. From many points on the course, you can glimpse the sands of Ardskenish peninsular to the southwest. The course is fringed to the northeast by the rugged, craggy Beinn nan Caorach (“Hill of the Sheep”). 20 miles out in the Atlantic Ocean (next stop, Canada), in most weathers, you can spot Dubh Hearteach lighthouse. The panorama is completed by Dun Ghallain, a cairned headland where a ancient fort once stood.

The golf course !

To help you to visualise the course, think about the Masters course at Augusta, where every blade of grass appears to be meticulously manicured; then, picture the polar opposite! Colonsay’s unique course is completely natural, having been designed by the Supreme Architect of Golf. The greens are mown and rolled during the season by local golfers, with some help from the sheep and some hindrance from the rabbits. In the winter, they are joined by the cattle of Kiloran Farm. As a consequence, you may have the unusual task of having to clear some livestock from your line of fire before playing your shot. Fear not, though: local rules allow preferred lies on all fairways and a free drop for balls disappearing into rabbit-holes or taken by the ravens. More good news: there are no bunkers! In keeping with the “primeval golf” theme, however, you will come across the occasional sheep-scrape in the sandy ground, which some believe to be the origin of the modern bunker. At all times, if irked by the ruggedness of the course, you can find comfort in remembering that you’ll not find a lower green-fee anywhere.

The ancient fort is on top of the hill Dun Gallain it took a bit of looking for as all there is left is the foundations but what a vantage point. We wandered back via the Golf course amongst the Machair great views and rabbit holes lots of rabbits everywhere even on the greens but what a situation.

Great views.

It was such a lovely walk and Kalie was at last free for a walk. We sat on the wee top admiring the view then headed back past the airfield. I must have landed here during a search for a Dutch Atlantic plane that crashed of the coast on a NATO exercise. 14 September 1978 – A Dutch surveillance Breguet crashed in the Iries sea west of Scotland after the explosion of the right RollsRoyce engine. All the crew were rescued safely.

Wandering amongst the Machar (A machair is a fertile low-lying grassy plain found on part of the northwest coastlines of Ireland and Scotland, in particular the Outer Hebrides.) is so pleasant

Fields in of Iris’s

There were also so many orchids and Iris’s abound it’s lovely there were flowers everywhere. Apart from a couple of canoeists on the sea and a few others on the beach yet we had most of the area to ourselves. There was a great peace in this place with its blue seas and goes. The oystercatchers were a constant companino with their high pitched call.

We had plenty of time a wee sleep on the hill in the sun out of the wind great views of Jura and the mainland. Then a tea break lunch before heading back. We had another brew on the Colonsay Hotel and a wander up to the monument by the pier.

Magic unmentioned

Kalie had booked a meal before we went and after a some last minute shopping we had a meal at the pier just making the ferry. Then it wax the two hour ferry back on a vey empty ferry. Sadly we had no bees with us ( that’s another tale) The Waverley steamer popped into the harbour before the ferry. What a sight and so many memories.

The Waverly steamer.

We got back on the mainland thr Waverley was berthed in Oban Harbour. Then it was a long drive home me at 0130 Kalie a bit later. A superb few days away from the madness of the media.

I have great memories of the visits to the Islands exploring more and Islands and areas. The weather was exceptional and a great companion Islay. Highlights include a swim in the sea the flowers birds coastline and sea. Of course good company of Kalie. Really tired today now home getting sorted out.

The Bee course !
Posted in Enviroment, Golf, Islands, Local area and events to see, Mountaineering, People, Views Mountaineering, Weather, Well being, Wildlife | Leave a comment

Dog sitting in Colonsay !

Colonsay is an island in the Inner Hebrides of Scotland, located north of Islay and south of Mull. The ancestral home of Clan Macfie and the Colonsay branch of Clan MacNeil, it is in the council area of Argyll and Bute and has an area of 4,074 hectares.

On the Ferry to Colonsay

Over in Colonsay looking after Islay while Kalie does a bee keeping course. We stopped at Heathers house near Spean bridge to catch up with the late Joss Gosling daughter and her husband. We also met Annie Joss wife looking well all ready for a garden party. What a view they have of the Bens North Face .

View from Heathers house.

It was a quick catch up as we had a ferry to catch at Oban. Joss old boots are pride of place in the house. Joss was one of the RAF Kinloss Mountain Rescue team who as a young boy was involved in the Lancaster crash on Beinn Eighe. He was a dear friend and I miss him. He told me the tale many times how as a young man he was involved in the recovery of the crew . The weather was magnificent and we headed back on the A82 that was so busy through Fort William. It was slow going to Oban and even as busy here. It poured down as we waited for the ferry. Heavy rain while the rest of Uk was in sunshine.

Just as the weather cleared we saw Jura

It was sunny arriving in Colonsay and we have good accommodation not far from Kalies bee course which she starts today.

We got a great walk with a patient Islay to a nearby beach at Kiloran Bay. It was stunning a few folk a yacht mooring and lovely sand. As always the ever changing light made it special. We are so lucky to be here.

We walked along to the Whale bones it was impressive and with the dunes the rabbits and bird calls magnificent.There was no sunset this time but we sat and enjoyed the views and the peace.

End of a long day.

Kalie starts her course tomorrow and Islay and I will have some fun together.I hope everyone is as lucky as us with the weather?

Posted in Articles, Enviroment, Health, Islands, Local area and events to see, Mountaineering, People, Weather, Well being, Wildlife | Leave a comment

Denali ascent – “a closely run summit” by Jimmy Clethero RIP

Many expeditions have untold tales especially in the military this is one is told in my pals words about the late Jimmy Clethero. In these days there were lots of things that remain “untold” I hope you appreciate “ Stampys” account of our mate Jimmy who passed away recently from Cancer.

Denali is a wonderful mountain in Alaska where you have a unique environment. The weather is so severe I spent 3 days stuck in a tent in a blizzard with a sick mate. I feared for my life then it was and did take all my efforts to stay alive. It’s a big mountain no porters and extreme conditions that test the best of the best to summit. This is an account from one of our most underrated mountaineers Jimmy Clethero had he told me many years later. I put it on my wee book to write the tale but it could only be repeated after we left the service. It’s a measure of the msn Jimmy few know the tale another MRT legend tells the tale. It’s a great story of a man we lost to cancer recently. Thank you Stampy for your story I hope it gives you an insight into one of our finest mountaineers.

This is Stampy account:

“Yeah it was good old Rosco who got both Jimmy and I on the exped in May 88 with the PTI’s from Ballachulish (Kev Edwards, Shep Shepherd, Graham Carter and Graham Morrison). This would be the first high altitude experience for both of us.

I can remember the flight onto the Kahiltna glacier base camp via the spectacular ‘one shot pass’ courtesy of Doug Keeting Aviation, Doug himself was piloting the aircraft and on the approach for landing he gave Jimmy the surprise responsibility of pumping the hydraulics to get the undercarriage skids down for landing on the glacier. We both looked at each other as if to say “what the fuck, did he really ask you to do that” but as Jimmy was nearest the pump handle he grinned and shrugged his shoulders and got on with the pumping until Doug was satisfied skids were in the right position.

Jimmy and I were paired up for climbing and tent sharing and Kev Edwards was keen for both of us to take a look at the Cassin ridge but after a recce and seeing the state of the glacier and crevasses of the east Kahiltna fork and approach to the Japanese Couloir, the idea was quickly abandoned.

The West buttress was the focus along with the others. From the 14000 ft camp Kev Edwards decided to send us both and Graham Carter to the summit. After a really cold night at 17000 ft we were glad to be on our way but I was struggling with the altitude and never been so cold (lifa under wear, ron hills, buffallo jacket and goretex was a crap choice and just not enough insulation for some where this cold) We arrived at Denali pass at 18000 ft in poor visibility but were still able follow the wands marking the route. However the visibility was concerning and with the extreme cold, I new I was struggling and I’d had enough.

Jimmy though was going really well and was confident. The choice was hard for both of us to split up, it was decided that me and Graham Carter to return to the tent at 17000 ft and Jimmy to carry on to the summit. There was no conflict or arguing over over our decisions just mutual respect for each others wishes.

Graham Carter descended all the way down to the 14000 ft camp while I remained at 17000 to wait for Jimmy. It was a worrying time in the tent, the wind had got stronger, temperature dropped and visibility worse. I was cursing myself for not trying to talk Jimmy out of going to the summit and was hoping he would realise the conditions were not favourable, abandon his attempt and appear at the tent door any minute.

All the time I was waiting for him I was constantly updating Kev Edwards down at 14000 over the radios we had with us, I could tell how anxious Kev was. The following morning had arrived probably a good 16 hours after I last saw Jimmy and I was fearing the worst. Can’t remember who contacted who first but Kev told me over the radio that Jimmy had just wondered into the camp at 14000!

I got back to 14000 and reunited with Jimmy. He said he was 100% sure he’d reached the summit but had lost the marker wands and got disorientated on the way back, strayed onto steep ground and ended up down climbing what turned out to be rescue gulley average angle 50 degrees which exits a bit further up from the 14000 ft camp.

He wasn’t completely unscathed after his ordeal as his only head gear, the hood on his duvet jacket had been ripped off in the high winds thus sustaining cold injury frost nip to one of his ears. Typical Jimmy seemed to play down his epic and avoiding the fuss just took things in his stride. The doctor in the medical tent at 14000 examined the frost bitten ear and advised our team to get Jimmy off the mountain ASAP. Kev sent both of us back to the Kahiltna glacier airstrip to get the first available aircraft back to Talkeetna.

I remember we had to pack a tent and some gear just before we got to the airstrip. As you probably remember Heavy, having been there yourself, you have take everything off the mountain including those black poly bags that you crap in complete with contents.

Anyway as we were rummaging through the gear deciding who’s was who’s, Jimmy called across to me and said “I think this is yours Stampy”, I turned with open hands to receive the package Jimmy lobbed which thumped me in the chest then realised he had chucked a bag full of shit at me! The grin on his face was a picture. “Ya bastard Jimmy” was my response but couldn’t help laughing at his mischievousness.

We both got back to the Elmandorf USAF base just outside Anchorage where we waited for the others to return, 3 of them summited. The Yank medical staff at the air base were brilliant treating Jimmy’s frost bite, he received daily whirlpool treatment on the ear which got the blood supply back to affected area and prevented further tissue loss. The next few days waiting for the others were spent mooching around the city and drinking in bars. We then learned that 2 Brits we had both met and got quite friendly with whilst on the mountain had been killed in a fall climbing the West Rib. The news brought it home to us both the seriousness of where we had just been especially in Jimmy’s case. Graham Stamp

Posted in Alaska, Articles, Friends, Mountain rescue, mountain safety, Mountaineering, Views Mountaineering, Weather, Well being | Leave a comment

All the Corbetts in a day a great effort by Carnethy Hill running Club.

I have always been in awe of hill runners and met many over the years . They are a unique group of unsung heroes on the hills. Last weekend the Carnethy Club completed all the Corbetts in a day. What an effort of planning and effort by all. It’s great to hear of such efforts with little publicity. These runners are true hill men and women enjoying the mountains and travelling light and fast over the hills. Well done all. Thanks to the club for allowing me to use their words and photos. Well done all.

After about 6 months of planning, on Saturday 28th May 2022 over 200 Carnethies completed all of the Corbetts in a Day.  222  Scottish hills between 2500-3000 ft, or 762-913m in height were split into around 140 missions of varying length, difficulty and commitment to suit the novice through to the expert runner/walker.

The first hill was complete at 01:28 by Ross Christie who had to get back for his family and his work, and the last was ticked at 19:46, quite aptly, by Steve Fallon whose website and guidance was invaluable to the planning.  Ages of participants ranged from 6 Months baby Busby through to 80 Yr old (roughly)  past President Kieth Burns.  One team’s age exceeded 200yrs. Everyone experienced how rough and challenging the less trodden Corbetts are with rarely a path to follow and plenty of wet bog to delight in.

There are many stories to tell which will come out soon enough and we ask all participants to write a summary of the stories from the day.  The Jura Corbetts were done as part of the Jura Fell Race with Jasmin Paris being first female and Andy Fallas as 4th Male.  Hopefully they took a photo on their summits as proof!!!

There are many people to thank for making this happen. Nicki Innes and Ken Fordyce in particular, but also the planning team, regional leads and the control team in Tyndrum. The participants of course and also Mr Weather played a fair hand, at least in Ardgour.

In the interim, here are some random photos from the many.

Another great Carnethy day out.  Well done all.

Mark Hartree

President, Carnethy HRC

Well done all
Posted in Corbetts, Corbetts and other hills, Hill running and huge days!, Mountaineering, Recomended books and Guides, Views Mountaineering, Well being | Leave a comment

Jimmy Clethero RIP

Sadly I missed my friends Jimmy Clethero’s funeral. I have been told it was a great tribute to the man that so many attended. Jimmy was a great mountaineer very cool in any emergency and never sought the limelight. He was also a great member, party leader and Team Leader of the RAF Mountain Rescue Service. He was greatly thought of by all. As always our thoughts are with Chrissie and family.

Jimmy on Diran Expedition.


Mention the name Jimmy in the RAFMR world and everyone’s mind skips to the tall, skinny, quietly confident young Graham Clethero who arrived on the Stafford team in the early 80s.  Recognising his potential early on, Jimmy was made up to PL at the tender age of 19, a lot of responsibility for a young guy.  One can say it was fortunate that Jimmy found MR so early in his career.  I’d actually say it was MR who were the lucky ones as for 22 of the next 25 years he became the backbone and one of the driving forces of the 3 teams he served with, Stafford, Kinloss and Leeming as well as being a regular instructor on the numerous annual MR courses where troops from all the teams benefitted from his experience and mentoring.

A talented climber, both Summer and Winter, Jimmy always pushed his grades, teaming up with the other top climbers around the system where and whenever possible.  Quickly becoming an accomplished and competent mountaineer, he was as fit as the proverbial butchers dog, invoking many extremely painful memories of trying and failing to keep pace with the scruffy guy in the Ron Hills, Helly Hanson and red Troll rucksack.  Never one to showcase his achievements, with one exception, he was proud to hold the course record for the infamous Snowdon Bike Race, a fact he dropped into polite conversation on a number of occasions.  Jimmy was universally popular, his unassuming manner, laid back approach and unflappable nature endearing him to all and his calm, composed leadership ensured he became a role model and inspiration for many, myself included. Jimmy was always there for the troops offering support, advice, instruction, whatever was required and wherever necessary.  Never a chore.  

Mountain Rescue allowed Jimmy the opportunity to indulge in his lifelong passion for the mountains and crags.  He took advantage of the opportunities afforded to him, taking part in numerous successful overseas expeditions – many to the Alps, the Karakorum mountains in Pakistan, Denali in Alaska to name but a few and I would hazard a guess there are very few hills and crags within the UK which Jimmy hasn’t bagged or completed quality routes. However, he very rarely spoke about his many achievements preferring to look forward to his next list of challenges.  Others, like me, do talk of what he has accomplished, partly through envy, not having the skill or ability to copy the man, and partly sheer admiration.  I don’t believe there are any troops present today who can’t recall exceptional adventures with Jimmy and marvel at his ability to make it look so annoyingly easy!!  I always smile at the memory of Jimmy perched comfortably on his belay stance at the top of Great North Road, a quality climb at Millstone in the Peaks, it was sunny, rope in one hand, ciggy in the other, looking very much at one with the world.  That was Jimmy in his office.  In the 3 year period outside of MR, in Cyprus, Jimmy took it on himself to write a Cyprus climbing guide for the benefit of others to use – one of routes had the most interesting of approaches  If done mid-afternoon in summer it takes you straight down a popular tourist beach complete with many sunbathing half naked ladies That was a tough day.  

On the rescue front, Jimmy attended over 400 callouts, wide ranging from urban searches to some of the biggest aircraft tragedies this country has known – Lockerbie, East Midlands Airport, the 2 x American F15 jets on Ben Macdui and many others.  He also played a major part in the successful locating and rescue of Army personnel in an unexplored gully on Mount Kinabalu in Malaysia, his practical, no-nonsence approach proving invaluable for its successful conclusion.  Once again he very rarely talked of these events, choosing to process them privately, despite having seen things nobody should really have to.

I’ve probably built up a bit of a ‘St Jimmy’ image so far but there is another side to him.  He loved a social and the odd beer or 3 with the troops or his family or both and he possessed a dry, thought out sense of humour which coupled with a mischievous side it was perfect for instigating misdemeanours.  If there was skulduggery going on, Jimmy was not far from it, normally orchestrating from the rear.  A damning drag race video using MR landrovers at an aircraft crash site appeared in the section – I knew who’s idea it was for the drag race – the voice behind the hidden camcorder confirmed the operator as being one of the same!  The instigation of troop swimmings, Clethero was always there; the kidnapping OC Regt’s wayward dog, which began to go awry when the station postman forgot to deliver Jimmy’s ransom demand, Jimmy the criminal – arrested for scaling a public building in Stafford after a few beers, antics with a retro carriage wheel, space hopper and a lack of clothing in a pub in N Yorkshire, comical sheep rescue from half way down a crag in the Peaks including the best rugby tackle one is likely to see.  There are plenty of stories shattering the ‘not so innocent’ image of Mr Clethero.  However, looking at the rogues gallery of troops present today, there are some far more qualified than I to elaborate later today.

I spoke with Jimmy a few days before the Stafford Reunion when he let me know that he wasn’t going to be present this year due to a hospital appointment.  Whether he knew the extent of his condition at this time I don’t know.  What I do know is that in the days and weeks that followed and as his condition worsened, Jimmy was surrounded by the people he loved, Chrissie, of who he was such a devoted partner, Kirsty and Maddison, who made him a proud father and whom he loved so much, his extended family and his friends of old.  The response to the initial facebook message was fantastic and only served to reaffirm everything I knew about Jimmy Clethero, he was one of, if not the most, loved, respected and inspirational of TLs, and always a great troop. The heartfelt, sincere messages which were all read out to Jimmy gave him the reassurance that the MRS family he was such a big part of, will be there for his family.

Thank you Jimmy for allowing me and many others to be part of your life. It has been a privilege to have served with you and an absolute honour to be your friend.  From the whole of the RAF MRS past and present, to Chrissie, Kirsty and Maddison please accept are profound condolences.  And Jimmy “you were and always will be the best”

Rest in Peace Mate.

It’s a privilege to read this dedication today and it was of particular resonance to Jimmy – It was written by ‘Anon’ – RAF Kinloss – February 1995 – And it was dedicated to all members of the RAF Mountain Rescue Team – With a message….Keep up the good work guys.

The Mountaineer

It takes a noble brand of man…. to be a mountaineer

No petty minded person ever found his pleasure here

But he who’s never climbed a hill…. for fear of aches and pains 

Has never felt adrenalin… surge madly through his veins

When safety is a toe-hold…. and your faith in finger tips 

And every breadth is like a prayer…. escaping from your lips

It isn’t just an urge to reach… the topmost craggy shelf

Its stretching nerves to breaking point…. to riseabove yourself

Nor is it tossing coins…..with life and death on either side

Its Courage, Caution, Commonsense,…. And ‘how to do it’ pride 

It’s Teamwork. And the best way is the best – No ifs and buts……

You learn to pull together… and to share each other’s guts

You reach the peak…. You’re handing round a flask…..A bite…..A smoke

While soaking up a scene… unseen by ordinary folk 

A no-man’s land of awesome splendour…. Beautifuland bare

And this is because you climbed a hill … purelybecause it’s there 

Wives and friends of Mountaineers … case hardened to their fate

Will tell you that they also climb….. Who stay at home and wait

A hill’s a burning heartache…. you just hope he can’t detect

That makes you pray the next one… will be climbedin retrospect

Jimmy on Great Harry.

Thanks for your input troops comments and photos always welcome .

Posted in Alaska, Friends, Mountain rescue, Mountaineering, People, Well being | 2 Comments

The mystery of the Wellington aircraft crash on the Island of Soay near St Kilda.

In 1978 the RAF Kinloss MRT were tasked to visit the Island of Soay to investigate wreckage that had been located. The location and logistics plus getting permission to land is extremely hard to achieve. Add to that the weather that destroyed some of the tents its an interesting story.

Soay from Hirta

The photo above was taken in 2014 on a perfect day which is rare for this area.

I was lucky enough to know the story of the Wellington on the Island of Soay:Soay is an uninhabited islet in the St Kilda archipelago, Scotland. The name is from Old Norse Seyðoy, meaning “Island of Sheep”. The island is part of the St Kilda World Heritage Site and home to a primitive breed of sheep. It is the westernmost point in the United Kingdom if disputed Rockall is excluded.

At the crash site.

This was the scene of an attempt by RAF Kinloss Mountain Rescue Team in 1978 to try to locate a crash site that was reputed to be on the small inaccessible Island. The team had a few epics including and overnight stay in wild weather, where tents were smashed by the winds in the exposed cliffs. This was all done by Sea Kings helicopters and there are a few tales of these trips.

Mark Sinclair and others at crash site on Soay

You can never take the weather for granted in this area and I pray for good weather this year for me. The islands hill on Soay is a prize Marliyn for you secret hill bashers! You may have to climb to get on the Island and permission which is not easy.

Sea King helicopter pick up from Soay

St Kilda and Rockall were all part of navigational training sorties in these days of very primitive navigational aids and many aircraft were lost in this area. St Kilda has a few aircraft wrecks on the Island and I visited them when we manage to land this year (May 2020). Unfortunately Soay will not be on possible, I wonder if anyone has visited this place recently?

This is an original photo from RAF Kinloss MRT ( KMRT ARCHIVES)

Keith Bryers.

Hi Heavy –” the aircraft was almost certainly Wellington Mk.VIII LA995 from 303 Ferry Training Unit, Stornoway, which was lost on 23 February 1943 with a crew of 6 whilst on a navex/fuel consumption test. The rear gunner was washed up at Europie on 2 March 1943 and is buried in Essex, the others (I have all the names) lie on the site in an unmarked grave. The wreck was known about in 1944 but wartime priorities seem to have prevented a visit to search for remains until the RAF’s visit in 1980; certainly, the wreck was reported by Morton Boyd of the Nature Conservancy Council as long ago as 1952. I visited the site in 1979. A rather foreboding location, truly ‘on the edge of the world’.” 

Keith Bryers

More info  from the blog

The aircraft could also be Wellington HX448, Lost Sep 28 1942, which also had Canadians on-board and was also in the area. The magazine After The Battle No30 has the story of the investigation conducted to find out the identity of the crashed plane on Soay, However no definitive proof (i.e id tags engine numbers etc) was found either way hence most websites giving both aircraft numbers. It would seem unlikely that further searches would be possible due to the remoteness and difficulty of access, changeable weather etc.

 Also as the wreckage or what is left is most likely to have been covered by scree falls and or rolling or being blown down the cliff The book, Aircraft Wrecks, the walkers guide is a good source of info regarding the two planes on the main island of Hirta. I have just been to the island again and hoped to have a look at the crash site on Connachair (Beaufighter) but low cloud stymied this.

The Church building on Hirta(St Kilda) has a small plaque commemorating the losses and carries the names of the casualties for the two planes on the main island, but for the Soay crash this section has been left blank of names. (Until the mystery is solved?)

No names on the memorial to the Soay Wellington crash in the wee church at St Kilda.
Posted in Aircraft incidents, Articles, Books, Islands, Mountain rescue, Mountaineering, Other hills Grahams & Donalds, People, Weather, Well being, Wildlife | 2 Comments

Short Sunderland 111 ML858 Crash – St Kilda – 7 June 1944 – A visit in May 2022.

The Sunderland aircraft crashed on a navigation exercise from a flight out of Oban.

I have been very fortunate to visit this sad Crash site on the remote Island of St Kilda on two occasions in 2014 and May 2020. On my first visit in 2014 I went down into the Gleann Mor to the crash site and was getting attacked by the birds.

That day the walking poles were handy that day as the Skuas dives bomb you. (The Skua a large brownish predatory seabird related to the gulls, they pursue other birds to make them disgorge fish they have caught)

Grid reference for Sunderland crash site .

On this visit 8 years later there were very few Skuas about; there is a problem with their numbers this year. This made it a lot easier to visit the site at grid reference NF 085 991 at 232 metres is the where the main wreckage just above the ridge. There is other aircraft wreckage scattered in the burn just below the ridge. It’s an amazing place the glen is wide open and one can only think of what happened here.  

The memorial at the Church on St Kilda

In these tragic places seeing the destruction of a big aircraft is a very sombre place to be. I always have a few thoughts for the young crews who died here. As always it’s a sad tale as all the crew were buried at sea due to the war. On this aircraft there were 10 crew sadly all who all died here on 7 June 1944 the day after D/Day. The story of the missing plane is told in the excellent Book “Lost to the Isles” and the recovery of all the crew. A harrowing experience for those involved.

The crew – Cecil Osbourne – Pilot

Richard Ferguson –

2nd pilot

Frank Robertson

David Roulston –

Australian Emigrate

Johnny Lloyd

Oliver Reed

William Thomson

Reference: Lost to the Isles Volume 3 David Earl & Peter Dobson.

There are three known wrecks on St Kilda one near the summit of Conachair

Bristol Beaufighter LX 798 St Kilda.

There is a propellor near the summit of Conachair and another down by the jetty (May 2022.)

During World War II, a long range night fighter, Bristol Beaufighter LX798 of 304 FTU based at Port Ellen, Islay, crashed on Hirta, St Kilda within 100 metres (328 ft) of the summit of Conachair on the night of June 3, 1943, with the loss of two crew. Most of the wreckage slid down the hillside and was lost over over the cliffs, and no bodies were ever found. The time of the event may explain why this wreck is also reported on June 4, 1943.

There is also the wreck of a Wellington on Soay which I visited in the late 70’s I have written about this in previous blogs. The crew have not been formally identified despite our efforts and others.

Posted in Aircraft incidents, Articles, Books, Corbetts and other hills, Sailing trips, Weather, Wildlife | 2 Comments

May 2022 – St Kilda trip back on Terra Firma.

Yesterday was sheltering awaiting the storm to die down. We satiated on boat all day till late afternoon as it would have been crazy to launch the inflatable in that weather. We all enjoyed the break. The weather and light changing every few minutes. Watching huge waves crash along the cliffs and reefs. There were the Birds still at it diving for fish. I was happy we were sheltered with a few miles from our harbour.

The wee harbour.

We headed back late afternoon and had a wander around we again had a cold wind, sun and then sheltered in a bus shelter as the rain lashed down. We had time to think enjoy what we had seen and as always my friend Kalie was smiling and so happy with the trip. The Four other companions were great company all different yet we had such a great time.

Great company

We head back via Stornoway today in the big ferry back to normal life . Yet what a trip a huge adventure in all kinds of weather a visit to St Kilda the journey through the stacks chasing the weather and the wild life: Orcas, Dolphins, so many birds and the wild seas.

Well that’s the end of a lovely few days. All I can say is a huge thanks to Murdo, Gary and the crew for looking after us so well. Few get the chance to visit this place but what an experience thank you all.

Posted in Book, Enviroment, Friends, Islands, People, Recomended books and Guides, Sailing trips, Weather, Well being, Wildlife | Leave a comment

Return from St Kilda.

In yesterdays blog we had to leave St Kilda early due to incoming bad weather. Murdo our skipper got it right but it was a very a v journey. I retreat to my bunk as the Cuma heaved and was battered by the storm. I think we got some shelter after several attempts at about 0300. Great seamanship again by Murdo and Gary.

We anchored here after a wild journey.

After two late nights sailing and a great breakfast 4 of us went on to the Island of Little Bernairaigh and enjoyed the stunning beaches and the walk. Little Bernera is a small island situated off the west coast of the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides. Little Bernera lies between the sea lochs of West and East Loch Roag, immediately to the north of Great Bernera. The island rises to a height of 42 metres and has an area of 138 hectare’s.

Grand beaches .

It was lovely being ashore and despite the odd shower we had sun and wind. Typical West coast weather. There are huge dunes and beaches we had a good wander.

We visited the old church what a situation overlooking the sea. The island is uninhabited but a special place to be. The rest went on and I dragged behind enjoying the solitude and beauty of such a place.

The Church

It was then head back to the inflatable and back to the Cuma. The weather has changed and on that short journey I got soaked and was glad to get back on board.

As usual last “Waiting for me”

It was a change and some lunch then feeling weary I had a nap. Two others went out later in the afternoon but the rest had an easy day. We moved anchorage again due to the weather and have only one day left now before we leave on Friday.

A bit of light at the end of the day.

It’s incredible watching the weather change and how little I know of the sea and it’s ways. I have always respected the sea from sea cliff climbing. Yet in a small boat you are at the mercy of the elements. It makes you feel very small but also very privileged to be here.

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Arrived at St Kilda after a long journey from Stornoway. What a place.

We left the boat yard for St Kilda Murdo our Skipper deciding to make use of the weather. It was a long day arriving at Village Bay St Kilda about 0130 Tuesday morning. It was pretty rough journey at times but so worth it. We awoke to a sunny Village Bay St Kilda.

We were all tired but after breakfast were taken ashore where we were briefed by the Warden. We split up and had a wander through the village and then in the sun onto her hills. All the way passing the Cliets and views were impressive.

A cleit is a stone storage hut or bothy, uniquely found on the isles and stacs of St Kilda; whilst many are still to be found, they are slowly falling into disrepair.[1] There are known to be 1,260 cleitean on Hirta and a further 170 on the other group islands.


St Kilda

Fragments of the past haunt these islands, now home to the UK’s largest colony of Atlantic puffins

  • The UK’s only dual UNESCO World Heritage Site, and one of only 39 in the world.
  • Home to nearly 1 million seabirds, including the UK’s largest colony of Atlantic puffins.
  • Evacuated on 29 August 1930 after the remaining 36 islanders voted to leave as their way of life was no longer sustainable.
  • St Kilda has its own unique wren, as well as a sub-species of mouse which is twice the size of a British fieldmouse.

There is no place like St Kilda. Towering out of the storm-tossed waters of the Atlantic Ocean, its cliffs and sea stacks clamour with the cries of hundreds of thousands of seabirds. 

Internationally recognised for its birdlife, St Kilda is no less famous for its human history. A community existed here for at least 4,000 years, exploiting the dense colonies of gannets, fulmars and puffins for food, feathers and oil.

The final 36 islanders were evacuated in 1930. Now uninhabited, visitors can brave the weather to sail to the ‘islands at the edge of the world’ for the experience of a lifetime.

We wandered along the ridge ambling our way in the sun stopping to see the views and the silence apart from the birds. Up to the Mistress stone. I scrambled up but felt the legs a bit funny after 3 days at sea you had to be careful.

The Mistress stone

We had lunch here and then headed to see the crash site of the Sunderland in Glenmore that killed all the crew. It crashed on the 7 th June 1944 killing all the crew who were buried at sea a few days later. Usually there are an abundance of Skuas but a fair amount have been found sadly dead. We did not see many today.

Sunderland propellor

It was superb weather we wandered around enjoying our surrounds and so blessed to be here. We visited the wee honesty shop in the village then back for dinner. The weather was changing so Murdo decided to sail into the early hours after going past all the stacks. What a journey that was it was surreal with so many birds and the huge sea stacks so close by. We were all amazed by Murdo seamanship and the beauty we passed. It was over to soon and we set out for the mainland a 5 hour journey another late night.

Getting close to the stacks

It was a wild journey but Murdo got us there safely I was asleep as we berthed a change of location due to strong winds. Today we go to Little Bernara.

Comments welcome

Lochaber – A friend in our Local History Society holds the record for the St Kilda Marathon (probably because no one else has run it).

Posted in Enviroment, Islands, Plants, Recomended books and Guides, Rock Climbing, Sailing trips, Weather, Well being, Wildlife | 6 Comments

Everest Summit – 22 May 2001 Tibet – Dan and Rusty on summit. RIP Ted Atkins.

Thinking of a great trip to Tibet thanks to all I love seeing the photos. The memories of a great bunch of folk the magnificence of the Sherpas . Than you all ! Especially the families who waited and worried .

Looking back we were so fortunate on many ways a strong group of pals enjoying the magnificence of Everest. We never fell out not easy over 3 months dealt with some dramas and above all came back pals and unscathed. How many can say that?

Posted in Expeditions - Alaska - Himalayas etc, Mountain rescue, Mountaineering, Well being | 2 Comments

In Lewis a bit windy Met Willie Mac staying at Bragar for a few nights.


We had a lot very night at Black Bridge with Anne and Mark for the ferry from Ullapool to Stornaway. The weather was ok a bit of a swell but a good 2 hour crossing.

Then shop in Stornaway and go and find the illusive Willie Mac who joined RAF Mountain Rescue as a young lad in the 80’s. He ended up Team Leader and Warrant officer in charge. A great pal we climbed all over together in Himalayas, Pakistan and Tibet.He is now back to being a crafter in Lewis. Poor Kalie had to listen to some tales.

Willie MacRitchie

We then had a wee walk to the beautiful beach and then on to our accommodation in Bragar.

Posted in Enviroment, Islands, Mountaineering, People, Weather, Well being, Wildlife | Leave a comment

Looking after the families when a loved one joins a Volunteer agency . “Well being “

It’s great to see that more is being done by volunteer Agencies to assist families when a loved one joins the team. I spoke at a “Well being” event at Stirling University a few months ago. It was great to see that a lot more emphasis was on the effect in families when a family member joins the team or an Agency. At times they deal with traumatic incidents and in the past many families, partners and supporters had little clue how to help.

A great wee booklet with superb advice. Well done all concerned.

It’s great to see how things have changed and in my mind so long overdue. Over the years many who volunteered missed birthdays, family events and special days with the kids. We did even in the 80’s and 90’s have family days even weekends. This was to thank all our families and friends for their support. It’s been a long slow process but I am proud of what teams and other Agencies are doing.

It took me years to understand that on every Callout my mother and family would worry as many do for me. I was oblivious to this also to my partners and friends over the years. It was in my early days of thinking I was invincible on the mountains despite that not being the case. That took a toll on many.

I was so pleased that many volunteer Agencies have taken this on now and Mountain Rescue is doing there bit. A wee booklet is a great addition but so is spreading and educating folk about looking after families and their well being. Scottish Mountain Rescue has now access to support if needed by all.

Thank you again to Assynt Mountain Rescue for sending me a copy of the booklet.

As always comments welcome.

Posted in Friends, Health, Mountain rescue, Mountaineering, People, Well being | Leave a comment

Filming in a wet Torridon about the Lancaster Beinn Eighe crash.

Beinn Eighe Lancaster the memorial and Joss boots at the site after he passed away a moving day. Photo taken a few years ago.

I often wonder how many who climb that magnificent mountain Beinn Eighe and do not know that there is a plane crash on the mountain. So many walk by the Lancaster aircraft wreckage that lies in the wild and Cathedral like corrie Mhic Fhearchair. To me it is in one of the most impressive Corries in Scotland. The Loch and the foreboding Triple Buttress over 1000 feet high just paint a picture that on every visit you will never forget.

I have written several blogs made many journeys with relatives of the crew who died here in the hard winter of 1951. The aircraft hit the ridge on Beinn Eighe killing all the 8 crew. It took 3 days to get a rough area to search as there was few reports of where it could be. You have to remember this was 1951 the roads were basic there were no mobile phones and the equipment was poor. It took till Sept to locate the crew such was the depth of the snow.

It was a incident that changed not only RAF Mountain Rescue but also had implications for Civilian Rescue Teams in the future. Many lessons were learned and despite the criticism at this period the Kinloss team did there best. I had spoken to few involved mainly the late Joss Gosling who as a young lad on National Service was on the Callout. Joss was like many so unassuming of that era yet that incident effected him and others. He spoke often to me about these days and took marvellous photos of the incident in wild winter that are unique to this period.

The RAF Kinloss team at Beinn Eighe in 1951 look at the simple gear they had .
The Marines at the crash site on Remembrance Day.

This is especially relevant during Mental Health awareness week the effects of Trauma on Rescue Teams. In 1951 only a few years after the war few spoke about tragedies they had seen and only recently has these traumatic incidents been spoken about. Mountain Rescue nowadays has help available for team members and families which is a great improvement. Things are greatly improving but there is still lots to do.

I was asked to help with a film on the area and tell the story of the Lancaster crash. Hopefully my wee fee will go to Torridon MRT.

The weather was awful and we filmed in a lovely chalet along from Sheildaig. The rain was pouring down along with the wind but we filmed inside. I made the 2 hour journey early stopping to see the grand kids in Inverness then over to Torridon.

A wet day glad I was not on the hills.

I was well looked after by the film crew and enjoyed our few hours in the chalet as the rain poured down. Lucky they had filmed yesterday in the Coire and got good weather. It’s an amazing story and a sad one but one that should be remembered.

The film crew lovely interesting people. A joy to meet.

Many locals helped bring the casualties of the hill by ponies but what a hard time all had. Of course as always there was many mistakes made but Mountain Rescue learned from them. It’s so good to see how things have developed nowadays with the local Torridon Team and all the others so professional despite being unpaid volunteers . How things have moved on in gear equipment and training yet the folk involved are still the same people and make my heart feel warm in these dark days.

The new slate memorial is in good condition and not obtrusive attached to the propellor at the crash site. Thanks to Joss’s family and Geoff one of the relatives of the crew.

2022 May the Plaque looking good.

I chatted for ages the film crew were lovers of wild places and we hit it off. It was a joy to work with them and see how much they enjoyed there work. I drove over to see my friend who lives nearby. The road was closed for over an hour when a lorry went off the road. It was impressive watching it being recovered by Loch Carron Garage no one was hurt. As normal there was no communications or signal on the road. Lots of vans and elite cars about many rushing driving to fast and the road is in a poor state. Such is the popularity of the NC 500. It was interesting to people watch ad the road was closed the driving rain and the poor lorry drivers digging the lorry out of the peat.

I was in no rush and got to Kalies we went out later to see a singer In Applecross hall. Adam Holmes is one of the brightest rising stars on the UK roots music scene, with influences from either side of the Atlantic mixing traditional and contemporary folk with his own brand of soul and Americana. He was excellent and great to be out again.

These halls are the life blood of small communities and money especially after COVID hard to keep going. Fundraising is hard and it’s good to be able to support them.

The blocked road “ time to wait. “

I headed back next day in the pouring rain we took the dog Islay for a quick wander up a wee hill. No wonder the area is so green Andy ewith the amount of rain that has fallen. The drive back was slow with vans potholes and wet roads. A busy few days now to get ready for Harris and hopefully St Kilda all in natures hands.

Beinn Eighe

Unseen from the road, the majestic cliffs are hidden.

The long walk, views expanding as we climb.

Liathach brooding in the mist, is watching?

As usual we meet a family of deer

They have been there for many years

What have they seen?

Great cliffs sculptured by time and nature.

Wreckage, glinting in the sun.

The Cathedral of Beinn Eighe

This is a wonderful poignant place.

Only too those who look and see.

How mighty is this corrie?

This Torridon giant Beinn Eighe.

The late Joss Gossling who was part of they RAF Kinloss team that located the Lancaster in Beinn Eighe in winter 1951. A lovely gentleman.

In memory of the 8 crew who sadly died.


Flt Lt H S Reid Second pilot Sgt R Clucas

Navigator Fg off R Strong

Signaller Lt P Tennison

Flt ENGINEER G Farquhar

Signallers Sgt J NaismithSgt W D BeckSgt J W Bell

Posted in Articles, Equipment, Friends, Gear, History, Mountain rescue, Mountaineering, People, PTSD, Scottish winter climbing., Views Mountaineering, Weather, Well being, Wildlife | 3 Comments

Callout – 1954 Ben Nevis – Tower Ridge – Joe Brown and Don Willians recovered the casualty. Flight by Mosquito aircraft after incident some incredible flying and photos of Ben Nevis.

Ben Nevis by Mosquito

This was a big Rescue in 1954 when a climber fell and was hanging on the rope on Tower Ridge . It was a complex rescue in 1954 . There was very basic gear ropes and no harnesses, limited protection, helmets and no mobile phones. Communication was poor at the best and climbers helped in most of the call outs in this era. This photo was taken by a Mosquito aircraft from RAF Kinloss authorised by the OC Kinloss to do a survey of the incident. The aircraft made 3 runs up the Allt – A’ Mhuillin up Coire na Ciste and up over the plateau. This was all done with a hand operated survey camera. A brilliant piece of flying.

Tower Ridge

It must have been impressive to watch the aircraft do three fly overs the cliffs on Ben Nevis. There is a great account in Gwen Moffat’s book Two star Red and Don Willians autobiography. There is a great quote where after the Rescue Joe and Don were asked if they needed a help getting of the ridge by the RAF Kinloss Team leader.

The day before they had made the first ascent of Sassenach on Ben Nevis one of the hardest climbs on Ben Nevis the day before.

Posted in Mountain rescue, Mountaineering, Scottish winter climbing. | Leave a comment

What’s your best advice on multi pitch mountain routes for someone wanting to rock climb away from outcrop climbing?

Any ideas on good easier mountain routes for folk wanting to climb on a mountain crag? Here’s a few of mine. I get asked this often from folks who have climbed on low level crags and want to expand their climbing into the mountains.

Tower Ridge

Tower Ridge – that classic on Ben Nevis on of the longest climbs on the mountain. As is Castle ridge a great introduction to a big mountain cliff.

Any of the ridges on the Ben give a full mountaineering day.

Cairngorms – the classic Savage Slit – R.B.FRERE, K.A.ROBERTSON 1939.

80m, 4 pitches. 3 star. This is a classic climb. Once at the bottom of the climb there is an old piton about 3metres up in the rock to the left, either use this or solo up to the first real belay point 10m above. easy placements here and a good view of practically the whole climb. The crack/chimney above this is narrow but deep often going back 4m or more. There are good ledges and foot placements for most of the climb and an abundance of welded gear remains in the wall. Guides mostly split the rest of the climb into 3 pitches but the next 2 pitches are easily combined as one. All the belay points are perfect with wide ledges or chock stones in the crack. The last belay has two ledges 3 metres apart, since the crack veers of here this is a possible abseil point back to the bottom of Y gully.

Final Selection A classic Diff Stag rocks a three star route

The Cobbler –

Glencoe / Rannoch Wall – Agags Grove a classic place to climb Buachaille Etive Mor. This cliff is wonderful stunning rock architecture.

105m, 4 pitches. The most obvious feature on the face. Starting at the right hand side and moving up the rising groove.

Rannoch Wall

Rannoch Wall is probably the most visited rock-climbing venue in Glencoe. Easily accessible from the road via a good path and with superb climbing on sound rock in a variety of grades there is literally something for everyone. It’s easterly aspect means that the steep face gets what little sunshine is available in the morning… 

The face itself begins at an altitude of 800m and rises almost to the summit of the mountain. The most famous route on the face, Agag’s Groove is 99m in length and defines, more-or-less, the lower right-hand side of the face, being the most obvious feature (actually visible to the naked eye from Rannoch Moor). The face is bounded on the left (East) by Easy Gully and Curved Ridge which is the normal descent route for climbers.


Agag’s Groove 99m VDiff

A defining line on the crag, the groove is the obvious line of weakness running from bottom right to the top-centre of the wall. The route is particularly easy on pitches 1 and 2 but the final two pitches are spectacularly exposed for such a technically easy route.

The belay after pitch 2 is a particularly fine place for a picnic however it is a shared belay (with January Jigsaw (S ***) so it can become crowded.

Cioch Nose Applecross.

North West Cioch Nose Applecross a mountain route near the road pretty unique for Scotland. One of my favourite routes done it many times it never lets you down. 200m, 7 pitches. An absolute belter of a climb which is best done as part of the A’ Chioch Ridge continuation. Add a few long slings to a light rack. Park at the Bealach na Ba viewpoint and head for the obvious mast. Just short of the summit head east and take the steep path down into Ciore a’ Chaorachain. Gain Middle Ledge by scrambling up A’ Chioch gully for 40m and then right onto a path, the start of the route is 20m past a series of low roofs and starts at an offwidth crack. Pitch 1 (30m, 4a) climb the offwidth and then over some bulges trending left to avoid the small roof, climb a fine corner to a ledge and a choice of belays. Pitch 2 (20m, 4a) thrutch up the awkward corner at the far end of the ledge. Exit right and climb easier ground to reach a thread belay on the one of the best ledges you’ll find in Scotland. Pitch 3 (40m, 4a) traverse right for 3m, enjoying an intermediate amount of exposure, and then up, past a peg runner, climb a series of horizontal breaks trending slightly left towards a chimney. Climb and exit this on the right onto another large ledge with an excellent thread belay. Pitch 4 (30m) go to the far end of the ledge (CN scratched on the rock) and climb a superb, but short-lived layback. Go right around the bulge and take the easiest line up to a chossy ledge and boulder belay. Pitch 5 (20m) scramble easily up and left over blocks to the false summit to a choice of huge belays. Head towards the formidable-looking ridge continuation by dropping down the neck and taking the surprisingly easy to follow path up huge blocks towards the well defined crack in the steepest section of the ridge. Avoid going left past the large gully. Pitch 6 (30m) climb the slab about 10m to the left of the large crack with an awkward move at half-height, to a comfortable thread belay. Pitch 7 (30m) climb up, trending right to easy ground and a choice of solid belays. Delightful scrambling over/around several false summits gets you back to the mast. What a route.

Beinn Eighe – Central Buttress East Buttress a big walk in but what a place to climb.

Skye – Cioch West – severe

215m, 7 pitches. P1-There are 2 spike belays, one @ 40m and one @ 50m
The Off-width description on p2 is mis-leading. A better description is- “P2 Continue up the groove for 20m to reach a huge flake on the RHS. Traverse up and right across the face of the flake (bold) to reach blocks in the crevasse above. Easily traverse 10m right to a grassy ledge.
P4- After the crux traverse it saves a lot of contortions to continue above the ledge up the steep wall mentioned as the start of P5. A good alloy peg (in situ) is well placed to allow belaying back in view of the crux.
Followed completely the route ends on the Cioch by Cioch Nose rte. Those wanting to climb Arrow Route should traverse left (30m) after the long easy section of scrambling described as a variation to p7

Dorothy Pilley, Carr & Holland 1919.

Cioch West. Skye

Arran / Sou’wester slabs The walk in from Glen Rosa in Arran shows this cliff at its best. I saw it first aged 5 with my Dad on an ascent of Cir Mor. I always wanted to climb here and have many times. The rock is granite rough and hard on the hands. The cliff is full of classic climbing. Most of the routes are incredible and part of the history of this place.

Sou’wester Slabs

110m, 5 pitches. It is listed in Classic rock
The granite has extremely good friction and you can smear anywhere. the first pitch follows Fourth route until you reach an open chimney on the right (50 meter pitch). Go up the open chimney (gently traveling as you go) to a corner the down climb on a couple of hidden footholds. follow the crack line up under the large overhang to a goo peg belay (50 meter pitch). Traverse under the overhang and around the corner to the triple chimney (this is where congestion can happen as just below this point there is a belay that is for several other routes) climb up the triple chimney pulling over an awkward block and belay (25 meters). follow the obvious faulting upto a block belay (25 meters). Scramble up the blocky steps to the grass ramp. I would recommend that you carry alternate footwear as I wouldn’t recommend wearing rock boots for the decent.

G H Townsend, G C Curtis, M J H Hawkins, H Hore 03/Sep/1944.

Sou’wester Slabs Arran.

There are so many other routes – like Hells Lum crag in the Cairngorms and some great adventures in the Loch Avon area.Square face and Mitre Ridge on Beinn A Bhuird. Lots of grand climbs in Glencoe like Crypt Route and the Clachaig Gully. In Arran some brilliant climbing South Ridge Direct. Skye has so many climbs Integrity and Crack of Doom. We are spoiled for choice with rock of a types granite, gabbro. Schist and the sea cliffs and of course the sea stacks.

So there is a few ideas I would love to hear yours ? It’s wonderful getting climbers out on mountain crags of course you have to be more aware of loose rocks and route finding. This is all part of the mountain game. I wish I was out more often I never tire of these routes and have plans for the Cairngorms, Ben Nevis, Glencoe and Skye “God willing.”

Comments as always welcome.

Lower your grade until you get comfortable, everything is usually a bit dirtier and wetter than you’d expect. On the flip side, mountain crag routes are some of the best there are! Andy Wolfstone

Classic Rock – See Ken Wilson’s “Classic Rock” for further details 🤤👍 Steve G. A great book and what a list of recommended climbs.

Classic Rock / Ken Wilson

Best advice? Don`t climb with idiots, that can get you killed. Paul R

G Stamp – Read the guide book route description thoroughly beforehand so that you already have it in your brain . Don’t make pitches too long or be tempted to climb past the ideal belay and stance thinking that you can combine 2 into1. Doing that could increase rope drag, possibly run out of runners even run out of rope. Even consider splitting pitches into 2.

Ally – Read the reviews and always be aware that double pitching might just save you effort time or in my experience in past kit. Know the place and reccy before committing and don’t think you know it all. You never do.

Climb with someone you’ve been climbing with before and feel comfortable in their company. You will both know one another’s strength and weakness. Especially if communication is difficult on routes. P. Cauldron.

Good points especially going with a companion you know and trust. No matter who you climb with check the belay and your gear. It’s so easy to make a mistake.

Posted in Friends, Gear, Mountain rescue, Mountaineering, Recomended books and Guides, Rock Climbing, Views Mountaineering | 2 Comments

Ben Stack – A Graham at 721 metres well worth the journey up to the North West.

This mountain is so shapely though not big on stature it’s a real mountain. So many miss it on there journey to better known mountains in the area. I did it as an afterthought and loved it the views are outstanding of the sea and the vastness of this area. It is surrounded by cliffs but the path up it takes you on to the ridge and on a good day the views expand as you climb, There are great views of Foinaven and Arkle the hill can look intimidating but there is a route through the crags.

A grand hill : Ben Stack is a mountain in Sutherland, in the northwest of Scotland. It is 721 m (2,365 ft) high. It lies southeast of Laxford Bridge and northwest of Loch More along the A838 road, and just west of Loch Stack.

Apparently Tolkien’s inspiration for Mordor……. Great hill😊 Lorriane

Walk Highlands – “Ben Stack is a very fine and shapely mountain rising in splendidly above Loch Stack. Its ascent is a short hillwalk, usually begun from the southeast with a short bog at the start. There is a steeper alternative approach from the north. In winter it’s a superb short day though I have only climbed it twice. My pal Angus Jack was up for a sunset in winter and took a great photo looking towards the sea as the sun set. Marvellous photo.

Ben Stack from the sea classic !

I was on duty in the ARCC when we received a call in August 2005.

We received a message that former Cabinet minister Robin Cook, 59, has died after collapsing while hill walking in north-west Scotland on Ben Stack.

It is believed he was taken ill while walking with his wife Gaynor near the summit of Ben Stack, at around 1420 BST, Northern Constabulary said.

Mr Cook was flown by coastguard helicopter to Raigmore Hospital in Inverness, where he was pronounced dead, said an NHS Highland spokesman. 

Mr Cook quit as Commons leader in March 2003, in protest over the war in Iraq.

Following Mr Cook’s death, former friends and colleagues paid tribute to him. 

The Conservative leader Michael Howard said: “He is a very great loss. He was someone who made an immense contribution to our political life.”

Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy said: “Scottish, British and international politics have lost a good and gifted man.”

It is understood Mr Cook, who has two adult sons, arrived at hospital at 4pm, about 90 minutes after his collapse and was declared dead five minutes later, said an NHS Highland spokesman. 

It was more than three hours before police confirmed his death, as it is believed family members were being informed. 

Following Mr Cook’s death, a report will be prepared for the Procurator Fiscal, as is usual in such circumstances. 

Landslide win

The Livingston MP, who lived in Edinburgh, was a keen walker and cyclist and a keen follower of horse racing. 

Map of Scotland with location of Ben StackRobin Cook was flown from Ben Stack to Inverness

He first became an MP for Edinburgh Central in 1974 and was appointed the shadow health secretary in 1989, becoming shadow trade and industry secretary in 1992. 

In 1994, he became the shadow foreign secretary, a position he held until the 1997 election. 

After Labour’s landslide win, he entered the Cabinet as foreign secretary. 

A Cabinet reshuffle after the 2001 Labour victory saw him replaced at the Foreign Office by Jack Straw, with Mr Cook instead given the job of Leader of the Commons. 

He resigned that position in the lead-up to the conflict in Iraq in protest over Tony Blair’s decision to go to war. 

He had been an outspoken critic of the government’s foreign policy from the backbench.

Graham’s & the Donalds a great guide .
Posted in Corbetts and other hills, Mountaineering, Views Mountaineering, Well being | Leave a comment

Jimmy Clitheroe RIP

This was put on the RAF Mountain Rescue Facebook page ” It is with great sadness that inform you of the death this morning of Jimmy Clitheroe.
Jimmy had been ill with cancer, diagnosed in Feb of this year and it sadly took him this morning.
Thoughts are with his family and those of us who knew and respected him.”

Jimmy as many will remember him that classic stance on the belay. Photo P.Greening.

I first met Jimmy when instructing on a winter course. The Team leader Jim Morning told me “we have a good one here” Jim rarely gave out praise. We were on the Ben and I introduced Jimmy to Castle ridge and he asked if we could do something else so we went over the summit and came down climbing Bob Run on the way home. I had told about Ian Clough connection with routes on the Ben next day we did Route Magor and a route on the walk off La Petite he was so keen. Jim was right he was a solid troop.

RAF Stafford was Jimmy’s first time every time we met them I was impressed on some wild Call outs in Scotland they were and still are a “band of brothers” I was sent to Innsworth in the early 80’s and joined Stafford. Jimmy took me climbing on many of the classics on the rock we had some grand days. He showed me many of the great crags of the Peak and Lake District and ran me ragged collecting star routes. After coming back we would always make a drink in the pub and the fun would start. These were great days.

Jimmy I think on Great Harry Laurance Field crag.

Later on Jimmy became a team member at Kinloss when I was Team Leader as always so calm and cool. He later qualified as a Team Leader. I doubt there are any Team Leaders as respected as Jimmy. He had such a natural leadership and was so respected and loved by his team. It’s not easy at times to be so well liked as a Team Leader but Jimmy was.

Mr “unassuming” he was when I spoke to him about his ascent of Denali in Alaska where I am sure he made the summit in poor weather alone. He descended by the Rescue Couloir in awful weather he rarely spoke of his achievements , he loved the mountains and was always an inspiration to us all.

On the Annual winter course that I was running he left early and I caught him soling the Curtain a grade 5 ice route with another troop. He was smiling as he came off and said it was a wee warm up, You had to laugh.

Like most of us his family gave up so much but during his service to Mountain Rescue I hope the Mountain Rescue Family look after them. The troops visited Jimmy in his last days showing a great respect to a man taken far to to soon.

My thoughts like many are with Jimmy’s family my condolences to you . Thinking of you Chrissy, Kirsty, Maddison, all his family and all the troops that knew him.

Jimmy on Bovine North Wales classic photo Nige Hughes.

Any photos of Jimmy would be appreciated. The RAF Mountain Rescue Facebook page is full of wonderful comments I hope they bring some comfort to the family.

Posted in Mountain rescue, Mountaineering, People, Well being | 3 Comments

Happy birthday Derrick !

Yesterday we had a grand day on the Dava Moor with an old pal Derrick Harman. It will be his 80 th birthday this week. The event was organised by the Bard of Dunfail Babs. Old pals from the Last of the Simmer wine, Moray Mountaineering Club and RAF Mountain Rescue met at Dunphail at the Clubs Poet Laureate Babs had tea, coffee and cakes ready for us. Mike her husband met us showed us round the estate and it was hard to leave the estate grounds.

Meeting at Babs and Mikes estate before we went on our wander. Derrick wearing his crocodile hunting hat.

From here it was a short drive into Dericks favourite area the Dava Moor and we had a great wander and chat. It’s grand to be with good friends again after COVID. There was lots of blethering whilst walking.

River crossing experts ?

We followed the old estate roads past the Dava way an excellent mountain biking area . Derrick was not showing his age and charging on in front whilst we plodded behind.

Some of the gang.

It was then up to the estate hit for lunch and several things were produced wine, whisky. Chocolate and a poem by Babs telling a few tales of Derrick adventures.

From Skye to the great Glens the poem was full of some great tales.

After lunch stop.

It was then back to the transport and Bab’s estate where Mike had a fire pit going. More tea and. Coffee beer cakes and so much fun. Of course more tales. I got blamed for pinching some wood given to the Oiligarch of Black bridge.

Fire pit in action.

It was a great day out so kind of Bab’s to organise the day and the lovely hospitality of her house with Mike was so good. A Guinea wander in our local area with good friends made it a special 80 th birthday for Derrick.

Derrick taking a break !
Posted in Bothies, People, Well being | Leave a comment

NHS info on ticks!

I found three ticks on me after my trip to Torridon. Please be aware and read the NHS info below.

We’ve been recieving more calls about tick bites ⚠️ Lots of important info in this post, so please read on ⤵️

If you spot a tick bite, don’t worry, the majority of tick bites cause no issues, however, if you do get bitten, you should:

✅ Remove the tick ASAP (info below)
✅ Wash your skin with soap afterwards
✅ Apply an antiseptic cream around the bite
✅ Take pictures of the bite and any rash

To force the tick out, you should not:

❌ Use a cigarette, match or lighter
❌ Squeeze the tick
❌ Use any alcohol or petroleum jelly

The safest way to remove a tick is to use a tick removal tool, such as a tick twister or tick card. If these aren’t available, you can use a pair of fine toothed tweezers.

Using a tick removal tool via NHS Highland

There is no need to consult your GP if you have been bitten and have no symptoms. However, do keep an eye on the bite area, and if you develop ANY rash (not just one resembling a bullseye) or develop any flu-like symptoms in the weeks following a bite, make an appointment with your GP right away.

Make sure to tell your GP that you’ve been bitten, or if you’ve been in an area where ticks are present – wooded, grassy areas with dense overgrowth. This is where taking pictures can help, they can be assessed if any rash disappears or spreads 📸

Remember, not everyone who contracts Lyme Disease develops a rash, or notices a bite, so it’s very important to be aware of, and seek advice for any flu-like symptoms quickly:

➡️ Fever
➡️ Chills
➡️ Fatigue
➡️ Muscle aches
➡️ Joint pain
➡️ Stiff neck

Self-help guide for tick bites – this can help asses any symptoms and direct you to the right care in the right place.

General information on tick bites

Tick !
Posted in Health, Mountaineering, Well being | Leave a comment

Thinking of those who lost loved ones on the isle of Harris Shackleton crash on this day in 30 April 1990. Also all those involved in the recovery of the crew .

On 30 April 1990, a Royal Air Force Avro Shackleton AEW Mk II aircraft, of No. 8 Squadron RAF, based at RAF Lossiemouth, crashed into a hill on the Isle of Harris.

This crash effected many and will bring memories of a sad event my thoughts are with the families and relatives whose lives were changed after this event. Also for the superb help we received from all the local folk. There kindness to the RAF Kinloss Tram will not be forgotten.

The crew :

Wing Commander Stephen Roncoroni

Wing Commander Chas Wrighton

Flying Officer Colin Burns

Squadron Leader Jerry Lane

Flight Lieutenant Al Campbell

Flight Lieutenant Keith Forbes

 Master Air Electronics Operator Roger Scutt

 Flight Sergeant Rick Ricketts

Sergeant Graham Miller

Corporal Stuart Bolton

The view from the crash site.

From Don MacLean “There was a memorial service yesterday at Northton,organised by Harris Voluntary Service and others outdoors.
Was a grim day weather wise ,we remembered all crew and read their names out and all those who attended the scene and helped in the community also.
I opened the service and said a few words re crew in regards they were somebody’s son ,father ,brother and they will never be forgotten etc and that to many yesterday is as raw as 32 years ago.
RIP all on board WR965 ,may blue skies always be yours.”

Posted in Aircraft incidents, Mountain rescue, PTSD, Weather, Well being | 9 Comments

Update on Shackleton memorial from

I just received this update :

Dear David,

Unfortunately the cairn is not ready for unveiling at the Shackleton memorial service tomorrow- the temporary base still needs work, so we plan to present just the memorial plaque to the RAF once they arrive from Stornoway, around 2.30pm in the Seallam! carpark. Sorry for the inconvenience but since the blog is being shared on facebook, I thought I should send an update. Hopefully we can give plenty of notice for when the ground level cairn IS to be unveiled! I believe there will be a climb to the top of Maodal to the existing memorial by the RAF representatives that afternoon too. The Memorial Service is at noon. Carolyn, Harris Voluntary Service Manager

Further update:

Dear David, Im afraid there is a further update- the RAF have confirmed that they cannot get a weather window to attend tomorrow. Therefore the unveiling in its entirety will be rescheduled into a stand alone event when the RAF can attend and there will be no plaque handover with western isle lifestyle lottery. The RAF would like to spend some time in the community and we all agree that it is more respectful and befitting the memorial if we have a separate date. The memorial service is still going ahead tomorrow at 12 noon! A lot of people have been resharing your blog- would it be too much bother to update the lead by-line with these updates for us? I think it will reach more people than our little local facebook page! Hopefully nothing more will change now (fingers crossed).

Sorry for any inconvenience caused.

Posted in Aircraft incidents, Weather, Well being | Leave a comment

A good friend Paul Rosher retires from Skye Mountain Rescue Team – another of the unsung heroes of Mountain Rescue.

Paul below the Cioch photo Skye MRT

I just read that a good friend Paul Rosher of Skye Mountain Rescue is retiring after nearly 40 years with the Mountain Rescue team. I first met Paul At Camusunary bothy near Loch Coruisk. It was in winter December 1982 and an USA F111 had crashed above the bothy. Paul and his mates from Newcastle were staying in the bothy and thought that a nuclear war had started. It was at the height of the Cold War. We landed by the bothy in a Seaking Helicopter it was a wild dark night. Paul took us up to the crash site on very steep ground. The hill above Diminutive Sgùrr Na Strì may be reach 494 metres in height, but it’s proof that – when it comes to mountains – size doesn’t matter.

The guide book days : Reaching it requires a long and quite rugged walk, but the rewards are immense. the final ascent to Sgùrr na Strì is rough, rocky and pathless and requires careful route-finding.

Many walkers reckon that the view from the summit – over Loch Coruisk, the Cuillin and the sea – is the finest in all Britain. In winter and in the dark with fresh snow it’s a wild place. I spent a lot of time in Skye on the hill and some incredible call outs. To me Skye is the wildest place in Scotland and the team has always been in my highest regards. It is such a serious place to work in and in wild weather so serious. All mountaineers owe a huge debt to those folk like Paul who give so much and never hit the headlines. Thank you big man.

From Skye MRT – “Long serving team member Paul Rosher has finally decided to hang up his boots after nearly 40 years voluntary service with SkyeMRT. Paul joined the team in 1984 when it seemed to be stuffed with memorable characters, and Paul was certainly one of them. He could have you in stitches or shaking your head in wonder with tales of his misspent youth, or keep you awake half the night on some God-forsaken ledge with his incessant Geordie chatter!

Paul took part in numerous epic rescues – many are now part of team folklore. He was a strong man and always willing to hump the stretcher or other heavy gear up the hill, which always endears you to your fellow team-mates!

Later he designed the Secure Casualty System – an ultra warm casbag with extra protection for the patient. This was tested and developed with teams across the country and he was subsequently awarded a Winston Churchill award and a placement with Yosemite Search and Rescue.

Once, famously, Paul was on the winch wire when it was cut due to the helicopter aborting it’s hover. Fortunately he was still close to the ground. Most of us would never have gone near a helicopter ever again after that, but it didn’t seem to put Paul off! On another occasion our exhausted stretcher party made it down to Coruisk after a 20 hour search and carry. Paul arrived pre-dawn like our saviour with bags of much needed provisions. Unfortunately they weren’t quite as fresh as we were expecting and he didn’t get the praise he thought he deserved…!

Exhilarating helicopter rides, satisfaction at jobs well done, the embarrassing cock-ups, and the sadness and frustration at less happy outcomes – when you’re on this rescue team as long as Paul has been, you go through it all. And he did, for even longer than the rest of us!

Paul, we salute you for your long contribution to the team. We hope you will treasure a lifetime of happy memories of all your friends and colleagues in Skye MRT and wish you, Meg and Tom all the very best in the future.👍”

Great words about a top guy.

Paul wrote this piece when he met us on the USA F111 Crash on Skye he gave me permission to use it.

Recollections from November 1982.

The three of us, John Foggin, Paul Robson and myself had been out on
Blaven that day and had been thoroughly soaked, the fire was on and
macaroni cheese was cooking. Paul Robson, who had been attempting to
pot a rabbit with his air pistol was cleaning his gun when the sound
first occurred. Everything happened really fast after this.

A bright red light lit up the whole bay, we could see right across.
Everything started shaking, doors, windows, tables and objects on the
tables. Then there was a shock wave, not a sound but a physical
pressure which moved from left to right and when it did the fire went
out, the air was briefly sucked out of the room, our kit was flying
through the air madly and part of the ceiling fell on Paul Robson,
who ran out into the white light, covered in plaster.

I remember distinctly the thought that a nuclear war had started, after
all it was very much still the Cold War years and Holy loch did
shelter nuclear subs, well I thought it had taken a hit! I have an
uncle who is ex-army artillery and I recalled him telling me that the
thing to do was to cover your ears and open your mouth, so this is what I did.

My brother Johnny thought it was an alien spaceship! He had been cutting
the cheese into the pasta and jumped back into the corner of the room
staring at the white light glaring around the door frame. I later
pointed out if it had of been aliens and they would have traveled an
awfully long way to visit earth only to get chibbed by a freaked out
bothy bum!

Anyway, John and I dashed outside to find Paul Robson and see the whole top of Sgur na Stri ablaze, the diameter of the fireball I estimate at
about 200 meters plus and constituted of every colour imaginable. We
had to drag Paul Robson back inside as the white hot bits of metal
falling out of the sky began to land all too close.

We took turns standing in the rain waiting for another aircraft to
return. We could hear it out in the murky night, but no visual
contact was made. The hours passed.

 Eventually we heard a helicopter approach and that is when I met Dave “Heavy” Whalley.

The snows up on the tops had by now extinguished the flames so his first
question to me was, “Okay action man, do y`know where this plane
crashed then?”, and of course I did and took them to the exact
spot. Sgurr na Stri was always our warm-up mountain, and so it is
very familiar and well loved.

When I took the RAF and MR lads to the very place one RAF guy said
“Shouldn’t we get the civvy out of here Sarge? There could be
UXB`s around” He was referring to me and the UXB`s would be the
target bombs which may not have exploded, which does not seem very
likely considering the speed this bird was doing when it collided
square on with the crag.

Paul Robson took another group of RAF to the base of the West Gulley where they illuminated the hillside with massive spotlights.

I recall my brother Johnny was most disgruntled that I didn’t take
him with me and his job was keeping the fire going, this menial task
was more than compensated the next day when John saw an American
officer fall in the river.

John would only be 18 when this happened and our mother, being still alive
then, used to emphasise that I must not get him injured or killed
when we were out on the mountains. Fair enough, this is why I told
him to stay put. Early the next morning whilst Paul Robson and I were
still sleeping Johnny went for water. The best place for good water
near the bothy is over the river. Now there was a very battered
bridge there in those days with many of the tread-boards missing it
was a kind of hop-skip-jump affair to get across. John had just
returned with two canisters of water, the central section of the
bridge was underwater as the tide was in, but Johnny knew where the
remaining tread boards sat. When the little fat American general
tried he took one small step for man and ended up floating away out
to sea. John said he saw two squaddies on the other side just look at
each other, shrug, and then rescue their commander. Shame we missed

In those days bothy rations consisted of dried foodstuffs occasionally
brightened up with a rabbit or a bucket of shellfish. We were given
masses of army rations and kit for our assistance but also told not
to leave for a few days, but we didn’t intend to.

We were interviewed first by RAF rescue in the bothy by Heavy, a very
relaxed matter of fact thing. Then we had a visit from the USAF who
again interviewed us in the bothy and basically just took down what
we said had occurred. After this USAF Intelligence wanted to
interview us which afterwards seemed a bit daft as it was exactly the
same as the interview we had just given. The final interview was the
only one where we were separated and taken individually into a
Chinook which had the cargo bay filled with technical kit and recording
equipment. This was the only session where we were told it could not
have happened as we said it did as this was not the flight path.
These guys in unmarked NATO parkas insisted that it could not have
flown in over Elgol and up into the Bay the way we recounted. We all
just stuck to our story about what happened because that was what

Years later, after I moved to Skye and got involved in Mountain Rescue work
(since 1984)

I found out from a team member Ewan MacInnon who lived then at Elgol
that the plane was so low some glass cracked and ornaments and plates
fell from their place. It must have been dangerously low and
critically close to do this.

I still visit Sgurr na Stri at least once a year. It is one of my
favourite mountains with unrivalled views of the Cullin and many wee
crags and sections to explore or scramble. I am still finding debris,
especially in the West Riven Gulley at the top where it divides into
loose, dangerous fingers of grassy, chossy rock.

Paul Robson died in 1999, he didn’t even make it to forty. His love
affair with booze caught up with him and in the end took him away
from us like most bad lovers do. Memories remain though and I can
still recall him before the alcohol took his vigour and health away,
a tall fit young lad who loved his climbing and survivalist and those
nights by a bothy fire telling yarns and recounting past adventures.”

Those were the days we lived.

Paul Rosher.

Posted in Articles, Friends, Islands, Mountain rescue, Mountaineering, People, Views Mountaineering, Well being | Leave a comment

Sea Stacks – A few tales: The old man of Stoer. An early ascent in 1968 and a ascent of a foam covered Stack!

Well done Bridget from Skye ( All things Culluin) for climbing the Old Man of Storr a sea stack near Lochinver. A great day out for you and Adrian and what a way to experience a birthday. It got me thinking about the fun we had on Sea Stacks. Yet they are not to be underrated as the sea and rock climbing can be very serious as the weather especially the wind can change so quickly.

The Old Man of Stoer

This was the first Sea stack I ever climbed was the Old Man Of Stoer near Lochinver it was in the 70’s. I was brought up with the tales of “Doctor Stack” Tom Patey in his classic book “One Man’s Mountains”. A few of the tigers in the team had done it not long after the first ascent. My pal Derrick Harman told me of an early ascent in boots and getting the tides wrong and having a long wait on the Stack. I am sure they had a ladder to cross the gap.

The Old Man Of Storr Monday 28 July 1968 – This an extract from the RAF Kinloss MRT Diary of the day! A party from RAF Kinloss of Gonk Ballantyne, Yeni Harman & George Bruce set out to climb the Old Man Of Stoer, they borrowed a ladder from the Ullapool Youth Hostel to get across to the Stac without getting wet. They reached the bottom of the climb at 1700, left the ladder in place ready for withdrawal. Bruce decided against climbing, due to steepness, hardness and being incredibly frightened. Ballantyne and Harman completed the climb having difficulty in places finding the route and being spat on by nesting birds on the ledges. They eventually abseiled off at 2300. The sea by this time was fully in and the ladder was by now 6 feet under water. They decided not to swim back due to man –eating seals who were waiting patiently for the wrong decisions to be made. They spent the night testing Mr Harmans’s new space blanket and a fairly comfortable bivouac. They awoke at 0300 and found that the tide had ebbed enough to allow a crossing using the ladder.Although only graded Hard Severe the exposure was frightening , the abseil off even worse, not recommended for anyone with a weak heart. The route was climbed in big boots! CLIMBED IN BIG BOOTS!

I remember on my first ascent the steep descent down grass to the sea and being a bit wary at the time. The best swimmer swum over and rigged a rope for others to cross. I found it pretty intimidating that first day as the weather changed, the abseil was interesting in the wind. As was the getting back over the Tyrollean across the gap.

A bit wild!

Original Route – VS 5a Old man of Stoer It was first climbed in 1966 by Brian Henderson, Paul Nunn, Tom Patey and Brian Robertson. Along with Am Buachaille and the Old Man of Hoy, it has become something of a legend among climbers.

The classic and popular sea stack (not to be confused with the Old Man of Storr on Skye!) More Crag Info here:

Approach notes: Park at the car parki near the Stoer Light house (58.237948, -5.400902). Head 3Km northwards to the sea stack, going over the hill of Sidhean Mor. Take a steep scramble down and either boulder hop to the stack at the lowest of tides or set up a Tyrolean traverse if one is not in place already by swimming the 8 meter channel. Using a 40m static rope for this will be easier than dynamic climbing ropes if you can be bothered to carry it. 30m is a little short for easy retrieval.

Tidal and wind affected. Park near the lighthouse and walk along the cliff-tops. Scramble down to the platform opposite the base of the stack.

A Tyrolean traverse is required to access the stack. If one is not in place then a swimmer (preferably a volunteer) is needed in the party. Bring enough rope to leave a Tyrolean in place and carry out the descent abseil (60m ropes advisable).

At spring low tides and with a small swell it is possible to step/wade across to the base of the stack on the right hand side (facing out). You can scramble around (anti-clockwise) to the top of pitch 2 of the “Ordinary Route”.

The local Team Leader of Assynt Phil Jones took me there years later and he had a plan worked out if there was a problem or Mountain Rescue incident on the stack. A few years later there was a tragedy in bad weather and despite the incredible bravery of a few there was a life lost here. It’s hard to think when your there on a good day how bad the weather can get.

Years later early 80’s with Stafford MRT the stack was covered in foam from the sea. This was due to storms and Jim Morning swum across!

Later on a few years we took some of the Hong Kong Civil Aid Team over on a visit. We had some laugh with them on the abseil whilst Teallach my dog swam round the stack with the seals. Since then I did a few ascents of Storr always found it an incredible place to be always with great troops. It gave you a very different day with the sea and the climb.

Bairns on the Stack photo LMRT

In the early days our ropes were 45 metres a bit short for the abseil. Top Tip : Ensure you check the abseil slings replace any dodgy looking bits! Keep your eye on the weather it can change fast.

A naked ascent !

When I left as Team Leader of Kinloss and Leuchars MRT I was presented with some slides that showed I had no clue of what the troops were up to at times. Many were the odd epic on the Stacks that I was oblivious to. Yet those adventures make you who you are and the team members such great folk. As you get older you appreciate this even more.

There is a bond there that few can experience in other walks of life. I am so lucky.

Next Time Am Buachaille Sandlewood Bay your comments welcome.

Posted in Enviroment, Equipment, Friends, Gear, Mountaineering, People, Rock Climbing, SMC/SMT, Views Mountaineering, Weather, Wildlife | 2 Comments

A very slow day in Torridon Tom na Gruagaich. Beinn Alligin a cracking mountain.

“The weather had a great forecast for the West” my friend Kalie said “West is best” so I came over late on Thursday night. I had just had a tooth taken out on Wednesday and was not feeling great. Yet the drive through on Wednesday was stunning I have rarely seen the hills and the light as good. Hidden gullies enhanced by the shadows, the blue skies and even late on the sunlight were surreal for me. There were lots of vans parked in lay -byes the great rush for the NC 500 was on. I love the last bit of the journey past the Loch views of the mighty Torridon Giants Beinn Eighe and Liathach then the drive round from Sheildaig where you can see Beinn Alligin in its great bulk.

Tom na Gruagaich.

I had an early night but a very bad sleep but my gear was all sorted before I left home. We were away early after a breakfast of porridge heading for Beinn Alligin. Again the journey from Kalies was magnificent and even she said that it was the best she had seen it. I knew I would be slow today little sleep but the weather was so good.

Cracking morning in Torridon.

We arrived at a nearly empty car park above Loch Torridon and slowly headed uphill. It’s straight from sea level so a good lot of effort. It is a great path though and warm though only 0830. The path goes up into the big Corrie Laoigh and follows a burn up the hill. We needed lots of water breaks for Islay and ourselves today. I found it hard going after little sleep and the tooth drama. Kalie was patient, Islay waiting patiently. The views keep you going all the way up as they expand and the path is still being worked on near the Corrie rim. There was only one patch of snow near the river. There are some great cliffs on the Corrie along with the ridge that can give a good scramble but not today. At times it was warm and then a wind would cool you down.

Kalie on way up !

I had no power at all today the body struggled but we were managed to take in all the beauty of the day. We made the ridge took lots of photos. The rest of the ridge looked superb the great cleft and the Horns of Alligin spectacular. I was happy to be on the hill and we enjoyed the views.

Sunny day.

We headed down slowly meeting a few folk going up. Out of the wind it was wonderful to be in the sun. We headed down I was still not great and drinking lots of fluid. I saw an Eagle yet was so tired but we made it to the car and then to Torridon village for a drink and cake. It was then head back a wonderful drive back to Kalies. Again the light was wonderful a joy to be out. We passed so many vans in lay – byes on the busy NC 500 the summer madness has started.

There was a wee BBQ in the village that night and we we after a shower had a lovely few hours. It’s great to meet folk again and share conservations. Things we took for granted before COVID.

Great views on a stunning day.

It’s funny often I did these hills in fast times including some big days like Beinn Eighe, Liathach, Beinn Dearg and Alligin all in a one long day. Now I do what I can and some days struggle but still enjoy my wanders out.

A grand day body a bit sore but a great day out. It’s so good to see these familiar hills again even to do one is a privilege. They are right when they say “ Youth is wasted on the young”

Todays tip : Watch the weather on the West it can be very hot drink plenty of fluid, use sunscreen and be aware there is a high fire risk.

Posted in Corbetts, Corbetts and other hills, Flora, Friends, Local area and events to see, Mountain rescue, mountain safety, Mountaineering, Munros, People, Views Mountaineering, Weather, Well being, Wildlife | Leave a comment

So lucky to have Ben Rinnes on my doorstep. The Wellington Crash and The Friends of Ben Rinnes.

Always a great views.

Ben Rinnes ; 841 m (2,759 ft) · 512 m (1,680 ft) · Corbett, Marilyn.

Elevation: 841 m (2,759 ft)

Parent range: Grampian Mountains

Ben Rinnes is a cracking mountain on my doorstep. It’s a short drive from home and the phone rang with my friend Babs asking if I fancied a short day out. We met early the wee car park was quiet. Babs loves this hill as we all day if never disappoints and is always a bit of fun. As our poet Laureate of our Mountaineering Club-she is great craic on the hill.

The weather was superb and it was great to have a light bag and my hill running trainers on. Babs wanted to test her injury out. As always we were overtaken by a few faster folks but we had a stop and enjoyed the hill. I love coming off the path near the summit and looking towards the Cairngorms we could see so many hills. It’s lovely granite and has a few outcrops or tors. The view on the other side of Moray and the fields is always exciting. Sometimes the weather on the final ridge which is so open can be wild and despite its lowly height. Today it was warm and we stopped on the summit for our lunch.

From here we had a wander over to the tors (granite outcrops ) along the ridge. There pretty iconic and are worth a visit. There is a bit of scrambling on the Tors. The feel of the granite and the warm rock hopefully is a sign of summer.

Granite Tors . – A hard, mineral encrusted igneous substance, older than the hills themselves showing the scars from eons of weathering. Stood next to some rocks.

I wanted to visit the Wellington Crash that few visit it’s not far from the summit. There is little wreckage left.

Grid ref of crash

Ben Rinnes was the scene of a terrible plane crash on 14th November 1943.
A Wellington Bomber HF746 of No20 Operational Training Unit, based at Lossiemouth, crashed into Ben Rinnes whilst on a navigational exercise. Both the crew were killed.
A former member of the ground crew who went to the site on the hill shortly after the crash described it as “the most complete burn-out he had ever seen”.
The outline of this crash site is still clearly visible from the north side of the Ben where the ground was scarred so badly that nothing will grow there even today.

Babs on one of our favourite hills.

“A Wellington Bomber crash in 1943 John has dropped us an email giving his recollections of that event. John and his family lived in Edinvillie at the time of the crash, he still has relatives living in Edinvillie today.

The wreckage.

We always see a few hares on this side of the hill away from the path. It’s a lovely place yet sad to think of the crash here. I always try to visit the ground is so soft with moss. It’s lovely walking and when the cloudberry is out it’s a sea of colour. We had another break in the sun then wandered back to the main path by the highest fir trees.

By now the hill was busy lots of families with kids making there way up, they all seemed to be enjoying it and great to see. We were soon back down at the cars and off home.

Todays tip – it was hot ensure you have water with you. Use sunscreen to stop skin damage and beware of ticks they are about. Thanks Bab for the call it was worth it and as always Ben Rinnes did not disappoint.

If you climb Ben Rinnes there is a wee collection box on the gate next to the start of the path.

About The Friends of Ben Rinnes

The Friends of Ben Rinnes is a registered charity (No SC 034370) which works to care for the paths and environment of Ben Rinnes and to promote responsible enjoyment of the hill by walkers. Its members are all volunteers who share these aims and who wish to support them.

The increasing popularity of the hill with walkers of all abilities has resulted in major erosion and widening of the existing paths, particularly on the upper slopes. Worst affected is the most popular route to the summit leading from the car park at Glack Harnes on the Edinvillie to Glen Rinnes road over Roy’s Hill and up the north eastern ridge. The resultant scarring on the summit cone is unsightly, unpleasant under foot and, worst of all, damaging to the fragile environment. Please donate if you park this will help with the upkeep of the path.

Thank you: as always comments welcome .

Posted in Aircraft incidents, Charity, Corbetts, Enviroment, Friends, Mountaineering, People, Recomended books and Guides, Rock Climbing, Views Mountaineering, Well being, Wildlife | 4 Comments

Mountains by various boats etc. Goatfell, Ben Lomond, Knoydart,Slioch, Skye etc.

If you read about the mountains and the sea add them together and you have a unique way to travel to these wild places. Here are just a few of my memories.

Goatfell. My early memories are of the ferry to Arran and seeing for the first time the volcanic looking Goatfell on the journey across. It has always captivated me and even on my trip last year I was enthralled by the view. To me there is always something about the sea and the mountains, maybe as I lived in Ayr and could see the Arran hills most days it was clear. The excitement of being on a ferry or a boat was always part of my life.

Ben Lomond – was another mountain I loved and to get a boat across Loch Lomond away from the crowds was magical. We did this most southerly Munro by a local boat a few times it made the journey so much fun and have you new views of a popular mountain.

Ben Starav – from the Loch up the slabs was a route I had wanted to climb for years. A boat up Glen Etive takes you into a different world and you wonder how many come this way? The views down the Loch Etive overlooking the Etive Slabs on the opposite side of the Loch are breathtaking. It’s a grand way up onto this hill.

Knoydart – These hills have so many memories for me. From being taken over to Barrisdale by the late Tom Swanney from Arnisdale paying for it with an old climbing rope. A few call-outs as well in our own rib “Daz boat”big ascents from sea level and the views of the islands. Nowadays there are boats from Mallaig that will drop you at Loch Nevis where the world is your oyster.

Loch Mullardoch – Beinn Fionlaifh ( Glen Affric) a great way to climb this remote hill. The keeper runs trips up the Loch Mullardoch and these Lochs can be as wild as the sea if a wind blows up. It saves a big walk in as well. I have done several big days from here. We had our own rib that introduced us to some fantastic adventures.

Slioch – we did a few call-outs here relying on the local boat to save us huge walk outs. The keeper and the midges are days I will never forget. It also allowed you to climb on Sliochs buttress”s again few climb here. It also allowed us ascents of remote Corbetts like Beinn Lair.


Skye – Loch Coruisk – The Dubhs ridge was an early adventure by canoe in the 70’s a scary trip. After that there were so many more into the Dubhs ridge by our rib and the local boats from Elgol. Later on I was to sail round the West Coast staying the night on Loch Coruisk and climbing next day. There was something about seeing Skye from the sea. This to me is the finest expedition of its kind so many great memories of superb days, magic Gabro,various weather conditions. So many adventures and of course that majestic mountain overlooking Loch Coruisk.

Suilven – by canoe this grand hill can be ascended by canoe from Loch Veyatie. I did it once in a Canadian Canoe it was a great adventure.

The Islands – Rum always been a special place for me. Waiting for a huge lightning storm to pass then crossing from Skye at night seeing whales in the sea . When we arrived at night on night vision goggles a few locals thought we were special forces. What a place to be great mountains and as always they look so different from the sea.

Earlier trips by some pals.

Jura – The Paps of Jura impressive mountains great to take the little local ferry and climb the hills. We took bikes to get about after the hill just to see a bit more of the Island.

Jura ferry

At times it’s so important to not just visit the hills but see and learn about the history of the Islands .

Harris – The Clisham is a mountain on Harris, on the island of Lewis and Harris in the Western Isles of Scotland. At 799 metres it is the highest mountain in the Outer Hebrides and the archipelago’s only Corbett.

The Clisham near the summit with typical views.

“ I was near the summit enjoying the views when I saw a pair of Eagles soar above. The final ridge is grand and the trig point summit is a rounded domed cairn. Thus us where we met two folk from Arran another Island I love. Her we sat to have lunch and it was then I noticed I had left the sandwiches in the fridge. It did not spoil the day though Kalie was very understanding as was Islay with my incompetences.”

The Cuma taking us to St Kilda weather permitting May!

We had views of St Kilda looking like a lost world now there’s a place to go. I am off again in May.

Out in the canoe with Coxy & Teallach.

Tips – Never rush on an Island and add an extra days if you can. It will be worth it. Take time to stand and stare.

The Paps of Jura
Posted in Corbetts, Corbetts and other hills, Cycling, Enviroment, Islands, Mountaineering, Sailing trips, Views Mountaineering, Weather, Wildlife | Leave a comment

Giving up the racing bike dealing with growing older gracefully.

Last week I had to sell my racing bike. I had great fun on it but due to an ongoing chest problem I struggled with breathing whilst cycling. I got soaked on my Cycle to Syracuse training during a wild day cycling from Lockerbie to Edinburgh in 2018. The constant soaking I got that day during Hurricane Calumn without a doubt lead to me being very I’ll. I had to go to hospital in the USA and struggled with breathing. The doctors said I nearly caught pneumonia and to this day I am effected by the damage done. It was sad selling the bike but I still have my old mountain bike to potter about on. Once I get my car back on the road I will be looking for an e bike.

It’s all part of getting older and adjusting to it. It’s not easy but I am so lucky to be able to get out and about still. I get a bit jealous when I see folk running, playing football and cycling. As you get older it gets harder but still worth going out. It’s so easy to accept old age and become a couch potato? To see so many in the great outdoors is uplifting and to watch my grandkids on their bikes gives me a warm feeling.

So I will continue pottering about on my old bike just now going slow and being overtaken by all and sundry. Yet it’s easy to feel another part of life has moved on you just have to adjust to what you can do and enjoy what we have.

The Cycle to
Posted in Charity, Cycle to Syracuse Training, Cycling, Friends, Mountaineering, Well being | 5 Comments

Going on the hills alone. Any thoughts.

I often get asked why I go out alone on the hills? After over 40 years of taking people it’s great to go at your own pace, stop when you want and not be fixated by a time or summit. Many of my best days were myself plus my dog Tranters Round, The North and South Clunnie, The Fannichs, An Teallach and the Fisherfield hills to name a few. I was young then and now paying a price for these wonderful days with sore hips etc . Yet the mountains and the wild places are the place to be even at my slow pace.

Old boy on the hill in Arran.

Am I selfish when I go out alone ?

I always leave a plan of my intentions as often my journey will take me into a hidden Corrie and a different way up a hill. I love the solitude and peace it brings.

I text/ call when on a summit when heading home and again when back at the car.

I realise as you get older your reactions are not as quick and a simple slip that would have been easily dealt with can cause problems. I take it a lot slower but absorbing where I am.

Yet I still do like being out in a small group or with one other person. My Corbett finish a few weeks ago was a great day as there was no rush and a yet a great bunch of hill folk.

Yet I am so looking forward to getting out again my van has a problem and I have been local for the last three weeks. It’s in getting looked at now so hopefully next week I shall be in my happy place.

I enjoy a bothy on my own okay you have to carry a bit more but I can have a wee nap after the hill before tea. I also love a wee catnap on the hill on a sunny day!

So there are so many ways to enjoy the hills. I feel some now treat them as a “gymnasium for their egos” yet who am I to comment ?

I do enjoy introducing new folk of all ages to the mountains and it’s great to see them become self sufficient in the outdoors. I will always try to do that and it’s amazing to see how confident folk can become with a bit of advice.

I learnt so much in my early days by going out alone. I learned to navigate and make decisions for myself it was frowned on then. A few who I respected told me that was the way to learn and it helped me.

So these are a few thoughts, I do leave word where I am going with folk who understand and my friends understand a bit better now.

So if you meet an old boy struggling up the hill it could be me I am enjoying myself !

Comments as always welcome.

Posted in Health, Hill running and huge days!, Mountain rescue, mountain safety, Mountaineering, Munros, People, Views Mountaineering, Well being, Wildlife | 7 Comments

Paul 5,000 MILES191 MARATHONS AROUND THE UK COASTLINE IN 218 DAYS1 March – 4 October 2022

I met Paul today after a message from a pal who had put him up as he runs round the UK coastline. He is an ex military veteran on a mission. British Army veteran Paul Minter, from Leamington, will begin his world record-setting run on March 1 – an incredible feat of athleticism and endurance which he hopes will raise funds for Head Up, a new mental health charity for the Armed Forces. We met in the forest where he was running with a local young soldier from Elgin “Mac” McKenzie Lewis. I took my bike and went to Hopeman with them where we were met by my friend Chris and his mate. Paul is a wonderful person who served 5 tours in Afghanistan and has seen so much. We had a great chat, he is as fit as a fiddle and a lovely person. Please if you can maybe meet him on his run or sponsor him.

This is from Chris Sutcliffe –

“Amazing support from the people of Moray today for Paul Minter. Paul is running 5000 miles around the UK coastline to raise money for an Armed Forces Mental Health Charity.

I dropped him off this morning at Forres Station and he set off in much better weather than he finished in last night.

A young chap called Mac, only 19 years old has joined him for the duration today and is heading for his longest run to date.

Then he met up with local legend Heavy David Whalley who joined us on his bike and gave some great support and publicity (apart from fat-shaming me 🤪)

Andy Bentley Odyssey Personal Training joined with me from Hopeman and enjoyed a fantastic run along the coast with amazing views

Lunch at Harbour Lights in Lossiemouth who were super interested in Paul’s story, and were kind enough to support him by donating lunch. And a delicious lunch it was.

I managed to ferry the boys across the river on my paddleboard (minus the fin) in a less than stylish, but ultimately successful taxi service. They then pressed on towards Garmouth to wrap up the day.

Finally, thanks to everyone who tooted their horns or stopped for a chat. It really is helping him get the word out about this fantastic cause.

Have a look at his website here:

You can also follow his progress on instagram and Facebook:

See how far he’s come, and how far he’s still got to go on the live tracker:

Most importantly, please have a look at what he’s doing, and why, and try to spread the word. He’s going to be doing this run until October and is keen for people to join him for as much or as little of the route as possible as he comes down the east coast of the UK and works his way back around to Liverpool, where he started.

Lastly, if you wish, you can donate here; every little helps!

Starting on the 1st of March 2022, to help fund The Retreat and bring awareness to our new charity, I will be running the coastlines of England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Isle of Wight, and the Isle of Man – Over 5,000 miles in 218 days. This will be an unsupported challenge, to encourage establishments, organisations, businesses, groups, and individuals to run any section and distance with me, Forrest Gump style! Helping to raise funding and awareness.


I will be largely reliant on the good will of the general public for housing and respite during my journey across the UK. My tracking device will allow everyone to follow me along the entire route. Where you can join me or show your support where possible.

I will be running in a clockwise direction at all times, starting and finishing in Liverpool. Covering around 25-30 miles a day!

The Runner

Paul Minter served 18 years in the British Army as a reconnaissance soldier, completing five tours in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The Logistics

  • 1  man
  • 13 pairs of trainers
  • 28 miles covered a day
  • 171 running days
  • 191 marathons
  • 210 pairs of socks
  • 5,800 miles
  • 195,702 ft elevation
  • 769,600 kcal burned
  • 9,176,000 steps taken


Paul will be running for a total of 171 days, with 47 rest days, in a 21-day cycle – six days’ running, resting on the seventh and every 21 days taking a three-day rest, then restarting the cycle.

Lossiemouth. Photo Chris Sutcliffe

Phill account:

I had to add on an extra 6 miles to my run this morning due to the diversion I was forced to take yesterday. So by the time I got to my original start point (Findhorn) I had already run a fair distance. But it is all part of the journey and was fully embraced?

A young 19-year-old called Mackenzie Lewis, joined me for the day. I had never met him before and he has recently joined the Army in the REME. He Heard about my run, The charity and the cause and decided he wanted to be part of it and help raise some money. The furthest Mac had ever ran before today was 18 miles, But he got in over 30 today. Young man with a lot of maturity and promise for the future.

I was also joined by one of Scotland’s most experienced mounting climber rescue instructors, Heavy. Who is a fantastic man and an ambassador for mental health. I was also joined by Andy and Chris who I stayed with last night.

Chris paddle boarded us over a small stream which was hilarious as we nearly fell in.

Overall a fantastic day and another day closer to the end of the run in October 👀

To donate please see bio or link below:


headupcharity #headup #paddleboard #running #reme #charity #moray #findhorn #garmouth

Posted in Charity, People, PTSD, Well being | Leave a comment

What a magic surprise.

I got these yesterday from two friends it really made my day. It was so kind and a great momento of many great days on the Corbett’s.

It’s amazing how kind folk can be and as I often say there are so many good people about that never get a mention. As you get older you appreciate it more. So many folk are worried about the world just now the cost of basics like heating, food and essentials. Then you see what is happening in Ukraine and we are so lucky to live here despite being lead by the worst leaders in my memory.

Thanks all you made my day, what next?

Posted in Corbetts, Enviroment, Family, Flora, Friends, mountain safety, Mountaineering, People, Views Political?, Weather, Well being, Wildlife | Leave a comment

Mountain Accidents – men and women,

There was a piece in the paper about mountain accidents concerning men and women on the hills. Things have changed andcIt’s great to see so many lassies out and about. In the past it stemmed the mountaineering majority was mainly male ? I did a chat a few years ago in Glencoe and the audience was 50/50. My club has a lot more women members now and it’s great to see that. I agree with the article that women seem a lot less prone to accidents yet I lost a female friend last year on the hill on a fall. It’s impossible to know how many go on the hill of each sex are on the hill ? Yet there is definitely a big rise in my opinion of women on the hill.

Heather Morning was quoted in a paper in an article by the Daily Telegraph “Mountain deaths in Scottish Highlands are almost all men as ‘guys tend to overestimate their ability”

“Covering a seven-year period up to the start of 2019, the data showed that women accounted for only 10 of the 114 fatalities”

I have worked with lots of women on the hills in Rescues and in my club. I agree with Heathers opinions. Of course it’s as always very hard to prove some of the points but in my opinion many women are not so “gun ho” as men.

Everyone has a view as comments as always welcome.

1936 My Mum on her honeymoon out in the hills

Comment – a few years ago I would have said it was proportional as there were many more men than women mountaineering, however the last five years or so has seen that changing with many more women in the mountains. It will be interesting to see if the accident statistics reflect this in the future. A. Jack

Posted in Articles, Books, Family, Mountaineering, People, Recomended books and Guides, Views Mountaineering, Weather, Well being | 1 Comment

Objective Dangers.

This is a great time of year with some magical weather as a high has lead to great weather. Just be careful as with the increased daylight and sun comes danger of thawing ice, rockfall and Cornice collapse.

Cornice collapse in the Cairngorms .

A good idea is to be away early in the morning and get the route done before the sun is up. It’s a bit like climbing in the Alps you want to be away from danger areas before the sun is up fully at midday.

Coire an Lochan cairngorms

Try to look at dangerous areas at this time of year like South facing climbs a no go when a thaw is on. Some places like Hells Lum in Cairngorms are well known for falling ice in late season. Read the guide books ask about local areas . The routes in Coire An – Sneachda are prone to rockfall especially near Red Gully as the sun loosens the rock and ice. There have been a few accidents over the years in this popular area.

At Bealeach na Ba

My mate Jimmy bouldering no helmet and the chance of getting hit by a car!

Canada mixed climbing.

Beware ice daggers above !


Be aware of falling rock as the sun hits in warm weather. Early start as on the Alps out of the sun, safe climbing.

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

Eididh na Clach Geala – Invereal. A delve into the hidden Corrie.

Eididh na Clach Geala (927m, Munro 257 what a cracking hill away from the crowds.

I love this area it’s majestic mountains dominated by Beinn Dearg ( Ullapool) it to me is the wild area of Scotland that I love.The forecast was superb with winds on summit’s. I had to be back for a friends 50 th in Elgin so we hoped to get one or two hills done. My friend Diane had not been on the hill this year we both had knocks due to ageing so it would be slow day,

The Munro’s App.

Walk Highlands gives a grand description of our hills but as always keeps bit short for this wee hill. The description is simple as most do not just climb one Munro. Most do the 4 Munro’s in one day which I had done many times adding on Seanna Bhraigh and Am Foachoagh hard going. I am so glad these days are over I can enjoy and take time when out on the mountains.

Eididh nan Clach Geala rises steeply above Lochan a’ Chnapaich; on the other sides its slopes are more gentle. It enjoys stunning views northwest towards the distinctive mountains of Assynt and the Summer Isles. It was the hidden Coire near each side of the Lochan a ‘ Chnapaich that I wanted to visit. It takes you to the beleach between both hills. I had climbed in winter here after seeing Beinn Dearg was not in condition and found a few routes in the Corrie. That was many years ago so I thought it would be a great wander in away from the crowds and work out what we did?

What drive to the hills 2 hours but the views were superlative, Beinn Wyvis, The Fannichs and The great dome of Beinn Dearg and in the middle An Teallach. The wee car park at Inverael was busy, mountain bikers, runners and walkers away early to enjoy a blue sky day. Normally I would cycle in to the end of the forestry but Di wanted to walk. So we wandered the 3 kilometres up to the forestry edge. You pass the wee hydro that produces electricity for Ullapool, so hidden you hardly know it’s there?

It’s a good path then breaks of for our hill. Beinn Dearg dominates on the walk in. It always reminds me of the North Face of Ben Nevis . Is that just me? I know these cliffs well and climbed here often in my youth. From where the path breaks of we saw know one it was another world into the Corrie. An Teallach always behind us watching and the huge expanse of wildness is wonderful. The wind was in our faces most of the way but the sun was up it wax warm and we had no sunscreen. Note to self get the sunscreen in my hill bag.

Heavybear @outfitmoray.

We soon hit the snow very deep in places near the Loch I went in up to my knees a lot not doing my hip much good. Yet what a place to be. This little Coire is a special place transformed by the snow and the cliffs. I could hear Ptarmigan and saw one later still in its white plumage. It was an Alpine feel today no footprints in the snow just outs few come past the frozen Loch but what a place. Out of the wind it was warm and sheltered.

Picking a line through the outcrops.

I like to follow my own way up onto the hill. Then follow looking at the cliffs and gullies. It was more sheltered this way and what views. I took lots of photos and we had a scramble on to the summit where it was very gusty as soon as we hit the ridge

Big skies

. It was a marvellous view even the snowless far North looking magnificent. We decided not to climb the other Munro time was moving on. We followed the ridge down taking care in the gusts .

What views ?

It was so windy and hard work on aching joints getting down especially the last bit to the main path. Then down through the forestry ( wishing I had my bike) to the car. It was just after 4 pm. A two hour drive showers and meet for a friends birthday meal in Elgin. A bit of a rush but worth it.

In all a grand day thanks for driving Di and it was great to revisit that Corrie and it’s cliff again. What weather no midges yet! Get out and enjoy whatever you do.

Big skies.
Posted in Mountain Biking, mountain safety, Mountaineering, Munros, People, Scottish winter climbing., Views Mountaineering, Weather, Well being, Wildlife | Leave a comment

Archives of Mountaineering incidents.

I am regularly asked to find information on past incidents. Sadly few teams have a complete record of all the incidents they attended. Over my years in the RAF I took it on to collate all the incidents RAF Kinloss Mountain Rescue Team since 1944 to the teams move to RAF Lossiemouth in 2012. It is a rich history of incidents all over Scotland where the team assisted local teams on many of the biggest incidents of this era. Sadly the Stats at RAF Leuchars MRT were gone by the time I arrived and most of the historic information on incidents lost.

I started collection SMC Journals many years ago they have some outstanding information on all aspects of Mountaineering. Yet they have a unique history of mountain incidents. Over the years I was honoured to meet Ben Humble and John Hinde who put all the information in there annual SMC Journals. It seems a very modern thing to have a clear out sadly in the military this happened regularly as Bosses changed every few years. Most was binned lost for ever and with it many pieces of interesting information. I was lucky to become the Mountain Rescue statistician and got much of Ben Humble and Johns work on accidents digitalised and put in the Scottish National Library. It’s safe there for future generations. I wonder if this still happens today ?

Over the years I poured over the incidents and often found that incidents that occurred many years before recurred again. Sadly as the old and bold retire or pass on to that Munro in Skye some of this information is lost. It’s well worth looking at these incidents finding trends etc that have not changed over the years. This was especially relevant as the RAF team at Kinloss assisted many teams all over Scotland.

Due to the big changes in privacy there was a spell when incidents were vague. No one can judge a incident unless they were there and much can be learned from each incident.

John Hinde and Ben Humble two who did so much for Mountain Safety with my first Team Leader George Bruce.

I did a lot of work on avalanches in the past and hopefully helped to add to the good work by Blyth Wright and Mark Diggins. Most of the information was taken from the SMC Journals. Over the years I spent a lot of money getting them but they are so worth having.

I have just helped a friend with information on an incident in 1981 it means a lot to some folk having closure many years after a tragedy. Sadly the only way we could find the information was through the SMC journal.

Sadly a lot of the information is gone many Police Forces when they went digital got rid of past incidents. We are lucky to have at least the majority of information within the journals for the next generations.

The late Ben Humble the Accident Statistician with the RAF Kinloss Team Leader Pete McGowan

The Scottish Mountaineering Club Journal is produced Annually.

SMC Journal

The SMC Journal has maintained a continuous record of mountain activities in Scotland since 1890. The Journal emerges annually and may be found in any good quality climbing & walking shop, and the larger bookshops. For members of Mountaineering Scotland affiliated clubs, copies can be purchased at a discount through your club’s Secretary.

If you live too far from a stockist, you can set up a subscription from our Distribution Manager, or purchase it from our distributor Cordee.

If you are interested in picking up an older edition of the Journal please contact our Journal Archivist.

Maybe there is a need for an MRT historian ?

Comments welcome as always.

Download of SMC Journals .

Posted in Articles, Avalanche info, Mountain rescue, Mountaineering, Recomended books and Guides, SMC/SMT, Views Mountaineering, Well being | 2 Comments

Mountain Safety how do we get the Safety message across. Self Reliance could be a key.

For some reason my blog has vanished on the internet. What I said was though there is great work down by various organisations on safety in the mountains the tragedies keep happening. I know there are many more going into the wild places yet we all have to learn. There is great information all over the web Mountaineering Scotland is full of information and it’s free. The internet is full of folk out in the hills and the photos inspire many to go into wild places. This is a great thing by how do we reach these folk. Mountain Rescue and other organisations like Glenmore Lodge have many safety messages on various media.

I did many Safety talks in the past yet most of the audience were mountaineers there were very few who had rarely been on the hills. We used to teach self reliance on the mountains if you had a problem you tried to solve it yourselves if not you called for Mountain Rescue. They will assist as they do every day when needed. You can be ready to help if you meet someone in trouble on the hill. Also if one of your party gets hurt what can you do. There are lots of tips to make your day safer. Sadly accidents can happen and if you keep going out regularly into the mountains you may get involved how would you cope .

A simple bothy bag is a lifesaver worth its weight in gold.

How do we reach this new audience as always your Comments are welcome.

Posted in Articles, Flora, Friends, Gear, Mountain rescue, Mountaineering, Scottish winter climbing., Views Mountaineering, Well being | Leave a comment

1977 Winter West – East Scotland. Kintail to Fort William heavy snow and a meeting with the Sea King helicopter.

Day 8. – 4/11/77 – Kintail Sheil Bridge – A very steep start to the day after a walk up the road and then huge hills on the 5 sisters of Kintail ridge. This is classic walking/ mountaineering. I feel a lot better today that we have axes and crampons. We see no one, the hills are very quiet no wonder it is November. Sgurr Na Ciste Dubh, Saileg, Sgurr a. Bhealaich Dheirg, Aonach Meadhoin, and out the long ridge to Ciste Dubh. It was a great day with lots of height, snow on the ridges and left early at 0630 and just got in to the bothy in Glen Affric at Altbeithe Youth Hostel in the dark. It was a wild descent into the bothy which we could just make out between the storms, with the rivers giving a bit of trouble in the dark. The bothy is the Youth Hostel very remote and access by a long walk. It is left open to help walkers and is a magic place and in winter solitude. There was lots of food in left by others it so we ate well, this was great but will have to leave early and start in the dark; it is a big day in the tomorrow. Knee hurting with all the descent will it cope?

Affric Youth Hostel

What a cosy night in the Youth Hostel am still amazed that is was left open in winter for the few that venture out. The new polar fleeces are magnificent well worth the expenditure; Jim is still wearing “curlies” the team issue boot. I am in my big winter boots but still getting cold feet due to the constant wetness. 18k/2412mtrs – 4 Munros Total 17 Munros

Day 9. – 5/11/77 – Altbeith Youth Hostel Glen Affric.  Away in dark as always it took a bit of time to cook and get sorted, wet socks and gear is never easy to put on, especially with the snow about. Snow is at 1000 feet – up the glen big rivers and onto Tigh Mor Sleige, Sgurr Nan Conbhairean, Carn Nan Ghlusaid, all new hills for Terry and Jim. Tricky navigation in poor visibility, it is a head down day only 3 Munros. Down onto the road A887 where we were buzzed and met by a RAF Sea King  with the late  Mick Anderson the winchman from RAF Lossiemouth who stopped and brought us some goodies, it was out of the blue and magic. We had a long road walk along the road to Greenfields near Loch Garry. They left us some goodies at the Bridge at Greenfields; we took ages finding it in the pitch dark. We also had trouble finding the bothy as we had never been there before far less in the dark. This is an new area for me and it will be a huge day again tomorrow. These hills and the road walks are very hard, body aching, gear very wet, great to have dry gear on after a day being wet. This is the best part of the day along with the soup and tea. I crave for bread, we have some now thanks to Mick and the Sea King. Looking at the map and reading my battered book before I fall asleep. This was a big day 39k  2274 metres 3 new Munros 20 Total Munros  . We see lots of Deer and many are now down very low a sign of wild weather. I hate the roads not easy on my knee; we wear our RAF sandshoes on the road and look like tramps now with our stubbly beards.

Where next ?

Day 10. – 6/11/77. Greenfields is a beautiful place at the back of the Glengarry Forest and the plan is the Corbett Ben Tee and the Loch Lochy Munros Sron A Choire Garbh and Meall Na Teanga. It is great to be out of the forest and a new way up old favourite hills. This is big country and great to see a new aspect to these popular hills, I wonder how many come this way? There are few paths coming from this side until we reach the hills. It is a very steep descent to Clunes battering on the knees and all more new ground. High winds and more snow we are battered and nearly drop off at the beleach due to the weather but push on. We sign the wee book hidden under snow on the summit hidden in a tin. The ridge walk was great and these hidden Corries are full of deer and we see many hares turned white already for the winter, we have yet to meet anyone on the hill! We are rewarded with a great view in the clearing of the big hills ahead and Loch Lochy; they are plastered with snow as are the hills behind us to the West. This walk is turning into a winter walk and we are glad to hit the road and the long walk to Fort William to make the next day easier. The road walk is awful, feet are battered and we are soaked bags very heavy but stop at Spean Bridge for some food and then the long walk into Fort William. We are staying at the ATC Hut so no chance of getting our gear dry. There is a wee shop nearby and we stock up and sleep the sleep of the just, even Jim is feeling it. My knee is getting worse but once I get going its manageable. We make use of the phone box and I phone the Team and the weather forecaster it looks awful for the days ahead same again with more snow and high winds. I also phone Mum and Dad they are watching the weather to and worried?. These hills are usually fairly easy but with the long approach and the long walk out make it and each day a slog. A day off planned after tomorrow. I need it. This is another big day 40 k and 1828 metres. 2 Munros Total Munro’s 22

Meall na Teanga and Stron Na Coire Garbh

Day 11. 7/11/77 – Fort William ATC Hut – the plan was the Big four The Aonachs Mor and Beag and Carn Mor Dearg and Ben Nevis but again the weather is awful and we are running on empty. We decide to climb Carn Mor Dearg is tricky in the wind and snow and we meet out first few people on the Arete. We feel that they intrude in our solitude and by now are walking at our own pace, I am grinding it out and glad we have only to climb the two Munros. We get great views of the North Face the gullies and ridges are favourites and we pick out familiar climbs. Jim and Terry going very well but good to see they are tired. We met a few on the Ben summit with no kit, it is winter now and icy, the wind batters us but we are now used to it after 10 days on the hills. There are big Cornices on Ben Nevis already and we take care as the navigation can be tricky and we are tired, no errors yet and all are checking. Jim and Terry so powerful and I feel the pressure but they make use of my area knowledge at times and I take my turn breaking the snow. I feel that we are becoming at one with the mountains and see a storm coming and are ready for it with the gear on quickly, no faffing about now. I noticed this on my other walk how the mind and body is aware of the weather and the terrain after several days out in a row on the hill or is it just me? We travel light today no sleeping bag or cooking gear as we have a day off in Fort William, the body is battered and the gear needs a bit of sorting but a day off bliss. What a difference going light weight is and the effect on the knees is great. Note to myself never do a walk unsupported again! 20 k 1700 metres easy day at last! 2 Munros Total Munros 24 .

Posted in Articles, Bothies, Equipment, Hill running and huge days!, Mountaineering, Munros, Views Mountaineering, Weather, Well being, Wildlife | Leave a comment

14 April – 1989 St Abbs Head RAF Jaguar Aircraft Crash

A Jaguar GR1A xz359 from RAF Coltishall crashed in fog 1.5 miles WNW off St Abbs Head Lumsdaine Beach 1½ miles NW of St. Abbs Head, Berwickshire ( – The pilot (Squadron Leader Paul Victor Lloyd) sadly was killed. He was part of a two ship sortie flying low level over the North Sea. The first aircraft lost contact with him in the fog and as the Jaguar was in Norwegian camouflage he was hard to see! The aircraft hit the 500 foot cliffs at St Abbs Head about 100 feet from the top. I was the Team Leader at RAF Leuchars at the time. When our fast party arrived by Wessex helicopter from RAF Leuchars the cliff was on fire and the fog still in. We had to send a couple of troops down to check for the survivor, the ropes nearly melted! Unfortunately there was not much left of the aircraft as it impacted the cliff. Looking back. “How do you do a Risk Assessment for that?

The main difficulty was keeping the emergency services away from danger as the fog shrouded cliff gave them no idea of what was below them! A few choice words and once the fog cleared they understood the danger and vanished. After the aircraft was located and we had confirmed the casualty was sadly a fatality and had not survived. After this it was fairly easy to safeguard the site until the AAIB (The UK Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) is part of the Department for Transport and is responsible for the investigation of civil aircraft accidents and serious incidents within the UK and its overseas territories arrived to investigate.

The report on this incident is on their web and is very interesting!

That was an interesting few days for the team and the Board working on the sheer cliffs. They continued to smoulder for a few days making it exciting on the ropes! It was pretty dangerous at times. Also a huge learning curb for the team and many vital lessons were learned for the future. The cliff was very loose and I was glad when we finished our work with no injuries to the team, apart from a broken leg at football and a very scary flight in a Puma helicopter..

The AIB – Over the years I was to work with the AIB often what a great bunch of folk they are. We did some serious incidents together and built great trust over the years

Looking back it was a dangerous crash site they all are. The cliff burnt for several days. It was tricky getting the AIB down into the site as the it was on a loose and dangerous site.

Aircraft Crash sites are very dangerous places and it’s so hard trying to stress this to outside Agencies. To many thank God they will have never seen one close up. My advice as always was to keep the access to a minimum a bit easier to do on a steep loose sea cliff.

The team had done many Aircraft crashes each is different. This one certainly was and there were sadly more to come.

Posted in Aircraft incidents, Mountain rescue, Mountaineering, Weather, Well being | 2 Comments

Mark “Cheeky”Sinclair and Neil Main Lochnagar March 95.

This was the news I dreaded I heard it on the radio , ‘Two climbers killed on Lochnagar.It is 37 years since Mark and Neil climbed his last route and the loss of two pals in March 1995 on Lochnagar. It was a terrible tragedy this is what I wrote in the SMC Journal in 1996. I have amended and added to it.

Never for a minute did I believe it would be Mark and Neil. That winter has so been hard, with so many callouts.Mark and I had just been talking about this two days previous in his mountaineering shop. He arrived later at my house with a huge picture framed of Denali and told me not to worry. He was pushing his grade all the time and with Neil Main a local lad from Keith he had taken him under his wing. They were a strong team and anything was possible. They were on such good climbing form that week they had plans if conditions allowed to climb. Neil had become a strong partner and Mark admitted they were a great team with Neil’s strength proving exceptional on routes. I really got to like Neil he would end up doing jobs in my house for some climbing gear money was tight then.

Theirvpan was two Classic winter climbs in the same day Parallel B Gully and Eagles Ridge a serious undertaking. They had climbed some great routes together.

Mark joined the Royal Air Force Kinloss Mountain Rescue Team in the mid- 1970s. He was superbly fit from the beginning and on his first day on the hill bombed everybody into the deck . It was the usual Fort William party that night and we Staggered back, had two hours sleep. I then dragged him round then the 11 Munros of the Mamores. He lost a lot of his Cheekiness on that day.

He quickly became a very competent mountaineer, specialising in winter mountaineering. Kinloss is ideally situated for the far north west of Scotland, where he did a lot of nmv middle grade winter routes on Beinn Dearg, Liathach, Seana Braigh and An Teallaeh. ln these day if was in vogue not to report your routes like nowadays

He quickly became a star and started to grow up as any mountaineer can because we are all children at heart.

Mark became a party leader and a winter leader. On his first annual winter oourse ao an instructor, which wanheld in tho Cairngorms, I arrivod late and Cheeky was sporting a black eye and missing two bottom teeth. The Royal Air Force Mountain Reocue Team’o have a tremendous rivalry and in these dayo it ·….as as bad as Celtic and Rangers. Cheeky had said something in his usual arrogant way to a young Leuchars troop, who battered him for his cheek.

Next day he took the same young troop up ono of the classic routes on Hell’s Lum in the Cairngorms in wild conditions when tho rest of us were hiding doing techniques.

He got off late at night having dragged the young troop across the plateau in a typical Cairngorm blizzard. His honour regained, they then sorted out their problem in the pub and became good friends.

In the early 1980s his climbing and his ability had gone beyond any of the current team and he was climbing regularly on the Ben doing many of the classic routes such as Orion Face Direct, Point Five, Galactic Hitch-hiker, Zero Gully, all solo. This was 1980, such is the measure of the man.

He travelled abroad to the usual places courtesy of the services: the Alps, the Himalayas, Peru and Canada, but his main love was winter climbing. In 1984 he was a member of a six-man expedition to climb Canadian ice. During this trip he did 30 routes including many British first ascents and including a few new routes. As the weakest member of this group rwas having my usual epics, but after the first few days, Cheeky took me for a week which was the best week’s climbing I have ever had. Most of the routes we did were nearly loooft long which were descended by abseiling and fairly serious down-climbing. Cheeky constantly proved his competence as a mountaineer, always looking after me and soloing around, putting in protection, giving us confidence and help pushing our standards, and keeping us all safe.

It was not just the climbing that mattered, the social scene was incredible. As we climbed Monday to Friday we took the weekends off and the parties were all weekend, without a doubt this group of unknown Scottish climbers out-drank, out- talked and out-climbed some of Canada’s top climbers. Mark was in his element in the alpine club hut library in Canmore, surrounded by thousands of books on mountaineering with a good dram and telling tales. This is what it is all about, glorious days.

He followed this trip up with a four-day visit to Kenya where he climbed the Diamond Couloir by the direct route, up and down to the summit in 24 hrs and back in Scotland without time to post his cards.

Lately, his heart was in North America and many of his recent adventures were in Alaska where he went to climb on some of the most remotest and magnificent peaks in the world. He loved the similarity to Scotland and to his love of winter climbing.

Cheeky was a very proud member of the SMC, dressed in his kilt with a good dram in his hand, he was very nationalistic and enjoyed the annual dinner in Fort William . Again he was in his element talking mountains. He was always getting the Mickey taken out of him, especially by Neil.

Further embarrassment came on a trip to the CIC Hut when Neil and myself full of whisky danced on the table. Neil told Cheeky he had carved his name on the table, Cheeky walked out of the hut in disgust, it was all a joke.

Cheeky met his wife Libby and they met fittingly in Clive Rowland’s climbing shop in Elgin. It was the happiest I’d ever seen him. Libby was already a mountaineer with Moray MountaineeringClub and her family love the mountains and the outdoors.

Mark and Libby went everywhere all over Scotland climbing and walking and the photos all over the house express the deep love they have for each other and the mountains. Libby gave him freedom to climb and do whatever he wanted, and as selfish as we mountaineers are, she never stopped him doing anything. They set up Moray Mountain Sports in Forres, and soon had a steady bu iness where local climbers could meet, have a coffee and talk climbing. He would regularly spend time with the many young people who came in and chat.

He would give the benefit of his vast experience. He would regularly take people out, old and young alike and how many people in this area here have gained from his experience? Even his mother-in-law, aged 65, had 17 Munros to do, and did the Inaccessible Pinnacle in Skye on an awful day with him.

His love for mountaineering was infectious and the history of Scottish mountaineering. espe- cially in winter in the Caimgorms was his forte. He met Neil through the shop and they developed into a very formidable partnership. This was a partnership of youth and experience that climbed some of Scotland’s hardest classic routes and put up a few new ones.

Cheeky could at times to many sound be arrogant, selfish, competitive and moody, Yet he could also be very kind-hearted and took many of us in including myself during times of personal trouble saying: ‘Stay as long as you like, no problem.’ That was the other side of him.

His dad started him off walking and climbing round the Arrochar Loch Lomond area and he was always going a bit farther each time. This must have been where he got his love for the mountains.

He had a great passion for life and he loved children as Libby’s nieces and nephews will tell you, like most mountaineers he was still a child at heart. He had 10 years of asports that he excelled in, but his passion was mountains and mountaineering and he developed into a tremendously safe and caring mountaineer.

We have lost all those years ago outstanding friend and one of life’s great characters but I feel he is still there watching, laughing and telling us how hard it was when he did that route or hill always in worse conditions. He is always watching our epics, we all miss you and we will all miss you.

Thanks for the memories.

D. Whalley (Heavy).

SMC Journal 185

I wrote this many years ago it took me a few years to climb on Dark Lochnagar. It is a place I loved but I had lost my mojo for this incredible mountain. I will never forget the help I had from the Braemar MRT and the Seaking helicopter who brought Mark and Neil of the hill. Also Kenny and Pete two great pals who went back to go up to Lochnagar in wild weather to collect Some of Mark’s kit and drive his car home.

I have lost many pals in the mountains yet this was a huge shock to me and still is. What would Mark and Neil be thinking of today’s winter climbing and the gear available ? I often think of this and see Marks “Cheeky” smile and laugh as we climbed a route at the top of my ability but so comfortable for him. Neil also one of the strongest climbers what a future he had. Yet we lost them all those years ago.

Like most accidents in the mountains we will never know what happened? Winter gives so many variables poor ice, a slip, a mistake a poor belay? How I wish Neil and Mark were still around today.

The picture Mark gave me of Denali is in my wee house front room. Alaska was a place Mark loved and I managed a trip there. I often look at it and think of Mark and Neil and always will

Mark on Ravens Gully Glencoe

It took a few years to go back to climb on a Lochnagar a mountain I love. I did a few routes in winter and backed off a couple as well. I lost the joy of climbing here but good pals looked after me and helped chase the demons away. Thank you all.

The mountains have given and taken throughout my life. Left so much joy and sadness. Take care out there .

Posted in Alaska, Articles, Friends, Gear, Mountain rescue, mountain safety, Mountaineering, Scottish winter climbing., SMC/SMT, Views Mountaineering, Well being | Leave a comment

The Beinn Eighe Lancaster crash 70 years on.



Its 70 years since the crash of the Lancaster on Beinn Eighe. I was told of the story often and visited the site on many occasions. It is a situated in the most incredibly wild corrie on Beinn Eighe in the North West of Scotland. It was a huge learning curb for the RAF Mountain Rescue Teams, that involved many changes that influenced most of Mountain Rescue in the UK. For many years I have visited the site spoke to a few of the RAF Kinloss team who were involved. I have taken relatives and family annually, filmed up on the mountain this place means a lot to me. Due to Covid I cannot visit but will when I can and for as long as my battered body allows.

This particular crash had a considerable influence in changes to RAF Mountain Rescue later on.

The crash aroused and held the attention, even curious with that desire to know the true facts, rumours do circulate by ‘word of mouth’ at happenings like this one and for some considerable time.  The lines of communication in the early fifties were still a newspaper, local or national, or the ‘Wireless’, very few people had a telephone and Television was in its infancy.  ‘News of this kind was news’, where to listen or read would create an ‘image’ in the mind.  Headlines in the ‘Press and Journal’, Aberdeen, were – “Search of hills for missing Lancaster, Missing plane sought in Sutherland, Aberdeen.  Pilot on missing plane, where the missing bomber crashed, Plane wreck not yet reached.”

It is a sad story as anything of this nature is, particularly for the members of the Rescue Teams but does indicate without doubt ‘special significance’ or ‘emphasis’ on Mountain Rescue, with the extreme difficulties, along with mistakes, these teams faced in that day and age.  A detailed description of particular places and local features from Maps had to be the main concern and fully understood.

Beinn Eighe is a name, aggregated, for Peaks similar to each other or bearing a definite relation to the one preceding it. This mountain in winter is one of Scotland’s great peaks and accessible only by mountaineers. The gully where the main wreckage is a loose tricky ascent in summer and should only be attempted by mountaineers.

The following narrative relates the events of the Beinn Eighe crash on the 14th March 1951 until the 27th August, a very harrowing rescue mission undertaken by the RAF MRS, and civil MRS, despite being called out in all weathers of extreme severity and inhospitable terrain, are all volunteers.

On the 13th March 1951 at 1804hrs, Lancaster TX264 call sign ‘D’ Dog of 120 Squadron, converted for reconnaissance purposes, took off from RAF Kinloss, a ‘fog free’ climate of the Moray Coast between Lossiemouth and Nairn.  The pilot was Flt Lt Harry Reid DFC, 24 years of age, a total crew of eight with a Second Pilot, Navigator, Flight Engineer and four signallers.  It was a ‘Navigational Exercise’ via Cape Wrath, the very name a ‘mingled feeling of anger and disdain’ this being the extreme north-west point of the Scottish mainland and named after the Viking word ’hvraf’ meaning a turning point where the Vikings turned south to the Hebrides in the ninth century.  The cape is isolated and its heathland untamed.  Around midnight the aircrew flew over the Lighthouse.

The last position, sent by radio was at 0127hrs 60 miles north of Cape, Wrath this was the very last message from the aircraft.

At 0200hrs a boy living in Torridon, on the east end of Upper Loch Torridon, looking through his bedroom window saw a red flash in the distance, but didn’t think any more about it until he saw the headlines in a Newspaper, ‘Missing Plane Sought’ and this was two days after the aircraft went missing.  He mentioned it to the local Postmaster who immediately contacted RAF Kinloss.  Similar reports had been received.  An Airspeed Oxford was sent to search which concentrated on Beinn Eighe.  The wreck of the Lancaster was sighted on the 16th March.

On the 17th March the Kinloss RAF Rescue Team arrived in the area and on the 18th approached Beinn Eighe from the North and into Coire Mhic Fhearchair from Loch Maree.  Wreckage from the Lancaster was found after arriving at the foot of the Triple Buttresses and lying in the ‘corrie’.  A ‘corrie’ is a semi-circular hollow or a circular space in a mountain side.  This particular wreckage had fallen, the bulk of the aircraft being much higher with the crew inside.  At the foot of the Western Buttress were the port wing, undercarriage, two engines and various cowlings.  On the following day the starboard wing and some other parts had been blown down by the strong winds, but still no fuselage.

The next day another party managed to climb higher and spotted the fuselage, burnt out, but couldn’t reach it.  Further attempts were abandoned for the time being.

The weather over the whole period of the search was ‘exceptionally’ severe for the time of the year.  It was intensely cold with constant snow showers and high winds and temperatures well below freezing at night.

The North of Scotland is much closer, in fact ‘considerably’ closer to the Arctic Circle than North Wales.  Conditions in winter can be more ‘Alpine’, they may be ‘Artic’.  Between Beinn Eighe and Sail Mhor the weather was absolutely ‘atrocious’, with the wind coming over the ridge with such force it was virtually impossible to move, and the snow anything from one to four feet.  The gully from the corrie was a solid sheet of ice.

It was certain that no one was alive in the wreckage, and in the opinion of the Officer in Charge of the team the wreckage was so situated it couldn’t be reached by any members of the public unless they were ‘highly experienced climbers’.

The CO at RAF Kinloss, in the meantime, had offers from the Moray Mountaineering Club, a Doctor John Brewster with this Club having considerable climbing experience in winter.  This offer and another suggestion for help from the Scottish Mountaineering Club, holding their Easter meeting at Achnashellach to the South of Beinn Eighe were both declined.

On the 24th March Dr Brewster informed the CO that men from the Moray Club were going to Beinn Eighe on their own initiative, the RAF team were ordered to return to base.  Five men from the Club arrived at Torridon and attempted to reach the aircraft but of no avail and didn’t make a further attempt.

Another attempt was made by a Royal Marine Commando, Captain Mike Banks and Angus Eskine.  After a really difficult time with the weather, particularly gusts of wind that brought the human body on all fours, these two reached the main bulk of the aircraft.

Eventually all unauthorised visits were stopped and the RAF Team once again returned to Beinn Eighe and this time reached the wreckage.  It was most difficult and dangerous work recovering the bodies; three were actually in the fuselage.  The last body was not recovered until 27th August.

Rumours, idle gossip as always, flourished that the crew had survived the impact but rescue being too late.  It was obvious to the rescuers, and verified by the medical authorities that death was ‘instantaneous’ in all cases.

After the last body was recovered the team sent the large pieces of the fuselage and wing hurtling down the gulley and later came to be known as ‘Fuselage Gulley’, much of it remains to this day.

Five of the crew of Lancaster TX264 are buried in Kinloss Cemetery, set in the peaceful grounds of the ruined Abbey, they are Sgt W D Beck, Sgt J W Bell, Sgt R Clucas, Flt Sgt J Naismith and Flt Lt P Tennison, in a section reserved for many aircrew who have died flying from RAF Kinloss over the years.


On the 28th August 1985, a group of Officer Cadets led by Sergeant Jim Morning and Sgt Tom Jones were airlifted on to the summit of Beinn Eighe by a Sea King Helicopter from 202 Squadron.

One of ‘D’ Dog’s propellers was recovered and put into a lifting net and taken by the helicopter to the road, and then to RAF Kinloss.  The twisted three-blade propeller now stands outside the wooden Mountain Rescue Section building as a permanent memorial to ‘D’ Dog’s crew. This memorial has been replaced and is at RAF Lossiemouth now where the current RAF Rescue Team is operational.

The gully where the aircraft crashed is called by mountaineers Fuselage Gully and one of the propellers has to be climbed over and is used by climbers as a belay in winter.

THE CREW:-   PILOT    Flt Lt H S Reid
SIGNALLERFlt Lt P Tennison
SIGNALLERSFlt Sgt J Naismith
 Sgt W D Beck
 Sgt J W Bell
The Crew

The standard of a Mountain Rescue Team, of even the rescue service as a whole fluctuates considerably and, sometimes, alarmingly.  Several factors contribute to this.

For many years there was ‘National Service’ eighteen months to two years.  A Man would be trained as a good mountaineer and when competent he would be lost to civilian life.  Sometimes several members would be demobilised at the same time.  Not only would it be imperative to find new volunteers but also men to train these novices, also the teams had to be commanded.

To say that they were sometimes led by incompetent men is unfair and misleading, but because there might be no experienced men available at one time, they were often led by Officers and NCO’s who would be incompetent to deal with emergencies, even those which might appear simple problems to the experienced mountaineer.

Commando Climber by Mike Banks gives his view on the accident and the recovery.

Sometimes, and by chance, the fault might be corrected in time, for with tact a good team could teach an Officer his job (although no team will tolerate an inefficient NCO.  Either the NCO will go, or the good men and therefore, the standard of the team).  Tact was required on both sides and when life is in the balance, as it always is on rescues; feelings ran too close to the surface.  The fewer experienced mountaineers in a team, the more tolerant prevailed.  As the Service took shape and experienced men were in the majority the teams worked more smoothly, and with, as it were, less emotional involvement.

Teams at the start of 1951 were inadequately equipped and poorly trained, but where – in Wales – this knowledge was confined to the RAF, in Scotland the repercussions of the Beinn Eighe disaster were widely publicised.  About this time two Medical Officers Berkeley and Mason who had put forward suggestions for improved efficiency came to the notice of the Air Ministry.  It was largely due to the efforts of these two Medical Officers that the organisation and training of the teams underwent a drastic change in the following year.

One of the team members who was on the crash and has a unique account of what happened Joss Gosling who lives in Fort William. He was only a young lad at the time and the crash affected him greatly.

Joss’s classic photo at the crash site in 1951

Joss was a competent mountaineer as he had climbed previously before his National Service. He had some unique photos and a diary of events of what happened. He explains how awesome it was to see the corrie for the first time and how he felt during the long days of searching and recovery. His description of the great Corrie being like a Cathedral always sticks in my mind and when the mist swirls in these great cliffs you can feel his words of that eventful time. He explained that the “ugly step” on the ridge caused problems as the kit they had was very poor but they did their best, he is a wonderful man and a great example to us all. Joss was at the crash site on the 50th anniversary in 2001 and speaks with great authority on this tragedy. The RAF Kinloss team put a small memorial on the propeller below the gully in 2001 in memory of those who died in this crash, “lest we forget”

Look at the gear in 1951 – Photo Joss Gosling collection.

I was very privileged to have my last weekend before I retired from the RAF in this area as a member of the RAF Kinloss mrt.  This area due to its history is unique and I have spent many days enjoying these peaks. The “Torridon Trilogy” Beinn Eighe, Liathach and Beinn Alligin became test pieces for team training first in summer then in winter conditions. Many of the classic climbs in summer and winter were climbed by team members and a few epic callouts over the years. These hills have huge corries and alpine ridges where rescues have occurred mostly not reported by the National Press. The local Torridon Team and the RAF MR have assisted climbers and walkers over the years.  I have climbed Fuselage gully on many occasions with team members during my 37 years with the Mountain Rescue Service. In early Dec 2007 with two of the young, Kinloss Team members we had a special day. This was my last day with the RAF before I retired. It is a fairly simple climb by modern standards but I broke a crampon at the beginning and it made the day very interesting as we were being chased by a big storm as we descended. One crampon on the steep descent was thought provoking and I can only think of how the team in 1951 with their simple kit coped. I was brought up to respect the history of this majestic area and its people; there was no finer place to spend my last weekend than in this special place. On my retirement I spend a two great years with the Torridon MRT as a team member. Finally retired from Mountain Rescue it is a great privilege to return to and enjoy the beauty of this mountain, its ridges, corries and wild life.          

Recently in 2009 two well known climbers were avalanched whilst descending from Fuselage gully and the wreckage stopped them being seriously injured as one of the climbers hit the propeller on his way down the gully. It made big news in the Press!

Andy Nisbet abseiling from the propeller – Andy Nisbet Collection.

In 2011 on the 60 th Anniversary of the Crash at the exact date a group of serving RAF MRT & Torridon MRT went up to crash site. The actual weather according to Joss Gosling who was on the actual search for the aircraft was very similar. We had thigh deep snow and the journey into the corrie took over 3 hours. BBC Radio Scotland accompanied us on the day and did a programme on the incident. We had a moving ceremony at the crash site, where we left a small wreath. The Stornoway Coastguard helicopter flew over the site as the weather came in making it a very moving day.    Joss now in his 80’s was interviewed by the BBC Scotland at the Hotel where the team had camped 60 years before.

What a story to tell and it still lives on and must never be forgotten.

Beinn Eighe

Unseen from the road, the majestic cliffs are hidden.

The long walk, views expanding as we climb.

Liathach brooding in the mist, is watching?

As usual we meet a family of deer

They have been there for many years

What have they seen?

Great cliffs sculptured by time and nature.

Wreckage, glinting in the sun.

The Cathedral of Beinn Eighe


This is a wonderful poignant place.

Only too those who look and see.

How mighty is this corrie? 

This Torridon giant Beinn Eighe. 

Joss’s boots on their final journey.

Recently in 2013/2014 and 2016/17/18/19  a relative of the incident Geoff Strong a nephew of Fg Off Robert Strong who was killed in the crash asked to visit the crash site. He lives down South and has now three times made the pilgrimage with myself and friends to the great Corrie. This place even after all these years after the 1951 crash mean so much to many.

People ask why do I visit these places?

“Just speak to Geoff and then look in Joss eyes who was there when he tells his story of a young lad in 1951.” He never forgot what happend here, yet despite the horror they saw this place brought him back again and again to remember the crew who died.

Joss at Beinn Eighe on the 50 th Anniversary.

“Lest We Forget”

RAF Kinloss Mountain Rescue have now been disbanded and there place taken by RAF Lossiemouth MRT. The memorial has been moved from Kinloss to Lossiemouth and is looking great well done all concerned,

 I headed up again this May 2109 with Geoff and this time Heather Joss’s daughter to visit the site and may be go over the tops with Heather. Joss is now in his late 80’s and is excited his daughter is going up to see a place that means so much to him. It was great to see that the RAF MR were up the gully this week March 2017 and the tradition lives on as do the teams.

Take care and it is great to see an event such as this still not forgotten.

At the wing below the Gully.

Heavy Whalley March 2017  

In May 2018 I was up again at the crash site with Geoff and Heather, Ian and Andy Joss’s family. We had a new plaque to put on the propeller below the Triple Buttress. Unfortunately the old plaque was put on in 2001 to last and it will take a bit more time to replace it with the new slate one. Joss though not well came up and stayed in a local Hotel and had a meal with us after our wet day on the hill. Though Joss was not well he enjoyed the day and at the end his eyes were sparkling and we had a lovely day thanks to all those who organised it.

Sadly in November 2018 Joss passed away in Fort William surrounded by his loving family his memory will live on every time we visit Torridon and Beinn Eighe.

We did complete the replacement of the plaque on Sat May 11 th 2019 and the family were with us and Geoff Strong. It was a special day.  The plaque is now in place many thanks for all the help of Lossiemouth MRT and Geoff Strong and Joss’s family for providing the new plaque.

The Marines in the Corrie.

I received several letters and emails on the various pieces I have written on the Beinn Eighe Tragedy. Many from relatives and one form the Marines who took Marines to the crash site for Remembrance day and sent the photo above.

David “Heavy” Whalley March 2021. 

David “Heavy” Whalley March 2021. 

Two Star Red Gwen Moffat has a lot of information on this incident.

How Beinn Eighe tragedy transformed Scotland’s mountain rescue operations | The Scotsman…

Photo – E. MacLean winter visit.
Posted in Aircraft incidents, Articles, Books, Friends, Mountain rescue, mountain safety, Mountaineering, Rock Climbing, Scottish winter climbing., Well being, Wildlife | 1 Comment

The Chinook Crash Mull Of Kintyre 2 June 1994.

2 June 1994. –   28 Years ago and this story is still as vivid as it was when it happened. 

It started as an unreal day I was stationed at RAF Kinloss in Morayshire I had just stood down as the Full time RAF Mountain Rescue Team Leader and after a short break I was mentally exhausted and I was back on the Kinloss Mountain Rescue team. It was good as I was again a Team member and not the leader a great deal of pressure was gone and I was back in my trade running an office in the Catering Squadron what a change from a full – time Mountain Rescue Team leader.

The station in these days had  regular Exercises “Tacevals” this was 1994 and old habits the Cold War meant that we trained for war and the RAF Station shut down for 3 days as we played war.  It was a very busy time and as a Caterer (my real job) the station was on 12 hour shifts for 3-4 days. It was always and awful time as much was concerned with the station being attacked at the end and various wild scenarios that could occur. Most of us had to go into hardened shelters, practice using gas masks etc, generally an hard time for all.

On this exercise we had we had practiced an aircraft crash on the airfield and just finished it. As usual the top brass in the Station were in charge and it was the usual chaos but as always the RAF MRT were in their element and it was soon sorted with the Team being told to stand down and leave it to the other services on the station to learn. It is so easy dealing with a scenario near the station or on it but away in a remote area another world. This is what the RAF MRT is for and we had many veterans of difficult aircraft crashes and incidents in our team at the team.

It was unreal as just as we finished we had a real crash. The weather was great it was early June and the whole team was available, the pagers and Tannoy blared out and I was at the MRT Section within a few minutes. It was just after 1800 we had been working for 12 hours. The Team Leader Jim Smith said that it was a possible helicopter Crash on the Mull Of Kintyre and a Sea King helicopter was inbound in 5/10 minutes to pick up a “fast party”.

The Mull Of Kintyre is a remote area in the West Coast of Scotland and a long way off. I did not expect to get on the helicopter and the 5 /10 minutes is not long to sort out your world but I was told I was going. I was to be one of the “fast party “they were a very experienced group 5 team members plus the Team Leader that went on the aircraft. The rest of the team another 20 would follow by road a long journey 5- 6 hours away! It was not long after 1800 when we were called and we were away very quickly.

Photo – Arriving at the Lighthouse loaded and wondering what we would find. The mist is clearly visible. Photo David Whalley.

The Flight to the Mull of Kintyre

Jim Smith was the Team Leader he had only recently handed over to me and once you are in the back of a helicopter it is a different world. In the back it is noisy and even in the summer the aircraft is dark and busy with the crew all working hard, it is incredible to watch. Add to that it was a possible military aircraft crash the crew do not hang about. The flight about an hour from Kinloss was so fast we hammered across the mountains. I remember flashing by Ben Alder and heading low and fast to the Mull of Kintyre.

The information is as always was scant and even though it had just happened more information was coming all the time. In the back of the aircraft you feel out of it but then a scrap of paper appears and we were told it was a military helicopter a Chinook with a lot of passengers.

There are a few people who ask you what do you think off as you are in the helicopter? My thought was a lot of casualties the Chinook is a big helicopter and there may be multi –casualties? How would we cope? How would I cope?

As we neared the Mull Of Kintyre the mist was down and the helicopter could only land at the lighthouse landing site in thick mist. It was too difficult to try to get us further up the hill. We could hear the emergency beacons going off in our aircraft just before we landed in a swirling mist right by the lighthouse.

Information was very scant but the beacons were a bad sign and we had to get in quick. We were carrying large trauma/ first aid bags plus our kit and as soon as we landed we had a quick get together. We had the very basic P.P.I. gear with us masks and other paraphernalia but as we had a trudge about half a kilometre up hill to the crash site we decided to move fast and not wear it. You should never approach a burning aircraft from downhill due to the fuel and fire risk – we had no option there was only one way to get to it.

As we left I was worried this was a big incident there were 29 on the aircraft I was praying some would have survived. As we got nearer the smell of fuel and smoke was everywhere as was wreckage and the fires were burning. I said to Kim and Andy please keep an eye on me this is too like Lockerbie for me!

The smoke and fire were so similar. I dreaded what I would see would I cope? I was the only one of our group who had been at Lockerbie and was still struggling 6 years on. Would I cope?

“We split up into pairs to locate the crew a grim job, with the aircraft still burning and banging scene from a movie or hell but this was real life. “

There were a few locals about this is a remote area and the main town Campbeltown is 10 miles away. They were rightly shell shocked and were glad we had arrived. They had done their best but by their faces told us they just were glad we were there.

It is so important to account for all the passengers and crew and we doubled up and raced round the site. There was little we could do all the crew were dead and the crash site was very dangerous, sharp wreckage, fires, smoke and trauma. There were weapons about this was an extremely dangerous place.

We located all the 29 on board all were dead. This was a hard time but we went into professional mode and then updated Jim the Team Leader and all we could do now was secure the site and wait for the support and the rest of the emergency services. Its hard but you have to repeat to everyone like a mantra ~the trauma and dangers about at such a place make it very dangerous”  Add in a few live weapons about and lots of personal belongings,  danger and trauma was everywhere. You have to ensure the minimum amount of are involved to do the task.

This is extremely hard to explain and my attitude which is now common policy I hope is to keep the trauma away from as many as possible.”

The aircraft had been carrying some of the cream of the military, police and civilian anti-terrorist experts to a Conference in Fort George in Inverness and the security implications were to be massive.  It would be a difficult few days ahead for everyone?

These casualties were folk that some of us knew, they had families, they were people and now this had happened. I had seen many incidents in my 20 odd years with Mountain Rescue this was another hard one. I always find it’s hard to take your mind away but you have to get on with the job we had to do. None of the casualties can be moved it’s now a crime scene and a huge investigation will take place, we would be busy. Our Task was protecting the site and to ensure the integrity and that no one gets hurt, these are dangerous places.

We now awaited the emergency services and help from the rest of the RAF Mountain Rescue Teams were glad this was a remote crash site. The Press and media would have a long walk to get near the site. It was getting dark and I felt alone as we made a perimeter using the road as a boundary.  I was coping Jim was busy and I was with my small my group and explaining to the powers that were arriving the dangers and horror of what was around.

It was not an easy time but we did our best as you do .

I visited the site with my friend Dan on the way to speak at the Arran festival a few years ago. It was surreal but well worth a visit.

Thanks to all the Agencies who helped over a traumatic few days. Days you will never forget.

Posted in Aircraft incidents, Articles, Mountain rescue | Leave a comment

“Lost on Bidean nam Bian and a early meeting with Hamish MacInnes

Bidean nam Bian is more a mountain range than a single mountain, a huge and complex mass of dramatic crags, ridges and summits towering on the south side of Glen Coe. The main summit is hidden from the road behind the Three Sisters – three great prows – and the top of Stob Coire nan Lochain.

“Lost on Bidean Nam Bian “ my first meeting with Hamish McInnes a day to remember .

Mum on the hill on 1938 Loch Ossian

Father’s Day yesterday brought back an old memory going back to the early 60’s.I was about 12 then a Bairn.

My Dad, Mum and myself were staying in a manse for a week not to far from Glencoe. We did this often as a means of a cheap holiday. Dad had promised me a day on the big hills in Glencoe.Bidian was the biggest in the Glen at 3700 feet. I know now it’s a complex mountain. Walk Highlands description” Bidean nam Bian is more a mountain range than a single mountain, a huge and complex mass of dramatic crags, ridges and summits towering on the south side of Glen Coe. The main summit is hidden from the road behind the Three Sisters – three great prows – and the top of Stob Coire nan Lochain.

My Dad and mr in Galloway

We set of on a not to great day. We had such limited gear but Dad had a map inch to mile and very simple brass compass. More important he always carried a big bar of Cadbury’s chocolate in his tiny rucksack. Mum and I carried little but I had bought a pixie type cloth jacket with money I earned from a paper round . I had done many hills in Galloway, Arran and Ben Lomond and been out on the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award making up a group of 4 on an expedition. Yet Glencoe was to be a different ball game.

I remember driving through Glencoe the tops were so Misty the rock slippy and wet. We passed enormous cliffs big waterfalls tumbling down the cliffs.

To a wee 12year old it was intimidating. After great effort we headed up the steep path to the ridge. It was to me a wonderland of huge mountains. They looked so impossible to climb up to!

The map detail in these days was basic but we followed the ridge it never seemed to end. By now the rain was heavy the mist was down. Mum had said a few times we should go down but as always common sense did not prevail. In the odd times we got a view it was of huge cliffs and very steep ground.

The wind got stronger and we continued Dad had his jumper on now over his white shirt. We made the top and had a break out of the wind. The chocolate and wet sandwiches came out. We did not hang about and Dad decided the wind was to strong to go back the same way. He planned another route of that would take us down by what I was later to know as Church Door Buttress. We followed a very rough bearing on Dad’s tiny compass.

We were soon in very steep ground Dad would lower me down with his stick. I was lost in the adventure but Mum was worried by now It was looking an adventure to far . Stones were falling near us when we heard a voice “ in the mist are you okay”

We were soon joined by a very tall man quietly spoken who my Dad recognised as Hamish Mc Inness. We were still high up the mountain on very broken ground where a slip would be serious. Hamish took us down by weaving effortlessly through the cliffs.

Once down in the Corrie he walked us out and took us to his house for tea. My Dad told him he was a minister Hamish laughed and said lucky I was up looking for kit left on a rescue. He never told us off just chatted with us and said life is about experiences like the one we had. My Mum was so pleased he had turned up like an Angel when we needed help.

We headed back soaked I fell asleep unaware of how lucky we were.

6 years later I met Hamish on a Rescue in Glencoe I was by now in the RAF Kinloss Mountain Rescue Team. It took me years to speak to Hamish of my story he remembered it. I said you did not report it as Rescue he said no your Dad said he would mention the day in one of his sermons! Which he did often. I was honoured to become a friend of Hamish during my time in Mountain Rescue as Team Leader at RAF Leuchars and Kinloss and for for many years. He would always have a story to tell and would remind me of our “Wee rescue” many years before .

Hamish passed away a few years ago Mum and Dad are long gone but I was to climb on Bidian often in sumner and winter. We did many rescue there with Glencoe Mountain Rescue. I never told my tale till now looking back we were lucky that Hamish was about that day.

In memory of three great folk in my life. Mum, Dad and Hamish.

Myself the Fox of Glencoe and Willie Elliot
Posted in Mountaineering | Leave a comment

Day 3 Colonsay -The Strand

Today was another day with Islay the collie. Ksllie was away on her last day of bee keeping . Last nights night we watched A Sherlock Holmes film involving Bees! The weather again was superb so we were away for a walk before it gets to hot for Islay.

The Strand :The islands of Colonsay and Oronsay are separated by a stretch of water and sand about a mile wide. This area is known as The Strand. The northern end, nearest Colonsay, is normally a sandy beach, whereas the southern end, nearest Oronsay, is covered by shallow water when the tide is in. When the tide retreats, The Strand can be crossed on foot to reach Oronsay.

Normally if you get the tides right you can walk across to Oransay but not today. We played sticks on the huge beach saw 3 folk. We then wandered the coast seeing purple orchids and so many flowers. It was so quiet for a Bank Holiday and with a light breeze we stopped had lunch and tried to take it all in. There were lots of sheep and lambs about but Islay is so used to them she does not bother. There were also lots rabbits oystercatchers and gulls about. We had a good walk but it was getting hotter so I drove back to our Accommodation to give us both a rest.

Islay in her element.

I thought of poor Kalie in her beekeepers suit in the heat! Poor soul, Islay misses her and every car she sees she thinks it’s Kalie home.

The bee course photo Kalie

Later in the afternoon Kalie arrived back and it was into the wet suits and the sea nearby . Again busy about 6 folk at its peak. I put my wet suit on back to front ! Anyway Kalie was soon in the water the tide was out but it was great.

Even I went in and it was lovely Kalie had a sleep later . It had been a busy weekend for her and I wandered along the water listening to the footy . we had about an hour then a breeze came up and we wandered back.

Surfs up.

After dinner we relaxed and had an easy night. The weather still stunning and we leave today on the ferry. We collect the bees at the Ferry and then take them back to Arrina. That’s after a wander today before the weather breaks.

Kalie in her best place to be .

We have been so fortunate with the weather seen Colonsay at its best. Who needs to travel abroad ?

Posted in Books, Flora, Friends, Islands, People, Plants, Recomended books and Guides, Weather, Well being, Wildlife | Leave a comment