Heading West to beat the weather hopefully Sgurr Gaorsaic, behind Beinn Fhada.

Heading to better weather on the West again and hopefully a new Corbett. The forecast on the West looks reasonable so I may try for an early start as the weather may change later in the day.

I am picking up Bernie from Forres so it should be a steady day all going well. It is a bit of a walk in so that should ease us into the day after a long drive to Kintail again. The forecast is not too bad a bit of a mixed bunch but we will see how it goes.

Hopefully we will have a great day?  At least we are getting out in the hills and maybe a new Corbett all being well.

 

Posted in Corbetts, Mountaineering, Views Mountaineering, Weather | Leave a comment

The Munros an appreciation what they have meant to me!

The Munros an appreciation July 2017

The Munros 41 years on.

My first completion 1976 on An Socach Breamar.

I am looking back on the Munros days what a great way to learn about this wonderful  country, the mountains their hidden secrets , friendship on the hills and of course it’s people.

I met Tom Mac Donald on his own in Glen Affric on the remote Munro Mullach An Dheiragain.

My pal Tom MacDonald and I completed our Munros both on separate hills in November 1976. We were both young members of the RAF Kinloss Mountain Rescue Team and were so lucky to have done these great hills before they became so popular.  It was a great weekend I finished on An Socach 944 metres and the other two Munros for the rest of the party it was a big day in November. Tom finished on I am sure Beinn Bhreac and we were staying at Braemar with the Team. Most of the hills were done with the team and it was a constant chase to get the summits done with some great characters who taught us lots. I had no car could not drive and on the odd weekend off we hitched to the hills.  I learned to plan my weekend hills and had the Munro list with me everywhere I went.

Pete Mc Gowan RAF Kinloss Team Leader and the late Ben Humble a pioneer of Scottish Mountain Rescue.

This was the night myself and Tom MacDonald had completed out Munro’s 1976.  This was about a year before Ben passed away. It was a great privilege to meet Ben Humble, what a character that is his great photo behind me of the Ben and Carn Mor Dearg that used to hang in the RAF Kinloss MRT Briefing room.

Pete McGowan the RAF Kinloss Team Leader at the time what a man and gave us both a picture of our day and on the back he wrote these wonderful words. It was signed by Ben Humble a real mountain character and pioneer of Mountain Rescue.

“On behalf of all the members of RAF Kinloss Mountain Rescue Team may I congratulate you on a really fine achievement in ascending An Sochach 3097 feet in Breamar on 13 November 1976.  You completed a unique double with Tom Mc Donald to join a small band of climbers who have ascended all the 280 “Munro Mountains” in Scotland.

Yours Aye Pete Mc Gowan  Team Leader RAF Kinloss MRT

(Also signed “Congratulations” by Ben Humble SMC )” I was so proud that Ben Humble was there he was some man a hero from another era and he always spoke to me no matter who was about.

Pete Macgowan at the party to celebrate out Munros in the back ground Ben Humble inspirational photo of Ben Nevis North Face .

 

It meant so much and still does to me to this day that Pete took the time to make our day special. Pete  is incredible man and a true leader who sorted the team out and made us a true band of brothers and ready for anything that Scotland could throw at us.  We learnt so much in these few years. There were so many great days in that period it was all fresh and new, the old basic inch to the mile maps, poor weather forecasts, no mobile phones, no GPS and few paths and you rarely met people. There were  also no wind farms to blight the views. We had so many friends as the keepers in the glens, great names Mr Oswald at Ben Alder, Mr Mc Rae in Skye, Mr Robertson at Loch Muick so many more, we always addressed them as Mr or Sir they were real characters. From Skye to Ballater we knew so many of them and the advice they gave us was incredible.

My old Munros book

The SMC Munro book so very basic back then and there was only one about the SMC Munros Tables it was our bible and how I enjoyed ticking it after very adventure. Each year I was getting in over 130 hill days getting in so many new hills little else mattered? Nowadays there are so many great books on the Munros my favourites are listed below, each have a gem about these mountains.

The Munros SMC , The Munros Tables SMC Guide

The Munros Cameron McNeish and the Munro Almanac.

The Munros in Winter Martin Moran

Hamish Mountain Walk  Hamish Brown onspirational.

 

Some of the epic days are so clear the Skye ridge in one go apart from Gillean in 1973 when I nearly abseiled off the rope and Tom saved my life. Huge days of all the classic ridges, The Mamores, Fannichs, Kintail, Fisherfield, Torridon, Glencoe, Tranters Round, the Etive hills with a Vango Tent and so many more adding to them each year and learning so much. In winter it was hard with the simple kit. The Curly Boots that froze as did the breaches (whatever happened to them) Big rucksack’s were the norm and a rope was always carried along with fairly useless radios. We learnt to navigate with basic maps and limited area knowledge. Learning the hard way from mistakes in the winter traverses of the Cairngorms bothying, camping high, snow – holing and then at the end of the day maybe a call –out.  You built up stamina and how often did it happen often coming off a 12 hour day on the hill then out on a night call – out no Health & Safety then. I have hundreds of tales about wild day on the hill, great adventures, near misses that will stay with me forever.

There were a few in the Team in those early days that mocked us Munro baggers they were the so-called climbers. At times they would walk round the summit tops to wind us up. It took a few years in the end for me to understand there was more to life than Munros and I learned whenever I could to mix the climbing and the Munros. After each weekend we would be asked at briefing what Munros, hills we had climbed and had to be able to name them all, a big day like the Kintail/Fannichs/ Beinn Dearg Range would be not easy but you learned the names and the area knowledge built up. My early big Walks across Scotland in the 70’s and early 80’s were a huge influence and we were climbing the Munros by new routes, great knowledge was gained from these walks. We added more and more hills a bit of bravado then and had some incredible days. Many pushed the boat out sometimes nearly to far!

Big Hills days were the normal then. With big bags and boots!!

 

I feel so privileged to have had such an experience in these early days, so many memories of great days and I have been lucky enough to get several Munro round completed over the years. In the end I have slowed down, I take my time and enjoy these great mountains; everyone has several memories for me. It was wonderful taking the new troops out on the big days, get them fit and learn about these hills and climbing so many of the classic days again and again. I had a great dog Teallach a big soft Alsatian who completed a round and I will never forget our two-day traverse of the Skye ridge, one never to forget. We were so lucky that the Munros were a big part of our training in the RAF Mountain Rescue Teams and all the classics big days were done again and again often in wild weather. Navigation and Stamina were the key skills and so many young novice troops learned on these great hill days

The RAF Kinloss Munro board

Looking back what a marvellous journey from that day 40 years ago who would have believed where it would take me? I have climbed all over the World been on some of the world’”I still feel young, although I cannot climb mountains quite so fast as I could years ago.” John Muir, 1910 (aged 72)”

I have been so lucky that I have climbed all over the world but these great peaks but these early days were the ones that mattered. From the Munros to these wild walks across Scotland the Alps, the Himalayas all opened my eyes to these wild places.

Often my solo days out on the Munros taught me so much they were an ordeal by fitness and navigation at times in a bad day but you gained so much confidence in the end. They were at adventures and I have a plan for another completion but that is another story.

Teallach the Munro King

Thanks Sir Hugh and all those who looked after me on the early days. Tom MacDonald, Pete McGowan, Ray Sefton, John Hinde, George Bruce, Tuech Brewer, Bugsy Rabbit’s, John Cosgrove  and so many more.  To all the young new team members we had some incredible days and often in wild conditions and then the inevitable call out afterwards. A big thanks to all those who made my days so much fun and those who now wait patiently on the summits.

Finally thanks to Sir Hugh Munro for his vision, now let’s talk about that great adventure the Munro Tops?

Fisherfield Wilderness

 

Munro Compleatists! From the Scottish Mountaineering Journal (SMJ) The Honorary Keeper of the lists.  This is only those who register that they have completed I wonder what percentage have not registered possibly 60 –  80%.

1901 – 1970 – 96 Munroists

1970 – 1980 – 211 – (115) number 146 (1976)

1980 – 1990 – 721 – (510)

1990 – 2000 – 2310 – (1800)

2000 – 2015 – 5900) 3590 SMC J 2016

These are only the number who have registered how many are there who have not?

The Munro’s – Thanks Sir Hugh

It was a race to finish
A list to complete
For a name in a book

For years we took you for granted
Like a lover
Then gone.

So many great memories
Now the hills are battered
By so many feet?

Who are we to criticise
we have all used you?

For many the first is
like love,life changing?

So many are now enjoying
what we had when young.

Go and have fun and savour
Those Munro days in the sun.

The Fannaichs – Beginner’s introduction to a big hill day. An Coileachan, Meall Gorm, Sgurr Mor, Beinn Liath Mor Fannaich, Meall a’Chrasgaidh, Sgurr nan Clach Geala, Sgurr nan Each, Sgurr Breac, A’Chailleach.

 

The Shenavall Five/Six add An Teallach – Summer/winter – Superlative hills in great country, the pull back up on the way home clears the mind. Magnificent, a must for everyone! Beinn a’ Chlaidheimh, Sgurr Ban, Mullach Coire Mhic Fhearchair, Ben Tarsuinn, A’Mhaighdean, Ruadh Stac Mor and the An Teallach Munros

Beinn Dearg Six. The drop to Am Faochagach is one to remember. Eididh nan Clach Geala, Meall nan Ceapraichean, Cona Mheall, Beinn Dearg, Seana Breagh. Am Faochagach

The Torridon Trilogy. –   Ben Alligin – Liathach – Beinn Eighe you can add the CorbettOne of Scotland’s finest, two beleachs of pain to enjoy. The West Coast at its best Tom na Gruagaich – Sgurr Mor, Mullach an Rathain – Spidean a’ Choire Leith -Connich Mhor – Ruadh – Stac Mor – Black Carlins – Kinlochewe.

The Mamores – “An early test for Munro baggers” Sgurr Eilde Mor, Binnein Beag, Binnien Mor, Na Gruagaichean, An Gearanach, Stob Choire a’ Chairn, Am Bodach, Sgurr a’ Mhaim, Stob Ban, Mullach nan Coirean

So many More but that is another tale. Maybe for another blog?

Some comments of FACEBOOK

Mark Hartee comments

“Great article Heavy as usual. For interest and to big up some amazing recent achievements regarding ‘big days’ particularly by women – the record for Tranters Round was broken on 14th July by Carnethy’s Helen Bonsor who beat Jasmin Paris’s previous record in 12 hrs 25 mins. It was skied in full recently in about 22 hrs I think . Jasmin holds the record for the larger Ramsays Round in 16 hrs 13 mins. She also smashed the combined records for the combined time for the 3 big rounds – RR , Bob Graham and Paddy Buckley. Lastly, Jon Broxaps record that stood since 1988 of 29 munros in a day was extended by Jim Mann a few weeks ago to 30 munros in a 22hrs 5 mins in the Cairgorm area covering 88 miles. Of course, these were lightweight trips running and with support. No RAF MR hillbags and big boots! More info on the Carnethy and Charlie Ramsay sites if interested.”

Scouse Atkins – Lovely article Heavs. I’ve had the pleasure of accompanying two troops on their final Munro (Danny on the Inn pin, Raz on the dubhs). One day I’ll tick off the last 50 or so

Posted in Books, Enviroment, Equipment, Family, Friends, Gear, Hill running and huge days!, Mountain rescue, mountain safety, Mountaineering, Recomended books and Guides, Rock Climbing, Scottish winter climbing., SMC/SMT, Views Mountaineering | 2 Comments

Wednesday, 9th Aug 2017, 7:30pm at Corrie and Sannox village hall Heavy Whalley – A life in mountaineering and mountain rescue

I am working on my wee chat in Arran  Wednesday, 9th Aug 2017, 7:30pm at Corrie & Sannox village hall.

I am looking up some of my old slides and visits over the years to this wonderful Island where I have spent many happy trips since a bairn over the years. My Dad and Mum took us here on many holidays and we always spent lots of time on the great hills and swimming in the sea and rivers. Many years later I was to spend many trips climbing on the great cliffs that are all over this specail place.

1958 Goatfell

My visits took me all over the Island my Dad  told me the stories of the murder on Goatfell and the many plane crashes on the Island that we visited, Dad knew where they were and the sad tales and always left saying a prayer at the sites for those who died. To a very young boy this was incredible and I will never forget our days on the A Chir Ridge and the wild scrambling all over the Island. Our races up Goatfell and seeing so many ships in the bay we had a Navy in the late 50’s and early 60’s. The big walks back after days on the hills and collecting bottles with a deposit of three pence used for chips in Brodick. Then the big hike up from Brodick to Corriegills and staying in the McNicols cottage and Archie Robertson who also drove taxi on the Island. The freedom on the Brodick beach and running wild on the shore, the rowing boats in the bay of no Health and safety in those days. What a life and how I looked forward to the adventure every day and how I appreciate them now looking back.

Years of climbing and walking on the superb granite on Cir Mhor.

 

Heavy Whalley – A life in mountaineering and mountain rescue

This promises to be a fascinating night with “Heavy” Whalley, who will look back on his long career in mountain rescue, and will have many a fascinating mountain tale to tell.
More info about our speaker on his website www.heavywhalley.com.
We hope that you’ll not have had yer tea – the Arran Mountain Rescue Team will be flipping their legendary burgers for you!
More details TBC.

 

I found an article my Dad wrote in 1950 about a trip he did on his own on the peaks of Arran he ended with these words:

“Long after the other memories of the holiday in Arran have faded those of the day on the tops in the heart of the Island will remain – the heart of the Island, yes perhaps in the heart in more senses than one. “

Rev W H Whalley 1950

A WINTER TRAVERSE MANY YEARS AGO

It is hard to believe that I visited Arran with all the RAF Mountain Rescue Teams over the years nearly every years for 30 years. It is a place of incredible wildlife and wild places that mean a lot to me.  I have lots of stories even from my trips  before joining the RAF early Cycling, trips round the Island and even as wee lad picking potatoes in the summer, Geology trips in the great Glen Rosa and Sannox whilst at school and even a golfing trip for a week.  In my early days staying at Home Farm and SYHA  cycling in up Glen Rosa on hired bikes and climbing badly on the Meadow Face and getting the rope stuck and other adventures that are all part of learning. Just getting the Ferry back on the long trip to North Wales was an adventure after getting caught on the rain on South Ridge Direct, swimming in the pools in Glen Rosa 50 years after my first swim her with Mum and Dad.

On the A’Chir Ridge with the RAF Leuchars Mountain Rescue Team .

Arran I love you!

Posted in Aircraft incidents, Corbetts and other hills, Enviroment, Equipment, Gear, Lectures, Local area and events to see, Plants | Leave a comment

Things I wish I knew before getting older. Look after your body its the only one you have.

Look after your body when your young how many of us have said that ? For me the long days with big hill bags, carrying heavy loads and stretchers have taken their toll. Also the wet gear and bivies long call – outs in wild weather for many years batter your body.  I was planning to get out today on the hills but the knee is still stiff and sore from Tuesdays wander in the sun at Kintail. It was a long day for me 14 hours before I got home and the sun always takes it out of me. So I am at home with lots to do.

In my early days in the RAF Mountain Rescue Team we carried a lot on the hill ( just in case) but to be fair we were a rescue team and could end up anywhere after a helicopter pick – up. Also carrying a  Stretcher after a long day at night on a Rescue is never easy especially after a day on the hill already and various slips, trips etc happen. Add to that over 100 hill days a year, plus an expedition each year for 40 years and the body is a bit battered. A slip when your younger is easier to recover from and you reactions are quicker but now a slip or trip can hurt.

Big Bags and long days take their toll.

Light is Right – Nowadays, I travel as light as possible for the conditions and gear has improved so much that is a lot easier. Gone is the heavy kit and footwear where appropriate I am back to wearing my hill running shoes when the terrain permits.   I have used walking poles for over 30 years (two poles) and would not be going on the hills without them as my knees are pretty shot. We always ran off the hills every day no problem when young but nowadays I take it  a lot easier.  Walking Poles are a must for me now, they take a bit of getting used to but worth it for their benefits.

 

1975 Big Bags in the Glen Lochay Hills

Lifting – Watch what you lift I was unloading wagons in my job for many years even ships in the Persian Gulf before Health and Safety and have had various back problems. Nowadays we are a lot wiser and still make mistakes but  watch what you lift or do with your back.

The effect of the Sun and the weather – The sun and weather has huge effect on your skin  It is important to use sunscreen and looking after your skin in all seasons, for years we never used sunscreen and my skin is pretty damaged after over 50 years on the hills. So be aware and ensure you screen up whenever possible, especially when young. I have lost a few pals to skin cancer all were outdoor enthusiast. Men moisturising after a day out in the open is now acceptable after getting battered by the face cleansing wind even in winter.

Poles – what a bonus.

Injury’s – If you get an injury give your body time to repair not easy even at my age but worth it. I had many problems with my feet over the years. Good socks and proper fitting footwear is important. Your feet change over the years and be aware of that. I also visit a Chiropodist every 3 months and that is the best thing I have done as what a difference to my feet and well worth the cost. Look at the work your feet do every day far less on the hills.

Look after your feet and your body.

 

Afterwards Care – When I come off the hills I change wet/damp gear and dry my feet and put on sandals to air the feet well worth while. I also re – hydrate with water on the way home from the hills or a walk.  Simple but it all helps the recovery. Use specialist advice for injuries it may cost but they work if you get someone who you trust.

 

Diet and Exercise – Age means to many some changes a more sedate job for some more time sitting at a computer. I put on a lot of weight working shifts in the ARCC, especially the 13 hour night shift.  You have to be careful what you eat and how you exercise and it is a constant battle for me as I get older but I am trying. Eat well and properly and I hardly drink alcohol now so that is another worry over.

My mate is 75 and still along with many others is very active and we had a long day on Tuesday, the hills and wild places are full of the older generation. This is great to see people out enjoying the hills and moving well. Hopefully I have years to go a bit slower than in the past but great to be out.

So there you go a few tips for looking after yourself, if your young please look after your body. There are so many who give it all up well before their should.

2017 July Cairn Liath  -Light and slow the way to go?

There are lots of pals with new hips, knees etc the mountains certainly can take their toll but we can help,, so please look after that body it needs all the care you can give it.

Any thoughts? Warming up/ Warming down? after the hill?

Yoga – now that is the way forward ?

 

 

Posted in Equipment, Friends, Gear, Mountaineering, People, Views Mountaineering | 5 Comments

Good Article on Calling in a Mountain Rescue by Helen Howe. Can you help Torridon MRT?

There is a great article in calling in for help on ukclimbing.com by Helen Howe well worth a read for all who go into the Mountains and wild places.

https://www.ukclimbing.com/articles/page.php?id=9366

I would advise all to read it as if you or your companion has a problem in a remote area this is a good guide. It is also worth thinking especially in Scotland your sometimes a long way from help. The hill I was on Tuesday Aonach Buidhe in the remote Glen Elchaig  is one that will take the local Kintail Team if no helicopter is available a few hours to reach you?  These are great folk but they are all volunteers and work all over the area, that is sparsely populated. I believe we have a duty of care to each other and those we meet in the hills and it is always worth being prepared for any event. Please read this article their are some great points in it?

When I retired from the RAF I was lucky enough to spend a bit of time as a member of the Torridon Mountain Rescue  Team based in the West Of Scotland. This team covers some of Scotland’s finest mountains and is a another sparsely populated area and money is hard to raise. At present in 2017 they are operating out of a cupboard at Torridon Youth Hostel and badly need a Base and are trying to raise cash for the new team base. Every penny counts.

In 2017, Torridon Mountain Rescue Team is building a new base in Torridon village with support from St John Scotland. But to complete and equip the new base, we need £50,000. Please give generously. Text TMRT33£5 to 70070 to donate £5 or visit http://www.torridonmrt.org.uk to find other ways of supporting us. Thank you.

Torridon MRT is one of 27 volunteer teams in Scotland, with over 1000 volunteers, plus an additional 3 Police teams and 1 RAF team. All teams offer a world class, front line search and rescue service. The national representative body is Mountain Rescue Scotland.

We: Maintain the ability to deploy personnel and operate effectively and safely 365 days a year, 24 hours a day and in all weather conditions

  • Work in challenging and at times hostile mountain environments
  • Deploy under the authority of Police Scotland

The team came in to being in 1972. Before then rescues were organised on an ad hoc basis under the direction of the local Police Sergeant using local estate workers and any other suitable men who were available. Recreational hill activities in the 1970’s were much less popular than now and sometimes a year went by with no rescues. Nowadays the team averages about 20 a year.

The nature of our work has also changed with the advent of mobile phones and satellite navigational aids. In the early days most call outs would be in response to folk overdue back from the hill. Many hours of searching, sometimes overnight, were often required. Now, a number of our call outs are initiated by the party in difficulty using a mobile phone and providing a GPS generated location. In the case of serious injury the casualty can then usually be reached quickly with the help of one of the rescue helicopters.

On a call out we work under the overall supervision of Police Scotland although the activities of team members during a rescue are directed by the team leader. Sometimes on a lengthy search for a missing person we will be reinforced by the RAF MRT and / or our neighbouring MRT’s, Dundonnell and Kintail.

TEAM MEMBERS

Members of mountain rescue teams in the UK are all unpaid volunteers. We know that we can be called out at any time of the day or night, any day of the year. Obviously there are times when we are unable to respond but usually more than half of the team can be mobilised. We currently have around 2 dozen folk on the call out list with a few more in training. Because of the small population in Torridon our members are scattered with around half from outside our territory.

TERRITORY

We cover a large area extending from Achnasheen, in the east, to Applecross, in the west, and from Kinlochewe, in the north, to Lochcarron, in the south. The area includes 17 Munros, including the iconic “Torridon triptych”: Beinn Alligin, Liathach and Beinn Eighe, Scotland’s first National Nature Reserve. We are richly endowed with some of Britain’s most magnificent mountain landscapes, including the trio of Munros around Coire Lair, the remote quartet in the West Monar Forrest, embracing Loch Monar, the massive cliffs of Beinn Bhan, barring entry to the Applecross peninsula, and, most celebrated of all, the Triple Buttress of Coire Mhic Fhearchair, behind Beinn Eighe.

These mountains draw climbers and walkers throughout the year. They offer some of Scotland’s most spectacular walking routes and some of our longest and most testing rock and ice climbing routes. Given the terrain it is not surprising that the rescue situations we are faced with can be amongst the most technically demanding to be encountered in Scotland.

TRAINING

The team has a regular training day on the first Sunday of each month. Sometimes these sessions will be in conjunction with one of the rescue helicopters, practising winching and other techniques, and, sometimes, we train with one of our neighbouring rescue teams. Team members are encouraged to attend relevant national courses on mountain leadership, rigging, avalanche rescue, first aid etc.

First aid skills are of paramount importance for all rescuers and we have midweek sessions on first aid as well as an annual weekend of first aid tuition under the direction of members of the British Association of Ski Patrollers.

Most weeks groups of team members can be found practising their skills on a climbing wall in Gairloch or Inverness.

RECRUITS

Although many of the current team are skilled winter and summer climbers this is not an essential requirement. We look for “team players” with a good level of fitness who are able to cope safely with the difficult parts of our mountain terrain in all conditions. Anybody who is interested should contact our team leader with a view to coming along to one of our training sessions. Generally we require folk to attend at least 6 training sessions before they go on to the call out list.

Posted in Mountain rescue, mountain safety, Views Mountaineering | Leave a comment

Aonach Bhuidhe – and the stunning Glen Elchaig a Cycle, a new remote Corbett a lot of sun. Also a few tips for the sun

I drove the short 30 minutes from the Kintail Bunk house  where I had an overnight stay the small bothy only hold 6 people and it was a noisy night as there was a party going on at the Hotel and into the car park till 0330. I was up early had a leisurely breakfast and then the 30 minute drive  to Killinian my starting point. The main road to Kyle was busy with tourists and motorbikes making the best of the last two hot days. Just after the Castle is  the single track road to Killian  a great trip on a tight road( beware of fast cars) This is not a place to rush as the views are magnificent.

There is a small car park at the beginning of the Estate Road and no vehicles are allowed past this. There is a sign at the gateposts informing you but the car park is fine and there were already a few cars here trying to get away early before the sun makes its presence felt.

Our hill is a 13k walk or cycle in we had already planned this as a bike trip Aonach Buidhe 899 metres occupies a remote location at the head of  Glen Elchaig it is a great wilderness of remote passes and hidden glens.  Derrick and Babs had left early from Forres and arrived at 0930 it was already hot and the sun cream was on.  There was a “little faff” as we got the bikes ready, did the usual repack and then we were off.

The estate road is tarmaced for a few miles and then a track takes you to the Iron Lodge after a stunning journey through the Glen. It has some great views of cliffs,  loch Moichean  trees and views changing all the time. This year everything is green after the rains there is scope for climbing here in these hidden cliffs. The heat was intense and we had a leisurely cycle in you start at sea – level nearly and Iron lodge our destination in only 130 metres high but on a windy road with small hills, that can hurt in the heat.

In the wilds of Glen Elchaig wonderful.

I am no cyclist but despite the heat it was a great trip in. We stopped every half hour to drink and fill the water-bottles and get out of the heat, where we could use the trees for shade and getting lots of photos, this was hot weather. I was having to be covered up as my Psoriasis had flared up so it was an uncomfortable day for me. It leaves my skin raw in places and the sun just upsets it when it flares up but I have learned to live with it for nearly 50 years. At least my throat virus that starts it off had gone and it was magic to be out in this incredible place and soon you are in another world.

This is a land of wild space and beauty and peace.

Shady Break out of the sun.

We met 3 others two going for the Affric Hills and one who flew past us heading for two Grahams, he would suffer going that fast in the heat. We passed a “rubbing post! used by the deer for their antlers it looked great in this wild glen but no sign of any Deer all day? I found an antler on the hill but it stank too much so I left it in the car park after carrying it down.

Deer rubbing pole  looks like it was carved and in a stunning location.

Red Deer have always been prized for their antlers, which are collected by deer stalkers to commemorate a successful day on the mountain.  Traditionally, fine sets of Red Deer antlers are mounted on a shield to decorate the walls of a shooting lodge or country house.

A Red Deer’s antlers start growing in the spring from the age of 10 months, and they are shed or cast when testosterone levels fall in mid-March and April. Each successive year sees the Red Deer stag’s antlers become longer and wider, with more points or ‘tines’.

Antlers are made of bone, and can grow at the rate of an inch per day.  While they are growing, the antlers are covered with ‘velvet’ which is a soft, blood-filled, bone-forming tissue and is very sensitive.  In July, the Red Deer’s antlers have stopped growing and the velvet is shed by rubbing against trees and posts.

We reached Iron Lodge named  after the initial lodge was glad in corrugated iron. and the first time I was here was in my first weekend with the RAF Kinloss Mountain Rescue Team. It was February in 1972 and it was my first weekend out with the team on my trial. I was taken out by the Officer ic to climb Sgurr nan Ceathermhean. This was a big winters day. It was my first Winter experience and  we wore crampons most of day and came off in the dark, there was limited contact between us as it was a different era. Yet it was magic and hard going I was a wee laddie about 8 stone. No one spoke in the pub the Kintail Lodge Hotel so I spoke to the locals, that was the way it was then. My companion hardly spoke that was the way then and I stayed with him all day he was surprised I think but what a miserable sod he was.  I met him years later as the Team leader he was by now high up  and did not remember the  day, I had the last laugh as I told him  that I learned this was how not to look after new troops after that introduction.

Now all those years later I am back after a new hill 46 years later.  Arriving at Iron Lodge it was another fill up of the water – bottles then head of minus the bikes.

 

Start of the walk in great to be off the bikes.

We had a break  before we left the bikes and headed up the path / road onto the steep slopes of our hill. It was great to be off the bikes( I need padded shorts) but from the track it was straight up very hard in the heat and we took plenty of breaks all the time the views expanded.

Having a break how enjoyable

The  wild flowers were incredible enjoying the sun and the past rain I have rarely seen so many. There were a sea of  ferns, heathers,orchids, Tormentil and so many others even the Bog Asgphodel was looking great.

Orhids and Bog Asgphodel photo D HARMAN

 

It was great to see the hills from such a viewpoint and try to work out what we were looking at. it was a different aspect for many views of these big hills.

Rest

There were no midges we  eventually hit the ridge, what a toil no path just following the deer tracks when we could and we got the breeze. This was essential as the heat was now full on but it was so hot and we managed to fill our water bottles again from a little burn.

The great thing about getting older and in a very hot day was the stops we had Derrick was photographing the wild flowers every break Babs and I were just taking in the views. Once up onto the ridge there was a wee pull up some rocks that were hot to touch. The last pull to summit was easier and it was head down and then we saw the cairn. The views now were 360 degrees. We could see all the Skye hills, Torridon, the Great Glens Affric, Mullurdoch, the Kintail Hills and many more. It was a perfect day for views and memories.

This hill has some big Corries and I need to revisit it if I can manage the trip in again, I could see the bothy at Maol Bhuidhe a place I have stayed in the past in the distance. Time was moving on and we wandered down the to beleach down some steep ground and onto a bulldozed track ( what a mess) made for the “toffs” to facilitate the stalking. The erosion was terrible and I hate to see the scars on the hills. There used to be great stalking paths that are being wrecked by the use of 4 wheel vehicles or am I wrong?

Erosion track a mess? Any comments

We were soon back at the bikes after the steep descent care may need to be taken in poor weather. From  here we walked down the track for 3 ks back to Iron Lodge for another break and re – hydrate it was now 1745 and still very warm. We headed back the 13 k track meeting another walker who had completed two remote Grahams and looked exhausted in the heat. It was a great trip back a few pushes up the hills and a meeting with a Highland Cow and calf who was not for moving. Be aware when they have young calves they can be temperamental and those horns are huge.

They shall not pass.

I stopped a few times to grab a photo or two on the way off and to cool down. Derrick and Babs were pushing it on the bikes but I needed to cool down and take it all in and I was tired We got back to the car park at 1900 it was still so warm and then it was the journey home. i came back via Kintail and the Loch Ness road and enjoyed the trip.  Thankfully the roads were quite and I stopped for chips in Inverness and got back just after 2200. I was pretty tired and it was a bath and get sorted out and feeling the effects of the sun and then fall asleep.

What a great day and a new hill with good companions and Derrick is 75  what a man he is some example to us all.

Now who has advice on a pair of padded mountain bike shorts???

I wore my running shoes again today and they were great even on the steep ground, I doubt I ever run again on the hills but did a wee jog on the way down but care must be taken. I never took my walking poles a mistake as uphill they would have helped so much.

Homeward what a place to enjoy and be in away from the mad world.

Hot Tips

In the heat water is so important and the sun is hard on me but I stopped often and used the burns to cool down wet may head and neck when I could. I hydrate before I go out and drink plenty. I also carry salt in crisps or food for the hill as sometimes I need it.

Sunscreen is also important  as my skin is damage by years of weather and sun on the hills, and ignorance, there is no excuse now. I always wear a hat and a neckerchief.

1974  Masirah Desert Rescue Persian Gulf an example of  how not to dress for the hills. I suffer from my 9 months in the desert temp at times 35 degrees. Cover up and screen up. A skinny Heavy?

Take your time in the heat, walk slower and re – hydrate whenever you can and on the drive home. The colour of your urine is a great indication of your hydration, an easy check for the male.

I cover up as sunstroke is common on the hills and if you take care you can enjoy even the hottest of days. A good tip is get on the tops before the sun comes out early starts are the way forward.

Remember sun damage is dangerous look after your skin.

 

Posted in Corbetts and other hills, Enviroment, Equipment, Friends, Gear, mountain safety, Mountaineering, Other hills Grahams & Donalds, People, Plants, Views Mountaineering, Views Political?, Weather, Wildlife | 2 Comments

Heading to Kintail overnight on the hottest day of the year .

Aonach Buidhe is a remote Corbett with some very little visited corries on its northern flanks. It is normally approached up pleasant Glen Elchaig, I spent the night in the “Wee Bunk House” at Kintail as I was in Inverness playing golf the day before I had a warning how warm it was, I was drinking all  day and well covered up.

The drive up after tea was superb and the roads quite for this time of year. The car parks near the Munros were full though with many enjoying a great but hot day. I love Kintail and on a day like this it is specail. The “Wee Bothy”holds 6 and is just next to the Kintail Lodge Hotel and I booked in there were 3 others there all had enjoyed a great day out on the Munros in the heat. I was on a top bunk but slept a rough night on the floor as there was a party in the Hotel and folk out till 0300 outside. It was still great to be here and I enjoyed a wander around no midges and just a baking sun till late it would be more of the same tomorrow. I had one shandy and lots of water to re hydrate and the pub music was special Runrig a lovely evening.

Incredible sunset at Kintail worth all the effort.

I love this area it was my first weekend in 1972 in winter with the team we stayed in the village hall which was across the road from the Kintail Lodge now demolished sadly a few great nights here. The hills are classic and I have so many great days on the classic North and South Clunnies even both in a day not nowadays but still so many hills to explore in this vast wild area away from the classic Munros.

I spoke to one of those in the Bothy she was off at 0400 to climb the 9 Munros of the South Clunnie on her own to miss the heat of the day. The other two were heading for the North Clunnie but leaving later. I was meeting Derek and Babs to climb Aonach Bhuidhe at 0930 tomorrow a big day with a 13 k cycle in for a remote Corbett, they were leaving early from Forres for a big day. Derek is 75 !

I fell asleep reading my book about Joe Cox the Murdered MP “More in Common” a sad tale of a real tragedy, Jo loved the wild places and the mountains and went bothying with her husband what a loss.

I needed to sleep but as I said it was a noisy night apart from our lassie who left at 0400 for the South Clunnie she was so quiet and soon gone.

Teallach on the South Clunnie one of his 12 traverses of the 8 Munros

I was up at 0600 the weather was stunning as was the heat, it would be a big day today and re-hydration would be vital. I would have left earlier but Babs and Derek were meeting me at 0930 so I had a lazy breakfast and then packed up for a busy day.

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