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 | 2 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

Ben Rinnes never lets you down. Met a couple of characters on a stunning day.

I was on Elgin sorting out some admin and the weather looked good so I decided I had enough gear in the car. I had Islay with me my pal dog she is away and she is such a great hill dog. She is used to sheep and wild animals and never bothers with them so off we went.

Ben Rinnes – This hill is a favourite of mine, its my nearest hill a Corbett and has been a good pal over the years. We used it often in my early days with the RAF Kinloss Mountain Rescue Team for training and I remember doing a SARBE TEST in 1972 with a helicopter.

1972 Sarbe test.

I have often introduced lots of friends and work mates to hillwalking on this mountain. The guide book tells you that if you climb it from outside Dufftown by its shortest route it takes you one hour and forty minutes to the summit. It’s a huge track well maintained and surprisingly litter free but sadly still lots of dog Poo bags about, left for the dog poo fairy, I collected them again on the way off. If you want a longer day if you continue along the ridge to the Bridge of Avon and have transport there. It is a grand looking hill with great views over the Moray Firth to Ross and Cromarty and of course the Cairngorms.

Islay posing

The easiest way is to follow the B9009 about 5 k from Dufftown and take the minor road to Edinville. Parking can be tight with room for only about 8 cars and it can be a busy hill. t several runners and a many walkers all out on the hill. The path is good and maintained by The Friends Of Ben Rinnes a great bunch of people who look after this wee hill. The wind was pretty cold and I was glad to be wearing some of my winter kit again from the start of the walk. I met about 5 folk some running some out with there dogs. It was a lovely walk but they were burning the moor below and the smoke kept us moving . It’s great to be out and Islay was very pleased despite the cold weather. The views are great the Cairngorms still holding snow and the Moray coast and the many windfarms that are now here. I took my time to the summit of Ben Rinnes (The Headland Hill) at 840 metres where I got some shelter. It was then an enjoyable break amongst the granite Tors that make up the summit with its trig point and viewpoint. All the way up Islay carried a stick. I love the Cairngorm granite on the summit it makes this wee hill special.

I had some lunch then headed down straight from the summit to check the aircrafts crash. Few know that there are the remains of a Wellington Bomber on the hill near the summit. There is little left of the aircraft one but I had a rough grid reference and had visited it often ago with groups from work. I had plenty of time so off we went into the mist on a compass bearing and after about 250 metres I nfound some wreckage at 783 metres and spent some time looking about. I found it not even by navigating and this side of the hill is so different. There were so many hares about they looked at me and then scampered off.

Grid reference

A ptarmigan sat nearby and watched as I looked around he was not bothered and sadly someone had left rubbish nearby that I took home. The ground is so mossy and soft and I sat enjoying the views and the solitude occasionally hearing voices coming from the summit. The Wellington was from nearby Lossiemouth and it crashed killing both of the two crew a Sgt Grove who is buried in Evesham cemetery. The other Sgt Rennie was taken to Glasgow. The aircraft got caught in a violent snowstorm and crashed whilst on a night Exercise from RAF Lossiemouth.

This is from the Friends of Ben Rinnes Website

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.

“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.

I traversed back to the path had a short rain storm and was soon on the path back to my van. I met a few going up all enjoying this wee hill most chatted and a mountain biker speed by coming from the summit. The car park was still busy and then it was a short journey home. It was good to get out again hopefully maybe get a Munro done this week depending on the weather.

How I have missed the hills.   

John writes:-
It was on a Saturday night after 10 o’clock.It was snowing very heavily and myself, my brother & a friend, Geordie Davidson, were outside with our father and a neighbour when we heard the plane go over.
We could tell it was in trouble by the sound of the engines. We then heard a thump so we knew it had crashed.
There was not any fire, just the wreckage covered a large area. It was about 200 yrds.straight down from the top of the Ben, My brother Peter told me nothing is growing on the crash site still.
There was only two killed in the crash and their remains were amongst the wreckage.
Three crew bailed out, One landed on a farm in Elches and it is said he married the farmers daugher.
Maybe some of the locals could verify if it is true?
On our way down it was airmen that was spread out looking for the two crew because they were supposed to also bale out.
We did take a few 303 bullets as a keep sake.
I never saw them remove the wreckage, but I can imagine it must have been terrible hard work.
I don’t think there is anything else I can tell you.
Maybe you can tell me, if there was a memorial service on the Ben a few years ago for the two crew members?
Keep up the good work and I will be up to Aberlour at the end of June
John Murphy

On the way down I met Graig Fletcher running he had come all the way running from Keith. He is doing 46 kilometres 46 times as his daughter needed neonatal care for 46 days. We had a great quick chat and it was great to meet him on the week that I lost two mates Mark Sinclair and Neil Main who was from Keith. It was the 16 March 1995. We all need good news nowadays and it’s good to hear Rosie Neil’s daughter is doing well. If you would like donate please do.

Craig Fletcher

Rosie’s 46

Running 46kms+, 46 times in 2022 for The kArchie Foundation – Highland Appeal because Rosie needed neonatal care for 46 days

We went on Craig was soon well ahead then we met another character Mark Chadwick and his dog. Mark has just been off the mountains for a few months but recovering well. We had a good catch up he is a mountain Guide and a great guy. He is definitely on the road to recovery . If your looking for a guide he is your man.

Mark Guiding

We were soon back at the car plus a few extra dog poo bags . Then head the short distance home Islay was asleep in the van the whole way. A slow but lovely day, well worth getting out for and meeting some good folk.

Islay feed and watered relaxing.
Posted in Corbetts and other hills, Family, Friends, Hill running and huge days!, Local area and events to see, Mountaineering, People, Views Mountaineering, Weather, Well being, Wildlife | 1 Comment

Books – The Fox of Glencoe – from the Scottish Mountain Press.voted outdoor book of the year in 2021 TGO awards.

SMT – “It was fantastic to begin the New Year with the news that MacInnes: The Fox of Glencoe had been voted ‘Outdoor book of the year’ in the 2021 TGO reader awards. Winning the gold accolade in this category was particularly significant for us because readers decide the nominees and results, and last year saw a new record for votes cast. ‘It’s the definitive collection of stories from a mountain life lived to the full,’ said TGO of the book, while one voter commented that ‘this award would be a fitting tribute to the great man’.

Elsewhere, The Fox of Glencoe continues to attract great reviews. ‘Few names are as synonymous with the British climbing scene as that of MacInnes’, said Scottish Field, describing Hamish’s ‘tales of derring-do [and] remarkable accompanying images’ as ‘truly inspiring.’

Meanwhile, Neil Reid of ScottishMountaineer magazine described our recent reprint of The Cairngorms Scene and Unseen as ‘long overdue’, as he reminded us that it is ‘one of the best original accounts of Scotland’s bothy culture.’ Syd Scroggie, who lost his sight and one leg during the Second World War but returned to his beloved mountains and continued to climb until well into his 80s, writes with the ‘engaging and natural style of a true storyteller’, said Reid. ‘His stravaiging adventures in… [convey] a clear sense of the topography and character of the land.’ It’s been a real pleasure for us to reprise Scroggie’s mountaineering classic, and we’re glad that others appreciate his eloquent and entertaining recollections of the Scottish hills.

We were delighted to showcase these and other recent publications at this year’s Fort William Mountain Festival, where there were plenty of opportunities for interesting and thought-provoking conversations with readers, authors and filmmakers. It was a reminder of the value of in-person events, where chance encounters can often lead to fruitful collaborations.

We were delighted to showcase these and other recent publications at this year’s Fort William Mountain Festival, where there were plenty of opportunities for interesting and thought-provoking conversations with readers, authors and filmmakers. It was a reminder of the value of in-person events, where chance encounters can often lead to fruitful collaborations.

New Guide – Gear up for Scottish Winter Climbs West

Western Scotland is a winter playground like no other, with complex geology and topography that offer a wealth of climbing opportunities.

Conditions can be fickle in this maritime climate, and the early starts and arduous walk-ins from sea level are often brutal, but there are generous rewards for perseverance. As the pale sun rises reluctantly over the vast landscape, sea lochs glint like inlaid jewels then fade to a lustrous sheen as, all too soon, it flares and retreats once more. In the corrugated schists of the Arrochar Alps, axe picks thud satisfyingly into the frozen turf. Ben Nevis’s upper ramparts, where snow and ice resist all but the most persistent thaws, have an Alpine ambience and harbour many of Scotland’s finest winter lines, attracting climbers from all over the world. Those willing to venture off beaten trails can find solitude and more esoteric adventures among the gullies and buttresses of Knoydart and Glen Shiel.

Inspired by feedback from our readers and members, our forthcoming Scottish Winter Climbs West is the first of three season-specific guidebooks in the SMC’s new select series and a grand tour of the best winter climbing venues across the Southern Uplands, the Islands of Arran, Mull and Rum, Lochaber, Glen Coe and much else besides. (The East volume covers the Cairngorms, Central Highlands and Creag Meagaidh and the North volume covers Skye, Strath Carron, Torridon and all points north of there.) 

With over 1300 routes listed and an abundance of new lines covering both familiar and lesser-known crags, its scope and range offer options for climbing across all levels and styles and in almost all conditions. Each route is accompanied by high-resolution photographic topos, and the venues are detailed on exquisitely rendered maps that are designed to be user-friendly for everyone, including those with visual impairments.

With publication expected in the next few weeks, we hope it will inspire fresh-faced newcomers and seasoned connoisseurs alike to discover hidden classics and reconnect with old favourites.“

The Scottish Mountain Trust produces some great books and Guides worth supporting.

Scottish Mountaineering Trust

We are a Scottish charity that provides grants to projects and organisations that promote public recreation, knowledge and safe enjoyment of the mountains, especially in the mountains of Scotland.

The Trust supports:

  • Publication of guides to, and information about the Scottish mountains
  • Footpath construction and maintenance
  • Land purchases that ensure public access
  • Mountaineering education and training, especially that aimed at young people
  • Mountain rescue teams and organisations, for equipment and facilities
  • Renovation of club huts available to the wider mountaineering community
  • Expeditions with educational or scientific objectives aligned with those of the Trust

Our work is financed by donations from individuals and organisations who share our values, and from the publication of guidebooks for the Scottish Mountaineering Club and other books connected with the Scottish Hills.

Posted in Books, Mountain rescue, mountain safety, Mountaineering, People, Recomended books and Guides, SMC/SMT, Views Mountaineering, Well being | 2 Comments

Great meals in huts and Bothies. Secret stashed food and fuel.

The CIC hut Ben Nevis .

This photo came up and my mate sent me it. It was taken at the CIC hut we were cooking a fresh chicken plus all the trimmings This included roast potatoes, peas and carrots. The other climbers in the hut were so jealous with their basic dried meals. We shared our dinner with the Dad and his son in the photo. We also if I remember my pal Dan gave the son his ice axe as we left. We always took fresh food like a leg of lamb and were the envy of many.

Another meal in the JMCS at Coruisk when other had dried meals myself and Ned had fresh salmon, baked potatoes next day it was fillet lovely. It was December and a wild night but we ate well.

When I was in the RAF mountain Rescue we used the Bothies often. Okay We also used to get out with the helicopter when they were training new cresc. They would drop of various food dumps at Bothies. We would bury and mark it near the bothy. We would arrive after a long hill day and bring all sorts of goodies into the bothy much to the amazement of other bothy users. Grand memories.

Sheneval – the late Mark Sinclair and Ray Shafron enjoying the bothy fire.

Comment – Bruce “Brilliant we had a full roast beef dinner in the CIC once, the students watching us while eating a raven meal were some what envious. We gave them the left overs in exchange for the washing up.”

Posted in Bothies, Mountaineering | 1 Comment

Extra care needed on the winter mountains: a statement from Police Scotland.

Introduction : by Heavy

The hills are incredible in winter but the snow just now is rock hard meaning a slip on an icy slope could be serious . I was out on the hills on Sunday the snow in places was solid. A slip would need to be arrested with an ice axe and crampons are needed on icy slopes. I saw a few out on the busy hills with no axes or crampons. Most get away with it but sadly over the last few weeks there have been several fatalities and serious injuries. The mountain rescue teams have been busy and my thoughts are as always with them and the families who have lost loved ones. Please be careful we do not get these hard conditions that often but over the years sadly I have seen this happen before. Ensure if you go out you are aware of the weather and your equipment and how to use your ice axe and crampons.

It’s to late if you fall? For many years I was the Mountain Rescue statistician and have seen these incidents reoccur when conditions like this occur. Many of the local guides have been advising for days of the snow being bullet hard. Trekking poles that many use on steep ground will not stop a fall.

A slip here could be serious.

From Police Scotland.

“Take extra care and plan ahead before heading to the hills and mountains

Police Scotland is appealing to hill users and mountaineers to plan ahead and take extra care in the coming weeks.

Mountain Rescue Teams across Scotland have been experiencing a recent increase in callouts and six people have tragically lost their lives over the last two weeks.

Last night Mountain Rescue Teams dealt with an incident on Ben Nevis when police were made aware of a number of people in difficulty.  One man, aged 28 was pronounced dead at the scene and 23 people were assisted off the mountain. Two men, aged 29 and 37 were treated in hospital.

A search for Nick Gillingham, last seen near the summit of Stob Coire Nam Beith, Glencoe, has been stood down today due to weather conditions. It will resume once it is safe for mountain rescue teams to do so.

Inspector Matt Smith, Police Scotland Mountain Rescue coordinator said, “The onset of spring has brought some more settled weather patterns and a welcome increase in daylight hours.  We would urge those seeking to venture into the outdoors to take extra care.  Challenging winter conditions still prevail in the hills with large areas totally covered in snow and ice. 

“Often these areas are completely unavoidable and snow may be rock hard with a high likelihood of a fall unless crampons and an ice axe are carried and most importantly, the group has a knowledge in how and when to use them. A slip in these situations may have very serious or fatal consequences.

“As with all outdoor activities, planning is key and a number of key partners produce resources and guidance to help keep you safe including the current #thinkWINTER campaign backed by Scottish Mountain Rescue and Mountaineering Scotland.

“It is vitally important to understand the risks of your activity, the experience of your group, the prevailing weather conditions during, and at your intended destination and that suitable equipment is carried to allow you to navigate safely over steep or icy terrain. Make a plan, don’t be afraid to adapt and make sure you think about what to do if things go wrong.  The photo you’ve seen on social media is not always a true reflection of what you may find when you get there.

“The volunteer Mountain Rescue Teams across Scotland are an amazing network of dedicated and highly skilled people who will do everything they can to assist you if you find yourself in difficulty but responsibility for staying safe on the mountains rest with us all and involves good planning, sound decision making and the ability to carry and use the correct equipment. By all mean enjoy Scotland’s spectacular scenery but do so safely.”

If you do need emergency help on the mountains, dial 999, ask for the police and then for Mountain Rescue.”

Todays tip- Be careful ensure you have the proper kit with you and have the training to use crampons and ice axe.

Winter is a wonderful time but never forget that nature rules ensure you check the weather and avalanche reports. In winter the Scottish hills are winter mountaineering and not walking.

“Climb if you will, but remember that courage and strength are nought without prudence, and that a momentary negligence may destroy the happiness of a lifetime. Do nothing in haste; look well to each step; and from the beginning think what may be the end.”

Edward Whymper, Scrambles Amongst the Alps

The mountains in winter are beautiful but extremely serious enjoy the mountains and their beauty but be careful.

Winter advice.

Again it was a superb effort by all the volunteers of the Police, Mountain Rescue teams, SARDA and the helicopter crews. Most are unpaid volunteers who are mountaineers themselves and are out 365 days a year. We are so lucky to have such a great service in the UK and a history of free rescue . Please if you can donate to the Teams.

Posted in Equipment, Friends, Gear, Mountain rescue, mountain safety, Mountaineering, Scottish winter climbing., Views Mountaineering, Weather, Well being | Leave a comment

International woman’s day – thanks to Scottish Mountain Rescue for this article

Jan Miller

It’s really good to celebrate international Woman’s day yesterday. I was so pleased to see this piece on a good friend Jan Millar. I have known her for nearly 40 years and we met on many Mountain Rescues. In these days I was very impressed that SARDA had several women in their ranks. I have always been impressed by there dedication often working alone in the mountains. It’s lovely to Jan acknowledged and to see that she has inspired so many with her efforts. Thank you for all your work over the years.

⭐️International Women’s Day⭐️

Jan Millar of Lomond Mountain Rescue Team.

We would like to introduce some of our female team members, who share their experiences of joining and being part of a mountain rescue team in Scotland.

We asked Jan about being a team member of Lomond MRT.

I joined LMRT and SARDA at Easter 1987, so coming up for 35 years…

Spending long summer holidays on Arran growing up I was encouraged to explore the hills as long as I had the family dog with me. This love of being in the hills with a dog for a companion obviously left quite a mark. When I joined Lomond MRT I also started training my first search dog. I was in SARDA Southern, then SARDA Scotland for 24 years, having worked 3 full search dogs and as I started to train my 4th I reluctantly had to retire due to injury. Training, assessing and working my search dogs all over Scotland and the Lake District has given me fun times, exciting times, petrifying times and some upsetting times.

But what I treasure are the memories of 4 fantastic dogs, one, Skia, still with me, and the lifelong friendships I’ve made along the way.

The best bit about being in Mountain Rescue is spending time with a similar group of people working towards a common goal. Team Members are a group of diverse characters bonded together who enjoy mountaineering; helping others and working as part of a team. It’s hard to describe the humour and the teasing within the Team but it’s such a vital part of coping with some of the callouts we deal with and having that support around you makes the transition from a voluntary Team Member role back to real-life easier to do.

Instead of spending callouts out on the hill in all weathers I am now in the Search Control Vehicle helping to run callouts – warm and dry!!

The most memorable thing was my first callout – my first search dog qualified in October 1988 and on the 22nd December 1988 the call came to travel south to Lockerbie… a life changing event for us all.

To read Jan’s full story, click the link below:

ScottishMR #InternationalWomensDay

Thank you all for your dedication over the years.

Posted in Family, Mountain rescue, Mountaineering, Well being | Leave a comment

Looking after each other – “well being mental health awareness” The stronger some were the more the “Black Dog” can hit.

I never knew what the “Black Dog” was I heard the term used in the 70’s when I was young and thought I was invincible. The term is said to have originated with Winston Churchill, who was often quoted as referring to a “black dog” when he felt unmotivated, churlish, or otherwise unproductive. Depression is a hidden illness and effects many in so many ways. I have seen so many powerful folk real leaders struggle with their mental health.

As I get older I realise how important mental health is. I am glad things are being taken far more seriously nowadays. I know when I was I’ll a few years ago for me the main thing me was my mental health. I had had several bowel operations that knocked me out. No one could help as it was very private. I struggled but made a point of trying to get out daily. I am so lucky to be near the sea and forestry. That kept me going fresh air and space was what I needed. I had no garden which did not help. I had to remain strong as I could despite the constant pain. I also could not sleep which is common and ended up having naps in the day. This led to broken sleep patterns, no energy add to that living alone and I had to be near a toilet. It was a difficult time.

Sadly I have known a few incredible folk who have died in the mountaineering world through suicide. Some were carrying injuries and could not cope with the loss of things they love. A few cannot cope with getting old and not being the “top dog” any more. I was never a top dog and have learned to cope with age and the bodies aches and pains. Just to be out in the wild is what I need. I do not have to summit but just to see the places I love and walk away from the crowds is my medicine.

How can we help our pals who struggle ? Many were the strongest people in their field cope with their problems? This is so relevant today with the Ukraine crisis, COVID the cost of living can take you into a dark tunnel.

What helps me – I only watch the news once a day you can be dragged into this tragic world of non stop darkness. Yet there are so many doing good things that rarely get reported.

Get out into the fresh air daily as often as you can. Various medical problems may restrict but you still can get out.

Exercise – do what you can despite the limitations you will feel better.

Mental well being – if you pals are struggling do not ignore them. Try to chat and if COVID allows visit them. A few will retreat into their world and get very depressed. Company can be helpful so keep trying and listen.

I have to be careful myself and it’s easy to get down after trying to help. Be careful as we can only help so much. It’s hard to get professional help just now but appreciate what we have.

Photo – T Bradshaw

Families – I was at a “well being” conference last weekend run by Lifelines and Scottish Mountain Rescue. It was refreshing to see what is being down by organisations. It’s easy to talk about what you plan do improve your care. It’s another thing to do it. I think they are doing so well. I was impressed that families are being helped how to cope with husband, partners, wife’s and families dealing with “Well being”

Photo Scottish Mountain Rescue.


From Glen – I agree Heavy, but it is a very difficult task to care for anyone once they have left the system. Keeping in touch is essential, which is where facebook, reunions, hill meets come in. It is not just traumatic events, but the loss of comradeship, like the loss of a family that affects many. The adjustment to civilian life can be fraught with difficulty, leading to isolation, loneliness, and excessive alcohol consumption. We know so many great troops have gone this way. More emphasis pre-release and support schemes should be encouraged, such as veterans groups can provide.

I always say “ we spent our time in the Emergency Services looking and helping those we rarely knew”. Yet do we look after our people in times of need? Many years later when I have found that folk have left the Emergency Services still struggle with their demons as do their families?

Comments as always welcome ?

Lifelines – well worth a read.
Posted in Articles, Friends, Health, Mountaineering, PTSD, Well being | 2 Comments

Travel back via a Munro Sgaireach Mhòr and the Banff Film Festival in Inverness. Tired but happy.

I had a poor nights sleep just because my head was on fire after speaking at the Well – being weekend at Stirling. Sadly this is normal after talking about my experiences in dealing with Trauma. I had a discussion with a pal who is struggling 40 years after and incident. Yet I awoke to a magical day with a stunning sunrise. After breakfast and saying good by I was away and hoped to get a wander on the hills. This is my way of clearing my head. L

My hill.

Sgàirneach Mhòr is a very rounded mountain on the west side of the Drumochter Pass. Coire Creagach below its summit is its main feature.

I stopped just off the A9 in the busy car park. Time was moving it was 1100 and I had to be in Inverness for the Banff Film Festival at 1900. I sorted out my bag and headed into the sun to the Estate track that takes you to the bridge to cross the river.

A stunning day.

Three young ladies passed me on bikes and I felt very old. I met them as they had a break at the bridge. They were in running gear and ready for a great day out. I envied them as they pushed on up the frozen path. I took my time there was ice about and sat and had lunch at the Beleach. The views were stunning blue skies and sun all day. Yet here I was out in a place I love.

There were a few folk out many with dogs and lots of grouse. This is a shooting estate, the grouse were everywhere. Lots of food left for them on the butts and a rough tracks heavily eroded by tracked vechile so many in one area. I walked slowly on the ridge but marvelled at the views. In winter the Corries are full of snow and big cornices are everywhere. The snow was hard but did not need crampons if you took care.

Great views
The perfect Ridge.

My head was now clear nature and being out alone helps. Enjoying the scenery which today was stunning and seeing just a few folk was magic. I wished I was not on a time limit as I could have fallen asleep on this hill. Basking in the sun enjoying the heat despite my tiredness. I saw the girls in the distance going well but was happy at my age I still enjoy a wander. Often we swam in the pools on the walk out not today but one thing I must do again.

By the time I got to the top no one else was about I had some food took a few photos. Looked at familiar hills and headed down taking care as it was icy in places. A runner flashed by he had done the 4 Munro’s like I had many times in the past. Yet today was one to savour. I left a message that I was heading down (top tip) but

The summit .

It was a lovely wander down icy again and I was on time. I met the girls as I climbed up to the car. They were buzzing after there day. I had a quick change a lot of fluid to rehydrate. I headed up the A9 watching a setting sun. I had time for some food at Eden Court then a great night watching the Banff Film Festival at Eden Court. That was amazing the best I have ever seen.

Looking back.

I got home late just after 2300 tired but what a day. A quick bath body aching but mind refreshed again. The day was excellent and the Film night superb well worth a watch.

Todays tip – sunscreen is a must if the weather stays as it is.

If out alone tell Folk your route. Check in and out.

Posted in Family, Friends, Local area and events to see, Mountain rescue, mountain safety, Mountaineering, Munros, Music & Cinema, People, Views Mountaineering, Weather, Well being, Wildlife | Leave a comment

Off to do a talk on “Well – Being”. A extremely important subject for all the emergency services .

I am off to chat to some Emergency Agencies on Well – Being. I hope a few will take away some tips on dealing with a subject not often spoken about being part of being in an Emergency Service. In my early years it was never spoken about and it was a hard time for those who suffered as a result of their experiences.

It did not seem effect me till I had been in the RAF Mountain Rescue Teams for over 15 years. It was in 1988 after Lockerbie that my life changed. Hopefully few will ever have to deal with such an event. Many of my team were very young yet had and were coping with tragedy on Callouts.

There was a culture especially in the military at the time that we rarely spoke about struggling with our mental health. When I asked for some counselling I was told to “man up” by the authorities and even a few other Mountain Rescue leaders. Yet few of any had seen what we had experienced. I stuck to my guns did my career no good but pushed them to help.

We only spent 3 days in Lockerbie the Army and Police moved most of the casualties as it was a scene of crime. That was very hard to appreciate at the time. There were lots of Agencies involved some like SARDA were there for months many still struggle with what they saw and did.

I have written before on the huge effect on me, my family and others. I hope my chat in Stirling will help others and learn from our mistakes. It’s taken me so many years to come to terms with the effect on me. I think meeting so many relatives in the USA on A Cycle to Syracuse cycle event in 2018 helped me so much.

Mountain Rescue has now a “well being” officer. Yet there is so much to do in this field. We can only learn from others and deal with the unspoken part of being in a Rescue Agency.

Please remember it’s good to talk after an incident and each person deals with every incident differently. Yet some of my toughest Team members have struggled over the years. I am often contacted to ask for help from past Team members in dealing with their demons.

Many families get in touch wanting to visit where their loved ones passed away. Most years I take folk to that area. For many it’s taken years to come to terms with how they lost a family member. Yet most get great peace. I have to be careful for myself at times when visiting these places and have now got a system that helps me cope. Have you ?

I feel that at times we risk our lives to save others, put our lives in danger for folk we do not know. Yet do we look after our own folk if they struggle? That includes our families who without their support we would struggle.

#Comments welcome.

Top tip – if Trauma involved is in an incident keep the numbers involved in the recovery to a minimum “

Posted in Articles, Books, Family, Friends, Health, Lockerbie, Media, Mountaineering, People | 4 Comments

Every picture tells a story – Diran Pakistan.

A very near miss on Diran peak Pakistan.

When you see a big avalanche in the mountains it is a reminder of the power of nature. I had seen many in Scotland and was involved in many rescues. I had huge respect after being in two in Scotland. I was on the RAF MRT 50 th Anniversary Expedition to Pakistan in 1993. Pakistan is a wonderful country and our mountains was just over 7000 metres was impressive. Unfortunately it was very avalanche prone. We sat for days watching huge Avalanches pour of the nearby Rakaposki and Diran Peak. It was frightening. Hamish MacInnes had been on Rakaposhi climbed by Tom Patey and Mike Banks in 1958. He had warned us of the conditions. Most of us on Diran had been to the Himalayas before but this seemed very different. Out in the big mountains you have to watch the weather and make key decisions. There is no Avalanche Service out there.

We were trying two routes one up the North Face but it was so dangerous due to avalanches it was a waiting game it is never easy on a big mountain. The team were moving up to Advanced Basecamp and some were sleeping the night there getting used to the altitude. A huge big avalanche hit the camp just before nightfall. We were so lucky no one was killed and arrived back at Base Camp shocked. We were using the standard Advanced Base Camp site that was supposed to be a safe as it could be. How wrong we were!

Our peak Diran : Viewed from the Hunza Valley, Diran is a gentle pyramid and is considered to be the second easiest 7000m peak in the Karakoram after Spantik, although it has a reputation for avalanches. The Karakoram Highway runs up the Hunza Valley and gives easy access to the mountain. This 7,266-metre (23,839 ft) pyramid shaped mountain lies to the east of Rakaposhi (7,788m) lies to south of bilshar dubani (6,143m)

According to a local expedition organiser, Raja Abbas, Diran is dubbed as the “killer peak”, as at least 40 mountaineers have died so far attempting to scale it. “The high number of casualties is due to frequent avalanches on Diran,” said Abbas, who has named his hotel in Nagar Valley after the peak.

It was interesting looking back on our trip to Pakistan in 1993 and though successful it was a close run thing. We learned so much, I had been to Nepal in 1990 on a small expedition of 6 pals on a very difficult peak but this was very different. We had a big group of 30 as it was the 50 th Anniversary of the RAF Mountain Rescue Service. We planned to give as many as possible a taste of the Himalayas and took many novices mostly on the Trekking party 15 went on that, led by Danny Daniels one of the troops. They had no porters and had a wild 3 weeks in remote mountain country. The rest of us were on 2 routes on Diran just under 24000 feet a big mountain in wild area of Pakistan. We had no porters after Base Camp just our Sirdar Javed and a cook assistant.

Pakistan is a different place nowadays with the rise of terrorism and the huge changes going on in the World. The travel and arrival in and through Pakistan was a tale on its own but it all went smoothly Javed our Sirdar ensured it all went as well as it could. We went and bought local food for the trip in the markets and myself and Javed built a friendship and trust that was to last the whole 5 weeks of our trip. He was a devout Muslim and prayed regularly and as I had worked in the Gulf in the early 70’s he was surprised I had learnt a bit about his religion, he was a incredible man.

Jabed on my right.

It was a very tricky expedition and the mountain was constantly swept by avalanches but we managed to get three to the summit and more importantly back safely. Dan Carrol, Carl Vander Lee and Guy all summited in poor weather.Sadly after 3 of our group summited

Base camp

After the near miss of the avalanche most of us were very wary and despite this a group of 6 tried for the summit. There camp high up the North Face was not there having been lost in an avalanche and they continued onto the ridge. Where they bivied in snow graves. The summit was hard won on Diran and the descent very tricky in all this was a dangerous mountain and though a success. Unfortunately two Spanish climbers who followed the route up never made it down and were caught out by the weather, avalanches and altitude.

This was a big learning curb for us all and Dan Carrol went on in later years to summit on Everest in 2001 with our RAF Mountain Rescue Expedition to the North Ridge.

The North Face route

Diran Tragedy, 1993.

On page 262 of AAJ, 1993,

There is a reference was made to the death of Spaniards Francesc Xavier Socias and José Carlos Mármol from Mallorca on Diran. The pair was at Camp II on the normal north-face, west-ridge route at 6100 meters on the evening of July 31, 1993 when a severe storm struck with heavy snow and high winds. Gabriel Ordinas and Antoni Pons were at Camp I, hoping to move up the next day. When these finally were able to ascend, they found no trace of Camp II and their companions, who must have either been swept away by an avalanche or buried in the deep new snow.  Sadly our summit team had met them as they descended. We were powerless to help as the mountain was just swept by avalanches all the time. We called in a helicopter but it was too high for it to operate at 20000 feet.

We all felt very helpless. Comments welcome.

Posted in Avalanche info, mountain safety, Mountaineering, Views Mountaineering, Weather, Well being | Leave a comment


The weather battered old Guides. I always wrote in them great memories.

Most of us that climb have seen poor belays this was on Skye on a great route called Cioch Grooves HVS 5a. It is a 2 star 500 foot route on the wonderful Sron Na Ciche . This climb was first done in 1951 by I. G.MacN Davis and G.H.Francis. I have always loved this cliff it was a favourite of mine. One day in 1986 my pal Al MacLeod took a big fall on the top pitch a manky peg stopped a disaster. I was as always well belayed thank God though the gear then was not as good as it is now. He still went up again and completed the route. That day was the same day we Climbed Bastanardo, E1, Crembo Cracks and Cioch Grooves !

Years later I was on Cioch Direct and saw this belay. Should I say something?

I did and the climber was glad as the sling had moved when he sat down. It was his only belay. It’s a Difficult situation to be in but I had seen so many accidents on climbs where belays were poor.

Scary belay on Cioch Groves.

How the climbs were described in the old guides and often the grades rising. Cioch Groves was VS now a HVS, Crembo Cracks was Severe now HVS no wonder I was scared.

The Skye The Cullin (SMC) guidebook is a guide covering the the crags across the Cullin Hills of Skye.

Skye Guide

The first edition of two definitive guide books to the island, the Skye The Cullin (SMC) guide is packed with classics and obscurities alike, on both single and multi pitch crags, and, of course, covers in detail the famous Cullin Ridge Traverse. It is also packed from cover to cover with great photos, good maps and loads of general interest info. A must have guide for those intending or even aspiring to climb in the area. 

The guide covers: Glen Sligachan and Harta Corrie, Northern Cuillin, Coire na Creiche, Coire a’ Ghreadaidh, Coire na Banachdaich and Inaccessible Pinnacle, Coire Lagan, Coire a’ Ghrunnda and Coire nan Laogh, Coriusk Basin, Blaven and Clach Glas, Black Cuillin Outliers and Red Cuillin, Cuillin Ridge Traverses.


  • Author: Mike Lates

You have to climb on Skye it’s wonderful gabbro but beware of loose rock especially after the winter.

Comments welcome !

Posted in Books, Friends, Gear, mountain safety, Mountaineering, Recomended books and Guides, Rock Climbing, Views Mountaineering, Weather, Well being | Leave a comment

Losing weight on an expedition.

1990 – End of a hard trip .

I found losing weight on an expedition very easy. On our early walks across Scotland we could only eat what we could carry. There was little thought of nutrition in these days. Out hill food was porridge, snacks for the hill mainly chocolate and evening meal packet soup and tinned meat. There were few packet meals made for the outdoors then and they were expensive. After a 3 week trip I would lose at least a stone in weight and that’s when I was skinny. We were lucky in a way that ration packs were not bad and if you took out the bits you did not like they were great at the time. Nowadays they are very good and a lot more varied in menus.

Beinn Attow 1972

Eric Langmuir book Mountain Leadership had a big piece on calories I do not remember much except the calories used on a big hill day was increased to about 4000 plus.

Calories and the hills

Is there a simple chart for calories use on a hill day that gives height climbed, weight carried, wind speed, terrain covered ( deep snow, rough ground etc)?

“The number of calories burned hiking depends in part on your body weight. In general, a 160-lb person burns between 430 and 440 calories per hour of hiking. A 200-lb person burns approximately 550 calories per hour of hiking. The more you weigh, the more calories you burn in an hour of hiking.

Backpacker Magazine suggests a calorie estimate based on body weight and the general intensity of the day’s activity. For a strenuous day of backpacking with a “heavy” pack (no weight range specified), they suggest 25 to 30 calories per pound of body weight. Using my 185-pound self as a proxy, that’s 4,625 to 5,550 calories.

As you’ll notice, estimates vary pretty markedly. For the criteria I used (185-pound person backpacking for eight hours with a moderate to heavy load), estimates  range from roughly 4,600 calories to more than 6,300 calories.”

Anyway over the years I have got far more interested in food and most of the expeditions I was lucky to be on I planned the food like on Everest in 2001 in Tibet. A three month trip where the food was vital part of a successful expedition.

I never took a lot of interest in the hill food but always ensured I ate a good breakfast of porridge and had lots of snacks for the hill, oatcakes, cheese, nuts, sandwiches, fruit bananas, sweets and in the old days even more chocolate. I took things like treats for the hard days, call out sweets and plenty of water and a hot flask in winter.

There were no things like Gels which I hate but carry a couple and have used them to help folk struggling. It’s awful to see the gel sachets lying about on the hill. I also carry a sports drink as a boost. Yet I have been told that Iron Bru does the same job?

Food of the Gods

I rehydrate when I get down plenty of fluid in the car on the way home. Eat a little and often I carry sandwiches cheese honey and jam. Plus a banana or two is great. Flapjacks Locally made and other things like fruit loaf are superb. Soup is also good for getting the salts and minerals back into your body a thing we always did with the team. I have a good meal the night before pasta loading and a solid breakfast I still love porridge and fruit in the morning and a lot of fluid. A lot of folk swear by protein shakes etc it’s up to you.

2001 Everest Tibet. Guess who forgot the pasta !

Long gone are the pints of Guinness, chocolate, self heating soup and Kendal Mint Cake.

Comments welcome

Posted in Books, Expeditions - Alaska - Himalayas etc, Hill running and huge days!, mountain safety, Mountaineering, Well being | 1 Comment

Sad days for Ukraine. Please take a few minutes to think of them.

I daily hear folk moaning about the cost of fuel food and many other things . Yet there are no bombs dropping on our homes. The news abroad is awful with a full scale war going on in Ukraine. I have met many Russians and Ukrainians mainly climbers all over the World. They always seemed great folk, very hardy like us and and when you look at their history no wonder. I had many discussions in Tibet with the Russian and Ukrainian climbers and once you get their trust and respect they became good friends. They were all so glad the Cold War was over this was (2001) and we were United by a love of mountains. There was a tragedy on the mountain and I was asked by them to liaise with the American group who had saved one of their members high on the mountain. We all worked together that day I wish this would happen now.

It is tragic that in 2022 we still have wars started by politicians who will never have to fight. Sadly Britain is involved heavily with all the property bought by Oligarch’s in London and all over UK. Sadly many of our politicians turn a blind eye to what is going on and to me it’s based on greed and turning a blind eye.

These are my thoughts just now I find it difficult we live in a very strange world? Some Politicians lie all the time, rarely accept blame and many have no morale compass. I hope many look at what they helped happen but doubt it will effect them?

What an example to future generations we leave? I hope they learn from our mistakes and produce good people who become leaders and can in the future make this a better place to live in.

My thoughts are with those in Ukraine and to many of the Russians who have no choice and have to fight (many are conscripts) . My only hope that the Russian public will be allowed somehow to stop this tragedy and those behind it are brought to justice.

Not the usual blog today: but as always comments welcome.

Tibet Everest 2001 with our Russian and Ukraine visitors all together. In the Shed a place of peace!
Posted in Expeditions - Alaska - Himalayas etc, Views Political?, Well being | Leave a comment

Crampons – some thoughts.

My first time in crampons was in Feb 1972 it was on a remote Munro from Iron Lodge near Kintail. Mullach na Dheregain . I was with another team member from Kinloss he was supposed to be looking after me . He hardly spoke all day.

Just of the wagon we had to wear crampons early on the icy path then for most of the day. He never gave me any instruction or help. The Crampons were far to big for my “Curly boots” . In these days crampons were fitted to your boots by workshops who heated and bent them to fit. Many broke due to metal fatigue mostly on the hill. They were held together by huge straps that you were told not to cut to your boot size. In all most relied on cutting steps rather than the crampons. In a few months I bought my own boots and crampons and looked after them. They still took time to put on and off and many lessons were learned over the early years.

My first Munro in crampons Mullach na Dheragain. Big remote hill.
Issued crampons ! Some great routes done on them though.

2022 – My crampons broke at the weekend at the heel. Top tip : I noticed when I got home and checked them out when I was drying them? There was a crack in the heel. I had them for over 10 years they are Grivels I am looking for some advice on what to purchase next.

I would like a strong but light crampon that fits on a solid winter boot. I only winter climb a couple of times a year now up to grade 3/4. Yet get out a fair bit in winter and use them a lot on mixed ground and even frozen grass.

An Teallach mixed ground

Frozen grass can be deadly and rough on your crampons how many folk have used them on steep grass.

Ned on frozen grass on Suilven

A few mates are advising the Petzl Vasak is one idea? Which model do you have ?

Crampons – It’s amazing how many carry crampons but rarely use them? Many think there is to much faffing when putting of and on. Yet I found that the more you do it the easier it becomes. That was proved this weekend as on the Saturday we took them off and on three times and each time the group got more proficient.

Crampons can take a battering at times – Kenny on Hidden Chimney thin conditions.

My trusty Grivels crampons seen years of abuse! I loved them though.

Torridon – on the rocks Beinn Alligin.

Top Til – It is worth practising putting crampons on in a non hostile environment. My dog was asleep after we helped this lad.

A slow process that should be practiced before hitting bad weather!

There have been so many improvements over the years and crampons are so easy to put on and off. Top tips: carry them in a crampon bag to save tearing your kit.

Footfangs early 80,s bought for Canada ice by my old mate TomMacDonald RIP.

Salewa Adjustable Crampons- Scottish Mountain Heritage Collection.

Salewa adjustable crampons the first pair I bought.

Info “German mountaineer, Herman Huber, created the first commercially produced adjustable crampon, in conjunction with Salewa, in 1961/62. He wanted a pair of crampons that he could easily adjust to fit both his climbing and ski mountaineering boots. Prior to this, crampons needed to be adjusted by heating and bending in a blacksmith’s forge and there was no connection between the front points, which was rather un-nerving as the steeper ice faces began to be conquered.
Salewa were makers of leather goods – their name taken from Sattler und leder Waren (Saddler and Leather Goods), but were quick to see the commercial potential of the adjustable crampon so invested heavily in the metalwork side of things.
Blacks of Greenock and the Graham Tiso outdoor shop in Edinburgh were the first UK importers of the new Salewa adjustable crampon in the 1960’s.
The pair we have here in the collection belonged to Mick Tighe’s Mountain Guiding Company, Nevis Guides. Mick well remembers hours of crampon adjusting on the arrival of a new bunch of clients and mountain guides in the 1970’s were part time mechanics since the bar that joined front and back sections of the crampon was forever breaking – usually half way up a climb in the freezing cold.
You’ll find much earlier and later versions of crampons elsewhere in our collection, also the toolbox that was used to adjust and repair them in the 1980’s.”Scottish Mountain Heritage Collection.

Crampons – Donated by Mick Tighe

These incredible crampons were a nightmare to put together but great crampons – Chounaird Rigid.

Chounaird Rigid Crampons.

Yvon Chouinard started climbing very young 13 when he was interested in falconry, this led to him to climbing. To save money, he decided to make his own climbing tools, teaching himself blacksmithing, and eventually started a business. In the late 1960s, Chouinard and business partner Tom Frost began studying ice climbing equipment, and re-invented the basic tools (crampons and ice axes) to perform on steeper ice. The Chouinard/ Frost ice was an incredible ice tool, then came the Zero the one that I enjoyed using. Many will remember the re assuring thud when an axe was placed in good ice or neve. I used them for many years and what a magic axe and hammer. We used them in a very early trip to Canada ice in 1984 – what a great trip, what a great tool for its time.

What crampons do you advise ? Comments welcome .


The Scottish Mountain Heritage Collection (SMHC) is a unique assortment of mountain memorabilia from Scotland and around the world, which has been cobbled together here on our website in what we hope is a legible and enjoyable format. The site is a living thing as we continue to update, improve and add new acquisitions. So, please take a tour around our virtual museum and let us know if you have any ideas, new information, or indeed any donations.

Comments – A Jeff – the Grivel 12s are a good all rounder. Petzl are well worth considering as well as they can be lighter and better fitting for some boots.

R. Bale – MIC For classic mountaineering, look no further than the VASAK crampons! With 12 points, they provide good stability and bite on terrain ranging from glaciers to snow couloirs. They’re available in two different binding systems to adapt to different boot types, with or without toe and heel welts.

Brent – I have a few pairs for different purposes and different boots C1, C2 & C3. I haven’t climbed for a while so unless I am wearing my stiff winter boots I tend to take my C1 Kahtool crampons when I am out. Over many years I have found a invaluable, they have baskets for the toe area and strap on to the rear a little like old style crampons. They have a flexible bar and will fit all types of boots. Not particularly recommended but I have worn them on lightweight 2 season boots. They are best for general walking but I have used them in gullies and on steeper ridges when the occasion arose. I highly recommend them, just bought Dianne Watters-Craig a pair.

Adele – The only thing I would add here as non crampon expert, is that when I bought my Grivel G12s they came with two sets of the adjustable middle bar things – a very strong hard one, and a more flexi one. I really like being able to use the slightly more flexible one with my boots that are between B1 and B2, and then the stiff one with my proper B2s.

Posted in Articles, Friends, Gear, Ice climbing Canada, Mountain rescue, mountain safety, Mountaineering, Munros, Scottish winter climbing., Views Mountaineering | 5 Comments

Chasing the Moon on Beinn Dearg.

It was December 1996 and the RAF Kinloss MRT had been staying at Ullapool Youth Hostel for the weekend. There had been heavy snow for a few days. Any plans for getting in an early winter climb were abandoned.

Emerald Gully first ascent Grade 4 by P.Nunn, A Ridley and B.Fuller April 1970 – 3 hour walk in from road. It’s a classic climb.

Beinn Dearg has some classic lines including the Cold climbs Route Emerald Gully a classic ice route. I had in the past done it in the past. We also a few years before climbed some new climbs in Glen Squaib but in these days we never reported them.

Beinn Dearg

We planned to do a circuit of the three Munro’s maybe just two due to the weather, taking into short daylight and the heavy snow with more forecast. We had plenty of leaders out so it was a going to be a good day as my mate Dan Carrol was coming. He was wanting a look at the climbs on Beinn Dearg. Now Dan is a great mountaineer not long back from a successful ascent of an 8000 metre peak. It would be a fun day. This is from my diary.

“I had one really hard day in winter a few years ago in deep snow. We had broken a trail leaving the path for Beinn Dearg. It was one early winters day in Dec doing at one point 1 kilometre an hour. I was with Dan Carrol who later summited Everest. We had been followed at a distance by a solo climber. He kept his distance and we broke the path in. We managed one Munro and that was enough for the day yet we came off the hill by head torch. We never saw our friend who was following us on the way off? It was very hard work coming of the hill the deep snow was everywhere. I was glad to be back at the land rover and the short drive to Ullapool.

On getting back to Ullapool fairly tired we were having some soup . We got a call to help Dundonnell MRT as a climber was struggling in the Beinn Dearg area. We were pretty tired but the weather was good and we drove to start of the forestry track. We were dreading an all night search and our area to search was up again to the Beleach of Beinn Dearg. The weather cleared and the helicopter from Stornaway was sent to search. We stopped regularly as we were very tired. Our previous footprints were gone and it was hellish hard. We were scanning the hills looking for torchlight. I saw something high and bright a small dot on the ridge. It must be him we got hold of the helicopter by radio and gave him a a bearing and a rough location.

The wind was gone and then I saw the light getting bigger and bigger it was the moon sneaking over the ridge .

The Beleach where I saw the moon.

The helicopter called and said “ the light you are seeing is the moon and sadly we do not have the fuel to go there.” I felt a right plonker as the Glen was now floodlight by the moon.

This was all we needed as we prepared for a long night on the hill. An hour later the missing Walker was located tired and a bit lost and 3 kilometres from our location but okay and flown back to Rescue control. He had underestimated the snow depth and got caught by the weather.

I lived with my “Moon Rescue” for a few years. We got back in time to Ullapool for a late pint and our dried up dinner.

Todays tip; Timings : It easy to underestimate your hill time in deep snow. It takes so long even though we had snow shoes on it was extremely hard work.

It all ended well but every time I see the moon appear on on the hill my memory goes back to that day in 1996.

The famine wall on Beinn Dearg a place of history.

From another winter journey on my own:

I followed the “Famine Wall” on to near the summit and then all the way along the ridge. Its a huge feature that few know of its history and why it was built. It was built in the time of the Potato Famine in the 1840’s its a story of tragedy and” Man’s inhumanity to man” Yet its good to know some of the stories of these majestic places and the cost in emigration to our small country. How many died making these walls and roads we will never know but the Walls and roads are there as a reminder. So please when you visit these places please pass on these stories?

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

Winter Skills – Day 2 Cairngorms a complete change in weather.

It was a bit hard getting the body going yesterday. Up for a good breakfast “porridge” and head for the Cairngorms. I had to be there for 0900 so I left early top tip as I was unsure of the roads.

The roads were fine a bit slushy in places with a lot of water there was a big thaw on. The road to the Ski area did not open so I joined a big load of cars waiting. I could see the hills and a lot of snow had gone.

I hate to say I dislike the ski area in winter it’s so busy and was full of folk. Yet most were out making the most of the day I must appreciate that to many others this is a wild place. We met the group of 12 in the cafe where we got together and worked out what was the plan. We checked the weather and Avalanche reports and split into two groups. It was wild in the car park and our group of 6 decided to walk into the Coire of the snows. The day was as always worked round the weather. So we followed the groups into Coire an – t Sneachda.

The thaw was in full force with the path very wet but we had planned a shorter day today. I was a bit wary after my tweak of my knee and hip so we wandered in slowly. We stopped often checking the map and talking about the weather and avalanche hazards. There were so many groups walking in and from what I could see was the spindrift and thaw would make the snow like cement.

A busy path

It was showery and blustery the higher into the Coire we went. We stopped and did some snow shelters and had a brew inside our bothy bag all 6 of us and great to be out of the wind. Top tip a bothy bag it is so light and could save your life.

Inside the bothy bag.

It was one of these days where you had to get careful with your gear.

A map is no use in your bag have it handy along with your compass and watch ? How many rely on their phone ?

Gloves – so easy to blow away don’t put them down on the snow or there gone. Get used to working with gloves.

Goggles – so important in winter as without them in blasting snow and spindrift.

Crampons and axes are spiky and sharp be careful with them and in group be aware of there on your bag. If you are to close to the next person you could do them an injury.

At each stop check the group and ensure all are coping with the weather ? If you need to sort kit out stop and do it.

Winter shelter ?

Get your gear on early. As the weather worsens it gets harder to see how the group are coping. Group dynamics should mean you look after each other. That includes the leader, help them by checking all navigation!


We did a fair amount despite the weather lots were coming out after getting into the Coire to windy and a lot of spindrift later on. The forecast said this would occur so we headed down about 1400. It was snowy and gusty but we wandered off back to the busy carpark.

We said goodbye one of the club came all the way from Orkney for the winter skills. A great effort by Alaister and Sandy who gave time.

It was a great turn out from our wee club and I feel an introduction to winter. Top tip – No matter how experienced you are a refresher every year on winter skills is essential.

Spindrift on the tops.

So please keep up these new skills and get out and enjoy the mountains in winter. Sort your kit out dry it check crampons etc.

Keep checking the weather and Avalanche reports and maybe have a look at courses to improve your knowledge .

In the mountains you never stop learning and seeing the beauty of winter that nature changes every few hours.

Feeling tired good knows how I would do 15 days of a winter course on the past. My body is a bit sore but the mind is buzzing. To see people happy on the hills brings me great joy! Thank you all especially Alaister for all his great work moving through club forward in a difficult period during COVID.

Posted in Avalanche info, Mountain rescue, mountain safety, Mountaineering, Munros, Views Mountaineering, Weather, Well being | 2 Comments

A few thoughts on the Walk Highlands article by David Lintern.

I was very happy to see this article published after my interview last week with David Lintren. It cane out the same day as an interview podcast with the author John Burns. I hope I do not come across as “blowing my own trumpet” but I was just try to pass on my experiences to others.

I thought I was finished with speaking to the media but as the winter rolls on I thought it would be worth passing on a few thoughts. Please do not think I am chasing publicity but as my friends in Lochaber Mountain Rescue Team and other teams have had a busy few days I feel it’s worth getting the message out on looking after yourself and others on the hills.

Looking back it’s so hard despite the state of the World to see what all the Rescue Agencies give. The effect on family life families worry about you when out on Rescues. It took me years to realise that as I chased my dreams on mountains. Yet over the years in all Rescue Agencies I have met so many good folk. Most are unassuming and just want to help their fellow man or woman in the mountains and wild places if they get into trouble. It’s the same with the Coastguards, Lifeboat crews, helicopter crews, Police SARDA and so many others. We are surrounded by great unassuming people they rarely get in the news or seek publicity. Politicians and others could learn from what they give mostly unpaid and unreported.

Walk Highlands is a superb resource used by many walkers and mountaineers. It is free and relies on donations and advertising to keep going. Both my chats we’re at no cost to them . I feel I have had so much from the mountains and wild places if I can give something back for all I have gained through nature that is reward indeed. Sometimes folk find this strange but look at the time the unpaid volunteers put in to help others.

As the winter storms come and go many are “champing at the bit”to get out in the hills. Be careful not just on the hill but the drive there. Think if it goes wrong someone will have to come and get you. They have family, friends and loved ones waiting at home. They will rarely say they worry but trust me they do.

I have met so many great folk through the mountains and wild places. Bonds that are made in a wild day or Rescue remain with you for ever. I am so lucky to know Scotland remoter areas so well and its people. I have lost a lot of pals to the mountains many taken so young when we thought we were invincible.

We take things like “The Right to roam” in Scotland for granted a wonderful access to the wild places. This was hard fought for and must be respected by all. We must look after our environment and learn from past mistakes. This will ensure future generations have what we enjoy. The Mountain Bothies are unique in UK we must support there work and those wonderful men and women who maintain them and liaise with the landowners to use them. These are tricky times with lots going on and it’s easy to ignore in a mad world but to me this is our heritage for future generations. We have been so privileged.

Yet the joy of seeing folk out on the hills or climbing well gives me great joy. Thank you all. Stay safe and David thank you for putting my ramblings to words. It’s appreciated.

Posted in Articles, Enviroment, Equipment, Mountain rescue, mountain safety, Mountaineering, People, PTSD, Recomended books and Guides, Views Mountaineering, Views Political?, Weather, Well being | 6 Comments

Lochnagar area aircraft crashes – Firefly aircraft crash and Canberra crash on Carn an – t Sagairt Mor.

This old press cutting sent to me by a pal Dave W Earl a few years aginand is a grand tribute to the RAF Kinloss Mountain Rescue Team Leader Don Siddons. I would imagine it was printed in the Press and Journal a year after the incident when a Firefly aircraft crashed near Lochnagar in 1950. The award of a B.E.M (British Empire Medal) was a great tribute to Don and the team. As he states “this is a great honour not just to him but to the team”


Meikle Pap Lochnagar

Firefly crash site.

Fairey Firefly crash. Z2108. 766 Sqn –RNAS Lossiemouth. 2 fatalities – Big Search.

The aircraft was a a Firefly belonging to 766 Naval Squadron Naval Air Station. It operated from HMS Fulmar RNAS Lossiemouth.

The aircraft was on a training flight from its base when it flew into bad weather and crashed into the upper slopes of Cuidhe Crom, Lochnagar, killing both airmen.

If you look what Don is wearing this is how the team was kitted out in these days.

The wreckage was discovered two days later by RAF Kinloss MRT. The two airmen who died in this accident were:

• Lt Adrian A Dowell

• Lt Reginald M Osborne 

The hills a great day out .

There is still wreckage about of this aircraft with the Yellow paint that makes it easily seen if you are in the area. I visited it often with the RAF Kinloss Mountain Rescue Team whilst training in the area, this is what our job was in the RAF Mountain Rescue and aircraft incidents was a big part as I found out over the years.

In these early day the team had very simple gear all ex War Department and there were few locals apart from the Keepers estate workers and locals who would have helped in these early days. I have been told that my old pal Mr Robertson the keeper at Lochnagar was part of the party that located this aircraft. By all accounts it was a hard search and took several days to locate the aircraft.

The second site I visited is perhaps one of the most spectacular air wreck site in the Scottish mountains. An RAF Canberra jet crashed on the summit of Carn an t-Sagairt Mor in 1956, Killing both crew and a very large amount of the wreckage still lies scattered around the summit area. The debris field covers an area of about 600m by 600m, centred on the flat 1047m summit of Carn an t-Sagairt Mor, with large pieces to the north, west and east of the summit, some lying in boulder fields away from the main walking paths, down to an altitude of about 960m. It used to make an interesting navigation exercise during the hill day for the RAF mrt team members This is From the Site Air Crash Sites Scotland

On the way, you should encounter some scattered plane wreckage, including a large section of wing. These pieces are the remains of a Canberra jet that crashed into the hill in 1956 (more info A good amount of the remains of all three of the Canberra’s main wheels are still at the site, including one that is standing upright and in excellent condition – this is perhaps one of the most unusual pieces of air wreckage of all the crash sites in the Scottish mountains. Remains of parts of the Canberra’s Rolls-Royce Avon jet engines and wings are still visible as well.”

A very early use of the helicopter on the Canberra crash

RAF Kinloss Archives


Carn an t Sagairt Mor44/208844

Search for a missing Canberra aircraft and the recovery of 2 Crew.

The Canberra crash site.

One Of Ray Sunshine’s Seftons first call out. Locals & RAF Leuchars RAF Kinloss on call out . Crew recovered with assistance of a RAF Sycamore Helicopter! Early Rescue/ Recovery in the mountain by Helicopter !

The crew of the Canberra- Flying Officer A.A. Redman (Pilot), with Flying Officer A.A. Mansell (Navigator), of No.35 Squadron was detailed to fly Canberra B.2 WJ615 on an authorised 3 hours night sortie.

If you visit these crash sites please pay respect as people died here. I always have a few minutes when I visit and tell the stories.

It should of course be noted that removing pieces of wreckage from any of these sites without good reason (e.g. as trophies or souvenirs) is a deeply irresponsible thing to do – and it could be illegal. The Protection of Military Remains Act 1986 forbids tampering with military wreckage (although this act seems primarily designed for maritime wrecks). These sites are also almost certainly ‘cultural heritage’ sites described in the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003, which explicitly states that removal of objects from these sites is forbidden.

It should also be noted that there is always the chance that live ammunition, personal artefacts and possibly even human remains may still be found at some of these sites, even after many years. They are in effect important archaeological and historical sites and act also as war graves and memorials. Souvenir hunting, graffiti and moving items should not be done by visitors to these sites (although unfortunately this is common).

Date:22-NOV-1956Time:19:31 UTCType:Silhouette image of generic CNBR model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different

English Electric Canberra B.2Owner/operator:35 (Madras Presidency) Squadron Royal Air Force (35 (Madras Presidency) Sqn RAF)Registration:WJ615MSN:HP182BFatalities:Fatalities: 2 / Occupants: 2Other fatalities:0Aircraft damage:Written off (damaged beyond repair)Location:Saggairt Mor, 6 miles SE of Braemar, Aberdeenshire, Scotland – United KingdomPhase:En routeNature:MilitaryDeparture airport:RAF Upwood, CambridgeshireDestination airport:RAF Kinloss, Moray Firth, ScotlandNarrative:
Registration: WJ615
Operator: Royal Air Force: (35 Squadron)
Accident Date: 22 Nov 1956
Accident Site: Carn an t-Sagairt Mòr (1,047m/3,430ft) 6 miles South East of Braemar, Aberdeenshire

Aircraft Accident Details 

This particular Canberra was attached to No.35 Squadron RAF. (No.50 Squadron also had been equipped with Canberras, but theirs had been replaced with Avro Vulcan bombers 10 months prior to this accident.) 

Flying Officer A.A. Redman (Pilot), with Flying Officer A.A. Mansell (Navigator), of No.35 Squadron was detailed to fly Canberra B.2 WJ615 on an authorised 3 hours night sortie. 

At 18:02 (Zulu) hours the aircraft took off from RAF Upwood (Cambridgeshire, England), received clearance and departed for Kinloss (Scotland) Weather conditions for the entire trip were good. 

At 19.00 hours the aircraft made R/T contact with Kinloss, after which a normal QGH1 from 25,000ft followed by a visual circuit and overshoot of runway 26 was carried out. 

At 19.21 hours the aircraft was seen to climb away from an overshoot height of approximately 300ft by Kinloss Air Traffic Control who passed two regional pressure settings. Flying Officer Redman replied “Thank You. Good Night.” This was the last transmission heard from the aircraft. 

The aircraft was seen to climb away for its return to Upwood. At about 19.30 hours (approximately) witnesses from near Braemar heard a jet aircraft pass at an unusually low altitude for that area. One witness saw what must have been the tail navigation light, and the outline of the aircraft as it passed flying south, with the engines sounding normal and on a straight course. A few minutes later the witness saw a flash as it struck the hills [Carn an t-Sagair Mòr]. It was a clear night with a small amount of scattered cloud. 

About 30 civilian volunteers, guided by Police and Queen’s gamekeepers, and two RAF Service Mountain Rescue Teams (Leuchars 10 men and Kinloss 22 men) and a helicopter were engaged in the search for the wreckage. At 03.30 hours (23 November 1956) three search parties from [the] Danzig Shiel (OS 50/201905) were sent out in a SE direction. Party ‘B’ was just approaching the wreckage when the helicopter sighted it at 08.40 hours. 

Struck off charge 7/11/1956 as Cat.5(c). Officially, the wreckage was recovered to 63 MU RAF Edzell for accident investigation, component recovery, and scrapping. However, substantial pieces of wreckage – including at least one wing and one engine – still remain at the crash site 

The subsequent Court of Inquiry was unable to determine the cause of the accident
1. Halley, James (1999) Broken Wings – Post-War Royal Air Force Accidents Tunbridge Wells: Air-Britain (Historians) Ltd. p.184 ISBN 0-85130-290-4.
2. Royal Air Force Aircraft WA100-WZ999 (James J Halley, Air Britain, 1983 p 61)
3. National Archives (PRO Kew) File BT233/373:

4. National Archives (PRO Kew) File AVIA 5/35/S2853:

Posted in Aircraft incidents, Mountaineering, Munros, Recomended books and Guides, Well being | Leave a comment

Great kit ? Pacerpoles What’s yours?

I have used walking poles since the mid 80’ s my knees were knackered then. I have had two operations on my knees but poles have really helped lessen the impact. At first I used one but in the end the best way forward is two poles. Over the years I have bought many types but broken so many with my rough handling. I climbed a lot and collapsible ones were the way forward as the could be put away in your bag! It was on scree that I broke a lot or Boulder fields whilst searching but they were so necessary for my walking I found them indispensable.

Poles in use !

I just lost my pacerpoles they were a present and lasted me nearly two years I break poles so easy being “Heavy Handed” I hope whoever found them in the car park at Cobbs cafe Glenmore enjoys them. I was doing a chat for free hopefully that will give a bit of information on staying safe in the wild places. Anyway new pair ordered now. I found them superb for walking and robust for my rough treatment. Made in the Lakes !

CAMERON McNEISH: “A truly innovative design which will I am convinced change the fundamental thinking on how we use poles to aid us when walking or trekking.” CHRIS BONINGTON: “Pacerpoles are excellent and I will certainly be using them as my poles in the future.” GRAHAM HOPKINS: “I through-hiked the Pacific Crest Trail with a pair of Pacerpoles from Canada to Mexico, a distance of about 2658 miles. I loved the poles. They gave great power on the up-hill climbs, and good control on the descent, the largest of which was 7,000ft. I truly have to commend you for a great creation.”

Poles – top tip check round car at end of day for kit you may leave.

Know when to put poles away on steep ground ? You cannot stop a slip with. Walking pole!!!

Poles are great when carrying a big bag.

Dry your poles out wipe them down after every use.

On Arran with my pacerpoles.

Posted in Equipment, mountain safety, Mountaineering | 2 Comments

What’s your favourite winter route in Coire AN T – Sneachda ?

The Coire of the snows is one of the busiest places to winter climb. It has easy access from the Cairngorm Ski car park. For over 30 years I climbed here and even managed a wee route last year the Runnel . In my early days it was a place of interesting gullies and nowadays it’s a great mixed route venue. On our annual winter course a week was spent here. On my first winter course as a pupil I did 6 routes in a day. Up Red Gully – down Alladins couloir, up Spiral Gully – down Central Gully, up the Runnel – down Alladins Couloir. A grand day out.

Yet this Coire as all do carries dangers. In heavy snow the gullies can be very avalanche prone. I have done many rescues here. There is a Rescue box on the Coire. Also the descent by the Goat track in hard neve can be unforgiving there have been many accidents here. Navigation is key getting of the plateau many have “wandered off into the void” here. Others have made huge navigation errors including me here. Getting up the route is only part of the journey.

Hidden Chimney
Hidden chimney

Many other days followed great routes like The Mirror Direct my first short ice route. Pygmy ridge and Fingers ridge always provided a good day.

Others include Patey’s route, the original summer Route, Flutted Buttress, Goat Track.

Then the Mess of Pottage opened up with the Haston Line, The Opening Break and Hidden Chimney with lots of harder routes like The Message, No More Blue Skies . It up till then was a forgotten cliff by many ( maybe the name put folk off? ) Some grand mixed climbing nowadays with the better tools and protection providing huge improvements in climbing. I remember climbing Doctors choice thinking I do not think this mixed climbing is for me as my crampons skirted across the slabs. Yet I did enjoy it at times.

Red Gully

It’s a fine cliff and can be sheltered from the weather but you have to prepare for the weather on the plateau to get the full Cairngorm experience. There have been many caught out on the plateau after a route.

Fiacuill Colouir the chockstone .

On Fiacaill Buttress high on the western sector of the Coire has many superb routes. In my early day Fiacuill Couloir, Invernookie and the Seam. Nowadays there are so many hard technical routes.

Red Gully

Winter Climbing over the years has advanced and I remember watching an ascent of Magic Crack V11/7 on the wonderful Tv series on Scottish winter climbing “The Edge 100 years of Scottish Mountaineering” I would wander in to the Coire and watch some of the new technical routes getting climbed and marvel at the climbers ability. Never forgetting my first foray with a civilian climber in the team Barry Hartshorne in Alladins Couloir thinking I was on a big mountain alpine route. I was just 18 then. Many folk ski the easy routes now. Even the first time on the Mirror Direct after the ice pitch taking you up some steep ground past the lamp to the plateau.

The goat track Tim going the wrong way,

My favourite route was Patey’s route with my old mate Al MacLeod and Gus Tait closely followed by Flutted Buttress Direct with Bill Batson following our pal “Stampy”climbing with one crampon.

I have many memories of dragging a stretcher through the Boulder field below the cliffs with Cairngorm MRT. Losing the path in heavy snow and if lucky trying to reach a helicopter waiting for us. Other drop of in poor weather probing for missing climbers. Other days of blue sky climbing in windless conditions and walking of the plateau at the end of a day. Reaching the spot height 1141 and thinking of that first brew. Meeting many of the names in the Corrie the Glenmore Mafia and many climbers we knew. Winter Mountaineering was a small group in these early days compared with the huge interest it has now. Yet it’s still fun, I cannot race in and when I go in I enjoy seeing the young guns blast by. All on a mission oh to be young again?

Todays tips: beware of loose rocks on the routes especially after a poor winter.

Conditions can change – a thin Hidden chimney . A grand climb a busy wee route at times.

Though an easy walk in at times and these routes are very accessible never underrate them it’s a wild place to be in a storm.

Always read the avalanche reports daily and if planning a trip look at it the days before.

Safe climbing and if you get as much joy from this Corrie you will be a happy person. What’s your favourite climb here.

Posted in Articles, Avalanche info, Enviroment, Friends, Mountain rescue, mountain safety, Mountaineering, People, Recomended books and Guides, Scottish winter climbing., Views Mountaineering, Well being | Leave a comment

The Rescue – what an incredible film. Gives you faith in people working together. Politicians take note .

During the storm I managed to watch “The Rescue” what an insight into a huge Cave Rescue. ‘The Rescue’ chronicles the dramatic 2018 rescue of 12 Thai boys and their soccer coach, trapped deep inside a flooded cave.

It was amazing to see the bravery of those involved and the humility of those who saved 13 lives. I have been fortunate to meet a few Cave Divers in my time they are a different breed. The Rescue involved so many nations all working together and it was an incredible operation. The British Cave Divers and others all risked their lives to save the kids in an amazing operation. How I wish the worlds politicians would watch this film and see if we all work together we can achieve the impossible. A lesson for the world especially in these days.

Footnote – Ian Rolland a RAF MRT team member was also unknown to many as a world class cave diver sadly he was killed in a cave in Mexico in 1994. At that time he was a member of RAF Leuchars MRT and a superb all rounder. His son Connor was involved in the rescue in Thailand. Ian would have been so proud of him.

It was some film to watch and I was enthralled. It is heartwarming to see the effort of all involved. I must confess to being teary at times but also being so proud of those involved who never chased the limelight after the event. One can only imagine how they felt and how they looked for answers “out of the box” for the many huge problems that occurred.

Comments welcome . This film is available in the UK on the Disney Channel.

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Beware of the weather ! Stay low today and think of your families and those who may have to come and look for you!

We are so lucky to have such good forecasts yet in my over 55 years on the mountains the thing that would stop us is strong winds. I have seen 15 stone folk blown over like a rag doll and even picked up in the air and thrown about. These were days when we would not have been out but we’re on Call outs. Helicopters in these conditions were no go and the odd time we got a drop off it was frightening flying. We all thought in these days we were invincible and only luck saved us at times. Add in snow, freezing temperatures and you could have a recipe for disaster. Yet we would go out it was a macho thing I think at times. We rarely thought of our families at home, we were very driven even selfish. Most of them were worrying about us. So spare a thought mountaineering is a selfish sport at the best of times and think of your families and those who will try to find you. “The mountains will always be there the secret is to be there with them “

Wind Strength

Saturday: Very severe conditions as widespread upland storm to hurricane force winds ease only slowly from west. Extreme wind chill Highlands. Additionally occasional rain replaced by snow showers (mainly W & N Scot), as freezing levels drop markedly as far south as S Pennines.

From Braemar MRT – Tomorrow in 5 words courtesy of @the_MWIS



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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 .

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Dead men don’t wave – a true story of a life saved on Ben Nevis. Thanks to Pete Kirkpatrick for this article.

I was asked to repeat this article that my friend Pete wrote. It sums up one of the best call outs and results we had in my long period with Mountain Rescue. It was a huge Team effort ad always by all Agencies and a huge reminder of how not to give up.

05/03/90-07/03/90 Ben Nevis

41/155717 Huge search by Lochaber, Glencoe,LMRT, KMRT, SARDA, Helicopters for a missing venture scout found after 3 days search at 1000 metres by Leuchars Team leader.

Cas had severe frostbite and exposure, lowered 500ft to Rescue helicopter. Conditions extreme. Magnificent result for all.



The article below to me describes a Mountain Rescue incident, few will know of but it was typical of many rescues that go unreported. Five mountain Rescue Teams – Lochaber, Glencoe, RAF Kinloss, RAF Leuchars & SARDA searched for a young 17 year old who was lost alone in Ben Nevis in winter.

This was a busy time most of us had already been away on Call -outs for many days, the teams were exhausted, we had not seen our families for over a week “but the casualty must come first” we were all battered by the weather, exhausted and yet after so many incidents we all worked so hard. That was a awful winter with lots of fatalities some to folk we knew. Yet when the call came we all somehow got that extra energy to go out again into the wildest of weather.

In these days the teams were as always assisted by the RAF Wessex / Sea King helicopters flying in typical winter conditions.

This is an article written by Pete Kirkpatrick who was the Team Leader of RAF Leuchars at the time, to me it is what Mountain Rescue is about. Five Mountain Rescue Teams over 5 Days searched and this was after many days of constant call –outs.

“How could a dead person be waving at me? My eyes must be mistaken. Tiredness and the constant peering into the mist were creating false images. It could not be true, but if it was, by hell it was some surprise.

Those five days had started with the RAF Leuchars Mountain Rescue Team (MRT) undergoing a normal weekend training exercise in the Arrocher Alps. During every weekend, the 6 RAF MRTs train around the hills to maintain fitness levels and expertise. The usual result is teams returning to their units, contented and weary late on a Sunday night.

This Sunday, started to change shape around Crainlarich on the journey home. Over the radio we heard of a rescue taking part on the Buachaille in Glencoe. An offer of help was made and accepted.

The incident involved a crag fast climber high on the mountain. In true good MR fashion we carried the world to the scene, in the hope it would not be used, but reluctant to ascent the mountain with hope alone. Happily, the climber was recovered quickly and assisted off the mountain. The team went to ground in the Kingshouse Hotel on the edge of the Rannoch Moor, four to a double room, one snorer per room.

Monday. The rain lashed down and the windows rattled. Inside the dining room the team tucked into a civilised breakfast, girding their loins for the drive back to Leuchars – or so we thought. Telephone call – assemble the team and report to Hamish McInnes in Glencoe.

Two overdue climbers had left yesterday for a route on Stob Coirre Nan Bieth, and had not returned. The weather was causing concern. It seemed wise to combine RAF Kinloss and Leuchars, Lochaber and Glencoe MRTs members and go and find out why?

That day the teams assisted five climbers from the mountain. Three who had never been reported missing but needed help, and the original pair who walked in uninjured having survived an enforced bivouac. The MRT workforce had put in a considerable effort due to the gale force winds, difficult ground and snow conditions. Another night in the Kingshouse was needed, too tired to go home now.

Tuesday. Another telephone call, report to the Fort William Police Station and assist in a search for a missing seventeen year old lad called Garry Smith, lost since yesterday on Ben Nevis. Quickly formulated opinions passed through the brain, but as yet not for public consumption. Yesterday’s weather, his lack of experience, the statistics of the big bad Ben – this lad was a goner.

Over 120 people swamped the mountain and helicopters scoured the visible areas. Danger spots were probed carefully and fearfully. His parents had travelled up from Manchester. This was not another lost person; it was now somebody’s son. I have a son capable of the same misguided mountain enthusiasm. (Pete’s son is the now a very well-known mountaineer he is the world famous Andy Kirkpatrick)

Mountains are there for pleasure and adventure. Epics are great if you survive. The trick is having the epic only once and learning from it. Was this lad still capable of learning?

We helped to search Five Finger Gully and expended more nervous energy than physical in the dangerous ground. In a last chance throw of the dice, a night search seemed appropriate. A small group went out again. A lone Landrover waited remained in the Glen, hopefully awaiting a positive radio message; no such call came. The searchers returned to their sleeping bags, depressed.( The teams were exhausted and many heads were down quit rightly we were all exhausted and many were getting pressure to go home and back to work)

(I was helping organising the search from Fort William Police Station with Donald Watt the Lochaber Team Leader and Pete is right this was the last day of our chance to find Gary alive. The teams were exhausted this was the last chance to find him. The family were with us things were looking bleak)

Wednesday. New search areas, but no new information. Tired hearts and legs ascended the mountain again. No stretchers were carried. Private opinions had been voiced – bodies don’t need rescuing, only finding.

My team had been tasked to search the slopes north of the main footpath above the half way Lochan. Difficult rocky ground to walk on let alone search in misty and sleety conditions. The area was finally reached and the separate parties began to slowly search across their 500ft portion of the mountain. I was in the top group and five minutes into the search I could see an arm waving from a red shape. A mixture of emotions and thoughts ran through me – relief, guilt, concern and professional questions on what to do next? Satisfaction would only be allowed if we got him off this mountain alive.



He was barely conscious and soaked through to the skin and half covered in a plastic sheet torn to shreds by his crampons. He was alive – just.

During the next 15 minutes other party members arrived, dry kit replaced wet clothing; sleeping bags, hats and gloves eventually cocooned his body. The message of ‘You’ve been found, but it’s not over, hang on, don’t give up now was firmly implanted  – repeatedly!

Down below, the news of the find had revitalised everybody involved in the SAR operation. A tremendous combined ‘Will to Live’ seemed to transmit upwards.”

Incredible effort by all the teams.

Incredible effort by all the teams.

(When Gary was located the radio message came in to the Police Station, the cheer that went up when we were told that Gary was still alive but in a bad way, he had a chance, I will never forget that message and the huge hug from a big burly Policeman)

Below, beneath the mist line sat the Leuchars 22 Sqn Wessex, only 60 seconds flying time away, poised, waiting for the opportunity to snatch the casualty and save him an hour of bone jarring man handling. Suddenly the mist parted and that window of opportunity appeared. Rapid plans were made between the ground party and the helicopter. A quick in and out, a difficult winching operation, pray for the break to last – let’s do it!

The helicopter closed carefully with a constant eye on the swirling mist. The winch man descended into our welcoming arms. Strops were placed. Checks were made – thumbs up.

One of the best days ever!

One of the best days ever!

GO, GO, Go – gone. Gone to live another day.

As I said in the introduction it was an incredible rescue and what a result for us all. The teams all came off the hill feeling elated, Ben Nevis had shown mercy this time, Gary had hung in there and been found. It was a huge rescue attempt by all the teams and it never matters who locates the casualty we are all part of a big team. To me this was one of the best Rescues I have ever been involved in and what rescue is all about. This will be one of many stories to do the rounds at the RAF Leuchars/ Kinloss Re Union this weekend. I was in the Fort William Police Station when the news came through that he was alive. The family were about, there joy and tears were shared by all. Cheers came over the radio from all teams involved and a massive cheer in the police station said it all. Big tough Lochaber bobbies had a tear in their eye as did many of us. Words do not describe how we felt.

Thanks to Pete Kirkpatrick for permission to use his wonderful article it still makes me think of these epic call – out and the amazing people that are involved in Mountain Rescue.

“Dead Men Don’t Wave” – “The Casualty must come first” There is always hope. Please share if you feel this of interest?

2017 July – I always wondered what happend to Gary , I received this email recently

Just seen this article, Gary Smith is my brother and we will always be thankful for not giving up on him. To say it changed things in our lives is an understatement, I am a Mountain Rescue team member in my home town, Gary was a Team Member but had to leave for work commitments, he is now a father of 5 amazing children and has helped to save many lives in his job as a Charge nurse in an A&E Department, none of this would have happened without everyone out over that week.

What a great tale and what an ending.

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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.

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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 .

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Bothies – A few thoughts to The MBA thanks ! Memories of Back hill of Bush Galloway.

My first visit to a Mountain Bothy was as a very young boy about 12 making up the numbers for a Duke of Edinburgh expedition in Galloway. The bothy was Back Hill of Bush.

I received this through my blog a while ago about a visit to a bothy in Galloway Backhill of Bush bothy with my brother in 1971 – 51 years ago:

“I once met a chap by the name of Heavy in backhill of bush bothy in the Galloway was new year 1977. He was there with his brother as we arrived at the bothy and made us feel so very welcome making us a brew and getting our feet up at the fire. We went our separate ways next morning and never met again. I have written about the guys in my memoirs. We sat till the wee hours swapping stories and laughs and that camaraderie we formed still lives with me. I just wondered if you were the same person. I am Ian a lot older though! “

My reply :

It’s was lovely to hear from Ian all these years later. Sadly the bothy at Back Hill is no longer open. I am not sure of why but it was getting misused and I think the forestry had to shut it .

I think but it was my first bothy I visited as a young lad through the Boys Brigade aged 12 .

I will never forget arriving about 12 years old and the fire was on and listening to the tales and stories round the fire. Everyone was so kind and helpful and I was in complete awe of them.

The total exhaustion of arriving after a big day with huge packs and just a wee boy then struggling after a hard day. Being given a cup of tea by some kindly person who saw this wee bedraggled youth and took pity on me. These are things you never forget that hot drink after a day travelling on the hills and the kindness of others.

You never forget the smells of the wood fire, the steaming wet gear and the wood at the door. That was left by the forestry all these memories are still with me over 50 years on!listening to the tales of the mountains and Silver Flow that swallowed forestry machines in its mud. Exhausted and falling asleep by candlelight.

On my big walks across Scotland in the 70’s we stayed in many great Bothies. A few like the Nest of Fannichs are long gone. At times they were a life saver especially on our winter walks. It would be great to find someone had left some dry wood for the next user. You never forget these days.

That’s why I love the Bothies, they are unique to Scotland by allowed grace of the landowners and the Mountain Bothies Association whose great folk who maintain them.

Nowadays there is so much written on on the internet about Bothies even several books giving details of location etc. Many years ago much of these details was by word of mouth.

Things have to change folks sadly yet we must look after them and never take them for granted. I always ensure I take all my litter out with me. Often carrying huge bags of rubbish out.

Many years ago we would after the winter get out with the helicopter and the new aircrew on the helicopters and show them the Bothies in the area. It was all part of the aircrews learning Area Knowledge as the Bothies were always a place to check when looking for a missing person. We would take lots of rubbish and “other items” away in the days before Health & Safety stopped this!

A few years ago I was honoured to speak to the Mountain Bothy Association at their AGM in Newtonmore. I met many of the characters that make this wee organisation so incredible. With the rise in blogs like mine, twitter and Instagram etc the Bothies can be very busy causing a few problems,

Hopefully the Bothies will survive and those who use them will treat them with the respect they are due? There are in my view Tricky time’s ahead as Landowners are seeing a change in the Bothies use by large groups and at time’s the mess they leave.

Many bothies would make ideal get away accommodation for the estates ? These are in great demand nowadays. 

I have sadly seen several being updated for this use over the years. They are unique and are a fantastic way to get to know the remote hills and glens.

I hope they remain with us to give many that great introduction to the wild places. We will never know how many lives they have saved over the years? I for one will never be able to recreate the joy of my first visit to Back Hill.

My brother and me on the Grey Corries

My brother who passed away last year left a donation to the Mountain Bothies Association in his will. He like me loved the Bothies though he lived for 50 years in Bermuda he would always return for a few nights in a bothy. He loved the peace of the hills and the Bothies especially in winter. What memories we did a lot of trips together and he like me had so many memories of great nights in Bothies all over Scotland.

“Leave nothing but footprints take nothing but photos.”

Chris Townsend writes “A classic on bothies is Dave Brown and Ian R. Mitchell’s Mountains Days and Bothy Nights. Published in 1987 and with tales going back to the 1960s this is a fascinating book, well worth reading.”

From the MBA website

Please be aware that this website is the only up to date source of information about MBA bothies and regular updates will be given here. Please consult the relevant bothy page before your visit and observe any restrictions on use. Information provided in books, magazines and social media platforms may be incorrect, misleading or out of date. Some MBA bothies are locked by their owners during certain periods; details of those are noted on the individual bothy pages on this website.

Please if you enjoy or have used a bothy why not join or donate to the MBA.

Great read
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A cracking day Carn an Fhreiceadhain (The lookout hill) a Corbett near Kingussie.

Our hill

Yesterday we had our first Bus meet with my local Moray Mountaineering Club since the dark days of COVID. The committee had decided to use this day to introduce new members to the Club. The Venuer was Kingussie andr we got picked up by the bus in Forres. The journeys down in sparking weather was grand and all the bus was chatting it was great to see folk again. How we have missed out socially after COVID but all was well organised. Our local bus company Maynes were superb the driver Joss took us effortlessly to Kingussie.

Càrn an Fhreiceadain is an easily reached but fairly featureless Monadhliath Corbett with good views. Landrover tracks up onto the plateau can make for rapid going on a circuit from Kingussie.

Region: Cairngorms

Altitude: 878 metres

There was the usual plan that the bus would stop at Elgin, Forres and Inverness to pick up more members then head to Kingussie drop most of the group of some were climbing at the local Kingussie crag the majority split into two groups for the local Corbett. We normally do not go in big groups but did today. Chatting with many old and new friends. A few arrived by car meeting us in Kingussie. It was the ideal hill to introduce folk to the mountains. The estate road means you can do a circular tour of our hill.

There was no rush and we were away from Kingussie by just after 0900. A few went navigating with Sandy from Newtonmore walking back to Kingussie. It was a big group that started of from the golf course and split up at Pitman Lodge in two groups. It was sunny and with a slight breeze the sun tan lotion was on. Folk were chatting a really mixed group some getting a day off from looking after the kids others just seeing if they fancied the hills.

Our dietary expert enjoying his starter on the hill watched by Loki.

We had some great stops chilling out and though the area is featureless grouse moors . sthey have a beauty of wildness only broken by a few wind farms in the distance. We saw a couple of young deer and a slow worm basking on the track. This area is managed for grouse shooting and we met one of the ghillies. He was fine and we are so lucky to have Freedom of Access on our hills. This was a constant battle over the years to get this Right to Roam. Many countries are envious of these rights but with it comes respect for the land and the estate managers.

Everyone went well all enjoying the views we could see the Munro’s and big hills on a 360 degree vista today. I was at the back and the pace was fine a lot of fit young folk. We passed on the odd snippet e route and met two mountain bikers on the way to the first summit. This is where we met our other group hence the big photo. We had already had lunch out of the wind it was a grand place to stop and enjoy the peace.

Near the top. Photo D. MacLeish

The summit was a trig point and a wee building it could be a Colby Camp?

They are ruins of shelters, windbreaks etc on the summits of hills across the Highlands left by OS parties during the principal triangulation of Britain in the 19th century. Colby and his men lived for weeks on lots of mountains taking bearings to other summits when weather permitted. Hardy men. On one trip Colby recce camp sites and triangulation stations over mountainous terrain. He is recorded as walking 586 miles in 22 days , including Sundays! The only summit he failed to reach was the Cuillin in Skye. SMC J 2013 

Colby camps 

There are only records of nine camps where ruins can still be seen. However, there are lots of hills where OS parties are known to have lived for many weeks but where no remains have been recorded. Ben Wyvis, The Storr, Ben More on Mull are just a few such hills. Have you seen any ruins on your travels?

Howf near summit ?

From here we followed the track into the Glen out of the wind passed the lookout point a stunning cairn.

Look out point .
On the summit !

it was sunny and warm. There was no rush we had a break down by the river. There is a lot of erosion here the power of the river can be seen on the river banks. Most followed Graham to the Loch adding a few more miles and I ambled down the track to the bus. We had soup and sandwiches organised for everyone at the Grant Arms Hotel and as all the groups arrived back it was so good to see everyone had a great day. There was lots of chat tales of climbing and plans for future walks and bus meets.

Soup and sandwiches a great end to the day.

In all a superb wander the weather was perfect as was the company. I had lost two pals last week so it was great to be out on the hills again. The hills and wild places are so good for your well being and mental health. Normally I am alone or with a few pals on the hill but it was wonderful to see how much folk enjoyed their day. The smiles sun burnt faces and the chat as we ate told all.

I hope most who were out join the club and have great adventures on the hills and wild places. Thanks to Al and the committee for organising the day out. Have l look on the club website for more information.

Posted in Corbetts and other hills, Cycling, Family, Mountain Biking, mountain safety, Mountaineering, People, Rock Climbing, Weather, Well being, Wildlife | 2 Comments