To see nature one must open your eyes. Looking after the land/sea for the future generations?

Roseroot Cairngoms

In my many years on the hills and wild places it took so long to start looking about on the hills for the wildlife and the flora and also the access that we have on our hills, that we take for granted. On the access front as a member of the RAF Mountain Rescue we had to ask for permission each weekend to train all over Scotland  in the hills and glens through each Estates. This resulted in some superb contacts throughout the years with many of the Stalkers and keepers many who became friends.   We also had a few problems with some landowners as there are good and bad landowners as there are in life.During stalking there were several no go areas and overall it worked well over many years. I also got an insight into looking after the land from another point of view.

Freedom of Access means working together?

When young you have different ideas  and I was always another chasing another top, Munro or climb for so many years I missed so much of what the hills were about. The great thing about getting old is you see much more and as you slow down how much you missed or take for granted.

Slow down and watch where you are putting your feet.

When you are on the hills and wild places for several weeks like some of my big walks in the 70’s,  you see much more and become part of the land. In those days we were off the paths and coming off the popular tops into different glens on our traverses of the hills. We saw so much but took most of it for granted as we were chasing Munros and how much did we miss? In these days the hills were so much less visited and you rarely met folk on the summits. It is a bit different now but how many stop and look around most are like I was in a rush to complete a list for what?

Yet I have been spoiled, I have seen so much wildcats in Affric, Eagles in many places . Goats on the Fisherfield hills,An Teallach and Seanna Bhraigh, So many huge herds of deer, various birds and on my trips to the Islands a great amount of sea life, Dolphins, whales and Sea Eagles. I have spent time with those who love the wildlife and are so knowledgeable about what to see and when and where to see it.  Yet I have barely touched these wild places and despite the pressures of more folk enjoying them there are still so many places to see and wildlife to spot.

Prancing Goats on Seanna Bhraigh

Many forget that the winter is a great time as well. There is much to see mountain hares and how the Ptarmigan exist on such wild places above the snow-line, when we struggle to survive. A lesson in living in a wild environment by the great teacher nature.


Last weekend I was away to a Corbett on the East Coast Mount Battock a wild area of open moor in  which the heather was in full bloom. It also had some huge peat hags that a track to assist the shooting took a road through . It is a well used shooting area  for grouse and soon to have a massive Wind farm as well. There are not just huge tracks seen here but nowadays are well seen from most hills as are the wind farms. There are many sides to the discussion on “green energy” and the use of our wild land. It is in everyone’s interest that we have an opinion on this for the future.  What is yours?

Up North Ledgowan track.

I am so lucky  do not need to go far as I have the sea on my doorstep,the forests and my local coastal walks the views and things to see change daily. Sadly I see the rubbish washed in every day on the coast, the bottles, plastic  and debris is going to be a huge problem that will affect us all.

These are interesting times for all and big decisions need to be made if we want to leave a sustainable environment for future generations?

Comments welcome as always?

There are various organisations that work for us looking after what we have and trying to put some points across.

The John Muir Trust.

Posted in Articles, Charity, Enviroment, Local area and events to see, Plants, Views Mountaineering, Views Political? | Leave a comment

Does anyone know the story of this cross in a gully on Maol Chean – Dearg near Achnashellach?

Cross on Maol Chean –  Dearg any ideas of the story? Photo S . Atkins collection

One of my pals a while ago asked if I new the story of this crossthey found in a gully on Maol Chean – Dearg near Achnashellach. This is one if the big Munros in this area.

Can anyone tell the story of this cross?

Scouse has come back with   “Summer 1989 or 90. It was metallic-ish and had ‘He is risen’ inscribed on the cross brace. Must have been some carry up!”

Callum White

“I don’t know its full history but it has been there since the late eighties/early nineties when I first came across it descending that same gully.”

Angus Jack

“I remember seeing it on the summit of Maol Cheann Dearg in the late 80’s, wondered where it had gone to. Don’t know the story behind it, a pilgrimage for someone obviously!”

Posted in Enviroment, Mountain rescue, Mountaineering, Views Mountaineering | 2 Comments

Clachnaben and Mount Battock and an Industrial landscape. The Wind farm beckons?

Yesterday I was out with the Moray Mountaineering Club on their monthly bus meet to Glen Dye for an ascent of Clachnaben at 589 metres and the Corbett Mount Battock. It was a long Bus trip through some stunning scenery and picking up club member’s from Inverness, Forres, Elgin and Huntly it all takes time.   The fields and heather are looking marvellous just now but off the main roads had a few feeling a bit sick on arrival at Glen Dye car park. It was nearly 1000 when we started on the hill and if you want to climb both it is a fair day and be back for the bus, I hate timescales? The bus leaves at 1730 so it was boots on or for me trainers and head off no hanging about. The weather was superb lovely and warm it would be a dry but hot walk. In our Club they do not hang about and it was like a start from the Grand Prix,  from the car park.

2017 Aug Clachnaben race MMC Aug –  The heather so purple as they charge up the hill. I took it a bit easier.

It is a great path to start with and is well looked after and the start through the forest is lovely, the trees were superb and keeping us all cool . From the forestry you are out onto the open hillside and the view of the granite tors of Clachnaben  is superb.  The heather is stunning so purple and there were a few bees busy and a lovely smell, if you took time to watch them? The weather was clear but a bit warm so I stopped to get some water and keep rehydrating. All the way out of the trees the view of the Tor that makes this wee hill so special is stunning.  There is climbing on the cliff and it would have been great to spend a day on this crag it looked so good and I had a good look on the way up as the cliff got closer.

The granite Tor of Clachnaben.

It was an easy scramble up the back and on to the top the rock superb Cairngorm granite and Andy Lawson was explaining how tricky the rock routes are here. How I wished I was spending the day here as the view of the bulldozed track and the far summit of Mount Battock looked purgatorial!  The views from our top though were stunning the mountains and the fields and then the wind farms!

Andy on the top with Dianne it was his second visit to these hills this year, brave man to do Mount Battock.

Most had a stop on the lower summit but I saw the track and I was going slower so off we went it was a huge track used for grouse shooting and went on for miles. I do not enjoy this type of walking but it has massive peat hags and shooting butts, right by the track the money invested here must be huge for the “tweeded warriors”?  The grouse will have little chance here, this is a killing area for miles and miles. I have rarely seen so many shooting butts, there must be money to be made here?


The track to Mount Battock a huge road.

Andy had mentioned just before the last pull up to Mount Battock there was a couple of bothies  and we had a break here. There are two one we used that was open both new buildings ours with plastic chairs and tables. Money is no problem here it was a big bothy. We passed huge peat hags some over 3 feet high and lots of erosion from the track, some huge turning areas and the cost must be incredible for the upkeep of this place.

The bothy !

The last pull up to Mount Battock was fine good views and  remains of the old electric fence? We were soon on the summit great views all around Lochnagar, Glen Clova the Cairngorms and Mount Keen and the wind farms. We had little time as it had taken just under 3 hours to get here. Time was moving on and we were off I came back the same way over the tops and the others waited for one of the group and went up to the summit again who was going a bit slower. Well done Andy and Brent top guys.

Summit of Mount Battock

I did not fancy a drop into the Glen as the midges were wild so back we went along the track seeing a few hares well camouflaged and glad we were all out walking not shooting them. I was running out of water so took it easy and then we were back on Clachnaben and the steep descent down the track and some more water. It was hard going even in trainers the feet we warm and the last we pull hurt a bit.

The Bus was waiting and we all got off in time and a well earned pint in the Haughton Arms very friendly then the long journey home and then the “tin man”body getting off the bus and home. A bath and some food and bed. It was a different type of day Calchnaben is a lovely hill and a hidden gem to me. Mount Battock from that road was mind numbing but the others enjoyed it. Maybe I have been spoiled in over 50 years of walking  but it was a thought provoking walk and hard going on the feet and knees!

Whatever your views on tracks on the hills or wind farms have a google and read what is about to happen. Everyone has a view and I am sad I have seen so much before the huge changes that affect us all.

Proposed windfarm

The new wind farm is going to be huge nearby and I will leave my views which are well-known to you? I would advise you to read about the big site to be built nearby?

Why don’t you read about the plans and make up your own mind?

The wind farm, consisting of 40 turbines up to 150m high (that’s nigh on 500 feet high!) will be situated on the Fasque and Glendye Estates, (both owned and managed by Charles Gladstone) between Glen Esk (that’s Tarfside) and Fettercairn. It is massive and will be seen from Lochnagar, Mount Keen, Mt Battock (which is just 2 miles from this wind farm) and Clachnaben (2 miles from the wind farm)

Excellent read and a superb sketching – The Sadness of Clachnaben  David Adam Sketch book


Andy Lawson  – Clachnaben and Mount Battock – Mountains of Scotland

Any comments?




Posted in Bothies, Corbetts and other hills, Enviroment, Friends, Views Mountaineering, Views Political? | 2 Comments

Mount Battock the most easterly Corbett.

Mount Battock

Today I am out with the Moray Mountaineering club on a Bus meet to Mount Battock from Glen Dye over a wee hill Clachnaben with a striking granite tor with its rock climbing cliff it  gives a great view of the North East of Scotland all being well. It will be then a bit of a long haul out to the Corbett Mount Battock.

Crag features

All of the climbs are located on the prominent granite tor at the top of the hill, located in the picturesque Glen Dye, near Deeside, Aberdeenshire. This rocky lump is a distinguishing feature from all the other round topped hills in the area, and can be seen from all around. The cliff provides short routes up to 30m on good, well protected granite – tends to be cracks and jamming.

Dries quickly. Must Dos :

Caringorm Club Crack (S)

Bogendreip Buttress (VS 5a)

“Clachnaben and Bennachie

Are two landmarks near the sea”.

The Moray Mountaineering Club – Bus Meets normally take place on the third Sunday of every month and are a great opportunity to meet like-minded people and have a great day out in the hills.  It is up to you what you do on the bus meet; it could be a gentle stroll around a loch, a strenuous day taking in multiple summits or a short trip to a bothy.  It is best to choose something that is within your level of fitness, ability and experience and appropriate for the time of year and weather conditions.  The outward bus journey provides an opportunity to discuss plans and maybe join a group with similar plans.

One of the main advantages of the bus is that you don’t have to get on and off at the same place.  This offers opportunities for traverses through the hills that would otherwise be logistically challenging.  Irrespective of where the bus parks during the day, you can leave stuff on it, such as a bag of dry clothes.

The bus pick-up points are:
07:00          Lossie Green Car Park, Elgin
07:20          The Cross, Forres
07:35          The Westerlea Hotel, Nairn
08:00          The Thistle Hotel, Inverness

There will usually be a brief pub-stop on the return journey, which provides a great opportunity to discuss the day’s adventures.  The bus usually gets back to Elgin about 21:00 and never later than 22:00. Please note that dogs are not permitted on bus meets.

To find out more information about each bus meet follow the links below or contact the Bus Meet Coordinator, Gordon Eccleston (Email).

Please notify Gordon Eccleston of your intention to attend by 4pm on the Thursday prior to the meet (if insufficient bookings are received by this cut-off, the committee will cancel the bus).

See About for information about your responsibilities, equipment etc.

Posted in Corbetts, Corbetts and other hills, Local area and events to see | Leave a comment

Mark Beaumont and his Record Breaking quest to cycle around the World in 80 days.

I am amazed by the efforts of Mark Beaumont who is cycling round the world in 80 days is an incredible feet and well worth following his epic tales. There are thrills and the odd spills but what an effort by Mark and his team and he is half way through now in an amazing journey. I have now have another new hero, stay safe Mark in this world that is gone mad . What a journey please have look on his web site look at what his average daily mileage please have a look at his journey.  Yet over half way through he has only raised a little of his total.

Around the World in Eighty Days is a classic adventure novel by the French writer Jules Verne published in 1873.

In the story Phileas Fogg of London and his newly employed French valet Passepartout attempt to circumnavigate the World in 80 days on a £20,000 wager set by his friends at the Reform Club.

Now, more than 144 years later, Mark Beaumont is capturing that same spirit of adventure with the Artemis World Cycle, his Record Breaking quest to cycle around the World in 80 days.

See Mark’s route »




Endurance cyclist Mark Beaumont has announced plans to go around the world in 80 days on his bike, which would involve smashing the current record.

To be successful, the Scot will have to complete the 18,000 mile route in less than half the time he took when he set the record nine years ago.

He will also have to knock more than 40 days off the current world record.

Beaumont, 34, will begin his trek on 2 July and will have to travel 240 miles a day to get around the world on time.

Mark Beaumont
Posted in Cycling, Views Political?, Weather | Leave a comment

The Munro Tops – The Northern Pinnacles of Liathach. One of Scotland’s neglected gems?

The Northern Pinnacles Liathach. In summer an interesting place  but care needs to be taken.

There is a good description on the SMC Guide “Highland Scrambles North” and Corrie Na Caime is a wonderful wild corrie. Other guides deride this route as loose in places and there have been a couple of accidents here so care must be taken if descending from the Munro Mullach An Rathian. There are a few loose blocks and screes but in winter it is a superb expedition and one I used in my days in the RAF Mountain Rescue team with up an coming party leaders. It sorted a few out especially in poor visibility these were places we could end up and did on Rescues it is wild land and care has too be taken.

In winter when it is frozen hard it is a long walk in but you are rewarded with a Corrie of great grandeur. There are quicker ways onto the ridge but to climb the full ridge and Meall Dearg is “similar to Tower Ridge” according to Dan Bailey in Scotland’s Mountain Ridges. I agree with that but found the small buttress fairly tricky that guards the buttress !  Dan gives a detailed description in his wonderful book.

Winter on the wild Northern Pinnacles

Scotland’s Mountain Ridges – Dan Bailey

A guidebook covering the best summer scrambling, rock climbing and winter mountaineering on Scotland’s ridges, from the remote Cairngorms to the splendour of the Cuillin. With inspirational photographs, the guidebook is both a celebration of the landscape and a practical route guide.


Posted in mountain safety, Mountaineering, Munros, Recomended books and Guides, Scottish winter climbing., Views Mountaineering | Leave a comment

The latest Stats from Mountain Rescue 2016 – Stats why bother, worth a read?

Yesterday the Scottish Mountain Rescue issued their Stats on the BBC News

“Members of Scottish Mountain Rescue (SMR) were involved in 436 incidents last year, according to the national body’s latest statistics.

Of these incidents, more than half, 235, involved the sport of mountaineering.

SMR’s new report added that 74% of these incidents were related to hillwalking in summertime.

The other 201 incidents were described as “non-mountaineering”, and included searches for missing people.

SMR member teams had a total of 733 call-outs, which included phone calls from the public seeking advice, teams being on stand-by and days-long missions.

Across Scotland, 627 people were helped by teams, as well as 19 dogs and “several sheep”.

Busiest day

August was the busiest month, according to the statistics.

Rescues in that month last year included people who were caught out in heavy rain, or had become disorientated in mountainous terrain.

Saturdays were the busiest day, as it has been for many years, said the report.

SMR’s members include Aberdeen, Arran, Braemar, Borders, Dundonnell, Oban and Skye MRTs.

An RAF, two Search and Rescue Dog Association and three Police Scotland teams are also members.

It is SMR’s first annual statistical report since the departure of some of its busiest teams.

Lochaber, Glencoe and Cairngorm left last year saying they believed they could better represent their members’ interests outside of the organisation.”

I wonder if the other teams will issue their Stats ? The reason I feel that this needs to happen is below. To be fair Mountain Rescue seems to be working well teams are very busy and I have visited several teams recently and I am amazed at the work being done by all. To me Stats are important take time and have a look below. I was the Statistician for Scottish Mountain Rescue for several years and feel I am entitled to my view.

Comments welcome?



Stats Why Bother

This is my article a few years ago

I have decided to write about something that few people will be aware of and

their relevance to Mountain Safety and nowadays to Mountain Rescue Funding. I

have been fortunate as for many years I was involved in meeting two of the main

protagonist of the Scottish Mountain Rescue Stats Ben Humble and John Hinde.

They compiled the Stats for the Scottish Mountain Rescue Committee; Ben was a

renowned mountaineer and had a great interest in mountain safety. When Ben

died he left a great legacy through the Scottish Mountaineering Club Annual

Journal where the Stats were put in since the early 40’s. Ben wrote and worked

tirelessly and his article “A survey of Mountain Accidents In Scotland 1925 – 45″

was a breakthrough at the time. After this Ben compiled a yearly listing of

Mountain Accidents in the Journals. It was when Ben passed away John Hinde

took over and did another outstanding job for many years; they left a unique

history and so much information for future generations especially in the aspects

of Mountain safety.

1986 Stats – from the SMC Journal

Nowadays Mountain Rescue Teams are extremely busy and after a call out the

last thing they need is to afterwards is to compile the call –out report. Yet they

are so important especially nowadays. I took over the Statistician job for several

years and had various problems keeping up with the reports. There were in these

days 400 call –outs many involving several teams. The paperwork involved was

very hard work and at times it was a constant battle to keep up to date. It

became nearly a full time job and kept me very busy in any spare time I had.

I did a talk a few years when I was the Scottish Mountain Rescue Statistician it

was to try to get the teams to realise how important they are. None of us like

paperwork but it is so essential especially when trying to raise funding from

Government Sources. I found this out the hard way in the late 80’s when they

were going to cut the RAF Teams or even get rid of them. It was a real panic but I

was the only Team with a history going back to 1944 and could prove to the

“Bean Counters” that 10% of our incidents were for military aircraft and military

personnel. That Bean Counter was put back in his box for a few more years. It

was also very relevant in the early days of trying for funding from the Scottish

Government when I was Chairman of Scottish Mountain Rescue. We had to

explain to the First Minister that Teams put in a huge amount of hours in on

training, courses and looking after equipment apart from attending incidents.

These are a few points from my talk!



The information gained from a few years incidents can be so helpful to teams. It

can help show the areas in which Team Training should go. If your Team mainly

does Lowland Urban searches should you spend do much time and money on

expensive equipment on Technical gear? Maybe look more into Search planning

and training? Or if you carry out a lot searches in areas of swift water should the

training be increased in this area? Agree fully on this one. A rich profile of what a

team does and where it does it can help inform not only training (what and

where) but also what kinds of equipment to purchase. It’s all about matching

what the team does in theory to what it actually does in practice. I suspect that

in many cases this is not the case.

Also, an accurate and up-to-date picture about what happens across Scotland

can help advise the Press, Government and safety organisations such as the

MCofS on what aspects to focus on, and also avoid these organisations passing on year after year inaccurate myths (e.g. all mountaineers are ill equipped and

Inexperienced numpties hell bent on jumping off cliffs!)



Team areas will have accident hot spots that are current today it may be

worth having a look back and see if any changes are relevant? Casualties

do get found in areas that were hot spots in the past. At times many of the

current team may have limited knowledge of this historical fact as elder

Team member’s leave and their knowledge could be lost forever? Agree

fully. A recent Professor of IT is quoted as saying “ “The experiences of our

past are still the best road map to our future”. You are correct that hot

spots of the past disappear and new ones appear. Its only we you carry out

an objective analysis that trends like this appear. This can help a present

team to find out more about the new hot spots (where are they, how do you

gain access, what are the technical challenges, and so on). Far better to be

Pre-warned than be caught out on a rescue!

Medical – Look at the injuries your team deals with make priorities in these areas that are

you need to. If you deal with 80% ankle lower limbs make sure all can treat and

the equipment is suitable. How many stretcher carries do you do how often do

you practice? It is easy to get side tracked? Fully agree. No point in spending

£1000s on fancy kit to deal with a broken femur when your team has never ever

had such an injury! Also, if a team mainly deals with searches with no injured

people then why train numerous members to become EMTs etc, when the money

and time would be better spent on training up people to become better at

searching and search management.


Funding – The government are interested in Stats – man/ women hours so important. What

about the hours on training and sorting gear and exercises they are never

submitted in the figures only call out hours. What about travel to and from a call out,

sorting out gear, standby hours etc. “Bean Counters” only want numbers but

that is how it works . It is really worth working out how many hours the team

spends training/ courses and kit maintenance? It will amaze you! When you add

up all the hours carried out by every team across a full year it sums to around

40,000 hours (give or take). This translates into many, many full time police

Officers, which goes to show not only what a comprehensive job we do, but also

and how much money is saved to the public purse.


Safety/Research – The common causes of accidents in your area maybe worth alerting climbers and walkers to current trends in your area. Is safety not a Mountain Rescue Concern?

The SMR/MRS is the organisation in the BEST POSSIBLE position to advise

everyone – Press, Government, Course Providers, Governing bodies, etc, what

goes wrong. It has a moral obligation to publish its annual statistics far and wide

and in a timely manner – not two years late! Also, as a government funded

Organisation, should it have a legal responsibility to do this too? Some  of he recent accidents on Ben Nevis (winter 2015) have been in the same area and involve walkers ? Why is this trend happening?


Historical – So many casualties will come back many years later to find out what happened

to them or a loved one. It is good to have some back ground on the incident and

what happened. Many things re –occur on a regular cycle. You and I can recount

numerous instances where family members have come back to us for

information about someone in the family who died (a grid reference, more detail,

who assisted etc.) and SMR has a moral responsibility to help these people by

providing relevant information.


Stats are so important –

The world has changed nowadays with the Data Protection Act and personal

privacy, with new regulations to ensure that this is adhered to. We do not need to

name any casualties but age and other factors are very relevant. With one Police

Force I was assured that we would have current and accurate stats that we can

use for the next generations to learn from, I wonder how far we are from this now

the Single Police force is up and running. The Stats Officer is a hard task and they have done a great job getting the information. I feel we owe it to John Hinde, Ben

Humble and all the other Statistics Officers who maintained and published

accurate and up-to-date records to tackle this problem before it is too late.

Is it only me that sees this as a  potential problem?


Any comments welcome?

Worth noting

Mountain Rescue England and Wales (MREW) is very open about what it does and you can download annual figures from as far back as 1980 right through to 2013.

Go to –


Irish MR is not quite as up to date but still open about publishing its annual stats.  Go to –


Do we seem to be lagging behind?

Thanks to Bob Sharp for his input and Ben Humble and John Hinde for the inspiration!



Past Comments –  A comment 0f Congratulations on a very forceful and heartfelt defence of management information in mountain rescue.

All the points you make are valid, both north and south of the border as well as across the Irish Sea. For the last two decades I have been trying to instil these same points into the English and Welsh MRTs. I believe progress has been made but I am still not satisfied that the MREW figures are complete. For what it is worth, my sympathy goes out to all the statisticians who have followed John Hinde; not only a difficult act to follow but one made harder by poor co-operation from teams.

The production of management information is vital for the development of mountain safety and rescue. This point is well-made by Heavy. All the aspects covered by the article are essential if mountain rescue is to develop in a way that reflects changes in society. Without this steady flow of information, it is likely that lessons will be overlooked, will not be learned or quickly be forgotten.

Please consider publishing your article further afield. It might even blow some of the blinkers away.

Ged Feeney
Statistics Officer – Mountain Rescue (England & Wales)


Share this: Any comments please. 

Posted in Mountain rescue, mountain safety, Mountaineering, SMC/SMT, Views Mountaineering, Views Political? | Leave a comment