Scottish Mountain Rescue Annual Review 2022

Scottish Mountain Rescue have published their Annual Review for 2022.

I was asked to do a wee piece for the booklet “Over the years the work of Mountain Rescue has adapted as things move on. It is great to see teams assisting their local communities as well as mountaineers.

From searching for vulnerable people to assisting people in weather related memories they are now a vital resource for government resilience planning.

Whenever the teams are asked to assist they will always respond. Thank you all and your families for your efforts over the years. Dave “Heavy” Whalley M.B.E. B.E.M

Annual Review

The Annual Review covers the year 2022 and looks at the work of the volunteer rescue teams, team member profiles and rescue stories, as well as achievements that have been made over the year.

Chair of SMR, Bill Glennie, talks about the year experienced by the mountain rescue volunteers.  “2022 was another incredibly busy year for teams with 906 call-outs and 29,804 hours spent on rescues. What many people may not realise however, is the breadth of work that the volunteer Mountain Rescue Teams do”

“The rescues that teams respond to are really just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what they do. We estimate that the teams spend at least double the amount of time that they spend attending rescues, on other activities including training, fundraising and getting involved with their local communities”

“The breadth of work that teams do, really is testament to their versatility. They are a vital part of our communities in multiple ways”

This year’s Annual Review reflects another exceptionally busy year the mountain rescue teams have experienced and the huge and varied work carried out by teams and the wider impact they have on the communities they serve.

The Annual Review is available in flipping format by clicking here and paper copies will be available soon on request from

PDF Version is available.

Posted in Family, Friends, Mountain rescue, Mountaineering | Leave a comment

The Mull of Kintyre Chinook crash 2 June 1994. A few days I will never forget.

This is a timely reminder of a tragedy of the Chinook Crash and the efforts of the RAF Teams involved.

The Chinook crash Mull of Kintyre

June 1994. –   29 Years ago and this story is still as vivid as it was when it happened. 

It started as an unreal day I was stationed at RAF Kinloss in Morayshire I had just stood down as the Full time RAF Mountain Rescue Team Leader and after a short break I was mentally physically exhausted and I was back on the Kinloss Mountain Rescue team as a team member.

It was good as I was again a Team member and not the leader a great deal of pressure was gone and I was back in my trade running an office in the Catering Squadron what a change from a full – time Mountain Rescue Team leader.

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

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

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

15 minutes to sort out your life.

The Mull Of Kintyre is a remote area in the West Coast of Scotland and a long way off. I did not expect to get on the helicopter and the 5 /10 minutes is not long to sort out your world but I was told I was going. I was to be one of the “fast party “they were a very experienced group 5 team members plus the Team Leader that went on the aircraft. The Sea King helicopter from RAF Lossiemouth.

The rest of the team another 20 would follow by road a long journey 5- 6 hours away! It was not long after 1800 when we were called and we were away very quickly.

The Flight to the Mull of Kintyre

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

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

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

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

Information was very scant but the beacons were a bad sign and we had to get in quick. We were carrying large trauma/ first aid bags plus our kit and as soon as we landed we had a quick get together. We had the very basic P.P.I. gear with us masks and other paraphernalia but as we had a trudge about half a kilometre up hill to the crash site we decided to move fast and not wear it.

Safety – You should never approach a burning aircraft from downhill due to the fuel and fire risk – we had no option there was only one way to get to it.

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

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

We located all the 29 on board all were dead. This was a hard time but we went into professional mode and then updated Jim the Team Leader and all we could do now was secure the site and wait for the support and the rest of the emergency services.

Its hard but you have to repeat to everyone like a mantra ~the trauma and dangers about at such a place make it very dangerous”  Add in a few live weapons about and lots of personal belongings,  danger and trauma was everywhere.

You have to ensure the minimum amount of are involved to do the task.

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

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

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

We now awaited the emergency services and help from the rest of the RAF Mountain Rescue Teams were glad this was a remote crash site. The Press and media would have a long walk to get near the site. It was getting dark and I felt alone as we made a perimeter using the road as a boundary. 

I was coping Jim was busy and I was with my small group and explaining to the powers that were arriving the dangers and horror of what was around.

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

In 2019 I visited the site with my friend Dan on the way to speak at the Arran Mountain festival a few years ago. It was surreal but well worth a visit.

Thanks to all the Agencies who helped over a traumatic few days. These are Days you will never forget nor will those with you at the time.

In memory of the crew and families of the Chinook and the work unseen done by RAF Kinloss Mountain Rescue Team and RAF Leuchars MRT.

Lest we forget

The military personnel who died were named as:

Col Chris Biles, 41, late Devonshire and Dorset Regiment, based at army headquarters; Lt-Col Richard Lawrence Gregory- Smith, 42, (Intelligence Corps) based at army headquarters; Lt- Col John Tobias, 41, (intelligence corps) based at army headquarters; Lt-Col George Victor Williams, 49 (intelligence corps) based at army headquarters; and Major Richard Allen, 34, (Royal Gloucester, Berkshire & Wiltshire Regiment) based at army headquarters.

Major Christopher John Dockerty, 33, (Prince of Wales Own Regiment of Yorkshire) based at headquarters of 8 Infantry Brigade, Londonderry; Major Antony Robert Hornby, 38, (Queen’s Lancashire Regiment) based at headquarters 3 Infantry Brigade, Portadown; Major Roy Pugh, 37, (Intelligence Corps) based at army headquarters; and Major Gary Paul Sparks, 33 (Royal Artillery) based at headquartersk, 39 Infantry Brigade, Lisburn.

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

Skin Cancer and the mountains. Please be aware !

I got some great replies to my blog on Heat exhaustion and skin cancer. Many years ago little was known about the effects of skin cancer and prolonged effect of being in the sun for prolonged periods. I spent many years on Expedition’s to Tibet, India, Pakistan, Nepal, the Alps and other countries. We spent our youth in shorts on out local mountains. We in these days hardly used sun screen or covered up our body, add to that my 9 months in shorts in the Persian Gulf in shorts. My job was unloading panes ships in extreme temperatures.I was in the desert rescue on the hills just in shorts and a at times a tee shirt. My skin got damaged over the years.

An Teallach shorts and a tee shirt.

Nowadays we are a lot more aware yet I often see folk especially the young paying no heed to the dangers of the sun. Sadly I have lost a few pals over the years to skin cancer, you have to look after yourself use sun screen, wear a hat and cover up. Please learn from our mistakes. This is what a friend wrote.

“Thanks for highlighting the risk of skin cancer. About 1/4 of the population will get some form of skin cancer. 1/47 women and 1/36 men will get melanoma. Anecdotally, and hardly surprisingly, people who participate in outdoor activities are at greater risk. Melanoma can, and does kill. Although there are new treatments in the past few years, long term side effects such as arthritis, adrenal insufficiency, diabetes, colitis can out an end to the activities we love. 86% of cases skin cancer are avoidable by simple precautions in the sun.”

As you get older I have lost most of my hair and had a growth taken out of my head. Thankfully is was non malignant but a worrying time. I also had a small cancerous tissue near my eye lid. This was probably caused over the years by not wearing glacier goggles that protected this area. A wee operation sortied it out I was lucky.

This may seem a bit similar to yesterdays blog but due to the response worth reminding folk.

Some great advice from Mountaineering Scotland published in May 22 well worth reading.

Advice for those participating, spectating, or working in sport or outdoor recreation. The following specific tips and advice have been developed with the help of Mountain Training England and Mountaineering Scotland.

  1. The higher you go, the stronger the impact of UV radiation, even in the UK. Apply a broad-spectrum product with an SPF of 30 or higher, paying special attention to areas on your head that are prone to burning. 
  2. Using a sunscreen applicator, or cleaning palms with a small towel with alcohol gel, is a good way to avoid a greasy grip whilst climbing or using walking poles.
  3. Once applied to the skin, reapply sunscreen every 2 hours, or more often if you are prone to excessive sweating.
  4. The sun is strongest between 11am and 3pm depending on the season and your location. If possible, try to avoid being in direct sunlight within these hours. 
  5. Sunglasses are critical as your eyes are vulnerable to UV radiation, especially on snowy terrains and high altitudes. If they aren’t UV protected, sun radiation can still cause sun damage to the cornea of the eye. Wear sunglasses throughout the year, as even on sunny days there can also be snow cover and a lot of reflected light. 
  6. Helmets provide protection against bumps, falls and rockfall when climbing. They also ensure that the vulnerable areas (your forehead, scalp) are protected from harmful sun radiation. Whilst hiking up the terrain, a hat with a wide brim is ideal for also protecting your neck.
  7. Helmets will leave your ears exposed, so remember to keep your ears protected with sunscreen.
  8. Make sure to keep hydrated by always keeping a bottle or bladder of water on you.
  9. Zip-off pants are a great way of protecting your skin during the hours when the sun is at its strongest – whilst allowing you to easily convert them into shorts outside of these hours.
  10. Don’t forget to carry a lip balm SPF protection to ensure your lips are adequately protected and hydrated.
  11. Make sure to take regular breaks, ideally in a shaded area out of direct sunlight.
  12. When spending long days outdoors, it is important to wear a sun hat. 

Understanding that the precautionary principle is usually adopted regarding safety equipment when mountain climbing, we understand that there is a general assumption that a chemical contaminant – like sunscreen – will cause an issue to personal protective equipment (PPE) unless proven otherwise. For this reason, please see below for guidance on how to minimise exposure of the PPE to potential chemical contaminants:

Comments welcome !

Posted in Clothing, Expeditions - Alaska - Himalayas etc, Friends, Gear, Mountaineering, Weather, Well being | 4 Comments

Be Aware during this hot weather.

Average Weather at Masirah

The hot season lasts for 2.3 months, from 17 April to 26 June, with an average daily high temperature above 33°C. The hottest day of the year is 13 May, with an average high of 35°C and low of 27°C

Over the years I was very lucky to learn about walking in the heat during my time in Desert Rescue in Masirah in the Persian Gulf. Nothing can compare with the Temperatures out there are incredible and it took a lot to learn to walk or work in that heat. I was off loading planes and ships out in the open and it took some getting used to. We knew very little about heat stroke sun protection or exhaustion but carried lots of water on the hill and fruit in tins !

 Some tips that worked for me:

Drink plenty of fluid before you go! We had a saying drink like a camel.

Wear a head covering hat etc and I always covered my neck with a “bandana” that I would wet whenever possible.

Go slower, drink a little and often and in your water use additive electrolytes to replace salts etc lost by sweating.

Check the colour of your urine when you can. The darker the more dehydrated you are.

Wear comfortable clothing carry long sleeved shirt trousers and have your breaks when possible in the shade. Also if there’s a breeze on the summit use it to cool down.

There’s a high risk of heat exhaustion or heatstroke during hot weather or exercise. Given the high level of exercise involved in climbing a hill, in hot weather you might want to pick a less strenuous goal, or perhaps start earlier in the morning so you get the hard work done before the day heats up. Between 11am and 3pm will probably be the hottest part of the day, so the less strenuous activity you undertake during that time the better.

In prolonged hot, dry spells, many smaller streams may dry up, so it is a good idea to carry extra water. Most people usually carry about a litre of drinking water, but for hot weather you may want to take an extra water bottle.

Mountaineering. scotland advice : To help prevent heat exhaustion or heatstroke:

  • drink plenty of cold drinks, especially when exercising
  • wear light-coloured, loose clothing
  • wear a hat with a brim for added shade
  • sprinkle water over skin or clothes
  • avoid excess alcohol

This will also prevent dehydration and help your body keep itself cool.

Keep an eye on children, the elderly and people with long-term health conditions (like diabetes or heart problems) because they’re more at risk of heat exhaustion or heat stroke.

Heat exhaustion –From  Mountaineering Scotland

Heat exhaustion can and does happen, and can be serious especially where there may be no shelter or help for miles. It’s important to know how to recognise it and what action to take, as well as knowing how to keep cool and well hydrated to avoid the problem arising.

Signs of heat exhaustion include:

  • a headache
  • dizziness and confusion
  • loss of appetite and feeling sick
  • excessive sweating and pale, clammy skin
  • cramps in the arms, legs and stomach
  • fast breathing or pulse
  • a high temperature of 38C or above
  • being very thirsty

If someone is showing signs of heat exhaustion, they need to be cooled down:

1.     Move them to a cool place or into whatever shade there is available.

2.     Get them to lie down and raise their feet slightly.

3.     Get them to drink plenty of water. Sports or rehydration drinks are OK.

4.     Cool their skin – spray or sponge them with cool water and fan them. Cold packs around the armpits or neck are good, too. Cold packs may not be available in the mountains, but you can improvise by using clothing soaked in water.

Heat stroke

If there are no signs of improvement after 30 minutes of treatment for heat exhaustion it may be developing into heat stroke, which can be very serious if not treated quickly. So at that stage you should dial 999 and ask for the Police and then Mountain Rescue.

Symptoms of heatstroke include:

  • feeling unwell after 30 minutes of resting in a cool place and drinking plenty of water
  • not sweating even while feeling too hot
  • a high temperature of 40C or above
  • fast breathing or shortness of breath
  • feeling confused
  • a fit (seizure)
  • loss of consciousness
  • not responsive

While waiting for assistance from Scottish Mountain Rescue you should stay put, try to keep the casualty hydrated. Placing a wet buff or similar on the back of the neck and fanning can all assist with lowering of temperature. If you can provide shade this should be attempted. 

Put the person in the recovery position if they lose consciousness while you’re waiting for help.

Remember yourself and the others in the party: you are all enduring the same high temperature. If the temperature remains high you should all be drinking plenty and doing what you can to remain cool.

More information on heat exhaustion and heatstroke from the NHS.

Protection from the sun:

Sun protection is something many climbers tend to bypass. Protective clothing can inhibit movement, hats can fly off, sunglasses can dislodge, and sunscreen can be greasy, and when combined with sweat, it can cause a stinging sensation in the eyes. So, it’s not a surprise that many don’t bother, but at what cost?

Prolonged sun exposure will cause early ageing of the skin, wrinkles, age spots, hyperpigmentation and solar keratosis, which looks unsightly. Accumulated exposure can cause many types of non-melanoma skin cancer (NMSC), the most common cancer in the UK, which can be disfiguring. And at worst, melanoma, which can spread to other parts of the body.

Top five tips for coping with sunshine

1. The sun is strongest between 11am and 3pm so, if possible, look to be active outside of these hours, opting for early morning or evening sessions if possible.

2. Apply a broad-spectrum product with an SPF30 or higher, before you start activity, and reapply every 2 hours or more if in water or if you sweat excessively.

3. Wear light, tight weave clothing that protects arms and legs as this is the best way to avoid sunburn.

4. Remember to wear a hat or cap. Your forehead, scalp and ears are vulnerable areas, so be sure to protect them.

5. Hydration is vital, and ideally with water. Thirst is a sign you are already dehydrated, so drink at regular intervals whether you feel like it or not.Danger – Skin cancer is a real threat please ensure you use sun scream and cover your head.I have had three scares one on my head, my eyelid and my skin. We knew nothing in my early days about sun protection. You have no excuse nowadays

Posted in Enviroment, Equipment, Friends, Views Mountaineering, Weather, Well being | 7 Comments

Coping with hard times.

In life you hit spells that most of us struggle through. I feel I am n this period again. I have been down in my home town in Ayr where my sister is not well. I stopped on the way down enjoying the stunning weather. The hills were busy with most of the carparks very busy. Sadly I do not have much strength to get on the hills due to my ongoing medical issues. I am learning to take it easy and build my strength up.

Elma’s cakes

I stopped at Crianlarich the A82 really frightening. A very busy road nowadays that one must take care on. My old friend Elma was expecting visitors and had the pancakes, cakes,scones etc. Elma was on great form and we had a great catch up.

Early start ! quite roads .

It was then head to Ayr and see my sister we had a great chat and is such a brave soul. These visits are never easy memories flash by of past days in Ayr.I stayed with my nephew and family. We went to the football and Ayr were thrashed by Patrick Thistle 5 nil.The wee ground Somerset park was the full and I had memories of days here with my Mum and Dad. Sadly they are gone but like me would have been broken hearted.

At Somerset Park before it went wrong.

We had a good evening with local fish and chips at Richards with his family.Next day was an early wander along the beach with Richard and Harry his dog. Arran looked super in the early morning light. I then went back to my sisters she was very tired and I did not stay long. I headed home it was then things got me.

I felt the effect of the weekend the memories and the time spent with family. As I was Driving back with plenty of stops getting my head together. Perth was manic, big traffic jams and then heading up the A9. I got home when I felt it all hit me.I was mentally exhausted had a shower the a nap. I felt very sad but had a wander on a lovely night.The Dolphins were out heading along the coast That was so heartwarming to see.

Life is ever changing and when I got home I got a message that a good pal had died. It was the final straw for me and I felt the tears hit me. I not ashamed of telling how I feel. I

I am lucky so many friends called to see I was okay. Life goes on and my priority is to try and get fitter it’s a slow process as you get older Life can be very hard at times it’s finding a way to cope that is hard.

I try ti cope by waking in the woods or the beach seeing so much wild life. It clears my head and though exhausted mentally it helps me.

Speaking to pals that understand what going on on, being honest is a key on my feelings. Over the years I am proud to say that I have listened to others and helped many. Thank you all for your kindness.

Life goes on .

Posted in Enviroment, Family, Friends, Health, Mountaineering, People, Weather, Well being, Wildlife | 10 Comments

Les Boswell – “Bodger”the wee man with a huge heart.

From Les’ s wife

Hello troops , this is my first post on here and its a sad one . My lovely husband Les Bodger Boswell has passed away . He died yesterday after a long battle with liver cancer . Les served in the Royal Air force MRT for 9 years in the 70s . He was stationed in Cyprus which he loved but not as much as the time spent at RAF Kinloss in Scotland .He was incredibly proud to be part of the MRT, and he absolutely adored Scotland . He has been to many of the reunions at Aviemore and Newtonmore. He’s taken me to a few of them. ĺd never been to Scotland till I met Les , he opened up a whole new beautiful world to me . RIP ❤️ Les ,till we meet again 💔

Funeral arrangements are as follows, Friday 16th June 2023, 12:15 at Macclesfield Crematorium, refreshments to follow at Great Rocks Social Club, Peak Dale, SK17 8AJ

I came back yesterday from a hard few days in Ayr visiting my sister who is very poorly. I was extremely tired and emotional on the journey back. Stopping regularly to look at the mountains and hold things together in my head. The news of Les rocked me.

So sad great days as young lads lightening missing us on the Fannich ridge. We did some great days always laughing at my climbing attempts. These were fun times we were at our peak fit and full of crazy ideas.Myself Tom Mac, Bodger and Billy Cummings were all small but by God we were hardy. Bodger was immensely strong and we had some epic carries off the hill in Skye and other places. We all proved our worth I think. We went to Turkey and Iran on the Big CENTO Exercises where we shared my infamous journey home by train after the plane was said to be infested by mice! In Iran they thought we were were special forces as we were so fit, We milked that. The Air marshal was horrified when the main man a 5 Star General from the USA invited us to the Officer’s Mess such was the impression we made. Central Treaty Organization (CENTO), formerly Middle East Treaty Organization, or Baghdad Pact Organization, mutual security organization dating from 1955 to 1979 and composed of Turkey, Iran, Pakistan,The USA and the United Kingdom. Imagine that today?

Strong, yet kind Bodger was one of the young troops who I learned lots from. He took me climbing on Creag Du and other crags. He just powered up the climbs of that period being so powerful awee man with a barrel chest . I would get him back on the massive hill days. He was the full – time driver and we had some scrapes. He loved the social aspects the singing that was in vogue then and the bothying, we supported the Team Leaders Course on their big walks me getting access to remote bothies after work Bodger driving in to the Fannichs and Seanna Bhraig. Great days and sneaking in the odd hill on route carrying nothing on the hill.

The wagon epics.

These were some great days, living life to the full and meeting great companions, things that make yo who you are. Thank you for the memories Bodger and I am so glad you loved Scotland and its mountains. My thoughts are with you Lyne and your family,

I was so glad you were with me when I completed my Munros in 1976.

Kinloss MRT 1975 Bodger on my right.

We had some great laughs wee man .

Thinking of you all another star gone

Affric Bothy,

Mountain friends.

The mountains were our playground.

We learned their secrets as youngsters. 

They opened our eyes and made us who we are.

Great days thinking we were invincible. 

Yet we had only started the learning. 

Helping others, carrying unknown folk off the hill.

Pushing the body to extremes 

Gaining true friendships, leaning on each others strengths. 

A bond that lasts forever, no mater where we are. 

In memory of Less “Bodger” Boswell a true pal.

Posted in Friends, Health, Mountain rescue, Mountaineering, Views Mountaineering, Well being | 2 Comments

Travelling West – no summits but great joy seeing the mountains again

The weather yesterday was stunning as o drove West. Blue skies and sunshine made it a journey through to Fort William. I am still vert tired but felt the sun all day giving me warmth and a feeling of joy. The hills were at there best clear and everything looked great. How I wished I was on the high summits. I stopped often in lay byes to take it all in. It never cease to impress me this area.


Fort William was busy and I had some soup a wee bit shopping then headed to Sue’s at Onich. We had a walk along past the Ballahullish bridge along the cycle path. Loch Linnihe looking like the Mediterranean The seals were out it was very warm and had a wee drink in the restaurant at the waters edge. Ardgour look magnificent the ferry still out of action for cars. The A82 was so busy massive Lorries taking most of the road up, you have to concentrate all the time .

We had a slow two hour walk then back for a meal in Roam West “venison stew”The views of Glencoe the Loch and the hills outstanding. I was by now extremely tired and had a low key early night.

It’s off to Ayr this morning to see my sister who is not well. Never easy going home these days but will stop in and see Elma on the way at Crainlarich an old pal of the RAF teams. Then I hope to watch Ayr United with my nephew in their big game.

Going home is always tricky there are not many of my family left. Yet I have some great memories of a childhood when life was care free. Things move on and it will be good to see my sister again.

Posted in Enviroment, Family, Friends, Health, Mountain rescue, Mountaineering, People, Weather, Well being, Wildlife | Leave a comment

Last day in Harris

We were up early as Yvette had not been to Harris before. What a busy day till the mid afternoon ferry. We went to lots of beaches mostly empty but the ever-changing weather was incredible. The beaches are amazing add the colours of the sea the sky and of course dark and light was wonderful.

We were enjoying our day and it was a special few hours. There is something about being on an Island, it takes you into another world. The photo above shows our joy to be out.

Yvette in full Harris mood.

We even managed to find a lovely food shack and sat down ( for the first time) to enjoy a brew and a hot roll. We sat on the Machair out of the wind and watched the sea.

Great food.

It’s hard to imagine a more Bonny place even in changeable weather. We went to the wee local shop and I was greeted by Murdo was was the skipper of the Cuma the boat that took me a few times to St Kilda.

We had a great chat and even went down to visit his boat. He had a lot of canoeists waiting for there five day trip. Murdo is a star we met the crew and his wife. He is a true pal and it made my day to see him.

Murdo the skipper of the Cuma and we met by chance in the local shop.

Time was moving and we had a busy day we headed for the ferry and were met by my pal Wullie Mac Ritchie and his son Lewis who was in RAF MR with me for many years. Then one of the Hebrides MR Team met us and gave us a lovely clock thank you all.

We left the Island and arrived in Ullapool In pouring rain and I was off to the Beauly Bash a grand night in even more rain.

The Beauly Bash

What a great few days thanks all. It was great to be with so many kind folk and so good to spend time with each other.

Posted in Family, Friends, Mountaineering, People, Sailing trips, Views Mountaineering, Weather, Well being, Wildlife | Leave a comment

Sad at Leaving Lewis and a night and grand memories .

I was very tired after opening the Hebrides Mountain Rescue Base. I was so well looked after and I hope my wee chat went well? All the SAR Agencies were there. It was great to met embers from the Police, RNLI, Coastguard’s and of course the Hebrides team. It was a chance to put my views of “working together” on incidents. This is achieved by getting to know each other before a big incident starts. Trust in each others abilities is essential!

The Hebrides team

It was great to see and meet the Hebrides team and see there enthusiasm for the future. Also wonderful to see many young folk adding to the team. It must have been a huge undertaking to raise the money especially in these hard times. Well done all involved. I

Phil Glennie and his lovely wife.

Afterwards I met many other agencies and had a great chat mainly about the future. Also Phil Glennie and his wife who represented Scottish Mountain rescue and Phil also spoke.

Opening the new HQ with a rope cutter!!!

I was amazed to meet so many like minded folk. You could feel their power at the opening, I loved every minute from the drive over, the ferry , meeting so many like minded folk old and young. It was special for me to have my stepdaughter with me. Families are so important and I keep stressing this in every talk I do.

With the Lord Lieutenant of the Hebrides a lovely man.

I was very tired and was back at the Guesthouse at 2100. It had been a long day and my energy levels are low! We had a ferry booked for mid afternoon and Yvette wanted to see some of the Islands incredible places.

It’s wonderful to be honoured with opening of the centre. I cannot thank you all enough. We can all learn from the past but must listen to the younger team members who I have always appreciated their views.

The family support is huge for all of us and it’s great to see they are at long last being acknowledged.

Nearly half of incidents nowadays involve vulnerable people. Many are depressed, suicidal or have medical problems. Things like Alzheimer’s patients going missing mean big changes on searches and I am amazed to see the young team members SARDA and other agencies assisting the police and SAR helicopters.

Mental health is a huge problem these days our part to pick up the pieces of a failing society. Yet their are folk out there willing to help and that gives me hope.

Please remember that Mountain Rescue and other SAR Agencies rely on donations please look at their websites for more information

Comments welcome.

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

Opening of the new Hebrides Mountain Rescue Base in Stornaway.

Yesterday I had the honour of opening the New Hebrides Mountain Rescue Team Base in Stornaway. My stepdaughter and myself travelled over from Ullapool in the ferry a journey of over 2 hours. It was wonderful tone on the ferry the weather was fine and we both enjoyed the journey. The Ferry was very busy but we were out on the deck enjoying the views of familiar hills from the sea. This is a wonderful viewpoint the hills looked as always majestic as we left the mainland. Each hill has so many memories for me Quinag. Suiliven and the big hills like An Teallach. As they disappeared I thought of the words of that great poet Norman McCaig.

A Man in Assynt

“Glaciers, grinding West, gouged out
these valleys, rasping the brown sandstone,
and left, on the hard rock below –
the ruffled foreland –
this frieze of mountains, filed
on the blue air –
Stac Polly,
Cul Beag, Cul Mor, Suilven,
Canisp –
a frieze and
a litany.

Who owns this landscape?
Has owning anything to do with love?
For it and I have a love-affair, so nearly human
we even have quarrels. –
When I intrude too confidently
it rebuffs me with a wind like a hand
or puts in my way
a quaking bog or loch
where no loch should be. Or I turn stonily
away, refusing to notice
the rouged rocks, the mascara
under a dripping ledge, even
the tossed, the stony limbs waiting.”

I can’t pretend
it gets sick for me in my absence,
though I get
sick for it. Yet I love it
with special gratitude,since
it sends me no letters, is never
jealous and, expecting nothing
from me, gets nothing but
cigarette packets and footprint

Myself and Yvette on the ferry.

We had a late breakfast on the boat and Yvette caught up with some work. I had a wee snooze and we were soon landing at Stornaway. We visited the lifeboat station and met some real characters. Then a great friend Willie Mc Ritchie who is living on the a island and was an incredible character in the RAF Team where I met him as a young lad. He was looking great full of life and it made my day to meet him and Lewis his son. We had shared so many adventures in Scotland the Himalayas and Tibet. It did my soul so good.

We caught up then after lunch then headed over to the new base to set up for my wee chat and the opening of the new Base.

Hebrides Mountain Rescue Team

HebMRT operates throughout the whole of the Outer Hebrides, ranging from Barra in the south to Lewis in the north. The team is based in the town of Stornoway on Lewis, providing immediate access to the hills of Harris and Lewis.

The team is made up of 25 volunteers, who give up their time to train and help those in need in urban, hill and moorland environments. Team members are trained in basic mountain skills with the addition of search techniques and management skills, communications, advanced first aid, advanced rigging and off-road and ATV driving.

“The team has responded to a diverse range of incidents including overdue walkers, crag fast climbers, missing persons and animal rescues.”

HebMRT are fortunate enough to have a Search and Rescue Dog Association Scotland (SARDA) dog and handler as well as a Search and Rescue Aerial Association Scotland (SRAA) drone pilot. These expand our diverse range of assets that help increase the speed of locating casualties and missing persons.

Over the years the team has responded to a diverse range of incidents from overdue walkers, crag fast climbers, missing persons and animal rescues. Any incident can last from a few minutes before the team gets stood down or multiple days in the case of a protracted search.

Posted in Charity, Friends, Islands, Local area and events to see, Mountain rescue, mountain safety, Mountaineering, Views Mountaineering, Views Political?, Weather, Well being | Leave a comment


My first thoughts of visiting Lewis

When I was a young lad of 18 I went over every 2 months to Stornaway. This was part of my job to assess food prices on the Island for the local RAF camp at Stornaway. Stornaway. This was parented by RAF Kinloss and I travelled in the early days 197 0’s via Ullapool then a two hour plus ferry journey to Stornaway. The trip took 3 days in all and included a visit to Aird Uig a small satellite unit on the Island. It was after a few visits I discovered the sea cliffs. These were great days I took a few bosses up the highest hill The Clisham a wonderful Corbett and the highest on the mainland. I met so many characters on my visits especially in the local shops.

Royal Air Force Aird Uig was a Royal Air Force radar station located on the western edge of the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides, Scotland. The main masts and operations room were located north of the village of Aird Uig on Gallan Head, with a separate domestic site nearer to the village, five-eighths mile (one kilometre) further south.[4]RAF Aird Uig

Air Force Ensign of the United Kingdom.svg

RAF Aird Uig

The station was originally constructed as part of the ROTOR programme and it was operated by the communications ground trades of the RAF between 1954 and 1974.

The Cold War

During the height of the Cold War years Stornoway Airport was home to 112 S.U., an RAF Signals Unit[8] that was established in 1960 as an Electronic countermeasures(ECM) measurement and evaluation unit by RAF Bomber Command Headquarters (HQBC), High Wycombe. The unit measured the signal strength, frequency bandwidths and aerial performance of the operational Handley Page Victor and Avro Vulcan V bombers as they flew a course towards, over or away from the unit varying from straight-lines to polar patterns.[9] Results were passed back to Operations Research Branch, (HQBC), BCDU at RAF Finningley and each aircraft’s base for the Electronics Engineers and Technicians to review for performance improvement of each piece of equipment that was measured.[8] The combined success of 112 S.U., BCDU at RAF Finningly and each of the aircraft’s bases along with the Operations Research Branch at (HQBC) and technical support from RRE Malvern (later to become RSRE Malvern) was demonstrated by the V-force during the Operation Skyshield exercises [10] and readiness through the Cuban Missile Crisis in the early sixties [11] and subsequent exercises[12] up to the time that the unit was closed in 1983.

In the early 1980s, part of the Airport was upgraded in a £40 million upgrade and extension of the main runway and taxiways along with new hangars, to accept Panavia Tornado aircraft.[13] By 1 April 1982 this work was completed, the buildings commissioned and RAF Stornoway was established once again in order to become a Forward Operations Base. After sixteen years in this role and also the end of the Cold War, the station was finally closed[14] on 31 March 1998 and reverted to Stornoway Airport.

Posted in Mountaineering | 2 Comments

Big Hill, mountain days – Looking for ideas to add some routes for the 80 th Anniversary Of RAF MRT.

  1. The Greater traverse of the Black Cuillins, Isle of Skye (including the standard ridge and also the Blaven-Clach Glas traverse with cross country walk between.

The direction of travel is optional but the main ridge is probably best and easiest done from Ghars Bheinn to Sgurr nan Gillean and should include the ridge direct as much as possible including the Thearlach Dubh gap, King’s Chimney, Innaccessible Pinnacle and Naismith’s Route on Am Bastier.

10o twelve hours should be allowed for the traverse of the main ridge with a further twelve hours reckoned for to complete the Greater traverse.  The main ridge has short sections of climbing at very difficult standard (V. Diff rock grade).   In all this is a very demanding undertaking although exhilarating and possibly offers the finest of mountaineering adventure available in Scotland and indeed the British Isles.

  • The Dubh Ridge (doing the Dubhs as they say) of Sgur Dubh Mor on the Black Cuillins of Skye.

Traditionally the route is started in Glen Brittle then onto Sgurr na Banadich summit where a to descent to Loch Coruisk is made for a quick ‘dip’ in this magnificent sea-loch.  Once suitably ‘watered’ an ascent is made back onto Sgurr Dubh Mor via the Dubh Ridge, an interesting but testing, ‘easier’ graded climb that leads to the summit where a return can be made to Glen Brittle.  A competent and fit party should expect to spend a full day on this splendid venture !

3.    The Pinnacle Ridge Circuit

3Skye – Pinnacle Ridge – Naismiths Route  (Am Basteir, Bruach na Frithe) Great mountaineering day Naismiths follows an improbable line for VD, how bold were these guys?Isle of SkyePinnacle Ridge – Sgurr nan Gillean – Am Basteir – Bruach na Frithe
4Foinaven /Arkle Traverse Big hill day in a remote area.N/W Sutherland Foinaven – Arkle.
5Elphin Traverse a big day in the wee hills. Lots of height gained, wonderful views of the hills and the sea.Pentland FirthTraverse of Stac Pollaidh, Cul Mhor – Cul Beag  
6The Fannaichs   Beginner’s introduction to a big hill day.The FannaichsAn Coileachan, Meall Gorm, Sgurr Mor, Beinn Liath Mor Fannaich, Meall a’Chrasgaidh, Sgurr nan Clach Geala, Sgurr nan Each, Sgurr Breac, A’Chailleach
7The Shenavall Six/ Summer/winter   Superlative hills in great country, the pull back up on the way home clears the mind. Magnificent, a must for everyone!   Really brave people do 7 + 8 togetherFisherfield HillsBeinn a’ Chlaidheimh, Sgurr Ban, Mullach Coire Mhic Fhearchair, Ben Tarsuinn, A’Mhaighdean, Ruadh Stac Mor
8An Teallach (winter)*** Grade 2 If taken direct Best hill in Scotland, do not miss the complete traverse for the best views.DundonnellSail Liath – Sgurr Fiona – Sgurr Creag an Eich – Bidean a Ghlas Thuill
9Beinn Dearg Six. The drop to Am Faochagach is one to rememberUllapoolEididh nan Clach Geala, Meall nan Ceapraichean, Cona Mheall, Beinn Dearg, Seana Breagh. Am Faochagach
10The Torridon Trilogy.    Ben Alligin – Liathach – Beinn Eighe you can add the Corbett   One of Scotland’s finest, two beleachs of pain to enjoy. The West Coast at its best.     Big Boys and girls only in winterTorridonTom na Gruagaich – Sgurr Mor, Mullach an Rathain – Spidean a’ Choire Leith -Connich Mhor – Ruadh – Stac Mor – Black Carlins – Kinlochewe.
11“The Knoydart Three” A very isolated area, worth doing just for the situation.KnoydartLadhar Bheinn, Luinne Bheinn, Meall Bhuidhe
12Glendessary Five. Another gem of the West coast, a long day and either a long walk in or out, time to contemplate. Garich – Sgurr Mor – Sgurr na Coireachan – Garb Choire Mhor – Sgurr na Ciche
13South Cluanie Ridge   “A great starter day, training for big hill days” Best way to do it is by the Forcan ridge.Glen ShielThe Saddle, Sgurr Na Sgine, Creag nan Damh Sgurr an Lochain, Sgurr an Doire Leathain, Maol Chinn- Dearg, Aonach air Chrith, Sgurr an Doire Leathain, Sgurr an Lochain, Druim Shionnach Creag a Mhaim
14Glen Affric Traverse- Toll Creaghach – Mullach na Dheiragain   A very big day, and a “Long walk back”    Glen AffricToll Creagach – Tom a Choinich – Carn Eighe – Beinn Fionnlaidh – Mam Sodhail – An Sochach – Sgurr nan Ceathreamhnan – Mullach na Dheiragain – Affric
15Ben Alder Horse Shoe “Cycle in to Culra” and maybe spend the night to saviour the atmosphere.Loch ErichtCarn Dearg – Geal Charn – Aonach Beag – Beinn Eibhinn – Ben Alder – Beinn Bheoil
16Cairngorms – The Big Seven “The drop into the Larig Gru is when the mind games start.The CairngormsCairn gorm, Ben Macdui, Carn a’ Mhaim, The Devil’s Point, Carn Toul, Sgor an Lochain Uaine, Braeriach
17Eagle Ridge Plus 5 munros, munro baggers only   “A busy day” involving a fair bit of fitness.LochnagarSevere *** 650ft Lochnagar – Carn a choire Bhoidheach – Carn an t – Sagairt – Mor – Carn Bannoch – Broad Cairn
18“Adverikie” Wall plus 3 Munros   Scotland finest Severe and three good hills, a bike would be helpful and a place to dump the gear. 350 ft HS *** Creag Pitridh – Geal Charn – Beinn a Chlachair.
19The Big Four “A wonderland of views, lots of area knowledge for the big callout.”Ben NevisAonach Mor, Aonach Beag, Carn Mor Dearg, Ben Nevis
20The Mamores   “An early test for Munro baggers”The MamoresSgurr Eilde Mor, Binnein Beag, Binnien Mor, Na Gruagaichean, An Gearanach, Stob Choire a’ Chairn, Am Bodach, Sgurr a’ Mhaim, Stob Ban, Mullach nan Coirean
21Both Sides of Glencoe    Buachille – Aonach Eag   “A lot harder than you think, no stopping for a pint”GlencoeBuachille Etive Mor – Buachille Etive Beag- Stob Coire Sgreamhach – Bidean nam Bian – Sgorr nam Fiannaidh – Meall Dearg,
22Aonach Eagach Ridge winter/summer with Clachaig Gully 1500 ft Severe *** “Some take all day in the gully, a great Scottish experience for severe climbers”GlencoeClachaig Gully -, – Sgorr nam Fiannaidh  – Meall Dearg
23Etive Traverse   This is a really long and difficult day, some skilful route finding needed.Glen Etive HillsBen Starav – Beinn nan Aighenan – Bheinn Mhor – Stob Coire Albannaich – Meall nan – Eun – Stob a Bhruaich Leith – Stob Ghabhar – Stob Choire Odhair – Clach Leathad – Creise – Meal a Bhuirdh
24Ben More Seven    Hard hills for Leuchars area, do not forget to stop at Elmas after the dayCrainlarichBen More, Stob Binnein – Cruach Ardrain – Beinn Tulaichean – Beinn a’ Chroin – An Casteal – Beinn Chabhair
25Ben Lawyers Seven (winter)   Normal Leuchars DayKillinMeall nan Tarmachan – Meall Corranach – Meal a Choire Leith – Ben Lawyers -An Stuc – Meall Garbh – Meall Greigh
26Arran Ridge   “Fantastic day, Scotland in miniature, wonderful mountaineering a long walk back if completing the Traverse”Isle of ArranGoatfell – Cir Mhor – Caistel Abhail – Ceum na Caillich – Beinn Tarsuinn – Beinn Nuis – Beinn Bharrain – Mullach Buidhe. Greater Traverse
27The Old Man of Hoy Book left on top by Scotty KMRT. Ian Clough on first ascent ex Kinloss.  Do not bivy on top.Isle of Hoy (Orkney)E1 5b 460ft ***
28The Old Man of Stoer Brilliant especially when tide is in, who swims the channel?LochinverVS *** 4c 180 ft
29Visit Stron Ulladale (The Scoop) “A sore neck day”Isle of Harris“Look and Learn” 300 VS 4b
30The Cioch Nose “Patey’s finest, finish by the ridge.ApplecrossV Diff *** 450 ft
31Northern Rock – Dragon/Gob  One of Scotland’s finest crags and area, bike again handy and a wee bottle for the bothy. VD men head for Beinn Lair.Carnmore crag340 ft HVS *** 5a/ 420 VS 4c ***
32Skye Rock – *** Wonderful, day on great rock, no fingertips left at the days end!Isle of SkyeCoire Na Ciche – Cioch Direct 500 Severe *** Arrow Route 120 VD *** Integrity Severe 250
33 The Great Prow Blaven Clach Glas Traverse. The easiest route in Hard rock finished by a superb mountain day.Isle of Skye The Great Prow VS 4c/, Clach Glas, Blaven
34Cairngorm rock – The Needle Great views on clean Cairngorm rock.(Cairngorms) Loch Avon840 ft E1 ***
35Talisman/Clean Sweep   Two fine routes, Clean Sweep one of Robin Smiths finest  Coire Etchacan -Hell’s Lum Crag (Cairngorms)HS 500ft *** HS 350 ft ***
36 Mitre Ridge “Cumming Crofton Route ” Squareface best VD in Scotland  Long walk in/out, watch the loose rock on Mitre RidgeBeinn a’ Bhuird (Cairngorms)550ft, H Severe *** 150ft VD ***
37Savage Slit (summer) Fallout Corner   Impressive lines, great rockCoire an Lochain (Cairngorms)Severe *** 180ft 180 ft VS 4c
38The Brute/ King Bee Kinloss route – Dougal Hastons crag a crag for the bold VS leaders.Creag Du  Newtonmore 200 VS 5a ***/ 180 ft HVS 4c ***
39 Ben Nevis “Five Ridges In a Day” Take a camera; if you achieve this you are now nearly a mountaineer.Ben NevisN/E Buttress, Observatory, Tower Ridge, Castle Ridge. Ledge Route
40Centurion Minus One Magnificent rock climbing on the Big Bad BenCarn Dearg Buttress – Minus Buttress (Ben Nevis)540 HVS 5a *** 860 ft HVS ***5a
41The Moruisg Hills    Stop at Beardies bothy on the long walk out.  AchnashelleachMoruisg – Sgurr nan Ceanaichean – Sgurr Connich – Sgurr Connich – Sgurr a Chaorachan – Maoile Lunndaidh – Bidean a Choire Sheasgaich – Lurg Mor
42Kinloss Corner/Agags Groove January Jigsaw Scottish traditional rock, steeped in historyBuachaille Etive Mor330 VD ***/360 VD***330 VD ***
43The Chasm An unforgettable experience, especially the top pitches one for the crag rat.Buachaille Etive MorSevere *** 1500ft
44The Etive Trilogy   A big Idwal slabs, bold routes impressive rock. Watch the descent and the midgesGlen Etive SlabsHammer 500 HVS ***/ Spartan Slab 400 ***/ Swastika 500 E1 5b ***
45Cobbler Rock – Bold middle range rock on a traditional crag.The Cobbler (Arrochar)Recess Route, Punster’s Crack, Ardgarten Arete. Whether Wall V Diff *** 250ft, Severe *** 160ft, Severe *** 200ft
46 Arran Rock – Got to be done by everyone, Labyrinth different type of routeIsle of ArranCir Mhor Labyrinth 250 Severe, *** Sou’wester Slabs 350 VD ***
47Arran Rock – South Ridge Direct Another classic that gets better with age.Isle of ArranVS *** 395m  5a/b
47Winter climbs Cairngorms Coire An Lochan – The Vent -Western Route Two differing routes in a busy Corrie.Coire an Lochan350 ft Grade 3***/400 ft Grade 4/5***
48Deep Cut Chimney. Should go in most conditions wild move out of chimney!Hell’s Lum Crag (Cairngorms)560 ft Grade 4 ***
50Fluted Buttress/ Hidden Chimney/ Alladdins Buttress. Winter Course tick listsCoire an -Sneachda350 ft Grade 4**/ 300 ft Grade 3** /350 ft Grade 4/5 ***
51 Greag Mheagaidh Ice – Smiths Route/ Staghorn Gully Big long, serious routes with a long walk out. Good navigation a must>Greag Meagaidh550 ft Grade 6 *** 1200 Grade 3 ***
52 Ben Nevis Ice – Point Five Gully (winter) Kinloss involved in first ascent Ian Clough and mates.Observatory Buttress (Ben Nevis)Grade 5/5 **** 1000ft
52Smiths Route/ The Curtain How did they climb these routes cutting stepsThe Ben400 ft Grade 5 *** 250 ft Grade 4/5 ***
53Tower Ridge (winter) Scotland finest winter route, read Murray’s account in Undiscovered Scotland.Ben Nevis Grade 3 ****Magic winter day.    
55Observatory Ridge Very tricky route, not to be underestimated.The Ben1000ft Grade 4 ****
56Aonach Mor – The Twins winter Left Twin/ Right Twin. Watch the descent gully,Anoach Mhor300 ft Grade 3 *** 250 Grade 2 ***
57 Beinn Udlaidh Ice – Special place for introduction to steep ice.Beinn UdlaidhQuartvein Scoop/ South Gully Of Black wall/ Peter Pan.300 ft Grade 4/4*** 250 ft 4/4** 250ft 5/5**
58Very Big hill days – Lochaber Traverse. Mamores – Grey Corries and The Big Four 19 Munros in 24 hrs.   A test of stamina and mind should be done on the longest day.LochaberMamores Mullach nan Coirean – Sgurr Eilde Mor- Stob Ban – Stob Choire Claurigh, Stob Coire Eain, Sgurr Chonnich Mor, Aonach Beag, Aonach Mor, Carn Mor Dearg, Ben Nevis.
59“Kintail Traverse” South Clunnie Ridge – North Clunnie 17 Munros in 24 hrs.   Mind-blowing drop to the Clunnie Inn, do not stop in keep going, you are half way there.KintailThe Saddle – Sgurr Na Sgine – Creag nan Damh – Sgurr an Lochan – Maol Chinn – Dearg – Aonach a Chrith – Druim Shionnach – Creag a Mhain – A Chralaig – Mullach Fraoch – coire – Ciste Dubh – Aonach Meadhoin – Sgurr a Bhealaich Dheirg – Salieag – Sgurr na Ciste Duibhe – Sgurr na Carnach – Sgurr Fhuaran.
60The Skye Ridge Winter This two-day expedition involving a bivouac on the ridge. To this date (2005) no RAF MR Troop has completed Britain’s finest winter route.  Any Takers for the Greater Traverse in winter? The complete mountaineer will achieve this in his CV.SkyeGars Bleinn – Sgurr Na Gillean Grade 4 *** to include the Thearlaich Dubh Gap – Kings Chimney – In Pin on Sgurr Dearg – Naismiths Route on Am Basteir. The greater Traverse includes Blaven  
 This is just a guide but some food for thought?  Think of the memories you will have.   
  Comments as always welcome.  
Many thanks to all for their ideas over the years and motivation.
Posted in Corbetts and other hills, Mountain rescue, Mountaineering, Munros, Rock Climbing, Views Mountaineering, Well being | Leave a comment

UKC hill walking / podcast

I have been doing several podcast lately And just received this by email.There is some food for thought here let me know what you think the link is below.

Hi Dan and Heavy

I’d just like to thank you both for all the hard work that went into this podcast episode. It’s a riveting listen!

Published this morning on both UKHillwalking and UKClimbing:

Comments welcome !

Mountain Air is a podcast about outdoor people. In this series, produced especially for UKHillwalking, Dan Aspel talks with a range of fascinating interviewees, from unlikely adventurers and high achieving enthusiasts, to dedicated professionals in the outdoor industry. Each episode focuses on a different individual with a unique tale to tell. They all have one thing in common: a love of places high, wild, and free.

Posted in Mountaineering | Leave a comment

Great – Question / Any advice for climbing middle grade routes in Skye?

I was over on Skye last week and asked for advice on routes on Skye. This was not about hard climbs but classics. I was so fortunate to climb a lot in Skye very regularly. I leaned so much I probably did over 100 routes. The guide books in the early 70’s were very basic unlike now. I did not have much money then, the gear was basic knowledge was limited. Most early days the climbing felt very like exploration. We often went off route in error and there was a lot of Lose Rock!

The joy of Skye

I started on “easy “routes big long diffs many had had few ascents but what learning. These routes had a Alpine feel about them. The length and route finding was always interesting. I found Skye a real journey and I learned on every route I was never a great climber but I loved it.

My first Skye Guide

As o was working the become a RAF team leader I had to improve my climbingZ. I worked hard Skye was ideal as we were there a lot. I took many new troops climbing and we did some grand climbs. I am so glad I wrote bits in them a great idea as my memory fades. Well worth doing.

I started doing the big easy routes In corrie Laggan Western Buttress routes like : Medoan a 1000 ft Difficult, The Mallory Slab and Grove 1000. foot very Diff. These involved a lot of route finding but ideal for me.

I then moved onto Stron na Ciche classic routes like Cioch West, Cioch Direct. Harder routes like Petronella 180 feet severe, Crembo Cracks anther Severe.I did these routes often them climbing with better climbers routes than me

I managed to do many combinations of routes heading up to the Cioch and the higher routes.Arrow route on the Cioch slabs then up onto Integrity the Classic Upper Buttress a 250 feet Severe and others. Trophy crack. crack of Doom and the classically named Crack of Doubke Doom. The Classic climbers route onto the Cioch is a good mountaineering day. Eastern Gully and Cioch can be fun on a bad day.

The Cioch Slabs.

On the Eastern Buttress great routes like Shangri La a 449 ft severe. Vulcan Wall a 229 ft VS. On Sgurr Sgumian a fun 600 ft vdiff Sunset Slab and the continuation a Severe are worth doing.

Good info in this classic

There are so many great routes in Skye over in Corrie Ghrunda White Slab remains a lovely route. I used to go there and climb before the sun hit Coire Lagan later in the day.

White Spab

So many other routes some classic days yet these great crags seem very quiet these days is everyone in the climbing walls and bouldering.

Tips – Be aware of loose rock on the cliffs!

Route finding – take care.

On the sneck before the Cioch.

What’s your favourite route ?

Posted in Articles, Books, Mountaineering, Recomended books and Guides, Views Mountaineering, Well being | Leave a comment

Loch Coruisk – Skye – a natural film set that only nature could produce.

To me Loch Coruisk holds many memories. On my first traverse of the Skye Ridge in 1972 it looked a wild place of wild water and dark cliffs. Next year I came over the main ridge Sgurr na Bannadich and swam in its waters on a boiling hot day. Then we headed up the Dubhs ridge over to Coire Ghrunda and back to Glen Brittle. This became a regular occurrence on our visits to Skye in future years.

Sir Walter Scott visited the loch in 1814 and described it vividly:Rarely human eye has known a scene so stern as that dread lake,With its dark ledge of barren stone…”

Loch Coruisk

It is a place many artists have tried to capture but the light is ever changing and on a wild day it can be so sinister.The darkness and barren cliffs of wild gabbro change with the light. Yet it is to me a place of wonder.

Loch Coruisk May. 2023

After our day on Sgurr na Stri we took it easy and had a wander round the Loch. There was no rush today we enjoyed being close to nature. The sky was dark and a breeze added to the day. The path is good but muddy in places. This was combined with the huge broiler plate slabs that make walking superb. You could take time to look into the wild Corries.

Many of these Corries involved big call-outs in wild weather. Back breaking work carrying a stretcher down even worse on the dark. When you look back it is amazing we had few injuries. Every time I am here I always remember these days.

The views of the huge cliffs are outstanding black and rugged. The wander round the Loch was wonderful the flowers are out primroses, violets, bluebells and others growing in between the cracks. We passed dome birch trees surviving among the huge boulders. Things that you miss whilst rushing about maybe age is a leveller?

I was amazed when Kalie and Harry went into the Loch for a swim.Brave souls as it was windy and cold. I had an excuse with all my ailments. We wandered back to the hut the others were there we had some birthday cake and a brew. A few boat trips had come in and gone back to Elgol and a yacht was in the bay. My mind was elsewhere still up on Sgurr na Stri and full of memories.

Kalie enjoying the views.

We had a fire tidied up the area of plastic and rubbish and watched the deer wander about. After dinner we had an early night as Adrain and were leaving at 0400 for a ridge traverse.

I was in the tent and heard them leaving and watched them and there head torches head up the hill. It was amazing and brought l ace in many memories of past adventures. As the light came so did the incredible features and signs of the rock, sea and burns. What a wonderful place to be.

Moody light

I always think of Dinosaurs and the history of this area. So much has been written about it in the past but as you see the day breaking over the Cullin it’s breathtaking.

My view from the tent.

Part of me wanted to be with on the ridge with them but no way could I manage that. I was cheered up by the deer wandering outside. The wind had gone and Adrain and Louise headed up onto the hill.

Sadly they returned later in the morning as Louise was not feeling well. A good choice to come down the ridge is not the place to be. We were tiding up leaving the hut spick and span. What great company and a privilege to be there.

Everyone a character and what a laugh we all had. It was then time to get the boat back Shamus and the crew were on great form. It was then say farewell at Elgol and head home a long 4 hour trip.

Thanks to all see you next year hopefully.

Farewell Skye

Big thanks to Misty Isle boats and all their staff, Adrian and Bridgette and the JMCOf Scotland for the use of their hut. To all the others with us what a trip.

Posted in Aircraft incidents, Books, Bothies, Enviroment, Mountain rescue, mountain safety, Mountaineering, People, Recomended books and Guides, Rock Climbing, Weather, Well being | 3 Comments

Another great day on Skye Sgurr Na Stri the wee mountain that keeps on going. Mixed emotions at the USAF F111 Crash site.

It was a reasonable night in the tent awakened by the deer arriving near the tent. The weather was superb and we decided on Sgurr na Stri and a visit to the USAF F111 that crashed near the summit. Adrian and the the main group went to the Dubh Slabs. It had been so busy yesterday as the Highland Princes a luxury boat was in and their boat was in and out with visitors. I was so glad to get away from the crowds.

Though only a little mountain is a huge part of my life after the USAF F111 crash in December 1982. It effected me a lot but many life lessons were learned. It was a epic and I have written about it often on my blog. I do go into my own world here on this complex hill and try to find a different way up to the crash site. I was with Kalie, her dog Islay and Harry. Sadly I am so slow and we stopped so often the weather was superb it was a day to enjoy. The sea was so stunning as was the cliffs and the Islands it was so much to take in.

My route was interesting I was in my own world and neglected Kalie. Harry and Islay – sorry. It was great to be on the rock again finding a line on the rough Gabbro rock. Gabbro is described as coarse-grained, meaning it has large crystals (phaneritic texture). It is darker in colour due to the mafic composition. It can have higher amounts of hornblende and olivine. Its great to climb rough on the hands and you can wander up the huge broiler plate smooth slabs. My mind when on this mountain often takes me back to that lonely night in 1982. Covered in fresh snow as a young leader I was tested to the full and so worried about my small party. We bivouacked by the wreckage after finding the remains of the crew. Then we spent 7 days with the USAF investigation team on dangerous ground as the wreckage was everywhere, add snow and loose rock it was not easy. The Investigation team were so involved in their task it was hard to keep them safe and get them off the hill before darkness. December days are short

As we neared the crash site I went over on my own and had a bit of time there thinking of the families’ who lost their husbands, fathers and sons. In the beauty of the place it is so sad this is my thoughts of this and many other mountains that are difficult to erase. Many years later I took relatives to the crash site with Adrian Trendnall a local guide. It was a moving day as these times are difficult for me mentally and physically . I doubt few can understand this as we all handle things in our own way.

Enjoying a break.

Kalie took my bag of me that gave me a lift and I could enjoy the views the sun and where we were. Its still interesting way to the top and I caught up them on the summit. I hope this is not my last time up here as it means so much to me and others. We sat and enjoyed the situation the view were outstanding. I remember the night on the summit it was a survival epic that I will never forget.

Best view in Scotland?

We met a lovely couple of lassies on the summit and then headed slowly down. It is a lot easier on the ridge. It was a great way off and we were soon down by the loch and after a paddle headed to the bothy. We all met up and shared tales of our days ate well and enjoyed where we were. I headed to my tent later on to the lovely evening.

I had a mixed night of sleep, the deer were about again joined by some sheep. Another great day one of any emotions for me. Thanks to Kalie and Harry for their patience.

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Skye Coruisk Memorial hut, a few days in Skye a trip with the Misty isle boat.

I was honoured to be asked to Loch Coruisk for a few nights in the Coruisk Memorial hut. The hut is owned by the Junior Mountaineering Club of Scotland ( JMCOfS) Glasgow Section. Adrian and Bridgette who is a climbing guide on Skye are both celebrating birthdays. They are lovely kind folk and a joy to be with. We were taken in by the Misty Isle boat that runs from Elgin in Skye. It’s-only a short trip in but an exceptional journey. Shamus is a great skipper and gives a chat as we head across that always makes me laugh. You feel better despite my long journey leaving at 0400 the minute your on board. To me the mountains and sea have a unique effect on the mind.

This place is exceptional in any weather makes it a great trip.

Misty Island boat trips

The boat trip from Elgol – a superb gateway to Skye well worth the trip.

Boat Trips from Elgol to Loch Coruisk since 1969!

The Mackinnon family have been welcoming passengers from all over the world since 1969. Come and experience for yourself the finest scenery Scotland has to offer on one of our boat trips form Elgol to Loch Coruisk on the Isle of Skye.

Misty Isle Boat Trips’ owner, Seumas Mackinnon, is a local skipper, born and bred in the village of Elgol with a lifetime of experience at sea. The boat trips continue as a family business with Seumas and his wife Anne working alongside their sons and grandchildren bringing visitors to see Loch Coruisk in the heart of the Cuillin hills where we guarantee you will enjoy some outstandingly beautiful Highland scenery. We also guarantee you will enjoy some true Highland hospitality!

We have frequent regular sailings from Elgol to Loch Coruisk from  through to the end of October. Though less frequent we also run cruises, boat trips and private charters throughout the year…

As we arrived Skye was at its moody best. The sea it’s wildlife , seals and dolphins the the dark moody cliffs to me it’s like a film set that nature has produced as only it can.

Misty isles boat – wonderful experience across from Elgol.

Coruisk Memorial Hut is situated on the Island of Skye at the head of Loch Scavaig, close to where the River Scavaig flows the few hundred metres from Loch Coruisk to the Sea. It is about 100m from a new landing stage in Loch na Cuilce (off Loch Scavaig) (OS Sheet 32, Grid Ref: NG 487197). The building is self contained and sleeps 9 persons in bunks within the main room. Sleeping bags are required although there are a number of blankets. Power is supplied by bottled gas that serves the cookers, lights and new stove. Both the flush toilet and the kitchen sink are served by a water pipe running from a nearby burn. All pots, pans, crockery, cutlery, etc. are also provided. (Only sleeping bags, clothing and food are required.)

Activities from the Hut

In spite of its remoteness the hut is ideally situated for excursions to Sgurr na Stri (recommended), Druim nan Ramh, The Dubhs, Gars-bheinn and the more demanding traverse of the Cuillin Ridge. Rock climbing of all grades is found nearby. On less energetic days one might include low level walks around Loch na Cuilce, where there are many seals and other forms of wildlife, or around Loch Coruisk, where the scenery is most dramatic with the black rocks plunging into the watery depths.

Shamus,Adrian and Alan great folk that add to the ambience of the boat trip.

It did not take long for the boat trip over and the hot chocolate was enjoyed on the trip. We had a lot of kit and food as the hut is 5 minutes from the jetty. It’s a lot easier than the long walk in from Kilmarie or Elgol with big bags.

We had a an easy day sorting out and enjoying our company. The situation and beauty makes one relax. We had several wanders enjoyed the wild life the flowers emerging the constant lapping of the sea is so calming. After a great meal and chat we had an early night. I took my tent to stop my coughing bothering others.

Posted in Bothies, Corbetts and other hills, Enviroment, Equipment, Gear, Health, Mountain rescue, mountain safety, Mountaineering, Rock Climbing, Weather, Well being, Wildlife | Leave a comment

Off to Skye tomorrow.

Getting packed for a few days in Skye. Hopefully get the boat into Coruisk from Elgol and then staying at the J. M.C of Scotland hut at Coruisk, it’s one of my places I love. The situation is incredible and should be quite at this time of year,

The top of one of Scotlands best viewpoints.? The hill of Strife.

Coruisk Memorial Hut


Coruisk Memorial Hut is situated on the Island of Skye at the head of Loch Scavaig, close to where the River Scavaig flows the few hundred metres from Loch Coruisk to the Sea. It is about 100m from a new landing stage in Loch na Cuilce (off Loch Scavaig) (OS Sheet 32, Grid Ref: NG 487197). The building is self contained and sleeps 9 persons in bunks within the main room. Sleeping bags are required although there are a number of blankets. Power is supplied by bottled gas that serves the cookers, lights and new stove. Both the flush toilet and the kitchen sink are served by a water pipe running from a nearby burn. All pots, pans, crockery, cutlery, etc. are also provided. (Only sleeping bags, clothing and food are required.)

Activities from the Hut

In spite of its remoteness the hut is ideally situated for excursions to Sgurr na Stri (recommended), Druim nan Ramh, The Dubhs, Gars-bheinn and the more demanding traverse of the Cuillin Ridge. Rock climbing of all grades is found nearby. On less energetic days one might include low level walks around Loch na Cuilce, where there are many seals and other forms of wildlife, or around Loch Coruisk, where the scenery is most dramatic with the black rocks plunging into the watery depths.

Coruisk Memorial Hut

Coruisk Memorial Hut


Coruisk Memorial Hut is situated on the Island of Skye at the head of Loch Scavaig, close to where the River Scavaig flows the few hundred metres from Loch Coruisk to the Sea. It is about 100m from a new landing stage in Loch na Cuilce (off Loch Scavaig) (OS Sheet 32, Grid Ref: NG 487197). The building is self contained and sleeps 9 persons in bunks within the main room. Sleeping bags are required although there are a number of blankets. Power is supplied by bottled gas that serves the cookers, lights and new stove. Both the flush toilet and the kitchen sink are served by a water pipe running from a nearby burn. All pots, pans, crockery, cutlery, etc. are also provided. (Only sleeping bags, clothing and food are required.)

Activities from the Hut

In spite of its remoteness the hut is ideally situated for excursions to Sgurr na Stri (recommended), Druim nan Ramh, The Dubhs, Gars-bheinn and the more demanding traverse of the Cuillin Ridge. Rock climbing of all grades is found nearby. On less energetic days one might include low level walks around Loch na Cuilce, where there are many seals and other forms of wildlife, or around Loch Coruisk, where the scenery is most dramatic with the black rocks plunging into the watery depths.

Near the coast

It is a place of many memories I was involved in a crash of an American F111 that crashed in December 1982. Sadly both crew were killed it was a terrible night. I am off early tomorrow for the boat at Elgol at 0900.

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A wander with Ramblers Scotland & a poem an evening chat.

I don’t take on many chats these days but a lovely lass Lucy Wallace who was the Ramblers President and is also in the Arran Team persuaded me. I was asked if I wanted to go on the hill with them. I still have an ongoing liver problem that leaves me very weak but I took on the offer and left for Aviemore early.

The Green loch a stunning place. Why is it green . Is this due to the minerals in the water .

Walk Highlands – Meall a’ Bhuachaille is a great choice for a first hillwalk in the Cairngorms, being easily accessible and having the benefit of great paths to the summit as well as superb views. Here is a chance to experience the beauty and wildness of the Cairngorms without the length and remoteness of some of the Munro walks. The walk described offers great variety, with ancient Caledonian pines, lochs, forests and a windswept ridge; it can easily be extended to a full days hillwalk by continuing over Creagan Gorm to Craigowrie. It is a good day out when the weather is poor but on its own it’s a family hill with great viewpoints. At 810 metres it’s a small Corbett but one of many memories.

The poem below I have heard and seen before it was left in the Ryvoan bothy during the 1939 -45 war, it is not known who wrote it but what a grand piece of poetry.  Ryvoan in these days would be a pretty quiet place unlike now where it is a short walk from Glenmore. My friend Ray Sefton that great Stravaigerof the hills (derives from eighteenth-century Scotsextravage, meaning ‘wander about;) of the Cairngorms was given it and a few others discovered in a friends attic.  I wonder what happened to the author? Ryvoan Bothy lies at the top of the Ryvoan Pass about a mile North-East of Glenmore Lodge in the Cairngorms. My Dad used to visit Ryvoan in his student days and after the was I bet he saw the original poem. Enjoy!


I shall leave tonight from Euston

By the seven-thirty train,

And from Perth in the early morning

I shall see the hills again.

From the top of Ben Macdhui

I shall watch the gathering storm,

And see the crisp snow lying

At the back of Cairngorm.

I shall feel the mist of Bhrotain

And pass by the Lairig Ghru

To look on dark Loch Einich

From the heights of Sgoran Dubh.

From the broken Barns of Bynack

I shall see the sunrise gleam

On the forehead of Ben Rinnes

And Strathspey awake from dream.

And again in the dusk of evening

I shall find once more alone

The dark water of the Green Loch,

And the pass beyond Ryvoan

For tonight I leave from Euston

And leave the world behind:

Who has the hills as a lover,

Will find them wondrous kind.

Comment Dave – I understand the poem was written by a Mrs A.M. Lawrence, from lived for a time at Burgh on Sands in Cumbria, who spent some of her time as a child at Nethybridge. The poem was mentioned in an article by the late, great, Irvine Butterfield in one of the Scottish Mountaineer magazines about Lost Bothies in the Cairngorms. By the way, really enjoying your blogs!

Lucy at Ryvoan bothy before the wander up the hill.

Lucy lead a group into the forest then to the Green Loch and Ryvoan bothy. They were a lovely group many had been here for the weekend staying in the Morlich Hotel in Aviemore. The eldest a 86 year old still going great what tales he told me. We had a couple of breaks it was sunny with a wee shower now and again.

Happiness is being on the hills.

It was then a big push up on the hill going slowly meeting lots of folk many enjoying the hill. I used to love running up this hill but the body has limited power just now. It’s a good track very eroded in places with lots of work needing done on it.

The mist came in and we had few stops we were soon at the top and a short break at the cairn we started down into the wind. It was cold and windy as forecast but we were soon down at the Beleach. We got some shelter ate a bit then headed down into the wonderful forest. What stories they must have.

Group shot

It was a lot warmer lower down many took off jackets and assembly entered the forest the burns and lichens were a lovely colour. I was pointed out a wood ants nest it’s been a long time since I saw one. They are pretty unique to this area. We just got back to the bus as the rain came. Then an easy trip to our Hotel in Aviemore. I had a room to change in a shower and then went to set up for my chat.

Trees wonderful

The chat went okay it took a long time to set up but great help from Lucy and friends. I said my good byes and was home by midnight.

Lucy and Alison a stalwart volunteer She has been nominated Ramblers Scotland Coronation champion.

I slept well it was a long day and I am lacking in energy hopefully it will come back I just have to be patient.

Thank you all
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Anson Crash – Aeroplane Flats near Ben an Fhuran near Conival.

I was asked to help provide the inscription on the new memorial to the Anson that crashed in the far North West of Scotland. It’s a new granite memorial that I have written about in the past in this Blog. It crashed in April 1942 and all the crew were killed. It is the only place that the crew were buried on the site. Myself and Angus Jack have cleaned up the memorial but ifs a fair walk in but hopefully I will visit it soon and clean it up.

Inscription reads in the memorial( very hard to read)

This is what I have tried to copy

Here lie the crew of RAF Anson N3857 which crashed in Bad weather during navigation Training Exercise on 13 April 1942.

Those who died in this accident were:

F/O James Henry Steyn (23), DFC, RAF, South Africa.
P/O William Edward Drew (28), RAF
Sgt Charles McPherson Mitchell (31), RAFVR
Flt Sgt Thomas Brendon Kenny (20), RAF
Sgt Jack Emery (20), RAFVR
Sgt Harold Arthur Tompsett (20), RAFVR

The memorial cleaned recently by Angus Jack photo Angus Jack

Commemorated at Inchnadampth ( or Kirkton old churchyard) Any errors please get in touch.

Original photo 2014

As it was!

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Missing person Ben Nevis.From Police Scotland -sadly located 13/4/23

Officers are appealing for information to trace a 26-year-old man who has been missing on Ben Nevis since Tuesday, 11 April, 2023.

Zekun Zhang was last seen around 1pm near the summit of Carn Mor Dearg, and is believed to have walked a route from here to the Ben Nevis summit.

He had planned to return to the North Face car park, but did not return.

Zekun is described as 5ft 8in tall, of medium build with short dark hair. He was last seen wearing a black jacket, black trousers, and black and grey boots. He was also carrying a black rucksack.

Police Sergeant Dawn Grant said: “We are appealing for anyone who may have seen Zekun to contact police immediately.

“In particular, I would urge anyone out on these walking routes on Tuesday, and today, who may have heard or seen something that will help us find Zekun to get in touch.”

Anyone with information should call police on 101, quoting incident number 2343 of Tuesday, 11 April, 2023.

A very sad outcome

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

Fionaven – almost a Munro.

I had promised a pal that we will climb it, I love this mountain been very lucky to climb it about 10 times. It is spectacular and can be seen for miles the shattered quartzite makes the hill look white and in winter its a wonderful day. Its a long day and if you combine a climb with the ridge and its tops you will find it hard going. I love the names of this hill Gannu Mor, Lord Reay’s seat, A’ Cheir Gorm, Creag Urbhard. Loch Dionard and Strath Dionard, Both

Almost a Munro, Foinaven is – regardless of status – a truly magnificent mountain. A complex massive of narrow, shattered quartzite ridges, Foinaven gives a memorable expedition. To me it can be a great long hill day and the very fit can add it along with Arkle. It was always another special hill way before some of my team mates pals had backed it in the Grand National at odds of 100/1 in 1967.

Fionaven falls twelve feet short of the required 3,000ft for Munro status – and all the better for it! It is a long and complex hill with many hidden secrets in winter a fine traverse. The views are superlative and it’s a massive amount of rock and shattered Corrie’s that with the view to the sea and the huge moors this is the wild North. It now has a Estate road that takes you in to Strath Dionard and Loch Doinard that you can cycle in. In the very early days there was no such access. There was a no bikes sign but as the track I was told the road was partly funded by SNH I wonder if it’s still inforce or even legal?

Foinaven is a range in itself, offering an abundance of wild and characterful terrain to explore. That said, the track down Strath Dionard has somewhat tamed that wild feeling “Despite the track the mountain’s location at the extremity of the northern mainland will hopefully ensure its quiet demeanour remains intact. The scale and complexity of some of the cliffs only becomes apparent once you are stood beneath them. There is a lifetimes worth of exploring to do here – assuming you are not easily spooked by loose or unstable rock!” SMC Guide

This was a place I loved the old classic Corriemulzie Mountaineering Club Guide of 1966  a rock and Ice Guide to Easter Ross, this guide that I still have gave me some great ideas of climbing in this area.  Some of the great names put up routes here, Lovat, Weir, Clough Sullivan, Park, Tranter and Rowe.   It had a history in the RAF Kinloss Mountain Rescue Team, we had to visit this wild place.

I climbed here a lot in the mid 70’s we had a long day on the routes South Ridge Right Hand section it was a modest 300 metre VDIFF it was long loose and tricky route finding. The RAF Kinloss Team had put up a few routes in the past and we followed a tradition from the 50’s. It was the Team Leaders Pete McGowan last weekend we climbed another route and got back about 0100. I remembered the walk out in bright Moonlight and seeing the fish in the river by torchlight. It was an introduction to big loose mountain routes and a huge experience for me. Next day we were up Ben Kilbrek no stopping us then. There was a big accident where two climbers were killed here in the 60’s  and that put a few off climbing here?

This was from my diary “I remember having a fun day but lots of crazy route finding and near misses with loose blocks and Jim Green missing me with a huge one that crashed down beside me. The smell of cordite stays with you as the rocks smash down the cliff. The climbing gear in these days was limited, protection basic and we had big bags and big boots it was a scary day but what a place to be. It was along climb 1000 foot but so many variations were possible and our route finding was basic. Thinking back it was a massive learning curb and a big serious place to be, Jim must have smoked 50 fags on that route.

Another was in the early 80’s – I was just back from North Wales at Valley and back in Scotland. We had very big bags and a wild VS route agead with a very young Pam Ayres of about 1000 feet loose in places and we had a shower of rain making the rock very slippy. On the summit we sunbathed and I fell asleep. When I woke Pam had the rope and the rock gear in his bag he did not realise we still had the ridge and a long walk out ahead. Another time (We even took a boat into the loch by Sea king for the Estate many years ago and after we put it into the loch climbed all day. Was that cheating? ) We did many more routes over the years and never saw anyone on the cliffs. The winter potential was incredible and we climbed an ice fall with the late Mark Sinclair in the early 80,s. I know that the late Andy Nisbet and others did some wild climbing here on the main cliff. I took a few of the young rock jocks in to the cliffs and they learned about loose rock and mountain routes.

From the SMC Guide Highland Scrambles

This was a route I did a few times it was classic.

“Almost at the top of the country now, and we visit the beautiful Foinaven. Wild, rugged & remote (once you’ve left the NC500 superhighway), what more could you ask for? Our last route on the mainland is Ganu Mor Slabs (Grade 3 ***).

A huge plate of immaculate gneiss perched above one of the roughest and wildest corries in the country. Serious and committing but never technically hard, with views over hundreds of square miles of empty Sutherland. When combined with the (almost as good) North Face of Cnoc Duail and the Lower Coire Duail Slabs it makes a superb scrambling day.”

To me it was a classic scramble that I was glad I had a rope with me at times.

Sadly I cannot find any photos on the cliff but I will spend some time going through my old slides they must be there. I reckon despite the mountain being s superb ridge free venture into the wild Corries there incredible and well worth a visit. As for climbing it all adds to big day.

Posted in Corbetts, Friends, mountain safety, Mountaineering, People, Rock Climbing, Views Mountaineering, Well being | 2 Comments

Moving forward on Well being.

Recently I have been asked to do various charities mainly on mountaineering but I’m every case Mental Health comes into the discussion. To me the hear folk talk openly about dealing and educating about Mental health is a great improvement.

Yesterday this was highlighted when I was part of a Zoom meeting on well-being / mental health. There were five members by the Borders team Tweed valley present.It was recorded by Stirling University Media team. It was a great discussion and there is a lot going on in assisting team members. Things are improving through hard won lessons and it was to me good to see folk talk openly about Trauma etc.


I get the usual mountaineering Questions but more and more getting asked about mental health.

My thoughts is how things have improved in mental health since 1988 when I was involved in Lockerbie. There seems that everyone has asked me about how I dealt with trauma over the years.

Many who have read or heard me speak passionately about PTSD. I was badly effected as was my health and the huge effect it had on my family. It was a dark time. It was also a dark time for me that lasted for years but I have learned to live with it.

I cannot stress enough that little was known about this then. We all learned many lessons and a few of the “old school” took a long time to recognise the problems.Most attitudes were there is no problem how wrong they were.

Things are slowly improving and most folk are now aware of the problems of PTSD. It does not effect us all but those it does it can be like the “black dog” waiting to emerge at any time.

It’s great to see that families are getting advice as well as this effects them. There is in-my mind just the start of educating them. Of course it’s not for everyone but for those who want advice it’s there now. I was speaking last year at a Mountain Rescue course at Stirling University an families were invited.

These problems can manifest themselves many years later when many have left the Mountain Rescue family.

As I get older and have been unell for a few years I am struggling without my fix on the hills. Also I have to to change many of the things I love

Yet things are a lot better I have learned to live and even take time to help others which is rewarding. It’s good to see families being involved and advised that they may need advice etc.

I am left to advise the doctors that if I have to get an operation I suffer from PTSD. If I am anaesthetised I have to make them aware I get nightmares whilst coming round after the operation. Well worth telling the doctors.

I am so lucky that I have so many great pals who care for me. Keep an eye on each other if we all cannot look after each other in times of need who are we ?

Comments always welcome

Posted in Books, Family, Friends, Mountain rescue, Mountaineering, People, PTSD, Well being | 2 Comments

Philip Tranter – No Tigers on the Hindu Kush. A bit of history of Philip Tranter.

I just re read this classic book it’s of an amazing trip to the Hindu Kush. I grew up with tales of Philip Tranter I saw his name in many Bothies in the early years of my mountaineering career. Sadly he had been killed 5 years before I joined the RAF Kinloss Mountain Rescue Team yet I often saw his name in the old bothy books especially in Corrie Mulmulnzie below Seanna Bhraigh.

I met a few folk who met and climbed with him one was his fellow member of the Corriemulnzie Club Blyth Wright. He told me about their early days together huge hill days bagging as many Munro’s as possible on a day. Over the years I spoke to Blyth and he was going to write about Philip Tranter sadly this did not happen but his legacy of the Tranter round stays with us. Of course it’s been added to over the years but that original day must have been a big test of fitness and the mind. As were many other long days that are now accepted by mountain runners like the north and South Clunnies at Kintail.

Tranters Round

..This route was Philip Tranter’s original 24 hour concept of climbing all 19 Munros (Now 18) surrounding Glen Nevis, The Mamores, The Grey Corries, The Aonachs and Ben Nevis and was first completed in June 1964. It has been added to Ramsays Round and more Munros put on it. The route was later extended by Charlie Ramsay to create a challenge comparable to Lakeland’s Bob Graham. But as a sub-24-hour goal the original Tranter remains a formidable round, including four of Scotland’s 4000-foot peaks.

No Tigers on the Hindu Kush.

A few years later Philip was off to the Hindu Kush a drive of 6,000 miles overland from Scotland to Nuristan to explore some of the unknown Central Hindu Kush area. They set out to attempt the second ascent of the monstrous Koh-i-Krebek; to ascend if possible at least one other major unclimbed mountain and to map that previously unmapped terrain. In fact, as well as Krebek they climbed nine other major peaks, named another dozen, and established the existence of a dramatic rock and ice range which they called the Rum Mountains, and christened individually after the Hebridean peaks they resembled in shape and beauty. The story of the expedition is told with an infectious enthusiasm for the glory and challenge of these mysterious peaks.

One of Scotland`s best-loved authors, Nigel Tranter wrote over ninety novels on Scottish history. He died at the age of ninety on 9 January 2000.

His son Philip was an accomplished climber who had conquered a great many peaks in Scotland and beyond. He was killed in a motor accident on 19th August 19 1966 on the way home freight an expedition to Turkey.

The story of the expedition is told with an infectious enthusiasm for the glory and challenge of these mysterious peaks, most of which had been hitherto quite unknown, and there is something akin to the Renaissance spirit of adventure in this exhilarating Scottish expedition of discovery to the roof of Asia.

Philip Tranter was an ex-team member and Secretary of Kintail MRT (while supervising A87 improvements) and memorialised (Corriemulzie MC 1969) at Camban along with Alistair Park. Comment by K Fraser.

Posted in Books, Bothies, Friends, Himalayas/ Everest, People, Recomended books and Guides, Views Mountaineering, Well being | Leave a comment

Munro’s and adventures by boat “Daz Boot”

Over the years I have been lucky to use a boat usually an inflatable to climb Munro’s. I first remember borrowing a boat from Grantown on Spey to visit the remoter lochs and distant Munro’s. . Cannich and it’s huge lochs allowed access to the remoter Munro’s and saved big ESK in or outs. This was in the days before “ Elf and Safety” Landowners were always asked to use their jetty’s and access on the lochs.

Access to Loch Mullardoch made some of the remoter Munro’s accessible. It was in the early days hard learning and we ended up getting a boat, survival equipment and a trailer via the Navy. The late John Coull was a big exponent and built up experience by training with the navy.

The late John Coull and the troops Mullardoch

We had some fun and got more adventurous with trips to Knoydart, Skye, Coruisk, Rum and others. We used the boat on Call outs dropping folk off for remote search areas. GPS helped greatly with Navigation as did night vision goggles I remember scary trips in the dark on the lochs.

The original “Daz Boat”

We went in after a massive thunder and lightning storm which delayed us. On the way we used night vision goggles and saw Whales, dolphins and had an amazing trip. When we landed at night the locals thought we were special forces from a submarine as we had all the gear on survival suits, helmets and lots of technical kit. We kept this rumour going for a while and enjoyed the stories and the hospitality.

The boat has so many memories of wild visits and a few near epics. It opened my eyes to the power of the sea and how little we knew about it. The training was excellent and seeing the hills from the sea or lochs was an eye opener.

Trip to Knoydart.

Comments photos always welcome. we also used the boat to climb sea cliffs and Stacs but that’s another story for a later date.

That’s the way to travel

This blog is dedicated to the late John Coull.

Posted in Articles, Corbetts, Islands, Mountaineering, Munros, People, Sailing trips, Weather | Leave a comment

Benchmarks and the Devil – by Pete Kirkpatrick.I’m


Photo Pete Kirkpatrick.

This is a great piece written by my friend Pete Kirkpatrick. It in-my view shows how different we were as RAF Mountain Rescue.

Have you ever had that experience when you are eating a meal and you say, ‘That’s the best steak or curry, pickled onion, mango or whatever, I’ve ever had?’ A benchmarking event in judging the quality and standards of a commodity. Be that in anything from apricots to xylophones. Now, that’s set, when I eat my next steak, I can offer my opinion that, “This steak isn’t as good as……” With a degree of self proclaimed authority.

Team work, ethos, esprit de corps are not foodstuffs. But, I know I can almost taste it, and smell it when it is there, or absent. Benchmark wise, I feel my teamwork one was set during my MR days from 1965 to 1994. Interestingly, to represent teamwork, I often tell others about seeing a weekend base camp set up as if by magic, Because, after arrival, the 3 tonner was quickly unloaded, the kitchen area was sorted, radio comms established, the caretaker made happy, sleeping space fixed, and we all had hot brews in our hands, ready to plan our weekend adventures. Everybody had done what needed to be done, with no SOPs, fuss or drama. Then that efficiency could be seen in other areas from multistage stretcher lowers, to obtaining ‘lock ins’ at the nearest pub of choice.

Of course, my time was long before an awareness of formal risk assessments, Health and Safety, and Food Hygiene requirements, so when I think of the literally shitty base camps, crap cooks and summary justice, and many scallywag escapades I’d experienced. It makes me smile and think, lucky me, rather than unlucky me. Add to that all the mountain escapades we had, and you have a great recipe for what, I believe, for what moulds folks into something stronger collectively than is usually normal in most RAF working groups. I’m sure though, they were other unique groups within the military and society who too have experienced something special for a multitude of reasons, that on reflection makes them think too. I was lucky.

The slight snag though, is that after my MR days, when I was in other working groups, although I met some great people, I rarely attained the same sense of oneness as in my MR days. Interestingly, I now do voluntary work with Military veterans and hear similar opinions passed about missing that ‘thing’ they’ve not yet found in civilian life.

Maybe, one factor for the MR generation I was part of, was that we accepted elements that weren’t perfect, and maybe perversely, that was our ‘magic sauce.’ What we were was a bunch of crazy amateurs doing the best we could, with enough characters with initiative, a willingness to dance around regulations, the nous on how to challenge, but not upset the apple cart, and have fun at the same time. In comparison, with some Army folks, I feel we had more freedom and didn’t need ‘orders’ to determine what to do next.

Open questions: What is teamwork? Did MR bring out the devil in you, that has perhaps never got back in its box?

This was the last of 3 reflections on my RAFMR past, I’ve done for the RAFMRA Newsletter. For me, it’s been an interesting thing to do. Mainly, because my words are about sepia coloured kodak moments of my life that, although many years ago, have connected me through Facebook to past and present members of our cult. I encourage others to tell their stories, whilst boosting the content of the RAFMRA journal and do the same.

I was one of these “Misfits” getting a hard time at work “head in the clouds”I was told by bosses. Yet I took them on and fought to have our system more respected by the powers that be. Yet we earned respect after big Call outs especially involving aircraft crashes. Many thought we should not do this but what we had to do was eye opening to many. I would often ask them to support us while th a letter or phone call to the Station Commander. This worked.

Looking back I was pretty bold at times but through various methods I got my point through. The folk I worked with on the team were exceptional people as Pete says we were so different to most of the military.

I met many of the top men of the time and managed to change their views. This was never easy and horrified many of my bosses yet I spoke plainly to those in power who often were protected from this type of communication. As I get older it’s so easy to see this is the same on many bog organisations. Truth should never be hidden from those who are supposed to lead us,many did this to protect their position or career. Heavy Whalley

Comment Pete Kay – Pete “, I’ll have to read that through once or twice before it sinks in on the cognitive level that will enable me to give a response worthy of the academic effort that produced it. In the short term, having scanned the piece. I would suggest one of the reasons our MR generation succeeded, was the misfits the teams attracted, the square pegs in military round holes. The teams were a dubious outlet for the rebellious souls that otherwise would have found themselves on the wrong side of Queens Reg’s. It allowed talent to come to fore that would otherwise have been suffocated by the rule book. I look back on the troops I worked along side in the system for 24 years, and I have to say I never found their like in the civilian world I entered after my service career ended””

Comments as always welcome.

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

Raeburns Arête -Ben Nevis

I love Ben Nevis it gave me so many great days. In summer it a different mountain. I used to enjoy climbing the Classic Ridges with young troops. North East Buttress is a grand route. It’s like a big Alpine route that takes you up to the Ben summit. The views are classic you can see this part of the Ben on a good day. The route is not hard but contains some interesting pitches. The harder ones are near the summit. The famous “Man Trap” can be tricky if the weather is damp or wet.

A great way onto the First Platform of North East Buttress is by Raeburn’s Arête. I climbed this twice once in summer and again in winter. In summer we got caught in a downpour which made the route very interesting as the rock became very greasy and the water was pouring off the route, We got to this first platform and walked off down very tricky ground. The river at the CIC Hut was barely crossable on the way off.

Raeburns Arete 1931 Var 230m, 6 pitches. An excellent route which provides a fun way to arrive at the First Platform. Harold Raeburn, Dr William & Jane Inglis Clark summer.

Raeburns Arête :

230m, 6 pitches. An excellent route which provides a fun way to arrive at the First Platform. Sadly I have no photos of that day my camera was that wet. The photo above is just before the rain came. Its a 3 star route and in my mind a grand climb.

Posted in Mountaineering, Recomended books and Guides, Rock Climbing, Scottish winter climbing., Weather | 1 Comment

Sheep ticks / there back !


The last weekend I was out in the hills the I was out with SARDA and many of the dogs were covered in ticks. last thing I was thinking about was ticks! Despite a thorough search I found another sheep tick again after the hill walk when I got home as did another one of the group who was out at the weekend, it was still tiny but I had missed it, they are hard to locate. Despite being covered up they get in and both were near my waist so please be aware as we all should know now they can cause huge problems. I make no apology for repeating the warnings regularly and please do not forget your pets. I have had several pals one seriously ill for a few years after a tick bite. One that serious he was off work for a couple of years, Do you know what to check for?

Ticks /

With the arrival of spring, now is a good time to brush up on your knowledge of ticks; what they are, where they live, the diseases they can carry, and how to minimise your risk of infection.

Being out in the countryside or even town parks and gardens where wildlife is present may put you and your pets at risk from tick bites?

Around 3,000 people in the UK contract Lyme disease (Borreliosis) from a tick bite each year?Recent research suggests that the prevalence of Lyme disease bacteria in the UK tick population is considerably higher than previously thought?

The most important tick prevention behaviour is regular checking of your body, particularly the skin folds, and prompt removal of any ticks found. It is important to try and remove ticks within 24 hours of attaching.

The following measure can also help to prevent tick bites.

Use of repellent on skin (DEET) and/or permethrin on clothing

Avoiding contact with tall vegetation where ticks are likely to be questing

Walk on the paths or centre of tracks where possible rather than in the long grass or verges

Wearing light coloured clothing to easily see ticks and brush them off before they attach to skin. Tuck trousers into socks or shoes to minimise ticks under clothing.Regular checks for ticks on clothing

Regular use of tick treatment on companion animals and regular checking and removal of ticks from pets. Different tick species are found in different habitats, but the ticks most commonly found on humans or their pets are found in woodland, heathland, upland or moorland pastures and grassland. Ticks are particularly abundant in ecotones, the transition zone between two vegetation communities, such as woodland and meadow or shrub communities, which permit a wider range of potential hosts.

Removing a tick safely

If you are bitten, follow these simple steps to safely remove ticks

Remove the tick as soon as possible using fine tipped tweezers or a tick-removal tool.

Grasp the tick head parts as close to the skin as possible,

Pull upwards firmly and steadily, without jerking or twisting (twisting is not recommended as this increases the chance of the mouthparts breaking off, thereby remaining in the skin and increasing the chance of a secondary localised infection).

Don’t squeeze or crush the tick’s body as this could increase the risk of infection by prompting the tick to regurgitate saliva into the bite wound.

After removal of the tick, apply an antiseptic to the bite site.

Don’t use petroleum jelly, liquid solutions, freeze or burn the tick.

After the tick has been removed, continue to check the bite site over the subsequent month, looking for signs of increased redness or rash.

Consult your doctor if any symptoms develop.

How small – Yet they can cause real problems.

[/caption]Hill Fires

I also noticed how dry the hills were especially on the West Coast the braken and heather is so dry ! It is worth remembering that Wild fires are the hills are so dry just now another wild fires that are occurring. Please be careful and be aware of the dangers of naked flames just now, they cause so much damage and danger.

Posted in medical, Mountain rescue, Mountaineering, People, SARDA, Views Mountaineering, Well being, Wildlife | 2 Comments

SARDA Scotland – Annual

This weekend I am down at Fort Williamwith SARDA SCOTLAND on their Annual Assessment. The dogs, handlers and bodies work so hard to get the Dogs and handlers assessed. They had already completed a full days assessment when I arrived at the evening meal. Then they all had a briefing and a if lucky a bit of time before the evening meal. There was a few tired folk last night.

I am amazed by the commitment of all these involved. Training a dog and it’s handler is a very time consuming job. We had some great tales of rescues and finds-by the dogs from all over Scotland. As the President of SARDA Scotland it humbling to see them all again.

Today it’s more of the same this time the Assessments are being held in Glen Nevis.I hope the weather holds for all.I will visit all the areas the dogs are working in.

It’s good to meet up and share a couple of days with them all. A huge thanks to all the Assessors. Committee, dogs,handlers and bodies that have a long day waiting to be found by the dogs.

SARDA Scotland (SCIO) is a Scottish charity which trains dogs and their handlers to search for missing persons.

We are part of Scottish Mountain Rescue. Our dogs and handlers support Mountain Rescue Teams in their search for missing people and the Police in searching for vulnerable missing people. The handlers are all volunteers.

We cover all of Scotland, 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year.
We are supported by Burns Pet Nutrition and St John Scotland. We are members of Scottish Mountain Rescue.

To donate to SARDA Scotland, please visit our Just Giving page.  

You can also Support us by using Smile amazon and they will donate to us every time you buy something from Amazon

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

Guilt or Gratitude missing out on big Callouts ? By Pete Kirkpatrick


This is a interesting article that I think many of us in the Emergency Agencies who may feel they miss out on a big incident. This happens as family,holidays, sickness and many other things may stop you going out on a shout. I feel many of the feelings are felt by others. Am I wrong?

This is another article inspired by the challenge by someone to put pen to paper.

When I look back at my younger self at 16. I see a teenager who was interested in rugby, girls, music and looking for an escape from a boring job in flat Hull. Normally in a sea port, young men run away to sea. I chose the RAF, with diddly squat ideas about what might happen next.

When I eventually left the RAF 34 years later. I was amazed how this East Riding Yorkshire tyke had found a passion and career in RAF Mountain Rescue and other roles that had given me the opportunity to climb up many lumps, bumps, hills and mountains of the world. Plus, chances to help lost people in the mountains or with the youth work I did, lost in life. However, with all that, I acquired an addiction that I still struggle to understand and manage.

Happily, it isn’t a love of Guinness, pork scratching or red socks.

It’s the wee bit of guilt that you feel that comes about when you have a certain hard won skill set and experience, and you want to be involved in some drama where that expertise is tested. In my early years, you wanted the Rescue Control Centre (RCC) to ring and then hear the Station Tannoy broadcast. ‘MOUNTAIN RESCUE CALL OUT, MOUNTAIN RESCUE CALL OUT. ALL MEMBERS TO ASSEMBLE IMMEDIATELY.’

Forgive me Lord. I remember one quiet call out period when I was at RAF Valley in North Wales, I heard myself suggest placing a tripwire on the narrow part of the ridge on Grib Coch to relieve the boredom.

Looking back, I see, with maturity, that once you view casualties as people, with life’s and stories, and just not, the means of your professional satisfaction you’re almost there in achieving a guilt free conscience.

All that preamble was my way into writing about the Lockerbie air disaster. I was the Team Leader at Valley on the night of the tragedy just before the Christmas grant. That evening, the permanent staff had cooked and served a Christmas Dinner meal for troops and family members, and we had then performed our version of a Christmas Pantomime. The highlight was, the fairy Queen (Jim Groak.) abseiled out – Frank Spencer fashion – out of the roof space into the section.

Then Pittreavie (RCC) rang and the Christmas mood evaporated, with the orders to be on standby to go north. This was the biggy that was a thing of nightmares for thousands, then, still is and will be for future generations. And I felt pissed off.

My angst was that the RCC had told me that Valley MRT is to stay local to cover England and Wales, while other 5 teams will be travelling to Lockerbie. That frustration persisted, even when watching the awful scenes that dominated the television coverage that night. A shrink might diagnose that I had a huge desire to help. But, my help was needed in other ways than I wanted.

Over the years, I’ve heard many stories from troops, especially, Heavy Whalley, Quackers and Alister Haveron about what they experienced, and heard tales of people in the MR community diagnosed and suffering from PTSD symptoms.

My frustration is long gone. It is replaced with a ‘Thank You Lord (Or RCC.) for not sending me that night. You knew best.

Strangely, my addiction to help people now manifests itself in my efforts as a Samaritans listener and with a military veterans charity called F4H (Future4heros.) This combination can be full of drama, happy and sad endings, and still that wee bit of guilt.

Anybody else in the rescue business experience such guilt? Pete Kitkpatrick thank you for allowing me to re publish this.

Comments as always welcome.

Roddy R – “Was frustrated to have missed the Mull of Kintyre Air Disaster while on leave. On reflection, and after speaking with some who were there, I feel I might not have been made of the stuff required to deal with the trauma involved with the post disaster clean up and recovery operation.”

Posted in Aircraft incidents, Lockerbie, Mountain rescue, Mountaineering, SAR, SARDA, Views Political?, Well being | 1 Comment

Monday washing day in Tibet. A tale of a bothy on Everest !

Is there a better back drop to dry your gear than this view of Everest. Everything was still covered in sand even after a good wash, We were in Tibet for 3 months hard living but we had our secret weapon.

Previous trips by friends to the West Ridge of Everest had been extremely hard as the winds and dust get everywhere and the constant noise of the wind during stormy spells makes resting at altitude very hard indeed. Base Camp on any big mountain should be as comfortable as possible, which is not easy to achieve in tents. One of our team had wintered in Antarctica, and he convinced us of the benefits of taking out a substantial Communal Base Tent, hence the idea of the “Shed” was born. He had had two wild trips to the North side of Everest, where the weather and winds from the Tibetan Plateau made life very hard at Base Camp (BC). We had a plan, “The Shed” this was a wooden prefabricated shed made by a local company Robertson’s in Scotland put together by bolts. The shed was transported curtsey of RAF Hercules to Kathmandu and then by vehicle to Everest Base camp at over 17500 feet. This is where the fun started; at altitude everything is very difficult, things have to be taken very slowly. The “Lego Shed” arrived safe and the boys put the shed up the next day. This caused much amusement of all at Base Camp. The politics game had to be played just like in Scotland where problems can arise with a difficult landowner whose land and bothy we use! Some of the top mountaineers said there would be no chance of getting permission to put up the Shed. The Chinese Liaison Officer whose word is final, controlled the Base camp area, after a few drams and the odd bottle he agreed permission to us putting the shed up. This amazed all the other expeditions at Base camp chance of getting permission to put up our shed. Politically we had to purchase a Chinese flag and fly it above our flags; it was game of “hearts and minds” at a cost of a $100 everything has a price

The local Tibetans were amazed when the Shed was up and we were the focal point for most of the expeditions during our stay. The comfort inside was amazing and once the door was shut at night it was a peaceful place. At various times during poor weather and disasters on the mountain, (there were 2 deaths when we were there) we all returned to Base Camp and spent some unbelievable nights in the Shed. It was amazing how the altitude affects the alcohol intake but we had some nights reminiscing of nights in the bothies at home. We were great friends with the Russians and various other expeditions and we had several wild nights with them during the bad weather. It was great to see how well everyone got on; we even had a bothy book to sign. I wonder where it went?

The Shed was an oasis of peace at times during the various epics that occurred on the mountain. Two friends from a Russian and a New Zealand expedition, died high on the mountain and the Shed was used on many occasions to bring people together after such sad events. At the end we were the last people on the mountain as we tried to get one more shot at another summit attempt. The weather was awful and we were lucky to get off the mountain without the loss of any of our team. I was the last of our team down from Advanced Base Camp at 21500 feet. The Sherpas and I brought down 50 Yak Loads of rubbish left by other expeditions at a personal cost of $500, where did the environment levy go. How can people treat such a majestic place in such a way? It reminded me of when we used to go round the popular bothies at the end of winter with the helicopter bringing back rubbish left by similar minded people in my own country. At least we tried and left the place a lot better thanks to our Sherpas and the local Tibetan Yak herders, who transported it, back to Base Camp.

It was decided to give the Shed to the local Tibetans to use as an eye hospital further down the Rongbook Glacier. At the end of the expedition we presented it to one of the local Tibetans’ the first local to reach the summit. This was a fitting end to the “Shed” our Everest Bothy and a long way from these early days at Back Hill of the Bush in Galloway!

Posted in Bothies, Himalayas/ Everest, Mountain rescue, Mountaineering, People, Views Mountaineering, Weather, Well being | Leave a comment

Glenelg MRT – 50 Th ANNIVERSARY.

Glenelg MRT formed just after I joined RAF MRT over the years I attended many incidents with them. The late Doctor Cathy McInnes helped form the team. The area they cover is vast and described below. Covering some of the wildest country in the UK. In the early days they were and still have so many locals keepers, forestry workers etc in the team.

We often had some good times and a few bonding sessions after incidents. These were great days and I was in awe of some of the characters I met. These were and still are the people you get in Mountain Rescue great folk. Happy 50 th.

Pictured (right) the newly-formed team taking part in one of the first rescues in 1973, clockwise from left, Charlie MacDonald, electrician; Johnny Cameron, Forestry Commission; Ian ‘Goaty’ MacDonald, Forestry Commission; Iain Campbell, Eileanreach Estate; Allan MacAskill, Forestry Commission; Hugh Ian MacLure, Forestry Commission; Willie MacKenzie, postman; Dr Catherine MacInnes, GP; Duncan Cameron, Forestry Commission; and Allan Morrison, Forestry Commission.

 Glenelg Mountain Rescue Team

The Glenelg Mountain Rescue Association was originally established in 1973 by the late Dr Catherine MacInnes (the then local G.P.) to cover the Parish of Glenelg. It completed its registration as a charity in 1974. (Scottish charity registration number – SCO 07565)

Area covered

The Parish takes in the Glenelg peninsula jutting into Loch Duich, then heads east as far as the south side of the Saddle, taking in Arnisdale, and stretching as far south as Loch Morar, taking in Kinlochourn, Barrisdale and Knoydart, an area of approximately 550 square kilometers. Some of the Knoydart peninsula is also covered by our colleagues in the Lochaber MRT because it is such a remote and complex piece of ground. See map

The Team

The team was originally made up of shepherds, stalkers, forestry workers, a doctor and people who generally worked outdoors. This is still true but with a mix of mountaineers, roped access workers, boat masters and many other professions. There are normally 20 to 30 members on the team which is a very large percentage of the community considering the Parish has a population of less than 300.


Like the other 25 voluntary teams in Scotland, Glenelg MRT gives free service to the members of the public whom request their assistance. All Scottish Mountain Rescue Teams receive grant aid from the Scottish Government and assistance from major sponsors like the Order of St John. We also rely on charitable donations and bequests from members of the public as well as local and national businesses, in order that we may continue to deliver the service we provide.


Please bear this in mind:

  • There is no legal requirement for Glenelg MRT members to assist the public in emergencies.
  • There is no commander ordering them to risk their own safety in extreme weather conditions at often hazardous locations.
  • They receive no retainer, payment or financial incentives.

They are simply a group of volunteers who provide this service. Any hour, any day, any weather

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

Dave Nichols – Marine Mountaineer, motivator.

David Nichols was a man I met through the mountains. He was on Everest with one of my best pals Al McLeod who fell and was killed whilst soling the North Face of the Matterhorn. He ended up a Brigadier in the Marines but Al always spoke highly of him. On that trip to Everest Dave and Al were on the rarely climbed West Ridge route on Everest. They were on the summit attempt on the Horbeinn Colouir when sadly they had to turn back due to deteriorating weather.

When Al was killed a few years later Dave came to the funeral. There was no fuss and he spoke to Al’s family. He helped me at that that awful time. I met him on several occasions after that always chatty and had tine for you. We last met in the Falklands where he was the top man a Brigadier yet he came over and had coffee with my self much to my bosses astonishment. I was sent this by a good friend of his: Thank you Stevan Jackson.

Today would have been David Nicholls’ 74th birthday. David was an extraordinary individual who touched the lives of many people. For those of us in the military mountaineering community, he was a source of inspiration as a climber with a remarkable list of ascents to his name. Beyond his climbing achievements, David was a dear friend, confidante, trusted guide, coach, and mentor to me. His memory continues to be a powerful influence in my life, and I strive to follow his example as a role model. I miss him dearly.

inspiration #rolemodel

Comments welcome as always.

Peter Weatherhill ex RAF. MRT Leader “Dave was the leader of the 1980 Navy expedition to Phabram. Had the honour to be on the same expedition.”

Bill Batson – ex RAF TeamLeader and Chief Instructor. “A wonderful man. Gone too soon.”

Posted in Articles, Expeditions - Alaska - Himalayas etc, Mountain rescue, Mountaineering, Views Mountaineering, Well being | Leave a comment

What’s was your breakthrough Crampon’s?

I was given a pair of crampons that never fitted my boots when I started winter climbing in1972. The crampons were heated and adjust to the boots. Mine had been heated and reheated a few times and one broke on my first winter day on the very remote Mullach na Dheiragan near Iron lodge at the back of Kintail. The hill was so icy I wore one crampon all the way to the road. As I found out the crampon broke due to metal fatigue. They had 12 points and huge leather straps that froze up in winter with metal buckles. They were not easy to put on especially on a winters day. In the end I bought pair of in those days state of the art crampons.

Very like these crampons my first ones !

It’s amazing how we got up a few routes with bendy boots and these crampons. Nothing hard climbs like the Runnel in Coire Ant Sneachda Red Gully and the Vent in Lochan. Many times the crampons came off in these early days. My next pair I am sure we’re Salewa Adjustable a bit like a Meccano kit. But were a lot better fit as you could adjust them.

My pal on my first trip ice Climbing in Canada bought a pair of Footfangs. They were so good on the steep ice of Canada a huge breakthrough at the time. We were wary of the Ski heel attachment at first but that’s history.

So when you take seconds to put on your flash new crampons have a thought for all the faffing we did on the past. Frozen hands, broken straps and crampons. My dog (Teallach) in the photo below is asleep due to the time even putting on fairly modern crampons. I still have nightmares of helping folks wearing crampons with frozen hands especially if you had more than one inexperienced person with you.

Any memories and photos? Comments welcome.

An early drawing by Bugs Mc Keith on Waterfall Ice in Canada early 80’s. This was a big pull on us going on that early trip to Canada where we were abseiling of piping tubes.( That’s another story)

Posted in Gear, Ice climbing Canada, Mountaineering, People, Scottish winter climbing. | 4 Comments

Winters back.

Be careful the winter is back I travelled down to Ayr yesterday early morning there was fresh snow on tops.on the way back there was heavy snow on the hills and as darkness fell the hills were very white. On my last bit of the journey the Dava Moor was very icy under the snow and wind was moving the snow high up. This will lead to whiteout conditions at times on the mountains. Goggles will be essential.

Cairngorm weather today.

Do not forget to check the Avalanche and weather reports they are very relevant. Also ice axe, crampons and winter hill bag is essential.

Avalanche hazard Cairngorms

Take care of out as the snow will be on the mountains and lower for a few days. As they say winter is not over yet!

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

A winters tale – Request for a Tope rope on Braeriach to Tower Ridge !

Every year the RAF Mountain Rescue would hold its Annual Winter Course which ran for two weeks in Scotland. It was based in the Cairngorms and Fort William. In these days there were 6 RAF Teams in the UK each team would send 2 instructors and 2 pupils. In all with a few extra we could have 36 – 40. It was a great but hard two weeks with one day off. Yet it was a huge privilege to chosen for the winter course there were some great instructors and we met so many of the other team members from far and wide.

I went on my first course as a pupil in the 70,s and had a great time. In these days the Northern Corrie’s in the Cairngorms were pretty quiet unlike nowadays. Of course there was no responsibility them for me, it was just getting out and climbing with many of the stars of that era. I found it very hard physically out every day no matter the weather and often getting involved in climbing accidents at the end of day.

As I progressed to a winter leader the responsibility got greater we often climbed a one two one ratio. After a few days of winter skills the new troops were put at some easy gullies for many a big change. It was worrying at times watching them find protection and belays which only come as your skills improve. After a good day out the troops would have to navigate back. Later on some would move onto Hells Lum and a long journey back across the plateau would test most folks.

If the weather or snow was limited we would look at the weather forecast and maybe go bothying. On my first winter course we had a few days into Corrour via a route Brairaich, Cairntoul and Devils Point. From a night in Corrour heading over Ben MacDui and Cairngorm carrying a lot of gear. As they say “ character building” in the early days there was no Avalanche forecasts and the weather information was basic.

After a nights snow hole which was epic at times but that’s another story. Many of the pupils had not done a winter in there area so it was full on learning, there were many eye opening days. Carrying a big bag was hard going every day add in maybe a Callout of which there were many that again opened the eyes of the young team members. At night we had lectures on Area knowledge, Avalanche awareness by The late Blyth Wright, and many other subjects. You were tired by the end of the day getting an appraisal of your efforts if you were a student and getting your gear dried and sorted out for tomorrow.

Go forward and it was the Team Leader at Kinloss that ran the course. In 1989 that was me. The responsibility I really felt as many of the instructors were pushing their grades. In the morning we would after breakfast have a brief and weather and avalanche update. I and a few others would have looked at what the plans for routes for the day would be. This was before Risk Assessments. I always had a good look what the younger leaders were up to as a few times ambition can overtake ability.

I was usually the last off the hill ensuring all were safe like a mother hen. I remember a few epics which we sorted. It would be long waits in car parks or at the top of routes to check everyone was okay. It was a lot easier to do in the Cairngorms where the car park is high. Of course we had our radios and if a wee epic was happening we could go to our military frequency.

The second week was on Ben Nevis and Glencoe and to many of the pupils and newer instructors the Ben is the classic Mountain as are the routes. Often some would stay in the CIC Hut giving a easier walk in.

On one course one of my star pupils from Kinloss who we had spent time training on the Ben was partnered with a young instructor. I had just done a route high on the Ben we watched the weather come in as was forecast. I held a couple near the summit to ensure all was okay as there was a pair of my troops going slowly on Tower Ridge. It’s cold hanging about on the summit then later on just as darkness was falling I heard a radio call.

Tower ridge

“ Any Alpine party ( our winter course call sign) we are on Tower Ridge and need a top rope. “ There was a reply before I could get them to go to our military frequency on the radio. The reply “ I would love to but on Braeraich finishing a climb” I knew Lochaber and Glencoe would be about so at least I had some time to sort things out.

Tower Ridge

I spoke to a very worried instructor he was near the famous Tower Gap and was like many before a bit gripped. His pupil was a great young troop we will call him “Stormy” he had climbed Tower Ridge in summer and winter with me. I spoke to him and asked was he okay. He said he was happy to lead the gap so I said go for it. We would descend to the Gap from the summit just in case . We had done it before and we’re glad to get going. We only had climbing ropes so we added ropes together as we sent a troop down to the gap.

Our hero Stormy was already passed the Gap bringing his Instructor up. All was good and they were both soon at the top. It was then a descent of the hill after a sort out of gear. On the way off the hill I got a call from Lochaber MRT asking if we were okay I was pleased to say yes thanks.

Waiting at the CIC hut for an overdue party

Of course there were many other epics or learning from mistakes. The odd walk out from Creag Mheaghaidh to Roy bridge and Glencoe after climbing ending up in Glen Etive. It was all part of the Mountaineering apprenticeships and valuable lessons were learned.

At the end of a days climbing we often helped the local teams with evacuation of fallen climbers never easy after a long days climbing.

I was glad my few years of running the winter course were accident free and we trained a lot of young team members who became Team Leaders of the future.

Maybe we did a lot of things right ?

Comments as always welcome.

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80 years ago The Wellington Crash South Eastern Flank of Geal Charn near Beinn Alder.

This is always a story I just get so moved by. Imagine crashing into a remote mountain during the dark days of the war. Things were not going well it was 1942 and in December. There is limited daylight and full on winter conditions. One can not imagine the effort by the survivor to get to safety.

Beinn Alder Crash 10 th Dec 1942

Map of area

There is an amazing story of a Vickers Wellington aircraft 10/12/1942 that crashed south eastern flank of Geal Charn One crew member survived in mid-winter and went for help – to me it’s an incredible story that few have heard. The Wreckage can be found on Geal-Chàrn, and then at various points downward on the slopes of Leacann na Brathan, in the vicinity of Ben Alder. This s wild remote area far away from assistance,

The crew, from B Flight of No.20 OTU, were on a day navigation training flight from RAF Lossiemouth on 10 /12/1942. The planned route was from base to a point some 30 miles east of Peterhead – Crieff – Friockheim, near Arbroath – Maud, near Peterhead – base. At some point the aircraft deviated from this route and at about 15:00 while heading in an easterly to north easterly direction (some 40 miles off course) flew into Leacann na Brathan on the south eastern flank of Geal-charn which at the time was snow covered and enveloped in blizzard conditions.

The Survivor:The only survivor of the crash, Sgt Underwood, after checking for signs of life from his crew made his way off the mountain and arrived at Corrour Lodge in a very poor state. He was taken in and the next day transferred to hospital in Fort William. I cannot imagine trying to get off the mountain high up in winter from this area and all your crew are killed. How Sgt Underwood managed this is a tale of survival and huge mental courage this is one of the wildest areas and remote hill country in the UK, Sadly little was known of this tale as in 1942 it was the dark days of the war and I would imagine crashes etc were fairly restricted information. One can only think what was in his head as he headed down to Corrour and what he said to the keeper and his family who live in this remote place? This is an incredible story that should never be forgotten.

After the aircraft had failed to return from its exercise a search was organised but nothing was found before the report of the rear gunner reaching Corrour and help was received. The rest of the crew died in the crash.

Following the recovery of the bodies of those who had been killed the task of clearing the site was given to No.56 Maintenance Unit at Inverness. They inspected the wreck and decided to abandon it until the spring of 1943 before any work could begin. The recovery operation eventually began in July 1943 with a camp being established some distance from the site, assistance was rendered by army personnel of the 52nd Division, Scottish Command. They provided 25 pack mules and a 3 ton lorry. With these most of the wreckage was removed from the site, but today a reasonable amount still remains. Some tale! I am sure there was an aircraft Tyre down near the road coming out of the Beinn Alder Track near the Dam at Loch Eiricht and the railway line, it would make sense that is where some wreckage was taken by the mules?

The wreckage

The wreckage is in three debris fields, with the lowest lying (containing a few twisted pieces of fuselage) right on the main path going over the Bealach Dubh between Ben Alder and Geal-chàrn at an altitude of about 730m. It was here that much of the aircraft was brought down by mules and I am sure that is why the wreckage is there on the path? I am sure this is where the wheel came from as the road passes the point where I used to see the aircraft wheel.

Please be aware this is a tricky wild remote area if you plan to visit where the snow holds on for a long time.


OS 10-figure grid refs (GPS):

NN 48049 73196
NN 48072 73585
NN 48223 73680 Thanks to Danny Daniels and others for the information.

What a film this story would make and few have heard or have knowledge of this story, it was hidden in the tragedy of the war. I bet there is still a few who would know the tale, the keepers from Corrour would have been involved as would the Beinn Alder Estate any information would be gratefully accepted. I had planned to go up on the 70 th Anniversary but was ill for two years. I will make a point of going up on this Anniversary in 2022 god willing!

Do you have any contacts on the Estate who may be have a tale of this epic?

Looking back past Culra.

David “Heavy” Whalley Dec 2022

Posted in Aircraft incidents, Mountain rescue, mountain safety, Mountaineering, Views Mountaineering, Weather | 2 Comments

New record for Tranters Round 8 hours 52 min by Finlay Wild. Amazing ! 18 Munro’s and a Munro top.

Finlay Wild has set a new Tranter’s Round record. 8 hrs 52 off the previous record held by, you guessed it, Finlay Wild.

The hills:

Mullach Nan Coirean
Stob Ban
Sgurr A Mhaim
Am Bodach
Stob Coire a`Chairn
An Gearanach
Na Gruagaichean
Binnein Mor
Binnein Beag
Sgurr Eilde Mor
Stob Ban
Stob Choire Claurigh
Stob Coire an Laoigh
Sgurr Choinnich Mhor
Aonach Beag
Aonach Mor
Carn Mor Dearg
Ben Nevis
Achriabhach Glen Nevis

Tranters Round

What is the Tranter’s Round?

Tranter’s Round is named after Philip Tranter, who first completed it in 1964. It is acclaimed as Scotland’s original 24-hour challenge, before being extended by Charlie Ramsay in 1978 to become the Ramsay Round.

The Tranter Round extends to around 58km (36 miles) and has more than 6100m (20,000ft) of ascent taking in 18 Munros (and a Munro Top, Sgurr an Lubhair), including all of the Mamores, the Grey Corries, the Aonachs and then Carn Mor Dearg and Ben Nevis, which is Britain’s highest mountain. The start and finish are at Glen Nevis.

To be able to achieve a feat like this is like being an Olympic athlete. The hill running world has many incredible folk both men and women. i have been lucky to meet many. There is little publicity given or wanted by hill runners but to be able to run across such an area so fast and seemingly effortlessly makes mere mortals who love the mountains appreciate this bold venture.

I did a small bit of hill running many years ago and traveling light over the mountains is an incredible feeling. You feel so different travelling light across the great ridges of Scotland.These days are long gone but see the odd runner on the hill still warms my heart. Findlays family must be so proud of his achievements.

What more can you say but well done Finlay what a man.

Further reading –

Posted in Books, Enviroment, Mountaineering, People, Recomended books and Guides, Views Mountaineering, Well being | Leave a comment

Bothies – A few thoughts to The MBA thanks ! Memories of Back hill of Bush Galloway. Bothy clean ups by helicopter.

I got an email from someone who enjoyed the blog I did on the bothy at Back Hill of Bush in Galloway. I still remember that first time after coming off the Merrick in the snow with a big bag carrying 3 days food at 12 how tired I was!

This was 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 candles for light and listening to the tales and stories round the fire. Everyone was so kind and helpful and I was in complete awe of them. I thought this is the life for me.

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. Tales of the Shepherd who lived here in the 1930’s the usual ghost tales were all taken in as fact.

Later on in the RAF Rescue I was to spend many nights in the Bothies. 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 famous bothy.

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.

Bothy clean up

Before Health and Safety we would go round the Bothies on area knowledge exercise with the Wessex and Sea King Helicopter. We would clean up the rubbish from the Bothies and take it away to the dump. Much of it “unpleasant” but so worth it we felt we were giving something back and also drop hidden caches of food and drink for future trips. I wonder if anyone remembers these trips? We also often did the back of the CIC hut after the winter snows had gone. Crazy days.

What is your favourite bothy ? Sadly now many are abused or permission for their use taken away due to the mess that can be left. Yet most of us treat tge Bothies well and never forget the early days.

The smell of woodsmoke or that first meal beans and sausage cooked over an open fire. Sleeping your first night in a bothy the wet clothes and yet despite the cold and damp these are grand memories.

Up North West
Rum – Diabeg

Comments as always weelcome.

Posted in Bothies, Enviroment, Friends, Gear, Health, Mountain rescue, mountain safety, Mountaineering, People, Views Mountaineering, Views Political?, Weather, Well being, Wildlife | 4 Comments

Mountain Accidents- a few thoughts.

It’s been a sad time their have been several fatal accidents in the mountains. Many think winter is over it’s not. I was the Accident statistician for Mountain Rescue many years and had a keen interest over the years trying to learn from accidents. It is the Police responsibility for Search and Rescue but much is delegated to the Mountain Rescue Teams. In the past the SMC Journals put a brief description of every accident and many lessons were learned from them. Yet this has now stopped many years ago and I feel more can be done. Over many years there has been much discussion on this subject, of course there have been many changes since then. Of course unless there are eye witness’s its only a view of what may have occurred. I

From the Scottish Mountain rescue stats Top 5 causes:

  1. Slip/trip – 122
  2. Lost persons – 56
  3. Navigation error – 43
  4. Fall – 38
  5. Medical – 31

Folk mention that casualties families have been through so much, many I have met take years to come to terms with their loss. Yet most I have met we can do little than take them to them to the accident area, all are different and handle grief in their own way. Fatal Climbing accidents are different as there in my view is an interest in gear failure that has lead to many changes over the years.

Various groups work on Mountain Safety and I have been allowed to mention in my safety talks these true stories of recent accidents with the families agreeing with names withheld but with lessons learned. In these days of various media and despite good work by other Agencies the same problems seem cause accidents. Navigation, weather (underestimation) Fitness, underestimating’ the route and many others. Of course their are many new problems like relying on your phone to navigate and as a torch.



Comments, ideas are always welcome.

Posted in Articles, Mountain rescue, mountain safety, Mountaineering, Rock Climbing, Views Mountaineering, Well being | 3 Comments

The Anson Crash – Aeroplane Flats near Conival – Assynt

The Memorial to the Anson a very place. Britain’s highest War Grave.

This paragraph below was written by a relative of the crew of an Anson aircraft that crashed in the far North of Scotland.

The original memorial built in the dark days of the war.

“Sgt Harry Tompsett with Sgt’s Jack Emery and Charles Mitchel at 19 OTU RAF Kinloss Scotland in 1941. All were killed on 13th April 1941 when Avro Anson N9857 flew into severe weather condition over NW Scotland. With icing and the loss of an engine the aircraft lost height and crashed in a blizzard on Ben More Assynt. Reported missing they were found by a shepherd on 25th May 1941 as the snow gave way. Killed in the crash was Flying officer James Steyn pilot from Johannesburg S. Africa who had recently been awarded the DFC for bringing a badly damaged bomber back from a raid in Europe. Flight Sgt Brendon Kenny, Sgt Instructor, who parachuted from a burning bomber over France in 1940, evaded capture and aided by the French Resistance returned to the UK and last but not least Pilot Officer Bill Drew. All were buried where they fell on top of the mountain and where they lie today marked by a memorial placed by the War Graves Commission in the highest UK War grave.” Bernie Thompset.

Lest we forget Photo Bernie Thompset.

I have written in the past about my many visits to the Anson crash in Assynt. The old memorial was not in a great state and thanks to lots of effort there is a new memorial in place. Many were involved Assynt MRT, Commonwealth Graves Commission the local Air Training Cadets, The RAF Lossiemouth MRT and the many others involved including the RAF Engineers and the Chinook crew. We met so many on the journey to many to name. Thank you all and to Bernie for allowing me to quote his words.

The old memorial

The crash site in Assynt is an wonderful place to visit and a place of incredible solitude. When you read the full story one cannot help think of what happened on that winter night. The shepherd who found the crew 6 weeks later is an untold story as it was when the family visited a few weeks later and the kindness shown to them in the dark days of the war. These are stories that deserve telling and despite the tragedy of the loss of the crew and many others that were lost at the prime of their lives. “Lest we forget”

It’s been a while since I visited but it would be lovely if someone could check the memorial and give the memorial a wee clean.

The crew :

F/O James Henry Steyn (23), DFC, RAF, South Africa.
P/O William Edward Drew (28), RAF
Sgt Charles McPherson Mitchell (31), RAFVR
Flt Sgt Thomas Brendon Kenny (20), RAF
Sgt Jack Emery (20), RAFVR
Sgt Harold Arthur Tompsett (20), RAFVR

As always Comments welcome.

Posted in Aircraft incidents, Articles, Enviroment, Mountaineering, People, Well being | 2 Comments

A bothy tale “The Shed” (A wee bothy high on the Tibetan side of Everest) May – June 2001.

This article was published in the Mountain Bothy Association Newsletter.

Tales from a Bothy

My first memories of bothying were in the early Sixties as a member of the Boys Brigade. I was making up the numbers on the Duke Of Edinburgh Award staying at Back Hill of the Bush in Galloway. The smell of wood and smoke, beans and sausage will stay with you forever and you always remember that first experience. As the youngest and smallest (I was given the most kit to carry, nothing changes) and enjoyed the crack so much I was hooked. Mountains and Bothies became my life, which has taken me all over the world.

I have been very fortunate to visit the Himalayas on several occasions and also to visit the highest mountain in the world. During 2001 I visited Everest from the North, the Tibetan side on a 3-month trip as a member of the RAF Mountain Rescue North Ridge Expedition. It was a fantastic trip in which we managed to get 2 team members to the summit and all get back safe and well (even more important). In between we carried out 3 rescues one at over 8000 metres for one of our own team, who was very ill. It was a magic trip, a successful expedition and the experience of a lifetime. Tibet is a wonderful place and what an adventure just getting to the Base camp.

Previous trips by friends to the West Ridge of Everest had been extremely hard as the winds and dust get everywhere and the constant noise of the wind during stormy spells makes resting at altitude very hard indeed. Base Camp on any big mountain should be as comfortable as possible, which is not easy to achieve in tents.  One of our team had wintered in Antarctica, and he convinced us of the benefits of taking out a substantial Communal Base Tent, hence the idea of the “Shed” was born. He had had two wild trips to the North side of Everest, where the weather and winds from the Tibetan Plateau made life very hard at Base Camp (BC). We had a plan, “The Shed” this was a wooden prefabricated shed made by a local company Robertson’s in Scotland put together by bolts. The shed was transported curtsey of RAF Hercules to Kathmandu and then by vehicle to Everest Base camp at over 17500 feet. This is where the fun started; at altitude everything is very difficult, things have to be taken very slowly. The “Lego Shed” arrived safe and the boys put the shed up the next day. This caused much amusement of all at Base Camp. The politics game had to be played just like in Scotland where problems can arise with a difficult landowner whose land and bothy we use! Some of the top mountaineers said there would be no chance of getting permission to put up the Shed. The Chinese Liaison Officer whose word is final, controlled the Base camp area, after a few drams and the odd bottle he agreed permission to us putting the shed up. This amazed all the other expeditions at Base camp chance of getting permission to put up our shed. Politically we had to purchase a Chinese flag and fly it above our flags; it was game of “hearts and minds” at a cost of a $100  everything has a price

The local Tibetans were amazed when the Shed was up and we were the focal point for most of the expeditions during our stay. The comfort inside was amazing and once the door was shut at night it was a peaceful place. At various times during poor weather and disasters on the mountain, (there were 2 deaths when we were there) we all returned to Base Camp and spent some unbelievable nights in the Shed. It was amazing how the altitude affects the alcohol intake but we had some nights reminiscing of nights in the bothies at home. We were great friends with the Russians and various other expeditions and we had several wild nights with them during the bad weather. It was great to see how well everyone got on; we even had a bothy book to sign. I wonder where it went.

The Shed was an oasis of peace at times during the various epics that occurred on the mountain. Two friends from a Russian and a New Zealand expedition, died high on the mountain and the Shed was used on many occasions to bring people together after such sad events. At the end we were the last people on the mountain as we tried to get one more shot at another summit attempt. The weather was awful and we were lucky to get off the mountain without the loss of any of our team. I was the last of our team down from Advanced Base Camp at 21500 feet. The Sherpas and I brought down 50 Yak Loads of rubbish left by other expeditions at a personal cost of $500, where did the environment levy go. How can people treat such a majestic place in such a way? It reminded me of when we used to go round the popular bothies at the end of winter with the helicopter bringing back rubbish left by similar minded people in my own country. At least we tried and left the place a lot better thanks to our Sherpas and the local Tibetan Yak herders, who transported it, back to Base Camp.

The hut

It was decided to give the Shed to the local Tibetans to use as an eye hospital further down the Rongbook Glacier. At the end of the expedition we presented it to one of the local Tibetans’ the first local to reach the summit. This was a fitting end to the “Shed” our Everest Bothy and a long way from these early days at Back Hill of the Bush in Galloway!

Packing up.

Heavy Whalley

A few years later I was honoured to speak at the Mountain Bothies Association 50 th Anniversary (MBA) in Newtonmore. 

Comments welcome.

Posted in Articles, Bothies, Mountaineering, Views Mountaineering | 2 Comments

“The Fox of Glencoe” Hamish MacInnes RIP

The sad but not unexpected sad news that Hamish had passed away yesterday.


There will be much written by many in the Mountaineering world who climbed with Hamish over the years. His exploits are legendary and so impressive.

Hamish climbed all over the World yet his passion was Scotland this was his playground, his work place. He wrote so many books of his exploits they like his films are a part of his huge legacy.

Hamish climbed all over the World yet his passion was Scotland this was his playground, his work place. He wrote so many books of his exploits they like his films are a part of his huge legacy.

In the early days of Mountain Rescue he was a true pioneer and formed the Glencoe MR Team. They were a great group of top mountaineers called “The Glencoe Mafia” and added to the many local characters, keepers and shepherds they were a team in the true tradition of Mountain Rescue. I was so lucky to meet Hamish and work with him on so many occasions. In these early days he worked with many of the RAF teams who were in at the forefront of Mountain Rescue in the early years .

Hamish in addition to being a first class mountaineer used his engineering background to make lightweight stretchers and ice axes. He designed new techniques for technical rescue all tested in Glencoe. Yet most of all he was a true mountaineer. He was also an innovative inventor who made breakthroughs in the design of ice axes that changed the face of mountaineering. Yet he was still part of of a small Mountain Rescue team in Glencoe this World class mountaineer was one of us.

I got to know Hamish well over the years. I was in the corner of the room at his house as a young lad as he talked about Rescues and other tales. I worked with him on the hill was amazed at his endurance and how he never seemed to feel the cold. He was ice cool in any drama and such a mountaineer. I got to know him better as I became Team Leader of the RAF Teams at Leuchars and Kinloss . He was full of advice and yet he listened to you and shared his knowledge. He had a wild sense of humour, very dry and unique.

He had so many contacts within the military he could get anything done. This was very helpful. Hamish also helped set up the Mountain Rescue Committee and he got things done and ensured the teams had a voice. He highlighted the costs of Mountain Rescue and the work of unpaid Team members to the Police and fought our corner on many occasions. He also handled the politics of Mountain Rescue advising on so many occasions.

He worked with the helicopters all the time improving systems and was a friend of so many aircrew where he was the man they trusted on a Rescue. He had many other contacts in the Special forces and had access to so many state of the art gear that he used on searches or training. He helped the RAF teams a lot in many ways always there when our future was threatened he had the ear of many politicians over the years. If you had the problem Hamish was the man.

I think and I am proud to say we became good pals and I dropped in often to see him in his house in Glencoe. He had an incredible memory. He could produce at any time a picture of some first ascent or of a famous climber on an expedition he was part off.

Hamish stories were incredible and when he took ill a few years ago I was honoured to be part of his network that he spoke to. These were terrible time’s for Hamish and his recent film shows how grim it was for him.

Amazingly Hamish recovered he regained his memory by re reading his many books. I visited him and the stories kept coming back. Listening to Hamish he would drop the names of the famous into the conversation as if it was a normal occurrence . Chris (Bonnington) Clint ( Eastwood) Shaun ( Connery)were regular as was Michael ( Palin)and so many others.

On his recovery he had many visits from his pals. He seemed so happy so well looked after by his local carers who he sang praises of, they looked after him so well and he was fighting back to health. He had just celebrated his big birthday( 90 ) recently and despite Covid on his birthday he was surrounded by his Glencoe pals in the garden. He was overjoyed with a special day.

I saw him recently he was still on fine form. I think he knew we would not meet again. He asked-me if I could sort out a fly past from the Coast guards. He was missing seeing his pals in the helicopters. (Over to your Bristows Helicopters.) My last words were take care as he sat by Tom Pateys desk amongst the pictures of the mountains he loved.

I will miss his lengthy chats on the phone, the huge emails, the visits to his house his incredible memory, his stories, his dry humour, his advice but also his true friendship. Hamish did so much for so many especially those in trouble on the mountains.

There will be so many stories and tales of this incredible man but to me he was “our Hamish” I feel we so honoured to have been a small part of the story. Rest in peace Hamish you were one of the finest men I have ever met. How many lives did you save how many folk are indebted to you? We will never know but what a life , what adventures, what vision. What a man.

There was also a side that many did not see his care for the relatives after a tragedy on the hills was something few knew about. Hamish the man of iron had a heart of gold.

Hamish at Tom Patey’s old desk ! Photo Davy Gunn

“An Iconic Last” Hamish’s words.

“There can only be one” Highlander.

Thank you Sir

Posted in Articles, Equipment, Expeditions - Alaska - Himalayas etc, Friends, Mountain rescue, Mountaineering, Well being | 10 Comments

Socks on wet big routes in the rain. “Slip sliding away”

This is a strange time to write about wet rock during this glorious spell of weather a time to climb the Classic Clachaig Gully or the Chasm in Glencoe? Let me know how you get on.

Quiver Rib Glencoe a lovely easy climb but in the wet even an easy climb can be tricky.

I read a short piece recently about socks on wet routes. When I started climbing in the early 70’s socks were used by a few on wet rock. If my memory allows me I and I was caught on Creag Dubh (Creag Death” at Newtonmore about 1973 . It rained when we were on route and we’re caught in a downpour. Kas Taylor who I was with sent me onwards to find a belay .I was the lightest on a poor belay He told me to take off my boots and climb in socks. I made the belay but the socks were wrecked.

Creag Dubh a few years later in the dry.

In the RAF Mountain Rescue we had to climb VD (Very Difficult) in the rain in big boots and a bag, sounds easy but on a polished climb it can be interesting. The Milestone on Tryfan was a favourite but when polished very slippy. Photo below Canopy on the milestone. Wet rock next to the route Soap Gut aptly named.

Over the years I learned to climb on big mountain crags in the wet. In Wales on the Idwal Slabs were a favourite and often climbed in the wet and big boots sometimes socks were the secret weapon. Photo Idwal Slabs a bit wet that day.

.When I returned from Wales in 1982 after 3 years in Wales I decided to go for my team leaders course. To achieve this I had to push my climbing this meant a lot of climbing at weekends. .I think I scared a few on these wild days?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Years later below the Cioch its a bit wet.

I did several climbs on wet rock in socks like Cioch Direct the classic climb in Corrie Lagan. They say Gabbro is never slippy it is at times. Within minutes a downpour can lead to torrents of water to cascade down.

On the Ben we were caught in wet weather high on Long Climb and I led a hard pitch in socks when we went off route, The thought of abseiling of was to scary to contemplate. It was a huge climb on a big face with a lot of loose rock. The rain came down and we were a bit off route which involved a travers across steep slippy rock not easy but the socks saved the day.


Hell’s Lum Crag in the Cairngorms often has seepage at the top of the routes and in a shower can become interesting again at the end of winter this happens as the snow melts. Another cliff where the socks cam into there own.

Photo Hells Lum Crag Loch Avon. the seepage comes from the plateau above which can hold snow into the summer.

I doubt if many climb on wet rock, the mountain Crags seem very quiet and rock boots are mainly used. I have used socks on my rock boots and that has worked. Better to climb in the dry those days of big bags and boots are long gone?

The Chasm in a dry spell poor photo but classic route.

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Winter round of the Munro’s – winter 282 a film by Kevin Woods.

The film was Introduced by Jenny Graham a local world record breaking cyclist and superb host.

This was A marvellous insight into a winter Traverse of all the 282 Munro’s in winter .

Influenced by Sir Hugh Munro Hamish Brown ( first all round trip ( solo) The late Martin Moran ( first winter solo completist) and the late Steve Perry solo traverse of the Munro’s .

I saw the film done by Kevin at the Eden court last night. I enjoyed it. I was impressed by the photography and honesty of Kevin’s Winter Traverse.

You can see the wonderful enthusiasm Kevin has from his early days in the mountains. To his previous traverse of the the Munro’s in summer. The words spoken by his friends on his drive and determination.

He had awful weather and used great skill in getting the best out of the weather window. Lots of ascents in. Storms, in darkness and when no one else would venture into the hills.

He was supported by a few companions at times who met him for the odd hill day or at remote Bothies. The fire the wee light glowing in a dark night in a bothy. At the end of long days took me back to my own winter traverse west to East in 1978.

Times have changed since then as has gear.The use of using the weather forecasts and watching the changes that occurred daily. Constant wind fighting most days the elements and candid and honest self assessment while on summits was a great insight nto a supreme athlete pushing it daily.

I really enjoyed the photography it captures Scotland in winter. The views of the majestic mountains in winter is breathtaking. As were the videos in wild weather sheltering from the wind.

Some of the interviews by pals for the film are very honest all great mountain folk in their own right. Kevin talks about How things nearly went wrong when an ice axe break saved him from serious injury.

The success was due to intensive winter mountaineering Kevin has worked so hard building up his winter experiences . This allowed him to overcome what ever he came across.

The final part of the journey the nightmare of COVID hits the UK causing lots of thought and decision making. I will leave you to watch the film and ending of his winter journey.

What more can I say for a few hours when I was watching this film I was back to my big hill days in the past. Yet to be in the Eden court with so many great folk helps clear the mind.

Folk like Kevin are infectious as was the Q & A after the film. The film is superb and an eye opener. I drove home thinking of past days on these hills. How I miss them !

Kevin and Jenny

From December 2019 to March 2020, I climbed Scotland’s 282 Munros in a single winter season.

The trip takes in around 2,000km of mountain terrain, pairing the demands of walking long distances with winter weather. It was one of the most engaging and satisfying things I’ve done, drawing together every strand of experience from years spent in the mountains.

The winter of 2019-20 was far stormier than average, and while a rigorous schedule has to be maintained, one must bow and flex to the will of the weather. The season was essentially one non-stop procession of Atlantic westerlies with the briefest of lulls between; never a moment for cruising in auto-pilot or for complacency. By the beginning of February, I had completed about 3/5ths of the summits and was maintaining a pace toward the fastest winter completion. But the continual storms up to that point had me running low on tactical get-outs and there was no let up in conditions.

Thus the winter ended up split in two. The second half brought some incredibly severe winter storms in the North-west Highlands. With progress dampened, I continued chipping at the coal face.

Photo Kevin Woods Collection

I was nearly caught short, right at the last. The worldwide pandemic in the first part of 2020 caught up with me, and I came so close to not finishing at all.

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