Elgin City Football club, then a drive to the West Coast Via Torridon. A potholed busy road and a pair of sea Eagles,

I usually golf yesterday but it was pouring most of the night and I gave it a miss. This was a mistake as within an hour the sun was out. Sadly I heard of the flooding lightening storms and later the tragic train crash. My thoughts are with those who lots family and friends and the Rescue Agencies involved. Nature can be so cruel at times?

I had lots to do and was heading over to Applecross later that day. So I managed to catch up with some admin.

I had a Chropodist appointment in Elgin with Pure Podiatry my feet are battered from years of neglect and hill days. It was my second trip during COVID and they looked after me well thank you all.

Top tip – look after your feet. The treatment is done just now in Elgin at the Football ground of Elgin City, Borough Brigs.

I met an old pal from the RAF days Graham Tatters who is the Chairman of the club. We had a great catch up and he has his hands full during this crisis for the club. With no revenue hardly coming in I feel for the club and the town. As always Graham is upbeat and working hard to do his best for Elgin City. I wish them well.

Graham Tatters

It was then the drive to Applecross the road from Kinlochewe through to Torridon is still awful with huge potholes all over. It’s single track and not designed for all the traffic it gets. Also so many vans on the road and lay-bys it’s so busy. It’s hard to let vans and cars pass and some folk are so rude.

A good bit of the road. The mighty Liathach.

Last year I reported this part of the road A896 in winter and its potholes as it is especially dangerous for bikes and motor cycles. The holes are big they are hidden in the rain but it seems to be forgotten? I will chase it up again with the Council. On my way back I will photograph them again.

The clouds looked ominous and dark but the summits cleared and as always the views were great. Most lay-bys had tents so near the road and it does cause a huge problem for passing especially for the locals. It is such a stunning area but it needs infrastructure and money spent. There has been so much written on this subject I will leave you to your own thoughts.

Money is being made by the NC 500 I wish those behind it would be more active in giving something back to the area. The Council has limited money, who will pay for the needed toilets, camping sites, car parking and road upgrades. For many years Council Tax was frozen by successive governments. Things need to be done. We are being told to Stay at home in Scotland please let’s find some cash to put things right.

The roof house!

I drove round the coast to Arrina where I am staying with a good friend. The last bit of road I met so many more bikes and vans it is so worth taking things carefully. There are many tight blind corners. The views across Loch Torridon were magical and Beinn Alligin always looks superb as does the cliffs of Diabeg across the water. Today they looked pink in the light. I always take a photo of the wee house with the Red Roof overlooking the loch it’s iconic. It’s a stunning area that needs urgent help.

My view thanks.

I eventually arrived and we sat outside until the midges arrived when the wind died. I was given a show by 2 Sea Eagles soaring their cry was so shirl and piercing yet they were so high up at times it was magical. I was told by my guru it was a young bird learning the ropes. I had a good look through the Bino’s magical . It was so worth the journey. We had a lovely meal a wander along the coast as the breeze came back sadly no sunset though but with a good forecast tomorrow fingers crossed.

Posted in Articles, Enviroment, Friends, Golf, Health, mountain safety, Mountaineering, Munros, People, Plants, Views Mountaineering, Weather, Well being, Wildlife | Leave a comment

Another Island memory – Rum

I wrote a few blogs about visits to the Islands mostly on call -outs this was a classic Island tale after a long day on the hill , a call -out, wild midges and a post office party awaiting a lift off by helicopter. I have visited the Island on many occasions three times by our own boat in the early days of Night Vision Goggles seeing whales as we crossed after a huge lightning storm. Most folk arrive via Mallaig on the wee ferry. It used to be hard to visit now its fairly easy. PeRmision had to be granted and it was a tricky place to get to, nowadays it is open. It is the haunt of deer, ponies, eagles so many birds and what hills and a Castle. There is lots of unclimbed rock and the Island has a great history. We even had parties in the Castle but that is another story. Its a grand place for many most only visit once I am so lucky we put up a few routes we never claimed and even had a winter traverse in the 80’s what mountains, what people. This is another tale of a call -out.

1997  – Another  Rum Callout . 

8 Jun 97 Isle of Rum After a long day on the hill just leaving Skye. Injured bird watcher /Mountaineer (1 Alive). Technical carry out of casualty with head injuries and dislocated shoulder.  Hellish walk in with all the gear after helicopter drop off by Bristow’s Stornoway SAR Helicopter at sea – level due to weather. Locals were of great assistance  

The Mountain Rescue Weekend Training Exercise was planned for Skye, even though the weather was poor we had a good weekend on the wet rock in Corrie Lagan. Skye is hard work with sea level approaches making every summit or climb hard won. The drive from Kinloss can take up to 5 hours so Sunday is a short day and I was away early with Martin as he wanted to tick Cioch Direct a classic route on Sgur Na Ciche.  It was a quick climb up early and back for a meal about 1600 for a meal then the long drive home. As we were leaving the bothy in Broadford the village Hall to RAF Kinloss a message came in to assist in a callout to the Island of Rum.  This is a fairly remote area which was owned by the Nature Conservancy, access was by ferry and boat and in our case by Helicopter from Stornoway.  The island of Rum has a population of less than one -hundred and a road which is one mile long!  The hills are very rough with only a few paths and the terrain involves serious, remote, mountains although they are less than 3000 feet. It is a place to see nature in the wild and the annual nesting of the Manx Shearwaters is an incredible sight. It attracts lovers of the wild birdwatchers and the traverse of the Rum Ridge is a great day.

Rum Traverse .

From Walk Highlands – “This sustained mountain walk with basic scrambling covers the 5 major summits on Rum, including 2 Corbetts and a Graham. The Rum Cuillin offer arguably one of the most exciting hill days out in the Scottish Islands. The scrambling is simple and unexposed, with good holds and grippy rock, but the route is very long and committing with only 1 water point, and 2 potential escape routes, after the dam. On a clear day you are rewarded by breathtaking views across the Hebrides.


Extremely long and rocky mountain traverse. Scrambling is straightforward if easiest line is found. Return walk is boggy. “

Most climbers’ goal is to traverse this ridge, which is one of Scotland’s finest rock-scrambling routes. There is also some great rock climbs that few have climbed on and lots to do in the future.

Most walkers want to ascend the main peaks on this ridge, including the Norse named Corbetts of Askival and Ainshval, great hills and an incredible ridge walk as good as anything in the UK.

The views of Skye and the Islands are incredible it is an unique place. The Mountain Rescue team had in the past had a few epic callouts in Rum, I had carried out a couple of these, involving long carry – offs in difficult terrain.. The team had only recently visited the Island to train with the local Coastguards and gain some area knowledge, hopefully this would help us!  Bristows Helicopter arrived within 10 minutes and a party of nine were sent to assess the situation. High winds and severe turbulence would only allow the helicopter to drop our hill party at Kinloch near the Castle which was four miles away from the incident and unfortunately at sea – level.

As the casualty a birdwatcher looking at the famous Shearwaters had fallen at approximately midday and was just off the main ridge at two-thousand feet, we sent a few of the young stars off as the fast party, led by Kenny Kennworthy who had recently been involved in the team leaders course in North Wales and was needing   a bit of real action.  Don’t ask Kenny about this Course as he had a bad time playing Call outs, after running real ones for many years.) This party carried all the First Aid Equipment, casualty bag, including Entonox, Oxygen, ropes and all the rest and there was little room for anything else. A few of the locals were about an hour ahead carrying a stretcher and rope , this group was made up of keepers, foresters, coastguards etc. They made great progress and were invaluable with their area knowledge the mountain, even leaving guides on the way into the casualty to assist the team. Fortunately the weather had improved by the time our first -aid party reached the casualty, who was suffering from shock, a deep head wound and a shoulder injury. His girlfriend had looked after him and administered basic First aid, kept him warm, whilst her father had gone for help and had come back up the hill to help the team! This is not bad for a gentleman of over sixty. They had done everything correctly and hopefully the casualty would soon be recovering in Hospital. Its worth noting that these birds nest in a burrow near the summit and the ground is covered in Guano and can be extremely slippy care is needed.

Due to the steepness of the ground it was decided to lower the casualty 500 feet, carrying him to an area where he could be evacuated by the helicopter. It takes a lot more than twelve people to carry a stretcher especially in such a remote area. The weather was changing and we requested the rest of the team to be flown in to assist in the carry-off. Another ten troops and the locals made all the difference and soon the casualty was at a suitable site for helicopter evacuation. The wild Atlantic Corrie is an incredible place and a place few visit, I went back a few times and it is so wild, pretty unique in Scotland. Bristows landed on, uplifted the casualty and was soon off to Fort William Hospital.

The wild Atlantic Corrie what a place !

All that was left was a long walk back to the Castle and hopefully a lift back to Skye with Bristows, otherwise it would be a long swim. Time was moving on and when we were back at the Castle it was nearly midnight. Bristows had managed to drop off some of the team and the rest were told to wait until the helicopter had refuelled. The midges were out in force and we had to find shelter as the helicopter would be away for over a couple of hours.

The locals were over the moon with our help and wanted to give us a small drink in appreciation. Mountain Rescue will never turn down a offer of a dram and we had a wee drink with the locals before the helicopter came back for us at 02.00. The local Post Office was the bar but that is another story.  It was a quick trip back to Skye and a few hours sleep before returning to Kinloss in the morning. I got our bill for the honesty bar we had in the Post office a week later.

This was a great call -out with an excellent result and good liaison between all concerned. It makes all the hassle of being in a team even after twenty odd years, worthwhile. In the past call -outs in these remote areas have, and still are fairly serious but it was great to see the locals and the injured hill party trying to help themselves, this does not always happen.  These call – outs are vital to give the team real training in remote areas to ensure we can react to any aircraft or mountaineering incident, An aircraft incident in this area and it will happen one day but at least the remoteness will keep the hassle factor down. Nowadays things are very different but incidents in places like Rum can still prove difficult but Lochaber and Skye Mountain Rescue and the locals are well prepared. It is still worth remembering in these remoter areas to remember that you should always be as self-sufficient to cope with most situations when walking or climbing in these areas. Comments welcome.

1957 – A request for assistance.

1957 Rum – Callout plans – Looking through my research of the RAF Kinloss Mountain Team I found some correspondence for assisting in a rescue if needed on the wonderful Island of Rum. The island was a Nature Reserve and climbers and walkers were starting to come to the Island. The warden was worried about an accident happening and had contacted the RAF Team at Kinloss to see if they could assist (remember this was 1957). It was around this time that Rum was purchased was purchased by the Nature Conservancy Council. It is nowadays a busy place especially when all the birdwatchers are about and there have been a few accidents in the past. The reply was that the RAF team could be used by the Police to assist in any rescues as long as the Team was not needed for RAF operations. The Police said they could commission a boat to take the team 15 troops from Mallaig and one ton of equipment. From here the island boat would transport the team to the Island harbour. The ferry in these days only operated on Wednesdays and Saturday. The plan was to have the boat stay off the Island until the Rescue was completed. The Team did go over and had a magic time what a place to climb and walk or even just enjoy the wildness. The early days of Rescue now a lot easier a phone call and a helicopter comes if the weather is okay failing that there will be support from the Skye/ Lochaber Team. The locals still help where they can I have done 3 great rescues in the past on this incredible Island my blog dated 4 th Aug 2013 for details. There is so much potential on the Island for walking and climbing and I love the place – must get back before I get to too old.

Rum is the largest of the Small Isles, and the fifteenth largest Scottish island, but is inhabited by only about thirty or so people, all of whom live in the village of Kinloch on the east coast. The island has been inhabited since the 8th millennium BC and provides some of the earliest known evidence of human occupation in Scotland.  From the 12th to 13th centuries on, the island was held by various clans including the MacLeans of Coll. The population grew to over 400 by the late 18th century but was cleared of its indigenous population between 1826 and 1828. The island then became a sporting estate, the exotic Kinloch Castle being constructed by the Bulloughs in 1900.

Alongside the wonders of the natural environment, Rum’s community is undergoing a period of change. 2009 and 2010 saw the phased transfer of land and assets in and around Kinloch Village from Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) to Isle of Rum Community Trust ownership. This is giving the community and individuals control over their own destinies and creating unique, exciting opportunities for locals and people who would like to come and live here.

So if you come to Rum for a day, a week or forever, there’s always great places to visit.

Have a look on the Rum website! It is well worth the visit! http://www.isleofrum.com/

How many Shearwaters – visit Rum? – Around a third of the entire world population of these splendid seabirds make their home on the Rum Cuillin every summer. There are so many birds (around 100,000 pairs) that their droppings have fertilised the hills and produced rich grasslands (‘shearwater greens’). Shearwaters are expertly kitted out for life at sea but they are wide open to attack on land. These specialised seabirds therefore only dare to be above ground at the colony on dark nights.

The old classic Guide. Lots of potential for new routes.
Kate did the ridge with us on our return what a day.

Visiting the colony – The noise, smell and activity as tens of thousands of Manx Shearwaters make their night-time return to the high Cuillin is an amazing seabird experience. However, you should note that the colony is remote, high on the mountain, and will involve crossing difficult, wet and uneven ground in darkness. Please seek advice from a member of staff at the Reserve Office, or look on the notice boards to see when a staff-led trip is planned.

Posted in Articles, Enviroment, Islands, Mountain rescue, Mountaineering, Other hills Grahams & Donalds, Recomended books and Guides, Rock Climbing, Views Mountaineering, Weather, Well being, Wildlife | Leave a comment

Hostile Habitats – a great book from the SMC Guide books. Respect, Protect , Enjoy.

The hills are looking superb just now and it’s great to be able to identify some of the plants you see on the hills and wild land. This book is superb to help you get to know familiar flowers and plants. How many times have we missed the beauty of the orchids, the Marsh marigolds or the Bog Asphel ? Just now the heather smells superb it’s so strong in the sun and great to see the bees enjoying the nectar. It took me long enough to learn it’s worth just taking time out to gain some knowledge about the habit and the flowers and mountain plants.


What is your favourite mountain flower or plant.

It’s worrying to see some of the scenes from the highlands right now. Getting out into the hills can benefit us both physically and mentally, but this mustn’t be at the expense of the mountains and delicate ecosystems that exist in and around them.

The SMT publishes Hostile Habitats, a book which introduces each aspect of the Scottish mountains to the read, providing insight that can educate and inspire. Insight that can build awareness of the amazing depth and breadth of the landscape, flora and fauna they contain. Respect starts with understanding, and if you’ve got a friend that has started heading to the hills for the first time why not let them know about this book.


Lots of these about / take time to enjoy them.

Mountaineering Scotland also provide a wide range of free resources to help you prepare for you first camping or hillwalking trip.


Respect. Protect. Enjoy.

Scottish Mountaineering Trust

We are a Scottish charity set up to support projects that provides grants that encourage and increase the public’s enjoyment of mountainous regions, especially the mountainous regions of Scotland.

The Trust supports:

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

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

One of the most beautiful things I have seen on the mountains is a natural rockery on one of the Fisherfield hills. It was a piece of magic on a wet day I will find that photo and add to this blog.

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

Away from the crowds on the Cairngorms.

Yesterday as promised the weather was superb and I fancied a walk without a long drive. I have had a great week with the Grandkids but needed a fix on the hills.

The Cairngorms looked superb on the weather forecast so I was away early and arrive at the allready busy Cairngorms with vans and cars parked everywhere on route. I arrived at the top car park and the midges were awful. Amazingly I parked next to my pal Babs who unknown to me was panning a big day on the hills. As I was getting ready soon a few others from the club arrived !

They offered me a day with them but I needed a day away from the crowds. Sorry!Sadly I left them to their long day over the tops. I was soon away from the midges and crowds heading for the Goat Track in Coire ant Sneachda. It was peaceful there two parties ahead climbing. One on Pygmy ridge the other on the main buttress. The Corrie was in shadow but the sun was hitting the top of the Goat track. The colours are exceptional. The mosses are so green after the rain and add to the picture.

A well kent area for winter climbers.

It was lovely in the Corrie and I went up the Goat Track and onto the plateau. It was getting busy I headed round the crags above Loch Avon and off the paths.

It was a great short wander the snow is still lying in the usual spots in the snow hole areas and even someone skiing on the ground below Feith Buidhe Slabs I sat here for a while and watched.

Snow hole remains

It was so warm out of the breeze and all the time the view of Loch Avon is wonderful. It was a place to enjoy the peace and sun.

The top of Hells Lum crag is always a great place to be and today it was exceptional. The dark cleft of Hells Lum Chimney looks foreboding but in other places the pink granite shinning in the sun looked superb. Memories of great climbing days are never far from my mind. I try to enjoy the views of Shelterstone crag from here. The shadows on the rock allow the features to appear on this magestic cliff. I could hear folk climbing but not see them. I spent lots of time in the past on these cliffs and on wild mountain searches it is a joy to wander around in the heat and warmth.

Top of Hells Lum.

I love seeing the familiar waterfalls of the river in the sunlight tumble over the granite down the crag with the backdrop of Loch Avon what a picture. Catching the skier on the snow below the slabs going up and down added to the day.

Feith Buidhe slabs

Add in the snow patches still lingering now a place folk visit to see the snow caves. The light inside the caves is spectacular but not today as I was just enjoying my day.

It was just what I needed today and headed to MacDui not going to the summit it was to busy.

It was then back along to the Goat track and the descent into the Corrie. A few folk were still climbing and a pair walking in. The wee lochans still held water and passing the boulder field another stop and a slow walk out.

The car park was another world busy mobbed with folk. Yet they were all enjoying themselves. Sadly the road to Glenmore so busy especially round Loch Morlich and Glenmore cars on the verges and you have to be careful. It was then the back roads home away from Aviemore I left very quickly .

I had been in the sun all day not even climbed a Munro but had a magical day. I sat for ages at times went slowly in the heat had my lunch and met few folks. I could have fallen asleep on the hill and should have. The smell of the heather lower down the hill was powerful and the wild plants are in abundance. The burns were clear and the rough granite shinning at times.

There were hundreds out on the hills. Many racing over the Munro’s. I just had another special day in the Cairngorms round these great cliffs above Loch Avon.

Yes my pal Babs is so right “the Cairngorms are special” and again they showed my why .

Posted in Enviroment, Friends, Mountain rescue, mountain safety, Mountaineering, People, Plants, Rock Climbing, Scottish winter climbing., Views Mountaineering, Weather, Well being, Wildlife | 2 Comments

More on the Islands / Jura and Colonsay.

Never rush on an Island and add an extra days if you can. It will be worth it. Take time to stand and stare”. I wrote this after a visit to Jura a few years ago.

Jura – I mentioned before most of my visits to Islands were on Mountain Rescue Call outs. I did two callouts on the Island over the years and several other visits. On my first trip I was amazed how rough the ground was with massive screes and boulder fields and some hard searching.

These hills are often rushed as the famous Paps of Jura three scree covered hills and a remote Corbett Beinn an Oir attract you to Jura if your a walker. These are rough hills and as you arrive the famous Jura distillery is at the ferry point. I love the Islands as away from the ferry it’s very quiet.

Island Ferrys are weather dependant! We used the Jura Passenger Ferry  that leaves from Tayvallich on the mainland – Parking available for a donation to the Community Centre Car Park Craighouse Ferry is £ 20 each way 2016 –  it was magic but only runs in the Summer months. Cal Mac Runs all year but check the timetable. There is a Lovely Cafe at the Ferry point opens at 0900 in summer recommended.

The Paps in good weather is a superb day and on the day we did it in awful weather. We hid on the beleach after a cycle and boggy walk in. I feared for the wind but Bab’s had failed on this hill before and we got battered until the summit where the wind dropped and we came across the huge Colby Camp near the summit. The views were poor but it was a wonderful place to be. The next day in great weather we cycled about it was a unique few days.

There are two plane crashes from the war on Jura and due to the weather and time I missed them. Has anyone got information on this one and an updated grid reference would help.

2/1/1945 –  Fairey Barracuda Beinn an Orr grid ref 61/495745 ( unchecked)  – flew from Ayr both crew killed  operating from Ayr with 815 NAS, crashed into Beinn an Orr, Paps of Jura. Lt Cdr D Norcock (Squadron Commanding Officer), S/Lt WM Moncrieff and PO LW Gurden all killed)

2000 – wreckage airlifted by 819 NAS Sea King to nearest road

12/2000 – wreckage moved by road from Jura to Yeovilton and placed outside Cobham Hall store

The plane which had crashed on the island of Jura. The aircraft had been flown by the CO of 815 Squadron and had gone missing while on a training mission in January 1945. The wreckage was recovered by the Fleet Air Arm museum in 2000.

Of course Jura is where George Orwell in the late 1940’s wrote his famous book 1984 and the house where he wrote it is a interesting place to visit. The isolation of this Island is the place for peace and solitude to write.

The old bike on the way to Jura.

He wrote in the late 1940s in Barnhill, a stout, white-washed house, on the island Jura in the Inner Hebrides, was exactly what exactly what he was looking for: a remote retreat unreachable by vehicle. He described it as “in an extremely un-get-atable place”; somewhere he could write what would be his final work – 1984. Sadly Orwell passed away 7 months later suffering from tuberculosis.

The Paps in the mist.

There is so much wild life on the Island and of your lucky you may see the famous sea eagles soar above you. Off course just of the Coast is the famous Corryvrekan whirlpool a famous piece of water. For the fit amongst us there is always the Paps of Jura Race. I nowadays take my bike its a great way to travel about and find so many secrets.

The Paps.



I was here on an call out for an aircraft crash in 1978 when a French Atlantic aircraft crashed in the sea off Colonsay on a big Maritime Exercise. All the crew were recovered safely. The RAF Kinloss Mountain Rescue Team were airlifted in and we covered the West side of the Island looking for classified material. Looking back it was a wild place to be and an trip I will never forget a real adventure. How many have been to these places. In the end we bivied in a cave by the beach and next day we had a walk back to the pub which in these days shut just after we arrived.

Many of the locals recycled much of the survival gear that was washed ashore. It was like a scene from whisky Galore ! The Dingys andc safety equipment may still be in use by locals? We flew back next day after a night of cave living.

Many years later 1990 Cave living Himalayas

Great days!

Posted in Aircraft incidents, Articles, Corbetts, Corbetts and other hills, Enviroment, Mountain rescue, Mountaineering, Views Mountaineering, Weather, Well being, Wildlife | 2 Comments

What is your favourite Island?

There is something special about getting a ferry to an Island, it is always to me a magical experience, especially if the Island has mountains on it. I love being surrounded by the sea and the smell of the sea, the experience of being on a ferry and it always conveys to me a holiday atmosphere. There is a different attitude on an Island there is always tomorrow. At first I was on a mission to visit climb and walk and for many years I missed the others things that matter. The wild life, the coastline and the history now I can enjoy these wonderful insights to Island life at a more leisurely pace.

Arran – so many memories

I am so lucky to have visited so many Islands many was on rescues and training in Mountain Rescue. Its a lot different arriving in a helicopter on a wild day or even worse night. Yet my early memories of when I was brought up in Ayr and Arran was a huge favourite as a young boy we had many holidays on Arran and its great mountains. My Dad was a minister and the whole family did all the peaks including Mum and the 5 kids. We loved the Island, the beach, the old rowing boats, the putting green and the swimming on Glen Rosa amongst the granite pools. The long walks back and maybe if we collected enough bottles from the camp site at Glen Rosa the fish and chips. There was so much to do despite the midges. Later on my cycling trips the Youth Hostels, potato picking on the Island and my first trips with my pal Tom Mac Donald and cycling up Glen Rosa on the rented bikes?

Arran my late sister Jenifer and my brother Michael note the gear.

I remember watching climbers on Cir Mor in the late 50’s with my Dad and never thinking I would climb on here many times. Arran has so many great rock routes and hill days how lucky are we. How times move on and in 2017 I was speaking at the Arran Mountain Festival and it brought back many memories. I met many of the Arran MRT a great bunch of folk. We used to sleep at the Ferry at Ardrossan getting woken by the Police these were different times. It was a holiday Island and I had so many great times even in winter when it a lot quieter these mountains were special.

South Ridge Direct. Cir Mor

Skye – When I joined the RAF we had so many trips to Skye, the old ferry from Kyle of Lochalsh that used t run for us if there was a call -out and the camping in Glen brittle, or MacRaes Barn and then the village halls. The dances, parties and wild music nights in the local pubs and getting off the hill for that last pint in the Sligachan.

1973 Skye Mac Raes Barn

The early attempt on the Skye ridge as a young lad and then many other great days doing the ridge. The rock – climbing on the big cliffs and the swimming in the pools before and after it was called “Wild swimming” Epic call -outs in summer and winter, big carry off in wild corries. In the early days getting lost in the mist, learning about the ridge.

The Dubhs

The secrets of Loch Coruisk, the JMCS hut, the Dubhs ridge I never tire of that. The famous Mad Burn and the seals, and others wildlife. The near misses with rock fall and the epic call -out in 1982 when a F111 crashed on Sgur Na Stri That cold bivy that I will never forget before Gortex . The joy of getting folk round the ridge, the In Pin sadly so busy nowadays. The remoter Corries, the wild scrambles, The great days with Teallach my Dog on the ridge and the In Pin and the Cioch always must visit.

On a Call out below the Cioch with Gerry Ackroyd the Skye Team Leader

Working with the Skye Mountain Rescue Team Lifeboat and the Lifeboat from Mallaig. Big lowers on one rope scary days but well worth it. There was a period every time we climbed someone fell off and that was a day gone.

Corrie a Ghrunda

The sea cliffs, the caves, the history and of course the pubs and the hospitality. Bivies on the ridge and the views of Rum and the other Islands in a setting sun. What a place even in the rain and with the midges. Every time I go and sadly I have not been for some time 2 years now it makes me smile. The new Skye Bridge makes it a lot easier to get there but the pull up the hill mainly from sea – level are getting harder but the views from the ridge are invigorating.

Teallach on In Pinwe had just climbed on the Cioch that day.

I sailed round Skye a many years ago and harboured below Loch Coruisk for a few days. What a specail trip that was the views from the sea of the ridge are spellbinding. As we left we watched an Eagle soar above us, what more can you want?

Leeming MRT on a visit to Skye spellbinding views of Rum.

Rum, Eigg, Barra, Jura, Pappay, Lewis, Harris, St Kilda and many more tales to tell what is yours?

There are lots of books guides about and well worth buying

So much information .
Skye Guide.

From Alister Humne An extract from a wee book I am reading at the moment.

Authors words and very topical at this time.

” I have written this little book in the hope that it may be of interest and of use to the many people who, like myself suffer from Arran-mania, and to the many others who each year fall victims to that most delightful of diseases .

A chapter from the authors book note : first published 1933.

One of the most common features of the Scottish landscape, the notice TREPASSERS WILL BE PROSECUTED, is lacking in Arran, and the visitor is allowed to wander almost at will.
He is not compelled to admire the islands beauties and grandeurs from afar, but can explore the secret recesses of her heart, and loose himself in the innermost sanctuaries of her sole.

For myself, I have known few keener pleasures than those afforded by a day in the hills.
To loose all contact with the petty restrictions of civilisation , to strip and bathe is a swift clear pool of ice-cold water to live for hours unseen by the critical eyes of others, is a refreshing and strengthening experience.
Once or twice, as I lay with the sun beating down upon me,looking out over the broad expanse of the Firth, or halted, panting for breath, upon the steep side of Glen Sannox and surveyed the wide valley, I have become suddenly aware that I was no longer the citizen of a certain town, or a clerk in a certain office, but part of creation itself, along with the sea below and the sky above and the rocks all around me.

And even when the uplands are covered with a dimming, chilling mist or the rain lashes down in biting blinding sheets, there is still the rougher sport of defying the elements, and taking delight in temporary discomforts.”

Wonderful words thanks.

Posted in Aircraft incidents, Articles, Books, Bothies, Enviroment, Islands, Mountain rescue, Mountaineering, Munros, Other hills Grahams & Donalds, People, Poems, Recomended books and Guides, Rock Climbing, Sailing trips, Weather, Well being, Wildlife | 4 Comments

What is a Colby Camp ? Early days of Ordnance Survey. A bit of information.

Colby Camps – Mountain Camps , Trig Stations. How did we get such great maps in the UK? This is part of the tale of the Colby camps. What were they? A few years ago I received an email from a good friend Noel Williams a very well- known mountaineer and geologist about the unusual cairn on Corryhabbie Hill just across from Ben Rinnes in Morayshire. The summit Cairn had a heavy metal hat on the trig point.

Corryhabbie hill with the unusual cairn.

This was definitely part of the Colby Camps and we found some ruins not far from the summit.

Colby Camp just of the summit of Corryhabbie Hill.

I also was asked on twitter recently if I knew about the ruins on the far North Munro Ben Kilbreck (Meall nan Con) from Ilona Turnbull who located some ruins near the summit.

Colby camp on Ben Kilbrec – Meall Nan on GRID – NC 585298 Photo Ilona Turnbull

This is from Noel “I was interested to see from your website that you were on Corryhabbie Hill a couple of years ago – the one with the metal cap on its trig pillar. I don’t know if you’ve ever come across the term ‘Colby Camp’ before. There’s an great article all about them in the SMCJ 2013 by Graham E Little.

The SMC Journal is full of great information it is published annually well worth buying !

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

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

Colbys Camp Creach Bheinn – Ardgour.

I was wondering if you’d seen any stone walls or similar ruins on Corryhabbie. Colby is known to have spent some time there in 1819. I located the ruins and sent the details. OS Parties were there again 6 Sept – 21 Nov 1850. (Imagine living there this time of year!) See attached list of observations above.

Mam Sodhail ?

I was wondering if you’d seen any stone walls or similar ruins on Corryhabbie. Colby is known to have spent some time there in 1819. I located the ruins and sent the details. OS Parties were there again 6 Sept – 21 Nov 1850. (Imagine living there this time of year!) See attached list of observations above.

Sadly a few years ago !

The Colby camp on Jura on the highest point on the Corbett Beinn an Oir is a superb example and must have been a huge site ! It was an awful day when I was there but its huge and well worth a visit. Sadly I got no photos. It includes a road from the camp to the summit, I must get back. Colby retired as a Major General in 1847 after 27 years as head of the Ordnance Survey.

Comments and photos welcome !

Posted in Enviroment, Mountaineering, Munros, Other hills Grahams & Donalds, Recomended books and Guides, Views Mountaineering, Well being | Leave a comment

Looking back on a great climb the Devils Slide on Lundy.

It seems years ago but I was looking back to some photos of a trip to Lundy Island to climb the Devils Slide Lundy with a great pal Dan Carrol. Where is Lundy Island? North Devon Lundy lies off the coast of North Devon, where the Atlantic ocean meets the Bristol Channel with nothing between it and America, a granite outcrop, three miles long and half a mile wide. In the hubbub of the modern world it is a place apart, peaceful and unspoiled.

How do I get there. Only sensible way to get to Lundy island. The MS Oldenburg sails to Lundy island from Bideford or Ilfracombe three or four times per week, and is the only sensible way to get there. The trip takes about two hours each way, and you can buy drinks and food on board. Or if you are with the RAF Mountain Rescue Service a helicopter may want to train on the Island and maybe you could get a lift?

The Famous book – Classic Rock – Ken Wilson

Classic Rock

From the Guide – The Devils Slide – Severe 350 feet West Coast of Lundy first ascent K Lawder and J. Logan June 1961 “A sheet of flawless granite sweeping to the sea “. K. Lawder was an Admiral and had noticed the great cliffs from the sea. What a find.

The Devils Slide from Classic Rock

Well thanks to my friend Dan, I managed to get the climbs done in the Isle of Lundy and a final climb in Cornwall. It was a superb trip, a huge amount of travelling and I we finished in North Wales with a pal Rusty , Nerys and family.

The classic view

Lundy is a wonderful Island and we were there for 3 days. The trip out takes about 2 hours by boat and we were blessed with great weather. It felt like going to another world .I was not feeling great at the time it just before I was pretty ill yet I managed to climb the Devils Slide and the 350 foot slab of granite which starts at the sea. It is a classic route, a marvelous situation and incredible views. The weather held with just some rain near the final traverse, which made it hugely interesting on the crumbling granite at the end of the climb.

Abseil in

The climb starts with a great walk from the campsite along the 3 mile island Dan had done the climb before and used it as helicopter training getting dropped off. This time he was just back from off shore and pretty tired after his long drive from the North of Scotland. I was down visiting my grandaughter in Henley and Dan picked me up. We were soon away and on the motorway to our climb. I love a boat trip to an Island it’s so calming yet I had forgot my tent. I was helped by a local who lent me one. Next day we were off to find the start then an abseil down to the wave washed boulders and the sea. The cliff looks superb and as you abseil down you see most of the route. It’s a stunning place to be with the seals and the sea crashing about. It was a great climb on the immaculate granite where it climbs the line of least resistance. The belays are fine, the situation is magnificent and it is a climb to savour. Dan and me had a superb laugh on the route and the last pitch on crumbling granite keeps the mind alert.

I had been waiting the do this climb for over 30 years, I was so glad there was no one else climbing so it made it all the better. We had the cliff to ourselves and we spent the next days on the island as it was very misty and raining exploring this great place. I even got a boat trip round the Island and saw the Slide from a different view! I met some lovely people including “Shaun the man” who lent us a tent and made me a wonderful engraving of a rock for Lexi my granddaughter from Lundy. He told us so of the Island and its history.

Looking back there is so much to see on the Island and we only touched a bit of it. There are 3 aircraft wrecks, 2 Heinkel and a British aircraft. From the air the Island looks like an aircraft carrier and you can see why planes crashed here during the war. It’s a place full of mystery and history.

Lundy Goats

There are also the incredible flowers,wildlife, birds,goats, deer are everywhere. There is so much to see it’s a great place with a pub as well,

The view from the sea.

The history of the Island is rich in the sea and ship wrecks abound the coast. In all a magic 3 days in a unique environment, what a privileged to have been to Lundy at last. Thanks to Dan Carrol for a great day out after that we drove to Cornwall and I finished my Classic Rock on Demo route early in the morning then drove to Wales. A busy few days but classic.

The scary traverse
Tip toe

Memories of 80 Classic Rock Routes in Ken Wilson wonderful book – Classic Rock

There are many other routes on Lundy what is your favourite?

Posted in Aircraft incidents, Articles, Books, Mountaineering, Recomended books and Guides, Rock Climbing, Views Political?, Weather, Well being, Wildlife | Leave a comment

Poem by the Tour de Dunphail winner. A Corbett in Affric Carn a Choire Garbh in the local Dialect.

The old White bothy Affric

I have always enjoyed poetry and I was on the hill with the “Poet Laureate frae Dunphail”. We had a great day in the rain that involved a cycle up the Affric track a hidden stalkers path a new Corbett for Babs and a poem! In all a great day.

The Dunphail poet Laurate!

Oot tae the hills wi ma auld freen Heavy

Thank God he’s no a man for the bevvy!

Prior to this we’d made a good plan

But this meant nowt tae the man wi the van!

I turned up to meet him at the time we’d agreed

For aince he wis late, nae quite up tae speed

A’ve got twa bikes here Quine, he announces wi pride

We’ll head for the hill, but first there’s a ride!

Ah’ve nae got a helmet! I shrieked, feeling scared

Dinna fash  yersel Quine, Ah’ve come weel prepared

He produces a helmet fur me, Ah’d tae go

Ah weel, it’s a thocht, I’ll jist go with the flow!

We arrived in Glen Affric about quarter tae nine

I convince masel that it’ll a’be fine

I pedal roond the car park tryin tae work the gears

If I figure it oot on flat grun, it might allay ma fears!

Faffin wis deen, and time to go then

Thinkin – nae long tae go, we’ll be there by ten 

Cycling up a roch track on a bike I didna ken

The steep hills went up and doon, time and time again

But when the mighty peaks of Glen Affric came into view

Mam Sodhail, Carn Eighe – and in Kintail, majestic Ciste Dubh

The moanin wis  ower, I wis feeling so blessed 

Let’s take in these hills, Heavy, stop for a rest!

Carn A’Choire Gairbh wis the hill we climbed the day

A hidden track the chosen route to help us on oor way

The hidden path

The weather wisna kind tae us, the rain, the win, the mist,

I wisna affa bothered though, this hill was on ma list!

Up on top the mist a cleared, although it wis real cal

We took oor photos o’ each other, Heavy’s such a pal!

Selfish Corbett

The hills we saw, the memories, o’ days when we were younger, 

When off we went to climb  Munros wi a passion and a hunger!

Far too chilly tae hing aboot

We were needin oor piece, there wis nae doot,

Doon we went to a place o shelter

Sandwiches eaten, we felt much better

The stalkers’ path wis good, nae roch,

In nae time at a’, we were back at the loch

Back at the van

We picked up oor bikes, oor helmets pit on

Rarin to go fur the final push home

Efter a while, I could hear Heavy cry

“Ma chains come aff!”, he wis getting quite high

He’d had some new troosers fur a metter o weeks

But bikin boy had ripped his breeks!

Catastrophes ower, we pedalled on back

Five mile doon the lochside, we reached the car park

The van ,the toilet, a haven tae see

We finished oor day wi a great cup of tea!

B Kizewski, 11/7/20

Dedicated to my freen Heavy!

Thanks I await the next instalment !

Posted in Articles, Corbetts, Corbetts and other hills, Cycling, Enviroment, Friends, Health, Mountaineering, Poems, Recomended books and Guides, Views Mountaineering, Weather, Well being, Wildlife | 2 Comments

Who remembers this ? Howffs

Photo – Andy Brooks Collection Moray Mountain Club Meet. The big Gully gives it away.

I can remember a few “howffs” that were built often near climbing areas. They were usually near or under big boulders below the crags . I remember one in the Cairngorms in Coire an’t Sneachda below the Mess of Pottage we located it on a search in the 70’s I never found it again! Off course the Cairngorms have many the old favourite is the Shelter Stone beside Loch Avon. There are a few other nearby !

Creag an Dubh Loch also has a few howff’s below the Big routes. I have wandered about and located a few in the past. Of course there is the Secret Bothy This is a wonderful little stone structure in the heart of the Cairngorms National Park. … It has a romantic past, having been built in secret in 1952 by four climbers fed up with carrying the heavy tents of the day on the long walk into the Cairngorms. There’s is a great tale of the building of this howff. Their names are in the howff on a plaque on the wall.

The Cobbler, Ben Narnain and the Brack are famous for its howfs and many climbers in the past spent nights here. John Hinde an old pal told me many years ago they used to have “howfing meets” This was after his old pal Ben Humble used to tell him of the Howff’s under the Narnain and Cobbler boulders. There are great tales in many of the old climbing books of the climbers staying under the boulders well worth a read.

Most areas have howffs Skye has an abundance of them. There are a few Prince Charlie’s caves in some mountain areas. Of course there is the famous Cluny Cave at Creag Dubh near Newtonmore well worth a look.

What is your favourite howff it would be great to see any photos. Many thanks to Andy Brooks of the Moray Mountaineering Club for the use of his classic photo!

Where was it taken ?

Comments and photos especially welcome.

Posted in Mountain rescue, mountain safety, Mountaineering, Rock Climbing, Views Mountaineering | 8 Comments

It’s was July 2012 when RAF Kinloss MRT closed and moved to RAF Lossiemouth. Looking back and forward!

Some of those at the leaving party at Kinloss in July 2012.

Looking back it’s a few years since RAF Kinloss MRT moved to RAF Lossiemouth. It was long overdue as all the RAF personnel had already moved on many to RAF Lossiemouth.

Some real characters here

The Kinloss team had a huge influence especially in the early days of Mountain Rescue being formed in 1944 during the war. Some the names are above of the Team Leaders.

1960 call out An Teallach

This was my first Mountain Rescue team as a young lad posted on on 1972. It and many of the Team leaders and members shad a huge influence on my life and I ended up as Team Leader in 1990. Meeting George Bruce my first Team leader was a great experience and when he passed away I was honoured to take a cord at the graveside of a man who like all the others taught me so much. It was a long exciting journey full of great characters. I managed the Munros a few times, a few Big Walks, lots of winter trips including 5 to Canada in winter, trips to the Alps and most mountain Ranges and even the Himalayas 4 times including Everest in 2001. All the time getting great experience and learning that would stand me in good stead.

Some of the characters.

One of the things I helped do was with Ray Sefton save the Team albums that are a huge part of the history of the team. Ray also digitalised them all and we have a unique history. I also managed with others to collate all the Call – Outs since 1944 it is an incredible history of these early days. I doubt of few other teams have this history.

We have had some great characters (and still have) the National Service days brought some real stars into the team. Ian Clough, Terry Sullivan, Spike Sykes and many others helped push the standard of the day. Of course previous to this was the Beinn Eighe Lancaster Crash in the winter of 1951. We lost a few as the mountains take many pals when pushing their standards or in a simple accident. My worry as a Party Leader was injuring one of my party especially on a call out and as Team Leader I was always glad we were all safe at the end of a big call out. At times especailly when you were young you thought you were invincible but in some of the conditions we were out in we used all our 9 lives.

2019 Beinn Eighe the new memorial on the prop and Joss Gosling old boots who was on the call out in 1951..

A huge learning point for the RAF Mountain Rescue and others. Johnny Lees was brought in to raise standards. It’s great to hear the tales from Ray Sefton of these days and early Rescues on the Ben, Glencoe, Cairngorms and Skye to name a few.

1953 Call out Ben Nevis early use of a orobe made from gas piping made on the station.

Working with Hamish MacInnes over the years gives a great insight into the early days. He and others have so many stories of the characters. Yet its great to see how things have changed, the gear, the communication yet the folk stay the same!

These are great memories but it’s so pleasing to see Lossiemouth MRT still involved in Rescue and playing their part very quietly. I am so proud when I hear how the team is still well thought of by many.

Many ask what are my best memories of these days. The great thing is bringing someone of the hills alive. As a young lad I grew up quickly saw some awful tragedies and still hear from many families even today. I have memories sadly of finding folk who may have been missing for some time in the mountains. This gives the families involved at least a bit of comfort that they have been located. Our responsibility was aircraft crashes and I had the misfortune to go to many that is what we were there for. they had huge impact on my life and others over the years. In all it was a great experience I learned lots and made pals for life, thank you all. I am glad we now understand the effects of the prolonged effect of trauma and that help it there now we took a long time to accept this. For those involved in Mountain Rescue please, please do not forget that without your families support it would not be possible.

The new memorial to the Beinn Eighe crash at Lossiemouth.

Whats your story of the Kinloss Team ?

In the words of a pal “the present day MRS is very different to the one I joined in 1984 but importantly,

“The kit on the outside and the equipment may

have changed but underneath the heart and soul

of the troops remains the same”

Willie MacRitchie Ex Kinloss Team leader.

Posted in Aircraft incidents, Articles, Equipment, Mountain rescue, Mountaineering, Scottish winter climbing., SMC/SMT, Views Mountaineering, Well being | Leave a comment

Can you help – #Takithame ?

There is a lot in the media just now highlighting the Rubbish left all over the country. The hills and wild places are similar. We can all do our bit by picking up litter and taking it home. We can try to educate others especially the younger folk who in the main are very good about leaving “nothing but footprints”

During the Lock down I brought lots of rubbish back from my daily exercise cycles and walks. I carried a small rucksack and panniers on my bike with a rubbish bag . As things changed so did the quantity of rubbish I brought back We can all do our bit and keep this land clean and tidy ?

Let’s keep these places clean and tidy

It’s great to see Mountaineering Scotland are asking hill walkers and climbers to help keep Scotland’s hills and mountains clear of litter and to ‘Tak It Hame’.

Tak It Hame 2020 is being launched as coronavirus lockdown eases and the lifting of travel restrictions has seen much publicity about littering and ‘dirty camping’ in some of Scotland’s most popular beauty spots.

Following the success of Tak It Hame in 2019, it had been planned to relaunch the campaign in early spring to coincide with the 50th anniversary of Mountaineering Scotland. But due to the Coronavirus lockdown, that was put on hold along with all outdoor activities. 

Now that travel restrictions are lifted and with the re-opening of tourism in Scotland, Tak It Hame aims to support the national anti-littering campaign ‘Scotland is stunning – let’s keep it that way’ by encouraging everyone who goes walking or climbing in Scotland’s hills to take responsibility for keeping our world-renowned mountain landscapes beautiful by taking litter home for proper disposal and recycling. The message is simple – “If we don’t do it, who will?”

Davie Black, Access and Conservation Officer for Mountaineering Scotland said: “When we launched the Tak It Hame campaign alongside our Conservation Strategy in June 2019, we hoped that our members and clubs would get involved and that it might start to reach the wider hill-walking and mountaineering community. In fact, it reached much further than we ever expected, with people from all over Scotland and the UK contacting us and wanting to get involved.

“Many of Mountaineering Scotland’s affiliated clubs organised litter picks, and many individuals – both members and non-members – shared photos on social media of the litter they had removed from the hills, using the #TakItHame hashtag. It was really encouraging to see how people got behind the campaign and that’s why we are keen to get it back up and running again this year.”

Hill-goers are encouraged to take a suitable bag in their backpack each time they venture out, which they can use to take litter away for recycling or disposal. As part of the campaign, Mountaineering Scotland is also asking people to think about how they could reduce their use of packaging for drinks, snacks and packed lunches, and find alternatives to single use plastics and food wrap.

Find out more about #TakItHame

We can all help !# Takithame

How do we change things? I am sure the throw away culture at open air concerts where folk leave everything does not help? Maybe some of the big bands playing could change things so that a message to #takithame maybe be the way forward?

Comments welcome

Posted in Articles, Enviroment, Friends, Mountaineering, People, Views Mountaineering, Views Political?, Well being, Wildlife | Leave a comment

What is your favourite Munro and tops days? Why are the Munro tops not so popular? An Teallach Tops, Am Bastier and the Northern pinnacles of Liathach.

What top am I on?

An Teallach one of the finest adventures in Scotland add all the Munro tops and you have a superb day! Very few in my experience do them and miss out. Look how many tops there are to do and the views are wonderful you will see the ridge from so many different angles ! It’s one for a summer long wander and you will not be disappointed.

An Teallach Tops

Another great top for me is the Bastier Tooth. One of the ways to the Basteir Tooth was over the Munro of Am Basteir. Negotiating its ‘Bad Step’ with the aid of a rope, we reached the summit of Am Basteir and just beyond we we abseiled down a short overhanging pitch to reach the narrow confines of the bealach between Am Basteir and its Tooth.

This Scottish Mountaineering Club climbers’ guidebook details all the summer and winter climbing to be found in the Cuillin mountains on the Isle of Skye.
This 2-volume set provides all the information required to complete the main ridge traverse on Skye’s Black Cuillin. Strategy, gear, training, navigation and logistics are covered, and 10 classic scrambles are described. A lightweight second guidebook gives the scrambler detailed maps, topos and route description for the ridge traverse itself.

There are some grand climbs on to the tooth that are Classic. There is a rock climb rarely climbed now the Lotta Coire Route Collies Route a 200 metre moderate Grade 3 scramble a classic and well worth the visit and of course the other classic Naismith’s Route a two star Severe .

Liathach a classic Munro top on the Northern pinnacles. Liathach has four listed “Tops” in the Munro TablesMeall Dearg at 3133 feet (955 m) stands off the main ridge at the end of the Northern Pinnacles which run north from Mullach an Rathain. The route along the Northern Pinnacles is considered a rock climb, although another route to the top from Coire na Caime only involves a short steep scramble on the final 50m to gain the ridge. Be careful as it can be loose in places.

You can have some fun on these Comments welcome !

Posted in mountain safety, Mountaineering, Munros, Rock Climbing, Views Mountaineering | 2 Comments

A bit of everything today on the remote Corbett Stob an Aonaich Mhoir. Rannoch.

Bikes – midges – off Route – bike gear snags – great views – down hill – an Eagle – midges – jet boiler – cramp – home.

From the Corbett Almanac.

I was away early to collect Bab’s at 0600 and get bikes in van and head down to Rannoch. It’s a two and a half drive to Rannoch but so worth the effort. The weather was superb and we were looking forward to today. We had been watching the weather and it was well worth it. It’s a great drive after the A9 and all the hills were clear. There were lots of folk camping by the Loch when we arrived! It was so still!

On arriving at the wee car park the midges were incredible. It was so busy tents everywhere by the Loch. Despite our midge nets etc it was murder getting the bikes out and getting sorted. They drove us daft we dare not hang about and the rush let us take another track cycling with Midge nets on its never easy.

The Hydro.

We met the man at the hydro station and he said we could take a short cut to our track. That was a mistake and was hellish. We should have left from the Bridge of Ericht. We just had to get going from the dreaded midges. Our shortcut ran out and we did a direct through the jungle of ferns, a never to be forgotten experience.

Where is the track?

How did we ended up in these ferns ? We needed machetes at one point. We were just so wound up by the midges and I was in shorts.We were “soon” back on the Hydro track after climbing a deer fence and then heading the 11 kilometres into the hill.

It’s a great track for the bike but climbs steeply to 600 metres. You need the gears to work on the bike on this route.

We made reasonable time on the road it was very hot and hard work. My gears were acting up so I had a bit of pushing on the big hills meanwhile Babs was in her low gears talking to me and laughing. She is not the winner of the “Dunphail Tour de Forres” for nothing.

Bab’s waiting.

The panorama of views were incredible and the bike is a wonderful way into these hills. There was no one about and we had the whole mountain to ourselves. We had a few breaks and drank lots of fluid and to see these incredible mountains emerge after lockdown was magical. We could see Ben Nevis, Carn Mor Dearg all the way to the classic iconic pyramid of Schiehallion.

A rubbing pole for the Deer.

Many will know that the main mountain Schiehallion is such a prominent mountain in Perth and Kinross, Scotland. Schiehallion has a rich botanical life, interesting archaeology, and a unique place in scientific history for an 18th-century experiment in “weighing the world.

There are so many outstanding views to many to name all familiar mountains from a different viewpoint. This is the joy of these Corbetts it changes as you gain height on the road. The huge Hydro Dam dominates but that is what the road is for we should be thankful ? My pal did this Corbett in winter this is a wild place in bad weather.

We left the bikes at about 600 metres just by the river and headed to the summit across what can normally be so wet and boggy moors. Today they were so dry it was easy walking. The final ridge is wonderful with views of Loch Ericht, the huge mass of Beinn Alder and Beinn Bhoil. The deep cleft of loch Ericht and the small outcrops near the summit make this such a wonderful viewpoint. I always drop back near the summit and follow the cliffs it’s incredible to see the dark Loch below.

It was breathtaking and we were soon on the summit. It was such a place to be. The huge Corries of Beinn Alder still with snow in the high Corries give an insight into another world from this lofty viewpoint. Things look so much bigger to me since Lockdown.

Looking towards the hidden corries of Beinn Alder with its small patches of snow.

We could have spent the rest of the day up here it was so perfect. It was warm and still out of the wind. We had our lunch and chilled out then headed of. This like most Corbett summits is an area to savour.

It is exactly a year since we lost my big sister Eleanor. She was as always in my thoughts as I wandered to the summit. These are mountains and wild places are where I can think about things.

We were soon back down to the track a bit more fluid and it was in just an hour back at the car park. Thankfully it’s downhill on the road most of the way. The gears held out thank goodness. What a way to travel. It’s so well worth the effort with the bikes. There were very few animals about its very dry high up but we saw an eagle soaring. What a sight.

We watched it these incredible birds always brings a joy to me. It made me think again of my sister.

For Eleanor my sister!
Thinking time!

It was then back to the van the midges were out again. There was little time we put the bikes away and in it was so busy. We got away from the crowds and we headed further up the road into a breeze so Bab’s could use her new Jet Boiler stove. She was so pleased with it . Is there no electricity in Dunphail?

She is some girl ! The drive was pleasant and the A9 low key. It was then drop of Babs get cramp as I took the bikes out and then head home.

The jet boiler

Nowadays I can pick my days on the hill that I want views, good weather, not busy hills and plenty of time.

This hill is Definitely worth taking the bike the road walk would have been purgatory. Now these Corbetts are in the main grand hills. The midges today were awful and of our wee diversion that’s another story ? Is it time for an ebike I think!

Thanks Babs for a fun day. Now to sort out the aches and pains.

Posted in Articles, Corbetts, Corbetts and other hills, Cycling, Enviroment, Family, Friends, Mountain Biking, Mountaineering, Munros, People, Views Mountaineering, Weather, Well being, Wildlife | Leave a comment

Off to Rannoch chasing Corbetts. Stob an Aonaich Mhor a long wander.

This is a hill I have missed out on so it’s an Alpine Start for me and Babs !


This remote hill enjoys a superb position above Loch Ericht, making it a wonderful viewpoint, revealed only at the last moment to most walkers. The usual approach involves many kilometres along a private hydro tarmac road – if you only use a bicycle to help reach one hill, it should probably be this one.

In Hamish Brown’s book Hamish states that he would not recommend the walking of the hydro road to friends. Hence the bikes !

Posted in Corbetts, Corbetts and other hills, Cycling, Friends, Mountaineering, Weather, Well being | Leave a comment

Tranters Record smashed by that man Finlay Wild.

The late Phillip Tranter, a noted Scottish mountaineer of the day first completed a traverse of these hills in June 1964. It is a classic long distance run/walk of its time it covers over 36 miles and 20,000 feet of ascent 18/19 Munros depending on what book you read. It was called the Tranter Round.

Many have completed this great day added more for Ramsay’s Round those incredible folk who complete the running marathons over the hills will be amazed by 10 times Ben Nevis race winner Finlay Wild and his latest exploits. Finlay is an incredible runner and is also the grandson of John Hinde one of the old and bold and an ex RAF Mountain Rescue Team Leader. His Mum and Dad Fiona and Roger are Mountain folk with Roger being a\Mountain guide and Fiona an very experienced hill runner.

From his twitter feed “Yesterday I started at noon to take advantage of a small weather window and improve my Tranter Round record to 9 hours and 5 seconds! (Previously 10h15m in 2016) Windy but improving to clear and sunny along the Mamores. Into the murky clag from the Aonachs on. What a day!”

His times – from his twitter feed.- Finlay Wild.

What next for Finlay?

Books worth reading :

The Mountains are calling – Jonny Muir

The Big Rounds – David Lintern

Posted in Articles, Books, Hill running and huge days!, Mountaineering, Recomended books and Guides, Views Mountaineering | Leave a comment

Thinking of a special lady.

My Mum at Loch Ossian 1935

Today would have been my Mums birthday, she was a lovely lady who died sadly of leukaemia many years ago. I was down in RAF Valley in North Wales in these days she never even told me she was ill, yet we spoke every week. She always worried about us all especially me as I was a wild child and then my love of mountains she feared as many Mums do for our safety.

I would loved to have been able to look after her life was hard with 5 kids and limited money. Yet she never complained they were a different generation then. Today I was going to climb a remote Corbett by Loch Rannoch but the weather is not great. Instead I hope to remember Mum if the weather holds climbing with a pal.

So if you can give your Mum a hug from me. My Mum loved flowers as I do so I will get some today, she would love the flowers on the hills just now.

Orchid and Bog Asphel.

Posted in Family, People, Well being | 2 Comments

Familiar Climbing Landmarks that have gone ? Belaying .

I was looking through some old slides for a photo of the famous Gendarme on Sgurr Na Gillian on Skye. Sadly I cannot find them. The Gendarme fell down in the winter of 1986/87

“about two-thirds of the way down, on the West Ridge there is a particularly narrow and exposed section, which forms the remains of a large upright rock, known as the Gendarme which broke away due to the effects of frost shatter during the winter of 1986/87, leaving only the base”. It used to be a really significant and familiar part of the ridge.

It made me think of other land marks that have gone. On Cioch Direct I am sure there was the “Yardarm” another significant piece of climbing history. I am sure last time I climbed it was gone or was that my “memory fade?” Can anyone advise a photo of the Gendarme would be good as would the Yardarm?

Cioch Direct Skye. above the Crux chimney.

How many have you noticed?

Please be aware if now out on the crags especially in the mountains to check each hold as you climb there has been little traffic on the routes due Covid 19 Lock down.

Belay on Cioch Grooves ?

If you past this on a route someone belaying what would you do?

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Carn Kitty 521 feet. Berry Burn Wind farm a local wander.

The start!

My pal Babs wanted to show me here area where she enjoys her local walks and cycles near her home. Another friend Maggie wanted a wee wander as well she has been hard at work as a carer for the 4 months of the Virus. We met at the Berryburn Wind farm site and then Babs took us a tour. I am not a lover of Wind farms but wanted to see this area.

Moray – 12km south of Forres STATUS Operational


There is a commitment to pay into a Community Fund £166,750 per year, index linked. In March 2015 a second quarterly funding round of £90,000 was released to support ten local projects including funding playground equipment for Dallas, new Christmas lights for Forres town center and supporting one of Moray’s most popular annual events, ‘Piping at Forres’.

TURBINES 29 turbines



Berry Burn Wind Farm was approved by the Scottish Government in 2009. The 29-turbine wind farm is within the Altyre Estate, 12km south of Forres in the Moray council area. The turbines are sited on the lower slopes of Cairn Ghiubhais and Cairn Kitty, which means that compared to other similar-sized wind farms, views of the wind farm are significantly restricted. The turbines are 99.5 metres high to the tip of the blades. In addition to the turbines, the wind farm consists of a landscaped substation and access tracks. In order to minimise any environmental impacts, connection to the national grid running north of the site is via an underground cable.

Berry Burn is now owned and operated by Statkraft UK Limited. 

You park and walk through the wind-farm and Babs and Maggie were catching up as only lassies can. Babs knows this area so well, where the birds are and they were. Where the huge wild fire was that devastated the area last year. Yet much had recovered such is the healing power of nature.

The wee hill Carn Kitty was where Babs wanted to take us a short day and Maggie had to be back for work. They had planned some navigation for maggie and then Babs took us of the track and across the peat hags with Maggie navigating. It was hard work on my knees but thankfully dry. They were still chatting all the time.

The ladies were still chatting all the way to the summit of Carn Kitty! There is a Trig point on the top and the views all the way to Lochnagar were incredible. Babs was as always excited about her views of the Cairngorms and the 360 panorama of the Moray Firth and Northern hills. It is a cracking viewpoint.

The summit !

We had a longer wander back after a long break on the top. It was sunny and warm and then Babs showing us the many lochs and points of interest in the area. It was warm and we were lucky with the weather.

On the way down. The ground has recovered from last years wild fire, bog cotton abounds and this was easier walking.

There were lots of wild flowers and especially the Cloudberry with a stunning red fruit standing out on the hillside.


We ran into a lot of flies on the way back and I noticed that I got bitten on the leg that swelt up when I got back! There was no way out of them when the wind dropped.

We were soon back at the cars and headed home via Babs garden for a brew . Mike showed me round and I left with some lovely spinach. Mike (Babs) husband has a wicked sense of humour and had made this seat.

A good we walk in my local area. We mate a famous local I asked him why the hill had the name Carn Kitty. He said that a young girl Kitty went missing many years ago hence the name. I would like to know more. It was then head home via Forres and try to clean a memorial brass inscription but it is very pitted! I did try !

Thanks Babs our local guide and Maggie for an enjoyable wander.

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Whitley Crash Forres – and Forres Airfields.

A few years ago I was contact by a family whose father (Phil) was born 6 weeks after his father was killed in an aircraft crash on An Lurg near Bynack Mor in the Cairngorms during the war.

Info – An Lurg Wellington Crash – 14 August 1944 This aircraft a Vickers Wellington HF16/A of 20 OTU took off from RAF Lossiemouth on a cross – country training Exercise and crashed on the plateau on An Lurg near Bynack Mor in the Cairngorms. All 6 crew were sadly killed.

It was an emotional day as a few pals and I took Phil and his 2 sons to the crash site. Phil was 70 then and I was recovering from some serious medical problems.    Phil had read of my visits to these remote crash sites and it was a humbling day for us all.  We became good friends.

Later on Phil was on a holiday and met a friend who wanted information of a crash in a nearby town Forres and asked me to check out the memorial’s and see what state they were in. He had visited a few years before.

Forres was the home of 19 Operation Training Unit (OTU ) Forres had a big airfield during the war and many bomber crews were trained here sadly there were many losses of life. Twenty Six Whitley’s crashed during training and 55 aircrew died.

One of the crashes was: The Whitley Crash Forres Tollboth Street.

Tolbooth memorial needs a clean I will give it one next time in town.

But the most poignant reference on the new memorial is to the Whitley aircraft which crashed into the heart of Forres in November, 1940, killing all on board. The Tolbooth Street tragedy is marked by an outline drawing of the aircraft involved and a technical description of the type which flew almost constantly from RAF Forres until October, 1944.

FG OFF J F Painter DFC

SGT H.D. Gaywood

SGT S.P. Gallagher

SGT F.W. Lewis.

SGT R. E Rolison SGT F.S Legge

The Whitley Memorial – Commemorative model of an Armstrong Whitworth Whitley was made by apprentices of Varis Engineering and erected in 2010. There is also an information plaque with more details of the airfield and aircraft.

Sadly it needs some TLC.

Lots of corrosion needing fixed?

The site also saw post-war service until 1947 as a billet for elements of the Polish Army.

Their is a plaque and a memorial placed near the site of the crash and a model of the Whitley is off the A96 on the way to Nairn. The cost of manufacturing the plaque was met by funds left over from the original RAF Forres Whitley Memorial Trust and passed to the Forres Heritage Trust in addition to generous donations from the public.

“The Forres Heritage Trust are delighted to have been involved in helping create a link to some of the rich RAF heritage that Forres enjoyed for more than 70 years,” said Mr Duncan. The inauguration was attended by a number of people following the Remembrance Sunday wreath-laying ceremony at the Balnageith memorial, including the Deputy Lieutenant of Moray Seymour Munro, Lieutenant Colonel Andy Sturrock, CO of 39 Engineer Regiment, and his Regimental Sergeant Major, officers and local community leaders.

Maybe someone could sort out the memorial as its sad to see it corroded?

Forres footpath trust has an excellent pdf on this and other memorials in the town and how to see them.

I went into town on the way to the hill and tried to clean up the brass memorial. It’s very pitted by weather sadly.

For more information http://www.griffon.clara.net/19/welcome.htm

Posted in Aircraft incidents, Articles, History, Local area and events to see | 4 Comments

It’s getting busy! A few thoughts ?

Affric contemplations .

I have been lucky to get out and enjoy a few days on the hills. I love to be out it all seems new. Yet I am trying going to a few areas away from the crowds as I am selfish and enjoy my space.

It was enjoyable to get to Glen Affric yet to see folk enjoying the wild in a respectful attitude. I notice so many more things just now the craft of the stalking paths that take you up some incredible lines. Then I see the new tracks and Turbines in most directions progress?

Yet the wildness is still there. As are the memories of rushing from summit to summit. Chasing Munro’s fast times like the modern fitness aids like Strava that many love. Yet that is not what it’s about to me. How fast how many hills etc it’s the joy of being in the wild.

We saw no one on our Corbett but a few on the track cycling. Everyone was fine kept a distance and seemed to have joy in their hearts about being out in the wild again.


The flowers this year seem so vivid there seem so more of them on each hill they are at a different stage. The heather is blooming the colours of the Orchids varied and it’s like discovering a new life on every hill.

The Lockdown has changed a few attitudes but many will continue with a fast pace of life. Even my local beaches are busier and the car parks open. People need space and places to go.

We must not become elitist like many these wild spaces are for all of us. Please treat them as you would your own home. Think where you camp take your rubbish with you and be careful we must leave these places for future generations to enjoy.

Let’s educate others on how to enjoy these wild places responsibly and all do our bit for the future. Every year I see how lucky I am to have lived and breathed in these special places.

Enjoy please be respectful to these enjoy educate in these places be safe and “take nothing but photos leave nothing but footprints“

Posted in Articles, Cycling, Enviroment, Family, Flora, Friends, Health, Hill running and huge days!, Local area and events to see, Mountain Biking, Mountaineering, People, Plants, Recomended books and Guides, Views Mountaineering, Views Political?, Weather, Well being, Wildlife | Leave a comment

Carn a’Choire Ghairbh – Affric Corbett

Yesterday we went to Carn a’Choire Ghairbh is relatively little visited but offers superb views over upper Glen Affric. in Walk Highlands “It is often combined in a fairly long round with Aonach Shasuinn.” We only did the one that was our plan. I had done both before once in winter where I found it a hard day. My friend Babs is trying to complete her Corbetts and Carn a’Choire Ghairbh was her choice today.

We travelled to Affric what a journey is a stunning area, there were a few camping by the loch. The trees and its a tight road and we took our time the car park at the end of the glen was busy yet it was just after 0900 when we arrived. There are toilets open and the car park is a paid one and it had all the tickets machines shut. I have no problem paying for the use of the toilet which was clean and tidy. Babs had expected to walk in via the Alt Garbh but there is a new road very industrial that did not appeal to me. The weather was okay no midges too windy today and and I had an idea to use my bikes.

Babs is enjoying the bike as well being the “Tour De Dunphail” winner in the past so she took my mountain bike and I had my road bike with new tyres. I had spare helmets in the van so off we set. I should have taken my panniers as I hate cycling with a bag on and struggled as the track is pretty hilly. Anyway we set off stopping for photos as I tried to keep up with Babs. I love this area the track follows the loch and you get great views. Sgurr Na Lapaich a classic top still held a little snow and is an iconic mountain. It was famous for being on a shortbread tin for many years, Affric Lodge peaks through the trees and is in a splendid location. Yet there is a sign just by the fence saying private I had seen it years ago. For many years we stayed in the White Cottage with the Mountain Rescue team with tents outside now refurnished and a private dwelling. The keeper here was a great pal of the team and I have huge memories of staying here.

Note the sign no access over the Bridge ,

We headed along the track stopping often to enjoy the views all the big Affric Hills opened out Mam Sodhail, Carn Eighe huge wild mountains with so many memories. Big days the complete Affric Traverse, the Youth Hostel and long walks out in the dark. Unfortunately my chest was not great today I put it down to my heavy rucksack I was carrying. It would be cold on the summits and rain was forecast so I had put in extra gear.

I had come off this hill before in bad weather and located a stalkers path and that is where we were heading for. I had it marked NH 1417721096 just before the end of the loch. It can flood here badly and we did a big Rescue in 1972 with campers flooded out as its a flood plain and were stuck. I also have had a vehicle problems getting a wagon stuck before the river. We had to go back and get it a week later as the keeper said it may be there for the winter.

Whalleys Folly

When we arrived there was no sign of it yet I saw a faint line moving up the hill. It was located, the bikes were dropped off and then the rain came. The path is wet to start with but takes a great line up the hill. It follows as most Stalkers paths do a natural line. I doubt it is used often as the way recommended is by the Hydro track further down the glen. We took our time enjoying the effort in making such a track these were and are incredible mountain path makers. It got cold but the clouds played with hills. The mist came in and went and now we could see the Kintail hills and is an area of great beauty.

Bikes left

As you get older you stop more often and take it all in, the wild flowers were out the Bog Asphel especially beautiful. In places the track follows a line that does not look right bit it is and you head up where it stops. There is a little Cairn here the first we had seen, we would remember this for the way up. We had all our wet gear on hat and gloves and headed on to the ridge. There are huge old fence posts all along the ridge and the walking is easy and the hill cleared and we got more views. Now we could see Aonach Shasuinn and the other hills big wild mountains and not a Munro so many miss these places. The space is overwhelming at times after our lock in and we soon moved away from the fence line to the rocky summit. We could see the huge wind farm on the Corbett we were on last weekend at Glen Doe Carn Chuilinn in the distance.

It was not a place to linger to cold after a few photos and then we headed off, we saw no wild life just a bird near the summit with a high pitched shriek. Bab’s was delighted another new Corbett for her but I enjoyed it to and found this way up a better way to go. We headed of as the weather was raining again, cold so the extra gear was a bonus and had a stop out of the wind. we kept our navigation tight both working on it and headed down and saw our little Cairn marking the path.

It was a bit wetter and we only lost the track once and soon were back on it. The hills cleared again, the rain stopped and we headed down to the road. On the loch we saw a group on the beach coming off a boat for a picnic. Back on the forestry track we met a few more folk mostly on bikes and a few walking into the hills. It was a warm cycle back, I ripped my trousers in the chain but took it easy as the chest was not great but we soon got back the 5 miles to the car park.

A quick change cup of tea and leisurely head home. It was a lovely drive home the car park was busy but there was no litter about and folk were being well behaved it seemed. It will be a leisurely day for me sort out the gear and recover.

Heading home
The old White bothy now refurbished ,
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Meall a’ Bhuachaille another wee gem of a hill.

Yesterday we wanted to get out and myself Babs and Derrick(Yeni) decided that in separate cars to drive to Glenmore for one of the best short days in the Cairngorms. It’s a popular wee hill with big views.

Meall a’ Bhuachaille is a lovely mountain in the Cairngorms in Scotland Meall a’ Bhuachaille . It is situated 10 km east of Aviemore, to the north of Loch Morlich and Glenmore Forest.

Elevation: 810 m Prominence: 436 m, Mountain range: Cairngorms

English translation: Mound of the herdsman Parent range: Cairngorms

The views on a good day are incredible. As we had a combined age of 210 years this was a perfect way to get out again after lockdown. There were not many cars about and we parked just off the main road at Glenmore. Walking past Glenmore lodge all shut down was very strange!

The Green Lochan

The track to the familiar Green Lochan was quiet and as always we stop here. there were a few bikers out. It’s so stunning with the colour and the trees in the Loch looking like prehistoric monsters. There is a bench with some great words on it I always break off and enjoy this place. The smells of the forest, the wild flowers and the sounds of the birds made Babs remind us how much she and we all love the Cairngorms.

Ryvoan bothy

We had a stop at Ryvoan bothy but checked it out 2 dirty pans were left ( the bothy was supposed to be shut due to the virus) There were a couple of small groups ahead as we wandered up the path steep in places to the summit. It was hot on the way up, we stopped and enjoyed the views.

On the steep climb look at the view

Derrick was going well after various operations and loving being out his jokes got worse the higher we went.

Father Ted character?

The views of Bynack More and the Cairngorms are always stunning and they were clear. We had a good chat about things: Rubbish left on the hill yet this wee hill was very clean. Why do folk do it .

My thoughts :Are they used to going to festivals and leaving all their crap behind? The phrase it will be recycled by others who clear up surely we need to educate folk or am I losing the plot here? There is so much going on just now with the virus that the open spaces mean so much to so many? I cannot understand it?

Is it because the camping sites are closed just now? It was sad to see Glenmore campsite empty and ghost-like?

Has the term “Wild camping” been misunderstood that you have to take your rubbish home!

Unusually we saw a small convoy of cars pass the bothy on the track from our viewpoint. There were also lots more wild flowers and plenty of “Cuckoo spit”, we had a discussion of what it is !

Cuckoo spit

“The ‘spit’ is actually a protective bubble wrapping for a small insect, called a froghopper, which sucks the plant sap and distorts the young growth of flowering plants, such as chrysanthemum, geum, rosemary and solidago. It protects the insect from attack by predators and stops it from drying out.”

So there you are!

Cairngorm safety team

As we approached the summit we met Lennie who is in the Moray Club with his mate. Round the cairn we heard laughing and met some of the Old Brigade of the Cairngorm Team including the recently retired Team leader Willie Anderson. We had a great catch up laughing at our ages . It was great to see them all and made my day.

Willie Anderson great to see him!

After some food and tales of “daring do” we headed right along the ridge it was a bit wet in places but each top had the most incredible views. I had forgot how grand a hill this is. To me it never disappoints and It’s well worth the effort and gets the heart going. As we left three kids were running up to the main summit. It was great to see them out in the wilds full of energy and laughing. This is what the mountains are all about. We all felt so pleased about our day.

Today was nothing to shout about on Mountaineering terms but what a great day it is better than any drug or pills.

Babs Tour De Dunphail winner 2021

It may be a struggle as you age but the effort is so worth it.

It was then a muddy descent path to the forest and a walk back to the car. It was raining but warm and we were all going well. We walked past so many Cloud berry plants some in fruit out of the wind and in the sun. It’s amazing add to that the heather in bloom. What a grand wee hill. The path is big now well scarred it’s a popular walk despite the other great hills nearby but so worth a visit.

Cloud berry Description

Rubus chamaemorus is a species of flowering plant in the rose family Rosaceae, native to cool temperate regions, alpine and arctic tundra and boreal forest. This herbaceous perennial produces amber-colored edible fruit similar to the blackberry. 

It’s was a change of wet clothes and then a drive home. The Dava moor and all the “bog cotton” looking great in the sun as we headed back to the Coast. Another great day and getting a wee bit fitter and a few more plans for the future.

Maybe Glen Affric Saturday! Babs is chasing her Corbetts. She is also got some poems on the go just now of her adventures in the local dialect a bit of tales of her adventures on her bike in lockdown!

Oh it’s so good to be back and smell and see these wild places,how much we missed them?

Heath bedstraw thanks Tom

The flower above is Heath Bedstraw (Gallium saxatile). Thanks Tom Mac.

Do I need a ponytail ? This is another hill for my Grand kids when they come back!

Posted in Articles, Bothies, Corbetts, Corbetts and other hills, Cycling, Enviroment, Family, Friends, Mountain Biking, Mountain rescue, mountain safety, Mountaineering, People, Plants, Weather, Well being, Wildlife | 1 Comment

#takithame – Rubbish left in another wonderful area.

This was from a pal Ron Walker and Fiona Chappel after a day on the hills in the wonderful Sgur Ruadh area.

This is a wonderful area with incredible scenery, great stalking paths, wild life and so many mountains, Munros and Corbetts. There is a wealth of exploration to be done and I love this area and Coire Lair is an impressive place. I searched here a few years ago for my family friends in winter who went missing and were located after a huge search by the Torridon Mountain Rescue Team. This is a wild and remote area that is well loved by many.

Photo SMC Munro Map.

This is an area of outstanding beauty usually fairy quiet and a place that is well looked after by the estate. After a great day this is what Ron and Fi came across.

“A few pics from today, our first outing outwith our local area since we’ll before March. There was some early morning drizzle as we set off to climb Sgorr Ruadh however the day turned out mainly dry with an atmospheric Munro summit scramble which was really good fun. From the summit ridge we had great views of Fuar Tholl as the clouds swirled around.

Rubbish left by path – Photo Ron Walker

However the day was somewhat spoilt on the last hour or so as we returned to the main path when we came across a large bin bag full of rubbish weighing around 7 kg. Unbelievably the rubbish had just been discarded by four wild campers (in breach of gov regulations) we’d met earlier in the day descending from the corrie.
We’d seen other walking party’s that must have just passed by the rubbish but Fi and I just couldn’t leave the bag there despite the weight!

Fi – Carrying the rubbish off photo Ron Walker

So we lugged it down between us to disposed of before carefully sanitising our hands and kit once we got back to the car 😦

Many thanks to both of you and for the use of your words and photos.

Treat the earth and all in it with respect.

Ron Walker (MIC, IML) of Cairngorm Guides & Talisman Mountaineering, provides friendly, qualified guiding & instruction in mountain sports. Based in Aviemore amidst the beautiful scenery of the Cairngorms National Park This fascinating area provides us with a spectacular backdrop for our courses and activity holidays.

Fiona Chappell – works as a freelance Mountain Leader and Winter Mountain Leader with the bulk of my freelancing in Scotland being for Glenmore Lodge, both on skills courses and Mountain Training courses. Abroad, most of my International Mountain Leader freelance work is for Talisman Mountaineering and other expeditions as they come up.

lets look after this land – Islay and Heavy photo K. Wilkinson.
Posted in Enviroment, Friends, Mountain rescue, mountain safety, Mountaineering, Munros, Views Mountaineering, Weather, Well being, Wildlife | 1 Comment

Loose rock on Lochnagar – Please be aware. Its an annual event on most big mountains.

As we all start venturing out please be advised that many of the mountains will have loose rock. Few have been on the big cliffs recently and loose rock is always a objective danger in Mountaineering. Glencoe has already had a problem on the Curved ridge area. I would imagine most mountain routes will need care. Treat and test every hold if climbing or scrambling.

Lose rock above Black Spout Lochnagar PHOTO Aberdeen MRT.

From Aberdeen MRT “Please be aware that there are some significantly sized boulders lying loose on the remaining snow patch at the top of Black Spout on Lochnagar. We estimate several are well over one metre across. Clearly these will dislodge as the snow melts further; be aware thaT they may travel well beyond the base of the Black Spout when they move. Please take this into consideration if you are in the area, even if you are not within Black Spout itself.”

Black Spout – Lochnagar. Loose rock. PHOTO – Aberdeen MRT

Loose rock is nothing knew sadly its an annual event after a winter and heavy rain. This was what I wrote in 2017

Most folk enjoy Scrambling and a few rock climbing it is good to be aware and reminded of the danger of loose rock on mountain cliffs. Please read this and be aware and when teaching new skills please pass on this simple advice it may save your life?

2017 – Unfortunately there has been a couple of bad accidents in the Cairngorms over the last few  weekend  some involving a pal Ron Walker who was hurt when a loose block came away. Ron has given his permission to repeat his tale and hopefully pass on some tips when rock climbing in the mountains.    It was a great effort to help Ron off the cliff by Cairngorm MRT and the Helicopter, something we should never take for granted. Next day they had another incident on the same cliff.  The mountain weather, the dry May and heavy rain in June will not have helped the natural erosion in this area so be careful out there. The picture below was one I used to advise on our training whilst with RAF Mountain Rescue where many had limited knowledge of the cliffs. It was advice that we passed on.

Fingers Ridge – Cairngorms

Fingers Ridge was my second rock climb in the Team in 1972 and I did it fairly often afterwards mainly in Summer. It is a mountain route but sadly holds onto a lot of loose rock.  Tip,Tap and Test  with your hands and feet sounds good to me.  Please share with other climber and walkers and be aware that mountain Ridges like Skye , Glencoe and the Ben may have loose rock awaiting those who are not careful!

Fingers Ridge Cairngorms.

From Mountaineering Scotland/ Glenmore Lodge. 2017

Events last weekend (2017) in Coire an’t  Sneachda in the Northern Corries of the Cairngorms have highlighted the need for all hill-walkers and climbers to be vigilant when climbing on or passing below mountain crags.

Two separate teams over the weekend were injured by rock fall. On Saturday a team on a route known as Fingers Ridge had a very lucky escape when a large slab of rock gave way.  Ironically they were clearing loose rock from the route when the accident happened. (Read Ron Walker’s own account of his accident.)

And on Sunday a team were injured on Pygmy Ridge, in the same Corrie.

Walkers and climbers are familiar with the shattered, loose rock around the crags and corries of Scottish Mountains. The process of freezing and thawing through the winter season continues to dislodge and shatter rock faces, and natural erosion processes continue as they have since the mountains were created.

Shaun Roberts, Principal at Glenmore Lodge, said: “I do believe that the nature of winters over the last decade, along with the generally more intense precipitation has had an impact on Coire an t-Sneachda.

We have experienced a number of winters with very deep snow packs, including snow laying at depth on the steep broken ground of the Coire.  Over a season and under the influence of gravity this snowpack will displace, but often not dislodge blocks and boulders of significant size, leaving behind a significant challenge for the summer climber.

“And this year we enjoyed a super dry May but then received almost our monthly quota of rainfall on one day in June.

“I suspect these weather patterns are having an impact on the stability of some areas and we continue to approach climbing in Coire an t-Sneachda with a more heightened sense of the objective dangers.”

Heather Morning, Mountain Safety Advisor with Mountaineering Scotland said: “Hillwalkers, scramblers and climbers should be extra vigilant when journeying either below or approaching scrambles and climbs – particularly if there are other parties above or there has been heavy rainfall in the previous few days.

“Specifically, hillwalkers should be particularly cautious when ascending or descending the Goat Track in Corie an’t Sneachda when there are climbers above them.”

There you are simple advice take it and pass it on even local rock climbing venues should be treated carefully especially the friable sandstone at Cummingston?

Very loose in Summer in places!

Posted in Mountain rescue, mountain safety, Mountaineering, Munros, Rock Climbing, Views Mountaineering, Weather, Well being | Leave a comment

A big thanks to Willie Anderson Cairngorm MRT.

From Cairngorm MRT Facebook Page

“It is with mixed emotions that we make the announcement that Willie Anderson has stepped down as Team Leader of CMRT.

A huge thanks from the team for all the years hard work both on the hill, in control and for the thousands of hours of unseen work supporting us. Willie will remain with us for a period to assist the transition of responsibility.

We also very much welcome our new leader into position. Willie is being replaced by Iain Cornfoot, a long standing team member and focal point of the organisation.

Exciting times ahead as Iain gets his teeth into the role.

Many many thanks Willie from all CMRT members”.

I am sure that all Willie’s pals in the MRT will wish Willie all the best for a quiet time with his family. I have worked with Willie for many years and always got on well, he was a good pal of the RAF MRT Teams as we often worked together on big call- outs. I also worked with Willie when I was with the ARCC when he was asking for helicopter support on Rescues. A big thanks to Willie and all the best to Ian Cornfoot.

Willie Anderson – Photo Cairngorm MRT.
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The hidden costs of the Voluntary Rescue Services.

A friend started a discussion on the RAF Mountain Rescue Facebook page. He mentioned with great honestly the difficult period for relationships and many families have when their loved one joins a Mountain Rescue Team. Like many voluntary Services, the RNLI, Coastguards etc the team,group becomes all consuming. Team members end up going away regularly on Training or Call – outs. Being a member of any voluntary service is hard on these we leave behind especially if you have a young family.

My Mum, Dad sisters and brother saw me once a year if they were lucky as I was away so often. I was a young lad and it became all consuming. I can never get that time back as sadly Mum and Dad are long gone. They did understand but unknown to me for many years my mother worried about me every weekend.

For many of my 40 years in Mountain Rescue I was single. Later on as a Team Leader my partner hardly saw me as did the children. It took me years to appreciate the loss to them. How many birthdays, Sports days , parents nights and big days important days did I miss with them . It definitely did effect them at the time they have told me. In addition I was away on several long expeditions many lasting months. My partner and the kids worried about me. I even found a note saying “please come back don’t die “ from the kids. It was stuffed in my boots along with a drawing . At the time I shrugged that off but now I realise a lot better.

It took years to try and change things and attitudes. In the team we had a Christmas party for the kids and then a Families weekend once a year where they joined us. Sometimes we got a call – out not what we needed. Yet It was great to see all the kids out for a weekend and I will not forget the Families weekends to Gairloch, Killin and Badaguish. At least we managed to give something back.

In these days we were away 3 full weekends a month later it was cut to 2 thank goodness. Yet it was so hard for those left behind. What a loss for those you love, yet it was who I was. I cannot imagine it now how anyone put up with this life.

There was also the danger involved in Rescue. Many of our families worried about this especially as the kids got older. In my time two Mountain Rescue Team leaders were killed Phil Jones the Team Leader of Assynt MRT and Harry Lawrie Killin MRT in the helicopter crash on Ben More. These were difficult times and effected a lot of our families. Yet we hardly spoke about it. I have heard from a wife of an ex Teamleader of one of Scotland’s biggest teams that she could hardly sleep till her husband was safely home.

The families,wives and partners gave us so much support yet their efforts took years to be recognised. It seems a lot better nowadays as attitudes change.A few years ago Killin MRT the partners and wives were recognised by being given a team lapel badge it was a small but lovely gesture. It was a lovely idea and I had the honour to present them.It is good that the team reunions for many years are now mixed function. Long gone are the all male re – unions of the past. That was not an easy change for some of the Dinosaurs but thank goodness things have moved on. So this is a big thank you to all the families who support all the voluntary Rescue services. The calls in the middle of the night, re arranging life round the teams worrying about us never take it for granted. You support was and is greatly appreciated.

Thank you all,

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

First day out since Lock down – The Corbett Carn a’ Chuillin 2677 feet/ 816 metres. A wet but so good to be out again.

It was the first day we had been allowed to travel to the hills and I did not want to be with the crowds in the honeypot areas. My pal Babs had a Corbett near Fort Augustus to climb Carn a’ Chuillin to do so despite a poor forecast we met in Fort Augustus in separate cars. We parked at the Wind farm and headed up the big road that was built to support the wind farm.

The rain started as soon as we arrived! The mist was down and the Sky threatening grey and dark! Yet here we were out on the hill.

It was great to see that the Access had been sorted for this hill. There has been Great work done by Mountaineering Scotland and the Access Officer also Highland Council. The massive road to the wind farm was busy but there was no problems this time.

Most of the vans on the road going to the wind farm waved at us. They would be heading to the Wind farm that caused a lot controversy and debate over the years.
My companion “Babs” told of a previous attempt on this hill many years ago. There was so much snow and ice they stopped at the frozen Lochan and skated on it. Sadly they did not get the hill done so today was the day. Why did we pick this hill? We knew it would not be busy so we could “socially isolate”


We cut off the road after a pull up across to the hill track taking us into the hills. As normal it was still raining. I had full metal Gortex on and was so glad of it. From here the hill track was muddy as it’s now well used by cows and even so a lot better than 6 years ago on my last visit. There were so many wild flowers, orchids butterwort abound.

There are plenty of shooting butts about more than I remember the Estate will use the road access.As Hamish Brown says this used to be wild country and still is once you get away from the road. The mist came and went we stopped to check the map and have some food. You follow a burn up it has small waterfalls and gorges all the way up.
Babs has been on her bike all lock down and was going well. I was feeling ok the chest not bad but I would have to watch the dampness. At our stop Babs told me she gets her pension soon!

From the track we picked a line onto the ridge it was steep and slippy at times but I did enjoy being out the space the wind and the rain seem cleansing? There was a bull high up and he was bellowing to his girlfriends on the ridge ? Is that the way to get the girls?
We put on hats and gloves as we made our way round the outcrops and onto the main ridge. We both thought that seemed a long way in the mist.

On the summit we took a few photos but wandered along the main ridge to find some shelter. Last time here in 2014 I was in shorts and a pre 1950 pixie smock that the RAF Teams were issued with! It was by no means warm, still misty and we descended checking where we would drop off and get some shelter and a late lunch.
We found a spot I wished I had a hot flask with me. Then we descended the steep wet grass hard going at times heading back to the path. Good boots are needed here the ground is rough and very slippy.

Babs striding out to the summit,

Babs stopped for a call of nature (she drinks a lot) and I saw an Eagle above me. It made my day. There was a huge erratic boulder where we stopped again taking of my hat and gloves and picking our line to the path. It was a bit wetter and muddy and went on a bit but we were soon at The wind farm road and heading back to the cars.
It was pretty wet a change of clothes at the car then home in our separate cars.
It was great to get out have some company Babs is good fun and keeps an eye on my route. Always laughing she is good company and she got a new Corbett.
We saw no one on the the hill away from the road. It was great to see the Access sorted and a reminder how cold the hills can be just now!

I headed home listening to the football so good to be out again.
Getting home a hot both sort the wet kit out and clean the boots and gear.
I had some food and went out for a short walk I had been dry at home all day. There were breaching Wales in the sea no photos to far away but a great end to a day.

So glad I went out ! Now to re read Hamish Browns classic book about climbing the Corbett’s a must read.

A love of the Scottish hills doesn t depend on the height of any summit but on an indefinable quality which the 2500ft plus hills have in abundance, even more than the Munros perhaps. This book describes one well-known mountaineer s compact with the Corbetts, rich with anecdote, historical connections, and written with companiable enthusiasm. As with the Munros, the Corbetts will introduce the hillgoer to interesting new areas and islands such as the Galloway hills, Applecross, Ardgour and Morven, extensive wilds Beyond the Great Glen , Arran, Jura, Rum and the Outer Isles, and gems like Ben Tee, Fuar Tholl, Cul Mor and Cul Beg, Foinaven and Arkle, The Merrick and The Clisham. Hamish is the perfect host to introduce this alluring Scottish game of Climbing the Corbetts. As with Hamish s Mountain Walk and Hamish s Groats End Walk, Sandstone s superb production includes two sections of fabulous colour photographs.

“Stronlarig info – SSE has completed the construction and commissioning of the 66 turbine/228MW (megawatt) Stronelairg wind farm, near Fort Augustus. With a total investment of around £350m, Stronelairg is expected to be SSE’s final wind farm to be accredited under the Renewables Obligation.

The completion of Stronelairg takes SSE’s onshore wind farm capacity to 2,143MW, and its total renewable energy capacity (including pumped storage) to 3,955MW.”

Posted in Corbetts and other hills, mountain safety, Mountaineering, Views Mountaineering, Weather, Wildlife | 2 Comments

Where to go ?

Toilet matters – some loos may be closed what do you do on the hill?

www. Mountaineering Scotland

“Avoid causing pollution by urinating at least 30 m away from open water/rivers/streams and burying solid waste as far as possible from open water/rivers/streams and buildings. Used toilet paper should be carried out and disposed of appropriately on your return to base. Remember to pack a lightweight trowel and carry enough toilet paper (with resealable bags for when it’s been used) and some suitable hand sanitizer gel. In winter, don’t just dig a hole in the snow, because when the snow melts your solid waste will still be there, unsightly and polluting. If you cannot bury solid waste in the ground it should be carried out in a designated container and disposed of appropriately.”

On an earlier visit with the old Pixie jacket.

I am off with a pal separate cars today to Fort Augustus – Carn a’ Chuillin 816 metres. I hope the loos are open at Fort Augustus? If not ? I climbed this hill in August 2014 it was a good day.

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Posted in Corbetts, Enviroment, Equipment, Mountaineering, Well being | Leave a comment

Update from Mountaineering Scotland. 3 July 2020

Update from Mountaineering Scotland has produced amended guidelines for walkers and climbers in Scotland for the further relaxations in Phase 2 of the Scottish Government route map for easing lockdown restrictions, which came into effect on 3 July 2020.

The guidelines have been created in collaboration with the Mountain Safety Group which includes Scottish Mountain Rescue, Mountain Training Scotland, Glenmore Lodge, and the Association for Mountaineering Instructors, as well as through work with many other partner organisations.The purpose of this guidance is to provide a framework for hill walkers and climbers within the current Scottish Government public health advice and phase of exit from lockdown, and to highlight additional considerations to be aware of in the presence of COVID-19 when taking part in these activities.We urge everyone heading out to enjoy the outdoors to be mindful of how their individual actions reflect on the whole outdoor community. The key will be for individuals to take a sensible approach to their activities, use your judgement to manage the risks, and to consider the social responsibility we all have to each other, to protecting our emergency services and to minimise the transmission of COVID-19.Guidance for hill walkers and climbersPlease read the guidance in full before planning your activities and remember to:Be prepared: Some car parks, toilets and other facilities may remain closed.Be safe: Plan ahead and stay well within your limits – whatever your activity – to avoid the need for rescue and emergency services.Be considerate: Think about how your actions might impact on others and follow the Scottish Outdoor Access Code at all times.Please note that advice from the Scottish Government may differ from that for England and Wales.The latest public health information for Scotland can be found on the Scottish Government website.

Hope you all have a safe time on the hills, I am waiting for better weather.

Posted in Health, Mountain rescue, mountain safety, Mountaineering, Munros, Other hills Grahams & Donalds, People, Views Mountaineering, Views Political?, Weather | Leave a comment

The Big Fall – “The Hill” Creag Dubh Sept 83

The Big Fall.

We all had a weekend off for a Team wedding at Craigellachie. It was a Classic Highland wedding with lots of whisky. At this time a few of us we’re mad about climbing and had planned to climb on the Sunday after the wedding. We had our own cars we headed for Creag Dubh near Newtonmore after a wild night.

Now I have never been a climber but was getting ready for my Team Leaders course. I had done a few routes here in the past with some of the rock gods. It was also a place that sorted out a few of those in the team who thought Scottish routes were easy! The cliff had a fierce reputation as it was steep and in these days projection was never easy! It’s pretty intimidating and I found it a wild place, we called it “Creag Death“. Lots of the top climbers of the period were putting up routes here. It had gained an even fiercer reputation. In the early days Douglal Haston and friends had climbed routes here but they were not accepted by the SMC due to the names they had gave them, many with a sexual innuendo.

This is from UKC Creag Dubh Crag features

Creag Dubh is one of Scotland’s biggest and finest ‘roadside’ crag.It is worth noting that the SMC refused to publish outcrop routes until the 1970’s despite this being a major crag. The schist with horizontal strata offers some wonderfully steep routes on big holds. Many of these routes are up to 3 pitches and can be intimidating, as they are very exposed and protection may be spaced. The crag faces south and dries quickly, but weeps. Generally the rock is sound but sometimes blocky. Creag Dubh is not a good choice for the beginner as there is little below Severe. However, from VS upwards the routes are good and the choice increases with the grade. The midges can be dreadful during still days, and ticks abound in the bracken.”

Back to our tale: We had a leisurely start and headed over to Creag Dubh it was busy with Glenmore Lodge about. I think there was a assessment going on that day. I was climbing I think with Bruce West on a classic three star VS called the Brute on the Great Wall. It was a Kinloss route Terry Sullivan and N.Collngham Oct 59. It a great climb and we were on it.

The Brute the day of the Fall.

It was sunny the crag was busy my mate Jock Pirrie was climbing with a young Paul (Pam) Ayers. Both were climbing well. They were on a route called the Hill a famous now E2 first climbed by K. Spence and J.Porteous in Sept 1966.

Bruce was up the first pitch of The Brute when I was seconding. I heard a shout then a scream and watched as Pam fell from the second pitch of The Hill. He was high up and I saw some gear pull and he ended up just of the ground by a few inches.It was an horrific fall to watch. Jock had just stopped him hitting the ground by inches.
He was hanging on his harness with a face full of character. I will never forget the noise as he fell and I had witnessed many falls in the past. He was pretty shook up but still all there when lowered to the ground. There were soon other climbers around including Glenmore. Pam got lowered he looked okay but was pretty spaced out by his big fall.
He was battered but seemed okay and more worried about his bandoleer of gear he had lost as he fell. It is still I would imagine in the boulders and ferns at the bottom of the cliff? There are a few dead sheep here!

First Aid
Others had checked him but I got down and said we would look after him. I checked him over again. He climbing in shorts and his Willians Harness it had cut into his groin like a knife due the fall. Pam was pretty worried when he saw it and the shock kicked in. I was really worried to was very near the main artery so we hobbled off not easy through the boulder field into my old Simca car. I thought we could get medical help in Aviemore but we had to go to Inverness.

I drove like a loony and when we got to AE we were told to wait. Pam was struggling by now so I asked the receptionist to get a doctor . I was told to wait. I told Pam to drop his pants and he showed her the cut. The doctor was called and Pam was stitched up. He was told if the cut had been any deeper he could have died as the blood loss would have killed him. Pam was as hard as nails. He was stitched up and given the all clear to go. He had used one of his 9 lives.

He was told to take a few weeks of climbing. Within three weeks we climbed:
Eagles Ridge on Lochnagar, The Long Climb on Ben Nevis (when his stitches came out) another group were horrified as his wound stated to bleed near the top of the route
Tailisman and Clean Sweep in the Cairngorms.

Pam on Centurion.

We climbed a lot together and then he went off next year to attempt to climb the North Face of the Eiger with his mate Joe. Now that’s another story. Sadly Jock is no longer with us died at a young age of skin cancer. I will never forget what he said when he found that Pam was okay, he offered to help me but I said I was ok then he asked of anyone fancied finishing the route!

Typical Jock What a man.

The Late Jock Pirrie on Pabay – Photo Pete Greening.

Top Tip – If you have an accident make sure you do a thorough check we nearly missed Pam’s injury. You will be shocked as well to see a mate fall.

Guide Book

Posted in Articles, Equipment, medical, Mountain rescue, mountain safety, Mountaineering, Recomended books and Guides, Rock Climbing, SMC/SMT, Views Mountaineering, Well being | Leave a comment

Looking back today on the last 100 days there have been some interesting thoughts that are in my head.

Lots of emotions and thoughts over the last 100 days.


At first there was great sadness as my grand kids moved South. I was so used to seeing them regularly that hurt. I did fear for the future for them. I missed their cuddles more than ever but they all kept me going throughout with pictures and chats and updates. My sister was in touch daily we are very close, she lives in Ayr and chatted every day.


I must admit that I had a real worry as I had problems with my breathing past damage to my lungs. I was waiting for a scan when the lock down came. I still am but but had to work at it I made myself go out for my daily exercise that kept me sane.


Living alone has never been a problem for me but I found it hard at times for the first time in my life. My family and so many Good pals stayed in touch and the folk in my village is so helpful. I have shops in the same street that I live and they are superb.hen we met in the street folk had time to speak (maintaining distances) yet I missed the close contact. I missed visiting pals dropping in and getting out and about.
I have an old friend in a Care home she has been on lock down even longer than us. We speak every night. She is well looked after but is on her own room, cut off her family live abroad. That is hard for her yet she is of a generation that copes. I get her some bits and pieces most weeks and drop them off. She waved from her room when I drop them off. A memory I will not forget.

It was strange but I am lucky to have a big empty beach and forest and most days was out on my bike. It was hard at first due to my breathing and I took it easy. I saw so much wild life and flowers heard so many birds and wild birds. I took some lunch and sat on the beach or the dunes and took it all in. At times I cycled along the beach listening to the waves at times the waves were full of pollen. The weather luckily mostly days was superb and as I have no garden this was my place to go. This was my space and I could see the snow on Ben Wyvis most days. On my bike trips sadly most days as things moved on I picked up rubbish, cans bottles and those awful “disposable barbecues” I even added a pannier to carry the rubbish . Many have been tidying up after the few.

The Media. News, Facebook etc.

At first I listened to it all news but in the end it was once a day. I was saddened by some of my friends attitudes but we are all different ways of coping . To many missing the hills and the wild was their main problem. Yet others were and are coping with family deaths being unable to see friends and the worry about work in the future. Worry about keeping jobs, businesses and looking after their families. Especially with those who are shielding.

It opened my eyes again to how insular we all can be?


I would hate to be a politician of any party making these decisions during this time? Yet many I hope have learned what is important in life. It’s amazing how many folk are experts with hindsight? I do not get involved in the politics at the moment to me it’s not the time. I leave it to others. There will be lots of time for this? How do we change things for a better future?

Do we need a dare I say it a “COVID tax” for all those who can pay for all the things we take for granted. The NHS and others who need better wages for those who have proved that they are essential, mostly poorly paid? Maybe even a re-evaluation off top earners wages ?

This tragedy has cost the country so much and will take years to recover from? There is lots of work to do.

In all it’s been a strange time, worrying about those wee love and care for. Yet even at my age I have learned a lot about so many things.
I have enjoyed the radio and various podcast. I have read so many books and listened to music. Had a big sort out of gear and will have a load for the charity shops.
I kept my blog going and got some good responses. Yet I could not write my book: for me it was too dark at times. I found that it was easy to get dark thoughts so maybe later. It’s so hard to explain ?

I cannot wait to get out on the hills again it’s going to be so good. I will not go to a busy area as I love the space and solitude. I long to see the wildlife the flowers and the views.
In all it’s been a life changing time something I never thought I would be involved in.
Thanks for all those who stayed in touch and I have tried to contact many who I had lost touch with. It’s going to be a long haul with ups and downs. All we can do is take care try to support our family friends and local business’s. Be careful and remember there are many still out there who are shielding and vulnerable.

Try to see each other’s views not matter how much you may disagree. Look after each other. Write that letter, build bridges and stay in touch. I wonder what the next 100 days will bring?

Hill of the Church

Thanks to all for your kind words. I have not had a drink for over 100 days!

Comments welcome

Posted in Book, Cycling, Enviroment, Family, Flora, Friends, Local area and events to see, Mountain Biking, Mountaineering, Views Mountaineering, Well being, Wildlife | 2 Comments

A great piece from a very talented lady – Lucy Wallace

I am so lucky to meet so many good folk over the years. Many are like me they love mountains and the Wild places. A few years ago I was asked to speak at the Arran Mountain Festival and the speakers before were Lucy and Kirstie who had run all the Arran hills above 700 metres. They did this to raise cash for the local Arran MRT and Mulanje ( Malawi). Both are team member’s. Their talk held in the Corrie Village Hall was superb and a hard act to follow. I loved their enthusiasm and love of Arran and its wildness.

This is what they wrote after their trip.

“Kirstie & I are bowled over by the support, good wishes & hard cash is been pouring in. There’s no denying that it was a tough day. 36km and over 3000m of ascent over 17 long hours. We couldn’t have done it without the help of many folk, inc Kirstie’s partner Mark who drove us to Pirnmill at 4am after a lifeboat callout, & Wally, who physically put us on the summit of A’chir. Our awesome colleagues in Arran MRT were also called out late that night but didn’t call us so as not to jeopardise the attempt. Thank you everyone!They raised £2,417 to support Mountain Rescue on the Isle of Arran (Scotland) and Mulanje (Malawi) To me folk like this are incredible.

Lucy is now the first woman President of Ramblers Scotland

Lucy Wallace

“Well-known blogger and mountain leader Lucy Wallace will become the first woman president of Ramblers Scotland, the walking charity announced today.

Lucy is a professional wildlife guide and outdoor instructor who holds the Winter, Summer and International Mountain Leader awards. She is an accredited Duke of Edinburgh’s Award assessor, working with schools and young people on expeditions throughout Scotland.

She will succeed countryside ranger Ben Dolphin as Ramblers Scotland’s honorary figurehead, following the organisation’s AGM in North Berwick this weekend. She follows in the footsteps of the late conservationist Dick Balharry, award-winning broadcaster Cameron McNeish and Dr Andrew Murray, who was the Scottish Government’s first Physical Activity Champion.

Lucy hopes to use her presidency to encourage even more people to appreciate Scotland’s landscapes and world-class access rights – and to enjoy the health and social benefits of adventures on foot.

Lucy, who is 45 and lives on the Isle of Arran, said: “It will be a huge honour to become Ramblers Scotland’s first female president, and I hope to be the first of many. So many women enjoy Scotland’s outdoors, yet there is a distinct lack of female voices in prominent positions.

“The number of people walking for fun is booming, and I want to use this role to encourage even more people to get outdoors and to build a stronger connection with the amazing natural environment we’re so lucky to have on our doorsteps here in Scotland. I’m also looking forward to meeting our members and joining them in the hills!”

Ramblers Scotland director Brendan Paddy was delighted to have Lucy on board but recognised the appointment of a female president was a “long overdue” step forward in the organisation’s 35-year history.

He said: “We feel truly lucky to have Lucy on board. As a passionate advocate for the outdoors and a highly experienced mountain leader, she has introduced hundreds of people to the natural world, making her the ideal person to inspire even more people to enjoy our country on foot.

“Women have played a hugely-influential role in the history of Scottish outdoor pursuits, from pioneers like Jane Inglis Clark and Nan Shepherd, to more modern heroes like Muriel Gray, Heather Morning and Hazel Strachan.

“While we are excited to welcome our first female president, we entirely recognise that this is a long overdue milestone, particularly as about two-thirds of Ramblers Scotland’s members and more than half our volunteer walk leaders are female.”
The voluntary position is elected on an annual basis, with presidents often serving for the maximum term of three years.

Lucy Wallace grew up in southern England and initially trained as an archaeologist. She moved to Scotland in 2005 with her outdoor instructor husband Wally. She has previously worked at an outdoor centre on Arran and as RSPB Scotland’s information officer for the island before setting up her own wildlife guiding and mountain leading business.”

This is Lucy article.

In typical unassuming fashion Lucy wrote this piece to me its wonderful. I hope you enjoy it.

Lucy Wallace collection.

Place to Play

Anywhere in the West Highlands, but especially the rocky peaks of the Isle of Arran, which I’m lucky enough to call my backyard.

Not a lot of people know this

I trained and worked as a palaeolithic archaeologist for a number of years before becoming a Mountain Leader.

“Rambling post alert 📣This is a piece I wrote for a writing course I’m doing….

I knew, as soon as I saw this on the horizon, that the garden was going to be important.

“Seeds. We need some seeds.”

We stood in Morrisons in Fort William, trying hard not to panic buy. There was no pasta, no paracetamol, no loo-roll, no soap and no hand-sanitiser. We were coming to the end of our planned time in the Highlands, and heading back to Arran soon. We’d realised that if we didn’t hurry up, we might no make it back at all. Staring blankly at the carousel of Mr Fothergill’s finest, I was trying hard to remember what I’d had success with before. “Gardener’s delight, they are supposed to be good, lets get those… We can’t afford to go mad, £5 worth of seeds, that’s our max”.

Lucy Wallace – collection.

In the end we spent £4 on tomatoes, beans, rocket, cavolo nero, and some perpetual spinach that would fail to come up.

When we first bought our little house, we put time and energy into a small veggie plot that was surprisingly productive. It’s a narrow strip, that slopes steeply from the wave cut platform on the shore up to a strip of woodland bordering fields on the moor above. We have a tiny square of lawn behind “first shed”, followed by the veggie patch, which nestles under a rowan tree and the “second shed”. Above shed number two, is a jungle of trees and nettles, as well as infuriatingly persistent invasive species, including Himalayan balsam and rhododendron. Amazingly, we have almost eradicated a virulent patch of knotweed.

As work and our business picked up, we became victims of our own success and before long both of us were too busy, working all over the place, to really care for the garden. The best we could do was keep on top of the invasive species. Our loss was the wildlife’s gain, and an enormous bramble patch took hold where once I’d proudly grown potatoes.

Returning home this spring, lockdown happened within days. Work evaporated. Suddenly we were as time rich as we were cash poor. But we still had to hurry- it was a race against the seasons to clear the brambles and get seedlings in the ground.

I’ve tried hard to make amends to the wildlife for the loss of the brambles. I’ve kept some along the fence line, and left stands of self seeded wild raspberries for the birds. Everything has been organic, mulched with bracken and seaweed. I’ve used home made compost that had been sitting idle for years, (not that we could afford anything else), and brewed the most offensive nettle tea fertilizer. My mum sent me heritage kale, lettuce and mangetout seeds, but I’ve stayed true to that original £4, chitted old spuds from the supermarket, and swapped spare kale and tomato seedlings locally for courgettes, pumpkins, cucumbers and comfrey. My spring onions have been re-grown from kitchen scraps.

Time spent tending the patch has brought me close to my garden in new ways. The robin that follows me attentively, the blackbird that squawks angrily, the tireless wren family and the slow worm in my compost heap have all given me joy. I’ve had surprisingly few battles with slugs, probably thanks to the slow worm, but have done daily rounds to pick caterpillars off the kale and piles of crap from the neighbour’s cats out of the rocket beds.

We have now reached a peak in output for many of our crop. The mangetout plants are capsizing under the weight of their productivity. There is enough lettuce to sink a battleship full of caterpillars and so much winter kale that I have started cutting the young plants just to get a head start on it. I’m still waiting on tomatoes, pumpkins and cucumbers, but the courgettes are imminent. I’m not sure whether the dwarf beans are going to do much, but I haven’t given up. There have been little surprises, such as self seeded kale, that must have been lying in wait for a decade in the fertile garden soil, and a patch of nasturtiums, that I have not seen since 2009. A rambling rose, smothered in baby pink blooms, and badly in need of taming, has eaten the first shed whole.

Lucy Wallace Collection.

It’s been a journey of discovery, both in the physical sense, and of myself. I’ve talked to my seedlings, worried about the sickly and egged on the healthy ones. I’m absurdly proud of every bowl of veg that comes from soil to plate, it feels like a victory against the times. £4 and countless hours of labour and I feel like a miniature farmer. Out of work, and confined to barracks, I may not have been much use to anyone else of late, but I have not been idle.”

Thanks – Lucy


Discover the breathtaking mountains, heather clad moors and rugged coastline of Arran with qualified Mountain Leaders.  Walking on Arran is the best way to experience the beauty of Arran’s scenery and magnificent wildlife.  See charismatic animals such as otters, harbour seals, golden eagles and red deer in their natural habitat.

07825 644161 info@arranwildwalks.co.uk

Lucy wrote. I’m a Mountain Leader based on Arran but work all over Scotland and sometimes, the world. When I’m not guiding in the hills I’m also a wildlife guide and run otter watching trips. I work in both the outdoor education and leisure sectors.

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

Great days in Applecross.

Sword of Gideon VS 4c – Beleach Na Ba Applecross/ Cioch Nose

This is a Tom Patey classic climb Sword of Gideon. It’s a mountain route at VS and is rather unusual for Scotland as it is at an altitude of 600m but is in fact only a 5 minute walk from the road. This climb can be seen from road

Sword of Gideon.

Ray Shafron on the Sword of Gideon then it rained.

125m, 4 pitches. Park at wee parking spot just below switchbacks on road.

The first pitch is up the easy rock below the climb proper. Head left up crack/ramp at start of first pitch. Interest on first pitch dwindles after those first few moves. Quite bold at the start. 2nd (crux) pitch starts at the ledge, which can be traversed into if avoiding first pitch. Follow the crack up, then traverse left to belay stance. Fairly good gear. Committing 4a/4b move at start of 3rd pitch on good gear. Straightforward after that. 4th pitch starts at ledge, go straight up. Poss to link 3&4, but scope for good belay at top is poor. Better gear for belay at top of pitch 3.

The Bealach used to be an unforgettable drive up or cycle along one of the most dramatic roads on mainland UK, rivalling many a Swiss mountain pass and with terrific views across much of Wester Ross, the whole of Skye, the Islands of Rum and the Outer Hebrides. You will NOT forget this drive or cycle as long as you live. Sadly in my view the NC 500 has changed all that and in height of summer it is a procession of Camper vans, cars and motor cycles it am just being elitist?

It is composed of rough sandstone on the South Face that rises steeply from the road when a bit wet it can make things a bit tricky higher up. I have done the route before once in the wet and found it a bit wild and Dan and Pete had been on it as well a few times. The last time we were there we abseiled off old age and it was very wet and greasy.

The route description says:
“gives easy delightful climbing up to the Base of the steep middle section which forms a clean steep reddish wall.”

That may be true when we were younger and braver.

The first time we climbed this route and then we headed over to the Classic Cioch Nose after dropping into the Coire that was a great day.

The Cioch Nose – The climb description 450 feet, 7 pitches. First ascent Tom Patey and Chris Boonington August 1960

The first time I climbed this route was 1980 when I was up with RAF Valley MRT from North Wales. The day before we had climbed the Torridon Trilogy; Beinn Eighe, Liathach and Beinn Alligin a big 12 hour day. We were up for a 10 day grant. It had been hot and we were tired and staying at Lochcarron in the village hall.

One of the lads who had only got the weekend off Dave Tomkins and had been with us on the Trilogy wanted an easy day. It was decided to climb the Cioch Nose at Sgurr a’ Chaorachain. It was already a classic 3 Star route.

We had a leisurely start as we were still aching from the previous day’s efforts. We parked by the main road and walked into the cliff, it was still very warm. The view of the route is with you all the way in and looks pretty wild and intimidating.

We took my dog Teallach he would wait by the crag and enjoy a leisurely day or so we thought. Even he was tired.

There was no path then to the route and we worked our way up the steep ground to the beginning of the climb.
I had been climbing a lot in Wales so this easy “Scottish Diff” would be no problem.

The guide book was a bit vaguer than the description nowadays. Right from the beginning It was an adventure on steep sandstone with some wonderful situations and great climbing.
The traverse out onto the wall on big holds is superb and what a situation. It seemed to go on for ever, it was never to hard but what a place to be. That wonderful book Classic Rock had a great description of the ascent and the old Black and white pictures in big boots and hill bags made this a real mountain adventure. The belay ledges were spacious but in these days there was a lot of loose rock about. Care was needed and still is.

It was a leisurely day climbing that chimney, the steep wall and a real adventure. We continued up the ridge and found a wee pitch above that was pretty tricky.

We were dehydrated and tired yesterday’s efforts hit us. We descended a gully still damp and loose taking care as there was plenty of loose rock.

I was contouring round the ledges to get back to where we had left the dog. We heard barking and he had shuttled of to the Loch as the midges were at him. He was also dragging my rucksack that I had left with him.

He was fine and we headed back to the land rover as we came under midge attack.

We were the first back at the village hall yet it had been a long day as another group were doing the Torridon Trilogy. (in all 12 of our team completed it that trip incredible)

Poor Dave got a few hours’ sleep and then the drive back to North Wales for work epic. No Health and Safety then.

What thoughts do I have of that day? The midges were out but we caught a breeze higher up we took our time enjoying the situations. It’s a wild place the incredible sandstone rock architecture, the big belay ledges, my companions. Many on their first visit to the West what a place to be. Always the wildness of the corries, the climb and the views were outstanding.

Dan – The move out.

This is a description

An absolute belter of a climb which is best done as part of the A’ Chioch Ridge continuation. Add a few long slings to a light rack. Park at the Bealach na Ba viewpoint and head for the obvious mast. Just short of the summit head east and take the steep path down into Ciore a’ Chaorachain. Be careful this can be slippy and a bit of loose rock. In my mind it is well worth putting on your helmet here?  

The descent.

This is from the UKC Website

“Descended into the Coire along the path and then Gain Middle Ledge by scrambling up A’ Chioch gully for 40m and then right onto a path, the start of the route is 20m past a series of low roofs and starts at an off width crack.

Pitch 1 (30m, 4a) climb the off width and then over some bulges trending left to avoid the small roof, climb a fine corner to a ledge and a choice of belays. Pitch 2 (20m, 4a) thrutch up the awkward corner at the far end of the ledge.

Exit right and climb easier ground to reach a thread belay on the one of the best ledges you’ll find in Scotland. Pitch 3 (40m, 4a) traverse right for 3m, enjoying an intermediate amount of exposure, and then up, past a peg runner, climb a series of horizontal breaks trending slightly left towards a chimney.

Climb and exit this on the right onto another large ledge with an excellent thread belay.

 Pitch 4 (30m) go to the far end of the ledge (CN scratched on the rock) and climb a superb, but short-lived layback. Go right around the bulge and take the easiest line up to a chossy ledge and boulder belay. Pitch 5 (20m) scramble easily up and left over blocks to the false summit to a choice of huge belays.

Head towards the formidable-looking ridge continuation by dropping down the neck and taking the surprisingly easy to follow path up huge blocks towards the well-defined crack in the steepest section of the ridge. Avoid going left past the large gully. Pitch 6 (30m) climb the slab about 10m to the left of the large crack with an awkward move at half-height, to a comfortable thread belay. Pitch 7 (30m) climb up, trending right to easy ground and a choice of solid belays. Delightful scrambling over/around several false summits gets you back to the mast”. To me this is the best approach to me.

Over the years I have done this climb many times. Mostly this was with young team members on their first big mountain route. In these days it was not busy.

I often met Martin Moran the local guide who became a great pal. He was the most unassuming man always helping folk out on the route if they needed guidance. He is now sadly gone in an avalanche in India. Martin was also on the Torridon Mountain Rescue Team and ran a few exercises with the whole team on the route. It was interesting times as the team abseiled down via the various ledges.

This place will always have great memories to me of Martin and great days with so many others. Yet to see Teallach my dog in the Loch surrounded by midges and the remains of my hill bag will always be with me.

The last time I was here I was still recovering from an operation and left Dan and another pal below the start. I felt awful but enjoyed being in this wild place. A huge herd of deer were moving down the Corrie. I watched them and the boys climb the route wishing I was there and then wandered up the nearby Corbett Sgurr a Chaorachainn. Yet I was happy to be out and Dan has promised that at the end of the “Lock Down” we will be back.

Big bag and boots!

In winter this is a different place but that’s another tale for a different day. I will leave you of the views, The Sandstone towers, the islands and the wild panorama of the Western Highlands.

As Donald Bennet says in his great essay in Classic rock “after the climb the temptation is to find a sheltered spot amongst the rocks and gaze westwards. It’s easy to be lazy after such a great climb”  So true, so true.

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Hillwalkers and climbers across Scotland have been delighted at news that the ‘stay local’ travel restriction for leisure and recreation is to be lifted from 3rd July.

Back into the hills.

Mountaineering Scotland has welcomed the lifting of the restriction, announced by the First Minister today.

Stuart Younie, Chief Executive Officer of the organisation which represents almost 15,000 walkers and climbers, and acts as a voice for the sector in Scotland, said: “Today’s announcement, and the plans to bring forward a relaxation in travel for leisure is a positive step and one that will be welcomed by our members and outdoor enthusiasts across Scotland. 

“We hope that more people will now be able to enjoy a return to the hills and mountains but continue to play their part and stay safe as they have done over the last few months.” 

The organisation has reminded people that this is not yet a return to normal, and that distancing and hygiene guidelines must still be observed. 

“We all need to remain COVID aware. Think where you are going and consider avoiding places you know are likely to be busy and be sensitive to the concerns of rural communities. The sacrifices we have all been making have helped us get this far in a return to the hills, but the virus is still out there so we would encourage anyone heading to the hills to do so with this in mind and to act responsibly.”

Mountaineering Scotland will be looking in more detail at the First Minister’s statement and updating the guidance for hill walkers and climbers on their website, with a reminder that the lifting of the limit will not take effect until 3rd July.

Mountaineering Scotland’s guidance for hill-walkers and climbers can be found at www.mountaineering.scot/coronavirus/

What’s your plans?

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Update – Sculpture of Collie & Mackenzie. Skye

It’s taken 17years, but final preparations are underway at Sligachan for the sculpture of Collie & Mackenzie.
The unveiling date was scheduled for September and after a lot of uncertainty with the onset of the pandemic,we are pleased to say that we are back on course to place the sculpture near the old bridge at Sligachan.
Thanks to everyone who has stuck with us through thick and thin. It’s been quite a journey which wouldn’t have been possible without your help and support.
It won’t be long now until both men are placed on site looking towards the Cuillin.
Watch this space……….

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Save our National Trust Rangers.

NTS cares for some of the most spectacular mountains in Scotland, including 46 Munros. From the Horns of Alligin to Ben Macdui, from the Five Sisters of Kintail to the Aonach Eagach, these are places to stir your soul and challenge you physically. They are unique habitats – Ben Lawers is home to rare arctic-alpine plants; in Grey Mare’s Tail Nature Reserve’s Loch Skeen live vendace, one of the UK’s rarest fish. Meanwhile, Mar Lodge has 4 of the 5 highest mountains in the UK.

How can just 1 person or less look after any of these places? Help us to stop the NTS becoming an absentee landowner and sign our petition https://bit.ly/2B0sHJm

John Muir Trust, Scottish climbing and mountaineering, Scottish Mountaineering Club; Mountain Bothies Association, Rewilding Scotland; Reforesting Scotland; UKHillwalking.com

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Skye – A few memories.


In my early days as of now the mountains of Skye was a mystical place. I had joined the Kinloss MRT in 1972 and in these days it was a good 5 hour journey from our Base in Morayshire. There was no bridge then and the Ferry across was still exciting. I remember being told as a young loon you could get duty free on the Ferry! Skye was spoken about with huge respect and I could not wait to go there.

I am sure my first visit was in 1972 in Easter we had a extended Grant. We were there for I think 10 days. We stayed in Mr MacRaes barn in Glenbrittle so handy for the hills. Mr Mac Rae was a long term friend of the team. The ridge was full of snow and hills and summits were hard won. What an introduction the Skye ridge in winter. Early on we failed just below the summit of Sgurr Na Gillian with the late John Hinde. It was full on winter and an eye opener for me. We were late back and John was just back from Denali and had frost bite. It was some introduction. There were few on the ridge in winter in these days.

I was after Munro’s in these days and myself and my mate Tom MacDonald managed to get most done on that trip . I remember being very scared as we tried to find our way along the ridge. There was limited knowledge especially on winter by some of the young team party leaders. Seemingly I woke up in Mac Rea’s barn at Glen Brittle after a dream that I had of a nightmare on the ridge. It was a week of snow ridges and very tricky conditions, long walk – ins and walk outs. I learned so much. There was no let-up most days you start from see level, the hills are punishing and you have stay alert all day.

Next year I had a summer attempt at the ridge and bailed out after Am Basteir exhausted mentally by the day, the concentration and early start at night wore me down. My mate Tom Mac saved my life as I nearly abseiled of the gear loop on my harness on an abseil on the Drums. It was a lucky escape. Our leader “Kas Taylor “a great rock climber was away in his own world and had left us. He always picked his own line up the rock and loved the adventure. Whereas not being the greatest climber I always took the line of least resistance. Tom to his credit gave up his day and came off with me to ensure I was okay a thing I will never forget. That walk out was hard going but it had been a good first attempt. My fingers were raw with the rough Gabbro and I had learned so much.

Kings Chimney

Over the years I got to know the ridge fairly well. I managed several traverses some many in the classic one day trips. It was always the 12 hour top to top time add in the walk in and out it was always a hard day. Often with new team member’s it was over 2 days for many and another with my dog Teallach. Few understand how exhausting physically and mentally it can be leading a party in poor weather when the ridge is wet and slippy. A few times I was in support of mates supporting them with water drop off’s and bringing bivy gear down, hard work at times. There also what seemed endless waits to pick – up them at the end or if they aborted the ridge.

I was in Skye a lot on the ridge fairly often as I climbed over the years. Also the call outs with the local Skye team opened the eyes to the ridge in poor weather. It is the wildest place to be in bad weather and the Skye Team are some folk. I met many of these people some became good pals and we had some laughs with Gerry Ackroyd who was a local guide and Team Leader. He took no prisoners on the hill but we got to know each other well after a big lower from the In Pin on a wet dark night. I also knew Pete Thomas another guide before Gerry and also the Team Leader sadly gone but there knowledge of the ridge was exceptional. The mountains are Alpine and great care is needed. It was incredible to see so where folk can end up and have epics. I always advise wearing a helmet as there can be a lot of loose rock especially if there are parties above.

There were bits of information on the old guides and even a runners guide that we used a lot to show you the “tricks and cheats” on the ridge. This was Andy Hyslops Rockfax guide written in 2002.

There were also a few Skye scrambles guides over the years that many of us used. Skye is a place that few in my mind can say they know well. There have been a few updated guides but most are great but not ideal for taking on the hill. I would photo stat the bits I needed in the pass and they were handy for the newer leaders in the team especially on Rescues.

I was sent a new guide to the Ridge Skye Cuillin Ridge Traverse and it looks superb. Over the last few months during the lock down I have had good look at it. First impressions it’s clear and concise I wish I had this in my early days.

There are so many classic days in Skye:

The Complete ridge traverse is the one that should be on everyone’s list.

Blaven and the Clach Glas Traverse. The Clach Glas traverse is superb and sadly missed by many. The Dubh Ridge – we always in the past did this via the main ridge a swim in the loch and then this classic scramble.

The Cioch Slab/ Cioch Grooves, Direct route ( had rock fall a few years ago ) Cioch West and Arrow route, Collies route to the Cioch a must for all to this incredible summit.

The Cioch Upper Buttres – the Classic Integrity, Trophy Crack and the Crack Of Doom (what a name)

Western Buttress – Mallory Slab and Grove a 1000 feet severe,Diamond Slab and others on this big face.

Sgurr Sgumain Sunset Slab

The Dubhs Ridge

The Dubhs

There are so many others now the great Sea Cliffs and outcrops now mainly in the SMC Guide Book. When the ridge is out there is great exploring to do and these guides let you know where to go. There are so many wonderful places to go and adventures to have. The Island is well placed now with local guides like Mike Lates, Jonah Jones, Adrian Trendall and others. They will give you a great day out in a place that many who go will always come back.

Coire’ A’ Ghrunnda – White Slab Direct.

W.H. Murray “Apart from the initial trouble in climbing on to the ridge, one may proceed unroped up broad acres of boiler plated slabs, whose rock is the roughest gabbro in all the Cuilins. In other words, it is so rough and reliable that only the grossest negligence could bring a man to harm.”

Top tips – Wear a helmet when scrambling, be aware of loose rock and enjoy this special places.


In my early days as of now the mountains of Skye was a mystical place. I had joined the Kinloss MRT in 1972 and in these days it was a good 5 hour journey from our Base in Morayshire. There was no bridge then and the Ferry across was still exciting. I remember being told as a young loon you could get duty free on the Ferry! Skye was spoken about with huge respect and I could not wait to go there.

A very young Heavy and Tom with bobble hat, Paddy and Dave Foy. – Sgur Na Gillean Peak of the young men.

I am sure my first visit was in 1972 in Easter we had a extended Grant. We were there for I think 10 days. We stayed in Mr MacRaes barn in Glenbrittle so handy for the hills. Mr Mac Rae was a long term friend of…

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Glencoe – Curved Ridge Rockfall – Buachaille Etive Mòr


Curved ridge is the most popular scramble in Glencoe

Curved Ridge.

From Mountaineering Scotland

Following a conversation with Andy Nelson the Glencoe MRT leader I can confirm the following: Recent rockfall is evident on the approach slopes and initial rock steps BEFORE the main ridge itself. Once established on the ridge conditions remain unchanged.

The usual judgement and caution that would be appropriate for journeying on a mountain scramble remains the same. ‘Football’ to ‘Fridge’ size blocks of new rockfall are located near/on the approach slopes/scree/minor rock steps on the approach to the route as far down as below The Waterslide.

(Please be aware that as things ease few have been on the mountains since the winter, as is normal there will be loose rock about after winter thaws and freezes. Be careful please.) Heavy

References Mountaineering Scotland/ Glencoe MRT

Classic Mountain Scrambles in Scotland Andrew Dempster.

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Fathers Day thought 2020.

My Dad he loved his tennis playing right up to the end.

I feel this is especially relevant today?

 Many would not believe that I had a minister as my father was a “Fire and Brimstone minister” a Tee – totaller. I looking back had a great child hood though, though we had very little money in a big manse in Ayr, (he tithed his small salary to the Lord) Yet he was a good Dad loved sport, football (Ayr United) and the mountains. He was a dedicated Church Of Scotland Minister his life was the Church and Mum more or less single handily brought us up all five kids in the Manse in Ayr.

Me and Dad

I was the last of 5 kids the youngest and was more than a bit of a “wild child “as the Ministers son. I feel maybe it was because you got a lot of grief and most folk expected more from you as was the normal kid for a son of the Manse!  I was always playing up a bit rebellious and getting into many scrapes. Dad was very strict and I needed it but looking back he gave me a great start to life though like many I never appreciated it at the time. The rest of the family were well – behaved and as the youngest of the family with three sisters and one brother I was spoiled and often in trouble.

Dad and Mum gave me a love of the wild places, the mountains and sport and we used to go to all of the Ayr United football team games home and away. Dad always wore his dog collar and this often got us into the games for free. I would vanish among the crowd and Dad and Mum would be in the stand. (Mum was always worried I would get arrested) He had a booming voice and it looks like I inherited it and his voice could be heard all around the ground where he was a bit of a local character.

The Church was his life and he worked so hard we hardly saw him. He was an old-fashioned minister who visited his people and was a true hard worker and was always there when you needed him. I see few ministers like that now he knew and loved his people, especially his old folk and would visit them in hospital wherever they were.

In his day he was a very talented runner and won the Arthur’s Seat Race on, several occasions and as Captain of the Hares and Hounds the Edinburgh University Athletics club. His best pal died as an alcoholic very young this gave him his extreme views  on drink. He was a fit man playing tennis right into his later life.

Dad in his church

It was in the Mountains  he spent his early days in the 1930’s at Loch Arkaig in the West Coast as a student Minister visiting the far-flung parishes in Glendessary and about, small Churches with great people. He was looked after by the Head Keeper Cameron Of Loch Eil who carried all the heavy  Sacrament communion  cups and bits and pieces of the sacraments for my Dad  minister to some far-flung parishes.  They would do a few Munros after the services. He loved these days and spoke about them often.

He never forgot and always remembered Cameron and his care and loved the mountains and wild areas. We were often sent venison through the post I remember the venison what a treat. It would arrive in a bloody parcel Mum used to dread it I wonder what the postman thought then?

Galloway Hills

My Dad and I had some great days out. We were in Glencoe when I was very young with Mum and Dad. We were on Bidean Nam Bian and came off the wrong way near Church Door Buttress. The famous climber Hamish MacInnes was in the Corrie it was wet and misty and heard us and our epic. He helped us down my Dad knew who he was this was the mid 60’s and walked us off. Hamish remembers it as Dad told him he was a Minister. Hamish laughs always when we speak about this day. My Dad got a few sermons out of that day.

It was in the hills that I really started to get to know my Dad and when I joined the RAF and joined the RAF Mountain Rescue he was very happy maybe he felt my wildness was being tamed? He helped give me an endurance and though never a great athlete he would always day do your best. I remember as a very young boy about 11 or 12 on the Annual Ayr Advertiser Walk 9 ( about 14 miles over the local Carrick Hills) I collapsed in a lay bye that was a drink and food stop. I said I was finished my Mum wanted to put me in the car but Dad would not let me. I finished the race but learned from that and when the chips were down in the mountains to keep me alive.  

We managed a few great days in our amazing Galloway Hills, The Merrick, Corserine and  Back Hill of the  Bush and of course Arran where we spent so many great holidays.

We had so many wonderful days on the Arran Ridge, Goatfell, A’Chir and the other great peaks. We all went as a family and had such holidays, huge days 12 hours at times and fish and chips on the way home. These are days I will never forget.  The family holidays swapping manses in the Highlands were great fun and more big days on the mountains.

He never wore any kit a jumper as his spare kit and old pair of shoes and trousers, he wore the dog collar at times to get up restricted tracks!  After we lost Mum of leukaemia Dad never got over it.  We had a plan to go round the big Hotels in the Highlands, the Clachaig in Glencoe, Kintail Lodge and the Clachaig on Skye and do the big hills in comfort. Sadly it was not to be what a shame as for once we had a bit of money but Mum died suddenly of leukaemia and Dad took it very hard. He was never the same and he collapsed in the pulpit during Easter week Services and never really recovered he was in hospital till he died. He was all there mentally but the stroke never allowed him to get out of hospital, it was a sad time for all. I came home as often as I could but never really grieved for my Mum or Dad till many years later. I am sure it was as I would see so many fatalities over the years I was struggling at the time.   

You are who you are and your family makes you who you are.

I was very lucky to have had such a Dad and Mum, special people who you have no clue at the time what you owe them. Money means little, love and care is far more precious, I was a wild teenager and yet they still loved me and did their best, I will never forget that. They were always there to advise and keep you right never easy especially throughout my youth.

I do not get to my home town often but when I do there are still many who remember my Dad. I always get the stories of how he looked after his flock. They also remind me of how wild I was that is 60 years later. 

On Father’s day and every day please give Mum and Dad your love and tell them how much you care for them.

Thanks Dad for a great start so sad that we never got the holiday we planned.

Yet every time I am out in the wild places you and Mum are with me. I thank you for the great start and only recently through the media folk still tell me what a great minister you were to your congregation. There are few like you nowadays!

Thinking of you today and always!

1956 Family photo. The wee one is me with my Grandpa, he was a star.
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“Tranters Round” The Longest Day copied from notes left by the Late Jim Green Kinloss Mountain Rescue.

The Late Jim Green Mountain Gangrel.

This is an article by an old pal sadly gone Jim Green. Its about a route that at the time was and in my mind still is a classic. Tranters Round. In these days of Ultra running the Ramsay Round and records being smashed this is a day many mortals can aspire to.

These are Jim’s words

Phil Tranter.

“The heart of the Central Highlands of Scotland is a vast upland wilderness; its interior is remote and difficult to access. It is bounded to the North by Glean Spean to the East by the A9 and the Pass of Drumochter, south by Rannoch moor and West by the great Glen. In its South – West Corner in the district of Lochaber are two great hill ranges, the Mamores to the South and running parallel to the North are the Grey Corries which lead on to the Aonachs, Carn Mor Dearg and Ben Nevis. The late Phillip Tranter, a noted Scottish mountaineer of the day done, first completed a traverse of these hills in June 1964. It is a classic long distance walk and is seldom repeated, it covers over 36 miles and 20,000 feet of ascent 18/19 Munros depending on what book you read. The undertaking is only feasible in mid June when, if the weather is fine, there is no real darkness at night. The Kinloss Mountain Rescue Team were based at Fort William the weekend of the 22/23 June, Davie Walker and myself decided to have a crack at it.

The intention was to start and finish at mid-day so that the rest period at the middle of the walk would coincide with the greatest period of darkness. This happy arrangement meant that we were spared the usual mind numbing dawn start that a big days entails and that the evenings social activities need not be curtailed. In the event, impatience drove us out the bothy at 1030 and after a good greasy breakfast we were dropped off at Glen Nevis. The weather was dreary and overcast with a forecast of rain and strong winds (not ideal). The ascent of the first hill, Mullach Nan Coirean via the forestry commission jungle at its foot, and entered the cloud at 2000 feet, we were to remain in it for most of the trip. The Mamores usually have a lot of wildlife but we were destined to see very little, just the occasional high attitude frog. There was no delay at the summit and we pressed on to Stob Ban the light coloured peak due to the quartz-capped summit, which can make the mountain, looked snow covered. There were a large party of soldiers on the summit, all looked like they did not wish to be there, again we did not delay.

A Party with two leaders is usually leaderless and today was no exception. After about 10 minutes of descent we broke cloud and spotted in the distance the small village of Kinlochleven that had apparently changed its location. The compass came out and remained out the rest of the trip, Dave was conned into the navigation good experience for him! At the next beleach we had a drink, left the sacs and went for the outrider Sgurr a’ Mhain.  This peak dominates the Mamore ridge and has a fine view of Glen Nevis. The glen is popular with tourists and its river the scene of an annual raft race, which is both spectacular and amusing.

We retraced our footsteps back to the main ridge and quickly took in the next two hills, Sgorr an Iubhair and Am Bodach, (The Old Man), a few Muros done and I was feeling like one! The next peak was another outrider, An Gearanach (The complainer) it is approached by a narrow and shattered rock ridge. A few weeks later a couple of the Team were involved here with a fatal accident in this area. Back on the main ridge things were going well and we moved on to the last four of the Mamores.

This group is different in character to the rest of the range, wilder separated by lower passes, steeper ascents. We now embarked on the remotest part of the journey.  The first two hills, Na Gruagaichean and Binnein Mor were seen off easily enough and we had a break below Binnein Beag by the lochan.  This can be a lovely spot on a good day; today it was bleak, grey and windswept, spray being blown off the lochans surface. There is a good stalkers path leading to the foot of Sgurr Eilde Mor but its slopes are steep, rubble strewn and exhausting.  The Mamores complete, we spoke on the radio to one of our parties who were having a wee epic on the Ben, on a wet and greasy Observatory ridge. We offered them our condolences and set off down the long gentle pleasant ridge that leads to the Alt Coire Rath, halting for a food break, chocolate (we ate 12 bars each on the day) The river can cause problems in really wet weather but today was mere boulder hop. Only a few weeks previously a well-known Leuchars troop was thwarted a on his attempt on the same route. He beat an ignominious retreat back to Glen Nevis below the very same hills he had sought to traverse. That taught him to come playing in our area!

We were now concerned with the rapidly diminishing daylight it was about 10 pm, so we started moving up Stob Ban by a sloping traverse and ascent, arriving on the summit in total darkness at midnight. Head torches were useless and only gave a confused glare in the swirling mist. To crack this big day within 24 hours we needed reasonable visibility we knew we had problems. The descent down the boulder field was a tricky dodgy business and we kept close together due to the rocks we were dislodging. Progress was now slow and a rather futile bivouac was inevitable. We stumbled on a bit more, found a small burn and got out the poly bags. We carried no sleeping bags as weight was at a premium. The stove was soon on and we settled down to a few brews. The purr of the stove and the rain pattering on our bags let us doze fitfully and we rose at the first signs of dawn about five. Stiff and damp we were now into the Grey Corries and its outriders, so named because of their rocky nature and light grey appearance. Visibility was down to few yards and the wind was now against us. I annoyed Davie with my running commentary on what views are possible from these mountains. This part of the day is just a blur but we were back on schedule and we could still pull it off within 24 hours.

The final group was ahead of us, usually referred to as the “big four” on account of their height. Aonach Beag can be an awkward hill approaching from this side.   Local knowledge was not used and for some reason we decided to miss the normal detour to the South and up a prominent gully on the face. The gully was steep, loose, mossy and wet, the exposure considerable. In the end we the gamble paid of and we reached the summit plateau, very weary. Aonach Mor was our next objective, the 24-hour target was now beyond us and we slowed the pace and we found its summit after a second sweep, large cornices were still evident.

To reach the next beleach we had to revert to dead reckoning mode, we could not afford any costly mistakes. Here we met our first other hill walkers of the day, they were heading for Carn Mor Dearg via a different ridge.   Dave soon outpaced me on the ascent and I left in my own silent world, found the ascent purgatorial. We were pleased, however, to be up well before the other party was a bit of a physiological bonus. Again there were no views, the connecting ridge to the Ben is rocky and narrow and we passed the Abseil posts that the Kinloss Team had erected in the early Sixties. The ascent to the summit was wearisome and unending but the summit finally hove into sight, full of tourists. We found a quiet corner to rest.

On the way down we paid dearly for choosing lightweight boots our feet were a mess and progress painful. We abandoned the Tourists route on the way down for a grassy ridge and the descent took 3 painful hours, the ascent is usually quicker! A land rover was waiting for us at the Youth Hostel and we reached the road 28 hours after leaving it. The sun came out. Back at Base camp Dave wasted no time briefing the Duty Cook, “ All right I suppose” We drank a few brews and limped away in search of sleeping bags and were snoring in seconds. It had been a long day.”

A brief article on a great Scottish day, by one of our finest troops the late Jim Green. Jim was a true hill “gangrel” and a real character that loved the mountains. Jim loved his fags and his beer and was a superb hill man. I wonder how many fags he smoked on that day!!! His companion was another real hard man Davie Walker, Ex Valley, Kinloss and Leeming, a powerful combination on the hill and socially!

I was the Leuchars troop who had failed previously; such was the rivalry that was between teams in those days.


I had tried the round with Keith Powell and had got stopped by no light and the river in spate due to awful weather. I went again this time alone with my dog Teallach in 1986. We went very lightweight with no bivy kit and managed the day I used my running shoes “Walshes” The Mamores went in 7 hours, no problem, and weather good I felt very strong. The descent of the last Mamore was difficult as the cloud came in and I did not take a break till Stob Ban. The dog wanted to walk off down the glen, he wanted home. I was on the other Stob Ban in 10 hours, The Grey Corries and outriders in 6 hours, (long drag and very hard for me from here to the end) the Big 4 to Youth Hostel 7 hours 30 minutes. There was no one to  meet me and I crashed in the car with a smelly dog for several hours. It was a great day we stopped often watched the hills change in the light and it was one of these days where you wish it would never end. I was strong then but my dog even stronger he waited for me kept me on route and I am sure he was having fun. In these days of Old Age it and “Lock Down” its great to look back and see others in my Mountaineering Club acheive this great day. Rachel and Graham on his day off from his Munros in 100 days did Tranters a few years ago.  I envy them as my pals who do the Ramsay Round in incredible times.

Times are a changing but how I long for these days again maybe a couple of Munros in a day now if I get the chance.

Refereneces https://www.gofar.org.uk/tranters-round

 Books The Big Rounds David Lintren

 The Mountains are Calling Jonny Muir

The route has now been done many times over the years by several troops in the RAF teams that I know off, Ray Shaferon, Rushie, Steve Price and Jenny Hodnett. Many have done it longer, slower and some have added in the Easins! I hope they are still going for it.

The next Year I did the North and South Clunnie Kintail in 20 hours no bivy, honour regained I was now a Kinloss Troop again. Memories! The only way is to go out and try, and if you don’t succeed, try, try, try again.

At the end of Tranters

Off course nowadays there are so many other big hill days about but the longest day was always the best if the weather was good. It is hard to think that we had to carry all the gear as well in these days. Nowadays this route is often done and the routes they get bigger over the years.

Good Training days for it.

A tired Teallach

The Mamores, The Fannichs, The North and South Clunnie, The Shenevall 5/6 and An Teallach, Beinn Dearg 6, Both sides of Glencoe, The Skye ridge, the Cairngorm summits, so many others it’s all there but enjoy it these are days you will never forget.

Heavy Whalley

Ramsay’s Round.
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Gear, bothies – on a walk East – West 1982? Angels Ridge – Angels peak.

The wild Cairngorms. East – West 1982.

I was just posted back from the flatlands of the South from Innsworth near Gloucetser when this walk was taking place. I was posted back to RAF Kinloss in Morayshire. I managed to come out a few times with the Stafford boys who took Teallach along. He was the only one who could navigate back then. I have just been looking at these old photos the gear in the early 80’s was basic. Breeks, fleeces a new magic piece of clothing. The Karrimor Outward bound rucksacs, gaiters Rugby shirts, big heavy boots, wooden ice axes. Roll mats and Dogs without hill coats the classic green cup hanging outside the bag. Poor “Rosco” hands on knee looks tired and that is only the beginning of the day. Jim standing up and getting ready to go, on wards and upwards!

Ossian Bothy Youth Hostel ?.

Classic Youth Hostel – This is another one from that walk – Jim Morning and Bob Foreman in short shorts, this time in trainers ready for a big day ahead. Jim pushing the pace. Jim was the Team Leader at Stafford MRT at the time a machine as were Bob and Rosco.

Garbh Coire bothy early 80’s Teallach having a yawn with Peter Ross (Rosco) on the walk on a stunning day..

The Refuge is situated in one of the more remote climbing areas in the Cairngorms. Although usage has been light compared to other shelters in the area, it has played a significant role in the development of both rock and ice climbing in the area and is an important part of Cairngorm mountaineering heritage. It was originally built by Aberdeen University Lairig Club approximately 50 years ago.  The refuge is stone covered with a steel frame. It was in a poor state of repair and without some attention would have undoubtedly deteriorate further. There has been strong feeling amongst local walkers and climbers that it should be retained as a shelter, particularly for heritage reasons, but also because it may save lives in an emergency.The building’s owner, the National Trust for Scotland (Mar Lodge Estate), has agreed that we the MBA should assume responsibility for its ongoing maintenance. There was no rebuild as such with the original structure being retained and a new weatherproof covering being fitted. The bothy was sorted out by the MBA recently. Well done all.

Angels Ridge

I cannot mention this area and forget the wonderful An Garbh Coire where the 1000 feet/ 300 metres scramble up the North East ridge of Angles peak. From the bothy its a steep climb up to the lochan. This wee climb is a lot more serious in winter if you take in the waterfall on the way up to Loch Uaine at 900 metres, From here its a scramble to the summit first on big granite boulders and then the last 100 metres on the airy ridge. The views are spectacular all around and spend time on this ridge its easy and not a place to to rush. I wonder if I will get back this year. I love this place for its remoteness and the adventures I had had here. Plus a few call – outs, where you feel its a remote space.

The classic pose on the ridge with ice still in the loch below, magical.

References – Classic Mountain Scrambles in Scotland – Andrew Dempster.

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Pyrotechnics – Ground illuminating Flares – who remembers them and the Para Flares (rockets) that could light up a Coire.

Ground illumination Flare 0n Creag Mheaghaidh call out.

I wrote a piece the other day of a Call – out at night on Skye and got a message from a pal about seeing the flares light up the Coire as we struggled with the stretcher and the steep ground. It reminded me how great to see them, the flares were heart warming and that we had help and could for a few minutes see our route down. It also reminded me how much we used Pyrotechnics in these days.

When I was with the RAF MRT being the military we had always carried a couple of metal boxes full of flares and parachute flares like rockets for use on call – outs. They travelled with us very weekend in our big 4 tonner wagons.They had proved vital over many years . These were well used before radios were reliable teams were often called back to base by the use of flares The famous book 2 Star Red by Gwen Moffat is where that title for the book came from.

Two Star Red

Nowadays the lighting, very powerful torches on the hill is so much better now. The helicopters also have Night Vision Goggles (NVG) what a change from these early years.

Pyrotechnics are and can be dangerous. We had to train annually with them on our Base and that ended up with a few epics. They were dangerous items in the wrong hands. Once the airfield was shut, aircraft diverted at Kinloss when a rocket we fired on a training season started a wild fire on the airfield. The Armourers on station or in the team who looked after the pyrotechnics got the blame. They were in charge.


We had to be extremely careful all the time. We also carried smoke grenades to mark our location with the helicopter and advise them of wind for landing. There was another time when training with them the Station Commander arrived as his car had driven into the thick orange smoke. He was not impressed. His car was covered in Orange smoke and my career gone again.

Smokes – Photo Dan Carrol

On Station and Call – outs we always told the Police and Coastguards that we were training with Pyrotechnics as they would get a few calls from the public. Occasionally many years ago a few Highland villages would if Nov 5 th fell at a weekend would do a demonstration with Pyrotechnics that were going out of date. To me they were a great addition especially on a windless night in a remote Corrie. When used properly at night it was like daylight when they were sent off correctly. As the light drifted down from the flare once the smoke cleared it was surreal. You had to get the wind right or your rocket could head of into the next glen or Corrie. They were brilliant at keeping you on the right route off the hill or showing you the nature of the ground you were on The Ground illuminating flares were superb at lightning a path or way off the hill with a stretcher for the few minutes they burned. They were so bright and showed route if placed correctly. Then as they burnt out it was dark again, they also gave many a casualty hope that we were in the area. Help was coming.

Para Flare Dan Carrol photo

It could be surreal in a big Corrie like on the Ben when you found out exactly where you were? Yet comforting if more folk were coming to help you with a steep carry off on dangerous terrain. We used them often especially in my early years in Skye, Ben Nevis, Glencoe, Creag Meaghaidh,the Cairngorms and North Wales. The big lowers on the Idwal slabs in Wales at night lighted up by flares and smoke will always remain with me. As will the wild corries and seeing where you were long before GPS. Then there was the mini – flares but that is another tale.

Sometimes very scary.

Steep Ground – Photo Dan Carrol.

Any memories ?

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Epic off the In Pin on Skye – 1982

Kinloss MRT STATS 26/09/82Isle of Skye Inaccessible Pinnacle 32’/44220Fallen climber aged 65 with back injuries and fractured pelvis when belay failed. 

1000 ft lower on single 500 foot ropes at night and long carry off to Glen brittle.  8.5hrs.

All night carry off very wet
with Skye MRT.

It had been another great weekend on Skye I had just arrived back from a tour in Wales as Deputy Team Leader and then a year at Innsworth in Gloucester. I had managed to get back to RAF Kinloss in Morayshire and was enjoying being home. When you go away coming home is so specail. I had a great weekend rock climbing in Coire Lagan both days, these would be the last days before winter. I was tired as we were having tea at Glen brittle staying at the Classic MacRaes barn. It was a long 4- 5 hour drive home to RAF Kinloss in Moray. There was no bridge to Skye then it was a ferry and then a long drive home. As we sat down to eat we got a message via the local Police that a climber had fallen on the In Pin on Sgurr Dearg we were needed. A Sea King was on the way and would pick us up from the refuelling site at Glen Brittle. It had been raining as we descended or climbs that afternoon and the mist had come in. I doubted if the chopper could get us far maybe into the coire? The gear was split up between us our bags were heavy and bulky not ideal for the ridge.

The helicopter arrived and we were told Gerry Ackroyd the Skye Team Leader was heading off alone ( he was also a guide on Skye and had a fearsome reputation already). We would meet him on the In Pin. The helicopter could only take 5 we had a stretcher, casualty bag, medical gear, radios, climbing gear and one 500 foot rope. I thought this may be an epic so had taken plenty of gear . The chopper came in but the weather was awful the wind had got up and with the mist down they dropped us low in the Coire Lagan below the “Heart lochan”. As the helicopter left you do feel alone, or was that just me? The helicopter had done a great job saved us a long walk but I for one was glad to be off it. I am not a great flyer even in good conditions. It was now up to us and Gerry.

The Heart Lochan

Terry Moore who was the Deputy Team Leader we had decided that he would go ahead from the helicopter to get up to meet Gerry on the ridge as we had no communications at all. My job was to get the rest of us up to the In Pin. I had been here many times but by now it was dark and wet and the screes with the heavy weight and darkness were purgatorial. It is easy to lose someone in the dark and the last thing we needed was to only arrive with one part of the stretcher (it is split and carried usually by two folk.) We made progress and were well aware that the injured climber would be struggling. These were the days before mobile phones and he had been alone below the In Pin as his partner went for help. The route is easy in daylight but now was wet and very slippy we slipped often but I was so glad as we were off the An Stac Scree and working our way up the An Stac by pass to the In Pin. We were soon on the ramp and had to be careful as the loose rocks crashed down into the Coire.

On a perfect day – The In Pin Skye – the climber landed just below the climber in red and the descent was down the ramp to the right.

We had been told the helicopter could not help us the weather was to bad there was no Night Vision on board in these days. We knew more of the Skye Team and our team were walking in that would take time, we would be on our own for most of the night. When we arrived below the In Pin Gerry and Terry were with the casualty he was in a bad way,we suspected a back and pelvis injury. He was very cold as were Gerry and Terry. There was a little shelter as we were directly under the descent abseil of the In Pin. The casualty was so lucky he had not rolled off over the crags. He was 65 and we had to get him off the hill as quick and as safely as possible. I had been up the In Pin fairly often in all weathers but that night was different with the rain and the wind it was not the place to be. Everything was done as fast and as safely as possible.

It was decided that Terry and Gerry would guide the stretcher down the others would leave me and Jon Beattie to lower the stretcher then climb down. They would sort out the next belays and try to keep out of the rock fall. It all sounds easy but on a loose cliff. In the dark and wet it was not easy. We were so aware of loose rock and in the dark, we sorted a belay and stated the lower. It all went well but the smell of rocks crashing was awful. Through the gloom we heard the shout that they were safe and we scrambled down, trying to be careful as possible. In these days the torches were not great very hard to pick the line down and it was not a straight lower but had to be done. We had one single 500 ft rope and were aware of it being hit by rocks. It was the same again for another few 100 feet a bit awkward but then the hard work on the screes. We met the rest of the Skye Team and Kinloss boys lower down in the Corrie.

This was brought to my attention and I remember it now. ” Also remember the awesome sight of the pyrotechnics lighting up the whole corrie. Biggest Roman candles I’ve ever seen, lasting a couple of minutes if memory serves? What were thy called? Ground illuminators, or something like that?” Peter Mitchell

Ally – FGI’s, Flare Ground Illuminating. They meant we we could see a lot better and we had help, how could I forget that. (Heavy)

There were over 20 of us now and it was still exhausting work all the way to Glen Brittle. It had been a long weekend and hard going the lower and climb down was mentally exhausting as well. It poured on the way off. We were soaked and the effort to carry our casualty was hard going. Even trying to follow the route down a path in daylight in the mist is hard enough but at night never easy. Gerry ( the Skye Team Leader) knew the way well and kept us right, he was just what we needed. He even cracked the odd joke that kept us going. He had been guiding all weekend so he was tired as well yet he never showed it.

Eventuality as daylight was coming in the light improved but it was still muddy on the path in these days in places. I remember at the end of the night missing the wee bridge at the campsite in the dark and I was straight in the river. It was early morning when we got off the hill exhausted. The Adrenalin was still going as we went back to the Barn in Glen Brittle and slept after some food and a gear sort out. We were soaked again and slept for a few hours then a big drive back to Kinloss later on in the day.

The casualty recovered, he was a lucky guy but what a great call -out lots of learning for all and a life saved. That was the start of a few epic call -outs in Skye and meeting the one and only Gerry Akroyd who was to remain the Skye Team Leader for many years.

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Looking after the planet? Tak it hame

I am out in my local area every day during the lock down and enjoying the beach and my local forest, there are so many bike trails and walks enjoyed by all. Why are some of the folk throwing away cans, bottles and sports gels? The beach also has most days especially at weekend the so called “Disposable Barbecue” dumped. There are a few tables at Roseille my local picnic area and some are burnt with Barbecues used on them, despite there being a metal plate on a few of the tables.

I have put my panniers on my bike and bring back rubbish every day. To get to these places just now you have to walk or cycle so why not bring all your rubbish home. As for those who dump sports gels and high energy drink bottles shame on you.

Only after the last tree has been cut down,

Only after the Last River has been poisoned.

Only after the Last Fish has been caught,

Only then will you find,

That money cannot be eaten.

Cree Indian Prophecy.

Hopeman Beach.

Dog Poo is another favourite to dump but that is another story for another time. If you have a dog take the poo to the nearest dog bin. The tree fairy will not collect it for you.

This has been up for many years. Very visionary and in the forest.

So if you go out and about and you can please pick up what rubbish you can and teach others to do the same.

In the Mountains and wild places things are also not good.

This is from Mountaineering Scotland.

Litter in the Mountains

Tak It Hame is our campaign that says what it means: encouraging the mountaineering community, and others, to remove litter and plastic from our hills and crags.  

The campaign was all set to relaunch this spring BUT with the arrival of the Coronavirus restriction, things haven’t gone to plan! So instead, we’re asking you to TakItHame while you are on your daily exercise around your local area instead. Of course, the first consideration at this time is to stay safe and observe the social distancing and hand hygiene rules. 

Only do what you assess is safe and feel comfortable doing – do not put yourself or others at risk. Use a litter picker if you have one, or gloves (disposable or otherwise); use hand sanitizer and wash your hands thoroughly afterwards.   

There are three key things to remember: 

  1.  Don’t pick up anything that might put you at risk, like sharp objects, tissues or dog waste. 
  2.  Dispose of litter at home by sorting into your recycling or landfill bins, depending on what it is you have picked up, wash the bag thoroughly and use again. 
  3.  Take a photo of what you have collected and share on social media, using the hashtag #TakItHame, and tag Mountaineering Scotland on FacebookTwitter and Instagram so we can see what you have been doing

We encourage everyone taking to the hills and climbing the crags to do a little on every trip, individually, or as part of a group or club outing.  And to show others too: tell the world that we can all do something.  Many of us already do, but the litter still accumulates. We need more people to do the same.  

This message applies locally as well as up the hills, so you can make your own local area a nicer, cleaner place too.

The message is: can you bring back more than you took out?

So what can we, every one of us, do?

  • Firstly, we can think about the choices we make when buying, consuming and disposing of food and drink items that we take along with us.  We know the story: reduce packaging, reuse bags and bottles, recycle all that can be recycled.
  • Secondly, we can step up to the ongoing challenge of cleaning up the hillside of lost or discarded items. Not just the items we bring in with us, but the things that lie there, trampled into the soil, blown into bushes or lodged in cracks.


Plastics in the sea.
Posted in Enviroment, Friends, Mountaineering, People, Well being, Wildlife | 5 Comments

Early Social Distancing – Strathfarrar, An Teallach memories.

When I was at RAF Leuchars as the Mountain Rescue Team Leader I used to raid the far North of Scotland (that was RAF Kinloss MRT Area) We had many great weekend. Sadly it took a bit of convincing the young team member’s that maybe Dundonnel our base for AnTeallach would not have the socialising of the Dundee night Clubs or even Aviemore or the Newtonmore Triangle. It was the same in the Fort and Glencoe some of theyoung team members would vanish and find a party, it was a tradition. So when the team was taken to the wilds of Strathfarra or Affric for a weekend many of the young troops were amazed that there was not even a pub. We would take our own drink if the midges allowed.

“What do you think Mark” – No disco he said. Mark met his wife at Newtonmore at New Year, notice I am wearing my running shoes “Walshes”, Mark is in big boots.

My plan was to get some big days in for them and get them to know these great areas. Maybe they would be to tired to socialise? No chance with these folk, they could find a party anywhere. Just like in my days when the call of the Ceilidh would be too much and many would involve a long walk back to our Base Camp. The photo below was on a great day on An Teallach with a few of the young fit guys. I was so pleased to be up on the ridge on such a day and asked what they thought. I got a hard time as there was no possibly no social in the area as the pub was low key. Then they discovered Ullapool after a hard day on the hill the hardened few would get a driver and off they went. I needed to know where they were in case of a call out. Once in Appin they got stuck at a party and had to wait for the tide to turn! These were the days before mobile phones.

Yet some of the remote areas had the best socials, fun nights with the locals at Lochinver and Kinlochbervie had some great nights. As did Kintail with the walk back from the Ceilidh at Glenelg a fair 2 hour walk back, just in time for breakfast and a day on the hill. In my early days we would get to the pub for last orders at the Sligachan Hotel after a long drive from Glen Brittle. We would meet locals and we were off to a dance or party in Portree or Broadford. On the way to the hill next day we would sometimes pick up the odd local heading home from a wild Skye night.

Early Social distancing?

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Skye – A few memories.

In my early days as of now the mountains of Skye was a mystical place. I had joined the Kinloss MRT in 1972 and in these days it was a good 5 hour journey from our Base in Morayshire. There was no bridge then and the Ferry across was still exciting. I remember being told as a young loon you could get duty free on the Ferry! Skye was spoken about with huge respect and I could not wait to go there.

A very young Heavy and Tom with bobble hat, Paddy and Dave Foy. – Sgur Na Gillean Peak of the young men.

I am sure my first visit was in 1972 in Easter we had a extended Grant. We were there for I think 10 days. We stayed in Mr MacRaes barn in Glenbrittle so handy for the hills. Mr Mac Rae was a long term friend of the team. The ridge was full of snow and hills and summits were hard won. What an introduction the Skye ridge in winter. Early on we failed just below the summit of Sgurr Na Gillian with the late John Hinde. It was full on winter and an eye opener for me. We were late back and John was just back from Denali and had frost bite. It was some introduction. There were few on the ridge in winter in these days.

1972 MacRaes Barn.

I was after Munro’s in these days and myself and my mate Tom MacDonald managed to get most done on that trip . I remember being very scared as we tried to find our way along the ridge. There was limited knowledge especially on winter by some of the young team party leaders. Seemingly I woke up in MacRea’s barn at Glen Brittle after a dream that I had of a nightmare on the ridge. It was a week of snow ridges and very tricky conditions, long walk – ins and walk outs. I learned so much. There was no let up most days you start from see level, the hills are punishing and you have stay alert all day.

1954 Ridge times – Finlay Wild has the fastest known time for the Cuillin Ridge traverse on the Isle of Skye, completing the crossing in 2:59:22 in 2013 incredible effort.

Next year I had a summer attempt at the ridge and bailed out after Am Basteir exhausted mentally by the day, the concentration and early start at night wore me down. My mate Tom Mac saved my life as I nearly abseiled of the gear loop on my harness on an abseil on the Drums. It was a lucky escape. Our leader “Kas Taylor “a great rock climber was away in his own world and had left us. He always picked his own line up the rock and loved the adventure. Whereas not being the greatest climber I always took the line of least resistance. Tom to his credit gave up his day and came off with me to ensure I was okay a thing I will never forget. That walk out was hard going but it had been a good first attempt. My fingers were raw with the rough Gabbro and I had learned so much.

Over the years I got to know the ridge fairly well. I managed several traverses some many in the classic one day trips. It was always the 12 hour top to top time add in the walk in and out it was always a hard day. Often with new team member’s it was over 2 days for many and another with my dog Teallach. Few understand how exhausting physically and mentally it can be leading a party in poor weather when the ridge is wet and slippy. A few times I was in support of mates supporting them with water drop off’s and bringing bivy gear down, hard work at times. Also what seemed endless waits to pick – up them at the end or if they aborted the ridge.

Always wear a helmet my mate hit by a falling rock on the Dubhs. He was lucky!

I was in Skye a lot on the ridge fairly often as I climbed over the years. Also the call outs with the local Skye team opened the eyes to the ridge in poor weather. It is the wildest place to be in bad weather and the Skye Team are some folk. I met many of these people some became good pals and we had some laughs with Gerry Ackroyd who was a local guide and Team Leader. He took no prisoners on the hill but we got to know each other well after a big lower from the In Pin on a wet dark night. I also knew Pete Thomas another guide before Gerry and also the Team Leader sadly gone but there knowledge of the ridge was exceptional. The mountains are Alpine and great care is needed. It was incredible to see so where folk can end up and have epics. I always advise wearing a helmet as there can be a lot of loose rock especially if there are parties above.

There were bits of information on the old guides and even a runners guide that we used a lot to show you the “tricks and cheats” on the ridge. This was Andy Hyslops Rockfax guide written in 2002.

There were also a few Skye scrambles guides over the years that many of us used. Skye is a place that few in my mind can say they know well. There have been a few updated guides but most are great but not ideal for taking on the hill. I would photo stat the bits I needed in the pass and they were handy for the newer leaders in the team especially on Rescues.

I was sent a new guide to the Ridge Skye Cuillin Ridge Traverse and it looks superb. over the last few months during the lock down I have had good look at it. First impressions its clear and concise I wish I had this in my early days.

Skye Cullin Ridge Traverse

There are so many classic days in Skye:

The ridge traverse is the one that should be on everyone’s list.

Blaven and the Clach Glas Traverse. The Clach Glas traverse is superb and missed by many.

The Dubh Ridge – we always in the past did this via the main ridge a swim in the loch and then this classic scramble. A great way in is by boat from Elgol worth it for the trip alone.

The Dubhs

“Said Maylard to Solly one day in Glenbrittle,

All serious climbing, I vote is a bore,

Just for once, I Dubh Beag you’ll agree to do little,

And, as less we can’t do, let’s go straight to Dubh Mhor,

So now when they seek but a day’s relaxation,

With no thought in the world but of viewing the views,

And regarding the mountains in mute adoration,

They call it not climbing but “Doing The Dubhs”

Pinnacle Ridge – Sgur Na Gillean

The In Pin on Sgur Dearg was usually done by Window Buttress on the way up or one of the other routes.in Coire Banachdich.

Kings Chimney – Sgurr Mhic Coinnich – a classic sitaution

Coire Lagan – Eastern Buttress Sron Na Ciche – an old haunt with Kinloss Gully. Vulcan Wall. Shangri La

Cioch West, Cioch Gully, Little Gully

1954 on the Cioch

The Cioch Slab/ Cioch Grooves, Direct route ( had rock fall a few years ago ) Cioch West and Arrow route, Collies route to the Cioch a must for all to this incredible summit.

The Cioch Upper Buttres – the Classic Integrity, Trophy Crack and the Crack Of Doom (what a name)

Western Buttress – Mallory Slab and Grove a 1000 feet severe,Diamond Slab and others on this big face. It was always a route cliff to climb on before an Alps trip.

Sgurr Sgumain Sunset Slab

Coire’ A’ Ghrunnda – White Slab Direct.

Sgurr Na Stri a gem a must visit.

A wet day on the Cioch. Still fun.

There are so many others now the great Sea Cliffs and outcrops now mainly in the SMC Guide Book. When the ridge is out there is great exploring to do and these guides let you know where to go. There are so many wonderful places to go and adventures to have. The Island is well placed now with local guides like Mike Lates, Jonah Jones, Adrian Trendal and others. They will give you a great day out in a place that many who go will always come back.

W.H. Murray “Apart from the initial trouble in climbing on to the ridge, one may proceed unroped up broad acres of boiler plated slabs, whose rock is the roughest gabbro in all the Cuilins. In other words , it is so rough and reliable that only the grossest negligence could bring a man to harm.”

Top tips – Wear a helmet when scrambling, beware of loose rock these mountains are Alpine.

Posted in Articles, Friends, Gear, Hill running and huge days!, Islands, Mountain rescue, mountain safety, Mountaineering, Munros, People, Recomended books and Guides, Rock Climbing, SMC/SMT, Views Mountaineering, Weather, Well being, Wildlife | 1 Comment

30 years on I still miss the man Al MacLeod –

Al Macleod 14/7/1989

Looking through some photos especially with modern media   of a few pals and great memories come flooding back. I saw a photo today and my mate was full of life with that huge grin of Al MacLeod the big Highlander from Blairgowerie. One of the most powerful mountaineers I ever met. He sadly lost his life on the 14 July 1989 on the North Face of the Matterhorn while soling the North Face.  Sadly he had no Insurance as was living on a tight budget and we had an epic getting him home to his family.

In Mountain Rescue you meet some great characters and my great friend Al McLeod was one of them. He died after a fall on the Matterhorn North Face whilst soloing. It was a tragic day when we got the news. Al was just leaving the RAF and had planned a year’s climbing. He was a superb mountaineer and just back from an unsuccessful attempt on Everest West Ridge, he had attempted the summit and was 1000 feet from the top after climbing the Hornbein Coulior, the weather came in and they had to descend. As a young man he had so much to live for, he like the rest in our prime of youth felt so at one in the mountains. He had climbed some great routes on Shivling and the Alps. He was so powerful and regularly ran back to the bothy after a huge hill day. He never showed tiredness, just pure power and though not a natural climber on rock he was so strong. As a winter climber he was exceptional this was his love, he was the ideal companion on a route. He loved the mountains and the wild and as a local boy from Blairgowerie he had spent his life in the hills.

Al Macleod 14/7/1989

He joined the RAF as a driver and the RAF Kinloss MRT and I watched him grow in the team. He had become superbly fit, every big day was added to and new challenges were always beckoning. He climbed the North Face of the Eiger with the late Ted Atkins and many other big routes in the Alps yet he loved the challenge of the Scottish hills. Always moving fast on the hill he would be off in his red wind suit for another top or climb as we struggled in his wake.

Big Al MacLeod on Hells Lum Crag – Huge smile photo Bill Batson.

We had some great days and he enjoyed pulling me up some good routes we always had a laugh whatever we did. In winter we had fun in the Gorms, night ascents of the Mirror Direct in the Cairngorms. In summer after work climbs on Savage Slit and chasing Patey’s classic climbs. He was fun to be with and every day was entertaining. We had some magic days is Skye and he ran the ridge and then climbed some great routes next day with me on the Cioch. He would not untie me and I was dragged up one of my best days on Skye, “Cioch Grooves, Bastinardo and the Nipple” after a big scary fall!   Yet we went many times to Coruisk in Skye by our boat and climbed some classic lines, it was days on the hill and the company that mattered.

Al was a wild guy who lived life to the full, as a friend he was one of the best and we got on so well despite the huge differences in ability in the mountains. He loved the social life, the bothies, the dances the ceilidhs and the local girls. He always had a huge smile. At times we had to look after him he lived for every minute of every day. When after Lockerbie the man who looked after me was Al – he came over from Fort William after Christmas as he knew I was in a mess, few would do that. He was the one that helped me he drove over to Newtonmore and we had a drink into the wee small hours. He sowed the seed for our trip on Everest that night. We went for a wander on the hills and talked through it and he looked after me when I relaxed that night. It was long overdue for me this is true friendship.

He decided to leave the RAF and wanted to become a guide, so off he went to the Alps to climb the other North Faces. He and a friend were soling the North Face of the Matterhorn when he went off route and fell 1000 feet to the glacier. We were driving out for the weekend when we got told. I was the Team Leader at RAF Leuchars and was stopped by a Police car on route to Braemar, we were all devastated. I had to tell the team and it was a solemn weekend. I went to see Al’s family next day in Blairgowerie, it was a hard experience. The family were devastated, they had lost such a son, they are great people and we had a difficult time. We found out that Al had no Insurance for the Alps. This was a disaster at the time for the family. I was very lucky to get some great help from the RAF and we solved all the problems eventually. It was a real fight though but we got Al back home to the family. The funeral was an emotional day and a huge wake at RAF Leuchars Mountain Rescue Team but I was worn out and left the boys and all Al’s girlfriends celebrating Al’s life. The Officer who helped me was a Sqn Ldr in I think 111 Sqn he was the effects Officer he was one of the finest men I have ever met and helped so much. We both chased the RAF until they brought him home. I wonder if anyone can help me with the name so I can contact him.

What a loss to his family and friends it has been hard over the years and how we all still miss him. I am sure Al could have achieved so much more if he had not been taken so early. I lost a great mate and the family a son and brother. On our first trip to the Himalayas in 1990 we took a bit of Ben Nevis rock out and left it high on our hill as a memory of our mate. I never grieved for Al at the time I was still suffering from PTSD after Lockerbie and organising the funeral and Al’s Repatriation. It shook me to the core yet I had lost so many pals already.

So please take care if out in the big hills,” make sure you look well to each step” and remember those who sit and wait for you.

Enjoy the weather and if in the Alps ensure you have Insurance in case you have a problem.

Wee stone left on the hill for Big Al.

I still miss you big man, I still see you dressed as the “Highlander” “There can only be one Connor MacLeod” and Queens want to live forever blasting from the tape. When you did so many things and what a life you had we were all invincible then. I wish you were around now to advise me on this cycling game. I will never forget how you cycled into a parked car and went through the back window, like a torpedo. For that episode you got a police ticket and a big bill for that and a face full of character. I still see you and that Red wind suit and yellow Lion Rampant hat on the hill always two hills ahead and then running back to the bothy usually with my dog as no one else would follow you!

Big Al on the Eiger North Face – photo Ted Atkins RIP

Things come up that remind me of you and others and yet though you’re gone I still laugh when I think of you and as your Boss some of the scrapes you got in. I tell the tale that at you Wake several lassies turned up thinking you were their boyfriend. I had to explain that to your Mum and Dad and the girls were all fine. Right up to the end you kept us on our toes.  I wonder what you would be doing now with the new gear and climbing tools. I met many characters but few like Big Al, RIP.

You will always in my memory Big Man.

Big Al on Everest West Ridge with his famous lion Rampant hat.

Some comments – “Awesome piece Heavy. One of those legendary guys who inspired so many young troops, and I’m sure a fair few older ones! His ‘stealing the boys’ to go to a ceilidh on Lismore, via fishing boat, remains one of my most treasured memories. From Scouse”

Life moves on and we lost your mate Ted Atkins two years ago yet we have so many incredible memories of you and that era.

Miss you old pal as many of us still do.

Heavy July 2020

Posted in Articles, Expeditions - Alaska - Himalayas etc, Friends, Hill running and huge days!, Mountain rescue, mountain safety, Mountaineering, Munros, Scottish winter climbing., Views Mountaineering, Well being | 9 Comments

Corbett Days no 2 – Stob an Aonaoch Mhoir a poem in the Doric. “A day in the Jungles and Jet Boils”. By kind permission of the Bard of Dunphail.

Doric, the popular name for Mid Northern Scots or Northeast Scots, refers to the Scots language as spoken in the northeast of Scotland. There is an extensive body of literature, mostly poetry, ballads, and songs.

A day in the Jungles and Jet Boils.

Heavy came to get me very early in the morn(He aye wis an early riser, up at crack o dawn) Bikes were packed inside the van We were ready to get gan.

Doon the A9 Heavy sped, chuffed wi his new van Rannoch wis the destination Nae stoppin oor prood man!
Before we kent  it we were there Parked right beside the trees

A midge haven laid in wait And brought us tae oor knees.

We made oor escape as quick as we could

Nae time to check oor plan We pedalled on up to the Power Station

Where the shit would hit the fan!
We met a mannie, affa kind

Unlocked his gate for us Assured us that this wis the track.

There wis nae turnin back
Afore too long we realised Oor haste wis tae oor cost

We’d listened tae some bad advice And were pure and simply lost!

The midge cafuffle had gone tae oor heidsWe lost a oor knowledge and sense

And noo tae get on the road tae the hill

We’d tae cross ower a bloody deer fence
“Heavy” says I, it canna be deen

We’ll need tae find a gate Dinna be a woos ma Quine. You’ll easily lift the weight!

Pushing the bikes thro bracken high it felt like jungle trainin

Off Route

At last we got them ower the fence At least it wisna  rainin!

Eventually we reached the road back on twa heels again Drinkin in the hills a roon


Oor trials were nae in vain!
A big hard cycle a uphill. Brought us tae near oor goal.

Great views

Achieved oor Corbett in nae time the mountains in oor soul
We had oor thochts for Heavy’s sister passed on a year tae the day.

Poet on summit

Whit a grand place tae remember her Meant mair than words could say
Sadly made oor way back doon Stob an Aonaoch Mhoir behind.

The ups and doons o this fine day Forever in oor mind

On the way home I made Heavy pull intae a laybye which was midge free.

A’m goin tae try oot my new Jetboil.

Jet Boil!!

And we’re haein a nice cup o Tea!

B Kizewski, July 20
From the series “Corbett Days”

Thanks to Babs for the poem and the company, what a great day and for the words about my sister.

Posted in Corbetts, Corbetts and other hills, Cycling, Family, Friends, Mountaineering, People, Poems | 2 Comments

An Old Classic – On Scottish Hills B.H.Humble

This old classic book was returned to me a few years ago by an old pal. I put it way as it was my Dad’s copy that he loved. It had been scribbled on by one of my step kids many years ago . It was given to me by my Dad and was published in 1946. My Dad loved this book as I still do it is full of classic photos and tales by Ben Humble .

The maps in the front piece are superb and the book has a foreword by the mountaineer Geoffrey Winthrop Young. It was just written after the war in 1946. I imagine to entice folk out on the hills and wild places after the horror of war.

Stunning maps !

I love reading these old books the effort to get to the hills in these early days was never easy, the roads poor. There are photos of open air camping/ bivying ( we call it wild camping now and swimming in the lochs now open / wild water swimming) I wonder what Ben would think of the tragic mess left in some places nowadays ?

I was privileged to meet Ben Humble on a few occasions what a character as he was the Mountain Rescue Statistician at the time in the early 70’s. He was a friend of the late John Hinde and the RAF Mountain Rescue Teams. Though profoundly deaf he was such an interesting man full of mischief even at an old age. I have written about him in my blog in the past what a character he was. He was some man and a great friend of Glenmore Lodge where he was well looked after. He was at Kinloss when I completed my Munro’s in the 70’s a great influence on me. John Hinde and myself all took over as Mountain Rescue Statistician in the years after Ben passed away. He was a huge exponent of Mountain Safety and wrote often on the subject.

These old Mountaineering books are incredible and well worth a read. For there era they are a superb insight into another world. I have pride of place on my desk in my wee office it’s a battered copy. Yet it has been read and enjoyed by many. I am so glad I have it back even with the scribbles and I laugh when see it. Some books hold memories that few will understand.

I gave away my copy by Ben of Tramping in Skye another classic it now has a good home in Skye where hopefully others will enjoy reading of another era.Books are a great joy to me as are poems.

I love Mountaineering in Scotland Undiscovered Scotland by W.H.Murray a classic and Hamish MacInnes Call – Out, Hamish’s Mountain Walk and Climbing the Corbetts and many others.

What is your favourite ?

Ben Humble

I was looking through some old photos and found this photo of the late Ben Humble (1903 – 1977) was a prolific author and a noted Scottish climber who was a pioneer of Scottish Mountain Rescue. As a member of the Scottish Mountaineering Club he was very involved in mountain Safety. I went to a couple of his lectures on mountain safety in my early years and they were an eye opener to a young climber. He was the compiler of the Accident Stats  for 30 years for Scotland and could be very critical in his analysis of an accident, especially of English climbers  but I am sure that was part of his sense of humour.   He was also a keen photographer and film maker. During the war he produced several educational films in order to support the war effort. Ben  Humble and was born in Dumbarton in 1903 he loved the Arrochar area and spent much time exploring the hills near his home.. Despite his total deafness he became a dentist, later making advances in Forensic Dentistry.  A biography of his life, “The Voice Of The Hills – The Story Of Ben Humble” was written by his nephew Roy Humble in 1995.

Ben liked the RAF Mountain Rescue Teams and always enjoyed their company. He was treated as a bit of a celebrity by us. He enjoyed taking the micky out of the younger guys especially me. John Hinde another legend at the time was a great friend of Ben and was always ensuring that Ben was looked after. Ben would tell us young lads some great stories especially about remote howffs that he knew that may be worth a visit. Great memories.

It was Skye that Ben loved as a young man he went to Skye with a friend no easy task in these early days. By accident the young men had stumbled upon John Mackenzie – the famous Cuillin mountain guide after whom the peak of Sgurr Mhic Coinnich was named by his climbing partner of many years, Norman Collie. Mackenzie, though born a crofter at Sconser, had climbed every peak in the Cuillin – some for the first time – and had, with Collie and others, pioneered rock-climbing in Skye. It was Mackenzie’s  encouragement, Ben says, that gave them the courage to “leave the road” and embark upon mountaineering. After traversing the Trotternish Ridge and the Quirang, Ben Humble and his pal went to Glen Brittle and climbed Sgurr Alasdair – beginning a love affair with Skye and the Cuillin that would last Humble’s life, and lead in due course to his publication of “The Cuillin of Skye”. That lay more than two decades ahead. What a man. They do not make characters like this any-more.

There is a small plaque at Glenmore Lodge beside the Alpine garden where Ben spent so much time in his later years. it states “In memory of Ben Humble, MBE, who created this Alpine garden in the shadow of the hills he loved so well. A pioneer of mountain rescue in Scotland and for many years a voluntary instructor at Glenmore Lodge – 16-4-77″

This is a precis of a survey of the late Ben Humbles Survey on Mountain Accidents from the period 1925 – 1945 Ben Humble – Incidents 1925 -1945 Total Involved-  106 Fatalities – 45

This is a precis of a survey of the late Ben Humbles Survey on Mountain Accidents from the period 1925 – 1945 . It is an incredible piece of work and shows the early days of Rescue in Scotland when the Scottish Mountaineering Club, climbers and locals were heavily involved in Rescue. It was the norm for climbers to assist in Rescues and at times parties of experienced climbers were sent from Glasgow and Edinburgh on a regular basis.

This is from the final summary:

In pre – war times First aid post were maintained at Glen Brittle, Fort William and Clachaig in Glencoe more than half the accidents in the survey occurred in these areas. The rest were fairly widely dispersed and a reasonable inference from the available statistics  would be that there is little need for post elsewhere?

In the climbing season there are usually sufficient climbers in Glen Brittle to carry out any necessary rescues. As regards Glencoe and Ben Nevis in pre – war times a call for help usually came in to the Glasgow/ Edinburgh officials of the club (Scottish Mountaineering Club) SMC who had the task of getting together the rescue parties!  Ben also states it is good to see that the Fort William folk themselves at last getting to know the mountains which have meant so much to the town. The recently formed Lochaber Mountaineering Club now  a section of the JMCS has already been tested and not found wanting in rescue operations. This allows the Glasgow officials  of the SMC will heave a sigh of relief!  The early days of the foundation of Lochaber MRT. (See my blog 13 August 2013 on the formation of Lochaber MRT.)

Nowadays there will be climbing parties in Glencoe almost every weekend throughout the year. For a Saturday or Sunday search or rescue there need no difficulty to get a party together but for mid-week days it will not be easy, when most people are unable to get away from work. Now that all the younger climbing clubs are co operating and full details of the available transport  and personnel are listed , this difficulty may be overcome?  Imagine the Climbing clubs doing this today and the problems they would face over Insurance etc?

Ben Humble is this Survey has a real go at the press, remember this was written in 1947

” In pre – war times owing chiefly to the sensational way the press treat mountaineering the general public get a warped idea of the sport of mountaineering! He then quotes from an article in the Daily Herald of an incident in Glencoe that was sensationalized beyond all recognition of what really happened!  After this and similar accidents articles and letters would follow condemning climbing as too dangerous! Some even suggested restrictions including the closure of Ben Nevis in winter! (Some things do not change?) Work was done with the press and a saner voice was heard about Mountain Safety, get fit for the hills: then go and enjoy them. Ben stated that the Statistics proved beyond all doubt that it is much safer to be a climber than a pedestrian, a cyclist or a motorist. Ben also states that over half the accidents could have been avoided had those involved taken more precautions  and fitted themselves for the hills?

Ben finished with the fact that in the coming years greater numbers than ever will flock to our hills. He states that it is good that various organisations are offering training in mountain craft and the mountaineering clubs are co – operating. It is hoped that newcomers to our sport will take advantage of these opportunities and that unnecessary hill accidents will be reduced. Education, Education, Education!

The Late Ben Humble with his RAF MRT Tie!

Ben Humble was a true man of vision! So much of this survey is still relevant today! The SMC Journals are a wonderful piece of Scottish Mountaineering History and has some unique articles and it is a huge source of reference. The early days of Mountain Rescue are well documented and it hold the Statistics of Mountain accidents that are invaluable for research and education.  This is the only source of Accident Statistics from the early days as far as I know?

A book about Ben’s Life

The SMC journal is published annually well worth a read, it is due out soon and has so many new climbs and great articles inside.

“The hill-goer’s memories are many and varied, and can never fade: of winter climbing when in the morning the tops are bathed in the rose flush of dawn; of the climb and maybe the hearty labour of step cutting; of gaining the summit and gazing around on a sea of snow-capped peaks sparkling in brilliant sunshine; of the descent and the exhilaration of a long glissade. Memories too of wild stormy days and the fierce joy of battle through the wind, rain, and the mist, and of perfect summers days and bivouacs high up on the mountains.

And the sunsets? After a long day on the hills there comes a pleasing sense of well-being and fitness, and the hill-goer appreciates the more those glorious West Highland sunsets. The lovely peaceful sunsets over Jura from the hills of Knapdale, the stormy sunsets over the mountains of Rum from Mallaig, and above all, the sunsets in Eilean a’Cheò [Skye]. To see the mighty steel blue range of the Cuillin, splintered peaks against a crimson sky, is unutterably splendid.

Posted in Books, Enviroment, Friends, Gear, Mountain rescue, mountain safety, Mountaineering, SMC/SMT, Views Mountaineering, Well being | 2 Comments