Village Halls in Scotland – Snow in Burghead – boys away early to Creag Mheagaidh – Lecture at Boat Of Garten tonight!

2011 view through the cloud Stron N cG


Fresh snow at sea level last night in Burghead and an early start for Pete and Jimmy who are away to Creag Mheagaidh today to climb one of the classics. Winter is back with the temperature last night at sea level down to – 2 and should last most of the week. I have not been out for a week still feeling a bit low par and I have to lectures this week.

Tonight’s is local:

Monday 11 March at  1930 at Boat of Garten Community Centre as the final lecture in their winter series. This hopefully will go well and is a chance to help the local communities whose village halls were a huge part of my life with the RAF Mountain Rescue teams. We used them as Base camps for our weekly training with the Mountain Rescue all over Scotland. Each had its own hall keeper and many became great friends. Once they got used to us all was well it was  a bit of hearts and minds at first. At Roybridge Nan Simpson the hall keeper ( sadly now gone) would have a big bowl of soup ready for us in the winter. She lived on a house attached to the hall and was very patient with us all/ We would use this hall and many more and pay the local community for the use giving them some well needed cash. I wrote many a letter is support of the village Halls saying that rightly they were a huge part of Scottish life in rural areas and a vital part of Emergency Planning and much-needed lottery cash was obtained.  Many halls such as in Skye were also used for Church services, local meetings and even as Dentists at Lochcarron and we worked together in sharing their use. We had so many contacts and became friends with many of the locals many who still are to this day.   A halls few would have Bingo or a highland Ceilidh when we arrived on a Friday night and we would join in and often we tidied up after a Highland wedding before we moved in. We always left the village hall in a better state than we got it, always leaving mops and brushes all over the highlands courtesy of the RAF.   Local kids would be constant visitors for chocolate and other goodies during the weekend and drive the poor cook mad with questions. A few times we would have a party after a big call out and if it was a sad or fatality at times this involved the odd drink. Locals would turn up with the odd bottle and cakes for the team from the village.

Basic living in a village hall - 1989

Basic living in a village hall – 1989

At Newtonmore we used to stay in the Village Hall and nearly burnt it down one day with a kitchen fire. The New Year village party would end in the hall and we would move all our kit to under the stage! Many a call out was called and we would have to pull out to move across to the West to help. In the far North West Lochinver, Achilitbue and even Durness and Tongue were annual trips and many a hall had a shower installed courtesy of the MOD.  Hall keepers were regularly woken by the Police when we needed a place to stay after or during a call-out and all were incredibly helpful. Often in the days before mobile phones the local Bobbie would arrive and give us the shout that we were needed in another part of the country. It would be a pack in the wee small hours and then off, trying not to wake the village, not easy with 6 wagons. We had bases everywhere Braemar, Ballater at Pitlochry, Killin, Lochernhead, Crainlarich, Cairndow, Bridge of Orchy, Tyndrum, Glencoe, Ballhullish, Onich,  Fortwilliam, Corpach, Spean Bridge, Roybridge, Laggan, Newtonmore, Kingussie, Boat Of Garten, Carrbridge, Lochcarron, Kinlochewe, Torridon, Kintail, Dornie, Broadford, Portnalong and many more. Incredible places and a huge part of my life, thanks for all the memories and for putting up with your frequent noisy neighbors!

Sometimes a grander Base Camp!

Sometimes a grander Base Camp!

About heavywhalley.MBE

After dinner speaker Lecturer and Mountain Rescue Specialist. Environmentalist. Spent 36 years with RAF Mountain Rescue and 4 years with a civilian Team . Still an active Mountaineer and loves the wild places.
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