At the weekend I was over at Braemar celebrating the Mountain Rescue Team 50 th Anniversary. I had been asked to speak at the dinner at Balmoral in Royal Deeside a great privilege for me. Snow had fallen and the drive over across to the East was interesting. I was very lucky to have a good friend Rachel with me. She had raised over £2000 for Mountain Rescue running the famous Tranters Round in Lochaber with another pal in the Moray Mountaineering Club. Tranters Round A huge day of 18 Munros in 24 hours and I thought it would be a nice gesture for her to meet some incredible people for all her efforts.
The views were staggering as the fresh snow made the drive extremely interesting and the winter tyres and a slow drive in the conditions were essential. We had a great drive over and plenty of stops the great Cairngorm peaks were in view snow covered. Lochnagar soon came into view and the road got very icy but it was an enjoyable journey with lots of stops for photos. We had a late lunch in Braemar then a walk and drive to Linn Of Dee again the road was very icy and on the way back there was a car in the ditch but the occupants were okay. Sadly we never saw any deer at all, maybe the cull at Mar Lodge and the shooting season had a part to play, to me this was very unusual. We were staying at the Cranford Bed & Breakfast in Braemar run by Sarah and Alastair who are a big part of the Mountain Rescue team and made us very so very welcome. It is a great B&B and their kindness and hospitality was exceptional. We got invited to pre – drinks in Braemar it was a busy evening and then got the bus to Balmoral and into an incredible party. The food was exceptional as was the evening and the dancing wild and fun the 30 + Eightsome Reel exhausting, Unusually for me I felt it was a very difficult After Dinner talk e as felt a bit upset as I spoke about the team and how much it meant to me. I had so much help when I lost my great pals Mark and Neil on Lochnagar in 1995. I have written before how appreciative I have been for the kindness and care given to me and the families of Neil and Mark by the Mountain Rescue Team at Braemar who recovered them. I was also wearing Marks kilt last night which I have always wore with great pride so it was a poignant night for me. I cannot thank them enough, what grand people and the true Mountain Rescue family. It was amazing to see so many familar faces that make the team all in their kilts and the lassies in their finery so smart and enjoying the evening. Braemar seems to have the mix of young and older team member’s just right. Their future looks bright for them.
There were some great speaches and great appreciation of the support of the team by the families, Community, local Estates and of course the Royalty. The best out of the evening tales for me was when time allows on a call – out is what each member of the team have in their “piece” (sandwich) on a call – out. As the Team member struggles to ensure they have all the kit for the call -out if their lucky their piece may be made by their partners, when time allows! On the hill if they get a break usually in the dark and wild weather when the team stop and are often are in a group shelter trying to get a few minutes out of the weather or a long wait on the hill waiting for day break. The chat to break the long wait is about what each has to eat and often on Valentines day call – outs ( Braemar seem to get a lot of them) It was so funny to hear the varying “pieces” from Love hearts and banana to the frozen jam piece uneatable and the odd rose!. These stories and some of the epic rescues that got harder, the snow deeper and the weather worse as the night wore on. We all do this and as the night went on and for me meeting so many old faces and their partners was a great experience. It was so good to meet the wifes and partners and feel the friendship from all, this was a special night and it was an honour to be invited. The journey back in the bus with the bagpipes in full flow and the arrival at Braemar at 0145 where the party continued and we sneaked away as we had hoped to climb a wee hill in the morning. It was a lovely night with the snow down in the village and the sky clear and the hills plastered with snow. This was Scotland at its best and its people a humbling experience to be part of it, thank you Braemar MRT.
The cost of running the team is roughly £70000 annually and the teams as they all do need funds. They have published a great book on the History of the Braemar Mountain Rescue Team and it is a great read and a great stocking filler for those who love the Cairngorms.
50 Years of Service – Anniversary Book
This book celebrates the team’s achievements and many characters with assorted misremembered tales of derring-do, wild haverings and the dottled recollections of by-gone days when storms were stormier, snow was snowier, and tweeds, tackity- beets and a muckle Thermos kept the elements at bay.
Read on and enjoy……
How to get a copy of our book:
Each book costs £10.00 and we can post it to any UK address by Royal Mail 2nd Class delivery for the small additional charge of £2.00. Please allow 14 days between ordering and delivery.
Cheque for £12.00 made payable to Braemar Mountain Rescue Association and sent to:
Braemar Mountain Rescue Association
23 Albert Road
I see that the winter climbing season has started already the stick men are out and about have a look at the UKC website and the winter climbing forum! Have a safe winter.