Loch Arkaig – 40 years on and an Avalanche on Ben Nevis – Be careful. Hi Five for Reuben.

Loch Arkaig 43 years on!


It had rained most of the night and the plan was to take the long and winding road to Glendessary and maybe get a new Corbett in Sgurr Cos Breachd – Laoigh at 835 metres.
I was out with the Moray Mountaineering Club at The Great Glen Hostel a new place for me to stay and it is a lovely spot. My mate Ned came up from London and Dan came over from Burghead. We also had Fiona with us as we promised a new Corbett.
Those who have been up the Glendessary track understand how wild it is. Poor Fiona was feeling rough with the roller coaster road and got the front seat next to Dan! It is never an easy switch back road and I have so many memories of this place,
My first time up this road was with my Dad in our first car a Morris Minor in 1964 ! He was a worse driver than me !

My Dad was a student missionary in the 1930’s and worked here as a minister for several summers! He ministered the local people in the remote Glens. He was helped by the head Keeper Cameron who helped him in his early days . He carried the communion cups and wine over the hills to the small parishes to give communion and always came over the hills on the way home. Dad took me to meet the man Cameron the head stalker and he made a huge impression on him all those years ago and they remained great pals throughout their lives. My Dad was young and very fit winning the Arthurs Seat hill race several times when he was at Edinburgh University and running Cross Country. He always told me how powerful the Head stalker was on the hill and how he looked after my Dad and he was the subject of many sermons.
Anyway it was still raining all the way up the road and we arrived at the small car park and wandered up the locked track. On arriving at the Lodge the Factor met us and explained that they were hind shooting on our hill, so it was a bit of a wasted walk and I should have checked as I forgot about the Hind shooting! He was fine with us and was very happy that we walked off and back down the Glen but a rifle bullet was not what a fancied. We have to work together and I should have checked before hand. Maybe a notice at  the head of the Glen would help.

Stalking –  As background, the periods of the year during which deer can be hunted or culled varies depending on the species and gender of the deer. But from a hillwalker’s point of view, the most important dates are those of the Red Deer stag stalking season, which runs from 1 July to 20 October each year. This is the period during which the Hillphones Scheme operates, and stalking becomes increasingly intensive from the beginning of September to the close of the season. Stalking never takes place on a Sunday, and neither does it take place on the extensive upland estates owned by the National Trust for Scotland. Finally, in the absence of other information, it helps avoid stalking activity if walkers’ follow routes up and down ridges rather than through corries.

Red Deer hinds are culled from 21 October to 15 February, and far more hinds than stags are shot in any given year. But because this is much more a management than a sporting activity, and because there are typically many more hinds than stags on the hill, hind culling is far less likely to lead to conflicts of interest involving hill walkers.

There was fresh snow on the tops and it was pretty awful wet wild walk even low down. I hate to say I  was glad not to be on the hill today but we had a great chat with Dan,Ned and Fiona.
It is hard to believe that there was a Barracks at the head of the Glen after the 45 rebellion! What a posting that would have been! It was back down the Glen and the awful drive in now heavy rain.Poor souls. As we drove down the Stags and hinds were low in the Glen and we had a thought for them as they watched us form the side of the road what amazing animals.

Dan, Ned and Fiona - High Five for Rueben

Dan, Ned and Fiona – High Five for ReUben in a wet Glendessarry.


Thank you so much for visiting Reuben’s page.

I always struggled to watch adverts on TV about families being told their loved ones had cancer. Never really knowing how it must feel to hear those words; but now I don’t have to imagine because it’s our reality.
As of 12th December 2016 we became one of those families you hear about. We were told that our precious little boy had Neuroblastoma- a rare childhood cancer affecting fewer than 100 children in the U.K. each year.
As tests promptly started each piece of news seemed more devastating. I still find it hard to see Reuben’s name on paperwork next to the words: stage 4, high risk, metastatic neuroblastoma. As in 50% of cases of this aggressive type of cancer, his primary tumour was found in his abdomen but had already spread to bones and bone marrow before we had any idea.

Just weeks before he had played alongside friends at birthday parties and attended pre-school like every other happy 2 year old who was really looking forward to Father Christmas visiting.

He spent his 3rd birthday and New Year’s Day in hospital, has undergone MRI scans, bone marrow and tumor biopsies, a blood and platelet transfusion, two rounds of chemotherapy to name but a few procedures. There are lots of tears. Too many tears. Every single day.

His journey has just started. Everyone we have encountered working in our amazing NHS are doing their very best to help our little boy. But the statistics make for grim reading and there will come a time, we hope, when he will be in remission and eligible for further treatment not yet available in this country.

The numbers are just that, only numbers. And I have so much hope that Reuben will beat this horrible disease and live the life of a happy, cheeky little boy again. He’s already taught me not to underestimate him- lots of it he doesn’t like, but his smile soon returns and reminds me every time why we are doing this.

We have been overwhelmed by love, thoughts and prayers from so many people. There is no doubt that he is one very loved little boy.

Over the next year we will be turning our attention to fundraising efforts to help raise funds for overseas treatment once he is in remission. The initial costs for this are anticipated to be £250,000.


My thoughts are for little Reuben the wee soul needs help

My thoughts are for little Reuben the wee soul needs help.

The photo above is of wee Reuben who needs help and there is nothing worse than an wee child unwell my thoughts are with him and the family and I will try to get some pals to hi five on the hills and wild places. Health is everything.

We had soup and a roll in the Spean Bridge Woolen Mill superb and a free small taster dram for those that did not have to drive. On the way back we saw the helicopters heading for the Ben as there had been an avalanche  and three were injured. In all three helicopters were scrambled according to the news and that is unusual, Winter is back and it is snowing again high up, there will be more to come that I am sure. Be careful out there fresh snow and wind and the odd patch of hard snow is not a good combination. Read the avalanche forecasts and weather updates.

Loch Arkaig and Glendessary

Loch Arkaig and Glendessary

It was back to the Lodge and a great meal of venison steaks, salad, mushroom and baked potatoes, the usual music form Fiona and Jake and chat and an early night. Most of the rest got hills done Ben Tee, Meal na Teanga and Stron Na Coire Grabh and a few went for a bike ride. They were impressed by the weather in all a winter day and the drying room was full of wet gear but very effective once we got the de humidifier  going. We did “the walk of shame” for no hill but it was a great day with some pals and I watched the rugby and what a game.  A hill tomorrow weather allowing.

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.
This entry was posted in Avalanche info, Mountain rescue, mountain safety, Mountaineering, Munros, Scottish winter climbing., Views Mountaineering, Weather. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Loch Arkaig – 40 years on and an Avalanche on Ben Nevis – Be careful. Hi Five for Reuben.

  1. I am so sorry to hear of your family’s heart breaking news. I will have Reuben in my prayers.


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