My pal Ray Sefton told me of a new book on the Cairngorms by someone his lovely,wife Myrtle knew many years ago when she worked at Glenmore Lodge. Ray and Myrtle are Cairngorm lovers (that sounds rude) Ray was one of my RAF Team leaders and Myrtle spent many years as a young lassie camping with her family on Ben MacDui bird spotting. She comes from famous stock and has so many great tales of the Cairngorms in another era. Ray is some man as well and a regular contributor to the local Strathspey paper. Between them they have some tales of the Cairngorms, Ray was the man who reckoned the Red Aluminium in the El Alamein shelter, he thought it came from an aircraft that landed on the plateau but could not take off again. One day just after I had broken my ankle whilst at RAF Leuchars MRT Myrtle joined us for a big the the Cairngorm 6 it was then its now the Big 7 with another Munro gaining the status?
The Cairngorm 7
Braeriach (1296m, Munro 3)
Sgor an Lochain uaine (1258m, Munro 5)
Cairn Toul (1291m, Munro 4)
Devil’s Point (1004m, Munro 130) Carn A Mhain,Ben MacDui, Cairngorm.
There were three others with us that day and it was not great weather as we set of early at 0500 and had a long day by any account. At Corrour bothy half way through the party was waning in the weather and Myrtle was still up for it. We had to navigate contatnly and the pull up Carn A Mhain was hard going. I had convinced some of the bothy dwellers that we were there that Myrtle was our mother and forcing us to do it, me with a broken ankle and one boot and one trainer. We managed and I will never forget that last pull up Cairngorm at the end of a superb day! I did that day many times again and told the young troops that Myrtle had done it in the past, when they were moaning about the route.
Ray was my Team Leader for many years who was a great help to me. He has incredible knowledge not just of Cairngorms but of all over Scotland after a lifetime in the mountains, They together have so many tales of another era and way of life, they are a joy to be about.
Anyway back to the book to me it was a lovely insight into the Cairngorms and as my pal “Cairngorm Wanderer” says and age of innocence. It shows how a young girl got a love of the hills when gear was very simple. She gained a love of the mountains walking on her own as a young lass and learned to ski in the Cairngorms when it then involved a big walk in carrying her skis from a basic Glenmore Lodge. There were few lassies out on the hills in these early days and it is great to hear about the male domination of the hills that was the norm in these days. This is so far removed from today where the their are so many lassies working and instructing in the mountains.
This is the same Glenmore Lodge that is today the “Centre of Excellence” skills were taught then by mainly voluntary instructors and many learned so many new skills there. It was a grand insight into hill adventures, near misses (that we all learn from) to gain an experience of these wild places. It tells of going to the dances after the hill in the Lodge and locally. This rang a bell with me with the teams living many village halls, the wild ceilidh’s , the lost loves but the Church service was an interesting addition I wonder how that would go down now!
I enjoyed this book and it is a tale of another world far away from what we have now. The list of those who helped with the book Is a “whose who of the Cairngorms”. I loved it and shows that mountaineering is not all about those we have heard about doing daring deeds but by normal people who share like us their adventures in this and other wonderful area. It was another period when they were few lassies on the hill and Liz and Myrtle were hardy people in a male dominated society, how well things have moved on.
Thanks for the recommendation Ray and Myrtle I loved the book it and I am sure those who buy it will to.
I will be buying a few copies to send to some of my pals especially the girls Heather yours is on its way.