Extract from my first Big Walk the North To South Scotland – May 1976 David “Heavy” Whalley , Jim Morning and Paul Burns. Heavy Whalley – Jim Morning (JM Paul Burns(PB)

Where were you 41 years ago ?

The aim – This was a mountaineering expedition from the most Northerly Mountain in Scotland Ben Hope to the most Southerly Ben Lomond. The route was planned to cover 270 miles. Climb 42 Munros and ascend a total of 70,000 feet. This was 1976 gear was simple as were the maps  and there were limited communications Mobile phones were a long way away

The Team was all from RAF Kinloss MRT  Heavy Whalley , Jim Morning , Paul Burns all were young SAC ‘s (a very low rank in the RAF)This was only allowed to go after great arguing with the powers that be by the RAF Kinloss Team Leader Pete Mac Gowan. by  and gaining authorization for expeditions in these days had an officer in charge. (Normally military expeditions were led by an officer or SNCO ) The planning was done an orgy of maps joining and tracing other walks in the past and done in the dark winter nights or at weekends. Food was planned and food caches set up with the help of Keepers and Village Halls and friends of the team. The RAF Team would meet us at weekend training Exercises and re supply us, well that was the plan.

Extract from The Big Walk North To South –  May 1976  David Heavy Whalley , Jim Morning and Paul Burns.  Heavy Whalley – Jim Morning (JM Paul Burns(PB) This was the first expedition in the RAF to be led by SAC’s VERY JUNIOR RANKS and no officer. The expedition had lots of support by Pete McGowan (Team Leader) who stuck his neck out to let us do the Traverses.

1976 Big Bags Big days

During the walk we set up food caches and were completely unsupported and self-sufficient, my cartilage went on Day 7, when we took a rest day only 2 were planned. Most of the rest of the walk I was on my own most days. The Mamores Traverse I completed in 12 hours Jim and PB were back at bothy 3hours before me!  It was definitely mind over matter, when on your own on the hill.


We had already done 9 wild days on the hill a completely self-contained trip carrying 4 days food staying in bothies all the way .   The hills were still wintry and the gear very simple we carried fairly big bags as gear was heavy then. It was wet gear most day! But what days.



Day 10

Glen Strathfarrar  – Affric  Toll Creagach-Tom A’ Chonnich-Cairn Eighe-Mam Sodhail-An Socath – Altbeithe Youth Hostel.

Big mountain day-hard hills-great bothy- leg  sore around my knee/ weak.  Weather pretty wintry. 16 miles/6060 feet.


Day 11

Mullach Fraoch Choire-A’ Chraliag- Sgurr Nan Conbhairean-Carn Ghlusaid-Greenfields (cartilage went on descent) Long road walk-Sea King Helicopter met us and dropped bags, and gave us a well earned brew and some rations. Thanks too the late Mick Anderson winch man. Hard to find at bridge at the end of the day. Stayed at Greenfields in a hut. That is the Glens over hard 5 days.

22 miles/6800 ft.long day.


Day 12

Greenfields – Sron A’Choire Garbh-Meal Na Teanga- Spean Bridge- Stayed in toilets at  Spean Bridge Station later stayed at Bridge of Orchy Station later on as well got kicked out at 0500- left wallet in pub – found next day by Police.19 miles/4086. No bothy after the hill not so great.

Day 13,

Spean Bridge Railway station – Aonach Mor- Aonach Beag- Carn Mor Dearg-Ben Nevis. Big day need a rest now my leg hard going downhill ABOUT AN HOUR BEHIND THE BOYS AT THE END OF THE DAY. 17 miles/7500 feet.
22/5/76 Day off Fort William in the old ATC Hut at last went to doctor with cartilage told to withdraw from walk-no chance!

Tired days? But what memories.

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 Articles, Hill running and huge days!, Mountaineering, Munros, Views Mountaineering, Weather. Bookmark the permalink.

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