Just another weekend 15/17 Sept 1978 Tyndrum – Ben Cruachan and the 4 Munros and a night in a cave on Colonsay

I have just been looking through my old diaries and amazingly I was at Tyndrum that weekend ! We would have been staying in the old Staff Quarters near the Hotel! Or it may have been the Village Hall I cannot remember.

It would be a long drive from Kinloss in Morayshire with the Mountain Rescue Team. Looking back in these days at least 3 / 4 hours drive and then the ferry at Ballahullish! If we missed the ferry it would be a bit of a drive round by Kinlochleven .Every weekend We would leave at 1800 sharp on the Friday after work .It would be a long drive tight roads and get to Tyndrum unpack the wagons we slept on the Village hall floors, plan the days hills !training and hopefully get a beer in the local pub.

My diary shows the Saturday a day on the 4 Munros at Cruachan about an hours drive from Tyndrum.

These hills contain 4 Munros the jewel is

Ben Cruachan a complex hill that in the past I have done a few call outs on . In winter it can be Alpine and I remember having to take care on the ridge and the descent to the two outliers!

Beinn Eunaich (989m, Munro 156)

Beinn a’Chochuill (980m, Munro 172)

Stob Diamh (998m, Munro 141)

Ben Cruachan (1126m, Munro 31

I was with Jim Morning a hill beast of a man , Kev Byrne and a machine called Peanuts power Brown . Poor Peanuts was a TAG in the RAF ( Trades Assistant General) The RAF used them as a dogs body . Peanuts was a Full timer so strong and fit. He loved the team and we all looked after him. When he had to go back to his job in a kitchen cleaning pots he was badly treated and I am sure he put the Warrant Officer who bullied him in the Swill Bin. This was abroad and he “left “the service ? It was poor weather and tricky navigation. We were all fit and probably racing each other! Kev Byrne had arrived from RAF Valley in North Wales and got a bit of a fitness push! He would later join Lochaber. Jim Morning would become a Team Leader and PTI extremely fit and driven.

On the big walk at Bridge of Orchy Station where we spent the night.

The daylight is getting shorter in mid Sept so we did not hang about ! I had just completed a massive walk across Scotland with Jim so we were super fit!

Steve Fallon says “This culminates in a tricky step just below the main summit of Ben Cruachan, particular care being required in wet or icy conditions. (There have been a few accidents here in the past so be careful)

From Having a fairly isolated position, the long distant views from Ben Cruachan are superb, particularly over to Mull and northwards to Etive and Lochaber. It does help to have a bike at Loch Awe, by St Conan’s Kirk for the last 3km back to your car. “

The walk is about 7000 feet of ascent and 22 k a grand day out if you get the views. Once on the last two Munros it’s easy going and I did this day fairly often but I found it excelled. In a good winters day.

Looking back that was a typical day and after tea and a clean up we would head to the pub and plan the next day !

If we were in the Village hall there would be no showers ! Smelly days and not easy to dry kit! Yet the local lassies loved us or is that my memory ?

The plan was Glencoe next day but we had a call out in the early hours.

A Dutch Atlantic Aircraft on a big Maritime Exercisr had crashed in the sea off the Island of Colonsay and thankfully all the crew were rescued safely. The Kinloss team were flown in at first light to search the Western shore of Colonsay for aircraft wreckage and classified material. We were picked up from Lochgilphead where we made our new base in their Village hall!

It was a bit of a rush and drive and then the helicopter picking us up. We spent the day searching the shore on this remote Island and sleeping in a cave for the night! Very basic and a long day.

It was a bit like Whisky Galore as a lot of wreckage was washed ashore including dinghies and Mae Wests they vanished as plunder from the seas as is the way on the Islands. We located most things  swapping documents that the authorities were worried about for the odd rope and a few drams  and had a simple night in the cave nearby. It was a long day and a cold night. I cannot believe I had forgotten about this. All character building stuff and you could write a book about that adventure. What a magical place to be though but in these days you took it in your stride.

Next day we were flown out back to Lochgilphead and spent the night in the Village hall then a little big 6 hour trip back on our extended weekend!

Looking back that was a great adventure! The hills and then exploring the coastline of a remote Island. Sleeping the night in a cave and meeting the locals ! I took it all for granted and getting back to work my bosses had no clue .

I must get back to the Islands again and see if I can find the cave ?

Memories! Sadly no photos of that adventure I must write a book one day. Great

Colonsay, the jewel of the Hebrides, is about 10 miles long and 2 miles wide with 135 friendly inhabitants, and little more than 2 hours from Oban by our modern and very comfortable ferry. Our outstanding natural scenery is rivalled only by the wealth and diversity of our flora and fauna, and our archaeological sites are of international importance.

Local activities include agriculture, oyster-farming, arts, crafts, honey production, a brewery, accommodation for visitors, lobster-fishing, publishing and even a substantial bird sanctuary. The island plays host to a variety of festivals throughout the year celebrating our music, culture, literature and natural assets. Please explore and enjoy our community website – and, when you get an opportunity, come and join us in Colonsay.

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 Aircraft incidents, Articles, Bothies, Enviroment, Friends, Gear, Mountain rescue, Mountaineering, Munros, People, Views Mountaineering, Weather. Bookmark the permalink.

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