Rum , Atlantic Corrie, Manx Shearwaters and a Call -out.

1997  – Another  Rum Callout . 

8 Jun 97Isle of RumAfter a long day on the hill just as we were leaving Skye. Injured bird watcher .). Technical carry out of casualty with head injuries and dislocated shoulder.  Hellish walk in with all the gear after helicopter drop off by Bristows Stornoway SAR Helicopter at sea – level due to weather. Locals were of great assistance. From the RAF Kinloss Call -outs.  

The Mountain Rescue Weekend Training Exercise was planned for Skye, even though the weather was poor we had a good weekend on the wet rock in Corrie Lagan. Skye is hard work with sea level approaches making every summit or climb hard won. The drive from Kinloss can take up to 5 hours so Sunday is a short day and I was away early with Martin as he wanted to tick Cioch Direct a classic route on Sgur Na Ciche.  It was a quick climb up early and back for a meal about 1600 for a meal then the long drive home. As we were leaving the bothy in Broadford the village Hall to RAF Kinloss a message came in to assist in a callout to the Island of Rum.  This is a fairly remote area which was owned by the Nature Conservancy, access was by ferry and boat and in our case by Helicopter from Stornoway.  The island of Rum has a population of less than one -hundred and a road which is one mile long!  The hills are very rough with only a few paths and the terrain involves serious, remote, mountains although they are less than 3000 feet. It is a place to see nature in the wild and the annual nesting of the Manx Shearwaters is an incredible sight. It attracts lovers of the wild birdwatchers and the traverse of the Rum Ridge is a great day. Most climber’s goal is to traverse this ridge, which is one of Scotland’s finest rock-scrambling routes. There is also some great rock climbs that few have climbed on and lots to do in the future.

Most walkers want to ascend the main peaks on this ridge, including the Norse named Corbetts of Askival and Ainshval, great hills and an incredible ridge walk as good as anything in the UK. The views of Skye and the Islands are incredible it is an unique place. The Mountain Rescue team had in the past had a few epic callouts in Rum, I had carried out a couple of these, involving long carry – offs in difficult terrain.. The team had only recently visited the Island to train with the local Coastguards and gain some area knowledge, hopefully this would help us!  Bristows Helicopter arrived within 10 minutes and a party of nine were sent to assess the situation. High winds and severe turbulence would only allow the helicopter to drop our hill party at Kinloch near the Castle which was four miles away from the incident and unfortunately at sea – level.

As the casualty a birdwatcher looking at the famous Shearwaters had fallen at approximately midday and was just off the main ridge at two-thousand feet, we sent a few of the young stars off as the fast party, led by Kenny Kennworthy who had recently been involved in the team leaders course in North Wales and was needing   a bit of real action.  Don’t ask Kenny about this Course as he had a bad time playing Callouts, after running real ones for many years.) This party carried all the First Aid Equipment, casualty bag, including Entonox, Oxygen, ropes and all the rest and there was little room for anything else. A few of the locals were about an hour ahead carrying a stretcher and rope , this group was made up of keepers, foresters, coastguards etc. They made great progress and were invaluable with their area knowledge the mountain, even leaving guides on the way into the casualty to assist the team. Fortunately the weather had improved by the time our first -aid party reached the casualty, who was suffering from shock, a deep head wound and a shoulder injury. His girlfriend had looked after him and administered basic First aid, kept him warm, whilst her father had gone for help and had come back up the hill to help the team! This is not bad for a gentleman of over sixty. They had done everything correctly and hopefully the casualty would soon be recovering in Hospital.

Due to the steepness of the ground it was decided to lower the casualty 500 feet, carrying him to an area where he could be evacuated by the helicopter. It takes a lot more than twelve people to carry a stretcher especially in such a remote area. The weather was changing and we requested the rest of the team to be flown in to assist in the carry-off. Another ten troops and the locals made all the difference and soon the casualty was at a suitable site for helicopter evacuation.

Atlantic Corrie Rum

The wild Atlantic Corrie is an incredible place and a place few visit, I went back a few times and it is so wild, pretty unique in Scotland. Bristows landed on, uplifted the casualty and was soon off to Fort William Hospital.

Atlantic Corrie
1957 – Early plans for assistance to Rum

All that was left was a walk back to the Castle and hopefully a lift back to Skye with Bristows, otherwise it would be a long swim. Time was moving on and when we were back at the Castle it was nearly midnight. Bristows had managed to drop off some of the team and the rest were told to wait until the helicopter had refuelled. The midges were out in force and we had to find shelter as the helicopter would be away for over a couple of hours.

Early training Exercise to Rum – 1962

The locals were over the moon with our help and wanted to give us a small drink in appreciation. Mountain Rescue will never turn down a offer of a dram and we had a wee drink with the locals before the helicopter came back for us at 02.00. The local Post Office was the bar but that is another story.  It was a quick trip back to Skye and a few hours sleep before returning to Kinloss in the morning.

This was a great call -out with an excellent result and good liaison between all concerned. It makes all the hassle of being in a team even after twenty odd years, worthwhile. In the past call -outs in these remote areas have, and still are fairly serious but it was great to see the locals and the injured hill party trying to help themselves, this does not always happen.  These call – outs are vital to give the team real training in remote areas to ensure we can react to any aircraft or mountaineering incident, An aircraft incident in this area and it will happen one day but at least the remoteness will keep the hassle factor down. Nowadays things are very different but incidents in places like Rum can still prove difficult but Lochaber and Skye Mountain Rescue and the locals are well prepared. It is still worth remembering in these remoter areas to remember that you should always be as self-sufficient to cope with most situations when walking or climbing in these areas. Comments welcome.

Rum an incredible place.

1957 Rum – Callout plans – Looking through my research of the RAF Kinloss Mountain Team I found some correspondence for assisting in a rescue if needed on the wonderful Island of Rum. The island was a Nature Reserve and climbers and walkers were starting to come to the Island. The warden was worried about an accident happening and had contacted the RAF Team at Kinloss to see if they could assist (remember this was 1957). It was around this time that Rum was purchased was purchased by the Nature Conservancy Council. It is nowadays a busy place especially when all the birdwatchers are about and there have been a few accidents in the past. The reply was that the RAF team could be used by the Police to assist in any rescues as long as the Team was not needed for RAF operations. The Police said they could commission a boat to take the team 15 troops from Mallaig and one ton of equipment. From here the island boat would transport the team to the Island harbour. The ferry in these days only operated on Wednesdays and Saturday. The plan was to have the boat stay off the Island until the Rescue was completed. The Team did go over and had a magic time what a place to climb and walk or even just enjoy the wildness. The early days of Rescue now a lot easier a phone call and a helicopter comes if the weather is okay failing that there will be support from the Skye/ Lochaber Team. The locals still help where they can I have done 3 great rescues in the past on this incredible Island my blog dated 4 th Aug 2013 for details. There is so much potential on the Island for walking and climbing and I love the place – must get back before I get to too old.

Rum is the largest of the Small Isles, and the fifteenth largest Scottish island, but is inhabited by only about thirty or so people, all of whom live in the village of Kinloch on the east coast. The island has been inhabited since the 8th millennium BC and provides some of the earliest known evidence of human occupation in Scotland.  From the 12th to 13th centuries on, the island was held by various clans including the MacLeans of Coll. The population grew to over 400 by the late 18th century but was cleared of its indigenous population between 1826 and 1828. The island then became a sporting estate, the exotic Kinloch Castle being constructed by the Bulloughs in 1900.

Alongside the wonders of the natural environment, Rum’s community is undergoing a period of change. 2009 and 2010 saw the phased transfer of land and assets in and around Kinloch Village from Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) to Isle of Rum Community Trust ownership. This is giving the community and individuals control over their own destinies and creating unique, exciting opportunities for locals and people who would like to come and live here.

So if you come to Rum for a day, a week or forever, there’s always great places to visit.

Have a look on the Rum website! It is well worth the visit!

How many Shearwaters – visit Rum? – Around a third of the entire world population of these splendid seabirds make their home on the Rum Cuillin every summer. There are so many birds (around 100,000 pairs) that their droppings have fertilised the hills and produced rich grasslands (‘shearwater greens’). Shearwaters are expertly kitted out for life at sea but they are wide open to attack on land. These specialized seabirds therefore only dare to be above ground at the colony on dark nights.

Visiting the colony – The noise, smell and activity as tens of thousands of Manx Shearwaters make their night-time return to the high Cuillin is an amazing seabird experience. However, you should note that the colony is remote, high on the mountain, and will involve crossing difficult, wet and uneven ground in darkness. Please seek advice from a member of staff at the Reserve Office, or look on the notice boards to see when a staff-led trip is planned.

Great memories – with Kate who worked on the Island and did the complete ridge with us on another trip.

We went back next year and donated a stretcher and some gear to the local folk but that is another tale.

About heavywhalley.MBE

Mountain Rescue Specialist. Environmentalist. Spent 37 years with RAF Mountain Rescue and 3 years with a civilian Team . Still an active Mountaineer and loves the wild places.
This entry was posted in Corbetts, Islands, Mountain rescue, mountain safety, Mountaineering, People, Recomended books and Guides, Rock Climbing, Scottish winter climbing., Views Mountaineering, Weather, Well being, Wildlife. Bookmark the permalink.

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