Secrets of Ben Nevis. The Ben Nevis Bogie – In a time well before helicopters!

My friend Ray Sefton ex Team Leader RAF Kinloss and RAF Leuchars MRT sent me this information on the Bogie on Ben Nevis. These were the early days of Rescue when locals, climbers and the Police were involved. A lot of the incidents all over Scotland were carried out by the RAF MRT’S who were the primary for Aircraft Crashes. Its a quick look into another world and thanks to Ray for his words.

“The Bogie was part of a narrow gauge railway that ran between Loch Laggan, Loch Treig and the British Aluminium Works in Fort William.

In the 1950s, when the hills were not busy, the RAF had the only Mountain Rescue Teams in Scotland.  The RAF would not allow helicopters to be used on civilian mountain rescues.  We did some very long carry outs, made more difficult if there was more than one casualty.

In Fort William there was a bonus because we were often helped by Lochaber. Junior Mountaineering Club of Scotland (JMCS) and sometimes Hamish MacInnes and his friends.  We most times had a policeman join us, often in his uniform.  However, when the ground got too difficult the team leader would send him down.

In these days there was no Torlundy track.  The walk in to the North Face or the CIC Hut started from the Distillery.  Frequently we were called out from the Jacobite Pub just before the 9pm closing time.  When a torch went out it sometimes meant that the troop was throwing up.

The Bogie was always positioned where the railway crossed the Allt a’ Mhuilinn.  It could only be used if a local trained Policeman was available to operate the bogie.  The stretcher was loaded and as many troops as possible jumped on, to save a walk.  On the bends occasionally some troops would fall off, but fortunately were never injured. 

Health and Safety was not a problem.

In the early 1960s the RAF changed its policy on the use of helicopters in civilian mountain rescues and allowed there use.  The railway was dismantled a long time ago. “

Thank You Ray and also for Digitising all the photos from the RAF Kinloss archives so that some of these tales from the past will never be lost. I have a unique history with all the call -outs of RAF Kinloss MRT since they started in 1944 and moved to RAF Lossiemouth in July 2012. The team is still doing great work working when requested with the local Teams. Things have moved on since these early day.

Lochaber MRT are Scotland’s busiest team and have been around now for over 50 years. lots of changes since then but still the same folk working to help others.

What area does LMRT cover?The Area We Cover
We are based in Fort William, close to the foot of Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in the UK (1344m/4409ft).

In general we cover the area of Lochaber district which takes in the small isles of the Inner Hebrides such as Rum, Muck and Canna out to the West with Knoydart, the only real wilderness area in Britain, forming our North West boundary.

From Knoydart our boundary goes east as far as the National Trust land of Creag Meagaidh midway between Fort William and Aviemore. To the South of Creag Meagaidh we take in much of Rannoch Moor, including all of Corrour estate and up to the western flanks of Ben Alder.

The Southern Border of our area is mainly delineated by the main ridge line of the Mamore hills with Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in Britain, almost in the centre of our area.

A few comments:

A lot of this line wasnt dismantled until the late 70s…I remember seeing the engines running above leanachan…the engine shed was by the bridge that crossed the cour burn…… Dougie Crawford

David Whalley I used to ramble all over the bridges…often on a way back from getting lost on the Aonachs…no map, no compass, forestry waterproofs, rubber dunlop boots and ex army wool trousers…innocence and good luck were all the equipment required!!!😂😂

Cubby – From memory one had to cross it on the approach to the north face of the Ben.

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 Mountain rescue, mountain safety, Mountaineering, Recomended books and Guides, SMC/SMT, Views Mountaineering, Well being. Bookmark the permalink.

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