Looking back today on the last 100 days there have been some interesting thoughts that are in my head.

Lots of emotions and thoughts over the last 100 days.


Sadness.


At first there was great sadness as my grand kids moved South. I was so used to seeing them regularly that hurt. I did fear for the future for them. I missed their cuddles more than ever but they all kept me going throughout with pictures and chats and updates. My sister was in touch daily we are very close, she lives in Ayr and chatted every day.

Health.


I must admit that I had a real worry as I had problems with my breathing past damage to my lungs. I was waiting for a scan when the lock down came. I still am but but had to work at it I made myself go out for my daily exercise that kept me sane.

.
Loneliness.


Living alone has never been a problem for me but I found it hard at times for the first time in my life. My family and so many Good pals stayed in touch and the folk in my village is so helpful. I have shops in the same street that I live and they are superb.hen we met in the street folk had time to speak (maintaining distances) yet I missed the close contact. I missed visiting pals dropping in and getting out and about.
I have an old friend in a Care home she has been on lock down even longer than us. We speak every night. She is well looked after but is on her own room, cut off her family live abroad. That is hard for her yet she is of a generation that copes. I get her some bits and pieces most weeks and drop them off. She waved from her room when I drop them off. A memory I will not forget.


Routine
It was strange but I am lucky to have a big empty beach and forest and most days was out on my bike. It was hard at first due to my breathing and I took it easy. I saw so much wild life and flowers heard so many birds and wild birds. I took some lunch and sat on the beach or the dunes and took it all in. At times I cycled along the beach listening to the waves at times the waves were full of pollen. The weather luckily mostly days was superb and as I have no garden this was my place to go. This was my space and I could see the snow on Ben Wyvis most days. On my bike trips sadly most days as things moved on I picked up rubbish, cans bottles and those awful “disposable barbecues” I even added a pannier to carry the rubbish . Many have been tidying up after the few.

The Media. News, Facebook etc.


At first I listened to it all news but in the end it was once a day. I was saddened by some of my friends attitudes but we are all different ways of coping . To many missing the hills and the wild was their main problem. Yet others were and are coping with family deaths being unable to see friends and the worry about work in the future. Worry about keeping jobs, businesses and looking after their families. Especially with those who are shielding.


It opened my eyes again to how insular we all can be?

Politics


I would hate to be a politician of any party making these decisions during this time? Yet many I hope have learned what is important in life. It’s amazing how many folk are experts with hindsight? I do not get involved in the politics at the moment to me it’s not the time. I leave it to others. There will be lots of time for this? How do we change things for a better future?


Do we need a dare I say it a “COVID tax” for all those who can pay for all the things we take for granted. The NHS and others who need better wages for those who have proved that they are essential, mostly poorly paid? Maybe even a re-evaluation off top earners wages ?


This tragedy has cost the country so much and will take years to recover from? There is lots of work to do.


In all it’s been a strange time, worrying about those wee love and care for. Yet even at my age I have learned a lot about so many things.
I have enjoyed the radio and various podcast. I have read so many books and listened to music. Had a big sort out of gear and will have a load for the charity shops.
I kept my blog going and got some good responses. Yet I could not write my book: for me it was too dark at times. I found that it was easy to get dark thoughts so maybe later. It’s so hard to explain ?


I cannot wait to get out on the hills again it’s going to be so good. I will not go to a busy area as I love the space and solitude. I long to see the wildlife the flowers and the views.
In all it’s been a life changing time something I never thought I would be involved in.
Thanks for all those who stayed in touch and I have tried to contact many who I had lost touch with. It’s going to be a long haul with ups and downs. All we can do is take care try to support our family friends and local business’s. Be careful and remember there are many still out there who are shielding and vulnerable.

Try to see each other’s views not matter how much you may disagree. Look after each other. Write that letter, build bridges and stay in touch. I wonder what the next 100 days will bring?

Hill of the Church


Thanks to all for your kind words. I have not had a drink for over 100 days!


Comments welcome

Posted in Book, Cycling, Enviroment, Family, Flora, Friends, Local area and events to see, Mountain Biking, Mountaineering, Views Mountaineering, Well being, Wildlife | 2 Comments

A great piece from a very talented lady – Lucy Wallace

I am so lucky to meet so many good folk over the years. Many are like me they love mountains and the Wild places. A few years ago I was asked to speak at the Arran Mountain Festival and the speakers before were Lucy and Kirstie who had run all the Arran hills above 700 metres. They did this to raise cash for the local Arran MRT and Mulanje ( Malawi). Both are team member’s. Their talk held in the Corrie Village Hall was superb and a hard act to follow. I loved their enthusiasm and love of Arran and its wildness.

This is what they wrote after their trip.

“Kirstie & I are bowled over by the support, good wishes & hard cash is been pouring in. There’s no denying that it was a tough day. 36km and over 3000m of ascent over 17 long hours. We couldn’t have done it without the help of many folk, inc Kirstie’s partner Mark who drove us to Pirnmill at 4am after a lifeboat callout, & Wally, who physically put us on the summit of A’chir. Our awesome colleagues in Arran MRT were also called out late that night but didn’t call us so as not to jeopardise the attempt. Thank you everyone!They raised £2,417 to support Mountain Rescue on the Isle of Arran (Scotland) and Mulanje (Malawi) To me folk like this are incredible.

Lucy is now the first woman President of Ramblers Scotland

Lucy Wallace

“Well-known blogger and mountain leader Lucy Wallace will become the first woman president of Ramblers Scotland, the walking charity announced today.

Lucy is a professional wildlife guide and outdoor instructor who holds the Winter, Summer and International Mountain Leader awards. She is an accredited Duke of Edinburgh’s Award assessor, working with schools and young people on expeditions throughout Scotland.

She will succeed countryside ranger Ben Dolphin as Ramblers Scotland’s honorary figurehead, following the organisation’s AGM in North Berwick this weekend. She follows in the footsteps of the late conservationist Dick Balharry, award-winning broadcaster Cameron McNeish and Dr Andrew Murray, who was the Scottish Government’s first Physical Activity Champion.

Lucy hopes to use her presidency to encourage even more people to appreciate Scotland’s landscapes and world-class access rights – and to enjoy the health and social benefits of adventures on foot.

Lucy, who is 45 and lives on the Isle of Arran, said: “It will be a huge honour to become Ramblers Scotland’s first female president, and I hope to be the first of many. So many women enjoy Scotland’s outdoors, yet there is a distinct lack of female voices in prominent positions.

“The number of people walking for fun is booming, and I want to use this role to encourage even more people to get outdoors and to build a stronger connection with the amazing natural environment we’re so lucky to have on our doorsteps here in Scotland. I’m also looking forward to meeting our members and joining them in the hills!”

Ramblers Scotland director Brendan Paddy was delighted to have Lucy on board but recognised the appointment of a female president was a “long overdue” step forward in the organisation’s 35-year history.

He said: “We feel truly lucky to have Lucy on board. As a passionate advocate for the outdoors and a highly experienced mountain leader, she has introduced hundreds of people to the natural world, making her the ideal person to inspire even more people to enjoy our country on foot.

“Women have played a hugely-influential role in the history of Scottish outdoor pursuits, from pioneers like Jane Inglis Clark and Nan Shepherd, to more modern heroes like Muriel Gray, Heather Morning and Hazel Strachan.

“While we are excited to welcome our first female president, we entirely recognise that this is a long overdue milestone, particularly as about two-thirds of Ramblers Scotland’s members and more than half our volunteer walk leaders are female.”
The voluntary position is elected on an annual basis, with presidents often serving for the maximum term of three years.

Lucy Wallace grew up in southern England and initially trained as an archaeologist. She moved to Scotland in 2005 with her outdoor instructor husband Wally. She has previously worked at an outdoor centre on Arran and as RSPB Scotland’s information officer for the island before setting up her own wildlife guiding and mountain leading business.”

This is Lucy article.

In typical unassuming fashion Lucy wrote this piece to me its wonderful. I hope you enjoy it.

Lucy Wallace collection.

Place to Play

Anywhere in the West Highlands, but especially the rocky peaks of the Isle of Arran, which I’m lucky enough to call my backyard.

Not a lot of people know this

I trained and worked as a palaeolithic archaeologist for a number of years before becoming a Mountain Leader.

“Rambling post alert 📣This is a piece I wrote for a writing course I’m doing….

I knew, as soon as I saw this on the horizon, that the garden was going to be important.

“Seeds. We need some seeds.”

We stood in Morrisons in Fort William, trying hard not to panic buy. There was no pasta, no paracetamol, no loo-roll, no soap and no hand-sanitiser. We were coming to the end of our planned time in the Highlands, and heading back to Arran soon. We’d realised that if we didn’t hurry up, we might no make it back at all. Staring blankly at the carousel of Mr Fothergill’s finest, I was trying hard to remember what I’d had success with before. “Gardener’s delight, they are supposed to be good, lets get those… We can’t afford to go mad, £5 worth of seeds, that’s our max”.

Lucy Wallace – collection.

In the end we spent £4 on tomatoes, beans, rocket, cavolo nero, and some perpetual spinach that would fail to come up.

When we first bought our little house, we put time and energy into a small veggie plot that was surprisingly productive. It’s a narrow strip, that slopes steeply from the wave cut platform on the shore up to a strip of woodland bordering fields on the moor above. We have a tiny square of lawn behind “first shed”, followed by the veggie patch, which nestles under a rowan tree and the “second shed”. Above shed number two, is a jungle of trees and nettles, as well as infuriatingly persistent invasive species, including Himalayan balsam and rhododendron. Amazingly, we have almost eradicated a virulent patch of knotweed.

As work and our business picked up, we became victims of our own success and before long both of us were too busy, working all over the place, to really care for the garden. The best we could do was keep on top of the invasive species. Our loss was the wildlife’s gain, and an enormous bramble patch took hold where once I’d proudly grown potatoes.

Returning home this spring, lockdown happened within days. Work evaporated. Suddenly we were as time rich as we were cash poor. But we still had to hurry- it was a race against the seasons to clear the brambles and get seedlings in the ground.

I’ve tried hard to make amends to the wildlife for the loss of the brambles. I’ve kept some along the fence line, and left stands of self seeded wild raspberries for the birds. Everything has been organic, mulched with bracken and seaweed. I’ve used home made compost that had been sitting idle for years, (not that we could afford anything else), and brewed the most offensive nettle tea fertilizer. My mum sent me heritage kale, lettuce and mangetout seeds, but I’ve stayed true to that original £4, chitted old spuds from the supermarket, and swapped spare kale and tomato seedlings locally for courgettes, pumpkins, cucumbers and comfrey. My spring onions have been re-grown from kitchen scraps.

Time spent tending the patch has brought me close to my garden in new ways. The robin that follows me attentively, the blackbird that squawks angrily, the tireless wren family and the slow worm in my compost heap have all given me joy. I’ve had surprisingly few battles with slugs, probably thanks to the slow worm, but have done daily rounds to pick caterpillars off the kale and piles of crap from the neighbour’s cats out of the rocket beds.

We have now reached a peak in output for many of our crop. The mangetout plants are capsizing under the weight of their productivity. There is enough lettuce to sink a battleship full of caterpillars and so much winter kale that I have started cutting the young plants just to get a head start on it. I’m still waiting on tomatoes, pumpkins and cucumbers, but the courgettes are imminent. I’m not sure whether the dwarf beans are going to do much, but I haven’t given up. There have been little surprises, such as self seeded kale, that must have been lying in wait for a decade in the fertile garden soil, and a patch of nasturtiums, that I have not seen since 2009. A rambling rose, smothered in baby pink blooms, and badly in need of taming, has eaten the first shed whole.

Lucy Wallace Collection.

It’s been a journey of discovery, both in the physical sense, and of myself. I’ve talked to my seedlings, worried about the sickly and egged on the healthy ones. I’m absurdly proud of every bowl of veg that comes from soil to plate, it feels like a victory against the times. £4 and countless hours of labour and I feel like a miniature farmer. Out of work, and confined to barracks, I may not have been much use to anyone else of late, but I have not been idle.”

Thanks – Lucy

Lucy lives in Arran and runs – MOUNTAIN WALKS AND WILDLIFE WATCHING

Discover the breathtaking mountains, heather clad moors and rugged coastline of Arran with qualified Mountain Leaders.  Walking on Arran is the best way to experience the beauty of Arran’s scenery and magnificent wildlife.  See charismatic animals such as otters, harbour seals, golden eagles and red deer in their natural habitat.

07825 644161 info@arranwildwalks.co.uk

Lucy wrote. I’m a Mountain Leader based on Arran but work all over Scotland and sometimes, the world. When I’m not guiding in the hills I’m also a wildlife guide and run otter watching trips. I work in both the outdoor education and leisure sectors.

Posted in Friends, Mountain rescue, Mountaineering, Well being, Wildlife | Leave a comment

Great days in Applecross.

Sword of Gideon VS 4c – Beleach Na Ba Applecross/ Cioch Nose



This is a Tom Patey classic climb Sword of Gideon. It’s a mountain route at VS and is rather unusual for Scotland as it is at an altitude of 600m but is in fact only a 5 minute walk from the road. This climb can be seen from road

Sword of Gideon.

Ray Shafron on the Sword of Gideon then it rained.



125m, 4 pitches. Park at wee parking spot just below switchbacks on road.

The first pitch is up the easy rock below the climb proper. Head left up crack/ramp at start of first pitch. Interest on first pitch dwindles after those first few moves. Quite bold at the start. 2nd (crux) pitch starts at the ledge, which can be traversed into if avoiding first pitch. Follow the crack up, then traverse left to belay stance. Fairly good gear. Committing 4a/4b move at start of 3rd pitch on good gear. Straightforward after that. 4th pitch starts at ledge, go straight up. Poss to link 3&4, but scope for good belay at top is poor. Better gear for belay at top of pitch 3.

The Bealach used to be an unforgettable drive up or cycle along one of the most dramatic roads on mainland UK, rivalling many a Swiss mountain pass and with terrific views across much of Wester Ross, the whole of Skye, the Islands of Rum and the Outer Hebrides. You will NOT forget this drive or cycle as long as you live. Sadly in my view the NC 500 has changed all that and in height of summer it is a procession of Camper vans, cars and motor cycles it am just being elitist?

It is composed of rough sandstone on the South Face that rises steeply from the road when a bit wet it can make things a bit tricky higher up. I have done the route before once in the wet and found it a bit wild and Dan and Pete had been on it as well a few times. The last time we were there we abseiled off old age and it was very wet and greasy.

The route description says:
“gives easy delightful climbing up to the Base of the steep middle section which forms a clean steep reddish wall.”

That may be true when we were younger and braver.

The first time we climbed this route and then we headed over to the Classic Cioch Nose after dropping into the Coire that was a great day.

The Cioch Nose – The climb description 450 feet, 7 pitches. First ascent Tom Patey and Chris Boonington August 1960

The first time I climbed this route was 1980 when I was up with RAF Valley MRT from North Wales. The day before we had climbed the Torridon Trilogy; Beinn Eighe, Liathach and Beinn Alligin a big 12 hour day. We were up for a 10 day grant. It had been hot and we were tired and staying at Lochcarron in the village hall.

One of the lads who had only got the weekend off Dave Tomkins and had been with us on the Trilogy wanted an easy day. It was decided to climb the Cioch Nose at Sgurr a’ Chaorachain. It was already a classic 3 Star route.

We had a leisurely start as we were still aching from the previous day’s efforts. We parked by the main road and walked into the cliff, it was still very warm. The view of the route is with you all the way in and looks pretty wild and intimidating.

We took my dog Teallach he would wait by the crag and enjoy a leisurely day or so we thought. Even he was tired.

There was no path then to the route and we worked our way up the steep ground to the beginning of the climb.
I had been climbing a lot in Wales so this easy “Scottish Diff” would be no problem.

The guide book was a bit vaguer than the description nowadays. Right from the beginning It was an adventure on steep sandstone with some wonderful situations and great climbing.
The traverse out onto the wall on big holds is superb and what a situation. It seemed to go on for ever, it was never to hard but what a place to be. That wonderful book Classic Rock had a great description of the ascent and the old Black and white pictures in big boots and hill bags made this a real mountain adventure. The belay ledges were spacious but in these days there was a lot of loose rock about. Care was needed and still is.

It was a leisurely day climbing that chimney, the steep wall and a real adventure. We continued up the ridge and found a wee pitch above that was pretty tricky.

We were dehydrated and tired yesterday’s efforts hit us. We descended a gully still damp and loose taking care as there was plenty of loose rock.

I was contouring round the ledges to get back to where we had left the dog. We heard barking and he had shuttled of to the Loch as the midges were at him. He was also dragging my rucksack that I had left with him.

He was fine and we headed back to the land rover as we came under midge attack.

We were the first back at the village hall yet it had been a long day as another group were doing the Torridon Trilogy. (in all 12 of our team completed it that trip incredible)

Poor Dave got a few hours’ sleep and then the drive back to North Wales for work epic. No Health and Safety then.


What thoughts do I have of that day? The midges were out but we caught a breeze higher up we took our time enjoying the situations. It’s a wild place the incredible sandstone rock architecture, the big belay ledges, my companions. Many on their first visit to the West what a place to be. Always the wildness of the corries, the climb and the views were outstanding.

Dan – The move out.

This is a description

An absolute belter of a climb which is best done as part of the A’ Chioch Ridge continuation. Add a few long slings to a light rack. Park at the Bealach na Ba viewpoint and head for the obvious mast. Just short of the summit head east and take the steep path down into Ciore a’ Chaorachain. Be careful this can be slippy and a bit of loose rock. In my mind it is well worth putting on your helmet here?  

The descent.

This is from the UKC Website

“Descended into the Coire along the path and then Gain Middle Ledge by scrambling up A’ Chioch gully for 40m and then right onto a path, the start of the route is 20m past a series of low roofs and starts at an off width crack.

Pitch 1 (30m, 4a) climb the off width and then over some bulges trending left to avoid the small roof, climb a fine corner to a ledge and a choice of belays. Pitch 2 (20m, 4a) thrutch up the awkward corner at the far end of the ledge.

Exit right and climb easier ground to reach a thread belay on the one of the best ledges you’ll find in Scotland. Pitch 3 (40m, 4a) traverse right for 3m, enjoying an intermediate amount of exposure, and then up, past a peg runner, climb a series of horizontal breaks trending slightly left towards a chimney.

Climb and exit this on the right onto another large ledge with an excellent thread belay.

 Pitch 4 (30m) go to the far end of the ledge (CN scratched on the rock) and climb a superb, but short-lived layback. Go right around the bulge and take the easiest line up to a chossy ledge and boulder belay. Pitch 5 (20m) scramble easily up and left over blocks to the false summit to a choice of huge belays.

Head towards the formidable-looking ridge continuation by dropping down the neck and taking the surprisingly easy to follow path up huge blocks towards the well-defined crack in the steepest section of the ridge. Avoid going left past the large gully. Pitch 6 (30m) climb the slab about 10m to the left of the large crack with an awkward move at half-height, to a comfortable thread belay. Pitch 7 (30m) climb up, trending right to easy ground and a choice of solid belays. Delightful scrambling over/around several false summits gets you back to the mast”. To me this is the best approach to me.

Over the years I have done this climb many times. Mostly this was with young team members on their first big mountain route. In these days it was not busy.

I often met Martin Moran the local guide who became a great pal. He was the most unassuming man always helping folk out on the route if they needed guidance. He is now sadly gone in an avalanche in India. Martin was also on the Torridon Mountain Rescue Team and ran a few exercises with the whole team on the route. It was interesting times as the team abseiled down via the various ledges.

This place will always have great memories to me of Martin and great days with so many others. Yet to see Teallach my dog in the Loch surrounded by midges and the remains of my hill bag will always be with me.

The last time I was here I was still recovering from an operation and left Dan and another pal below the start. I felt awful but enjoyed being in this wild place. A huge herd of deer were moving down the Corrie. I watched them and the boys climb the route wishing I was there and then wandered up the nearby Corbett Sgurr a Chaorachainn. Yet I was happy to be out and Dan has promised that at the end of the “Lock Down” we will be back.

Big bag and boots!

In winter this is a different place but that’s another tale for a different day. I will leave you of the views, The Sandstone towers, the islands and the wild panorama of the Western Highlands.

As Donald Bennet says in his great essay in Classic rock “after the climb the temptation is to find a sheltered spot amongst the rocks and gaze westwards. It’s easy to be lazy after such a great climb”  So true, so true.

Posted in Books, Corbetts, Enviroment, Friends, Gear, Health, Hill running and huge days!, Mountain rescue, mountain safety, Mountaineering, Recomended books and Guides, Rock Climbing, SMC/SMT, Views Mountaineering, Weather, Well being, Wildlife | Leave a comment

Hillwalkers and climbers across Scotland have been delighted at news that the ‘stay local’ travel restriction for leisure and recreation is to be lifted from 3rd July.

Back into the hills.

Mountaineering Scotland has welcomed the lifting of the restriction, announced by the First Minister today.

Stuart Younie, Chief Executive Officer of the organisation which represents almost 15,000 walkers and climbers, and acts as a voice for the sector in Scotland, said: “Today’s announcement, and the plans to bring forward a relaxation in travel for leisure is a positive step and one that will be welcomed by our members and outdoor enthusiasts across Scotland. 

“We hope that more people will now be able to enjoy a return to the hills and mountains but continue to play their part and stay safe as they have done over the last few months.” 

The organisation has reminded people that this is not yet a return to normal, and that distancing and hygiene guidelines must still be observed. 

“We all need to remain COVID aware. Think where you are going and consider avoiding places you know are likely to be busy and be sensitive to the concerns of rural communities. The sacrifices we have all been making have helped us get this far in a return to the hills, but the virus is still out there so we would encourage anyone heading to the hills to do so with this in mind and to act responsibly.”

Mountaineering Scotland will be looking in more detail at the First Minister’s statement and updating the guidance for hill walkers and climbers on their website, with a reminder that the lifting of the limit will not take effect until 3rd July.

Mountaineering Scotland’s guidance for hill-walkers and climbers can be found at www.mountaineering.scot/coronavirus/

What’s your plans?

Posted in Enviroment, Health, Mountain rescue, mountain safety, Mountaineering, Munros, Views Mountaineering, Well being | Leave a comment

Update – Sculpture of Collie & Mackenzie. Skye

It’s taken 17years, but final preparations are underway at Sligachan for the sculpture of Collie & Mackenzie.
The unveiling date was scheduled for September and after a lot of uncertainty with the onset of the pandemic,we are pleased to say that we are back on course to place the sculpture near the old bridge at Sligachan.
Thanks to everyone who has stuck with us through thick and thin. It’s been quite a journey which wouldn’t have been possible without your help and support.
It won’t be long now until both men are placed on site looking towards the Cuillin.
Watch this space……….

Posted in Enviroment, Mountaineering, Rock Climbing, Views Mountaineering, Well being | Leave a comment

Save our National Trust Rangers.

NTS cares for some of the most spectacular mountains in Scotland, including 46 Munros. From the Horns of Alligin to Ben Macdui, from the Five Sisters of Kintail to the Aonach Eagach, these are places to stir your soul and challenge you physically. They are unique habitats – Ben Lawers is home to rare arctic-alpine plants; in Grey Mare’s Tail Nature Reserve’s Loch Skeen live vendace, one of the UK’s rarest fish. Meanwhile, Mar Lodge has 4 of the 5 highest mountains in the UK.


How can just 1 person or less look after any of these places? Help us to stop the NTS becoming an absentee landowner and sign our petition https://bit.ly/2B0sHJm


John Muir Trust, Scottish climbing and mountaineering, Scottish Mountaineering Club; Mountain Bothies Association, Rewilding Scotland; Reforesting Scotland; UKHillwalking.com

Posted in Articles, Enviroment, Friends, Mountaineering, People, Views Mountaineering, Well being | Leave a comment

Skye – A few memories.

Skye

In my early days as of now the mountains of Skye was a mystical place. I had joined the Kinloss MRT in 1972 and in these days it was a good 5 hour journey from our Base in Morayshire. There was no bridge then and the Ferry across was still exciting. I remember being told as a young loon you could get duty free on the Ferry! Skye was spoken about with huge respect and I could not wait to go there.

I am sure my first visit was in 1972 in Easter we had a extended Grant. We were there for I think 10 days. We stayed in Mr MacRaes barn in Glenbrittle so handy for the hills. Mr Mac Rae was a long term friend of the team. The ridge was full of snow and hills and summits were hard won. What an introduction the Skye ridge in winter. Early on we failed just below the summit of Sgurr Na Gillian with the late John Hinde. It was full on winter and an eye opener for me. We were late back and John was just back from Denali and had frost bite. It was some introduction. There were few on the ridge in winter in these days.

I was after Munro’s in these days and myself and my mate Tom MacDonald managed to get most done on that trip . I remember being very scared as we tried to find our way along the ridge. There was limited knowledge especially on winter by some of the young team party leaders. Seemingly I woke up in Mac Rea’s barn at Glen Brittle after a dream that I had of a nightmare on the ridge. It was a week of snow ridges and very tricky conditions, long walk – ins and walk outs. I learned so much. There was no let-up most days you start from see level, the hills are punishing and you have stay alert all day.

Next year I had a summer attempt at the ridge and bailed out after Am Basteir exhausted mentally by the day, the concentration and early start at night wore me down. My mate Tom Mac saved my life as I nearly abseiled of the gear loop on my harness on an abseil on the Drums. It was a lucky escape. Our leader “Kas Taylor “a great rock climber was away in his own world and had left us. He always picked his own line up the rock and loved the adventure. Whereas not being the greatest climber I always took the line of least resistance. Tom to his credit gave up his day and came off with me to ensure I was okay a thing I will never forget. That walk out was hard going but it had been a good first attempt. My fingers were raw with the rough Gabbro and I had learned so much.

Kings Chimney

Over the years I got to know the ridge fairly well. I managed several traverses some many in the classic one day trips. It was always the 12 hour top to top time add in the walk in and out it was always a hard day. Often with new team member’s it was over 2 days for many and another with my dog Teallach. Few understand how exhausting physically and mentally it can be leading a party in poor weather when the ridge is wet and slippy. A few times I was in support of mates supporting them with water drop off’s and bringing bivy gear down, hard work at times. There also what seemed endless waits to pick – up them at the end or if they aborted the ridge.

I was in Skye a lot on the ridge fairly often as I climbed over the years. Also the call outs with the local Skye team opened the eyes to the ridge in poor weather. It is the wildest place to be in bad weather and the Skye Team are some folk. I met many of these people some became good pals and we had some laughs with Gerry Ackroyd who was a local guide and Team Leader. He took no prisoners on the hill but we got to know each other well after a big lower from the In Pin on a wet dark night. I also knew Pete Thomas another guide before Gerry and also the Team Leader sadly gone but there knowledge of the ridge was exceptional. The mountains are Alpine and great care is needed. It was incredible to see so where folk can end up and have epics. I always advise wearing a helmet as there can be a lot of loose rock especially if there are parties above.

There were bits of information on the old guides and even a runners guide that we used a lot to show you the “tricks and cheats” on the ridge. This was Andy Hyslops Rockfax guide written in 2002.

There were also a few Skye scrambles guides over the years that many of us used. Skye is a place that few in my mind can say they know well. There have been a few updated guides but most are great but not ideal for taking on the hill. I would photo stat the bits I needed in the pass and they were handy for the newer leaders in the team especially on Rescues.

I was sent a new guide to the Ridge Skye Cuillin Ridge Traverse and it looks superb. Over the last few months during the lock down I have had good look at it. First impressions it’s clear and concise I wish I had this in my early days.

There are so many classic days in Skye:

The Complete ridge traverse is the one that should be on everyone’s list.

Blaven and the Clach Glas Traverse. The Clach Glas traverse is superb and sadly missed by many. The Dubh Ridge – we always in the past did this via the main ridge a swim in the loch and then this classic scramble.

The Cioch Slab/ Cioch Grooves, Direct route ( had rock fall a few years ago ) Cioch West and Arrow route, Collies route to the Cioch a must for all to this incredible summit.

The Cioch Upper Buttres – the Classic Integrity, Trophy Crack and the Crack Of Doom (what a name)

Western Buttress – Mallory Slab and Grove a 1000 feet severe,Diamond Slab and others on this big face.

Sgurr Sgumain Sunset Slab

The Dubhs Ridge

The Dubhs

There are so many others now the great Sea Cliffs and outcrops now mainly in the SMC Guide Book. When the ridge is out there is great exploring to do and these guides let you know where to go. There are so many wonderful places to go and adventures to have. The Island is well placed now with local guides like Mike Lates, Jonah Jones, Adrian Trendall and others. They will give you a great day out in a place that many who go will always come back.

Coire’ A’ Ghrunnda – White Slab Direct.

W.H. Murray “Apart from the initial trouble in climbing on to the ridge, one may proceed unroped up broad acres of boiler plated slabs, whose rock is the roughest gabbro in all the Cuilins. In other words, it is so rough and reliable that only the grossest negligence could bring a man to harm.”

Top tips – Wear a helmet when scrambling, be aware of loose rock and enjoy this special places.

heavywhalleyr

In my early days as of now the mountains of Skye was a mystical place. I had joined the Kinloss MRT in 1972 and in these days it was a good 5 hour journey from our Base in Morayshire. There was no bridge then and the Ferry across was still exciting. I remember being told as a young loon you could get duty free on the Ferry! Skye was spoken about with huge respect and I could not wait to go there.

A very young Heavy and Tom with bobble hat, Paddy and Dave Foy. – Sgur Na Gillean Peak of the young men.

I am sure my first visit was in 1972 in Easter we had a extended Grant. We were there for I think 10 days. We stayed in Mr MacRaes barn in Glenbrittle so handy for the hills. Mr Mac Rae was a long term friend of…

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Glencoe – Curved Ridge Rockfall – Buachaille Etive Mòr

CURVED RIDGE UPDATE.

Curved ridge is the most popular scramble in Glencoe

Curved Ridge.

From Mountaineering Scotland

Following a conversation with Andy Nelson the Glencoe MRT leader I can confirm the following: Recent rockfall is evident on the approach slopes and initial rock steps BEFORE the main ridge itself. Once established on the ridge conditions remain unchanged.

The usual judgement and caution that would be appropriate for journeying on a mountain scramble remains the same. ‘Football’ to ‘Fridge’ size blocks of new rockfall are located near/on the approach slopes/scree/minor rock steps on the approach to the route as far down as below The Waterslide.

(Please be aware that as things ease few have been on the mountains since the winter, as is normal there will be loose rock about after winter thaws and freezes. Be careful please.) Heavy

References Mountaineering Scotland/ Glencoe MRT

Classic Mountain Scrambles in Scotland Andrew Dempster.

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Fathers Day thought 2020.

My Dad he loved his tennis playing right up to the end.

I feel this is especially relevant today?

 Many would not believe that I had a minister as my father was a “Fire and Brimstone minister” a Tee – totaller. I looking back had a great child hood though, though we had very little money in a big manse in Ayr, (he tithed his small salary to the Lord) Yet he was a good Dad loved sport, football (Ayr United) and the mountains. He was a dedicated Church Of Scotland Minister his life was the Church and Mum more or less single handily brought us up all five kids in the Manse in Ayr.

Me and Dad

I was the last of 5 kids the youngest and was more than a bit of a “wild child “as the Ministers son. I feel maybe it was because you got a lot of grief and most folk expected more from you as was the normal kid for a son of the Manse!  I was always playing up a bit rebellious and getting into many scrapes. Dad was very strict and I needed it but looking back he gave me a great start to life though like many I never appreciated it at the time. The rest of the family were well – behaved and as the youngest of the family with three sisters and one brother I was spoiled and often in trouble.

Dad and Mum gave me a love of the wild places, the mountains and sport and we used to go to all of the Ayr United football team games home and away. Dad always wore his dog collar and this often got us into the games for free. I would vanish among the crowd and Dad and Mum would be in the stand. (Mum was always worried I would get arrested) He had a booming voice and it looks like I inherited it and his voice could be heard all around the ground where he was a bit of a local character.

The Church was his life and he worked so hard we hardly saw him. He was an old-fashioned minister who visited his people and was a true hard worker and was always there when you needed him. I see few ministers like that now he knew and loved his people, especially his old folk and would visit them in hospital wherever they were.

In his day he was a very talented runner and won the Arthur’s Seat Race on, several occasions and as Captain of the Hares and Hounds the Edinburgh University Athletics club. His best pal died as an alcoholic very young this gave him his extreme views  on drink. He was a fit man playing tennis right into his later life.

Dad in his church

It was in the Mountains  he spent his early days in the 1930’s at Loch Arkaig in the West Coast as a student Minister visiting the far-flung parishes in Glendessary and about, small Churches with great people. He was looked after by the Head Keeper Cameron Of Loch Eil who carried all the heavy  Sacrament communion  cups and bits and pieces of the sacraments for my Dad  minister to some far-flung parishes.  They would do a few Munros after the services. He loved these days and spoke about them often.

He never forgot and always remembered Cameron and his care and loved the mountains and wild areas. We were often sent venison through the post I remember the venison what a treat. It would arrive in a bloody parcel Mum used to dread it I wonder what the postman thought then?

Galloway Hills

My Dad and I had some great days out. We were in Glencoe when I was very young with Mum and Dad. We were on Bidean Nam Bian and came off the wrong way near Church Door Buttress. The famous climber Hamish MacInnes was in the Corrie it was wet and misty and heard us and our epic. He helped us down my Dad knew who he was this was the mid 60’s and walked us off. Hamish remembers it as Dad told him he was a Minister. Hamish laughs always when we speak about this day. My Dad got a few sermons out of that day.

It was in the hills that I really started to get to know my Dad and when I joined the RAF and joined the RAF Mountain Rescue he was very happy maybe he felt my wildness was being tamed? He helped give me an endurance and though never a great athlete he would always day do your best. I remember as a very young boy about 11 or 12 on the Annual Ayr Advertiser Walk 9 ( about 14 miles over the local Carrick Hills) I collapsed in a lay bye that was a drink and food stop. I said I was finished my Mum wanted to put me in the car but Dad would not let me. I finished the race but learned from that and when the chips were down in the mountains to keep me alive.  

We managed a few great days in our amazing Galloway Hills, The Merrick, Corserine and  Back Hill of the  Bush and of course Arran where we spent so many great holidays.

We had so many wonderful days on the Arran Ridge, Goatfell, A’Chir and the other great peaks. We all went as a family and had such holidays, huge days 12 hours at times and fish and chips on the way home. These are days I will never forget.  The family holidays swapping manses in the Highlands were great fun and more big days on the mountains.

He never wore any kit a jumper as his spare kit and old pair of shoes and trousers, he wore the dog collar at times to get up restricted tracks!  After we lost Mum of leukaemia Dad never got over it.  We had a plan to go round the big Hotels in the Highlands, the Clachaig in Glencoe, Kintail Lodge and the Clachaig on Skye and do the big hills in comfort. Sadly it was not to be what a shame as for once we had a bit of money but Mum died suddenly of leukaemia and Dad took it very hard. He was never the same and he collapsed in the pulpit during Easter week Services and never really recovered he was in hospital till he died. He was all there mentally but the stroke never allowed him to get out of hospital, it was a sad time for all. I came home as often as I could but never really grieved for my Mum or Dad till many years later. I am sure it was as I would see so many fatalities over the years I was struggling at the time.   

You are who you are and your family makes you who you are.

I was very lucky to have had such a Dad and Mum, special people who you have no clue at the time what you owe them. Money means little, love and care is far more precious, I was a wild teenager and yet they still loved me and did their best, I will never forget that. They were always there to advise and keep you right never easy especially throughout my youth.

I do not get to my home town often but when I do there are still many who remember my Dad. I always get the stories of how he looked after his flock. They also remind me of how wild I was that is 60 years later. 

On Father’s day and every day please give Mum and Dad your love and tell them how much you care for them.

Thanks Dad for a great start so sad that we never got the holiday we planned.

Yet every time I am out in the wild places you and Mum are with me. I thank you for the great start and only recently through the media folk still tell me what a great minister you were to your congregation. There are few like you nowadays!

Thinking of you today and always!

1956 Family photo. The wee one is me with my Grandpa, he was a star.
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“Tranters Round” The Longest Day copied from notes left by the Late Jim Green Kinloss Mountain Rescue.

The Late Jim Green Mountain Gangrel.

This is an article by an old pal sadly gone Jim Green. Its about a route that at the time was and in my mind still is a classic. Tranters Round. In these days of Ultra running the Ramsay Round and records being smashed this is a day many mortals can aspire to.

These are Jim’s words

Phil Tranter.

“The heart of the Central Highlands of Scotland is a vast upland wilderness; its interior is remote and difficult to access. It is bounded to the North by Glean Spean to the East by the A9 and the Pass of Drumochter, south by Rannoch moor and West by the great Glen. In its South – West Corner in the district of Lochaber are two great hill ranges, the Mamores to the South and running parallel to the North are the Grey Corries which lead on to the Aonachs, Carn Mor Dearg and Ben Nevis. The late Phillip Tranter, a noted Scottish mountaineer of the day done, first completed a traverse of these hills in June 1964. It is a classic long distance walk and is seldom repeated, it covers over 36 miles and 20,000 feet of ascent 18/19 Munros depending on what book you read. The undertaking is only feasible in mid June when, if the weather is fine, there is no real darkness at night. The Kinloss Mountain Rescue Team were based at Fort William the weekend of the 22/23 June, Davie Walker and myself decided to have a crack at it.

The intention was to start and finish at mid-day so that the rest period at the middle of the walk would coincide with the greatest period of darkness. This happy arrangement meant that we were spared the usual mind numbing dawn start that a big days entails and that the evenings social activities need not be curtailed. In the event, impatience drove us out the bothy at 1030 and after a good greasy breakfast we were dropped off at Glen Nevis. The weather was dreary and overcast with a forecast of rain and strong winds (not ideal). The ascent of the first hill, Mullach Nan Coirean via the forestry commission jungle at its foot, and entered the cloud at 2000 feet, we were to remain in it for most of the trip. The Mamores usually have a lot of wildlife but we were destined to see very little, just the occasional high attitude frog. There was no delay at the summit and we pressed on to Stob Ban the light coloured peak due to the quartz-capped summit, which can make the mountain, looked snow covered. There were a large party of soldiers on the summit, all looked like they did not wish to be there, again we did not delay.

A Party with two leaders is usually leaderless and today was no exception. After about 10 minutes of descent we broke cloud and spotted in the distance the small village of Kinlochleven that had apparently changed its location. The compass came out and remained out the rest of the trip, Dave was conned into the navigation good experience for him! At the next beleach we had a drink, left the sacs and went for the outrider Sgurr a’ Mhain.  This peak dominates the Mamore ridge and has a fine view of Glen Nevis. The glen is popular with tourists and its river the scene of an annual raft race, which is both spectacular and amusing.

We retraced our footsteps back to the main ridge and quickly took in the next two hills, Sgorr an Iubhair and Am Bodach, (The Old Man), a few Muros done and I was feeling like one! The next peak was another outrider, An Gearanach (The complainer) it is approached by a narrow and shattered rock ridge. A few weeks later a couple of the Team were involved here with a fatal accident in this area. Back on the main ridge things were going well and we moved on to the last four of the Mamores.

This group is different in character to the rest of the range, wilder separated by lower passes, steeper ascents. We now embarked on the remotest part of the journey.  The first two hills, Na Gruagaichean and Binnein Mor were seen off easily enough and we had a break below Binnein Beag by the lochan.  This can be a lovely spot on a good day; today it was bleak, grey and windswept, spray being blown off the lochans surface. There is a good stalkers path leading to the foot of Sgurr Eilde Mor but its slopes are steep, rubble strewn and exhausting.  The Mamores complete, we spoke on the radio to one of our parties who were having a wee epic on the Ben, on a wet and greasy Observatory ridge. We offered them our condolences and set off down the long gentle pleasant ridge that leads to the Alt Coire Rath, halting for a food break, chocolate (we ate 12 bars each on the day) The river can cause problems in really wet weather but today was mere boulder hop. Only a few weeks previously a well-known Leuchars troop was thwarted a on his attempt on the same route. He beat an ignominious retreat back to Glen Nevis below the very same hills he had sought to traverse. That taught him to come playing in our area!

We were now concerned with the rapidly diminishing daylight it was about 10 pm, so we started moving up Stob Ban by a sloping traverse and ascent, arriving on the summit in total darkness at midnight. Head torches were useless and only gave a confused glare in the swirling mist. To crack this big day within 24 hours we needed reasonable visibility we knew we had problems. The descent down the boulder field was a tricky dodgy business and we kept close together due to the rocks we were dislodging. Progress was now slow and a rather futile bivouac was inevitable. We stumbled on a bit more, found a small burn and got out the poly bags. We carried no sleeping bags as weight was at a premium. The stove was soon on and we settled down to a few brews. The purr of the stove and the rain pattering on our bags let us doze fitfully and we rose at the first signs of dawn about five. Stiff and damp we were now into the Grey Corries and its outriders, so named because of their rocky nature and light grey appearance. Visibility was down to few yards and the wind was now against us. I annoyed Davie with my running commentary on what views are possible from these mountains. This part of the day is just a blur but we were back on schedule and we could still pull it off within 24 hours.

The final group was ahead of us, usually referred to as the “big four” on account of their height. Aonach Beag can be an awkward hill approaching from this side.   Local knowledge was not used and for some reason we decided to miss the normal detour to the South and up a prominent gully on the face. The gully was steep, loose, mossy and wet, the exposure considerable. In the end we the gamble paid of and we reached the summit plateau, very weary. Aonach Mor was our next objective, the 24-hour target was now beyond us and we slowed the pace and we found its summit after a second sweep, large cornices were still evident.

To reach the next beleach we had to revert to dead reckoning mode, we could not afford any costly mistakes. Here we met our first other hill walkers of the day, they were heading for Carn Mor Dearg via a different ridge.   Dave soon outpaced me on the ascent and I left in my own silent world, found the ascent purgatorial. We were pleased, however, to be up well before the other party was a bit of a physiological bonus. Again there were no views, the connecting ridge to the Ben is rocky and narrow and we passed the Abseil posts that the Kinloss Team had erected in the early Sixties. The ascent to the summit was wearisome and unending but the summit finally hove into sight, full of tourists. We found a quiet corner to rest.

On the way down we paid dearly for choosing lightweight boots our feet were a mess and progress painful. We abandoned the Tourists route on the way down for a grassy ridge and the descent took 3 painful hours, the ascent is usually quicker! A land rover was waiting for us at the Youth Hostel and we reached the road 28 hours after leaving it. The sun came out. Back at Base camp Dave wasted no time briefing the Duty Cook, “ All right I suppose” We drank a few brews and limped away in search of sleeping bags and were snoring in seconds. It had been a long day.”

A brief article on a great Scottish day, by one of our finest troops the late Jim Green. Jim was a true hill “gangrel” and a real character that loved the mountains. Jim loved his fags and his beer and was a superb hill man. I wonder how many fags he smoked on that day!!! His companion was another real hard man Davie Walker, Ex Valley, Kinloss and Leeming, a powerful combination on the hill and socially!

I was the Leuchars troop who had failed previously; such was the rivalry that was between teams in those days.

Footnote:

I had tried the round with Keith Powell and had got stopped by no light and the river in spate due to awful weather. I went again this time alone with my dog Teallach in 1986. We went very lightweight with no bivy kit and managed the day I used my running shoes “Walshes” The Mamores went in 7 hours, no problem, and weather good I felt very strong. The descent of the last Mamore was difficult as the cloud came in and I did not take a break till Stob Ban. The dog wanted to walk off down the glen, he wanted home. I was on the other Stob Ban in 10 hours, The Grey Corries and outriders in 6 hours, (long drag and very hard for me from here to the end) the Big 4 to Youth Hostel 7 hours 30 minutes. There was no one to  meet me and I crashed in the car with a smelly dog for several hours. It was a great day we stopped often watched the hills change in the light and it was one of these days where you wish it would never end. I was strong then but my dog even stronger he waited for me kept me on route and I am sure he was having fun. In these days of Old Age it and “Lock Down” its great to look back and see others in my Mountaineering Club acheive this great day. Rachel and Graham on his day off from his Munros in 100 days did Tranters a few years ago.  I envy them as my pals who do the Ramsay Round in incredible times.

Times are a changing but how I long for these days again maybe a couple of Munros in a day now if I get the chance.

Refereneces https://www.gofar.org.uk/tranters-round

 Books The Big Rounds David Lintren

 The Mountains are Calling Jonny Muir

The route has now been done many times over the years by several troops in the RAF teams that I know off, Ray Shaferon, Rushie, Steve Price and Jenny Hodnett. Many have done it longer, slower and some have added in the Easins! I hope they are still going for it.

The next Year I did the North and South Clunnie Kintail in 20 hours no bivy, honour regained I was now a Kinloss Troop again. Memories! The only way is to go out and try, and if you don’t succeed, try, try, try again.

At the end of Tranters

Off course nowadays there are so many other big hill days about but the longest day was always the best if the weather was good. It is hard to think that we had to carry all the gear as well in these days. Nowadays this route is often done and the routes they get bigger over the years.

Good Training days for it.

A tired Teallach

The Mamores, The Fannichs, The North and South Clunnie, The Shenevall 5/6 and An Teallach, Beinn Dearg 6, Both sides of Glencoe, The Skye ridge, the Cairngorm summits, so many others it’s all there but enjoy it these are days you will never forget.

Heavy Whalley

Ramsay’s Round.
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