4 seasons in a day on Beinn Eighe at the Lancaster crash at the Triple Buttress with two special people.

Heavy rain clouds on the way over to Torridon. Still stunning though?

On Sunday I was up at 0500 and away by 0545 it was raining as I headed over to the West Coast to Torridon to meet some pals for a visit to the Beinn Eighe Lancaster crash in the wild and beautiful Coire Mhicfherchair. The rain got pretty heavy after Inverness and the hills were  cloud hidden and some of the showers were heavy but the road was empty and it was an easy drive over to the West, what a difference when there is no traffic on the roads.

May wet gear off and on some expert advice with the local expert Eoghain McLean.

I arrived early at the car park it was busy already and parked next to Heather and Nick’s magic VW camper-van and was welcomed in the rain by a cup of tea. My long time pal, Eoghain MacLean arrived he was the ex Team Leader of the Torridon and Kinlochewe Mountain Rescue Team. He is now retired and is a superb wildlife photographer he was joining us for the day. We were in great company that man knows his hills and the wild life. Also Geoff arrived ready for his annual pilgrimage to the crash site where his Uncle Flying Officer R. Strong was killed in the Lancaster crash.  Geoff was staying at the Loch Maree Hotel and had  a big drive up from the Midlands. He had stopped in Fort William the day before and met Heather’s Dad Joss Gosling who was in the RAF Kinloss Mountain Rescue Team and was on the call -out for the Lancaster in 1951. Joss is now 88 and Heather was going up to the small memorial on the propeller for Joss as it is a place that means so much to him and Heather and the family.

An easy river crossing. Sometimes this can be fierce.

The day starts of from the car park and starts gaining height taking the wonderful path along Coire Dubh Mhor.

Heather and Nick enjoying the sun and the wild views.

The forecast was to get brighter later in the day and as the showers came in  heavy at times and with the wind it was hard to get the rest to believe me. It did though and as we left the main path the weather brightened and this wild part of hill looked superb with the lochans sparkling in the sun and the big Corbetts looking great. All along we followed the huge bulk of Sail Mhor that towers above impressively.

This is a wild place.

We saw the hinds down by the river spotted by our wild life guide Eoghain and as we made our way up the hill this place gets wilder and wilder. Off the path this is wild country and we marvel at our path that wynds up the hill it is an incredible walk. As you walk the views change, you can see the huge hidden Corries of Liathach and all the way to the West every step the views open. I love this place. It was not a day to rush and all were going well, we had plenty of stops to drink it all in. The many lochans, the huge boulders and the space this is a place that nature makes us look so small?

The mist lifting on the Northern Pinnacles of Liathach

The final hour into the Corrie lip is stunning as you turn round the hill and head for the round Sail Mhor the path steepens into the Corrie. The waterfall was flowing after the recent drought as the path steepens, the breathing gets harder and the sun came out getting ready to welcome us to one of the wildest views in Scotland.

The last pull up what a backdrop? A fine view of Baosbheinn and Beinn an Eoin

 

From  Walk Highlands

“Compared to the majesty of Liathach, Beinn Eighe looks less impressive from the road – an enormous and uninviting scree-girt ridge. Hidden away from the traffic however is its finest feature – the magnificent Coire Mhic Fhearchair, one of the finest corries in Scotland. A popular and straightforward hill walk reveals the classic view of the towering Triple Buttress reflected in the waters of a beautiful lochan. ” So well said.

When Heather’s father Joss first saw this place in that winter in 1951 after a 4 hour walk in deep snow  and terrible weather from the other side of the mountain he said ” it was Cathedral like with the Triple buttress and the loch covered in deep snow”.

The way Joss went in at first in 1951 – no path from about half way in, wild country add snow and poor weather?

What they came across in that day stayed with him all his life and one can only imagine the horror these young men came across. Today it was benign a bit chilly but we needed a stop we had lunch and some time to think and enjoy this wild place.

Break time.

From here it was follow the loch on the left side itwas a sight today almost turquoise and clear along the path and then to the far end with the burn flowing in and the grass by the waters edge. All the time the Corrie opens up the huge cliffs over 1000  feet tower above the deep slashes of gullies with snow still there and the wild quartze screes and with the loch is there a finer corrie in Scotland?

From the end of the loch the wreckage appears. An engine from the Lancaster and some armoured plate.

As you wander up the screes the wreckage is every where huge tyres, engines, metal every where it is massive and a huge amount remains from 1951, it is a sombre place. You spot new debris on each visit and the power that occurred here in 1951 gives sombre thoughts.

One of the huge tyres.

The screes are full of bits and pieces and this must be easily my 30th visit to the Corrie in the past on the way to the summits or a rock climb or winter climb here. I have shown so many folk this place and its secrets, each time it is different in summer and winter.  I find so many new pieces of wreckage, and it is ever-changing with the weather especially in winter when the heavy snow moves it downhill. The constant power of nature.

Heavy going on the screes.

We met a  young lad  from RAF Lossiemouth on his own and it was his first visit to the site and we showed him the memorial that is rather battered by the weather since it was put on the propeller on the 50 th anniversary in 2001 and needs replaced?

Weather worn ?

It was good to spend some time here and great that Geoff and Heather were with us and we all had a bit of time at the memorial on the propeller.

 

It was then time to  have a few minutes and few more thoughts and then wander back a fair journey but the sun was out and the whole Corrie looking great in the light.

We were soon back at the head of the loch had another break and then another bit of time to enjoy this place and the views. I thought of those who had lost there lives here and yet they are not forgotten and the wreckage will be a constant reminder of what occurred here in that wild night in 1951.

THE CREW:-

 

PILOT

 

 

Flt Lt H S Reid

SECOND PILOT Sgt R Clucas
NAVIGATOR Fg Off R Strong
SIGNALLER Flt Lt P Tennison
FLIGHT ENGINEER Flt Sgt G Farquhar
SIGNALLERS Flt Sgt J Naismith
  Sgt W D Beck
  Sgt J W Bell

 

Natures landscape magnificent.

It was a great wander back in the sun the knees were a bit sore but the views made up for that and by 1630 we were back in the car park having a cup of tea in the van. It was then over to the Torridon Inn for a great tea. We met old pals Kallie and Taff for the meal so we had a  catch up. In between Heather called her Dad and I managed a few minutes on the phone with him. Heather told Joss that she had worn a RAF Mountain Rescue jacket that I had got for him at the memorial. Joss was over the moon and the photos will be one he will treasure as I will. Special moments for us all.

Heather at the memorial with the RAF MRT Jacket.

As we get older we look at things so differently and as a young man charging round the hills at times we forget who and what went before us. Joss is from a generation that I look up to, what they did with the limited gear, equipment and training and what we have today is due to their hard won lessons being passed on. It was well worth it a great day a long one getting home after 2100 nearly 16 hours on the go.

People ask why do I visit these places again and again. Because to people like Geoff and Joss they mean so much.

“We follow in the footsteps of heroes”

Special thanks to Eoghain MacLean for his help and guidance all day, what a man a joy to be on the hill with. To Torridon a place that will always be a huge part of my life thanks for the day as always you never let me down.

The man from Kinlochewe. Thanks!

Beinn Eighe poem Oct 2012

Unseen from the road, the majestic cliffs are hidden.

The long walk, views expanding as we climb.

The views expanding as we climb.

Liathach brooding in the mist, is watching?

As usual we meet a family of deer

They have been there for many years

1951 Joss Gosling of the RAF Kinloss Team in the Corrie with some of the wreckage.

What have they seen?

Joss Gosling with a wreath at Beinn Eighe, what a man.

Great cliffs Cathedral like

Great cliffs sculptured by time and nature.

Cathedral like?

Then the wreckage, glinting in the sun.

Wreckage glinting in the sun?

 

This is a wonderful poignant place.

Only too those who look and see.

How mighty is this corrie?

This Torridon giant Beinn Eighe.

Torridon  – I love this place.

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Early start again – Off to Beinn Eighe to the Triple Buttress and the Lancaster Crash.

Last year approaching the Triple Buttress of Beinn Eighe a powerful place.

I will be heading off just before 0600 to meet a few pals including Geoff a relative of one of the crew from the 1951 Lancaster Crash. Geoff has annually visited the great Corrie on Beinn Eighe and pay his respects. It will be a great drive  to Torridon on the West Coast and then the 2 and a half hour walk into the wildest Corrie in Scotland. The views are outstanding all the way in and I never tire of the journey into it and the impressive Loch Coire Mhic Fherrichair. Heather ( Joss’s Goslings daughter who was in the RAF Kinloss Team in 1951 and her husband Nick are also coming. Heather has never been to the Coire and see where her father was nearly 65 years ago.

The weather looks not bad so we will see how it goes, whatever happens I am sure that Geoff, Heather and Nick will enjoy the day as I will. We plan to have a meal after the hill and I am sure we will be ready for it. Also Eoghain the ex Torridon Team leader is also coming so we will be in good hands.

Memorial on the propeller at the wreckage below the cliffs. A poignant place.

 

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Carrbridge – the 300 year old pack horse bridge how many stories does it have?

Yesterday was a great day and I was off to Newtonmore for a game of golf. As I stopped to pick up my pal Tom Jones for a game of golf at Newtonmore I was as always very early so I went into Carrbridge to the wee shop. The village was busy at 0830 lots of tourists and all taking photos of the wonderful bridge, the village is a bonnie place and in the sun with the flags out for the 300 Anniversary of the bridge a wonderful sight.  This bridge is one of the most iconic visitor attractions in the Cairngorms, the old pack-horse bridge across the River Dulnain at Carrbridge was built-in 1717. The bridge was built to allow funeral processions to access Duthil Church when the river was in spate. Because of this, the bridge was known locally as ‘the coffin bridge’.

The famous Carrbridge 300 years young.

The bridge was funded by Brigadier-General Alexander Grant of Grant, who paid �100 to mason John Niccelsone (Nicholson) to create what is the oldest known stone bridge in the Highlands.

All that remains of the bridge is a single span, arcing high into the air across the swiftly rushing river below. The parapets were washed away by floods in 1839. There is a viewing area at street level above the bridge, and steps down the bank of the river to a lower viewing platform almost at water level. Well worth a visit any tales of the bridge?

The golf was great at Newtonmore a  fun course made very welcome, we had a diet busting bacon roll well done and tea before we  started and I met an old Mountain Rescue pal from the Cairngorm Mountain Rescue Team , Malcolm Slater and we had a great catch up of the old times. So many names came up, Peter Cliff. Hamish, Roger Wild and many others and it was great to catch up with an old pal Malcolm was a fair climber in his day and looking well.

The wild man of Newtonmore.

The views all day were outstanding with the Corbett Creagh Dubh dominating and the Mondaliaths looking great in the sun and the golf was even better. I enjoyed the hospitality and catching up with my pals and having the health to enjoy a game. It was hot and the sun screen was on early as was the hat for the bald head. The sun makes everything look great and the meal in the gold club superb. I went back to Carrbridge to pick up my car and then enjoyed a sunny drive home over the Dava Moor where there is huge construction going on with a new big wind – farm, progress ?
I stopped to buy some fresh eggs and realised I had duck eggs when i got home! Any ideas what to do with them. Saturday will be an easy day getting ready for an early start for Beinn Eighe and a long day tomorrow. It is raining now and we need it.
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Past visits to the Lancaster Crash on Beinn Eighe.

With wing below the huge cliffs.

This Sunday I am re – visiting Beinn Eighe with one of the crew relatives  of Fg Off R Strong to the small memorial that is on the propeller on the screes below the huge Triple Buttress.

The memorial on the prop.

It will be a special day as always as I am also meeting Joss Goslings daughter Heather and her husband up to the crash site. Her Dad Joss was in the RAF Kinloss Mountain Rescue Team in 1951 and was involved on the huge call – out that went on for several months till all the crew could be recovered due to the heavy snow. Joss is 88 tomorrow so we wish him a happy birthday.

 

Joss doing an interview for BBC Radio Scotland.

There is plenty of wreckage still about and with the huge buttress above it is an poignant place

Tyre from crash, still there after 75 plus yaes

There is wreckage everywhere the gully above is known as fuselage gully  and has a propeller jammed in it.

Prop high in gully

I hope the weather holds and Geoff gets to the site in reasonable weather.

“Great cliffs sculptured by time and nature.

Wreckage, glinting in the sun.

This is a wonderful poignant place.

Only too those who look and see.

How mighty is this corrie?

This Torridon giant Beinn Eighe”

Lancaster.

On the 13th March 1951 at 1804hrs, Lancaster TX264 call sign ‘D’ Dog of 120 Squadron, converted for reconnaissance purposes, took off from RAF Kinloss, a ‘fog free’ climate of the Moray Coast between Lossiemouth and Nairn.  The pilot was Flt Lt Harry Reid DFC, 24 years of age, a total crew of eight with a Second Pilot, Navigator, Flight Engineer and four signallers.  It was a ‘Navigational Exercise’ via Cape Wrath, the very name a ‘mingled feeling of anger and disdain’ this being the extreme north-west point of the Scottish mainland and named after the Viking word ’hvraf’ meaning a turning point where the Vikings turned south to the Hebrides in the ninth century.  The cape is isolated and its heathland untamed.  Around midnight the aircrew flew over the Lighthouse.The last position, sent by radio was at 0127hrs 60 miles north of the Cape, this was the very last message from the aircraft.

At 0200hrs a boy living in Torridon, on the east end of Upper Loch Torridon, looking through his bedroom window saw a red flash in the distance, but didn’t think any more about it until he saw the headlines in a Newspaper, ‘Missing Plane Sought’ and this was two days after the aircraft went missing.  He mentioned it to the local Postmaster who immediately contacted RAF Kinloss.  Similar reports had been received.  An Airspeed Oxford was sent to search which concentrated on Beinn Eighe.  The wreck of the Lancaster was sighted on the 16th March.

“Wreckage, glinting in the sun.

This is a wonderful poignant place.”

On the 17th March the Kinloss RAF Rescue Team arrived in the area and on the 18th approached Beinn Eighe from the North and into Coire Mhic Fhearchair from Loch Maree.  Wreckage from the Lancaster was found after arriving at the foot of the Triple Buttresses and lying in the ‘corrie’.  A ‘corrie’ is a semi-circular hollow or a circular space in a mountain side.  This particular wreckage had fallen, the bulk of the aircraft being much higher with the crew inside.  At the foot of the Western Buttress were the port wing, undercarriage, two engines and various cowlings.  On the following day the starboard wing and some other parts had been blown down by the strong winds, but still no fuselage.

The next day another party managed to climb higher and spotted the fuselage, burnt out, but couldn’t reach it.  Further attempts were abandoned for the time being. It took a few months to recover the crew. The team had simple gear and limited training this was 1951 and even today with all our modern gear this place in winter is only for the experienced winter mountaineer any way off the mountain when snow covered takes care.

1951 The RAF Kinloss Mountain Rescue Team at Beinn Eighe

THE CREW:- OF THE LANCASTER

 PILOT

 

 

Flt Lt H S Reid

SECOND PILOT Sgt R Clucas
NAVIGATOR Fg Off R Strong
SIGNALLER Flt Lt P Tennison
FLIGHT ENGINEER Flt Sgt G Farquhar
SIGNALLERS Flt Sgt J Naismith. Sgt W D Beck Sgt J W Bell.
 
 

Such a wonderful place.

 

 

.

 

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The Beinn Eighe Lancaster Crash visit to the Triple Buttress on Sunday

This has been a busy time of year for visiting some of the many aircraft

 

crashes on the Mountains, two weeks ago  I was in Skye a

 

 

 

t the American  F111 crash site on Sgur Na Stri.  Next week I was up at  the Anson Crash near Ben More Assynt with the Commonwealth War Graves Commission checking on the new memorial. This Sunday I am taking a relative Geoff up to the Beinn Eighe Crash  below the Triple Buttress. One of the team from 1951 has been a special pal for many years Joss Gosling he was a National Serviceman in the Kinloss team at the time of the crash. He gave me some of his photos of the incident and a great insight into this incident.  Hopefully Joss Gosling who is now a sprightly 88 this Saturday will be thinking of us when we visit. His daughter and her husband will visit with me  hopefully the weather will hold. They have never been before and I know Joss will be proud of Heather and that after hearing the tales by her Dad for many years she will see where her as a very young man was all those years ago was.  This is an impressive place at any time but this Sunday it will be special.

The Triple Buttress Beinn Eighe

Joss thankfully took many photos of the  team at the crash site and the conditions they were in it was a heavy winter. It gives an idea of how difficult things were at the time, the Loch is frozen over completely with feet of ice. When you see the simple gear they had and training this was during National Service when team member’s were about for 18 months. This was a big incident for the RAF Mountain Rescue and huge lessons were learned for the future out of this tragedy.  It had a huge effect on Joss and when he speak about it he speaks with such compassion and humility for all that occurred that winter. It took months to recover all the casualties and the team revisited the mountain regularly.

 

The RAF Kinloss MRT at the Triple Buttress in 1951 – Photo Joss Gosling collection.

“We follow in the footsteps of giants”

Anyone else about for Sunday ?

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Tick the Hills and climbs do not let the ticks tick you ! Be aware. Wild fires as well just now!

 

Despite a thorough search I found another sheep tick again after ny hill walk at the weekend, it was still tiny but I had missed it, they are hard to locate. Despite being covered up the get in and both were near my waist so please be aware as we all should know now they can cause huge problems. I make no apology for repeating the warnings and please do not forget your pets.

Ticks

  • With the arrival of spring, now is a good time to brush up on your knowledge of ticks; what they are, where they live, the diseases they can carry, and how to minimise your risk of infection.
  • Being out in the countryside or even town parks and gardens where wildlife is present may put you and your pets at risk from tick bites?
  • Around 3,000 people in the UK contract Lyme disease (Borreliosis) from a tick bite each year?Recent research suggests that the prevalence of Lyme disease bacteria in the UK tick population is considerably higher than previously thought?

The most important tick prevention behaviour is regular checking of your body, particularly the skin folds, and prompt removal of any ticks found. It is important to try and remove ticks within 24 hours of attaching.

The following measure can also help to prevent tick bites.

  • Use of repellent on skin (DEET) and/or permethrin on clothing
  • Avoiding contact with tall vegetation where ticks are likely to be questing
  • Walk on the paths or centre of tracks where possible rather than in the long grass or verges
  • Wearing light coloured clothing to easily see ticks and brush them off before they attach to skin
  • Tuck trousers into socks or shoes to minimise ticks under clothing
  • Regular checks for ticks on clothing
  • Regular use of tick treatment on companion animals and regular checking and removal of ticks from pets. Different tick species are found in different habitats, but the ticks most commonly found on humans or their pets are found in woodland, heathland, upland or moorland pastures and grassland. Ticks are particularly abundant in ecotones, the transition zone between two vegetation communities, such as woodland and meadow or shrub communities, which permit a wider range of potential hosts.

Removing a tick safely

If you are bitten, follow these simple steps to safely remove ticks

  • Removing a tick safely

If you are bitten, follow these simple steps to safely remove ticks

    1. Remove the tick as soon as possible using fine tipped tweezers or a tick-removal tool.
    2. Grasp the tick head parts as close to the skin as possible,
    3. Pull upwards firmly and steadily, without jerking or twisting (twisting is not recommended as this increases the chance of the mouthparts breaking off, thereby remaining in the skin and increasing the chance of a secondary localised infection).
    4. Don’t squeeze or crush the tick’s body as this could increase the risk of infection by prompting the tick to regurgitate saliva into the bite wound.
    5. After removal of the tick, apply an antiseptic to the bite site.
    6. Don’t use petroleum jelly, liquid solutions, freeze or burn the tick.
    7. After the tick has been removed, continue to check the bite site over the subsequent month, looking for signs of increased redness or rash.
    8. Consult your doctor if any symptoms develop.

How small – Yet they can cause real problems. 

Wild fires – the hills are so dry just now another wild fire in Glen Etive yesterday, please be careful and be aware of the dangers of naked flames just now, they cause so much damage and danger. As I was golfing at Hopeman on Monday a wild fire broke out near Primrose bay and was soon ranging the Fire Brigade arrived and sorted it quickly. This is not so easy in the mountains so please be aware.

 

 

 

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Fingers just back to normal after Skye – new Munro book “Millennial Munros” A Posties Round.

I was in Skye for 4 days over a week ago staying at The Junior Mountaineering Club hut at Coruisk we had great weather and a superb time. Skye is famous for it rough rock Gabbro

( I used to ensure that the newer RAF Mountain Rescue Team members knew its name ) and it was nicknamed “Grab -rro” it is famous for its superb friction but so rough on the hands and body and its roughness makes  your finger tips sore as you use your hands a lot on the steep and rough rock and  ground.

The Cuillin Hills on Skye are well known by rock climbers – the coarse, crystalline rock provides excellent grip. These mountains are made of gabbro, a dark, coarse-grained igneous rock.  The coarse grain size shows that the gabbro crystallised slowly, deep underground. It was probably intruded deep beneath a volcano that erupted around 50 million years ago.
The rocks have been cut into sharp ridges and mountain peaks, with deep U-shaped valleys now flooded by the sea, like the loch in the foreground. This scenery is typical of land that has been carved out by glaciers it is a wild place.

In fact your finger prints vanish with the abrasion and roughness of this volcanic rock and as is everywhere on the ridge there is no avoiding it.  It as rough as a file on your fingers.

After 2 days my finger tips felt so raw that after the third it was sore to touch the rock at times. Now after a week away from Skye they have come back to normal “Skye fingers”no more! In the past after two days rock climbing on the ridge I used to get this regularly now it was another reminder of Skye days. The hard thing was washing as the water was so sore on your tender fingers.

You need your hands and a helmet on Skye and maybe gloves on the descent? Rough ground where care is needed.

Today’s top tip: A tip when Skye is to wear light gloves on the descents as I seen a few injuries to hands when slipping on the way down and wear a helmet especially if people are above you!

On the Dubh ridge Skye a sea of slabs and rock. Just after this my pal was hit by a falling rock – we should have had our helmets on ! We were lucky that day as we had to go down and he had a massive bump on his head  ! Another lucky day!!!

I was sent a copy of a new Munro book very kindly by a pal and I do enjoy reading and took it to Skye and read it every night in my tent. I had forgotten how enjoyable a book is to read by torchlight in a tent in a place do special. It reminded me of the big walks where I carried a book every day despite the weight and loved the break and freedom you got away from the grind in a good book. I also read a lot on expeditions in bad weather it was time to sit and wait for the weather to break. Happy days .

The book :  Millennial Munros

I enjoyed this book and its tales,  the hard graft to get a plan into action the worries costs, tome, planning,doubt and to break the record for the  Munros at the time and then take 17 years to write about it? Now that is different and the self propelled method the swimming scary or what?  This book makes you think all the time and the ending is different in many ways and is food for thought.  Charlie is one of a bunch of hill runners who I have always admired they travel light and fast on the hills. They are a band of brothers and sisters who have few egos and I  have often met them on the hills and marvelled at their grace. Few can appreciate the joy of the freedom they experience moving fast and light using fitness and stamina to take mountaineering to another level.

There are no “prima donas” here, few get the sponsorship or publicity they deserved yet they are a small band growing in numbers on the hills. They are a tight group and love their sport and these wild places and they have a unique camaraderie  This book is an insight into a different world but you get the effort and sweat that such a tale tells.

Enjoy.


The Millennium Relived

“For those of us able to remember, there was a certain postman who used to run with Westerlands CCC and he did something that few of us who knew him thought he would manage. This is Charlie Campbell, who not only broke the record for the fastest time to complete all the Munros, but did it in a manner that has still not been repeated. Yes, there are new records, but, as far as I am aware, Charlie is the only one who did it self-propelled on land and water. Not only did he cycle between the mountains, he also swam between Mull and the mainland and at various other crossings he donned the necessaries and got swimming. And remembering the year of Charlie’s accomplishment (2000AD) I remember the weather as being generally awful that summer, but don’t dread, judge for yourself what it was like. Now, the point of this item is to bring to the attention of SHR members the fact that Charlie managed to beat the record of the time for conquering the Munros in 49 days. However, his biggest challenge was writing all about it, and that has now taken 17 years! But the good news is that he has at last published his account of his accomplishment and it is called: Millennial Munros – A Postman’s Round. This has been published in Scotland by a small publishing house in Glasgow called Ringwood Publishing. The account has maps and routes and he even mentions the weather along with a heap of other information for all the budding record breakers. And you might well recognize some of the names that are mentioned, of the people, as well as the hills, or even both… For £9.99 it’s a bargain (no I’m not getting a cut!). ISBN: 978-1- 901514-33-9”
Ronnie Gallagher

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