Jenny Graham Unsupported round the World in Australia cold wet weather but she still is smiling! Awesome !

Jenny is going well despite punctures and weather in Australia how does she keep going and smiling. Rarely have I been so impressed by anyone’s efforts what a girl.

The weather has battered her but she is on course I am amazes how she keeps going? She must be so driven it’s wonderful to hear from her and get the odd photo from her pals. Thank you all.

I am going to Church with my family today and will ask the great man to look after you keep you safe and well.

Thanks to all for the updates and photos .

I saw this on a Bike board in Prestwick yesterday and thought of you but your Spirit is high.

” When the spirits are low when the day appears dark when the work becomes monotonous when Hope seems hardly worth having just mount a bicycle and go out for a spin down the road without a thought on anything but the ride you are taking ”

Go Jenny Go xxx

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Cycling – a great quote ! Mink in Ayr ?

My sister and I were walking along Prestwick Esplanade when I saw this sign:

“When the spirits are low when the day appears dark when the work becomes monotonous when Hope seems hardly worth having just mount a bicycle and go out for a spin down the road without a thought on anything but the ride you are taking ”

The sign at Prestwick.

The public tennis courts at Ayr I played every day when young for a 2/6 season ticket just outside where I lived and the Old Fort where we played !

Enjoying the visit to Ayr to see my brother who is home from Bermuda with his wife Fay for a holiday. I was Walking with my sister down Prestwick beach and this sign was next to a bike notice board with all the equipment attached to help sort out a breakdown. Great to see so many out and made even better by a sea gull that dropped s deposit on my head!

It is supposed to be lucky !

Views of Arran my favourite place .

Today in Ayr I was walking over the Old Bridge when I saw three mink trying to drag a young dead seagull into a hole it was incredible to see and this was at a busy part of Ayr.

Not a great photo of what I think is a Mink at the river Ayr. Lots watching them trying to drag a seagull into a hole!

Tomorrow I have a busy day going to the Borders to visit a mate recovering from an operation.

Health is wealth indeed.

The weather is great and I am very busy but enjoyed the day on the hills yesterday and needed it after a hard time in Lockerbie doing a tv interview. Yet the replies I got from the local people of Lockerbie to my blog was humbling. It was worth the effort and I needed as always a few days to unwind and the day on the Galloway hills was healing in many ways.

The magic of Galloway Loch Dungeon. The hills and wild places are great medicine.

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Special day in Galloway a place that never lets you down . Great hills few folk .

Yesterday I picked my brother up from his hotel in Ayr for a much needed day on the hills of his beloved Galloway. He lives in Bermuda and is a fit 73 year old. He misses Scotland so this was his day.

We left early and missed the traffic passing the villages we knew well. He had played football in some of the mining villages over 50 years ago.

We were soon at the Polharrow Bridge and heading up the road to Forest Lodge. We had both walked this road many years ago after long hill days with our Dad and on expeditions with the Boys Brigade.

We passed a place called Natural Power with grass roofs I wonder if they work with the wind farms in the area. It was then up the road to the car park which was empty and we met a Ranger who was friendly. It was still early. The forest is now huge since I was last here but stunning this must be some place to Mountain Bike !

Gear sort out my brother feeling the cold from his trip he lives in Bermuda!

It was then a wander through the forestry all the roads are named and you have to keep an eye on the map.

At the end of the forestry track next w heading up onto the ridge .

From the track end there is a faint path through steep heather onto the main ridge and it was stunning. As you gain height it is amazing the views and the landscape changes out of the trees. What a wonderful place so much space and no one about.

The heather is in full bloom and the bees were busy as was the wonderful blaeberries we ate when we stopped I enjoyed them. Great Hill food.

It was a steep pull through some incredible landscape boulders and small cliffs looked great on the sun and despite the keen wind this is a land of great beauty. It is such a neglected are but a true hidden gem for us both.

On the top of Meikle Millyea 746 Metres

Once on the main ridge the views got superb. This is what Michael came to see and his favourite places. The Merrick and the wonderful lochs were now visible. What names “The Awful hand , Loch Dungeon and Of course Corserine the big hill. So many old favourites and no one in sight. There was little wild life or water the hill was dry so maybe most of the wildlife was low down?

Looking towards Corserine

We followed the ridge line great walking and the old wall built by years of sweat ! Then past the high plantation at over 600 metres .

It was soon time for some lunch after Millfire summit which we had out the wind overlooking Loch Dungeon. What a spot.

Micheal was enjoying it and so was i you can never tire of these places and he was enjoying every view, memory the space and solitude. What an area the local Galloway Team have to look after it’s massive and we could see so much of it

Galloway MRT

Michael spoke of some of the big days with my Dad , sister Jenifer over the Merrick and Corserine huge days and big walk outs to catch the bus. They were hardy and sadly Dad, Mum and Jenifer are no longer with us. They were with us in our hearts today. It was time to move on and get back and tough going but we were back to the car park after a 6 hour day.

Me and my Brother

It was then it poured down as we got in the car and we headed of down the Glen back to the main road and on to

Ayr. Michael

Talking about past walks and huge cycles in this area and beyond.

It was a shower and a meal with his wife Fay and get back to my sisters where I am staying.

A lovely day out Galloway produced another great day and we both shared a beautiful place that will always be in our hearts.

Posted in Corbetts, Corbetts and other hills, Cycling, Enviroment, Equipment, Family, Flora, Friends, Gear, Health, Local area and events to see, Mountain Biking, Mountain rescue, mountain safety, Other hills Grahams & Donalds, People, Views Mountaineering, Weather, Wildlife | Leave a comment

Heading to old favourites Corserine and the Rhinns of Kell with my brother for a day out. Hopefully it will clear my head.

I need a day out so tomorrow I am off to my local hills where I spent lots of time as a boy getting into the mountains. This was with my Dad and family as a very young boy and with the Boys Brigade. I helped make up the numbers in the early 60,s for the Duke of Edinburgh Award expedition. These were wild hills big bags and rough country my bag was bigger than me then. These may be small hills but they are grand mountains and hard country, hopefully we will have a great day. We are heading for the Corserine and Rhins of Kell Range in Galloway.

Yesterday I had an early morning cycle over my local Carrick hill it was steep and I have massive memories of this place in my youth. From the age of 12 I took part in the “Ayr Advertiser Walk “13 miles over the hill. It was hard then and 53 years later just as bad on a bike! The hill is steep and hard going I struggled maybe after my visit to Lockerbie my head was full the exercise sorted me. There is a trig point just of the top and I stopped here and ate a banana. Though just about 400 metres it was cold and huge clouds came in. There was a big sunflower on the top a babies shoe an a wee memorial. Someone’s life had changed and the loss of a child is so sad. Sadly there was lots of rubbish lying including lots of fly tipping I will go back in the van and collect it. The amount of plastic bottles and coffee cups is so sad. Why oh why?

My mind went back to the Ayr Advertiser Walk all these years ago.on the last few miles at about 4 miles from the end near the old Butlins holiday camp. My Dad and Mum were in the lay-by and I was exhausted.

My Dad said keep going “your a Whalley “and I did my Mum wanted to put me in the car. She was in tears I got up and continued and finished giving everything. Looking back It was good training for later life on Rescues or on the hills or in life when you have to pull out that bit extra. Hard love they call it.

So we head off the days are drawing in already and it is definitely colder but how lucky are we to have such love and places to go ,

Corserine is the highest point of the Rhinns of Kells range in the Southern Uplands of southern Scotland. The usual route of ascent is from the car park at Forest Lodge to the east of the hill via Loch Harrow and North Gairy Top. Forest Lodge is a short drive from the village of St. John’s Town of Dalry. Old haunts and memories !

Hiking – “I don’t like either the word or the thing. People ought to saunter in the mountains – not hike! Do you know the origin of that word ‘saunter?’ It’s a beautiful word. Away back in the Middle Ages people used to go on pilgrimages to the Holy Land, and when people in the villages through which they passed asked where they were going, they would reply, ‘A la sainte terre,’ ‘To the Holy Land.’ And so they became known as sainte-terre-ers or saunterers. Now these mountains are our Holy Land, and we ought to saunter through them reverently, not ‘hike’ John Muir

I need this day out and hope my brother who is home from Bermuda enjoys it. He is in his 70’s and still runs every day. Hopefully we will take it slowly and drink in the memories of this place that is so special.

My blog on Lockerbie has been a huge eye opener to me and the feedback from the people of Lockerbie has been amazing. So many have shared their stories and said my badly written piece has allowed some to open up. Those folk have a story to tell and much good came out of that night yet so many have never spoken of it. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your kindness and understanding. This was not for me but for all who in so many ways have a tale to tell and how we can help the next generation understand and cope better than we did.

Yet we did our best.

Leonard Cohen song Alleluia

” There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.”

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Thanks to Transport Scotland for sorting out the cycle path on the A82 near Onich Services. In Ayr with family and a few thoughts on my visit to Lockerbie.

It was great to receive these photos from my friend Susan on the work being done by Transport Scotland on the very busy A82.

The photo below was of the cycle path with lots of branches and trees that could have pushed anyone off the path onto the road. It is a well known busy road and you have to join this part from the Ballahullish Bridge to the Corran Ferry if heading for Fort William by bike. The route then takes you over the ferry into Atdgour and then pick up another ferry for Fort William.

The A82 cycle path before it was cut back! The road sadly has lots of traffic and is the main artery for travel.

This Photo was taken yesterday of the path getting sorted thank you Transport Scotland. This meant traffic lights as they were doing it but worth the effort. Sorry for anyone caught up in the delays.

I had cycled this bit a last week and written about it through various media. I was slated a bit by some “wise owls” for even bothering . Yet it was great when things happen and hopefully things are a bit safer for visitors and tourists who have to use this busy part of the road.

If you use this track be aware it is still very tight but once you get past that few miles it is wonderful country and what better way to travel but on a bike! The views of Appin and Glencoe and the lochs are stunning and it is one of the most beautiful parts of a place I love.

I am in Ayr just now visiting family and managed a short day on my bike yesterday. It was great to visit old haunts and see how my local area had changed.

Near where I was brought up in Ayr the Council tennis Courts were busy with kids earlier great to see!

I would like to thank you all for the interest in yesterday’s blog on my visit to Lockerbie. Your kind words meant a lot as did various emails from others some who I have never met. Many spoke of their memories of this difficult period.

It was also lovely to get some kind words from a few local folk from Lockerbie on how the tragedy effected them.

I was amazed at the interest in the Stained Glass window that I highlighted with a photo from the town Hall after the interview for a tv program on Channel 5 later in the year.

It was not an easy day for me but thank you for all your kind words. They mean a lot and if that blog brought back hard memories then speak to someone and get help.

We live in a different era and many understand even the effect 30 years on.

I am heading for an early cycle before meeting my sisters in town and my brother who has come over from Bermuda with his wife.

Again thank you all for the kindness. It was a great cycle yesterday lots going on in my home town. It was great to see so many kids enjoying the holiday in the river in canoes and out on the beaches. Arran was looking great as always and out in the fresh air is great medicine after being looked after by my family.

It is not an easy time with the exam results coming through and many families would have an anxious day yesterday.

I am sure that there is always other ways to achieve things in life and what I see of many young folk their future looks bright.

Yet it is worth taking time and listening to what they want to achieve and helping them forge their future.

There are many ways of achieving success in life and if you work hard it will come.

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Filming in Lockerbie yesterday – trying to explain what I am trying to achieve and make people aware of PTSD and mental health.

Yesterday I took the long drive to Lockerbie 250 miles to assist with a documentary that Channel 5 are hoping to finish in mid November. It is about the Lockerbie tragedy that I was involved in 1988. I was a Team Leader of the RAF Leuchars Mountain Rescue Team at the time.

I was away early as it is a long drive but the A9 was blocked by a accident for 5 hours at Calvin. I managed to go via a minor road but my journey became a long 8 hour one.

My interview was at 1600 and I just made it and had time for a break in Lockerbie. In the cafe I met some students and staff from Syracuse University in the USA that lost 35 students in that tragic night. I am part of a small group of 5 that will cycle to Syracuse in memory of those who died in late October . A great honour for me to be part of such an event !

This is the 30 th Anniversary of the tragedy this December and I am doing several interviews for them.

Why folk ask are you doing this ?

The lovely memorial window at Lockerbie Town Hall where we filmed yesterday it was so poignant for me to be in this room with the window as a back drop.

Lockerbie – 30 years on! A few thoughts about PTSD.

Many will know of my connection with the tragic Lockerbie Disaster where I was involved with the RAF Mountain Rescue Teams on the initial search from a very early stage.

Few know what the Mountain Rescue Teams, The Search and Rescue Dog Association and other Agencies did during this awful event!

Myself and my colleagues in the RAF Mountain Rescue Teams were only there for three days. That was enough for us all many friends in the civilian teams were there for months. At first light when it was safe we located hundreds of casualties mapped their location, found the Black boxes and drew maps of wreckage and casualty locations for the police in the time we were there. It was a scene of crime and casualties sadly were left in situ until the Police had photographed and their locations detailed for the huge investigation that followed. We passed the same casualties during each search and many covered them with jackets and clothes to give them dignity. We all have memories of each one. The surreality of the scene with presents for Christmas everywhere and the smell of fuel and burning, the damage to the town was awful. Yet sadly it became normality and we did our job as best we could.

The teams and search Dogs were out locating and seeing things that will remain with them forever. It was just before Christmas and among all the wreckage was Christmas presents and so many young folk. We were not in a war but this had happened in a small Scottish town just before Christmas . After it we were shattered Christmas was upon us and tried to get back to normality for our families sake! Lockerbie had the same they had lost 11 townsfolk yet life must go on looking back it is incredible how they coped. There are so many stories of how these wonderful people coped during this tragic period. Some are talking now for the first time . They are the true story of Lockerbie and how good local people

helped relatives from all over the world. There is no shouting it has been done for 30 years in privacy and with great human kindness that few understand .During our time at Lockerbie the townsfolk were magnificent to us. They the WRI fed us in the Lockerbie Academy 24 hours a day and looked after us all. They became our confidents, mothers, grannies who looked after our people. The teams and Searchers who were struggling to cope and the local

Folk were there assisting despite the tragedy to their Village and those they lost. I will never forget that care and love we received from ordinary local folk. We became their boys and girls they knew what we had to do yet they gave us kindness and love that I can never forget. The worlds media arrived in droves yet we were all looked as best as the conditions allowed. We stayed in the Academy gymnasium on the floor over 100 of us for three nights . I had little sleep there was so much to do. Yet we all worked well it was teamwork and what we trained for and I have huge respect for my fellow team leaders and troops.

At the time there was little knowledge of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder ( PTSD) and when I was at the initial scene I asked our Control at Pitreavie if they could get us Physiocratic help after we completed our tasks!

To this day I have no clue why I requested this but what we saw for those three days were way out of anything I had seen in 15 years of tragedies on the mountains and aircraft crashes.

I was in the RAF as a Team Leader at the time at RAF Leuchars in Fife and in my prime. I was 36 and surrounded by an experienced but young dedicated team!

The other RAF teams there were made up of friends all the Team Leaders were used to working together and we were lead by a great man our Boss Bill Gault. He was the contact with the Police and a true leader one of us and worked so hard to ensure we ran the initial confused searches as best we could.

We were a tight group we knew each other’s strength and limitations. They from the team leaders to the newest folk were all excellent and worked so hard together. It took a toll though over the years.

In addition the civilian teams involved were all well known to us we had trained and worked together on many occasions. The same was with SARDA the Dog Association.

Yet from the early stages this was way out of all our understanding! The scene was a battlefield a horrific scene of fire and hell. We all saw things that will stay with us forever.

When we returned to our RAF camp just before Christmas I spent a day writing reports about the tragedy. Some of my team though-many lived off camp came and spoke about what they had seen. A few could not speak to their partners about it. Others coped and many did not want to discuss it! Then we had to get on with life accidents in the mountains were still happening lots of trauma and life had to go on.

When a medical team arrived a few weeks later to brief us many in RAF and MR felt I had broken a confidence. It was a time when few spoke about things and it was a hard time as PTSD was not accepted at the time by the majority in the military!

Many will know how badly it effected me over these years. I became a different person. All the signs were there to many to list nightmares, broken sleep, aggression, limited concentration, drinking yet I still had to lead a team into the worst that a Scottish winter could throw at us. In the end I was ill for several months burnt out but the team looked after me as did my family! Yet it took nearly 25 year to come to terms with it! I still suffer at times but it’s a lot better but I have to live with it. A few years ago I was ill and received several operations when under the anaesthetic I had terrible nightmares. That was not what I was expecting and have to tell the doctors that this may happen. I still dread things like this happening.

Over the years many have spoke about the effect Lockerbie had on them. I have openly and how it changed my life and effected those I love! I cannot go back and change that but I maybe I can help others to come to terms.

30 years on and Lockerbie is again in the media and I am getting asked to speak about how it effected me!

Many say “do not do it leave it let it go “but I feel I cannot PDSD is a huge thing nowadays especially within the Emergency Services and the Military.

Yet many in authority still do not accept this so the way forward is to speak about what happened to us. This is not for personal gain, publicity but to improve things for future generations . It is not easy for me to speak but I feel I must for all those out there who still suffer.

My team at RAF Leuchars like all involved civilian Trams and Search Dogs great people who mean so much! We did our best!

Hopefully they and future generations will learn from our mistakes and the organisations will learn to cope better?

If you were involved in Lockerbie and will speak openly could you contact me. It may help you as it does me to open up and share what we did and how we cope? Would you be prepared to talk or write about your experiences? This may help others in the future ! This year I gave several lectures two locally in the Borders team veterans from the civilian teams spoke openly to me about the tragedy and how it effects them!

An engine in the road images that stay with you!

I apologise if I have opened old wounds but if you were involved we are all part of a unique bunch of people who experienced an extraordinary time in your life.

Sadly there is still so much to do! Money is tight within the country and no matter who is in power there will never be enough to help with mental health. It is a huge problem within society yet at last we are speaking about it and how to seek help!

When I left the military in 2007 I was given a medical at home by a doctor to assess my pension!

At the end he said “ I see you have said you may have PDSD ? How did you get that as a Caterer ? “

“I said I think it’s time you left”

I could not face any more of that lack of thought by someone who should have knowledge of my medical history by a so called medical professional. I did not have the capacity to go through it all again it is not easy .

I was not after compensation but to get help when times get hard as they still do.

Sadly many things still trigger it off. Yet I find getting out on the hills on the bike are great therapy and I can speak to good friends and family who now understand a little of what happened in 1988.

There is still so much to do and so many who still suffer.

As I drove to Ayr yesterday in the rain after a long interview in Lockerbie my head was still on fire. I stopped near the old mining village where Glenbuck was and took a few minutes. Then I drove into the stunning evening light to Ayr. The light was blinding on the sea and Arran was peaking out as the rain cleared. My head was clearing and life goes on we all

have to live with experiences some harder than others. Yet nature is the best cure as is true friendship and understanding.

This is why I try to speak about my experiences and I hope this article gives you an appreciation of some of what happened to myself and my friends in December 1988.

Few will understand how we all felt yet we tried our best and I pray we learn from the past for the future!

“Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul”

John Muir

Comments welcome !

If you can could you if you can and are on Facebook could you go to the Ride to Syracuse page and like it please.

It is worth noting two years later we flew into another hellish scene when the Shackleton aircraft crashed on Harris killing all the crew. I was again very early on scene with this time the RAF Kinloss MRT it was a hard time.

In 1994 I was again into another tragedy on the Mull of Kintyre when 29 died in the Chinook crashed. As we left the helicopter I said to my team mates please watch me as this is to like Lockerbie for me.

Yes life has been tricky at times but this was our job. The RAF Mountain Rescue was formed to recover crashed aircrew.

It was hard at times and I could not have been with better folk who mean so much to me!

Thank you for all the comments they mean so much and for those who are only speaking now be brave . There is help out there!

And let the light come in.

Posted in Aircraft incidents, Articles, Charity, Cycle to Syracuse Training, Cycling, Enviroment, Family, Friends, Health, Lockerbie, Mountain rescue, Mountaineering, PTSD, Views Political? | 34 Comments

A great insight into the World of hill running! Jonny Muir – “The Mountains are Calling”

Many know my thoughts on these incredible people who run over our mountains and wild places. I was privileged to write a forward for another runner Manny Gorman who ran the Corbett a few years ago.

In it I described hill runners “as a unique band of brothers and sisters with no egos just a love of running light and free on the hills.”

When I heard Jonny was writing a book about these people who rarely talk about their achievements and had a journalists background I was sure there would be so many hidden gems discovered. I was not wrong what a brilliant book this is.

As a mountaineer I was aware of the early hill runners and Jonny describes these filling in the gaps. My era was the late 60’s and 70’s and I had heard the tales of Philip Tranter and his epic hill runs.

My good pal Blyth Wright told me of the tales of these early days and stringing the huge days together. We in the RAF Teams did many of these early endurance walks/ runs and we were in awe of these folk like Eric Beard and Philip Tranter.

Jonny covers this so well in his book and I am so glad that he has. To many these takes were lost for ever.

He goes into great detail of many of the classics and the famous Ramsay Round/Tranters and its completion. This is where I sat with a map and followed the route as the story came out. I knew the route I had done it and it all came flooding back the pain and exhaustion and early failures. I had an insight but how far has this gone nowadays .

I feel Jonny opens up many of these huge undertakings and what makes those who attempt/ complete and finish. He shows all the fitness, drive and determination of the men and women and the mind games they have to do to complete such epic journeys. They are all so driven and the details in the book gives you an insight into their mindset!

One thing I love is there is no difference between male and female in this unique world all are equal on the mountains and have been for so many years. So many sports can learn from this equality.

I knew that if you are attempting a 24 hour marathon like Ramsay’s Round then if you want support of fellow runners they are there to support at all hours. They will come it is expected and happens regularly . Others go alone with only the majesty of the hills for company. They all love the mountains and wild places but traveling light and fast alone is a near to nature as you can get. Jonny explains in detail how some want no support it is them and them alone against the elements.

Jonny in a Chapter touches on accidents in the mountains when running and this is the first time I have read a insight into this. When out alone you are vulnerable especially running lightweight on a long day over complicated ground. If you add in poor weather , tiredness shortage of daylight and all it takes is a slip. He looks at why do we go on when at times we should stop but most of us have been there and got away with it! This is an interesting chapter and one that must have been hard to write as hill running is a close community!

The early days the running history is plotted well and there is great interest in some of the stories of many of the runners who broke the barriers in number of mountains run and huge distances and massive ascents.

These are all incredible folk and as I have stated before an incredible band of men and women who push the limits. They do it for personal satisfaction there are few medals or media.

I have been privileged to meet many of the current runners many who are world class like Findlay Wild. I love their humility and despite their exceptional talent they hardly known outside their small tight community. In these days of millionaire sportsmen they could learn so much from these icons who run for fun.

It was a hugely enjoyable read so many unsung heroes that few will know about . These should be role models for future generations who will continue to push to the limits the amount of miles mountains and hours they can complete these great days in!

Many will get the maps out and look at the routes the distances and the times taken.

Recently I spoke with a young star Uisdean Hawthorn who ran the Skye ridge this winter and smashed the times. It was a feat of Mountaineering and running that took the sport to a new level. His belief was total and he is part of a young group who will take this sport to a new heights. The future is bright and it looks like so many are now taking up this incredible sport.

My only thought is of safety please tell someone your plans for the day. A simple slip can ruin your day no matter how fit you are? Out lightweight in the hills is bold but remember nature always holds the keys. We owe that to our families who sit at home and support us?

Thank you Jonny for this book and a look into a different world and for a book I will treasure !

Safe running over the

hills!

Heavy Whalley Aug 2018.

Posted in Articles, Books, Corbetts, Enviroment, Equipment, Family, Friends, Gear, Hill running and huge days!, medical, Mountain rescue, mountain safety, Munros, People, Recomended books and Guides, Views Mountaineering, Weather | Leave a comment