The Mountain Bothies Association MBA.

At the weekend a lot of us enjoy a break out of the wind and rain in a Mountain Bothy we were up in the far North at Lochiveraon at the West end of loch a’ Bhraoin. It was great to get out of the weather and the bothy was spotless no litter or rubbish left. A few of the newer member of the club asked about the bothies and it is worth looking on their website for some information.

1973 Galloway Heavy Back Hill bothy great memories.

I was privileged to speak at the Mountain Bothies Association  AGM on their 50 th Anniversary in 2015 and the bothies have always been a big part of my life. I spent a lot of time as a very young lad in Galloway where Back Hill of the Bush my first bothy became a place I loved as a young lad when out on the hills. I will never forget my first night about 13 years old spending a magic night in the bothy. We got a fire going after a wet snowy walk in and some great person had left us some dry fire wood and the wood smoke on my clothes smell and memories remains with me to this day . Sadly Back Hill of the Bush is gone it was vandalised and the forestry I am sure had to shut it and this is so sad that idiots do this to a bothy and the landowners have no option but to close them.

Back-hill-o-bush-winter MBA Photo

Many times I spent time in them on the Big walks I used them walking through Scotland and we stayed in them often with the RAF Rescue Teams and spent many nights introducing so many new comers to the outdoors to the bothy life. After a long day a fire a meal and a dram are special in a bothy.  If someone goes missing one of the first checks is the bothies and how many have been saved by a night in a bothy? So many tales to tell of the epic days in the Cairngorms and arriving in the bothy after a wild day.



The bothies are tolerated only by great work by the MBA and the many landowners and there has to be mutual respect by all sides to see the MBA continue their great work. This is why I am a member it is only a few pounds annually but all helps as they are maintained by volunteers who do  great work. So next time you stop out of the weather or overnight spare a thought for the MBA or even better send them a donation, do we not owe them that?

Join the MBA.


Founded in 1965, the Mountain Bothies Association exists to maintain remote buildings for which the owner has little or no use, yet remain important to walkers and others who make use of the shelter that they provide. We only own one of these buildings – Over Phawhope bothy. The remainder are maintained with the agreement and encouragement of the owners. All maintenance work is financed from our own resources, mainly membership subscriptions supplemented by generous donations from benefactors, some of whom wish to commemorate a relative or friend who was a hill  walker or climber.

The maintenance work along with the bulk of administration is carried out by volunteers. Each bothy in the care of the Association has one or more Maintenance Organisers who are responsible for arranging routine maintenance. You will find more information about the bothies that we maintain and about what we do elsewhere on this site. If you are not already a member, why not join us and help to preserve these unique shelters?

Shenaval-Beinn-a-Chaliaim-jly-Corbett or Munro?

What is your favourite bothy one of mine is Shenavall,

The journey to Shenavall.

Cars fly by as you cross the road, to another world. Then silence, the traitor’s gate.

The track wynds through the trees, the river breaks the silence,

The glaciated slabs hide the cliffs, then:

Views of An Teallach

Views of An Teallach open at every turn.

Midges and clegs abound here but not today, too cold, its winter.

Cross the river, is that bridge in the wrong place? Muddy and wet, back on track,

Steep hill, upwards towards the top, the wee cairn, stop, no rush, drink it all in.

An Teallach. snow plastered, familiar, foreboding.

Open moor, contour round and round, special views,

Every corrie on that great hill has a particular thought. Memories

Fisherfield, these great hills, the light changing, to the West

Memories – the wilderness Beinn Tarsuin

Youthful  memories of companions, some now gone.

Epic days, trying to impress? Pushing it and nearly, losing it?

Descent to Shenevall, steep, slippy and wet,

Eroded now by so many feet.

Deer rattle the door

Collect some wood. The bothy, the deer, they are still there;

Shenevall. It never changes, only the seasons.

Tea in hand – One of my favourite bothies.

Fire on, primeval, tea in hand, alone with thoughts.

The Deer rattle the door, time for sleep.


Thanks to the MBA!   Heavy Feb 2015 For Yvette.

Posted in Book, Bothies, Corbetts, Equipment, Gear, Mountain rescue, mountain safety, Mountaineering, Munros, Views Mountaineering, Weather, Wildlife | Leave a comment

Four seasons in one day at Loch a Bhraoin the Fannichs. 


The Bus and the weather on the apply named road of Destitution !

The plan was a day out with the Moray Mountaineering Club Bus Meet to the Fannichs yesterday. The forecast was wild on the tops so I planned an easy day on the lower Grahams! Weather permitting! The photo below shows the sunny spells we had where the great peaks looked incredible in between showers. The rain started with black clouds and o views as we headed North West in the bus, the further West we went the darker the skies got and there were a few changes of plan on the bus for what to do today.


A bit wet in the walk in.

In the end most of the group stayed on the bus till the last stop and five others managed a varying of tops in interesting weather. We got of the bus on the “Road of Destitution” at the big lay-by near the end to Fannichs! This is the third time I had been here this winter! I had a managed a few summits in the past and it was a big crowd that gathered to walk to the Bothy and assess the day!

Still happy – Just

They did well in the conditions that were pretty wild in between showers and winter squalls. Winter is still with us on the hills and it was pretty chilly as we left the bus as the rain started again and once we left the shelter of the bus it was full waterproofs on.

Wet walking at times

I was happy not to be on the summits as the winds forecast were big 50 mph on the tops! The walk in to the Bothy is easy about an hour and a bit but the small burns were pretty full on even at this level. The squalls came in every half hour heavy rain, hail and bitter wind. Then the sun would come out and the tops would clear.
We met 3 folk leaving from the Bothy hoods up and we just said hullo they had a wet day and were heading home.

Our walk up the Loch and then up the glen for a bit. We were hoping to get views of the great Munros of Fisherfield –  Ruadh Stac Mor (919m, Munro 273)
A’Mhaighdean (967m, Munro 188)
Beinn Tarsuinn (937m, Munro 239)
Mullach Coire Mhic Fhearchair (1018m, M115)
Sgurr Ban (989m, Munro 157)

The Bothy was a great place to get out the weather and what a bonus thanks to the MBA. Maybe the club may donate to the MBA as we regularly use them to shelter and stop in! I am a member and well worth supporting the Mountain Bothy Association(MBA) We decided to have a wander on but the river was wild and few fancied trying to cross it today.

In the bothy – worthy of a donation from all those who use these great shelters?

We wander up the Glen hoping to get views of the great Fisherfield Hills and the slabs but the path was awful, so flooded by the river and muddy and then the storm came in again (on the video) we decided to return to the Bothy and then at the Bothy it cleared again! Then  in came the showers and it was head down back to the bus!

We had another stop at the bothy the sun was out again but darl crowds were brewing so we had a stop, a sun bathe and then off again.

The bothy!

It was then a wander back.

It was a short 4 hour walk but that was enough soon the crazy three Irish returned from Meall a ‘ Chrasgadh hard-won Munro in big winds.  We were all soaked but got changed dry gear essential on a Bus meet. It was then a tourist visit to Corrieshalloch Gorge at Breamore junction! A spot I know well from my Rescue days and a wee epic in the 70’ s chasing ice with the late Mark “Cheeky Sinclair” involving an abseil in to the gorge while chasing ice climbs! Today it was a great place to visit.

Corrieshalloch Gorge.

We then picked up Stuart at Loch Droma he had climbed the Corbett Ben Enaiglair and walked to Loch Droma where we picked him up.

Loch Droma bothy now no longer is use a few nights spent here in the big walks.

I stayed at the small Bothy on several occasions once for a Christmas period from Valley in North Wales. I also stayed here in my walks after some huge days so that wee hut is etched in my memory!

It was then off for a cup of tea and a beer at the Inchbae Lodge Inn where 20 walkers were welcomed by Richard and Sarah Eaton a friendly place that welcomes all! Thanks for your hospitality!

The bus then head home for an earlier than usual arrival but all fairly happy of a day in the vagaries of a March day.
My gear is soaked and drying out now and a reminder to take plenty of dry clothes for the bus! Ray has only so many spare pairs of socks to loan the damsels in distress!

Ray the sock man.

Yes it was fun, honest.



We did catch a view of one of my favourite hills. Mullach Coire Mhic Fhearchair (1018m, M115) with its huge slabs a day to remember in the past and Sgurr Ban (989m, Munro 157)

Mullach Coire Mhic Fhearchair (1018m, M115)
Sgurr Ban (989m, Munro 157)


Posted in Enviroment, Equipment, Friends, Gear, mountain safety, Mountaineering, Munros, Other hills Grahams & Donalds, Weather | Leave a comment

Off to the North West

Heading to the North West the Fannichs with the Moray Mountaineering Bus meet. Weather not great so will sort out what we are doing when we arrive!

Early start long day but need a wander! 

Posted in Bothies, Corbetts, Enviroment, Friends, Mountaineering, Other hills Grahams & Donalds, Weather, Wildlife | 2 Comments

Alex Jock Pirrie – 10 years anniversary

My pal Pete Greening wrote this I had to republish as it was a great tribute to Alec  “Jock” Pirrie.

2000 Jock Pirrie on Pabbay out there as always.

Today marks the tenth anniversary of the passing of my great friend, Alex ‘Jock’ Pirrie. Jock was one of life’s great characters and it has been a privilege to have known him and to call him my friend. I was lucky enough to climb and surf with him on many occasions, most notably on a week long trip to the hebridean island of Pabbay, and on a trip to the Cirque of the Unclimbables, Canada, in ’97, where his friendship, humour and drive was paramount to our successful ascent of the Lotus Flower Tower.

Yesterday, a heavy swell broke on the shores of Cornwall and a handful of Jock’s friends met to surf in celebration of the Big Man. We aren’t as young and fit as we used to be 10 years ago, so one of us sat out (due to recovering from breaking their tibula and fibula), another got washed back to shore on the initial paddle out and took 45 minutes to eventually make it out back, while I mistimed a duck-dive of a set wave, got sucked over the falls, then got held under while being keelhauled up the beach. How Jock would have laughed at our antics, while he would have sensibly sat on the shore, supping an early morning beer.

His big pal, John Hubbard, summed up him perfectly when he delivered the eulogy at Jock’s funeral:

Back in 83, when we had to make a 200 foot abseil to get off Ben Nevis I should have known that being a friend of Jock was gonna be demanding. We both cheated death on that day. I got a fright but to Jock it was just a normal day. As a climber he is a legend. From Cummingston to Canada, from Norway to Pabbay, from Anglesey to Arrochar.

But he was a pretty decent basketball player too, until he played against his brother. A biathlete for the RAF, a triathlete just for fun, a great golfer and one time Junior Convener at Hopeman. He was an excellent swimmer, nordic skier, snowboarder, and all round mountain man. And when he’d finished risking his own skin, he’d be saving someone else’s when on the Mountain Rescue Teams of Valley and Kinloss.

A fit guy was our Jock – to the amazement of Hopeman football team one summer evening 2 years ago when we were playing at Rothes. Jock arrived on his bike, stayed to watch the second half and still beat us back home.

Here was a man whose lust for life took him to the four corners of the world. He got more than enough working trips to satisfy any normal person, but was forever planning expeditions and holidays. He came home with football shirts for my Nathan from dozens of obscure places, Laura has necklaces from half the tribes in Africa and Indonesia and our house has the best collection of souvenirs on the planet. He looked after my family so well I sometimes wondered just whose wife and kids they were.

Jock was the most generous and caring man I ever met – surfers hate missing waves but he spent countless hours teaching me to stand on a board, and then just gave me the board and the wetsuit for free.

For years he has been a regular supporter of Oxfam and similar Third World agencies. Even up to Christmas Jock was working away on his English teaching course so that when he left the RAF he and the new Mrs Pirrie could spend part of their time abroad in the service of others. Oh, and he’d catch the odd wave into the bargain and probably give his t-shirt to the locals too.

I can’t remember a time when he didn’t call the bar when he walked into the Braemou inn. Jock lived life to the max – I pleaded with him to slow down because, once in our 40s we couldn’t drink so much Guinness anymore – but he had only one speed, full speed, and we didn’t make it to last orders very often.

He did slow down a bit though, after his bike accident – yet another near death experience. But he came through it and was proud of his scar, which he often passed off as a shark bite – a real conversation piece in impressionable company. He almost had to learn to surf again because the muscle memory in his leg was gone – just another challenge which he met by getting a bigger board and was soon getting just as many waves as before – and always more than me.
But just to give himself an extra little target he also took up scuba diving – and within a year got his instructors certificate.

I know that he felt cheated though – whilst I was happy that he wasn’t fit to serve in some of the worlds war zones, he felt he was letting his boys down.

His childlike glee was infectious when, after watching a cup game at Hampden, we walked back through the Glasgow streets he grew up in, and he remembered every detail like it was yesterday – especially his home at number 32 Daisy Street – and on the way we had a pint in every pub. The cheek of it – an Englishman and a Blue Nose and every bar full of shamrocks and Celtic fans. But he loved his football, an avid Rangers fan, Scotland fan, Elgin City and Hopeman FC – and ya don’t hear those 4 teams often in the same breath.

Surfing was his great love though, in France, Spain, South Africa, Indonesia, Costa Rica and Hopeman’s West Beach. How pleased was he that he got mistaken for Colin McPhillips in Biarritz, and how important was Bonga’s handshake when recovering from the accident.
How ironic too, that in a fishing village – when the weather gets too rough and the fishermen tie their boats up, Jock waxes up his 9 footer and jumps off the pier.
But there was no better feeling than that of being called onto a double overhead wave, holding a high line, and looking back to see my best pal smiling up at me from 6ft below on the same wave – special, special times that I will never forget.

He was a hard man – balls of steel – if you’ll pardon the expression – dignified to the end, uncomplaining mental toughness whilst he endured pain for all of us. The end was peaceful though, by his new wife’s side week after their wedding.

Family and friends of Jock Pirrie across the world: we’ve lost a big, big person – I’m just so glad that I knew him and could call him my mate.

Jock, my life is better for having known you and I am honoured and humbled saluting you now.

Surfers say “Leave only footprints and take only memories”.
Buddy, bro, best mate, you left a massive footprint and enough memories to fill ten volumes – I’m missing you already and I look forward to seeing you waiting for me out in the glassy swells beyond this rough white water that is our turbulent lives. But not yet a while.

Friends, the Hawaiians have a word which is special because it has so many meanings :
• Welcome
• Love
• Peace
• Friendship
• Happiness
• And farewell :

Aloha…………………Jock Pirrie.

By Pete Greening his mate. Thanks again.


Posted in Enviroment, Mountain rescue, Mountaineering, Rock Climbing, Views Mountaineering | Leave a comment

Torridon Mountain Rescue Team needs your support – Please watch this video and if you can give a little..

When I left the RAF MRT I was lucky enough to work with the Torridon and Kinlochewe Team for a few years. Old age and illness made me retire at 60 after 40 years with the Mountain Rescue. Torridon and Kinlochewe MRT is everything I love about Mountain Rescue. This is a sparse area for population but has many of the UK finest Mountains in their area.

The team  cover a large area extending from Achnasheen, in the east, to Applecross, in the west, and from Kinlochewe, in the north, to Lochcarron, in the south. The area includes 17 Munros, including the iconic “Torridon triptych”: Beinn Alligin, Liathach and Beinn Eighe, Scotland’s first National Nature Reserve. Thet are richly endowed with some of Britain’s most magnificent mountain landscapes, including the trio of Munros around Coire Lair, the remote quartet in the West Monar Forrest, embracing Loch Monar, the massive cliffs of Beinn Bhan, barring entry to the Applecross peninsula, and, most celebrated of all, the Triple Buttress of Coire Mhic Fhearchair, behind Beinn Eighe.

These mountains draw climbers and walkers throughout the year. They offer some of Scotland’s most spectacular walking routes and some of our longest and most testing rock and ice climbing routes. Given the terrain it is not surprising that the rescue situations we are faced with can be amongst the most technically demanding to be encountered in Scotland.

The team is made up of a variety of people, crofters, fishermen, doctors. teachers, professional mountaineers, foresters and deals with some wild and varied mountains and wild land. Money is very hard and despite the wonderful work of the Order Of St John, Police Scotland and the Scottish Government the Team needs a new building. At present they work out of cupboard and have done for many years in the local Youth Hostel. They hope to build a new Centre this year 2017 and have to raise £50000 towards it, can you help.

From their Facebook page

“In 2017, Torridon Mountain Rescue Team is building a new base in Torridon village with support from St John Scotland. But to complete and equip the new base, we need £50,000. Please give generously. Text TMRT33£5 to 70070 to donate £5 or visit to find other ways of supporting us.”

Thank you. Please share and if you can give a little it all helps.

Torridon Mountain Rescue Team needs your support – watch their video and share this please, it could be you that needs their assistance one day.

What a great video, what great hills and what great people. In 2015 they dealt with 6 fatalities and many other incidents they rarely chase publicity. Now they need help please share as they deserve support.


Posted in Mountain rescue, mountain safety, Mountaineering, SAR, Scottish winter climbing., Views Mountaineering | Leave a comment

Some Old rock climbing gear – basic ropes,simple harnesses, no helmets, and limited protection

Home made chocks

Sadly I had done no climbing when I joined the RAF mountain Rescue and my pride and joy was when I got issued with 2 Scott karabiners, a screw gate and my Yellow belt. What was that yellow belt called? These were the days when few wore helmets and I was told the tales of a flat caps was at times stuffed with a piece of carpet to soften a blow to the head!!

Joe Brwon Belt similar to the one I was issued with in 1972 . Scottish Mountaineering Heritage Collection.

All abseiling was the classic way but this was 1972. Many team member’s had their own homemade chocks made from various nuts from the engineers and wooden blocks cut to size for a big crack and a piece of rope threaded round as a runner. One of the old and bold Geordie Armstrong told me they made load of these and I once found one on Beinn Eighe on the Triple buttress.  We also had a couple of slings they were numbered according to breaking strain 1, 2, 3, and 4 and 1 = 1000 lbs I think 2 = 2000 lbs and so it went on. Correct me if wrong?

The leader must not fall era. Basic gear in the early days before my time.

I remember  getting taught the classic abseil and a few epics with rope burn and if you let go that was it!  Abseiling of the In Pin in Skye and on the Pinnacle ridge on Sgurr Na  Gillean scared me and others to death and I quickly learned. I tried to teach my young niece and nephew how to do this when I was home one weekend at Ayr Academy walls at the weekend, they managed!

1950 basic abseil – scary days when they were so hard. How hard was that?

The Willians Harness made by Troll. How did we tie on then, the knots I was taught the Tarbuck knot, Figure of 6, the Alpine Butterfly, the Clove hitch and the Prussic, what a nightmare to a young lad. You had to tie them with gloves on in the dark and tie someone on to a rope.

Tarbuck knot!

I had a bit of rope I practiced whenever I had time even in the toilet. There were no belaying devices then and few abseil devices apart form some made by the engineers in the team. I was so glad to see the figure of 8 abseil device in the early 70’s and the big gloves we had made of leather ideal to stop rope burn and for belaying.

The Whillians Harness what an influence on climbing at the time

The rope was a brutal hawser laid rope and we carried it every hill day till we learned sense, they were heavy already and when wet worse. Ropes were getting better and huge improvements were on the way in the next few years.

The Scottish Mountain Heritage Collection Objects Items  Scott KRAB

The ‘Scott’ karabiner was designed by a member of the (then) Ministry of Supply to meet a requirement for the RAF Mountain Rescue teams. Some advice and assistance was given by the BMC at the time, but subsequent events showed that the karabiner was considerably over-designed, being much stronger than necessary. One consequence was that the section of the body was too thick to pass through many pitons and the internal space available for ropes is rather on the small side. It was made of high tensile aluminium alloy by one of the leading firms making high grade aluminium forgings for aircraft. It was prohibitively expensive, thus not marketed due to cost. There were plenty in the RAF Mountain Rescue in my early days.

Scott Karabiner

The climbing rope of the 1960’s and 1970’s which bridged the gap between the hemp version of the early 1900’s and the modern kernmantel ones we see today.

George Bruce and the rope we used and carried.

Falling leader – we all had to do falling leader annually usually with a big tyre getting dropped from above. It was terrifying and we had many injuries with this and being small and the tyre so big was scary. It was the big thing on all the courses and I dreaded it. Winter was similar with falls to be held as the instructor improvised with a fall down the route?

Falling leader RAF MRT picture.

Thanks goodness for the Willians Harness – Made by Troll of England, designed for the first ascent of Annapurna South in 1970. It changed the world of climbing and we did not  get issues with them till the mid 70,s but we all that climbed bought them.

Mid 70,s Willians Harness

How things changed so quickly, rock boots came easy to get and protection evolved from the days of the piton and the Dangle and wack brigade.

Aid climbing late 60’s

It was an amazing time to be climbing with all the new gear, ropes and protection that became available. Abseil devices, harnesses, Joe Brown helmets, lightweight karabiners, rock boots and good ropes all helped.

1980 climbing gear.

How bold were they in the early days? Yet so many great climbs were done. The leader must not fall was the watch word.

The late Johnie Lees and John Hinde doing it their way.

A wee insight into how it was just as we hear of another great passing away Royal Robbins now there was a man of vision. This is a great insight into the minds of these great characters of this era the DVD Valley Uprising.

Valley Uprising.

For the past fifty years, Yosemite’s massive cliffs have drawn explorers and madmen to leave materialism behind and venture onto the high, lonesome granite. The larger-than-life characters of Yosemite carved out an extreme bohemian lifestyle in the valley: living in the dirt, clashing with the National Park authorities, and pioneering the boldest climbs on earth. The torch has been passed across three generations of climbers; through rivalries, tragedies and triumphs, the art of Yosemite climbing has advanced beyond anyone’s imagination. Narrated by acclaimed actor Peter Sarsgaard (Garden State, Jarhead, An Education) and produced by Emmy® Award-Winning Sender Films with Big UP Productions, Valley Uprising deftly recounts the history of Yosemite’s bold tradition: half a century of struggle against the laws of gravity, and the laws of the land. Starring Yosemite climbing legends Dean Potter, Alex Honnold, Lynn Hill, Jim Bridwell, Royal Robbins, Warren Harding, Yvon Chouinard, John Bachar, “Chongo” Chuck and so many more… Special Features include Bonus footage, extras, and behind the scenes. A Film by Peter Mortimer and Nick Rosen Edited by Josh Lowell Produced by Peter Mortimer, Nick Rosen, and Zachary Barr.


RIP Royal Robbins.












Posted in Family, Gear, History, Mountain rescue, Rock Climbing, SAR, SMC/SMT, Views Mountaineering | Leave a comment

A sad day for SAR in Ireland. Spare a thought if you see a SAR Helicopter today and never take them for granted!

Irish Times

“Tragedy in Ireland – sadly  air, sea and shore searches are continuing this morning for the three crew missing from the Irish Coast Guard Sikorsky S-92 helicopter which crashed off the north Mayo coast early yesterday morning.

Senior Irish Coast Guard pilot Capt Dara Fitzpatrick (45), the mother of a three-year-old boy, died in the crash which occurred shortly before 1 am when the Dublin-based Sikorsky rescue helicopter was approaching Blacksod lighthouse for refuelling.

Rescue-116 – Irish Coastguards photo

The three missing crew have been named as chief pilot Mark Duffy from Dundalk, Co Louth and winchmen Paul Ormsby and Ciarán Smith from north Co Dublin.

The Irish President described it as a “dark day” in the history of the Irish Coast Guard.” –

from the Irish Times.

It will be an awful time for all SAR in Ireland and my thoughts go out to all the families and friends of those missing. I was very privileged to work in the ARCC  at RAF Kinloss and speak regularly to the SAR family all over the UK, Europe and other countries. We had a very close relationship with the Irish Coastguard and shared SAR assets regularly as you do in this small world. There are no political boundaries in SAR and it is a wonderful place to work, we completed many successful operations in my time. I attended a few SAR conferences in Dublin and met many of the characters, who made me so welcome as only the Irish can do.

I am sure that few think of the risks at times within an SAR operation and at times the dangers of the job that can be accepted as normal by the public. Sadly accidents happen and this is an awful time for all concerned. So if you see the red and white helicopter flying today give them, their crew a thought and a few minutes contemplation for what they do for us all on a day-to-day basis.

In this mad world that we live in these people are the best of the best and today we must share their and their families grief.

Thinking of my pals in Ireland and in the SAR Community world wide.

Posted in Aircraft incidents, Friends, SAR, Views Political? | Leave a comment