Health is Wealth

It has been a good few weeks and lots of good news my long term problem has settled down and hopefully no more operations – 4 in one year was enough. It will be a slow journey back to fitness as the body is a bit battered but it is great to be feeling better. It was not an easy time and I cannot thank all those who gave support. Few will say this but many times it is not the pain or the fear when you are ill that is the worry but keeping the mental side up beat to get well. I learned al lot in the past year, role on the winter and a few great days out on these mountains – special medicine.

One of the I am alive trees in the Cairngorms when you reach this place you are nearly home?

One of the “I am alive trees in the Cairngorms”  After a wild day when you see it and you reach this place you are nearly home?

Mountain air and the wild places its free and makes you feel alive especially on a day like this.

 

 

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The tragedy of when a loved one goes missing in the wild. Missing Walker in Glencoe – Can you help ?

One of the worst things about being involved in Mountain Rescue is not finding a missing person. As the Team Leader I got heavily involved at times  with the families of the missing person (MISPER).It was part of the job and though the Police were the first contact the family would be drawn to the Mountain Rescue expert to answer their many questions on the search and your experience.. I would draw on my knowledge of the area and gaining more information on the MIPER trying to work out in my head with others what could have happend to their loved one.  When they are not found after a huge search it is an awful feeling and the teams and others agencies feel for the family of the missing person. Some times these searches can go on for months and I was involved in a good few, though we always got a result and the missing  person was located in the end. Years later I still have contacts with the relatives and loved ones, many who have limited knowledge of the mountains and  few who understand the passion of those who love the wild places.  Please see the following article from the Press and Journal appealing for more information on Robert Garton, of Devizes in Wiltshire, was last seen after setting off for a walk in the area on Friday, September 25 in Glencoe.

Missing walker

Missing walker – Robert Garton in Glencoe any sighting may help the huge search.

A north mountain rescue team leader is “baffled” and “frustrated” with the search for a hillwalker who went missing in Glencoe 10 days ago.

Robert Garton, of Devizes in Wiltshire, was last seen after setting off for a walk in the area on Friday, September 25.

The 69-year-old was reported missing last Monday after failing to meet up with family and friends in the Kinlochewe area.

Searches have been ongoing through the week, and yesterday 21 members from Glencoe and Lochaber mountain rescue teams were out from 9am to 5pm.

Glencoe Mountain Rescue’s team leader, Andy Nelson, said: “We have had such good conditions with the weather and there has been about 1,000 man hours completed this week. In 50 years of rescues, everywhere that people usually fall in to has been searched and more. It is very frustrating and baffling. Either something is very different or we need more information.”

Yesterday searches took place on both sides of the A82 road, with the focus on the north side of the Aonach Eagach ridge which runs east to west along the north side of Glencoe.

Mr Garton had been staying at the Kings House Hotel at the southern end of Glencoe and he had indicated to staff at the hotel that he was planning to walk on this ridge.

His car has since been found a few miles further north at the Achnambeithach car park.

On Saturday, Glencoe Mountain Rescue team were joined by Arrochar Mountain Rescue members, police search teams and the Search and Rescue Dog Association.

A meeting will be held with police and rescue teams this morning to discuss the ongoing search strategy.

On Friday, Mr Garton’s family issued a desperate appeal for information. His son Will said yesterday that his family had not given up hope, but admitted the odds were against finding him alive.

Mr Garton is an experienced mountaineer who has trekked and climbed several times in Nepal in his work as the founder of The Glacier Trust.

He set up the charity in 2008 to help understand the effect of climate change at altitude in Nepal, having retired from his work as an international art dealer. ”

Please share this with anyone who was in the area and please if you are going in the hills no matter how experienced you are leave a message please!  It will help the teams and other Agencies in their search for a missing person. My thoughts are with the family and those involved in the Search.

999 Emergency Text Service.


The Mountaineering Council of Scotland (MCofS) is urging everyone who walks climbs and skis in the Scottish mountains to register with the 999 emergency text service. This service has been set up to allow people to text 999 when mobile phone reception is intermittent.
However, you will only be able to use this service if you have registered with emergency SMS first. The MCofS is promoting the service to mountaineers and suggesting that we register now rather than wait for an emergency. To register, text ‘Register’ to 999. You will get a reply and will then need to follow the instructions you are sent. The text system is meant to be used only when voice calls cannot be made and the system does not guarantee that texts will be delivered, so users should wait until they receive a reply from the emergency services before assuming help has been summoned. Further details, including guidelines on how to register, can be found at www.emergencysms.org.uk

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30th September 2015 ALL UK based RAF SAR Helicopter operations ceased!

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The sadly missed Sea Kings.

Today 30th September 2015 ALL UK based SAR ceased

It was 1952 when they first started and over the decades developed into the most capable and proficient SAR force anywhere. Many nations forces and civilian helicopter companies have now adopted “our” way of doing SAR. Decades of constant readiness and missions to help primarily military aircrew but also many thousands of British Citizens and others in direct peril, or needing help and assistance. 22 Sqn alone has helped over 12000 since 1955! The 3 squadrons depicted and badged here (22, 202 and 203) finally cease operations and training today in the UK in entirety – all 3 with fine and illustrious histories going back over a hundred years each, and none more so than in the last 60 where they have been Ever Ready and Valiant and Brave and persistent I remember too the many winchmen who were the bravest of the brave and all of them volunteers… not often widely known that…..and especially those (few in number thank heavens) who paid the ultimate price.

Thanks to David Anthony Simpson for allowing me to copy this. What a history, what people thanks for all the memories.

David Anthony

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A special day in the Cairngorms. An Emotional visit to the An Lurg Wellington Crash with the family 71 years on.

Yesterday I had the great privilege to take  Phil Paterson and his sons to the crash site of a Wellington aircraft from RAF Lossiemouth in the Cairngorms where his father and the crew of this aircraft lost their lives 71 years ago. Flying Officer P. L.B.Paterson Phil’s Father aged 23  was one of the crew and Phil was born in 1944  sadly 6 weeks after his Dad was died,  he never met his father.

Flying Officer P Paterson

Flying Officer Philip Lionel  Paterson  Pilot RAFVR. Photos Paterson family collection.

This was the families first visit to this tragic place and he was accompanied by his two sons John and Julian.   The crash site is deep in the heart of the Cairngorms and just off the Munro Bynack Mor it is a long walk up to the plateau where the crash site lies a 2 – 3 hour journey to the area and a big day for a 71-year-old regardless of weather. One of Phil’s  sons had read my blog last year on my visit to the site and got in touch and we planned this visit over the next few months.  The family knew little of the crash and where it was an asked if I would assist them to this place that means so much too them.

The Family Phil, John and Julian at the beautiful Green Loch near Glenmore,

The Family Phil, John and Julian at the beautiful Green Loch near Glenmore, at the start of the day.

We met in Aviemore at 0800 it was another early start for me and Phil and the boys had driven up from the South late Friday night.  I had some help from pals Pete, Yeni and Bernie for the day and the weather had been great this week and was still holding up. We met at the Cairngorm Hotel and after a quick chat set off for Glenmore and the start of our trip. The midges met us at Glenmore but it is a great path all the way past the beautiful Green Loch to the old site of Bynock Stables where we met Yeni’s nephew Greg a giant of a man  with a group of young people out for over a week in the Cairngorms. What weather they l have had and what an adventure over the last few days and more to come. It was a small tented village with great views down Strath Nethy.

Tents at the site of the old Bynock Stables

Tents at the site of the old Bynock Stables.

The path leaves the site of the Old Stables and we had a break here  all were going will the weather was good and a breeze kept the midges away. From here it is a plod up onto the ridge but we stopped to get views of the wild Strath Nethy and the Cairngorms we were now heading into the remote Cairngorms. There were a few mountain Bikers about and I met another old friend Robin Clothier biking to Braemar!

From here off the path it is hard work and not easy walking.

From here off the path it is hard work and not easy walking.

The path is superb it is being maintained by these incredible  pathworkers who were working ahead of us and we were soon on the ridge between our destination An Lurg and Bynack Mor. From here it is hard work across an open moor covered in huge peat hags,  deer grass  and bog this is a pathless wild place.   On the journey Phil had been telling us about his father and the family and how often with his Mum he had visited Elgin where his Dad is buried. We were getting to know a small bit of the story of Phil’s Dad short life from his pilot training in America learning to fly and his arrival at RAF Lossiemouth in these dark War days as a qualified pilot.

This is rough ground and never easy walking a hard mile of terrain.

This is rough ground and never easy walking a hard mile of terrain.

This last kilometre is hard ground and the route is never easy poor Pete got his foot stuck in a bog and had to be helped out.  We were each in our own thoughts and this is a featureless plateau, route finding is not easy and you do not see the crash site the last-minute. In past visits we had gathered some of the wreckage that was scattered around and made a small memorial cairn and this is what we first saw. It to me is beautiful with some of the stainless steel and twisted metal glinting in the sun  I was amazed it was still standing.  This area is artic in winter with regular winds of 100 mph plus and huge dumps of snow, the wind batters this place with such force at all times of the year. Today it was peaceful a slight breeze and the tops mainly clear, this is wild land.  We left Phil and the boys to have some privacy and to have a look round, this was to be a special hour in a place of wild and tragic beauty.

The family at the site a special moment after 71 years

The family at the site a special moment after 71 years

This was their time and we left them as a family, they produced 6 crosses with the details of all the crew on them and placed them by the cairn it was a moving moment for us all. Phil’s wife had put on each cross the details of each crew member it was a lovely thought and very humbling. No matter how many times I visit these places they are to me special humbling and moving places but today was very even more so with a family there? We must never forget how these young men died for our freedom in this lonely place.

 

Wreckage cairn at An Lurg

After a while we had a break and some food, Phil produced some lovely cake that his wife had made and we  short work of it. We all felt it right to have a few minutes silence before we left and it was a moving period and with a backdrop of the wild Cairngorms. Phil said a few words and it was a peaceful scene and one I will never forget.  As we finished the sun came out and the new SAR helicopter flew by overhead it was a powerful sight for us all we could hear it approach from deep in the Cairngorms. It was soon time to head back and try to keep out of the Peat hags, everyone was going well but there was little chat each deep in thought and the family happy they had been to such a place that meant so much to them.

Each with their own thoughts?

Each with their own thoughts?

Back on the main path we stopped and enjoyed the sun Phil showed us his Dad’s medals still in the box and as they were the day they were sent to the family. He also had his Dad’s pilot certification from his pilot training in the USA all as pristine as the day they were issued.  We also saw his Dad”s service knife that Phil had treasured all his life with the date 1940 stamped on it. All day we were getting to know Phils father and the difficult time the family had after the war., After a break we then headed of along the path back to the cars at Glenmore in the sun.

mEDALS an Lurg

Flying Officer Paterson’s Medals  – The War Medal and the Defence Medal, Phil his son pulled them out at the end of the day on the Cairngorms. This was a moving tribute at the end of a wonderful day and an insight into one of those who did so much for us all.

P1010339

To me this was  a special day, some people ask  why do I visit these tragic places?  This story to me sums it up.  It was wonderful that Phil at 71 had managed a visit to where his Dad was and his pals had lost their lives and with his two sons it was an incredible effort by them to get to this place.  What a day it  had been  and it was so emotional at times for us all especially for the family and a huge insight to the tragic loss during the war that so many families accepted as part of life.

We must never forget what these people did for us and that each of these Mountain Crash sites has a unique story and a huge effect on the families even 71 years after the crash.

Thanks to Phil and the boys for sharing this day with us all. I hope you take some of the peace and beauty of these wild Cairngorms mountains with you on your journey home today. Soon the snow will sweep over this place and the winter will be with us, few know of this other side of the secret Cairngorms that means so much still to those who gave so much.

Phil lays a Poppy in remembrance of his father.

Phil lays a Poppy in remembrance of his father. A special moment for us all.

The grave at Elgin cemetery of Phils Dad

The grave at Elgin cemetery of Phil’s Dad Flying Officer Phil L.B.Paterson .

Thanks to all for helping make this a day to remember for the family and the huge sacrifice of those who lost their lives for our freedom. I wonder what they would make of this crazy world we live in?

Philip Lionel Bennett Paterson (23), Pilot, RAFVR.

Philip Lionel Bennett Paterson (23), Pilot, RAFVR. photo – Paterson Family .

 

 

Posted in Aircraft incidents, Enviroment, Family, Friends, Mountain rescue, Weather | 4 Comments

A visit to a special place – the An Lurg Wellington Crash site in the Cairngorms with a relative of the crew.

Today I am off early hopefully to take the son of one of the crew of  a wartime aircraft crash in the Cairngorms during the war. This will be a difficult journey as Phil was born 6 weeks after his father and all the crew were killed. Phil has never been before and this will be a special journey for him and will be accompanied by his sons Julian and John who are driving up from Manchester with him.  I have visited this crash site on a few occasions and Phil read my Blog whilst he was up in Elgin last year visiting his father’s grave on the 70 th anniversary and has always wanted to visit this special place. It will be a memorable and  special day and will be some journey for Phil and the family to pay their respects to his father and the crew.   It is a fair trek in for Phil and the family but I am sure we will make it taking it slowly. The weather is due to break tomorrow so hopefully they will see the Cairngorms in its glory today and find peace after there long journey in the wild and savage beauty of this part of the Cairngorms.

1944 the 14 th of August – The An Lurg Wellington Crash. Grid Ref  NJ 048097)

An Lurg Aug 2014

An Lurg Aug 2014 Crash site

On the 14 August 1944 this aircraft a Vickers Wellington HF816/A of 20 OTU took off from RAF Lossiemouth on a cross – country training Exercise  Night navigational Excercise and crashed on the plateau on An Lurg in the Cairngorms 71 years ago  (2015) sadly killing all the crew. The remains of the aircraft are spread out on a wild  high moorland near Bynack More in the Cairngorms. The Vickers Wellington HF816/A of 20 OTU took off from RAF Lossiemouth for a cross country training exercise (night Navex). However, at 22.30hrs, the aircraft crashed on moorland close to An Lurg Grid a  hill due N of Bynack Móre in the remote Cairngorms mountains. It is a seldom visited crash site and if you go please be respectful and leave the wreckage as it is. Thank you.

Sadly all the crew  of 6 lost their lives.

 

 

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Climbing with the sparkling shoals of Mackerel at Redhythe near Portsoy

What a day yesterday I wanted an easy day but with a bit of rock climbing and I convinced my big pal Al Barnyard to come over for the day from Nairn. Al is training for the Glencoe Marathon and could do with a relax before the big race on Saturday. The crag is at Portsoy on the North East coast I love it and the lichen and the cliff has a yellow colour that make it a special place, it is tidal which though a small crag gives it a bit character.  The setting is marvellous with this rugged coastline and the wild life not only birds but dolphins are about. You also rarely see people either walking or climbing and it is a magic place to be. The weather was magnificent another “Blue Sky day” it was a later start as I had a visit to the doctors before I went and the tides would be perfect hopefully.

Tom Mac Donalds photo of the cliff summs up the stunning colours and beauty of this place.Portsoy Paradise!

Tom MacDonalds photo of the cliff sums up the stunning colours and beauty of this place.Portsoy Paradise!

Once you find the crag a 15 minute walk from the car park the grass down to the cliff was wet with a heavy dew and care was needed. The cliff was bathed in sunshine and big Al (Alba) had never been before and I think he loved it. He is some man and was telling me of his wild swimming in the sea off Nairn early mornings and the meetings with seals. Alba is a great companion a top bloke from my RAF Rescue Days he is always laughing especially at my attempts to climb in the past.

The big man enjoying the views on the cliff as a rowing boat goes by, what a day.

The big man enjoying the views on the cliff as a rowing boat goes by, what a day.

The tide had just gone out and the rocks down to the cliffs were wet and took care. I could see some splashing in the water below and there were thousands of fish in shoals right under us they were there all day incredible.

The rippling is the fish in the geo watching nature in the raw all that was missing was the dolphins.

The rippling is the fish in the geo watching nature in the raw all that was missing was the dolphins.

We were soon on the cliff and Alba was enjoying the day the warm rock the setting and the banter. My mate Tom and Janet arrived on the cliff top with Nellie and Tom took the photos and the Micky for a few hours in the sun. The fish were with us all day as was the sun and the views and we saw only one other couple walking above on the cliffs this was some situation to be in.

We abseiled down after each route it is a great cliff for teaching ad learning to climb.

We abseiled down after each route it is a great cliff for teaching ad learning to climb.

The routes all start just above the sea and with fish and the gurgling of the tide coming in on the rocks made it a place of great beauty and the warmth of the sun made it a perfect day for us. I had hardly been climbing since being ill but enjoyed the routes we did managing to cut my finger when a hold broke. The rock is sound but there are few sharp flakes but what a place to be.

Sunny rock

Sunny rock

I loved the day out again in the sun feeling better lots of good company and laughs even my climbing was not that bad but what an enriching experience and the joy to be feeling better every day but trying to ensure I do not do too much is not easy. The summer has been poor but this week makes the Costa Moray the place to be, whta privileged to live here in the place of so much natural beauty.

The big man in the sun Costa Moray

The big man in the sun Costa Moray.

Tom took some photos and I got the odd one with big Alba posing and me with my cut finger and the mackerel below like piranhas splashing about in the sea. Was the blood attracting them? Joke.

Alba in action look at those legs!

Alba in action look at those legs!

It was a great day and the laughs continued with my cut finger and Al the doctor in action not for the squeamish. We did a few routes and them headed back it was still hot and we enjoyed the wander back to the car past the golden fields, the blue sky and sea.

A great day in all and thanks to Alba, Tom, Janice and Nellie. Golf today and a great day planned for Saturday ou will have to read the blog and find out what?

 

 

Redhythe Point – NJ 575 672

West End of Portsoy through house scheme  the track starts just past Kingdom Hall and you drive to a car park unsurfaced .  Head West along the cliff to old Coastguard lookout and then down to cliff find narrow grassy ridge head down you will see the yellow facing slabs  about 15 minutes from the car park

Near the town of Portsoy on the Moray coast, Redhythe Point is a very good crag for those getting into leading, as well as providing sport for the more competent. Although partly tidal, many routes can still be climbed throughout the day. More like quartzite than sandstone.

North East Outcrops a great guide book by the SMC

North East Outcrops a great guide-book by the SMC

Covered in the 2003 NE outcrops guide

The Stack provides a few clean climbs, although the main point of interest is the crossing of the narrow channel separating it from the main crag. It also provides a good deep-water solo traverse at high tide mark above the channel.

Directions & Approach

On the west side of town, follow the signs to the sea level swimming pool  the Track is up by Kingdom Hall t – ask a local)and park in the large parking area. Walk west along the coast until you arrive at an abandoned target shelter, then bear right along a vague path to the top of the crag – 15 mins.

 

 

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Another lovely day ending in the Cairngorms. Be aware that its hot on the hills!

Lovely Loch Morlich in the Cairngorms

Lovely Loch Morlich in the Cairngorms last night stunning after a lot of driving and a great break after a busy day.

Yesterday after my great day in the Cairngorms I had to to visit Aberdeen and it was another incredible weather day, the Indian summer is continuing. I was feeling a bit stiff after my day on the hills but felt great and was amazed how sun burnt and dehydrated I was after a hot day yesterday.  It was another warm drive in glaring sun and a busy road and I needed my sun glasses. It is incredible that little of this road is  dual carriageway to the oil capital of the North? Anyway it was a bit of a rush and most of the day was spent driving past windmills that were not turning but that is another story! Aberdeen was busy lots of traffic and I hate cities what a change from the wilds of the hills yesterday. I had to head to the Cairngorms for an evening meeting with the Team Leader of the Cairngorm Mountain Rescue Team an old friend Willie Anderson.  I am looking into Avalanche incidents and need some expert assistance. This time it was a lovely drive and like yesterday the Cairngorms looked amazing in the evening light. I had a bit of time for a relax at Loch Morlich and a quick bit of food what a lovely place to be and enjoy this incredible weather.

The Cairngorm Duo - Willie Anderson and Simon Steer.

The Cairngorm Duo – Willie Anderson and Simon Steer.

I arrived at the Cairngorm Mountain Rescue Base and met Willie and Simon one of the team who is also Chair of Scottish Mountain Rescue.  They had just had a quick call out for an elderly walker who had suffered from dehydration after a long day in hot weather out on the plateau. It is important that even at this time of year you are aware of the temperatures just now and as I forgot my sunscreen on my day out. Simon had been out on the hills climbing when he got the call and was on scene so quickly. The walker was recovering after a group of walkers met him and gave him some drink and food and he managed to walk off on his own.

I managed to get the information I needed and we talked through a lot of sad accidents involving Avalanches and the need to educate those who venture into  these wild places in winter.  It is a continuing task each year.  We had a long chat and also caught up with the world of Mountain Rescue and the recent accidents. There was a feeling that the long winter and the massive snowfall resulted in big snowfields lasting longer and a few more slips occurred. Also the very wet summer meant a lot of the rocks and paths are slippy and eroded. Sadly some of the fatalities are in my age group 50 -70 and maybe we still think that we can do the same as we did 20 years ago? Or maybe it is that many of us are getting out on the hills and trying to be healthier, it would be hard to judge without all the information How many have taken up walking again etc. Maybe there are a few points to note no matter how fit you think you are? Thanks to Willie and Simon for all the help.

I left in the dark for my hour drive home. The moon was so bright on the way back and the animals were out deer, hares and grouse all trying to commit suicide in front of my car.

Today I hope to get some climbing done at Portsoy the Indian Summer continues!

Worth Remembering If out on the hills carry enough water?

Comment from Angus Jack

“I was definitely wilting on the Gorms yesterday even with 2 litres of water! Flat calm conditions on top, no shade and even midges bites at the top of Ben MacDui.”

Posted in Enviroment, Friends, Mountain rescue, Mountaineering, Munros, Rock Climbing, Views Mountaineering, Weather, Wildlife | Leave a comment