Thunder and Lightening is very, very frightening. A wild day in Skye.

This morning I was awakend by a wild thunder and lightening storm at 0500, thank goodness I was in my bed and not on the hill, where you are at your most vunerable.

Tale of a scary day in Skye – Lightening very, very frightening.

I had just come back from the Falklands 4 months away and my first weekend was in Skye, I was dreaming about it. We had planned a long classic day in Skye – Up from sea – level to  Sgurr Na Bannadich down to Coruisk then a swim and back over the UK Longest ridge the Dubhs and back hopefully to Glenbrittle. We had started from Glenbrittle and it had already been a hard day and very hot the cool waters of Coruisk. Sgurr na Bannadich was hard work from sea level and the drop to the loch and a good swim woke us up and then we were off again from sea level to climb the classic Dubhs ridge.

To quote the SMC Guide:-

“This is the best easy climb in Skye and a contender for the best easy climb in Britain”.

The Dubhs from Loch Coruisk

The Dubhs from Loch Coruisk

Although technically easy, The Dubh Ridge is a very long route in a remote setting. Getting benighted is a distinct possibility if you make a route finding error, and a retreat may not be straight forward. This article will offer some additional information not available in the guide books which may help keep you on track and with any luck get you there and back in a day.

The Dubh Ridge rises from the western shore of Loch Coruisk and stretches west over the three tops of Sgurr Dubh Beag (Little Black Peak), Sgurr Dubh Mor (Great Black Peak) and Sgurr Dubh an Da Bheinn (Black Peak of the Two Tops). The famous Dubh’s slabs are on the initial section to Sgurr Dubh Beag. Above the slabs the climbing is similar to many sections of the main ridge.

Great friction

Great friction

Right: Sticky approach shoes are perfect for the Dubh Ridge.


The climbing is graded ‘Moderate’. Most climbers with some rock climbing experience will not feel the need for a rope but there are some short sections that could be described as “real climbing”, so if you have any doubts you may want to consider carrying a short rope and three or four nuts.

The route is achievable in a long day from Glen Brittle by a reasonably fit team.

We had managed most of the ridge and the wild abseil was where things happened – thunder and lightening was not planned and then:

Big Kev

Big Kev

“A big peel of thunder rang out and the hairs on our heads started sticking up, time to go!”  If you have read where not to be when thunder and lightning are about, this is it.  The Skye ridge on the back of the Dubhs on a sharp ridge a long way from home what do you do? The lightning was flicking along the ridge like you see on a film it was surreal. Nature is so powerful and we mere mortals. We felt so small and vulnerable; the power of nature in such a place is awesome.  Keep calm and get off as quick as possible,  that was in my mind, now the descent from this hill is not recommended.  A descent in the late forties by W. H. Murray described it as one of the most serious mountaineering descents in Scotland! The An Garbh Coire is rarely visited and is a huge Corrie of wildness and worth a visit on its own. Not advised even for a man of Giants ability. This is a real area of wildness saved by people like W.H. Murray for future generations to enjoy; this is a really special place for those who love the wilderness. It is also not a place to make a mistake, the phone does not work in this area and any help is a long way off, add to that the seriousness of where we were. This was not the place to be,

The Giant Big Kev – wanted us to wait for the storm to pass, He is over 6 foot which I vetoed as it was like being next to a lightening conductor!  He is that big I was brave and went off ahead to find the way off and to conduct “any lightening”. Bob who was exhausted by now said little, by now it was pouring with rain and rivers were running down the slabs making life worse. It was that wet that foam was building up on the slabs and the Corrie was just one great waterfall. We managed though and after one dodgy abseil and two hours later we were down through the slabs and soon we were on the ground amongst the huge boulder field in the corrie. There are no paths here just massive boulders all slippery and wet.  The radio was dead as all the other troops had fled the hill at the first peel of thunder and we were on our own for miles away from anywhere.  Being old I remembered doing a similar walk out over twenty years before and it was hell.

How do we tell Bob that the only way back is round by Coruisk to Glenbrittle a walk to remember?

Now that is another story!

That day one person was killed on the hills by lightening, nature takes no prisoners so be aware if lightening forecast do not be on a tight sharp ridge! Check the forecast if in doubt keep of the hills.

Recently I was back and one of my mates got hit by a fallen stone – Always wear a helmet!!!

The Abseil on the Dubhs not the place for lightening to strike.

The Abseil on the Dubhs not the place for lightening to strike.


Summary –Staying safe

  • Stay off ridges & summits, and away from single trees.
  • Walls can be protective but keep more than 1m away.
  • All metal objects (karabiners, crampons, ice-axe, ski poles, etc) should be stored safely.
  • Move quickly away from wire ropes & iron ladders.
  • Lightning currents can travel along wet ropes.
  • Crouch immediately if there is a sensation of hair “standing on end”.
  • Crackling noises or a visible glow indicate imminent lightning strike.
  • Airborne helicopters can be struck. Check weather forecast.
  • Seek shelter as soon as hear thunder. Don’t wait until you see the lightning.
  • Lightning can travel 10 miles in front of storm clouds. 10% strikes occur when blue sky is visible.
  • A storm can travel at 25 mph.
  • Most common time for injuries are before the storm or at the apparent end of the storm.
  • 30-30 rule
  • Danger of being struck is when flash to thunder time less than 30 seconds (approximately 10 km away).
  • Don’t climb for 30 minutes after last thunder & seeing last lightning.
  • From the MCOS Website.

    From the MCOS Website.

  • Small, open huts, caves & overhangs (increase risk from side flashes).
  • Sheltering under small outcrop or overhang may increase risk of injury, as lightning that has hit a hill literally “drips” onto the person with the rain as it arcs over the ground.
  • Water or wet stream beds.
  • Near the tallest structure in the area e.g. single tree.
  • Tents not protective (metal tent poles act as lightning rods).
  • Stay away from high ground (ridges and summits).
  • Power lines
  • Ski lifts
  • Metal objects
  • Stay safe!
  • From MCOS  website

    From MCOS website

  • SKYE – “We who have been go again, and again advise you to go, you will not be disappointed.”


Posted in Articles, Enviroment, Equipment, Friends, Gear, Mountain rescue, mountain safety, Mountaineering, Recomended books and Guides, Views Mountaineering, Weather | Leave a comment

Summer for a day at least today? Make sure your protected? RAF Desert Rescue Masirah remembered.

1974 Desert Rescue Masirah

1974 Desert Rescue Masirah – No sun protection as  we were not aware of sun damage then – just carries water . Wild days.

In 1973 -1974 I was stationed in the Persian Gulf at RAF Masirah it was a busy 9 months where I worked in the huge ration store. My job was in the Cold store and everyone wanted ice. We unloaded ships and planes regularly really hard work in baking temperatures 30 plus regularly and I also was a member of the Desert Rescue Team on the Island.   We were away every weekend all over the small Island and it was hard going with temperatures up to 40 plus on the hill though small were magic. I learnt lots on that tour and how to handle the sun unlike the pictures show above.

The old pose and me with the hat and map out.

The old posers and me with the hat and map out. Rocky hills and wild land.

We carried a gallon of water and little else it was like drinking hot tap water during the day and camped out every night under the skies, watching the stars and we could in these days navigate by them. At the end of two days you would lose about 10 lbs  but put it back on when properly re-hydrated. We knew little about sun screen or other heat related problems but were very fit and looking back they were great days.

1974 living under the stars in Masirah - wild camping.

1974 living under the stars in Masirah – wild camping.


Simple Precautions

  • take and drink sufficient water I used to take on a lot before a walk- The camel principal
  • drink when thirsty (and drinking a little often can prevent dehydration)
  • do not drink to excess just because it’s hot
  • take appropriate food (peanuts,sweets)
  • wear shorts? Many prefer long trousers that reflect the heat?
  • wear a short sleeve base layer/ I like the long sleeve option,
  • wear a hat, that can cover the neck and also a bandanna if possible wet it.
  • use sun cream and re-apply periodically
  • wear sunglasses
  • consider carry a rehydration treatment
  • plan a route that is appropriate to the forecast, i.e. shorter less strenuous one for a very hot day. Take your time
  • cool down at streams by swilling your face and forehead in cool water, or even dipping your hat in the water to wet head
  • Have fun in the sun but be careful.
  • Masirah Map
  • RAF Masirah was located on the island of Masirah which is about 15 miles off the East coast of Oman in the Arabian Sea. Masirah is approximately 40 miles long by 10 miles wide at it’s widest point and four miles wide at its narrowest point.
  • During the 1930’s Masirah became one of many staging posts between the RAF bases strung across the world, this one being essential for aircraft flying between bases from Iraq to Aden including those in northern Saudi Arabia and along the Arabian Gulf coast, or Persian Gulf as it was then.Masirah was first used as a British military base in the early 1930s. A small stone building used as a fuel store for flying boats (photograph from Terry Bate enclosed showing the inscription ‘RAF 1936’ inscribed above the door), was at the midpoint of the island on the West side.
  • The base continued to expand into the 1970s supporting British and Oman forces fighting insurgents during The Dhofar Rebellion and providing transit facilities for long distance RAF flights to the Far East. The British military presence at RAF Masirah extended until 31 Mar 1977, when the base was handed over to the Sultan of Oman’s Air Force (now the Royal Air Force of Oman).
  • Masirah continues to be used and featured during the Gulf Wars of the 1990’s and continues to be used during the Middle East conflicts and as an RAFO (RAF Oman) airbase.Turtles and Wildlife
    It is the site of the largest breeding ground for Loggerhead turtles and one of the rare locations for breeding Olive Ridley turtles. During my time in Masirah we used to have a Dawn Patrol to carry turtles back to the sea after they had exhausted themselves laying their eggs. If we had not done this they would perish within a very short time once the sun arose. A truly wonderful sight.
  • Ornithologists flock (sorry about that) to Masirah for the abundant array of birds from small Sandpipers to the large Egyptian Vultures. Hoopoes, Ravens and everything in between.
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The Mystery of the aircraft wheel in Glen Feshie? Any ideas anyone ?

Wheel in Glen Feshie.

Wheel in Glen Feshie.

I have been asked on several occasions about an aircraft wheel in Glen Feshie in the Cairngorms. There are no nearby recorded aircraft crashes that I am aware of, can you shed a light on it?

The Cairngorm Guru my old pal Ray Sefton says

“Wheel in Glen Feshie.

“Hi Heavy,
I have also seen that wheel, it has been there for
many years. I am not aware of a crash in that area. There used to be a
wheel from a Halifax bomber near Loch Ericht when I first started on the
hill( early 1950’s) . After the war when many aircraft were broken up I am told wheels like
this were used on trailers in forestry operations and I suspect the wheel
you saw was one of these. ”



The aircraft crashes in the Cairngorms are many and I have visited most and many still have considerable wreckage about and are worth a visit. I have written about many of them in this blog in the past.

I always thought that wheel that was down at the road on the entrance to Ben Alder Estate when I joined RAF MRT in 1972 was from the Wellington that crashed near Ben Alder Geal Chars in Dec 1942 ?

Alan Clark – Aug 2016

It’s definitely from a Halifax, the stub of the axle protruding from the wheel is the same as that on Cronk ny Arrey Laa on the Isle of Man at the crash site of G-AJNZ. This one still has the clamping piece which bolted to the oleo stuck to the axle. The wheel itself seems to be common to the larger aircraft of the period (Halifax & Lancaster) and it is a treadless (I believe) summer only tyre. I’d be going with a surplus item used to haul trees until it probably seized up and was left to rot.

More info here and on my blog

Vickers Wellington L7867, Geal Chàrn, Dalwhinnie | Air Crash Sites-Scotland

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On 10 December 1942, RAF Vickers Wellington L7867 of 20 OTU took off from RAF Lossiemouth on a navigation exercise (Navex). The plan was to fly to the east coast of Scotland and then turn and fly back to Lossiemouth.


During the flight, however, the Wellington strayed from the pre-planned route. In the midst of a blizzard, the aircraft crashed into Leacann na Brathan on the SE flank of Geal-chàrn.


Only one member of the crew survived the crash. He was Sgt Philip Underwood (Air Gunner). The seriously injured sergeant struggled down the mountain until he reached Corrour Lodge near Fort William where he managed to summon help.


The RAF recovery teams used mules to bring down sections of the wreckage from the mountain. This may explain why wreckage debris can still be seen at several different points down the slope of Leacann na Brathan. The lowest debris field is on the main path leading over the Bealach Dubh, and lies between Ben Alder and Geal-chàrn. (See under Crash Site Photos below.)


Posted in Aircraft incidents, Books, Enviroment, Equipment | 9 Comments

A few days in the past with the Milton Mountaineers – Memories of incredible hill days with special people.

Many who love the mountains and wild places cannot believe that what we have seen  enjoy should never be taken for granted.

The Milton Mountaineers is a charity group of blind and partially sighted hill walkers and sighted friends/relations who meet in different parts of the UK to climb hills or mountains in the area.

1989 Ben Nevis with the Milton Mountaineers a joint effort by RAF Kinloss & RAF Leuchars Mountain Rescue Teams.

1989 Ben Nevis with the Milton Mountaineers a joint effort by RAF Kinloss & RAF Leuchars Mountain Rescue Teams.

Membership is free, but participants pay for their own travel to the venue and for accommodation. The charity subsidises one trip a year by paying for the services of a walks leader if necessary, transport to and from each day’s walk and drinks at the last evening meal.

Participants should be fit and active enough in order to walk for up to around 6 hours a day for 3 days or more in hilly and sometimes rough terrain.

Contact the organiser to obtain joining information.


1988 tom taylor on ben in undies

Over the years I was involved with the RAF Mountain Rescue Teams in Wales at RAF Valley and with RAF Kinloss & RAF Leuchars MRT helping the Milton Mountaineers up various hills. From the Carnedds in Wales to Ben Lawyers and Ben Nevis. These were hard undertakings and we learned lots from each other. It was especially interesting to see how the young boys and girls in the team coped with long days some over 8 -10 hours of guiding up a mountain a partly sighted person. Having to build a trust in each other and explaining the ground and what we can see during the day.  These were huge learning curbs for all but what benefits to a young person helping each other and learning how difficult and how lucky we are to be fit and sighted.

The Milton Mountaineers in Wales on the Carnedds what year 1981?

The Milton Mountaineers in Wales on the Carnedds what year 1981?

It was always harder coming down when all were a bit tired and yet we coped with it and how exhausted we were at the end, these were as hard as any call -outs but what a great result in the faces of those who took part and how humble we felt after such days .

Great days with great people.

Posted in Charity, Enviroment, Friends, Mountain rescue, mountain safety | 2 Comments

Jura tips?

juraTip one

Never rush on an Island and add an extra days if you can. It will be worth it. Take time to stand and stare.

The Jura Ferry magic

The Jura Ferry magic

Tip two

Give plenty of time for the drive to the ferry the roads can be slow. The last bit to the Ferry is single track and care should be taken.

Tip 3.

Ferrys are weather dependant! We used the Jura Passenger Ferry  leaves from Tayvallich – Parking available for a donation to the Community Centre Car Park Craighouse Ferry is £ 20 each way 2016 –  it was magic but only runs in the Summer months. Cal Mac Runs all year but check the timetable. Lovely Cafe at the Ferry point opens at 0900 in summer recommended.

Bike travel

Bike travel

Tip 4.

Take a bike worth all the hassle.

Tip 5.

Whether you camp, tent, B and B or Hotel book up it may be busy. Food is all at a reasonable price and the Community shop is well stocked and fair prices. The Jura Hotel has a great campsite and is very friendly to all. There are other places to eat “the Antler” was also good food.

Camp site "The Field " by the distillery and Hotel

Camp site “The Field ” by the distillery and Hotel

Tip 6.

Be aware of midges and ticks. We were lucky we missed the midges?


Tip 7.

Enjoy the mountains but remember these are big hills in bad weather. Take care and they are remote.”Ankle twisting rock and scree, or knee high grass, heather and bracken and travel can be painfully slow” Take care  There is so much to do and why rush it into one long day?

"Ankle twisting rock and scree, or knee high grass, heather and bracken and travel can be painfully slow"

“Ankle twisting rock and scree, or knee high grass, heather and bracken and travel can be painfully slow” Take it easy and enjoy.


A past life on a Rescue on Jura.

A past life on a Rescue on Jura.

Tip 8.

Take time to enjoy this and all the Islands there is so much to do and see if we only look?


Tip 9 and 10

I must go back and visit the Jura distillery and climb the rest of the Paps and visit more of this wonderful place and its secrets.


Now a winter trip sounds interesting any takers? Or a visit by boat?

The Jura Fell Race 27 May 2017 –

“The Isle of Jura Fell Race is a classic on everyone’s wish list – being a true test of hillcraft, endurance and fell running technique. It is one of the toughest challenges in British hill racing at this distance, and one of the best weekends on the calendar.”

jura hill race

The Jura Folk Festival –



Now in its 23rd year, The Isle of Jura Musical Festival is a well-established favourite for lovers of the traditional music scene. From the locals Friday night ceilidh right through to the Sunday night concert in the distillery co-operage, headlined by Skippinish, enjoy a weekend packed with fantastic performances, stimulating workshops, spontaneous sessions and great craic.

The Jura Regatta – 7th August

A great book!

A great book!

Fully revised and updated, this is the only book with detailed information and maps on every Scottish island. With the author’s own paintings liberally illustrating it, this beautiful guide will take you everywhere, whether by armchair or yacht.

From the abandoned crofts of Mingulay and the standing stones of Orkney to the white beaches of Colonsay and the spectacular Cuillins of Skye, this is the first complete gazetteer to cover all of Scotland’s many hundreds of islands, including those which are uninhabited and those which are notoriously difficult to reach.

Packed with information on access, anchorages, points of historical or natural interest and things to do and see, this fascinating compendium provides indispensable information for touring, for browsing, for reference, and for all of those travellers who wish to experience some of the most beautiful and remote places in the world.

No other book begins to emulate the range and depth of the information contained in The Scottish Islands. Illustrated with full-colour illustrations and relief maps of all the main islands, this is both an impressive work of reference and a fascinating personal view of Scotland’s distant outposts.

So many things to do so little time?


There are two plane crashes from the war on Jura and due to the weather and time I missed them. Has anyone got information on this one and an updated grid reference would help. 2/1/1945 –  Fairey Barracuda Beinn an Orr grid ref 61/495745 ( unchecked)  – flew from Ayr both crew killed  operating from Ayr with 815 NAS, crashed into Beinn an Orr, Paps of Jura. Lt Cdr D Norcock (Squadron Commanding Officer), S/Lt WM Moncrieff and PO LW Gurden all killed)
2000 – wreckage airlifted by 819 NAS Sea King to nearest road
12/2000 – wreckage moved by road from Jura to Yeovilton and placed outside Cobham Hall store

The plane which had crashed on the island of Jura. The aircraft had been flown by the CO of 815 Squadron and had gone missing while on a training mission in January 1945. The wreckage was recovered by the Fleet Air Arm museum in 2000.


Posted in Articles, Books, Corbetts, Enviroment, Equipment, Flora, Friends, Hill running and huge days!, History, Local area and events to see, Mountain rescue, mountain safety, Sailing trips, Weather | Leave a comment

Leaving Jura – great weather.

​ I was up early in Jura and the weather was superb and what great views.I had a walk along the shore and it was such an incredible place to be! I was still tired from yesterday but the early morning walk loosens the joints! 

The Jura Hotel breakfast was superb and I had to have the Lich Fynne kippers they were great as was the service and the views . 

We had some time before the ferry and went for a cycle the weather cleared from the tops and we saw the summits at last! What a stunning place to be ! The single tracked road was busy but it was great to see the care taken by the drivers to us on the bikes! The views dominated by the sea and the space and ever changing light!

The Paps of Jura clear at last and looking superb with the conical tops and rough steep loose scree!

There is so much to see on the Island and we had only a short time so I must come back but we enjoyed the cycle!

It was then time to get wet as a shower came in and then coffee in the Antler cafe a busy place near the Jura Distillery! Then into the local community shop for some postcards.  

It was then back to the Hotel and pick up the rest of our gear and head to the ferry! We had met our skipper Nicol who was everywhere  in Craighouse on the Island a real character!

The weather was superb and the sea so calm it was sad to leave the island on the Jura passenger ferry !

It was an hour back to the mainland on flat calm seas what a trip outstanding views and the Paps clear at last ! This was the West Coast at its finest. 


The journey back was out on the small deck taking in the sun. It was warm and so different from yesterday and I enjoyed the journey! 

On the way back getting near Tayvallich the skipper cut the engines and we saw the Puffer pass close by – smoke billowing  from the funnel and so silent what an finale to our trip!

It was then into the beautiful harbour of Tayvallich with its boats, sun  and stunning surrounds!   

leaving Jura a special place

 It was a long drive back after a busy 2 days in Jura it took 5 hours to get home with a stop for tea at Spean Bridge! The hills were looking great and though tired I enjoyed the drive! 

I dropped Bab’s of at home and then was glad to get home get the gear sorted and an early night! The busy time had taken its toll. It was great to be out and this time last year I was still struggling with my health.

Another island visited but only a short stop so many other things to do and see what a place this wee country this is ! 

 Jura was magic despite the weather on the hill, the hospitality and kindness was true Island hospitality and I will be back ! Thanks Jura for a great trip and for Bab’s for the idea!

Now about the Paps of Jura race? 

The Jura Folk Festival ?

George Orwell book  1984 was written in Jura this painting is in the Jura Hotel!

And of course visit the Jura Distillery all in the next visits! 

Living the dream! 

Posted in Articles, Corbetts, Enviroment, Family, Friends, Local area and events to see, Mountain Biking, Views Political?, Weather | Leave a comment

Bit of a wild  day on the tops in Jura but we managed the summit of Beinn an Oir and Colby’s Camp!

A quick turn round at the Hotel

A quick turn round at the Hotel.

It was a bumpy trip over to Jura and the sea was rough but we were there in an hour and the Island was in mist.

with the cloud at about 1000 feet.  I was hoping for views but was more than happy to be in the boat and enjoy the comments of our skipper Nicol MacKinnon is a legend on the Island.

Two characters

Two characters

The ferry is £20 each way and well worth it and our bikes were free and Nicol is so helpful and looked after us, his boat is magic and so comfortable. It was then book in to the Jura Hotel right by the harbour and book a late meal and leave some gear. The staff were so helpful and we were off by 1200. You can camp here on the campsite”the Field” a lovely spot outside the Hotel where everyone is welcome.

Cycle in to the hill saving a few miles of walking.

Cycle in to the hill saving a few miles of walking.

It was a 45 minute cycle to our start for the hill Bab’s had tried this hill before but bad weather had stopped her and she wanted to so all the Paps a big day and this was not really on with our late midday start. It was windy on the cycle in and on way and we got some rain and the mist never moved form the peak. I looked at the weather  earlier but it was a bit wilder than forecast and we would tailor the day to suit? These are not easy hills and care would be needed.

“Jura is the wildest island in the inner Hebrides it is a vast area of rock, scree and blanket bog ( more then I remember) The terrain is without doubt rough ankle twisting rock and scree, or knee high grass, heather and bracken and travel can be painfully slow,but what a place to visit. We will see how things go?”

The walk in to the Loch an t -siob. An awful wet path worse than the old CIC Hut path on Ben Nevis!

The walk in to the Loch an t -siob. An awful wet path worse than the old CIC Hut path on Ben Nevis! 

“Ankle twisting rock and scree, or knee high grass, heather and bracken and travel can be painfully slow”

Bab’s had said the walk in was wet when she did it last year and it lived up to the mark. It was awful at times the bog was knee-deep mud and lots of hidden holes and add to that a strong wind and rain it was a grind. The route I picked was up the glen and onto the ridge. We had to go this way due to the wind direction as it would be about 40 – 50 mph on the tops. These are hard hills and rain , mist and gusts are not what you need.

The stepping stones.

The stepping stones.

It was heads down and get going, the path was good up to  point very wet and then hidden in deep grass and ferns. I had been up since 0200 and was tired but the weather kept me going. We had some great views down the glen and to the sea but our hills were covered in mist but this is Scotland in July! We eventually reached the loch and crossed the stepping-stones.

Leaving the loch and heading up the hill.

Leaving the loch and heading up the hill.

The stepping stones and the misty hills.

It was a big pull up to the beleach and at just over 1200 feet  we lost the path in the ferns and heavy grass  again it was hard work and the rain pelted down and the wind blew up. We found some shelter at the beleach and put on all our gear it was more like winter now, gloves and hat and both jackets on. We had a think at the beleach and hidden among the boulders we got a bit of shelter. We made a decision to go on and see how it went in the weather.It was tricky route finding and every rock and grass was so slippy but we managed to keep out of the wind and gradually gained height.  A slip here would be serious but we took care and worked our way through each short step. The wind was not that bad near the top and we eventually reached the summit ridge. We heard voices in the mist and there was another couple of walkers on the steep scree  a bit off route! I dropped my camera in the mist and broke it trying to get a photo, it was becoming a costly hill.

Misty summit

Misty summit ridge a poor  photo on my phone.

The summit ridge was okay the wind was not bad now but the mist was heavy and it was great to see the summit at last. Wearing specs is not good in this weather and I kept checking where we were and making notes of our height at each obstacle on the way up. It was to cold at the summit to stop long a quick bit of food and get another bearing and head off. I had planned to go back the same way but it was very steep and slippy and the normal route up seemed a better bet and the wind was easing. I took a bearing and from the summit a great path lead to Colby’s camp  not far away.It was by far the best path of the day more like a road and great to switch off for a few minutes. The concentration had been hard for the last few hours but we still had to get down and I hoped the ground would ease soon?

summit break

Summit break and Babs has her hill at last..

Colbys Camp –

I don’t know if you’ve ever come across the term ‘Colby Camp’ before. There’s an article all about them in  SMCJ 2014.  They are ruins of shelters, windbreaks etc on the summits of hills across the Highlands left by OS parties during the principal triangulation of Britain in the 19th century. Colby and his men lived for weeks on lots of mountains taking bearings to other summits when weather permitted.

There are only records of nine camps where ruins can still be seen. However, there are lots of hills where OS parties are known to have lived for many weeks but where no remains have been recorded. Ben Wyvis, The Storr, Ben More on Mull are just a few such hills.

A ‘Colby’ camp, similar to that at Creach Bheinn (NM85NE 2), is situated beside Jura Primary Triangulation Pillar. It also is situated in the nearest ‘saddle’, but there are no windbreak walls: instead, ‘houses’ were erected, the walls of which can still be seen. They were probably roofed with tarpaulin.

Information from R J Stone to OS, 27 July 1951.

(NR 499 751) On the NE saddle of Beinn an Oir are two rectangular drystone buildings about 210m from the triangulation station. The larger building measures 8.5m by 5.0m with the wall standing up to 1.4m high. A clear, made path runs from the buildings through the scree to the triangulation station; whether it is contemporary with the houses cannot be determined. An irregular, sheltering wall, about 4.0m across, rings the triangulation pillar and is probably of recent construction; along the E side its height of 1.8m obstructs the view from the pillar.

Jura map Corbett

It was a lot better way off from Colby,s camp and we soon hit the main path and enjoyed a reasonable path after a long day of rough wet ground. There was only the odd scree that we worked our way down and soon we were out of the clouds and heading back down. It was still cold and wet but lower down we dried of a bit and then it was a long walk out back onto our muddy path after the loch, which seemed worse but the views of the sea helped as we trudged off.

The path was wetter than ever and I felt it on the way home.  We were very tired by now.

GreAT Views on the way off.

Great Views on the way off.

We arrived eventually back at the bikes and it was a short cycle back and we arrived back at the hotel just after 1900. We had time for a change and a shower in the Hotel then a great meal with great views out to sea. The Hotel even had a drying room and it was so handy for the wet gear. They were so helpful in the Hotel and one of the girls even checked we were safe off the hill, a lovely thought and checked we were home safe. We were still very tired and after the meal I went for a wander along the shore and into the jetty where a Tall Ship the “Flying Dutchman” was in, it is a French sailing boat. I needed to stretch the legs and I was a bit sore after a long day, the old bones were needing a bit of care.  It was now a lovely night and I enjoyed the walk and there was even a piper playing in the field, magical.  The sun was out over the sea but the hills were still covered in mist but what a lovely place to be.

2016 Flying Dutchman July Jura

It was an early night and I had  a room with a bath which I soaked in easing a lot of pain I was tired by now it had been a long day.  We had been up since 0200 and it was taking its toll, it had been some day and the hill though not big by other standards it had been a hard day. What a shame no views from our hill but still an interesting day and a new hill for me a new Corbett at 785 metres a rare occasion but a hard wee hill today.

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