The Skyline of Skye – some great hill songs what is yours?  

I have great memories of the mountains and in my early days with the RAF Teams we would sing in the pub after a hill day. That is what folks did in the 70’s seemingly. We all had to learn a song when we joined the team and sing it?

1972 Skye eye opener on the ridge in Easter.

We were often joined by many locals  who had fiddles etc and for many years all over Scotland the pubs would be full of singers after a day out on the hills.

The Tradition of singing goes back Kinlochewe 1951 after Lancaster Crash the troops had a few instruments in these days. Photo Joss Gosling

Many of the songs were not just about the hills there were many great songs about the sea especially on the West Coast also about Scottish/ Irish history till the troubles in Ireland stopped it! My song badly sung was “Shoals of herring”, Jim Morning sang “Peggy Gordon” so many other favourites were sung like the Ballahulish Ferry ( River gambler edition)

What are your favourite songs ?

This is one of mine “The Skyline of Skye “and my old pal Tuech Brewer used to sing this and I loved it. He is a big bear of a man but could hush the pub with this magic song.

The islands are calling me back home againAnd I long for the skyline of Skye.

A lassie is waiting, sweet flow’r of the glen,

‘Neath the beautiful skyline of Skye.

I left her one springtime; oh, I loved her so!

The blue mountains whispered, “You’re foolish to go.”

As I sailed with the tide, something died here inside.

How I cried for the skyline of Skye!

In mem’ry I’m hearing the ghost of her tune

That keeps haunting my heart with a sigh.


It tells of her parting that sad afternoon.

In Pin on a misty Skye

It’s the song of the skyline of Skye.

The road to the islands comes down to the sea,

And that’s where my love will be waiting for me,

And together we’ll stay till we’re both old and grey

‘Neath the beautiful skyline of Skye.

So there were so many more other favourites Dark Lochnagar, Schieihallion, Wild Mountain Thyme, Will you go lassie go, Glencoe, Manchester Rambler, Cloggy song.

Skye fun times.

I am heading over in September cannot wait to see the Skyline of Skye.

Cioch Direct with a young Gaz Williams.


“Said Maylard to Solly one day in Glenbrittle,

All serious climbing, I vote is a bore,

Just for once, I Dubh Beag you’ll agree to do little,

And, as less we can’t do, let’s go straight to Dubh Mhor,

So now when they seek but a days relaxation,

With no thought in the world but of viewing the views,

And regarding the mountains in mute adoration,

They call it not climbing but “Doing The Dubhs”

Some of the replies great interest.

Mountain Songs

  1. N.Reid – Aye, folk still do it (sometimes) in the 20-teens. There are a good few songs among the Cairngorms bothy crowd which get regular airings.
  2. b.Carr – loads Heavy but think my all time favourite is The Ballad of Glencoe.
    Awesome with all the lads singing. ❤
  3. Trangmuir – I think Wild Rover would be my favourite. Rousing chorus!
  4. Jones – Remember Tony Jones singing cock robin in Swahili. His party piece.
  5. T.Bradshaw. – ame in the Sixtys too Kinloss had a songbook , songs by the Clancy brothers and tommy makem…….Wild Rover , Irish Rover, The Leaving Of Liverpool…and many more …
  6. r.Russel – Yup how true it was Heavy. I wonder if this tradition has sadly ‘gone’ in this digital age?
  7. A.Craig – Started to die out from the 80s apart from Reunions. The Ogilvy Arms back bar in Clova was possibly the greatest singing venue (and stovies!)
  8. W.Woodyat – he back bar at Cobdens , Capel Curig was a cracking the early 70s .
    Lots of singing and drinking with Ogggie and the RAF teams together.

P . Morrison – Mingulay Boat Song,  You have probably sung more than most, what’s yours Heavy?

  1. Gerrard – A lassie was waiting sweet flower oh the Glen…….
    Mine is These are my mountains,this is my Glen the braes oh my childhood..
  2. S.Sheehan – I have the song books somewhere.  Dundee Weaver.
  3. Jackson – I Never will Marry” – Oh well that didn’t work out – work out- work out.

“I never will marry or take me a wife I’d rather stay single the rest of my life????????”Heavy not for want of trying?????

Chalky White – The great news is that this music is alive and well and living in Newfoundland.

Rhys Dobbs – Come by the hills.

  1. A.Craig – Fiddlers Green and the McFadyen singing the Loch Tay Boatsong .

S, Atkins – Smudge’s solo recital of ‘Green Fields of Franc’e was a beautiful thing to hear, back in the day. Only bettered by Wiggy’s ‘Cod Liver Oil and Orange Juice’ whilst barely managing to remain standing.

M.Coward – Ugly bug ball

  1. Bradshaw – Written by one of my relatives…


The Ballad of Idwal Slabs… Showell Styles

I’ll tell you the tale of a climber; a drama of love on…


  1. Wragg – Hi Tony, can still remember some of them must have been burnt into my brain, should be grateful something has stayed in there I think a lot of things are missing, must be this age thing.
  2. D.Mitchell – Used to sing em when trying to get the bairn to sleep. ‘All for the want of a nail’, Greenland Whale.

P White –  Bet that worked a treat.

  1. S.Sheenan – “When your a thousand feet high and your nearing the sky and you can’t get a grip on the shale there’s a smashing belay only 10 feet away and it’s all for the want of a nail.”

Next Blog on Poems – great reply’s thanks Heavy

  1. B..Skelson – And the occasional poem! “…..he was tall he was fair he was handsome, John Christopher Brown was his name. The very severes, nearly bored him to tears, and he felt about girls much the same!!”




Posted in Friends, History, Mountain rescue, Mountaineering, Music & Cinema, Rock Climbing, Views Mountaineering | 2 Comments



This crash is well known to many Mountaineers as the crash site is the impressive Triple Buttress of Beinn Eighe  in Torridon on the West Coast of Scotland. It changed the face of RAF Mountain Rescue and many lessons were learned. I have written on this subject in many occasions on this blog.

The aircraft is spread all over the cliff and much of it is still in the aptly named Fuselage gully where one propeller is jammed in the gully and you have to climb over it. The Lancaster had 4 propellers one was near the summit ridge and it was decided to move it in the early 80’s .

The late Eric Hughes at the old Memorial at Kinloss

The propeller was moved from the summit gully manually a huge task and transported by Seaking to RAF Kinloss in the early 80’s. This was a massive undertaking and the brain child of two instructors from Outdoor Activities Centre Grantown On Spey Tom Jones and Jim Morning. The man power was an Officer Training Course at the Centre that must have been hard work, Tom Jones said it was not an easy task. It was eventually placed outside the old Team Headquarters by Eric Hughes and the RAF Kinloss Mountain Rescue Team and remained there for many years. The Team helped and they built it to last at the old Team Headquarters as it had some support of cement and boulders, to keep it in place. In  2004  until the new purpose-built centre or the Old RAF Kinloss Team was built. The Memorial was moved again to the new HQ . That was an epic as I was at the ARCC on the day a Saturday they had to move it it was part of the contract and took some effort including a digger , I was laughing as they had an epic. Eric and the boys put it there to last. Where is it now I have it on good authority from the main man”Simon Moore” that it  has moved to RAF Lossiemouth to the new team HQ.

Every year I take a relative to the crash site high on the mountain, he wants to visit the new memorial but when he asked to see it at RAF Lossiemouth it drew a blank.

Joss Gosling one of the original Team with the Propeller on Beinn Eighe that is getting worn.

The memorial means a lot it would be good to see it in a place where people can share the sad tale of the loss of the Lancaster on Beinn Eighe?

Lest we forget.

Posted in Aircraft incidents, Articles, Mountain rescue, Views Mountaineering | 2 Comments

ARCHIE ROY OBE 1945–2017 – Lomond MRT

Mountain Rescue is full of characters, they are real people that few outside their team acknowledge. This is an Obituary of Archie Roy OBE of the Lomond Mountain Rescue Team by his pal Bob Sharp. RIP Archie my condolences to his family and friends.

ARCHIE ROY OBE – 1945–2017

Archie became a member of the Lomond MRT in 1989, serving as operational member,
equipment officer and latterly trustee. I had met Archie a few years before and knew
him to be a keen mountaineer and aspirant Munroist. When the team needed extra
personnel to help with a large-scale search, I cajoled him into joining us. He seized the
invitation with immediate enthusiasm. At the time he was a senior civil servant
responsible for the UK’s Benefits Agency and some 70,000 employees! He had chosen
not to live in London but to commute from his home in Central Scotland. Mountain
rescue suddenly opened up a new dimension to his life; one which would provide
respite from his heavy workload and enormous responsibilities, regular forays into the
Scottish mountains and most important, an opportunity to help others less fortunate.
That was Archie’s style throughout his life.

Very quickly he became a key team member, and whilst not able to attend all rescues,
his wise counsel, quiet authority and canny ability to make important decisions when
most of us were flailing, ensured the team ran smoothly at times of great stress. He
played a significant role when the team faced ‘competition’ from a rogue rescue
organisation intent on taking over the team’s patch. His ability to deal effectively with
confrontation, communicate easily with senior members of national organisations and
manage publicity successfully helped the team surmount the challenge.

Summit of Buachaile

It was clear early on that Archie had an utterly selfless approach to the team’s work.
Typically, he was always the first to volunteer when others might back off. He involved
himself fully (and often organised) fundraising events, and when other team members
had left the post following a rescue, he would remain cleaning the vehicles and sorting
out gear. He always considered others before himself. This was epitomised on a rescue
in which he suffered a severe leg injury. Tasked to climb to the summit of Ben Lomond
to serve as a radio link, he fell through a snow bridge and suffered severe
hyperextension of his right leg. In considerable pain and in need of urgent medical
attention, he insisted that I leave him to take up the link position and that the team
continue searching for the missing girls. I reluctantly agreed and it was two hours
before he was eventually airlifted to A&E. So severe were his injuries that he was off
work for over six months. On another occasion, he revealed what a true team player
he was. Descending the Cuillin ridge we witnessed a walker fall several hundred feet
from Collies Ledge. Within seconds we located the man and proceeded to apply first
aid. There was little need to talk as we co-ordinated our efforts in harmony. Archie’s
calm approach and capacity to make clear judgements under pressure ensured the
walker received the very best treatment – and he survived!

Not content with just local matters, Archie represented the team at national meetings
in Scotland and played a key role at several UK MR Conferences. He was a key figure
with RESCUE 2020, bringing to bear his outstanding interviewing skills. As his ‘scribe’ I
marvelled at his capacity to engage people in a friendly way whilst teasing out critical
and revealing details that might otherwise have been hidden from view.
He struggled with ill health for the final four months of his life, but continued as a
trustee and also to critique my efforts at writing notes about mountain rescue. Indeed,
I suspect that everything I have written on mountain rescue over the years has
received a light touch from Archie’s wide knowledge and wisdom.

Archie Roy was one of our unsung champions. When he spoke at a meeting, everyone
listened. His wise advice was often sought and his selfless approach was a lesson for
us all. Held in great affection, one of the team’s two vehicles was named after him
when he retired from active service a couple of years ago. ‘Lomond Archie’s’ legacy
will continue for many years into the future.

Bob Sharp

Thanks Bob for this tribute.




Posted in Articles, Friends, Mountain rescue, mountain safety, People, Views Mountaineering | 1 Comment

Lockerbie – Looking for help from those who were there and a photo of the Control Point in the School?


Not many know that Mountain Rescue, SARDA and a many other Agencies apart from the Police, Fire Brigade Ambulance,Coastguards and Raynet were involved in the tragedy of Lockerbie in December 1988. It is a day I will never forget as will most people involved and it remains the biggest terrorist incident in the UK where just under 300 people lost their lives.

I am doing a lot of research for my book (yes I am back on the case) and looking for information from any of the 4 RAF teams who attended Lockerbie in 1988. I have no pictures of the Control at Lockerbie High School and would also appreciate any stories as this was the biggest incident that RAF MRT ever were at. Sadly it is not mentioned in the SAR MR History that celebrated the 75 th Anniversary ?  I know that Stafford MRT located the Black box early in the morning, but would appreciate other details.  Sadly little is known of the huge work by the RAF and Civilian Teams and the effect on many of the teams. I understand this may not be easy for many but I would appreciate any help my contact by email please or messenger. I also want to name all the teams involved especially the civilian Mountain Rescue  teams North and South of the Border who worked for weeks after the crash. I would also like to get the names of all the Agencies involved,the Army and RAF who did such sterling work. I cannot name all those personally who were involved but it would be good to have a role of honour of teams and Agencies of all those who helped as part of the sad story.

Please forgive me if this brings up sad memories to those who were involved in every Agency I feel there is still a tale that has never been told.

Thanks please pass on to anyone who can help.

Comments/ thoughts welcome and it would be great to get that illusive photo of the Control Point in Hall at Lockerbie High School.

Sadly still all those years on no one has been called to account for this tragedy, it is all hidden in a veil of secrecy and no one seems to care. There must be a politician out there who will stand up and ask the questions as many are asking? Would they get away with this today I doubt it?

We owe it to those who lost their lives and to those whose were involved and effected forever by this crime.


Posted in Aircraft incidents, Lockerbie, PTSD, Views Political? | 12 Comments

Care of Cummingston sea cliffs – who cares?

Cummingston Cliff – Erosion

Stunning Orchids ? near the path.

I spent the weekend relaxing after a busy week with Outfitmoray a local Charity in the Cairngorms. I got out for a few local walks and how I love this area getting a few lovely wanders along the coast. There were  walkers on the coastal walk, wild water swimmers out, kayaks people loving this place.

It was good to see my local crag Cummingston it was busy with climbers but the path is so eroded now. I have tried to get the users of the crag to get together and sort it out but I am getting no joy. In the meantime the path gets worse and the groups get bigger at this wonderful place. It is an area that flowers cover the grasses and sand near the path, where locals watch the dolphins and kids explore the caves. It is not just a climbing venue.

Erosion getting worse and when wet very tricky for locals to get down to the caves and beach.

Sadly if we keep hammering it and no one looks after it things can only get worse. It is even worse that many of the groups are using the cliff and are charging for the clients and yet nothing goes back into looking after this special place.

great place to climb.

In the past with the RAF Mountain Rescue we tried our best to look after each cliff and keep our numbers at a reasonable level. We repaired fixed belays and helped look after the path even sorting it out at times and trying to limit erosion. There is funding, it takes time but someone needs to get a grip of the situation and I am sure there was a project looking at the feasibility of the upkeep of the cliff.

A place for all to enjoy

Climbers and organisations must remember this area is popular with locals and kids the caves and beach   are a huge attraction to young local families and visitors but sadly the path now needs care and is so slippy and worn. Anyone or Organisation interested or embarrassed by this post please get together and do something please?

Clifftop Erosion?

I will be down looking at what groups are using the cliffs and their numbers, it may be a good project if I get time? Or is this a waste of time?

Comments welcome also if you know any information about the project done a few years ago on the cliffs, I would love a copy?

This is a place we all should look after.

Posted in Enviroment, Equipment, Local area and events to see, Mountaineering, Plants, Rock Climbing, Views Mountaineering, Views Political?, Wildlife | Leave a comment

Eric Liddell –  One of Scotland’s finest men. “In the dust of defeat as well as the laurels of victory there is a glory to be found if one has done his best.”


Eric Liddell – Have you heard of this incredible person? Yesterday on radio Scotland Allan Wells  Gold Medal winner in the 1980 games was speaking about Eric Liddel who won a Gold medal in the 1924 Olympics in Paris after refusing to run on a Sunday in his favoured race the 100 metres that he was a favourite to win. “ In the footsteps of Eric Liddle”

It was My Dad had told me all about him in my youth he was also a minister and Eric Liddell was his hero so I was made aware of one of Scotland’s finest men from an early age.

My Dad running 1934 for Edinburgh Harriers , he won the Arthurs Seat race a few times. Eric Liddell was his hero

The famous film “Chariots of Fire” was about Eric Liddell and sadly my father never saw it he would have loved it. It is still a classic and well worth a watch as is the music well worth a listen to.

“The secret of my success over the 400m is that I run the first 200m as fast as I can. Then, for the second 200m, with God’s help I run faster.”  (BBC link)

No one has embodied the ideals of the Olympic movement quite like Eric Liddell, star of the Oscar-winning film Chariots of Fire. After refusing to compete on religious principle in the event in which he was favourite, the 100 metres, at the 1924 Games in Paris, Liddell won an astonishing gold medal in the 400 metres. This book tells his story.

Eric Henry Liddell was a Scottish athlete, rugby player and a famous missionary. He is most famously known as the winner of the men’s 400 meters at the 1924 Summer Olympics in Paris. The son of Scottish missionaries in China, Liddell was born and spent some of his childhood in China, before settling in England for his education. He was known as a brilliant sportsman in his school and college. After learning Pure Science from University of Edinburgh and side by side taking part in races and rugby matches, Liddell ran in 400 meters at the 1924 Summer Olympics in Paris and made a world record in the process. But athletics was not the true calling of his life – he left all the fame and glory to serve as a missionary in China, just like his parents. He became a schoolteacher there to teach and spread the word of God. Liddell was the one who sacrificed his life for the emancipation of China during its worst time – the Japanese invasion of China in 1937. His life is an example of love, sacrifice and true humanity, he lived for the gold far greater than the Olympics gold – the gold of being able to bring change into people’s live

  • Eric Liddell was born in Tientsin, north China to Reverend James Dunlop Liddell. His parents were Scottish missionaries with the London Missionary Society, stationed in China at the time he was born.
  • He went to Chinese schools until the age of five but was later sent to Eltham College, Mottingham—boarding school in England for the sons of missionaries. His parents used to visit him, with his sister and younger brother.
  • Liddell was a brilliant sportsman at school and was named the best athlete of the year and awarded the Blackheath Cup, which is why he was made the captain of both the cricket and rugby union teams.
  • While he was studying at the Oxford College in England, stories of him being the fastest runner in Scotland started to do the rounds. He was seen as the potential Olympic winner.
  • Not just a sportsman, Liddell was also a strongly principled Christian, which is why he was selected to speak at the Glasgow Students’ Evangelical Unit. In 1920, he enrolled himself at the University of Edinburgh to pursue Pure Science.
  • He became the member of the Scottish national rugby union team and from 1922, played seven Five Nations matches for them. The following year, he won the AAA Championships in athletics in the 100 and 220 yards. When he first reached China as a missionary, Liddell taught at an Anglo-Chinese College, to wealthy Chinese students in the hope that they will grow up and use their resources to spread the word of god.
  • In 1934, after getting ordained a minister of religion, Liddell got married to a Canadian missionary, Florence Mackenzie. The couple had three daughters together – Patricia, Heather and Maureen.
  • During the Japanese attack on China, Liddell suffered from a mental breakdown due to an untreatable brain tumor and malnutrition. He died in 1945 in China.

What a man and what ideals he had, please share the tale of this great hero.

“In the dust of defeat as well as the laurels of victory there is a glory to be found if one has done his best.” .


Posted in Books, Recomended books and Guides, Views Political? | 2 Comments

Home after an interesting few days with Outfitmoray in the Cairngorms!

Day 4 & 5 in the Cairngorms at Badaguish with Outfitmoray a local Charity and the Respite week for kids, now I need a rest!

The last two days went well the kids had a great days canoeing on Loch Morlich and came back pretty tired the effect of 4 days of activities. In the last few days they have walked, climbed, been gorge walking, canoeing and mountain biking. Many are away from home for the first time but all have worked so hard and it is great to see the changes in the kids. They seem to revel in the outdoor world and enjoy the fresh air and working together.

Bernie the Chef

The kids had made their own pizzas for dinner and enjoyed it and the results were great and all ate well.There were some toppings but everyone took part and the kids seemned very happy with their results. For many the daily routine, cleaning up and making their own sandwiches is a huge achievement! All are eating well as Bernie is a great chef and looking after us all and the outdoors gives most a good appetite. It is a busy day getting the food ready, cleaning up for 20 and the daily run to Aviemore for fresh items . I enjoy seeing the red squirrels every day is a special treat and the views of the Cairngorms are always outstanding! The kids get some free time at the end of the day if they have the energy  and enjoy the space of Badaguish. It is set in the great forest of the Cairngorms and there is space to play and no mobile phones unless for emergencies. It is a busy day getting the gear sorted for each adventure and the kids learning so many new skills as we are. The night ended with popcorn “never again”and the kids working on their memory boxes from the week. These were incredible made and decorated by the kids and so much effort involved in their preparation a great idea and they are proud of them.

Kids own Pizzas

We had to be away by 1000 from Badaguish yesterday it was raining heavy as we left and the Centre was cleaned up after an early breakfast and the kids headed for a mountain bike ride chasing the weather. Myself and Bernie headed home pretty tired in the heavy rain. I dropped Bernie of in Forres and then headed home to sort out my gear and relax from a busy few days and a quite weekend hopefully.

Plenty of soace

As you get older you get a bit wiser and I have been sheltered from what these local Charities do and how hard Staff and the volunteers work to help the kids. The kids can learn so much from being in an Outdoor environment and away from so many pressures of the modern world and it was good to be a part of it. Kev and Chris the instructors organised a great week theirs is a huge responsibility but aided Tony, Al and David  all went well. We are blessed to have such good folk helping. Pam , Fiona and Donna looked after the girls at night and another volunteer David added his help thanks to all.

It was great to be home and get the telly on washing in the machine and watch Andy Murray take us on another adventure in the tennis. My mum loved the tennis and Wimbledon was her time and she loved it. It was a time of “easy dinners ” and great memories. I now think  how lucky I was to have good parents and I wonder how she would feel about the world today yet there are so many good folk about who do ther bit for others and their efforts can make difference.

Maybe some of the skills learned through my Mountain Rescue days looking after the young troops have rubbed of ? We were all young once,  some of us wild like me and I never forget that!

Please support your local Charities and those who help the kids, they are our future.

A wee memory from the kids they make it all worthwhile. Real effort!

Do I look like a Smurf ?


Outfit Moray is an award-winning charity and social enterprise delivering outdoor learning, adventure and nature exploration programmes which transform lives.

Changing Lives Through Learning and Adventure Outdoors

Founded in 2003, we have worked with over 14,000 children and young people; building confidence, self-esteem and resilience, providing positive role models and encouraging the acquisition of life skills and new experiences through challenge and positive risk taking.

We are a visionary, ambitious and passionate organisation committed to making a difference to the lives of others and particularly those who are vulnerable and disadvantaged.

Our unique approach to learning, education, training and development applies to all that we do, whether working one-to-one with children referred to us, running holiday and respite weeks for vulnerable children, outdoor learning and adventure programmes with schools, or activity sessions to improve health and well-being in adults.

We take a holistic approach to our work; founded on the principles of charity, care and compassion, building trust, valuing courage, patience and integrity, developing social skills and team work, respect for human dignity and taking a selfless approach to the needs of others. It is our aim to encourage positive growth: mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually, to provide hope for a better future, to improve happiness, health and well-being and to create a sense of life purpose.

Outfit Moray provides a supportive structure for a number of charitable and socially enterprising projects to flourish in line with our Vision and Mission, and in particular Earthtime and Bike Revolution. We apply our core values to these projects and actively promote them as part of our work in caring for others and our planet.

Outfit Moray strives to be carbon neutral, to reduce waste and to encourage recycling and up-cycling. We are signatories to Scotland’s Climate Change Pledge.

Posted in Charity, Family, Flora, Friends, Local area and events to see, Mountaineering, People, Views Political?, Weather, Wildlife | Leave a comment