Video from Ardgour Garbh Bheinn visit to Alan Grout Cairn. 


Thanks for a great day Dan Carrol!

Posted in Views Political? | Leave a comment

More on El Alamein Refuge in the Cairngorms. Bothies threatened by Commercial groups?

Many will have read my Blog on the El Alamein Refuge in the Cairngorms. My blogs on various occasions have spoken about this old bothy in disrepair.  A pal has visited and tried to patch things up a bit any views.

A bit of history  – The El Alamein’s bothy in the Cairngorms location was accidental – intended to be sited at the plateau’s edge just above the gently sloping grassy Coire na Spreidhe (Coire of the Cattle), a mistake in the map reference saw it constructed some distance beneath this coire, on the steep and boulder-strewn slopes of Strath Nethy. This is a lovely part of the Cairngorms with great views of Strath Nethy and Loch Avon. It is a place to sit and enjoy the views and peace away from the industrial Ski area.  It is amazing what wild life you see so close to this busy area but in summer it is usually peaceful and enjoyable.

A small line of tiny (now largely collapsed) never found them  lead down towards it, but even on a good day these would be difficult to discern from the other piles of rock which are abundant in this area. In winter this area holds heavy snow and can be an interesting journey to test your skills. Other incidents influenced matters too. In November 1972, there was the so-called Cairngorm Tragedy when seven children in a school party perished in the winter weather. The subsequent Fatal Accident Inquiry concluded that the existence of Curran Bothy caused the school party to head for it to spend the night, and hence if it had not been there they would not have headed for it and not gone on and perished. There are other arguments against bothies on the highly vulnerable plateau.

The plateau bothies, the Curran Bothy and the St Valery were demolished and the El Alamein left to its own devices. Jean’s Hut and the Sinclair Hut have gone, for various reasons. The Fords of Avon bothy on land owned by the RSPB has recently been rebuilt, but not for overnight accommodation. Basically it is an emergency shelter for those marooned while crossing the Lairig and Loaigh. It has been credited with saving several lives over the years. Whatever your views these places were and are part of the history of this place and make a good navigation exercise locating where they were and how they affected this wild area.

A stone is embedded in the wall of the bothy it reads El Alamein Refuge 1963. It has the badge of the 51 st Highland Division that was thought they built the shelter a similar plaque lies at the former site of the St Valery Refuge. The military trained heavily in this area of the Cairngorms during the war, using the harsh environment as a test for the troops.

This is from Ray Sefton the guru of the Cairngorms – However, I have to make a minor correction to the history of the bothies. They were not built by the 51st Highland Division, but in memory of the Division. They were built by the Artificer Apprentices from HMS Caledonia, Rosyth, led by CSM Jim Curran of the Royal Marines. Jim married a local girl and lived in Aviemore for many years. The metal work for the El Alamein, Curran, St Valery and Fords of Avon were made in the workshops at Rosyth and carried to the sites as part of adventure training exercises and the walls were then built. I think the reason the El Alamein survived is that it was located in Inverness-shire, whereas the others were in Moray or Banffshire.

It is as I said a great place to spot wild life and the many ptarmigan that live in this area are hard to spot especially during the nesting season. Be aware where you are walking as their camouflage is incredible, it is easy to stand on a nesting bird such is their dedication to their young.

Please be as careful as you can not to disturb the nesting birds.

This is not a barren wasteland but a place of great beauty and solitude.  It is so near the Ski area which is just now a construction site area yet nearby such a wild place to be.

Update this week  15 August 2016

This bothy is not looked after by the MBA it has some history though!  At least the big groups will not be taking clients to this bothy a bit too spartan I would think ?.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-highlands-islands-37099406

 

“The sustainability of Scotland’s mountain bothies is being threatened by commercial groups, the organisation that maintains the network has warned.

The Mountain Bothies Association (MBA) said it was concerned about the increasing number of businesses using the shelters.

Bothies are found throughout the Highlands, with most of them maintained by the MBA

They are free, but users are asked to follow a “bothy code”.

The code prohibits the use of the buildings by commercial groups.

Many bothies were estate buildings originally built for stalking parties or gamekeepers, but are now popular with hillwalkers and climbers. The MBA was formed in 1965 and looks after about 100 bothies throughout the UK.

Most of the shelters are found in Scotland. They provide basic accommodation, but are generally wind and watertight.

Emergency use

The charity said there were a “number of reasons” why commercial use of bothies – for example by guided tours or adventure holidays – could damage the interests of other bothy users.

In a statement, the MBA said: “There have been occasions when an owner has threatened to close a bothy if we fail to act to prevent further use in this way.

“There have been incidents when legitimate bothy users have been made to feel unwelcome, inconvenienced or even refused entry when commercial groups have been in residence.

“Our volunteers who maintain the bothies, not unreasonably, feel aggrieved to know that their hard work is contributing to the profits of a business that probably does not support our organisation in any way.”

But the MBA said it was happy with commercial groups using bothies as a lunch shelter or “in the event of a genuine emergency”.

The bothy below is not an MBA maintained one!

 

ElAlamein J Fraser Aug 2016

ElAlamein J Fraser Aug 2016

Hello Heavy,

When you write something on the internet you just don’t know what some madman will do in reaction to it. So it is in this case that I read about the state of the El Alamein Refuge on your blog and went to see if I could do something about it. I thought of taking an enormous toolkit but instead I settled on a lump hammer and a cold chisel.

When I got there the air conditioning was definitely on since large sections of the NE corner and east roof were in a very bad state. The door hung sadly from one hinge and the wire bench was at a silly angle.

This photograph from the Alan Halewood Blog shows roughly the condition as I found it.
https://heavywhalley.files.wordpress.com/2016/08/85e17-p1200755.jpg
Note how well lit the subjects are since there is very little above them.

The stonework on the east (downhill) side is in a very poor state and needs stripped down and rebuilt by a good dry-stoner. It is poor protection for visitors and a danger to anyone who works on it. At one point, while trying to fill in the holes, I had to run for my life as a good half tonne of granite came my way. Although by no means perfect, the west wall and roof are in a far better and secure state.

Some aluminium section can be seen on the right, behind the door, in the Halewood photograph. That was still there and there was also another piece of aluminium and some steel galvanised wire.

The first thing I did was hang the door back on the hinges and batter them into some kind of working shape. The door now works and the outside bolt works but the hinges are still weak and will easily fail again. One can secure the door from the inside by using the piece of wire that hangs from it. I have made new support wires for the wire grid bench.

ElAlameinJF Aug 2016 photos J Fraser.

ElAlameinJF Aug 2016 photos J Fraser.

I flattened the aluminium sections so that I had two flat sheets that were luckily roughly the size of the missing part of the roof. The wire grid on the roof is in two layers and a textile and plastic sandwich had originally been put between these for protection and insulation. I was able to force the aluminium sheets between the two layers and fix them to the wire grid with pieces of wire. It is not water-tight but provides considerably more protection than has been there for some years.

I rebuilt some of the NE corner walls and then added the flattest stones I could find to the lower part of the east roof. I did not manage to complete the stonework for the north (back) wall and the east roof. There is a still a gap in the wall at the SE corner. The air conditioning is still on!
Two photographs attached.

If anyone else sees fit to do more work on it then please be sure to take some suitable PPE. Impact-protection work gloves and safety boots are recommended. Heavy leather rigger gloves and winter boots at a minimum.

They should also make sure your ‘lone-worker’ precautions are better than mine were!

Regards

Jim Fraser – thanks for the info.

In winter a wild place

In winter a wild place – not easy to find?

Posted in Articles, Bothies, Enviroment, mountain safety | 5 Comments

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. PTSD can you help highlight this tragic medical illness. The 22 Aug is a big day!

Many will know my thoughts on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and how it affected myself and many of my RAF Mountain Rescue Team  and our civilian teams after Lockerbie in 1988 . It was a nightmare that despite that I had seen some of the worst that the mountains had and dealt with many fatalities and tragedies. In addition I had been to many aircraft crashes these are another horror that at times you have to live with, this was our job in the RAF.  Lockerbie was so different and to see such sights was a nightmare I will never forget, I knew my team and me were having problems and asked for help. The establishment both in the Military and in Mountain Rescue at the time told me in no uncertain terms that it there was no problems and there was no such thing. The new name  PTSD came out after this after years of fighting to get such an illness acknowledged. In these dark days we were told to “Man up ” and get on with our lives, by many who knew little. Even worse in the military as at the time as there was still stigma at times about needing assistance after a difficult tragedy.   In addition if you went sick then after a time you could have lost your job. I was lucky I had huge help from my team who covered for me till I recovered. 


It has taken nearly 25 years to recover fully and hard work by many friends family and the odd expert. I have spoken to several people recently in differing aspects of the Emergency Services and the military and it is still a problem. Some of the recent tragedies like the huge avalanches in Scotland of last year were a hard time for those involved in the recovery and a few spoke to me personally about their experiences and I hope I managed to help them. I lecture regularly and always mention my problems with PTSD and how I managed to control it. This definitely helps people approach me and I can offer my experiences and where to get help. I attended a Critical Incident Stress Debriefing Course in April 1997 nearly 10 years after Lockerbie this was held in Northern Ireland. This was to help us deal with potential problems in teams and within the military with PTSD. It was a hard 3 days and we were with many Irish who had been part of the terrible tragedy that was Ireland at that time. It did help and we came a long way with many ways of helping our teams and friends in the future but there is much to be done yet.

I showed many of the traits of PTSD and had the nightmares, lack of concentration, flashes of anger, depression and many others and hid them from all. My family suffered for many years and had no clue what was wrong and I found it very difficult to get help. Many had no clue what happened at Lockerbie and no idea of what we did and saw.

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Thinking time?

I had a last medical when I retired in 2007 and they look through your documents check you out and I was asked about PTSD and how could a Caterer ( I was a Caterer by trade) could be effected) was I cooking near the crash site?

I never answered I was that annoyed and walked away.

If you run a team or work in the Emergency Services it is well worth getting all the information about the real problems that can occur with you and your people.  As I have said many never suffer but many do, it may be well worth looking around and remembering that big boy’s and girls do cry and some may need help?

It is also worth thinking that if you are the one doing the  talking you need someone to help you. I am more than willing to talk about my life in Rescue and the effects of PTSD and though it hurts it is worth spreading the word and how to get help.

Who cares for the Carers?  Well worth remembering?

Just now there is a big push to highlight the effects of PTSD and a friend Andy Elwood and ex RAF Winchman is trying to get a many emergency services as he can involved be read below and if you can contact him through the links.

http://www.big22.org/

From Andy Elwood

Hi Heavy. Any help you can give me at all with my final day of raising awareness for mental health & PTSD through  22challenge – I’m organising a multi services event for services, veterans & 999 family where we all do 22 press-ups together, with our emergency vehicles, vessels & aircraft in order to raise awareness through a viral video effort. I know you have come across this thru various callouts over the years including Lockerbie. I would really appreciate any help, publicity, promo you could do? I had a 22 press-up video arranged with the RAF Leeming team on Sat in Hathersage, but they got diverted to Snowdon!! So Edale team stepped in at last-minute. I love MR and have been out with teams many times in my early days as a” dope-on-a-rope at Lossie.”

Many many times I was so glad to see the lads, no more so than when R137 froze up in Northern Corries 2006! Hope to hear from u, Andy

Latest fro, Andy – Tthis is spiralling up like I hoped – PTSD999 have made me a Patron – e it – off for interview now – BBC. Idea is clear in my head now please – if you blog re event Big22 on Facebook – (91k people talking about it) – we want 999teams to do a video together of 22 press-ups and showing its ok to talk. No-one should suffer in silence. I’m getting website up & running today I hope & I can post best videos on there. This should be a bit of healthy competitiveness amongst teams & I have interest around the globe. Also builds the interest & people can be part of Big22 on 22AUg even if not able to attend – that’s the nature of 999 duty anyway. Thanks Heavy – gotta run. chat later if u need more.best, Andy

Event Website and Facebook Page:

Please share and pass on help Andy but remember PTSD is not just for 22 days for many it is for life.

Location:

Slipway opposite the Hovercraft Museum

Seaplane Square

Marine Parade West

Lee-on-Solent

PO15 9NS

 

Date: 22nd August 2016

 

Timings:

  • Arrival from 2.15pm
  • All vessels and vehicles should be in position by 2.45pm
  • Filming starts at 3pm prompt

 

Prior to Monday 22nd:

  • Please submit your #22challenge team videos at http://www.big22.org so they can be shared in order to raise publicity for the event as well as #22challenge and #itsoktotalk.
  • There will be videos coming in from as far afield as Curacao, Nepal, USA, Australia and the Falklands.
  • Be creative as only the best videos will go on the website!
  • Go to http://www.big22.org to check out the competition!

 

What’s going to happen on the day?

 

  • Emergency vehicles and vessels need to be assembled by 2.30pm at the latest
  • Emergency vehicles and vessels need to be in position by 2.45pm at the latest
  • Please position yourself on or next to your vehicle to do the press-ups
  • Anyone can take part in the press-ups
  • Supporters are welcome to come along and take part
  • There will be aircraft flying past so it will be noisy
  • Someone with a megaphone will tell you when to start the press-ups
  • Filming will be done by the various aircrew and key people on the ground
  • Filming will start at 3pm prompt
  • The event will take place no matter what the weather

 

Filming

  • PLEASE DO NOT post your own videos on social media.  We are trying to get the official event video to go viral so we need to release a single video which can then be shared by everyone involved.
  • PLEASE DO send your videos of the Big22 to http://www.big22.org so they can be edited together into a single official event video
  • PLEASE send any team #22challenge videos that you’ve done prior to the event to http://www.big22.org in order to raise publicity ahead of the event

 

Practicalities

  • Parking – there’s a large car park at the location and plenty of additional space on the grass.  There’s also another car park a short walk down the beach.
  • Toilets – there are toilets at the next car park further down the beach towards Lee.
  • Food & drink – there are shops on the main street one street back off the waterfront.

ANDY ELWOOD.

A must read for emergency services.

A must read for emergency services.

Posted in Friends, medical, Mountain rescue | Leave a comment

Sad news after Fisherfield Call -out. My thoughts are with the family and friends in Dundonnell MRT.

On my Blog a few days ago (14 August 2016 )I mentioned a difficult call -out in the far North West of Scotland involving Dundonnell and Torridon Mountain Rescue Teams. I had only been out on the hills  two days ago with Dan Carrol another ex RAF Team Leader when we spoke about the loss of a team member after visiting Alan Grouts memorial in Ardour. Alan was killed in a training accident in 1956.

“The memorial was in great condition for 60 years on the hill and we had a great break here. It was strange but we thought of what may have happened here. The accident must have been awful for all concerned, no phones in these days and someone going for help, then the long evacuation by your pals so many sad questions. The poor family and the loss of a young life so many years ago. This was a tragedy that would effect many for the rest of their lives.  I suppose as Team Leaders it had always been in our thoughts how would we have dealt with and accident like this to our team and we had a few near misses in our 30 odd years”

This was posted on Facebook late last night

“Update from our last post. The walker we rescued last Saturday morning has very sadly died of his injuries.

This was an immensely difficult rescue for us as a team as the casualty was a fellow team member, James Edwards.

We are all completely numbed by this outcome. Our thoughts, love and support are with his wife Tanya and their two little boys.”

Donald MacRae

My thought are with the family and team at this terrible time. I can only imagine the grief and sadness of all the Mountain Rescue family. My thoughts are with you all.

The Fisherfield wilderness.

The Fisherfield wilderness.

Posted in Family, Mountain rescue, Mountaineering | Leave a comment

One incredible day on Garbh Bheinn in a heatwave to Ardgour visiting Alan Grouts (RIP) Memorial.

It had been my plan for many years to visit Ardgour and visit the memorial to a young RAF Kinloss Team member Alan Grout who was killed whilst rock climbing on these cliffs. The story is vague as it happend 60 years ago but young Alan was a new team member at the time in 1956 and it seems that he climbed above the leaders belay and took a big fall. In 1956 there was little gear, no harness,no helmets and protection was very basic. The story is told in Frank Cards book “Whensover ” He took a big fall according to the book falling 50 – 70 feet and the pendulum meant he sadly hit the rock !  He was killed instantly ! The photo below shows gear of the same era on Waterfall Buttress near Slioch and a new severe climbed by the RAF Mountain Rescue Team.  The team was climbing all over Scotland in these early days many were new climbs for the time.

1956 on Waterfall Buttress

1952 on Waterfall Buttress on a new route Dan Stewart Tuti  100 metre severe – Beinn A Mhuinidh near Kinlochewe. photo J Lees

Whatever happend to Alan it would be a tragedy and the RAF Kinloss Team in 1957 built a memorial to Alan in this wild corrie, nowadays Memorials are scorned  quite rightly on the hills but  it was the thing to do in that era. For years when I was in the team at RAF Kinloss we visited this wild place and climbed many of the routes in this incredible corrie.  It became a place of pilgrimage for me  and one to show even the best young climber that mistakes can be made  and at times they can be so costly. Few who arrive here are not impressed with the situation. There are so many climbs about all defended by a usually wet long walk in. The  Great Ridge dominates the corrie and is the classic as is Pinnacle Ridge, Great Gully and many more incredible rock climbs. There are acres of cliffs and gullies and this is wild Corrie and one of the finest in Scotland for rock scenery.

The long walk in and it was so warm

The long walk in and it was so warm.

I was going to go myself into Garbh Bheinn no one else was available but felt I had to go and visit the Memorial. I had been there on the 50 th Anniversary in 2006 with Jimmy Coates another Team member . The RAF Kinloss Mountain Rescue Team is now sadly  gone but there is still a RAF team at Lossiemouth and I managed to get my old mate Dan Carrol to come with me. Dan was a former RAF Kinloss/ Leuchars and St Athan Team Leader and I was glad of  such great the company. We had talked about it in the past and as I have a small operation on Thursday the only day we were free was Monday and he wanted to come. It was a long 3 hour drive across to Ardgour and the short Ferry crossing from the Corran Ferry was incredible it was a blue sky day, hot even at 0600 in the morning and there was a wind so no midges. This wee ferry takes you into another land Ardgour is some place that few realise missing this area out for the big hills of Glencoe and Ben Nevis.

Views that were specail.

Views that were special.

Argour is such a wonderful place and the ferry makes it special and the views of these hills are superb. These are really rough wild mountains, there are few paths and the hills are covered in rock and steep ground and days on these hills are precious and few venture in. We parked at the old road and the very wet and boggy  path takes you into Coire an lubhair it was hard going and so warm today. This is some walk in and I found it really hard going, we had taken some rock climbing gear with us which did not help as we maybe fancied a climb after our visit to the memorial. The memorial used to be marked on the map but we had to use our battered memories to remember where it was. Off the path it was hard going no path and real rough ground but we found it and what a situation it is in. It is on the top of a small buttress and looking spectacular in the sun.

Dan at the memorial.

Dan at the memorial.

Dan was well ahead by now  but I stopped to take photos and the memorial  on the top of the small crag that glistened in the sun. It has a wonderful backdrop of huge cliffs and buttress it was a long 2 hour walk in the heat. The memorial was in great condition for 60 years old and we had a great break here. It was strange but we thought of what may have happened here. The accident must have been awful for all concerned, no phones in these days and someone had the awful task of going for help, then the long evacuation by your pals so many sad questions.  After this notifying the poor family and the loss of a young life so many years ago. This was a tragedy that would effect many for the rest of their lives a tragedy.  I suppose as Team Leaders it had always been in our thoughts how would we have dealt with and accident like this to our team and we had a few near misses in our 30 odd years. We spent some special time here and decided that time was moving on we wandered up into the corrie. We had not enough time to climb and it was a day to relax and enjoy this stunning place and we were left to each other thoughts as we wandered around. 1956 was along way back but what a sad time that day all those years ago must have been. I wonder if there is anyone with information on the accident as I can find little around. Can you help and the piece in “Whensover” is vague?

2000 Al Grout mem

I have always wonder why was the memorial is in this place well off the path and rarely visited?

P1050364

I was feeling a bit rough the sun and my neck injury hurting and sore so it was the right move to enjoy this place and not climb. We would have had a rush and long day that I would have struggled with. Dan as always was fine about it.  There was no one around just so many memories of  many ascents of this fine cliff and opening new team member’s eyes to this wild place. There were some good  past winter ascents, grand climbs a few epics and always the pilgrimage to the Memorial and the thoughts of why we climb. It is also at times the consequence of a mistake and the long-term effect on the family and those involved?

The Great Ridge another day?

The Great Ridge another day?

Dan took the rock gear off me( he is still a bairn in age) and we had a long wander back stopping and drinking,lots from the river. It was great cooling down and enjoying the views and I had feeling a bit dizzy at times until I drunk more fluid and then it was okay. It was the effect of the sun was battering down all morning it must have been about 25 degrees. Time was moving on and we were soon back at the car and then the Ferry back to the mainland.

Dan heading off in the sun!

Dan heading off in the sun!

It was so warm the sea so flat calm and a quick visit to see Sue at Onich and coffee at Crafts and Things in the Coe and then the long drive home. It was great weather the hills were sparkling  and what an incredible day we had. No summits but a lot of reflection, thanks Dan for the company and understanding on this special place and looking after me on a wonderful day.

P1050376

The Memorial is at NM 9097962798 and worth a look it is some wild place.

Take care if out in the sun, walk slowly, drink plenty fluids, wear a hat and use sun screen or you will have snags!

At the Memorial

At the Memorial

Posted in Books, Enviroment, Equipment, Friends, Gear, Mountain rescue, mountain safety, Mountaineering, Recomended books and Guides, Rock Climbing, Views Mountaineering, Weather | 4 Comments

Garbh Bheinn Ardgour – a visit 60 years on from the death of Alan Grout RIP a RAF Kinloss Mountain Rescue Team member.

 

As a Mountain Rescue Team Leader the worst thing that could happen is a Team member being badly injured or killed. I will admit it worried me a lot during my years as Team Leader and as a Party Leader. Call – outs were always when it could be so easy to step over the line between safety and danger and many of the times we were out I would not have been there by choice.

0059

To operate in these conditions you have to train hard and at times push the boat out so that when the call – out comes you are ready for most things that nature can throw at you!  This was  often in the RAF Teams as we had some very young and inexperienced Team members on long hard days in poor weather and no matter how experienced you are these were testing times. In the end God willing if you work hard you had a strong team that could cope with some  of the wildest conditions imagined. If you add to that a huge area of the whole of the North of Scotland  that could be “your patch” then you have to learn as much as you can of all the mountain areas. You do not in the RAF have a local area like most civilian teams that you know intimately but hopefully with hard training and a steady knowledge of most mountain areas  built up over the years.

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2006 At Alan Grouts memorial on Garbh BHeinn.

 

I had a few near misses and learned so much from them as did many of others. Sadly the RAF Kinloss Team now disbanded and at RAF Lossiemouth lost a Team member in a fall whilst rock climbing in August 1956 in Garbh Beinn in Ardgour. It was a sad day for the team and one can only imagine what effect it had one the family of young Allan Grout who was killed.

Garbh Bheinn is an exceptionally fine mountain, well seen across Loch Linnhe from North Ballachulish. It has fine rock scenery and some classic climbs as well as being a superb viewpoint.

Today myself and Dan Carrol another Ex – Kinloss Team Leader will visit Ardgour and Garbh Bheinn and pay our respects 60 years on.

It will be an early start for us and hopefully  the weather will hold in this wild wonderful part of Scotland that we plan to visit.

CORBETT 12

 

Posted in Mountain rescue, mountain safety, Mountaineering | 2 Comments

Another great afternoon on the rock at Redhythe. A place that never lets me down.

P1050290

I had managed to get Dan my pal away from the DIY and studying and we planned to make use of the good weather and forecast of sun at last. It was planned for the afternoon when the tides were forecasted to be low. Redhythe is near Portsoy and a great place to climb for those of us who just want some fun and on a day like yesterday it is special.  Portsoy is only 45 minutes away on the coast and the rock climbing at Redhythe is not hard and can be very enjoyable. The views are marvellous and the situation of the sea and the many inlets and small cliffs make this a friendly place to be.

Arriving at the crag on a lovely afternoon.

Arriving at the crag on a lovely afternoon. The rock lichen such a bold yellow.

The roads were busy but we soon parked in the small car park there was another two cars in the car park and maybe for the first time we may have company on the cliffs. It is a 15 minute walk along past the fields and the sea was pretty calm but the path a bit muddy in places. The sea  was busy with a few boats about and someone swimming far off shore followed by a kayak! They were moving well. We were soon at the cliff  and the colours hit you as you arrive at the top of the cliff.

At the belay.

At the belay.

You can scramble down to the routes or abseil as we did and its good getting the thinking head on. If you have not climbed for a while then you must check everything is correct and safe, from the belay to your gear.  We were soon sorted and down by the sea, which was calm but no dolphins about or the huge shoals of mackerel as in on other visits. It is fun to be so near the sea and in this lovely place. Normally sea cliffs have an air of wildness but as always here it is special and the belay ledges are good and adequate but you still have to be careful.

P1050288

We did a few climbs and though easy it was lovely to be back on the rock again with my old mate. We had some laughs and I loved it and what a day to be on the rock. The rock is fairly solid and you as always have to watch the odd flaky hold but despite the old body it was fun.  I had heard voices and further round were three fisherman enjoying the day in the sun. They had caught little but were like us having fun. We did 4 short routes and a couple of abseils and it was soon time to go back and enjoy a great night watching the Olympics.

Dan having fun.

Dan having fun. Out again on the rock.

The drive back was fun and a plan for Tuesday on a mountain route on the West Coast and it was great to be out on the rock just for a few hours in such great weather. As you get older you appreciate these days more and now I am recovering from a couple of years of illness it is wonderful to be out on the rock on a short but great afternoon.

“It is not what you do or where you go its to me who you go with and have fun enjoying every minute!

Portsoy – 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.

P1050335

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.

P1050307

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. You pass great fields of barley and all along have superb views of the coast and you may be lucky and have the cliffs all to yourself s,

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