Dental Visit and missed a days climbing! Maybe the Last one for a while! An Lurg Crash near Bynock Mor

Mid 60's Aid Climbing Loch Duncheltaig near Inverness - Draculla

Early 60’s Aid Climbing Loch Duncheltaig near Inverness – Dracula. RAF Kinloss MRT. Now a magnificent E3 free climb.Update 6 Sept this is Engine Room Crack Polldubh climber RAY Sefton.

My plans to go and take some photos of my mates climbing was dashed by a 2 and half hour root canal treatment at the dentist. I just wanted to chill out after it and as it rained a bit just after lunch I had missed the good early part of the day. My injuries mean no more climbing until my  operations are done, I am now on the “Waiting List” so watch this space.  Pete and John had a fun morning and enjoyed themselves. I bet the gear they have no is a lot better than the old days?  The photo above shows the RAF Kinloss MRT at Duncheltaig  near Inverness in the early 60’s aid climbing as was the rage then. It is amazing that this was free climbed in 1969 and is now a free E3 climb. Look closely at all the gear and ropes, confusing?  Update 6 Sept – This photo is actually Engine room Crack at Polldubh the climber is that old man from Aviemore Ray Sefton. Thanks for that Ray! I was always told it was Duntcheltaig.  This was a time when the late Ian Clough was in the RAF Kinloss team and there were only limited protection about. Thanks Ray you tiger!


P.O Patterson grave in New Elgin who was a casualty of the An Lurg Crash near Bynock Mor.i

P.O Patterson grave in New Elgin who was a casualty of the An Lurg Crash near Bynock Mor.

“Lest We Forget”

I received this by email from Phil Patterson whose father was killed in the aircraft crash on An Lurg near Bynock Mor on 14 Aug 1944 killing all 6 crew.  Phil was only 6 weeks old when his father died and visited his fathers grave in Elgin on the 70 th Anniversary of the tragedy. I was at the crash site with two friends on the same day and he saw my blog on the crash on 14 th August this year. He sent me the photo above and a few words.

Dear David,

Thank you for your replies to my comments on your blog and
my email to you. I much appreciate the respect you have paid to the
victims of the crash and your planned visit to my father’s grave in

It has taken me a little longer than I had hoped to upload my
Elgin photographs from the camera to the computer but it is now done
and I attach two photographs of my father’s grave in New Elgin (Elgin
South) cemetery.

I am so glad we visited, thanks to Yeni Harman, Bernie Foran and Steve Price for coming with me.





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Rockfall Danger in Northern Corries of Cairngorms – Please be aware!

coire an t'sneachta-

coire an t’sneachta-

The recent winter with its big snowfalls  and the very heavy rain of a few weeks ago may have led to an accident where a climber was sadly killed in Coire an t-Sneachda in the Cairngorms. My thoughts are with the climbers family and friends and the Cairngorm Mountain Rescue Team and the Royal Naval Helicopter involved in the recovery.  There was also a huge rockfall a few weeks ago after the heavy rain which took out some of the path “the Goat Track”which many use to gain access to the Cairngorm Plateau. A few warnings were put out and advising climbers of the recent rockfall. The area is still unstable and it is worth staying clear of. Rockfall in this area is not unusual and even in a light winter there have been several accidents in the past when the cliff is not completely frozen and it is well-known for loose rock by climbers.  This accident happened in summer as there are a few  rock climbs that are easily accessible from the road which attract climbers. My guide-book still has a warning on the cliff diagram warning of loose rock and it was all part of a regular brief to my Mountain Rescue Team members when training in this area.


We often climbed in this Corrie as it was a busy place in winter and allowed younger Team member’s to get some area knowledge before the rescues in winter and  popular scrambles /climb was Pygmy ridge or Fingers Ridge and over to Afterthought Arete at Loch Avon. Care must be taken in these areas and these mountains cliffs are always changing. This is true of all the mountain cliffs, from Glencoe, Ben Nevis, Skye, Lochnagar, The North West and many more so please be aware. Objective dangers are relevant in Scotland, safe climbing.

In the new Cairngorm Guide it advises Rock climbing ” two-thirds of the accidents are due to a lengthy fall, or to holds breaking or rockfall”

The Mountaineering Council of Scotland said it has serious concerns over the state of the cliffs in the popular climbing area.

It said today: “Yesterday there was a fatality in the Aladdin’s Buttress area of the cliffs in Coire an t-Sneachda, after a climber was hit by rockfall from above. And earlier in August, considerable rockfall was noted in the area above the Goat Track, in the same corrie.

The council’s temporary mountain safety adviser Monty Monteith said: “This is particularly worrying as we move into winter over the next two months.

“Experienced climbers and mountaineers are very aware of the fragile nature of our mountains, which are in a constant state of decay. However, the heavy snows of last winter seem to have destabilised the cliffs and their surroundings even more.

“Once the first snows of this winter fall and temperatures plummet, the situation will be made even worse as successive freezes and thaws dislodge even more debris. This of course will be exactly the time when the first winter climbers take to the crags seeking adventure.

“Rockfall is sometimes considered an objective danger, but let’s take heed of all available information and plan accordingly when heading out to seek the challenge of winter – especially in the last few months of 2014, before the snow and deep cold has cemented the loose rock under its frozen cocoon.”

Emergency services were alerted to the incident yesterday when they received reports of someone injured near the Pygmy Ridge in Coire an t-Sneachda on Cairn Gorm.

Cairngorm Mountain Rescue Team members went to the site, and a Royal Navy Sea King helicopter from HMS Gannet in Ayrshire also flew to the scene.

It was reported today that the woman who died on the climb was with a partner she met through an online outdoors dating site.

Pygmy Ridge is a Moderate-grade climb in the corrie, near Aladdin’s Buttress.”

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Redhythe Point near Portsoy trying climbing again!

Big boots on Rannoch Wall Glencoe.

Big boots on Rannoch Wall Glencoe. The RAF MR ware  to scare yourself!

The plan was to go over to the West to Glencoe but the great weather had a bit of rain in the forecast and the body was aching so we went to an old favorite Redhythe Point at Portsoy. I picked Pete up and he was fine about the change of venue as I had spoken to him last night. We had planned the tides a bit better this time well worth a look as it is a sea cliff climbing area and the weather was fine for the East as we arrived in Portsoy.  It is a 15 minute walk from the deserted car park which was surprisingly wet today. We geared up and scrambled down the gully which was a bit damp despite the sun, which was obscured by cloud when we arrived. I found it tricky on the slippy rock and was a bit wary of the usually fun traverse into the climbs. I am very  protective of the hernia and becoming a bit of an old woman about it. We we looking for another bit of the crag but had forgotten the guide-book so settled down to some old favourites.

Huge tree shredded bark by the power of nature.

Huge tree shredded bark by the power of nature in the sea inlet.

There was a huge tree with a shredded bark jammed in the inlet after the recent storms, this must be a wild place in bad weather. The shredded bark spanned the Geo (tidal inlet) but I was not brave enough to walk across. Pete was looking after me and I soon got into it with the waves lapping below and the gurgle of the water made it a fun place to be. The traverse in was interesting to the climbs and the odd steps downwards were awkward when I stretched across not easy at times and hurt. I was glad we were not on a big crag, may be next year when all the body is fixed, as I really miss the big cliffs.

Taking care on the descent.

Taking care on the descent.

The climbing is really fun and though short the routes the situation is so special with the sea and the noise of the waves. I enjoy it here but you still have to watch with the odd brittle hold and fluted features provide good climbing in the easy to middle grade routes. We climbed on the Plateau face which is in the sun and the orange lichen was losing its colour as the summer was drawing to a close.


Out at sea two paddlers came by we gave them a wave but got no response they must have been enjoying the weather and the scenery, this is a haven for paddlers and many new climbing cliffs have been found this way.  I never saw any Dolphins today but once they were right beside my belay at the sea – level I am sure they were laughing at my attempts to climb.

One of the climbs done lovely climbing in a fun situation.

One of the climbs done lovely climbing in a fun situation.


We did several routes and the last one was a bit harder for me and I  definitely hurt my hernia on it. It is fun trying to work out what we climbed it may have been the climb the “rise of the Dolphins” that hurt  me the most but it was a great line. Climbs are starred and as so few climb here this is hard to agree on but it was a lovely climb with a slab, crack and big flake.  After that it was a wander back a bit sore when walking but looking at the cliffs and the possibilities for more climbing in the future.

enjoying the sunny slabs

enjoying the sunny slabs.

Unfortunately a big route in Glencoe would not be right for me until I have the operation so I will just have to take it easy until then, it was a good decision to go to a local cliff. I left Pete to coil the rope as he does not like my attempt at a mountaineers coil, old habits die-hard.  Maybe I should do a course on rope coiling? I walked/limped along the path feeling very sore but the sun was beating down again and cheered me up, the barley had been cut from our last visit  summer on its way out and we met a few people enjoying a walk on the coastal path. I had forgotten the sun screen ( I thought summer was over)  and the warmth made me feel a bit better. It was great to get out again, thanks to Pete for his patients and to climb in such a place is so special. I wonder where all the other climbers have gone? I have never met anyone at Redyhthe Point yet.

The North East Outcrop Guide Book - great for new places to climb.

The North East Outcrop Guide Book – great for new places to climb.

These places are so quite nowadays, I am spoiled for choice on this great North East Coast. If you want a place to climb the Climbing guide is full of great places to go and well worth buying. The Guidebook is compiled from the most recent information provided by members of the Scottish Mountaineering Club and other contributors. The book is published by the Scottish Mountaineering Trust which is a charitable Trust. Revenue from the sale of books published by the trust is used for the continuation of its publishing program and for charitable purposes associated with Scottish Mountains and mountaineering.

this route hurt me.

This route hurt me but a great line.



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Al’s Walk to Freedom dates amended. Great days remembered

A; Walk
1/9 Monday – Bamberbridge
2/9 Tuesday – Bailrigg
3/9 Wednesday – Oxenholme
al tweet
4/9 Thursday – Shap
5/9 Friday – Calthwaite
6/9 Saturday – Gretna
7/9 Sunday – Templand
8/9 Monday – Badlieu
9/9 Tuesday – Blyth Bridge
10/9 Wednesday – Edinburgh
wa;l k to freedom
These are the latest dates and destinations for my friend Al Sylvester walk from Lands End To John O’ Groats if you can meet him or walk with him he would appreciate it.
Al resting after another long day.

Al resting after another long day. 

I hope to meet him when down the Borders next week or up North near the end of his big walk. I am off climbing today the weather is lovely, the sun is out and the sky blue. What more could you want? I have been sorting out some old photos and so many more great memories?

1984 A great day after climbing in the bowels of Glencoe "Crypt Route" with Chalky White.

1984 A great day after climbing in the bowels of Glencoe “Crypt Route” with Chalky White.

The photo below is of my superb hill dog Teallach on the South Cluannie in Autumn 1987. The South Cluannie in Kintail  was a big day 9 Munros  if you add the Saddle and Sgurr Na Sgine and interesting day for the newer members of the RAF Mountain Rescue Teams. Teallach’s coat changed colour to a lovely golden brown like an autumn hillside with its fading brown bracken and grasses and golden flowers. It was to me always a sign that winter was not far away and to work on the big hill days for winter fitness. Great days great memories.

The South Clunnie  9 Munros and Teallach with his autumn coat he did these hiills in a oner 12 times, What a machine.

1987 The South Clunnie 9 Munros and Teallach with his autumn coat he did these hiills in a oner 12 times, What a machine. The brown on his coat turned the same colour of the bracken. 

Posted in Enviroment, Flora, Friends, Hill running and huge days!, mountain safety, Rock Climbing, Views Mountaineering | Leave a comment

Enjoyable day on Carn A Chuilinn near Fort Augustus. Glen Doe Hydro Scheme?

Carn a Chuillinn 816 Fort Augustus a myriad of lochans

Carn a Chuillinn 816 Fort Augustus a myriad of lochans

The forecast was great and I picked Bernie up in Forres and it was an enjoyable drive on the other side of Loch Ness a magic road with lots of road works just now. I wanted an easy day to keep the body ticking over and even better a new Corbett. I have never been on this hill  Carn A Chuilinn near Fort Augustus before but have been interested in the massive new huge Hydro scheme that was being built and had a tunnel collapse in this area. It was hard to find out where or if the problem has been solved as the intranet seemed to be not updated on the state of play. I did find this so it all must be working.

Generation at the Glendoe hydro-electric scheme near Loch Ness, re-started in August 2012.

Restoration of generation follows the completion of the work undertaken at Glendoe following its interruption in August 2009 as a result of a rock fall in the tunnel carrying water from the scheme reservoir to the power station.

Glendoe’s main operational feature is that it is able to start generating electricity at full capacity in just 90 seconds and can therefore help to meet changes in demand and provide flexible balancing power supporting variable wind generation.

  • Located near Fort Augustus, Highlands
  • 100MW capacity


Glen Doe Tunnel

Glen Doe Tunnel

The road where you park with the usual Health & Safety sign was easy to park near but the road to the hill used for the construction and dam is massive. There have been a few access problems here in the past but as it was Sunday we wandered along the road and past the odd buildings. I think maybe a guide to where to walk/park would be helpful as the signs could be intimidating and I fully realize the dangers of transport and walkers on this road?

Objective Dangers ?

Objective Dangers ?

After 20 minutes walking a wagon drove nearby but turned round and never said a word. We were being watched “big brother” in the Highlands.  After about 2 miles we headed onto the hill past countless shooting butts and the road headed up Glen Doe to the massive dam further up.   We followed a stalking path past so many shooting butts the heather was smelling wonderful and we saw a massive Heron pass us by with its huge wings flapping. The walking was good and the ground dry, mountain hares dashed in front of us but few grouse maybe the shooting butts had done their work?. A big cairn stands out on a small top and we stopped and enjoyed the view. The road was now in the distance but we could make it in Glen Doe going up to a height of nearly 2000 feet.

Shorts still on and a canvas jacket 1950's used on the hill.

Shorts still on and a canvas jacket 1950’s used on the hill.

Hamish Brown many years ago classed this as “high quality wilderness” but not now the road is there but we need the hydro electricity and  it still is an incredible place. From this top it is enjoyable walking along a ridge to a craggy summit and a maze of lochans. The views from here are exceptional and the roughness and isolation still make this a place to sit and enjoy. All the great hills were visable and of course the odd wind farm in the distance. I did enjoy the last half hour walk along the ridge the ground was great and the plants were changing colour, the Bog Asphel a lovely golden brown. It is a rocky ridge  and so peaceful and Bernie was enjoying it. I checked my position and found my compass was broken, lucky the weather was clear as in a bad day this would be a wild area to navigate.

Lovely ridge walking to the summit of Carn A Chuilinn.

Lovely ridge walking to the summit of Carn A Chuilinn.


I was wearing an old canvas Pixie jacket that I was given they were issued in the 1950’s to the RAF MR teams. I am giving it to the Scottish Heritage Collection ( Mick Tighe) and had a last day with a great old jacket.

Big open moors

Big open moors

The sun was hot at times and all the way down it was a magic walk, we passed lots of frogs and more hares sunbathing and caught of guard.  The ridge lead to the open moor and back to the path and our road. It was an easy walk back down to the car. This time we saw no one and just the massive road and the sun.  The drive back was stunning and Loch Ness and this area is a marvelous place to be. The body was not to bad when I dropped Bernie off.

After my bath to ease the old body I found a sheep tick on my arm! They are still about!

Must change that compass now. Worth checking regularly!


Near the summit lovely walking.

Near the summit lovely walking.


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Off to Fort Augustus to Corbett Carn a Chuilinn (Cairn of the Holly) all being well. Nothing about Heather?

After feeling pretty awful yesterday and missing a great party in Inverness I am off to hopefully get another Corbett done. It was very heavy rain for part of the day today and my battered body was needing a break. The plan is to head for Fort Augustus and see how it goes. A worrying quote from Hamish Brown in his book climbing the Corbetts “this is high quality wilderness, this is not easy walking”  I will have to see? These hills just now are covered with sweet smelling Heather and last night I read this wonderful poem with its so descriptive words.

Glen Roy Corbett's

My Corbett just below Loch Ness .

‘Scotland small?’

Nothing but heather
Scotland small? Our multiform, our infinite Scotland small?
Only as a patch of hillside may be a cliché corner.
To a fool who cries ‘Nothing but heather!’ where in September another
Sitting there and resting and gazing around
Sees not only the heather but blaeberries
With bright green leaves and leaves already turned scarlet,
Hiding ripe blue berries; and amongst the sage-green leaves
Of the bog-myrtle the golden flowers of the tormentil shining;
And on the small bare places, where the little Blackface sheep
Found grazing, milkworts blue as summer skies;
And down in neglected peat-hags, not worked
Within living memory, sphagnum moss in pastel shades
Of yellow, green, and pink; sundew and butterwort.
Waiting with wide-open sticky leaves for their tiny winged prey;
And nodding harebells vying in their colour
With the blue butterflies that poise themselves delicately upon 
And stunted rowans with harsh dry leaves of glorious colour.
‘Nothing but heather!’  ̶  How marvellously descriptive! And incomplete!
Hugh MacDiarmid
Posted in Corbetts, Enviroment, Friends, mountain safety, Poems, Weather | 1 Comment

Munros and Tick lists – Love them or hate them they still makes good discussion points?

1976 Munros - first time around.

1976 Munros – first time around. 13 November Munro list no 148.

It is pouring today and I usually do not get out over the weekend as the hills are busy and after nearly 40 years of most weekends on the hills it is great to do other things. I will today and was looking at my old Munro tables my first one all battered and ticked with dates and names, how that book was abused and loved. When I joined Mountain Rescue I quickly became obsessed with the Munros and every weekend was spent on the great tick list.  I was lucky as we went all over Scotland and the chance to grab new hills was always there. It was all for training ” area knowledge” for the “hopefully never happen aircraft crash” as I was a member of the RAF Mountain Rescue Service at Kinloss in Morayshire. Many in the team had a like mind but a few walked by the summits as they did not want to involved in this chasing of summits and list. I did not drive in these days and had some great trips using buses, trains and even hitching in the early 70’s the hills were never busy and there were only a few who had completed the Munros and had registered with the “Keeper of the List” the Scottish Mountaineering Club (SMC). The best part of the weekend was getting out the pen at the end of the weekend and marking and dating what hills I had done on the list, great memories. Big days were big ticks in the book.


My Munro write up by the RAF Kinloss Team Leader Pete McGowan. I am still so proud of the words which Pete wrote.

My Munro write-up by the RAF Kinloss Team Leader Pete McGowan. I am still so proud of the words which Pete wrote.

This is what was written on mine The Munros – 13 Nov 1976

“On behalf of all the members of RAF Kinloss Mountain Rescue Team, may I congratulate you on a fine achievement, in having ascended An Socach 3097 feet (Glen Ey Braemar),on Saturday 14 November 1976. You have completed a unique double with Tom MacDonald Beinn a Chaorrain 3553 feet to join a small band of climbers who have ascended all the 280 Munros Mountains in Scotland. Many thanks for all your hard work with the team, you can be rightly and justifiably proud of your effort’s.”

Well done and best wishes for many happy and enjoyable days in the mountains.

Pete Mc Gowan  RAF Kinloss Team Leader 17 Nov 1976 – Signed by Ben Humble


The hills have brought me so many great days and the Munros allowed me to be in some special places, the Corbett’s and many other hills lists do the same. I would never knock those who do them , in a one go , in winter by bike in so many ways. It is betternow with hindsight to savour them like a good dram but life is so fast nowadays, it is hard to do this. It is great to go back to hills by a different route a lot slower and see what you missed on that race to complete.

  • The number of Munroists registers is tabled below how many did not maybe at least another 50%

Munroists – registered how many others.

  • 1901 – 1970 – 96 Munroists
  • 1970 – 1980 – 211 – (115)
  • 1980 – 1990 – 721 – (510)
  • 1990 – 2000 – 2310 – (1800)
  • 2000 – 2010 – 4850 – (2500)

Any views –” the mountains are not a gymnasium for your ego”



Posted in Articles, Corbetts, Friends, Mountaineering, Views Mountaineering | 4 Comments