Stuc a' Chroin and Ben Vorich

Stuc a' Chroin and Ben Vorich

Monday, 19 December 2011

Season's Greetings


Thanks to everyone who has visited and commented (or not) throughout 2011. Have a wonderful Christmas and enjoy your hills of 2012 wherever they may be.

Friday, 9 December 2011

Turbine down - one goes on fire


How often have you wanted to see this Mr Sloman? All turbines had been turned off because of storm force winds. Sensible policy Mr Salmond's pursuing then. Houses had to be evacuated after the turbine brake system failed and the blades 'free-wheeled'. It appears the turbine couldn't cope with gusts of 50mph.

Source: BBC Scotland News

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Gabriel and Stanley

I posted  this many months ago but think it's worth a re-run. It has a happy ending so relax!

video

Just for the record - first real snow in garden

Posted for no other reason than to note the event! And more has fallen since this was taken.


Wednesday, 30 November 2011

A year ago

Local track

This was the scene around here on 29 November 2010. By contrast only some wet snow is evident in the garden this morning, although the Ochils had their first sprinkling a few weeks ago.

It’s been a wet and very windy November and I hope the above conditions come quickly in December.

There are a few photographs taken last December here

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Abandoned wind turbines in the USA

QDanT  has given me this link which is worth reading.  http://toryaardvark.com/2011/11/17/14000-abandoned-wind-turbines-in-the-usa/

Edit: I should have said that there is some controversy about the source of the information presented.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Strathy North wind turbines approved

The Scottish government has given approval for SSE’s 33-turbine wind power station, 3 miles south of the village of Strathy in Sutherland. The Highland Council had already approved the plans despite 166 letters of objection and only eight in support.

The RSPB has condemned the decision since it could affect protected species – Golden Eagle and hen harrier populations nest nearby; black and white-throated divers nest on nearby lochs. The site, close to the Forsinard Flows Nature Reserve is “bounded on three sides by a special area of conservation and special area for bird life”

The RSPB has also objected to SSE’s plans for 77 turbines at Strathy south and a third windfarm (different developer) at Strathy Forest.

 Alex Salmond and SNP Government continue their vandalism on the Scottish landscape.

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                      The turbines at Burnfoot in the Ochils – and more are proposed.

Friday, 11 November 2011

Anti-windfarm conference, Ayr

The above conference is being organised by CATS, Communities Against Turbines Scotland. A report can be found here.  More encouraging news.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Hello Alan S, Byeways(Dave), Chris, Alan and Sheila

Many thanks for your enthusiastic comments and good wishes. What a supportive and lovely lot you are!

Lynne

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Commercial! Book signing - Waterstone's Perth, 10 December






Lynne will be at Waterstone's in Perth on 10 December from 12 noon onwards signing copies of her book.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Search and Rescue Training Flight - Ochils

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We heard the helicopter before we saw it, but knew from the engine noise that it was not from the type that whisks the wealthy from Edinburgh Airport to Gleneagles Hotel. Alas, neither was it a helicopter gunship on a mission to destroy the Burnfoot wind power station!

Unfortunately, the quality of the uploaded video is poorer than the original.

Monday, 7 November 2011

Livid

See why here. Lock them up and throw away the key. B******s.

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Sea eagle

Something to lift the spirits I think - here

Friday, 4 November 2011

'Overambitious' Scottish renewable energy plans

A brief BBC report can be found here. Could the tide be turning? 

Thursday, 3 November 2011

This is not a quiz


Anyone know what this might be? We saw a small amount of this jelly-like substance on the road near the fish farm and thought it was related to processes carried out there, but this picture is taken well up the hill. The fact that it's next to a wooden post is irrelevant.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Windhead Moor wind farm plans withdrawn

'Hen harriers 'scupper' wind farm'. Article here

Excellent news.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Cononish Gold Mine

Plans to mine for gold at Cononish have been approved by Loch Lomond & Trossachs National Park. Would this be approved in the Lake District today? You can read the article  here

Anyone thinking of climbing Ben Lui had better get it done soon unless they like to view spoil heaps en route.




Friday, 7 October 2011

Glas Maol and Creag Leacach

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Creag Leacach from Meall Odhar
Glen Clunie seemed busy for a Monday with folk heading for Munros such as An Socach, Carn an Tuirc and Cairn of Claise. A local holiday for the Aberdeen area it turned out. We drove on to the large ski car park at around 670m and had it almost to ourselves.

I have mixed feelings about ski developments in Scotland. Lynne and I skied regularly throughout the 1980s being among the 2500 who spent the night in the cafe here during the blizzard of 22 January 1984, although usually we went to Cairngorm since we had a season ticket – we’d have been stuck there as well! Nevertheless, we both vehemently opposed the Cairngorm Ski Lift Company’s proposal to expand tows into Lurcher’s Gully and to plans for a ski centre at Ben Wyvis, the latter recently suggested again. Ski-touring is a better option, away from the crowds and on virgin snow but, in dubious weather, the simple pleasures of piste bashing can’t be denied.

Something else can’t be denied – Scottish ski areas can be dire places outside the skiing season and I wasn’t particularly looking forward to walking up Meall Odhar via ski tows, snow-fences and the buildings and junk that typically litter such places. But actually I enjoyed it. Maybe just because of pleasant associations; maybe because it was a fine, if very windy day; maybe just because, ski tows or not, I was among the hills and heading for the open spaces of Glas Maol, the highest point in the Mounth.

From the top of Meall Odhar a short ascent led to the mosses and soft turf of the plateau and the summit cairn and shelter. An hour and five minutes from the car park.

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Glas Maol
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Creag Leacach

The Monega Pass, the highest right of way over the Mounth, crosses about 500m east of the cairn  then on to Monega Hill before descending to Tulchan and Glen Isla.

This is all great ski-touring country and given good conditions a trip from Carn an Tuirc to Tom Buidhe, taking in Cairn of Claise, Glas Maol and Tolmount would be a fine excursion.

cof Claisr (R) and Carn an Tuirc(L) from Druim Mor
 Fine ski-touring country - Carn an Tuirc (L) and Cairn of Claise (far R)

After donning some warmer clothes at  the shelter we descended the easy slopes leading to a col and the howff (see previous post) and followed the delightful dry stone dyke to the sharp peak of Creag Leacach.

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The dry stone dyke on Carn Leacach

Glas Maol from Creag Leacach

Our plan for the day was a simple one – a return the same way we had come, although we did consider continuing along the ridge, dropping down over Meall Gorm, picking up the track over Leacann Dubh and so to the western slopes of Meall Odhar as we had done on a previous visit. Retracing our steps and lunch at the howff won, but on our descent of Meall Odhar we did divert along the track on Leacann Dubh getting caught, briefly, in the only rain of the day when we stopped for a cup of tea. Part of the old ‘Devil’s Elbow’ road could be seen in the glen (I first crossed this one July with a cousin and friend - at midnight on a bike - when about fourteen or fifteen years old, but that’s another story!) Some small pillar-like structures could also be seen near the old road - beehives thought Lynne, and she was right, some lovely honey coming from this area.

We descended to the motorvan happy with the day and despite the local holiday, we’d only met two people on the hill.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Seen on Glas Maol

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As we crossed the moss and soft turf of the Glas Maol plateau we came across several of these structures. I think they are a form of ‘quadrats’ used to sample and study, in this case, the montane vegetation.

If anyone knows anything different, I’ll be happy to hear from you.

Also, after our descent to the col on the way to Creag Leacach we came across a small howff which in the best traditions was wet and dank! We had lunch outside.

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Click to enlarge
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Tuesday, 4 October 2011

The Tiger’s Back – sort of

Slopes of Sron nan Gabhar

Another snippet while I organise myself for our next foray north. (well, Lynne organises me/us really. I just label the pics we've taken!). From Carn na Drochaide to the slopes of Sron nan Gabhar.

Monday, 3 October 2011

Where is this?

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This should be easy for any Challengers who visit this blog! Just back from another trip, so more later.

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Mountain hares (Blue hares)

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Hares near the summit of Cairn of Claise

On our last holiday, one delightful feature was the number of mountain hares we saw everywhere on the high ground. They were brown rather than the 'bluish grey' which gives them their alternative name, but colours are known to vary widely. As winter approaches and the first snows arrive, they will change to pure white. We were enchanted by them. They were so wild and free, and so entirely at home in their beautiful mountain surroundings.

Only on two occasions have we seen so many – a winter's day on  Ben Chonzie (Ben-y-Hone) when their camouflage was complete, and one spring on Geal-charn Mor just before they had completed the transition from white to their summer colour. We rather felt that they needed to get on with it.

A sign

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I don’t like modern signage in the Scottish hills – waymarks, and the like.

I do like old signs like this one. Ancient ways through and, in this case, over the hills. They stir the imagination.

Incidentally, ‘Glenisla’ should be two words ‘Glen Isla’. There are no rock climbs in Glencoe, the village, many in Glen Coe. And the 'Glenshee' (Glen Shee) ski centre is wholly in Glen Clunie!

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Save the Monadhliath Mountains- Allt Duine windfarm

In the early 1980s the Cairngorm Chairlift Company proposed extending lifts into Lurcher's Gully. The Public Enquiry received 7120 letters of objection and 135 supporting the proposal. The proposal was rejected.

By contrast, to date, only a mere 657 people  have signed the 'savemonadhliathmountains' petition. This is pathetic! If you oppose the destruction of the wild Monadhliath sign this petition NOW. Win the battle or lose it, I can't  see how you can continue to walk or climb in the Scottish hills with a clear conscience if you don't.  Sign the petition HERE.

(The Scottish Government in their budget proposals for the next three years are planning to invest £200m in renewables btw)

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Wind turbine proposal – Druim Ba Sustainable Energy


 Councillors are to consider plans from Druim Ba Sustainable Energy to erect 23, 490ft turbines on forestry land between Abriachan and Kiltarlity. An Action Group has been set up to oppose the development. I wish them all the best.

Monday, 19 September 2011

Denny to Beauly Power line

Traffic management plans have been finalised for the B8033 Kinbuck Road (Kinbuck is north of Dunblane) as part of the work required for the above power line.

So, if anyone still harbours thoughts that the march of wind power stations across the Highlands, and not-so-highland parts of Scotland, can be halted or effectively opposed, think again.

It grieves me to say so having opposed such monstrosities since around 2004 when Mellock Hill, near Yetts o' Muckhart was threatened.But there it is.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Beer and Grouse at Loch Callater

On what was probably the wettest and windiest day of our recently holiday, we walked up to Loch Callater to the sound of gunfire in the distance. It wasn’t hard to guess what was going on and there in the vicinity of Callater Lodge was parked around £250,000 worth of Land Rover Discos and Range Rovers (admittedly you don’t need many to reach that figure). Grouse shooting was taking place on the lower slopes just south of the Lodge and wasn’t going to interfere with our plans – a simple walk to the head of Loch Callater.

This we did, stopping several times to watch ‘beaters’ drive the birds into the guns. My, what fine shots they must be giving the birds such a sporting chance. Tracked vehicles roamed the bulldozed roads and over the hillsides ferrying the shooters around. You couldn't exactly say it was a peaceful scene.

The weather wasn’t improving but even so, in the absence of all the guns about we might have gone higher just for the tussle with the elements. But no, after staring into the gloom at the head of the loch, we headed back.


Loch Callater (2)
A wet, but happy Lynne
Gloom towards Jock's Road
Not too bad really. If only there hadn't been guns about...
Something was going on at Callater Lodge when we arrived. Cans of beer, in large quantities, were being unloaded from a Disco and taken into the Lodge. McEwan’s export mainly. Might be enough for the shooters on the hill I thought but, judging by the tales, not nearly enough for that other ‘Braemar Gathering’ which takes place here every May! All being well, we should be passing this way ourselves in 2012, just a few days or so ahead of the Challenge. No beer for us at the Lodge though!

Callater Lodge

We paid a visit to The Stables Bothy which is maintained by the MBA, and noted some entries by Challengers who’d passed this way in 2011. One name I recognised, John Joycs, a regular who usually camped here on the crossing, had spent the night in the bothy (‘just too wild to camp’ I think were his words) and found it comfortable. It certainly looked it and although I’m not a bothy fan myself, in last May's weather it would have been a welcome haven for any backpacker.

The ‘beaters’ were now making their way back towards the Lodge driving yet more beleaguered grouse into the waiting guns.  Sheep, looking uneasy, gathered by the Callater Burn.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Day 1 - Loch Muick hills

The midges at the Spittal of Glenmuick car park were doing a fair imitation of their western brethern, but vanished as we made our way along the track by the loch.

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Broad Cairn from L Muick

Lochnagar was cloud-covered but showed every sign of clearing, Broad Cairn was already clear and  looked inviting so really chose itself as the objective for today.  Shortly we came to the start of the Capel Mounth track which crosses to Glen Clova.

I will attempt the Capel Track,
Old stiff and retrograde,
And set some pal to push me on
Should resolution fade.
For I must see black Meikle Pap
Against a starry sky,
And watch the dawn from Lochnagar
Once more before I die.


Syd Scroggie – First verse, Ante Mortem

It was cool and pleasant as we wandered along the lochside track reflecting on what great backpacking country this was, but a stop at the bridge over the roaring, thundering Black Burn to consider which route of ascent to take brought out the midges once more, so high or windy campsites would have been desirable to escape the torment.

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When we’d climbed Broad Cairn back in 1981 (was it really so long ago?) we had gone by Corrie Chash, so today we opted (quickly, to escape the onslaught) for an ascent via the ‘Streak of Lightning’ which would get us high on the plateau above Loch Muick and so to Allan’s Hut, 2km from Broad Cairn.


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It might be Allan’s 'Hut' but a sign says it’s Sandy’s 'Seat'. Beyond the hut a path drops south  to Bachnagairn in Glen Clova.

The weather was picking up nicely by now so we decided to push on to the summit rather than stop for lunch, and soon we were crossing the lichen-covered granite boulders leading to the top.

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Some rain and cloud had pushed in from the west as far as Cairn Bannoch and since we wanted to visit a ‘Top’, namely Creag an Dubh Loch in good visibility, we postponed lunch yet again. Rising above the Dubh Loch itself the 270m cliffs form the highest continuous face in the Cairngorms.

No adrenaline rush today though, but a pleasant easy walk to the cairn which is well back from the edge of the cold NE cliffs.


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The top of Creag an Dubh Loch

Lunch was again postponed and had become ‘afternoon tea’ by the time we had returned to Allan’s Hut!

It was grand to be tramping these hills again with their great feeling of spaciousness and big skies.

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I'd even forgotten about the £3 parking fee at the Spittal!

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Braemar trip

LV

Just back from a nine day trip to Braemar area. It's well known to us but, inexplicably, it's years since we've been there and so it all felt very fresh. Lovely. Now getting organised for another trip away, but I’ll try to write up a few reports before then. Mobile blogging would be so much easier than writing things up when back home.

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Friday, 2 September 2011

Scottish Gamekeepers Association

The SGA has raised the question of whether a sea eagle could distinguish between its natural prey and children. The report can be found here. Oh dear, what next.

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Short film about Ben Nevis area

Ben Nevis

Nice video about Ben Nevis area on Dave MacLeod's blog here. Also video and photographs of Dave in action in Norway and Scotland. Super climbing blog.





Monday, 15 August 2011

Saturday, 13 August 2011

Keen Targhee II Walking Shoe

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Dark Shadow/Harvest Gold

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I first bought a pair of these shoes in March this year and have been so pleased with them that I’ve just bought another pair from Webtogs. My first Targhee IIs were Mid boots bought in 2008 and although extremely comfortable, the eVent membrane was useless and I repeatedly had to use Super Glue to fix the grey ‘caps’ on the sole.

The new KEEN.DRY membrane is much more effective and overall construction seems to be better – the shoe feels sturdier. The old Targhees were a bit skittery on wet rock and grass but these new ones have coped well on a variety of terrain in, mostly, very wet weather. I can’t explain this because the sole doesn’t look very different from the 2008 version except maybe it’s a little more aggressive.

I’d have no hesitation in using these shoes on a long backpacking trip and plan to do just that next May. Now though, a local walk - in the rain as usual.

This second pair cost £47.50 from Webtogs - that’s half-price in a summer sale.

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Approx 490g per shoe

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

MRT's get additional funding

An additional £204,000 funding for MRTs in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland has been announced by the government. This is apparently the first of four years funding with at least £200,000 available each year.

Teams in England and Wales will share £128,000, Scotland will receive £68,000 and Northern Ireland £8000.

From Glen Coe site-1065938040-O



Tuesday, 2 August 2011

St Monans salt pans

The East Neuk of Fife is generally regarded as comprising the fishing villages in the most northerly part of the Firth of Forth, although the exact boundaries are somewhat vague and disputed. Characterised by their small picturesque harbours, the likes of Pittenweem, St Monans and Crail are delightful places, but despite spending my student years at St Andrews University, I never got much further down the coast than The Maiden, The Rock and Spindle or occasionally  Buddo Rock, none of which lies in the East Neuk.

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Crail Harbour
                                        
In April this year, however, shortly after Sir Hugh had walked the Fife Coastal Path, we decided to explore for ourselves, and from Crail harbour we walked along the coastal path to the prominent St Monans Windmill.
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St Monans windmill
         
Salt panning was an important industry in Scotland in the 17th and 18th centuries, salt being a vital commodity in trade with continental Europe, and the introduction of a salt tax by Mary Queen of Scots transformed the activity into a commercial business which spread from the East Neuk of Fife to Prestonpans near Edinburgh.

The Windmill (Salt Mill) was used to pump sea water into the pans and once full, coal, which was readily available in Fife, was fired and the water evaporated off to leave the salt. To produce one ton of salt required about 32 tons of sea water. Salt duty was repealed in 1823 and the cheap imported salt from abroad saw the demise of the industry with the last salt pan in Scotland, at Prestonpans, closing in 1959.

The remains of a Panhouse and salt pans can still be seen on the shore below the windmill.
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Information boards provide the visitor with more information and during the summer months the Windmill is open to the public.

All in all, an enjoyable day out, even though not 'a foot' had been set upon a hill.

You can read more about salt extraction on  Martin's  excellent blog.

Saturday, 30 July 2011

Crail Festival

We were in Crail recently as the annual music and arts festival was getting underway. This beautiful sand scuplture rightly attracted much attention.


New blog

Well, so far so good but it'll take a bit of  'tweaking' to get it right.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Trojan

Not been blogging recently since finding a nasty trojan downloader on the computer. I'm temporarily closing all photo albums since it seems to be uploading images and using my accounts so all these will have to be changed. All spy removers (and professionals!) have failed to get rid of it -  I'm writing this on this on  a new computer I've bought!!

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Loch Lomond wind power station proposed - Ard Ghaoth

Banks Renewables hopes to build a wind power station with 20 turbines near loch Lomond, a few miles east of Conic Hill, with each turbine being about 100m high. The usual bribery package will be offered to local communities if the application is approved.

The company is about to submit an application for a wind monitoring mast which will establish whether the site is viable, and ecological and ornithological surveys will also be carried out. Given that Stirling Council has identified the area as potentially suitable for wind power station development, it is hardly likely to reject the application - which is what it should do.

Source: BBC Scotland News


Note the line of the WHW near Conic Hill. Click to enlarge.



Saturday, 11 June 2011

Azalea


Azalea as it usually flowers. Poor this year though.

Taken with an old 4MP camera.