Stuc a' Chroin and Ben Vorich

Stuc a' Chroin and Ben Vorich

Monday, 17 September 2018

Thursday 6 September - Tap o’ Noth 563m Marilyn

In July 1997 we escaped the worst weather we'd  had in the NW by going to Craigellachie in Moray. As well as climbing The Buck o' the Cabrach, Mither Tap and Bennachie, Tap o' Noth was on our list because Lynne wanted to see the the Iron Age hillfort, one of the largest in Scotland. That was not to be because the turn into the narrow road up to the small carpark at Brae of Scurdargue was too tight for our motorcaravan. Why we didn't park the van in Rhynie and walk from there remains a mystery.

Now, some twenty one years later we set off from Braemar for the fifty two mile trip to Rhynie and the Tap. The A97 is not a fast road but we were in no hurry and enjoyed the drive, the scenery being pleasant rather than remarkable. Using the car instead of the motorcaravan makes life easier on some of the narrower hill roads hereabouts.

It was dry and bright as we took the grassy track through farmland, but with darker skies to the north there was always a threat of showers we thought. It was easy going all the way and it took about forty minutes at a leisurely pace to the trig point.

The second highest in Scotland, the remains of this hillfort are impressive having been constructed of stone walls 6m thick and 3m high,vitrified in places. 
Unfortunately those darker skies mentioned earlier soon produced heavy rain so good photographs were well nigh impossible to take. On a clear day the views would be extensive, an information board just short of the top showing exactly what might be seen: the Cairngorms to the west, the Moray Firth, the North Sea at Aberdeen and the Angus Hills plus lots more. The outer circle on the board was 50km if I recall correctly.

Today we could see Morven, Mount Keen, Lochnagar, Bennachie, The Mither Tap and The Buck o' the Cabrach so we didn't do too badly.

We spent a fair time examining the walls - Lynne is fascinated by hillforts, standing stones and so forth. She should have been an archaeologist really.

Our plan for the day had included a walk out to Hill of Noth but it did not appeal in the grey conditions. Did the weather improve once we were off the hill? Of course it did, so we stopped off in Rhynie and had a look at the war memorial in the well kept village green. This is no tourist destination and given the mayhem being caused in the west by the appalling North Coast 500 I regard that as a big plus.

Tuesday, 11 September 2018


Well, I've tried to upload a post with three photos (iPhone) and it won't go. I may try again or just wait until I'm home. I may not bother at all. Life's just too short!
Sent from my iPhone

Friday, 7 September 2018

Photos that failed to upload on previous post

Tuesday 4 September - Carn a Gheoidh, Carn Bhinnein and Carn nan Sac

We had made a considerable diversion from our planned route to this spot, knowing that if there were hares to be found, here they would be.

Lynne spotted the first one sitting among the boulders. Then another appeared and within a few seconds there was a gathering.  Here and there others raced to join the crowd covering the ground with ease. Eventually they diasappeared among the boulders and we retraced our steps and pointed ourselves in the direction of Carn Bhinnein, a Munro Top with superb views into the corries of Glas Tullaichean. Before departing though, Lynne gave Mr Spock's Vulcan salute: "Live long and prosper. " And yes, she can do the hand salute properly! 

The two lochans north of Carn nan Sac were dry, never seen before by us despite passing them many times. This is all great backpacking country although  with shooting in progress September and October are probably not the best months. Guns could be heard in Glen Ey.

Back on Carn a Gheoidh two geocachers had discovered their cache. Apparently there are caches on many of the summits hereabouts but we've never seen anyone looking for or discovering a cache before. Mind you the probability of us being on any given hill at the geocach location just as it is found must be very small.

We returned over Carn nan Sac then followed the lip of the corrie and so back to the bulldozed tracks of the Cairnwell and so down to the car.

Two geocachers in background

Monday, 3 September 2018

Friday 31 August - Glas Maol and Creag Leacach

A strong cold southerly wind quickly extinguished any thoughts of wearing shorts today. Others were clearly feeling the chill too as hats and gloves were extracted from sacks. 

We made rapid progress reaching the cairn on Glas Maol without a stop, though it would have made more sense to have paused in the shelter of the ski buildings on Meall Odhar to put on a windproof. As it was, my Rab Kinetic Plus was in danger of taking flight as I struggled to put it on at the cairn. 

The ascent of Glas Maol is by no means an arduous one, but even so I was pleased to feel so fit given my relative inactivity throughout the summer, courtesy of a pulled calf muscle. 

Unusually we didn't stop to check the grazing cages.

For those unfamiliar with these, here is a comment from Rene van der Wal of Aberdeen University made on my post of 5 October 2011:

"These are grazing cages which I have erected with colleagues to determine the influence of primarily sheep grazing on the summit vegetation on Glas Maol. We are particularly interested in the fate of woolly fringe moss, or Racomitrium lanuginosum, which is perhaps best known as key habitat for dotterel to exist"

I must contact Rene to find out 'the fate of woolly fringe moss', if the data is available.

I do know the fate of the mountain hares that once graced these hills: they have been exterminated. Numbers have not been reduced. This is slaughter. 

The group which had been following us went off for Cairn of Claise and Carn an Tuirc, we to Creag Leacach. A fine hill, its bulk provided some respite from the wind until the top was reached. As always we chose the boulders rather than the path which finds a way through and round them. All ways are good though.

After lunch in the sun near the howff, we took the narrow path skirting the western slopes of Glas Maol
to join the route to Meall Odhar and down. 

I'll always love these hills but they are much diminished without the mountain hares. We both feel a great sadness at their loss - and anger. So few of us seem to care it seems.  

This post has been reduced somewhat since I lost most of the original.

Test of iPhone photo to Blogger

Sunday, 2 September 2018


I have just tried to upload a blog post with two photographs. Blogger refused it - file too big - but they truncated the returned email so I've lost most of the post. I'm not going to rewrite. In future I'll email myself the text before attempting to post.

Here's a photo for what it's worth.

Lynne on Creag Leacach for the nth time with Glas Maol distant.

Friday, 31 August 2018

Thursday 30 August - Morrone

"We're looking back at memories", said Lynne. How true, for there was hardly a hill in sight whose cairn we hadn't touched, ridge we hadn't climbed. And in all seasons: skiing in winter, ski-touring in spring, walking with the heather in full bloom and, as now, at the start of autumn. 

It was warm, humid even, in the birch woods and so I changed into shorts fully expecting to have to revert to trousers higher up. But no, what little wind there was remained light, the atmosphere pleasant, the humidity gone.

Bagging the best seats at the summit buildings - the Braemar MRT relay station - we enjoyed our Lapsang Souchon and watched others arrive. We took a photo of a couple with their iPad 'to prove they'd been here'. A German couple arrived with their dog; the usual parapenters were getting themselves sorted out for flight; people milled about the cairn taking photographs. A typical day on the top of Morrone. Apart from ourselves, only the couple whom we'd photographed looked at a map. 

Time to go. For no particular reason we made a diversion out to a cairn above Coire na Meanneasg. Last time we went a bit further along the ridge towards Carn na Drochaide before shotgun fire necessitated a rapid retreat.

An easy descent to the golf course road today and back to Braemar finished off the perfect start to the holiday.

Note: only one photo is being allowed at this file size - even though it was taken by iPhone. Lots of problems getting this to go.

Delightful terrain early in the climb.

Wednesday, 29 August 2018

Wednesday 29 September - Away to the hills

Quiet roads and sunshine made the drive to Braemar a joy, the only downside being that we brought the car as well as the motorvan so travelled separately, unable to share that first glimpse of the hills.

The reward will be access to walks and places not easily visited using the motorvan.

Braemar was quiet, even for a Wednesday, but that will no doubt change on Friday night as people arrive for the Gathering on Saturday. A saunter down to the  games field revealed the new, tastefully built, Duke of Rothesay Highland Games Pavilion. The Duke of Rothesay himself (Prince Charles for those who don't know) was driving up Glen Clunie in a convoy of Range Rovers, a common enough sight on Deeside at this time of year with the Queen in residence at Balmoral. I doubt we'll be going for tea. 

I do expect the tradition of climbing Morrone as our first hill of this annual Braemar trip will be honoured tomorrow. The weather looks good.

I hope these photos upload on 4G

Monday, 13 August 2018

Sunday 6 May - Ben Effrey and Craig Rossie. Map LR 58

A lovely day, a short drive, easy parking and, for us, a new summit in the Ochils, Ben Effrey.

We climbed its near and higher neighbour Craig Rossie in 1978 from Pairney Farm, the usual starting place, and made a direct ascent to inspect the crags on the way. I don't recall anything of that day and poor Ben Effery didn't even register. Even Lynne's Mum climbed it before us when in her late 70's.

Parking at Littlerigg we followed Corb Glen, a well-known and much loved place for us and, at a little outcrop favoured by the local sheep, we turned uphill for Little Law and Muckle Law, mere rises on a broad grassy, tussocky ridge. It was easy going as the ridge gently descends from Little Law to the Pairney Burn where, after a short climb through the whins, we met the track coming in from the farm at Pairney, the most common route to the hill these days. Beld Hill is easily reached from here enroute to Ben Effrey but we missed out the top, leaving it for another day

Ben Effrey. Chilling to think that in 2004 application was made to put 14 wind turbines along here. Kicked out - eventually
At the cairn we met a young couple enjoying the view across Strath Earn. Intending to climb Craig Rossie they had used the previously mentioned path then followed the same route as us but had somehow failed to locate the hill despite it being clearly visible on the approach.

Strath Earn
Craig Rossie from Ben Effrey
Ben Effrey, part of the Ochil Volcanic Formation, consists mainly of andesite and basalt lavas and its hillfort was investigated as part of the SERF (Strathearn Environs and Royal Forteviot) project in 2011 by excavating a 30m by 2m trench on the south side of the fort. Exposed rhyodacite is also in evidence and forms the nearby crags of Craig Rossie. We will return to have a closer look.

An easy walk took us to the 410m trig point on Craig Rossie. The couple from Ben Effrey never arrived and we met no-one else all day. A sheltered spot in the sun was ideal for lunch.

Approaching Craig Rossie
When not taking to the hills on either side of Corb Glen, the drove road can be followed to the peaceful farm at Coulshill and well beyond this, a grand house is reached. This is Foswell House sold in 2015 by John and Isobel Haldane along with the 1240 acre estate which had been in Haldane ownership since 1897. The asking price was 'over £2.5m'. It is a beautiful spot. Thereafter, by some delightful minor roads (tarred) and a short stretch of busier roads, Auchterarder is reached. For us that's a round trip of 21km with time for a coffee at Lynne's mum's.

Today's outing was about 15km with only 408m of ascent and cool beers in the garden rounded off a most enjoyable trip.

Foswell House. ARB Haldane is of course the author of the classic 'The Drove Roads of Scotland'

Approaching Foswell House - a glimpse of Auchterarder and the hills above Crieff

A January day

Summer in Corb Glen

The Pairney Burn and whins

Delightful rolling country

Cropped grass leading to Beld Hill - which we skirted. Another top for another day.

Part of the crags on Craig Rossie

Monday, 6 August 2018


This tomato has ripened on our indoor plant - an experiment while at home this summer (see previous post). We will share it tonight.

Oh yes, we know how to live.

Saturday, 4 August 2018

Saturday 4 August - A return to blogging - and one last mention of models and space

I finished my last post on 12 June with: "My calf muscle is now completely back to normal so hills - at last." That was optimistic, as a couple of easy walks of five miles demonstrated. Another two and a bit weeks' rest and more physiotherapy was required before I felt ready to venture onto a hill.

By then it was nearly July, not our favourite time for the Highlands, so in perfect weather we walked locally (posts to follow), grew vegetables, enjoyed the garden and I read much about the space programme in the Apollo and Space Shuttle years. I've always been interested in the space programme but at the time there wasn't much to read and no internet for information. Now there are books galore.

Since I'm currently building a model of the Saturn V, Lynne bought me the highly technical Saturn V Flight Manual. This is the genuine article as issued to astronauts by NASA signed by Deke Slayton Director of Flight Crew Operations and Arthur Rudolf, Manager of the Saturn V Programme. In addition she bought me the Haynes NASA Space Shuttle, 1981 onwards (all models) - Owner's Workshop Manual and despite the tongue-in-cheek title it is in fact an authoritative insight into 'the design, construction and operation of the NASA Space Shuttle' by a former NASA engineer. Other Haynes Manuals followed for the Saturn V and  Apollo 13 mission. I also got round to setting up a new blog on model building: 'On Pillars of Fire' at There are no postings as yet, just a header photo which is not visible in mobile view. Progress on the Saturn V build will be recorded on that blog.

On the reading front I enjoyed two books in Stieg Larsson's 'Millenium Trilogy' (Girl with the Dragon Tattoo etc) and am on the final book. Also 'Failure is not an Option' by legendary former Flight Director Gene Krantz, was a fascinating read and I have the equally legendary and, sadly, late John Young's book, 'Forever Young', waiting in the wings.

You'll be glad to read in the post title that from now on there will be no mention of space or models on this blog with all such material being posted on the aforementioned 'On Pillars of Fire'.

Now, walks. I have not posted anything about the walks we've done during this summer - in fact I stopped posting about outings in our local hills some time ago since inevitably there was much repitition. Recently though, it struck me that I wasn't keeping a record for my own interest which is at least as important than whether others find some, or indeed all, of my posts less than absorbing. One hopes some readers get at least something from some of the scriblings but if not, well it can't be helped.

There will be catch up posts later - but here are a couple of photos from a recent walk.

On the Cadger's Yett having started from the Dunning Road - about 4km from this point. John's Hill centre

Edit: Lynne has rightly corrected the above caption. I am not 'on' the Cadger's Yett, but the Cadger's Path which leads to to the Yett.

Tuesday, 12 June 2018

Tuesday 12 June - Space Shuttle Discovery

Again this post is mainly for Sir Hugh ( since he has shown some interest in my plastic modelling activities.

In the beginning

The first sign that problems lay ahead

The orbiter more or less completed

And the finished article:

Discovery - Orbiter, external tank (ET) and SRBs on the Crawler. The photo could be better

The foam on the real ET was cream coloured but exposure to sun resulted in various shades of 'rust'  It was white on the first two Shuttles to launch

And the real thing:

Note the much darker cockpit and overhead windows than on the model - the decals for these features on the Tamiya model are much more authentic.

"On pillars of fire"  -7.5 million pounds of thrust at launch

Note the detail on the external tank not provided on the Revell model. It would have been on a Tamiya version! In addition, none of the models available provide the thermal protection tiles even as decals, something that seems an obvious thing to do. Apparently they are available from USA sellers. 

My next Shuttle construction will be a Tamiya 'Atlantis' as mentioned in my previous post but I have another USS Voyager, a Grumman F-14A Tomcat (Tamiya) and Concorde also awaiting construction. Not until autumn and winter nights though and by that time I'll have a second blog dedicated to model building.

My calf muscle is now completely back to normal so hills - at last.

Tuesday, 29 May 2018

Revell Space Shuttle Discovery, External Tank, Solid Rocket Boosters (SBRs) and crawler

This initial post is really for Sir Hugh at who requested a photograph or two showing work in progress. More details will follow for anyone who is interested.

The Orbiter Discovery in post 1998 decals

Commomly referred to as the Space Shuttle, it is more correctly the Spaceplane or Orbiter. The whole system (Space Transport System or STS) comprising Orbiter, External Tank (ET) which holds the liquid oxygen-hydrogen fuel for  the Orbiter's main engines and the Solid Rocket Boosters (SBRs) is the 'Space Shuttle'.

The ET and one SBR

There is still some touching up to be done on the Orbiter, ET and SBR, including another coat of paint plus clear matt to be applied to the ET. The second SBR is painted and awaits decals. I haven't started the Crawler - the transporter which takes the STS to the pad.

As said in the previous post, the quality of the plastic and fit on this model are both poor - not Revell's usual standard. I did what I could to rectify it but there are certainly areas which were beyond what I could do properly without buying styrene strips and doing a full repair - something I'm not sure I have the skill or knowledge to do anyway.

However, I joined the International Plastic Modeller's Society (IPMS) and went to the Scottish National Show in Perth at the end of April departing with lots of tips, not to mention various glues, tools, sanding sponges, micro brushes etc. The standard of models on display, both at competition level and in general, was extremely high and I saw several models built using kits made by Tamiya of Japan. Theses are very high quality kits so.....

I've bought Tamiya's F14A Grumman Tomcat (think film Top Gun) and Tamiya's Space Shuttle 'Atlantis'. In fact it's just the Orbiter but in incredible detail with all sorts of payloads, docking system and so on. These Tamiya models are more complex to build than Revell or Airfix - even the pilot figures for the Tomcat don't come assembled - so I'll have to up my game - especially since they are more than twice the price of Revell! They also tend to be to a larger scale.

Most people I spoke to at the show use airbrushes to paint their models whereas I hand-paint mine (for a start I don't have a small vented booth for airbrushes and I haven't a clue how to use one) but there's no doubt that with the right level of skill the finish is better than by hand, or at least by my hand.

I'll post full photos once Discovery is finished. Thereafter I plan to start a separate blog for posts regarding modelling since I'm aware that it doesn't fit well with the subject matter of this outdoor blog - not that I've posted much recently on that front which is not likely to change soon given my calf muscle injury.

Friday, 25 May 2018

Friday 25 May - calf

Well, I should have been posting this from the highlands telling of hills, glens and the superlative scenery of the western seaboard.

Alas, a few days before we were due to leave we took a walk through Corb Glen and on the return journey I felt pain in my right calf muscle. It didn't seem too bad initially, then after a couple of days it did a quick spiral downwards. Physio says no hills until at least the end of June, so all hols have cancelled including our usual trip to the Lake District. July and August, are not the best time for the highlands but they will have to do.

To add to the woes, the motorcaravan's water heater was damaged by the severe frosts of winter so needs to go to Dyce caravans for the whole of the first week in June. I've drained down caravans and motor caravans for about forty years without any problems so I'm at a loss as to what has gone wrong this time. Anyway, we had planned to take the tent with us to Dyce (Aberdeen for anyone unfamiliar with Scotland) and have a few remote camps during week - we'll have the car with us so there are (were) lots of possibilities.  Not now of course. Naturally, the weather has been stunning of late and is set to continue fine.Of course it is.

I've pushed on with building Revell's Space Shuttle model, Discovery, along with liquid hydrogen-oxygen tank, SRBs and the crawler. Discovery itself and the tank are complete but in terms of fit and quality of the plastic, this is possibly the worst model I've ever built, requiring lots of filler and sanding.

That's my moan over. Have a lovely summer everyone.

Speaking of sanding, my next job is to prepare the railings at the front door before applying Hammerite.Just how I like to spend summer days.

Sent from my iPhone

Wednesday, 28 March 2018

Customer Service

Once in a while a retailer provides service above and beyond what might reasonably be expected. Emodels is such a retailer.

As some may recall, I wrote here of building Revell's USS Voyager and how I damaged a few decals while applying them to the otherwise finished build. Emodels, from whom I'd bought all the required paints, kindly offered to get me a complete decal sheet from Revell in Germany. When the envelope recently arrived there were two sheets, one with a few decals damaged but otherwise perfect and a second sheet in pristine condition. When I e-mailed to thank them the reply revealed that the first sheet they'd received from Revell was damaged so they asked for another and sent me both. All this free of charge. How many would just have sent the damaged one or bothered to help at all?  I rate this as exceptional service, particularly since they had no way of knowing if I'd ever buy supplies from them again.

As I begin now to consider the best way to build the space shuttle Discovery, my new supplies of paint, masking tape etc will, of course, be bought from emodels. I would have started building this model during the heavy snow falls earlier this month when the huge drifts meant we were well and truly confined to the house, but I didn't have the paints.

I have considered starting a separate blog to chart the progress of the project which I plan to have finished by autumn - hill activities will come first - but I may just use this one. Building model space vehicles, whether real or fictional, may not have anything to do with hills, but what's more 'outdoors' than space?!

Discovery will not be as complex to build and paint as Voyager was but will be interesting all the same. The winter evenings have been set aside for second USS Voyager.

Thursday, 1 March 2018

Wednesday 21 February - a perfect day

The Frandy Burn was low today so we easily stepped across the ice-free rocks at the usual place and headed out of the shadow and into the sun, eventually following our customary route upwards by the Inner Burn. Once on the broad, gently rising ridge leading to Mailer's Knowe a completely unnecessary sign points to Ben Shee. If you need this sign you probably should be walking in a park.

Someone studying their map and planning a trip here could be forgiven for thinking that there is dense tree cover on these slopes but it's mostly relatively new planting by the Woodland Trust which owns this part of the Ochils. The walking is open with unobstructed views, as you can see below.

The open slopes leading to Mailer's Knowe. Click to enlarge all photos
Despite having walked in these hills regulary for a huge chunk of our lives (I first climbed Ben Cleuch when nine) there are still many nooks and crannies that remain unknown to us. Often these are small glens striking only a few kilometres into the hillsides providing alternative, pathless, tussocky ways, rarely, if ever, used to reach the tops; sometimes no doubt they will prove to be nothing more than short diversions from the day's main objective but either way, I'm sure they will be of interest. They may even prove useful material for that rarest of things of late - a post on this blog.

I've a hankering to explore two of these 'unknown' places in the vicinity of today's walk. They are the two small glens whose burns cradle Middle Hill: Middlehill Burn and the unnamed burn below the western slopes of the hill. We have walked, both in ascent and descent, the third burn which meets this unnamed stream and whose source is just a few metres east of point 442m on the long broad ridge which leads from Skythorn Hill to the road near Backhills.

But back to today's walk.

At the boulder on Scad Hill we considered an ascent of Tarmangie Hill but rejected the idea in favour of Skythorn and a circuit back to the car. Seems to me that we often have this debate with the same outcome.

The final slopes to Scad Hill

The boulder with its frozen moat. A favourite place and favourite isolated boulder.

The walk from Scad Hill by Cairnmorris Hill (a mere bump and off picture). Andrew Gannel Hill ahead, Ben Cleuch distant

It was cold so we moved fast to get out of the wind - as you can see from the above photograph  there's no shelter here - but as we approached the stile and then Skythorn Hill (a minor rise in the picture above) things became more benign.

Tarmangie Hill from near the stile. Typical grassy terrain in the Ochils

We spotted two other walkers, a rare event, as we descended from Skythorn but they had vanished down to Backhills by the time we reached the point on the ridge near the source of unnamed burn mentioned earlier. We on the other hand stopped for lunch, enjoyed some Lapsang Souchong and the growing strength of the sun in our faces. But we had a final hill to cross so eventually stirred ourselves, somewhat reluctantly.

Now, Frandy Moss is a bog but a pleasant one if you know the route through it (and we do) so the last unmarked top of the day was quickly reached via the familiar ATV track. The 500m top is an excellent view point.

From near the 500m point looking to the slopes of Middle Hill (centre) and behind, the long broad ridge of Mailer's Knowe etc with Tarmangie peaking over it

A short distance above the track by the Frandy we enjoyed yet more time sitting in the sun finishing off our food before the lovely walk back to the car. Not a particulary long day (about 12km) but it was indeed a perfect one among our friendly hills.

The 1:50 000 map omits the names of many burns in the Ochils including Middlehill Burn. The route shown across Frandy Moss is not precise

Note: I expect I've posted about this walk before, perhaps more than once. Sorry if it's repetitive!

Saturday, 24 February 2018

Tuesday 20 February - Some hills north of Glendevon

There was a time when Ben Trush (OS Thrush), Green Law, Sim's Hill and John's Hill could be approached easily by the Cadger's Path (Borland Glen), the Glendevon Youth Hostel's small car park providing a convenient starting point. A house now stands on the YH site and the small car park has been absorbed by its driveway. A walk down the busy A823 from Castlehill Reservoir's parking spot and then a loop via the quiet hamlet of Burnfoot is now one of two routes to the former YH start. Apart from the A832 bit it's a pleasant enough walk.

Today though we chose the second option, one which I never imagined walking even in my wildest nightmares: via the appalling Green Knowes Windfarm. Not only did we use the access road but passed under the massive turbines to drop down to the glen. The noise was horrendous, the whole place an abomination. Our intial intention was to cut over Ben Trush's south shoulder into Borland Glen but the turbines are almost as close when in the glen, the noise not much less (or so I thought) so I kept walking up the access road. Lynne was a bit behind watching some roe deer on the other side of Eastplace Burn so was not consulted!

I was wrong about the noise. It was almost unbearable: howling, screeching, whistling, whining, grinding. If you think this is 'green' then you're colourblind. I took a photograph of part of the once lovely route by the wall from Ben Trush's cairn and could have wept.

Passing between two turbines we gained the Cadger's quickly and were soon on the gentle slopes of Green Law, the change in our mood palpable, the feeling of well-being restored.

These are lonely hills, not often visited even from Corb Glen which is easily accessed from the Dunning road. We have been regular wanderers in this area for over thirty years and have watched the wreck shown below turn from a fairly intact turqoise-coloured vehicle to the present heap of rust. It has, as Lynne said, almost attained sculpture status, though it's as unwelcome here now as it was when it first was dumped. There's a second one near Sim's Hill which has been there for about twenty years I think. Why?


It's been a cold snowy winter up here, by recent standards at any rate, and although these modest heights had lost their snow cover, spring felt a long way away in the chill wind. After lunch on John's Hill's sunny slopes, where spring did not seem such a distant prospect, we quickly returned to the glen and the stroll down the grassy path.

A short climb through thick grasses led to a wall which we followed to the small cairn on Ben Trush. We turned to face south rather than look at the first of the turbines straight ahead. The higher Ochils were still holding snow and tomorrow we'd be crunching over it.

60m turbines. A peaceful place, full of memories, trashed.

Pleasant walking from Green Law to Sim's Hill and left John's Hill

Near the Cadger's Yett

Our hills for the following day

Tuesday, 13 February 2018

Revell USS Voyager NCC 74656

As a boy I built my fair share of both plastic and balsa wood models, mainly aircraft but also the odd battleship (in plastic). I returned briefly to this hobby when, a few years ago, a knee problem kept me off the hills but these were small Airfix planes such as the Spitfire and Hurricane along with the bigger Lancaster.

USS Voyager at about 52cm long is the biggest and in terms of detail painting and attaching decals, all 162 of them, it's the most complex I've built.

I've learned an enormous amount about painting a model like this, mostly through making numerous mistakes not all of which were possible to correct. The tiny windows were well nigh impossible to get right even though I probably spent as much money seeking out numerous small paint brushes as I did on the model itself and Revell acrylic aqua paints. Later Lynne bought me a craft lamp with magnifier which would have helped.

My introduction to using modeller's putty on the seams was mixed: sometimes it worked, sometimes not despite watching many videos on how to do this seemingly straightforward procedure. The problem was that I painted the model before assembly which was recommended to me by anyone and everyone I consulted. Consequently smoothing down the dried putty invariably meant the paint was removed down to the plastic necessitating re-painting of that area.  Nevertheless I still think painting prior to assembly was the right thing to do because painting the assembled model would have been a real trial I think. Possibly a disaster.

My introduction to using masking tape was more successful but not on the numerous curved parts of the model. I now know that Tamiya make tape for use on curves.

The Revell paints are excellent though acrylics dry very quickly and need thinned, but water is fine for this. Several thin coats work better than a single thick one.  I needed twently one small pots but some colours were hardly used - a few drops on the end of a cocktail stick applied to the sensor arrays, for example. I chose to paint the hull in matt but would use silky matt in future since it gives a better finish, though the final result is very close to the original studio model designed and created for the Star Trek Voyager series. The later CGI model was lighter in colour - as will be my next Voyager build (I've bought it already!)

Lots of people light the inside of the model with a custom LED kit and I considered this, but try as might I could not source a model with the lighting kit included, and no shop, online or otherwise, could obtain one for me - except from Revell Germany which came with wiring instructions in German. In any case all the tiny windows require to be drilled out and stories of some people ruining the model in the process put me off (for the moment).

The decals are the most detailed on any model I know of and most are very, very small.  Mostly I had no mishaps but a full extra decal sheet is on its way to me free from Revell via (excellent service) to replace the two single decals I damaged when applying.

Despite my mistakes and occasional frustrations when building Voyager - I started mid-November - this has been one of the most satisfying things I've done for a very long time and I've renewed my aquaintence with the story around USS Voyager and Star Trek lore/science in general. Lynne reckons I could go on Mastermind! No I couldn't.

Anyway, here are a few photos and a photoshopped one from my cousin Hugh, an expert modeller himself. The email correspondence with him while building this model has been incredibly informative and as enjoyable as building it;  many of the mistakes I didn't make were down to him. If only I'd listened to him about using primer! But overall I'm more than pleased with the final result.

At warp speeds the engine pylons rotate upwards