Monday, 31 August 2015

International Mountain Leader summer assessment

Back in Scotland after some time back out in the French alps. I was back over there to take my International Mountain Leader summer assessment----the UIMLA International Mountain Leader is the highest international award for leading trekking parties in mountainous regions worldwide where climbing techniques are not needed (climbing and alpinism are the preserve of the other internationally recognised award--the IFMGA Mountain Guide), and builds on the UK qualification that I currently hold (UK Mountain Leader). We were thoroughly tested by existing IMLs and Guides on many areas including navigation, party management, emergency rope work, the environment, altitude and emergency procedures, in the context of both the developed and developing world.  I am pleased to say I passed, and now move onto the Winter parts of the syllabus over the next couple of winters! For more information on the IML award see

Monday, 17 August 2015

Hot on Braeriach

Jo has almost completed all of the Munros, with a celebration on the final one penned into the diary later this year.  Before that, she needed to complete her penultimate hill: Braeriach. For one reason or another she has never been up it-----she chose a cracker of a day to make its acquaintance! Hot sunshine all day, the most wonderful views from start to finish. Lower down the Ling heather is now properly out and looking magnificent. Higher up we had fabulous views, and what a treat to be able to sit in shirt sleeves on the top of Britain's third highest mountain. It was difficult to tear ourselves away! Thank you Jo for great company on the hill today, hope the weather shines on you again for your next and last Munro.

Saturday, 15 August 2015


Fantastic day out guiding Nick today on mighty Braeriach, one of the finest of the Cairngorm giants, and third highest mountain in Britain. We had planned to do this earlier in the week, but the forecast of thunderstorms led to a postponement. The forecast was good for today after perhaps some initial murk, so we were somewhat nonplussed to have to put full waterproofs on at the car, with the rain finally lifting and clearing around lunchtime! Fortunately this was perfect timing for us, giving us fantastic views from the summit of Braeriach, down the Lairig Ghru, over to Ben Macdui and across to the majestic Cairn Toul etc. There was another bonus in the form of the reindeer herd---haven't seem them over here to the west of the Lairig Ghru before. Having ascended up through the wonderful pines via the Lairig Ghru path, we decided on a circuit, and dropped down into the equally lovely Gleann Einich for the homeward stretch. All in all a fantastic day on the hill---thank you Nick!
NB//camera broken today so just some phone snaps, sorry.

Monday, 3 August 2015

Size isn't everything.......

It is often the case that, in mountain areas, it is actually the smaller hills that give the better view. This is as good excuse as you could find to spend some shorter days relaxing on smaller hills, and soaking up the landscape. Ord Ban, which pokes out of the Rothiemurchus forest to a mighty 428m, is one such hill par excellence. It may be smal but it is perfectly formed, and gives fantastic 360 degree views from Badenoch up towards Strathspey, as well as to the giants of the Cairngorms,like Braeriach. Now and for the next couple of months are a perfect time of year for these heather clad hills, which in a few weeks time will be a riot if purple as far as the eye can see. 

View across Rothiemurchus 

Bell heather if full bloom, can't wait for the Ling

Looking into the jaws of the Lairig Ghru

Nice to see the sun return to the Cairngorms