Main Menu

Tag Archive: scotland

  1. Enjoy Easter Safely In The Scottish Mountains

    Leave a Comment

    It will soon be Easter, but it’s still full-on winter in Scotland’s mountains. That’s the message from the Mountaineering Council of Scotland (MCofS) and the British Mountaineering Council (BMC). The MCofS and BMC advise that climbers and hill walkers need to be realistic about the seriousness of the Scottish mountains at this popular time of year, and of the need to match knowledge and experience to mountaineering objectives.

     

    The Easter warning is being issued because:

    • Easter in Scotland is popular with groups travelling from further afield
    • Easter is quite early this year
    • The current winter conditions could continue through and beyond the Easter weekend.

     

    Sadly, this winter has seen a significant death toll on Scotland’s mountains, many of them related to avalanches. Avalanche awareness should be a key component of planning a trip to the mountains over the Easter holiday period. Anyone heading to the Scottish mountains at Easter is being encouraged to give serious consideration to the following ten-point checklist:

    1. Check the mountain weather and avalanche forecasts.
    2. Follow the MCofS on Twitter and Facebook, and check the “Something for the weekend” #sftwe safety tips on Fridays and Saturdays.  These messages warn of likely hazards over the coming weekend.
    3. Be realistic about your ability to interpret and act upon weather and avalanche forecasts.
    4. Be prepared to lower your expectations if weather, visibility and pace dictate.
    5. Allow for the remoteness of many Scottish mountains.
    6. Plan routes carefully and consider likely hazards like avalanche-prone slopes, river crossings and steep cliff faces.
    7. Read the Winter Safety pages on the MCofS website and watch the Ice Axe Self Arrest video on the MCofS YouTube channel.
    8. Day length increases at this time of year, but it is still easy to be caught out after dark.  Everyone in a group should carry a head torch and spare set of batteries or a spare head torch with new batteries.
    9. Be aware of everyone else in your group and don’t allow your group to get separated in poor visibility.
    10. Never be afraid to turn back. The most important objective of a day in the mountains is for there to be more days in the mountains in the future.

     

    MCofS President, Brian Linington, said, “There are always more visitors to Scottish mountains at Easter and Whitsun and we urge them to act upon this advice.  Many are keen to get to grips with the mountains, but the pattern when I was part of the Skye Mountain Rescue Team was for a high number of incidents at Easter.  This was due to a number of factors, including loose holds after winter ice had loosened everything up, together with very icy old snow patches in critical shaded spots.  Both factors caused fatalities in the Cuillin at Easter.”

    BMC Deputy CEO, Nick Colton, said, “The mountains of Scotland are glorious places to walk and climb.  Go prepared, plan and heed the advice that is available.  Remember conditions can change quickly and you may need to adjust those plans and expectations accordingly.  Enjoy the challenges and spectacular scenery that Scottish hills have to offer but, most importantly, get back down safely.”

    The BMC runs training events and publishes good practice information, to enable climbers, hill walkers and mountaineers to develop their skills.  Read the ‘Essential winter know-how’ at www.thebmc.co.uk/winter-climbing-and-walking-skills.

    We would remind climbers and walkers of the need to dress warmly, comfortably and flexibly to make the most of winter days out by building layers of clothing – baselayers, mid layers and outer layers.

     

  2. Scotlands Best Kept Secret Exposed At New Festival

    Leave a Comment

    The Wild Lochaber Festival, to be held in the Outdoor Capital of the UK (OCUK), Fort William, will be a week-long celebration of the incredible wildlife (at sea and on land) and geology (landscapes and scenery) that can be experienced in Lochaber. Lochaber is an area of stunning natural beauty where you will find the UK’s highest mountain, Ben Nevis; its deepest loch, Loch Morar; and the longest glen, The Great Glen.

    The region boasts a wealth of amazing wildlife rarely seen elsewhere in the UK —  red deer, golden eagle, sea eagle, osprey, pine marten,  otter, whales, dolphins, basking shark plus rare butterflies, dragonflies, orchids, alpine plants and much more. The whole of Lochaber is an internationally recognised Geopark with many of the world’s finest and most unique geological features are located here.

    The Wild Lochaber Festival inaugural event, organised by the OCUK, runs for one week from 1 June 2012 with a Festival Fair on the 2 and 3 June 2012. The Festival Fair will showcase all that is available in Lochaber’s natural environment and will provide a wealth of information relating to local biodiversity. Local organisations and tour operators who provide wildlife and landscape activities and events will be present, together with government and professional bodies.

    Organised events to be held during the Festival week are designed to show visitors and residents the best areas in Lochaber to spot wildlife and see the most interesting landscapes. Choices will include guided wildlife tours (on land and sea), walks, Geopark Rock Safaris, children’s activities and talks. Wildlife and landscape pictures taken by local schools for a photography competition will be on display and judged during the Festival. As part of the overall Wild Lochaber project, a series of self-guiding trails will be developed, with further plans to create new wildlife-watching hides.

    For more information, go to www.outdoorcapital.co.uk

     

  3. Improve Your Mountain Navigation Skills With The MCS

    Leave a Comment

    The Mountaineering Council of Scotland (MCS) are running a number of one day navigational courses during May and September 2012. The main aims of the course are to increase your confidence in finding your way on hills using map reading and compass bearing skill, with handy hints and techniques to locate yourself in poor visibility. The day will start with a gentle introduction to the theory followed by a practical session on the hill. Ratios are 1:6 and there are spaces for 12 people per course (the minimum age is 18 years). You will need to be equipped for a day out on the hill with food and drink, boots, gaiters, waterproof jacket and overtrousers, warm hat and gloves or mitts and a map case or clear poly bag. Maps and compasses will be provided.

    The courses will be run on the following days:

    May 2012

    Sat 5th – Ochils (base near Alloa)

    Sun 6th – Ochils (base near Alloa)

    Sat 26th – Campsoe Fells (based near Drymen)

    Sun 27th – Campsoe Fells (based near Drymen)

    September

    Sat 1st – Ullapool

     

    For further information please visit the The Mountaineering Council of Scotland website

     

  4. Mud-Loving Mountain Bikers & Hill Walkers Holidays

    Leave a Comment

    For those who prefer their holidays to include lung-bursting outdoor pursuits and plenty of perspiration, there is no shortage of challenging sporting events around Loch Ness and Inverness during the summer and early autumn months this year.

    Along the Great Glen in May, the annual Whole Way Walk is the longest ranger guided walk in the country.  This 79 mile journey takes walkers to the heart of the Highlands by combining six days of guided hiking with other events showcasing the area’s history and heritage. From  6 -11 May, participants will trek the width of the country from Fort William on the west coast to Inverness on the east offering a unique opportunity to experience this environment up close and personal.

    Alternatively, adrenaline seeking visitors might like to take part in the Drambuie Pursuit, which runs from 11-13 May.  The nine-stage event takes in the Loch Ness area, with events at Invergarry, Fort Augustus and the River Ness and combines a wide range of outdoor activities including archery, buggy racing, white water rafting, rock climbing, abseiling, hill running and mountain biking. Not for the faint hearted, this high-energy Highland challenge offers an exciting and inspirational introduction to the area.

    Heading into June, outdoors enthusiasts have the opportunity to join a range of events at the ‘Outta Affric’ Glen Affric Walking Festival. This four-day festival (1- 4 June) offers graded and guided walks taking in a selection of Munros and Corbetts alongside a packed programme of entertaining, interesting and informative extras.

    For those who like to inject a little variety into their travels, June also brings a selection of exciting challenges taking in the Loch Ness area. The first is the Scotland Coast to Coast event. This two day challenge (15-16 June) allows entrants to select their own level, taking one or two days to tackle the route from the east coast at Nairn to the west coast at Ballachulish by running or walking, kayaking and cycling through its tough terrain either alone or as part of a two-person team.

    June 16 will also see walkers gathering at Gairlochy on Scotland’s west coast for the 24 hour Caledonian Challenge, where participants attempt to complete a 54 mile route through some of the Highland’s most spectacular scenery in just one day all in aid of the Scottish Community Foundation. And just a week later the area will play host to the Highland Cross duathlon event (invitation only) The Highland Cross takes place on 23rd June with participants attempting to complete a 20 mile walk and 30 mile bike ride through the rugged terrain of Glen Affric and Strathglass to finish in the beautiful village of Beauly.

    August sees the arrival of the Monster Swim at Loch Ness. This open water aquatic event offers the opportunity to tackle either the one mile Big Yin or the half mile Wee Nessie course – both of which offer the opportunity for participants to truly immerse themselves in the surroundings and see spectacular scenery from an entirely new angle. The season of exertion and exhilaration is rounded off on 30 September with the Baxters Loch Ness Marathon which offers a rare opportunity to race on the roads round this iconic loch location. This must-run route takes in 26 miles of spectacular surroundings, with the finishing line in the Highland capital of Inverness.

    Further information on the area, accommodation and what’s on around Loch Ness and Inverness at www.visitlochness.com

  5. New All-Mountain Enduro Mountain Bike Race In The Scottish Borders

    Leave a Comment

    TweedLove, the Bike Festival (26 May – 5 June 2012) set in the very bike-friendly Tweed Valley in the Scottish Borders, has announced a major new all-mountain enduro race to be staged at Forestry Commission Scotland’s Glentress on 27 May 2012. In a new take on the gravity enduro format, The King and Queen of the Hill will see riders compete to be crowned the ‘official ruler’ of Glentress, widely recognised as Britain’s best trail centre.

    The course will take riders to near the very top of Glentress Forest’s big hill, and then right back down again, by way of a series of timed race and linking stages, with riders required to have at least one uphill stage included in their overall points score. The King and Queen of the Hill also features a massive final descent stage, running from near Spooky Wood all the way back down to Peebles, with a big proportion of natural trails along the route.

    Event organiser Neil Dalgleish said, “If you’re going to be the King or Queen of Glentress, you’ve got to rule the whole hill, which means you need to be decent going up as well as a ripper coming down. The final descent is going to be a real challenge for all the riders with a mix of Glentress signature man-made track as well as off-camber roots, natural, tight technical and fast open sections all the way from the top of the hill, right down to the bottom.”

    Another first for the ‘King and Queen of the Hill’ is that it will start and finish in the town of Peebles, in the grounds of the renowned Peebles Hotel Hydro. Dalgleish added, ‘The Peebles Hotel Hydro is a beautiful hotel, with amazing grounds all round it – and the trails roll right down to their door.  It’s the perfect spot for the event HQ.’

    Entries for the race are now open on the TweedLove website – http://tweedlove.com/ – which has more info on the race and the whole TweedLove programme – ten days of good times on and off the bike.

  6. Celebration Of Mountain Culture In The Highlands

    Leave a Comment

    The full programme for the 2012 Fort William Mountain Festival, presented by the Outdoor Capital of the UK, has now been announced and it’s set to be a fantastic five-day celebration of mountain culture, based in the bustling Highland town from Wednesday 15 – Sunday 19 February 2012. The audience coming to Fort William will be inspired, energised and entertained by a superb line-up of lectures from top climbers and mountaineers, mountain bikers, and mountain filmmakers plus and film screenings from cutting edge outdoor athletes and adventurers.

    Opening Night – Join the mountain festival revellers for a four-course dinner at Nevis Range’s new Pinemarten Restaurant and enjoy a special musical performance from award-winning Gaelic singer Mary Ann Kennedy and singers who will perform a unique, contemporary piece called ‘Black Snow’.

    Bike Night – Get ready for a full-on evening of mountain bike action in the company of British mountain bike legend Steve Peat as he talks about his riding, career and what’s next for Peaty. Plus feel your jaw drop as MTB Cut’s Stu Thomson presents his latest collaboration, ‘Industrial Revolutions’ with the incredible street trials riding star Danny Mackaskill. That’s not all – we’ll also be treated to films of other top riders doing those things they do that the rest of us wish we could!

    Mountaineering Night – Join highly experienced Arctic explorer Bob Shepton for the film of his breathtaking sailing and big-wall climbing expedition among Greenland’s fjords. The plan: load a 33-ft sailing boat with climbers, take them to some of the most remote and highest big walls in the world and watch them go! This amazing adventure culminated in an ascent of an 850-metre sea wall straight from the sea. Plus a screening of award-winning film ‘The Long Hope’ by Paul Diffley, featuring the incomparable Dave MacLeod and his 1000ft ascent of St John’s Head on the Island of Hoy in only one day.

    Climbing Night – A lecture from the maverick master of climbing Johnny Dawes. This quirky show involves unseen video, award-winning film, writings, drawings and Dawes’s notorious approach to communicating using metaphor and humour. What lies at the centre of genius and how do you find it? Where does the limit lie? Come along for an entertaining evening exploring the links between climbing and art, the universe and everything!

    The Best of Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour Film Night – Always a sell-out, this is your chance to see the best in inspiring mountain films from around the world. This year’s selection includes incredible films about skiing, ice-climbing, slack-lining, mountain rescues and, oh yes, one Australian’s quest to follow in the footsteps of Genghis Khan.

     

    There will also be plenty of opportunity for both novices and experts to hone their skills through inspirational workshops in mountain skills, avalanche awareness, winter walking and winter climbing as well as both indoor climbing and ice climbing at Kinlochleven’s Ice Factor Indoor Climbing Centre. To find out more and to buy your festival tickets go to – www.mountainfestival.co.uk.

     


  7. Scottish Winter Walking Experience

    Leave a Comment

    Spending the night in a snow hole or a day climbing a sheer ice face are just two of the activities which feature in the Torridon Winter Walking Festival in March. Walkers will be able to join some of the most highly qualified mountaineering guides in the UK in some of the most stunning snowy winter wilderness in the country to take part in one of Scotland’s ultimate winter adventures.  The three day Torridon Winter Walking Festival is organised by Torridon Activities, and runs from Saturday, 3rd – Monday, 5th March, 2012, when ice axe arrest, walking in crampons and avalanche awareness are a given; there is a Winter Skills Day for those not already confident and in the know.

    The mountains featuring in the Torridon Winter Walking Festival’s programme contribute to some of the finest mountain scenery in Europe – Beinn Eighe, Liathach, Coire Mhic Fhearchair, Beinn Alligin and Beinn na h-Eaglaise – and require not only stamina and fitness to conquer in both summer and winter conditions, but also an introductory lesson in Gaelic pronunciation at the very least (included).

    As the high level walks are aimed at people who are used to the mountain environment, they require a reasonable level of fitness.  The walks take in wild places, don’t necessarily follow footpaths, and conditions underfoot coupled with the terrain dictate that the walks are of a medium to strenuous nature.  The rewards, on the other hand, are of spectacular uninterrupted views over a stunning Highland landscape bathed in a winter freeze. Low level walks also feature on the Festival programme, and follow estate roads and footpaths passing through frozen glens and past frozen lochans without the commitment of a hill climb.

    There are plenty of accommodation options in the area – many listed on the Festival’s website – ranging from youth hostels, B&Bs and guest houses to self-catering, inns and hotels.

    For further information on the Torridon Winter Walking Festival, to book a place on one of the walks, to find out more about the guides, the routes and the accommodation, check out www.thetorridon.com/activities/walking-festival.

     

  8. Scotlands White Tailed Eagles Soar To New Heights

    Leave a Comment

    2011 has proved another record-breaking year for breeding pairs of Scotland’s largest bird of prey as the numbers of white-tailed eagles, sometimes referred to as ‘sea eagles’ soared to new heights despite heavy storms throughout the 2011 breeding season. An adult bird has an impressive eight-foot wing span and striking white tail, making the white-tailed eagle a spectacular sight that can round off a great day’s hillwalking or climbing.

    Conservationists, and many sea eagle enthusiasts, had been concerned that the high winds felt across Scotland in May could have had a detrimental impact on breeding white-tailed eagles at the vulnerable part of the season when most nests contain small chicks. Indeed, some nests failed including that of BBC Springwatch star, nicknamed ‘Itchy’, who experts fear lost his chicks in the storm. However, the bad weather failed to blow the species off course. Recent survey figures for the 2011 breeding season reveal that there were 57 territorial pairs in Scotland, an increase of 10% on the previous year. A total of 43 young fledged successfully from these nests.

    White-tailed eagles finally became extinct in Britain at the beginning of the twentieth century, due to human persecution and collecting of eggs and skins. After an absence of over half a century, a re-introduction programme began in 1975 on the Isle of Rum in the Inner Hebrides, aimed at returning these majestic raptors to the Scottish skies. Since then, the species’ population has been steadily recovering, and conservationists believe there are now as many ‘flying barn doors’, as they are affectionately known, in the UK as there were over 150 years ago.

    The successful breeding season on the west coast comes as a further 16 white-tailed eagle chicks, gifted by the people of Norway, were released from a secret location in Fife in August. The chicks are part of a six-year project, now entering its final year, to increase and expand the range of this iconic species into its former haunts in the east of Scotland.

    Duncan Orr-Ewing, Head of Species and Land Management at RSPB Scotland, said, “The white-tailed eagle is part of Scotland’s rich natural heritage and it is fantastic to see them back where they belong and gradually increasing in numbers and range on the west coast. They are improving biodiversity in this country and bringing in important economic benefits to the communities they soar above. Now with the east coast reintroduction entering its final year, we are anticipating the first steps towards the establishment of a breeding population of sea eagles on the other side of Scotland. There is plenty of suitable habitat and natural wild prey to support a healthy population.”

Enjoy this blog? Please spread the word :)