Archive for the ‘Mountains & hills’ Category

Two aircraft wreck sites in the remote moorland of East Ayrshire

Thursday, April 5th, 2012
One of the engines from the B-26 Invader lying partially submerged in boggy ground

One of the engines from the B-26 Invader lying partially submerged in boggy ground

Last week I travelled to Ayrshire and went for a hike in the remote and anonymous moorland of East Ayrshire. The weather last week was extremely good, with blue skies, high temperatures and little wind, and this walk felt more like it was happening in the middle of summer than mid-March.

I walked northwards from the B743 into the featureless and boggy terrain of the area. There are two aircraft wreck sites in this area, and I had made a previous attempt to walk to these locations earlier in the year, setting off from the A71 to the north but was thwarted by difficult terrain and a new windfarm being built in the area which caused me to take a diversion.

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The John Muir Trust and a volunteer work party on Schiehallion

Tuesday, March 20th, 2012
JMT volunteer work party carrying out path repair work on Schiehallion

JMT volunteer work party carrying out path repair work (new boulder steps on the new path) on Schiehallion

On Sunday last weekend I travelled to Schiehallion to join a party of John Muir Trust volunteers undertaking path repair work on the maintained path that is situated on the long eastern ridge of the mountain.

The John Muir Trust (JMT) is an environmental conservation charity and landowner and owns several parcels of land throughout Scotland, including many in mountainous and remote areas (Bla Bheinn on Skye, Ladhar Bheinn in Knoydart and Ben Nevis in Lochaber) and organises conservation work parties throughout the year composed of volunteers to carry out work on the land such as path and fence maintenance, litter clearing and woodland regeneration.

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Cross-country skiing

Sunday, March 4th, 2012

Last weekend I travelled to Huntly for a weekend cross-country skiing course at the Huntly Nordic and Outdoor Centre.

Cross-country skiing is something I have always wanted to try and my interest was rekindled recently after reading Adam Watson’s accounts of cross-country skiing journeys in his recently-published autobiography (see my recent blog post ‘It’s a fine day for the hill‘). It is quite different from regular alpine or downhill skiing, using different techniques, boots, bindings and skis.

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Clachnaben and two aircraft wreck sites

Thursday, March 1st, 2012
The granite tor on the summit of Clachnaben

The granite tor on the summit of Clachnaben

Last week I travelled to Aberdeenshire and walked to the 589m summit of Clachnaben from Glen Dye. Despite being a relatively small hill, Clachnaben is very distinctive in having an unusual and large granite tor on the summit.

The weather conditions on this walk were quite unusual with not a trace of snow for many miles around despite the late winter date (February 24th). Temperatures were quite mild and the air was very clear but the wind was very strong so it was cold higher up the hill.

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Avalanche and navigation awareness course

Tuesday, January 24th, 2012

Yesterday I went on a short 1-day winter skills course at Glenmore Lodge. The course was an avalanche and navigation awareness course.

There were a couple of classroom lectures about about planning winter routes in the mountains and about avalanches in general. The bulk of the day however was spent in a small group on the slopes of the Cairngorms above Glenmore lodge, with some micronavigation and general navigation techniques for winter walking routes and then a climb through some difficult terrain of snow-covered heather to Coire Laogh Mòr to find some deep snow.

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The map is not the territory

Thursday, January 19th, 2012

1. The divide in the discipline of Geography

The Power of Maps by Denis Wood

The Power of Maps by Denis Wood

Geography is a somewhat schizophrenic discipline. Is it a ’social’ science or is it a ‘hard’ science? The two aspects of the discipline have been in conflict since the ‘quantitative revolution‘ of the 1950s and 1960s within Geography, and the ‘hard’ science of Geography is represented in many respects now by the field of Geographical Information Science (GIS).

Maps are at the very centre of this conflict - what they represent, what their purpose is, how they are constructed and perceived, and what effect they have on society and individuals.

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A snow book, northern Scotland

Thursday, December 22nd, 2011
A snow book, northern Scotland

A snow book, northern Scotland, by Adam Watson

Adam Watson has been continuously observing and collecting data about snow in the north-east of Scotland (and particularly in the Cairngorm mountains) since the 1930s, and this important book represents the culmination of that activity. It will have a strong claim in the future to being the standard reference work in the discipline of research into and observation of long-lasting snowpatches and snow-cover in general in the Scottish mountains.

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It’s a fine day for the hill

Thursday, December 15th, 2011
Its a Fine Day for the Hill

It's a fine Day for the hill, by Adam Watson

Adam Watson can surely lay claim to being a true ‘Mountain Man’ of Scotland - perhaps the premier contemporary claimant to this auspicious title!

Adam Watson’s recently published ‘It’s a fine day for the hill‘ (subtitled ‘And once in a blue sun and moon’, the meaning of which is explained in the book) is his personal memoir of mountain exploits (especially in the Cairngorm and Mounth regions of the Scottish mountains) in the years from the 1940s to the early 1960s and the people he has known. In his time he has been a young amateur naturalist, a gillie, a student and researcher, a bird-watcher, a hillwalker, a rock climber, a mountaineer, a cross-country skier, a writer and an environmental scientist.

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Using GIS techniques to analyse and model the topographical environment and dependencies of long-lasting snowpatch locations in the Scottish mountains

Wednesday, December 7th, 2011
The An Cùl Choire snowpatch on Aonach Beag

The author at the An Cùl Choire snowpatch on Aonach Beag in October 2010

One of my pet interests is the study of long-lasting (and sometimes ‘perennial’) snowpatches in the Scottish mountains. I have written many previous postings on my blog on this subject (see a list of these on my website here).

The question of what factors affect the longevity of snowpatches in the Scottish mountains through the summer and autumn seasons, and potentially until they are covered permanently by the snow of a subsequent winter (making them ‘perennial’), is one which has been discussed at some length in the relevant academic and scientific literature since the early 20th century (see a complete list of these references on my website here). Simply put, these factors are many and varied, but include:

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Wreck of a wartime Bristol Beaufort bomber in the Angus glens

Thursday, November 24th, 2011
Wreckage of the Beaufort in a small crater near the summit of Hill of Wirren

Wreckage of the Beaufort in a small crater near the summit of Hill of Wirren

Last week I went for a short walk in Glen Lethnot, one of the Angus glens north of Brechin, with my friend Katy. We walked from the farm at Auchowrie, up the west slope of Hill of Wirren, to look for two air wreck sites on the hill. However the weather was not as good as we had hoped and the light was very poor in the low cloudbase (not very good for photos), so we only investigated one of these sites, that of a Bristol Beaufort bomber that crashed on the hill in 1942.

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