B.E.G. Manor Valley Walk and Annual BBQ

Graham Little reports:

Having promised good, if windy, weather for Saturday 19th August, the weather forecast belatedly announced heavy rain showers. Undeterred, 12 B.E.G. members and guests (youngest 8 years old) plus two dogs set off from the car park at the end of the Manor Valley road, south of Peebles, determined to make the best of the day. Following the grassy track that runs up the east flank of the glen (and eventually leads to the Megget Reservoir), much of the conversation was about the recent B.E.G. trip to Bolivia and the future of the organisation. Passing above the meltwater channel of Bitch Cleuch, we came to the small cairn at the highest point of the track (567m) and turned west onto rough ground and into the full blast of the westerly wind. Passing over Greenside Law (643m), in a heavy rain shower, we descended to Water Head. The original plan was to follow the Thief’s Road up onto the main ridge and to the summit of Dollar Law but, given the strength of the wind and the threatening cloud, we decided to implement ‘plan B’. The descent of the upper Manor Valley, with its steep, sculptured flanks, was even favoured by a brief glimmer of sunshine! Returning to the cars there was a general feeling that we’d had a good walk and that it was time to return to Peebles for tea and tray bakes (courtesy of Sophie). This was soon followed up by a BBQ (delivered by Graham from a wet and windy garden). Numbers swelled to 15 with a straggler arriving early evening just in time to finish the last glass of Prosecco! Although the day hadn’t gone entirely to plan, all agreed that it had been great fun. Hopefully there will be others to come.

Bolivia Training Weekend 4

Friday 13th January to Sunday 15th
Chloe (venturer)

We arrived at Lindean Hall at 9am, and got straight in to activities. Ian the paramedic kindly came in to show us how to do some basic first aid to benefit us for future training weekends and our expedition. Poor Cammy was used as the dummy for every tutorial, but got on with it none the less. We went over CPR, bandages, splints and little did we know it would come to be used later in the training weekend…

We were then joined by Jim MacPherson, who helped us make route cards and reminded us how to properly map read for the walk ahead. Everyone was split into two groups, both going the same route but one clockwise and one anti-clockwise. We set off for the walk and although it was very VERY snowy and icy, it was a beautiful day. There were good laughs throughout the whole walk and everyone’s spirits were high, but nothing bet the view of the sunset from the top of the Three Brethren, simply breath-taking. We powered back to the hall (with an unplanned detour), Graham and I got so excited for our hot cuppa that we sprinted right up the hill and into the hall – to be greeted by the other group who’d also made it back very quickly.

Now everyone’s favourite part of the night.. FOOD!

Pam had us all make a sandwich and sit at the table but with true table manners, we couldn’t eat until everyone was ready, but one person was missing… We waited and waited and David was a no show. Our food was sitting right in front of us for what felt like forever but in burst David WITH CHIPS!!! Fair to say he got a massive standing ovation.

The entertainment of the night consisted of the classic games – ‘wink murder’ and ‘heads down thumbs up’. The moment I triple – crossed Jim in heads down thumbs up, was one of the funniest moments of my life. I don’t think he’ll ever forgive me… sorry Jim!

Day 2 of the training weekend and we went out on a little stroll to stretch off after the big walk the day before. As we walked by a field, we noticed a man and woman on the ground, distressed, by a tree. The woman was shouting for help so the whole team headed over. We instantly split into two groups and my group was taking care of the lady. We went through all the procedures that Ian taught us the day before and it was a success. We even made a stretcher out of poles and jackets! I’m sure it was just a coincidence that the distressed man had a BEG Zambia jumper on…

After our emergency situation, we headed back to the hall to learn some Spanish from Paul and Patricia, who were lovely and excellent at teaching. We also got an insight into what we’d be doing in Bolivia, which made the expedition seem even closer for everyone.

The day powered on and in what felt like no time at all, it was time for our parents to come for the meeting. Information, do’s and dont’s for Bolivia and a reminder about our jags (ahhhhh).

After a reasonably quick meeting it was time to go home. Yet another exciting and hilarious training weekend over, spent with the best people and each time we seem to grow even closer.

And from a leader’s point of view (Jane B)

Saturday morning – leaders were up at 6.am, did a 5 mile run and had a bathe in the Tweed –just kidding – we actually had a more gentle start to the day than previous training weekends but were all ready by 9am for the arrival of the rest of the group and keen to get started on training weekend 4. In reality, our weekend had started the previous evening with leaders and training team only where Nancy took us through some leadership training. We discussed different types of leaders and had a chance to think about the kind of leaders each of us are, and talked about the analogy of ‘filling other people’s buckets’ a good way of visualizing thoughtfulness. Our buckets were then filled by a delicious tea prepared by Rosie and Nancy. A meeting after, to share the weekend plans and update on Bolivia plans, led us to sleep time.

So, back to Saturday morning and the start of a weekend that felt like very real training for Bolivia right down to the cold, crisp, sunny weather. First off was First Aid delivered brilliantly by Ian, a paramedic. We blew up dummies, secured our fellow leaders and venturers wounded limbs – imaginary of course – and tried to master the art of triangular bandage. Hmmm, triangular bandages and I have met before and didn’t get on very well then; this time we were no more compatible although Graham was a very good sport and didn’t object to my confused fumbling with his arms!
Around midday, we all had a few photos taken for the Southern Reporter and after that we were straight into route planning in preparation for the afternoon activities. We were divided in two with Mairi leader of the one group and Cammy leader of the other. Jim McPherson guided us through the procedures and then we were let loose with a map and part filled route card. Thankfully we had John, who along with Eilidh and Joseph quickly completed the missing information. Then it was a quick lunch, boots on and out into the beautiful blue sky day. The plan was a circular route to take in the Three Brethren, one group going clockwise tackling the hill from the south side and the other anti-clockwise, taking it from north-east. Cammy’s group, of which I was part, took the anti-clockwise route setting out at a fair pace along the River Tweed. We were accompanied by Nancy and Les, and originally Jim but he quickly disappeared to check on the other group, not reappearing until we were slip-sliding down the other side. He then appeared first as a bobbing hat covered head, slowly followed by shoulders, body and legs charging down the hill trying to catch up with us. We were motoring! The top was too good not to mention, snow covered ground with a well-trodden packed snow path up to the iconic three cairns of the Three Brethren, and the sun beginning to set. As we passed the clockwise group striding for the top, the deep snow off the sides of the path proved impossible to ignore by the certain members of the group and those said members ended up more than a little snowy!
We were all back at the hall by around 6.30 and ready for food. Sandwiches and soup were on the menu but after a good long walk in the snow we were glad when David offered to go and fetch chips. After dinner, the evening entertainment began and after a couple of different challenges, which involved pairs trying to untangle themselves from string and balancing nails on a wooden block we put our heads on the table to play ‘heads down, thumbs up’. There was an element of calmness emitted as we played but it was punctuated with raucous laughter and giggling as certain people failed to guess the correct thumb presser! Well fed, watered and entertained, we were all in bed with lights off by 10.00.

After Sunday morning breakfast, everyone got ready to head out for a brisk walk along the riverside. Funnily enough, they came across some casualties lying injured so it was very lucky that we’d had first aid training the day before. After a short break we were straight into a Spanish lesson with Pati and Paul. They took us through some basic survival language and gave us a few grammatical rules making it sound so simple. Their enthusiasm and sounds of encouragement were much appreciated as they got us mingling in search of hypothetical ingredients for a traditional Bolivian dish. All in all I had a great time, I really enjoyed trying to pronounce words correctly and came away enthused about learning more.

The training weekend ended with a whole group meeting, highs and lows, followed by a meeting for parents. The plans are really coming together now and it was great to be able to share them with everyone. By midafternoon, tired but happy, we cleared up the hall and headed back to our homes. Another brilliant weekend! Not long until the next one……

Bolivia Training Weekend 3

Friday 25th to Sunday 27th November 2016
Rosie (venturer)

Dropped off in the dark at 7.30pm at Newmill to have a short walk to our destination for the night. On the side of a farm track we found the small area beside a river to be our campsite. Split into our tent groups to put up our tents in as little time as possible in the dark was a challenge but we set up camp in no time. Soon after, we boiled water for hot drinks in our trangias due to the weather giving us below freezing temperatures. As it was so cold and dark we decided for us to go to sleep with quiet at 10.30pm.

With hardly any sleep due to the temperatures dropping to around -7 and the sound of the river it was finally time to get up at 6.30am to have breakfast that we brought and to boil water for hot drinks. Following this it was time to pack up our tents and campsite for a morning hike to the next destination. In the process of walking to the car to put the tents and tangias in the boot we noticed Ron’s (training team) car stuck in the ford and having to be pulled out by a tractor. Walking to Hawick from Newmill took around three hours as we took a detour across the hills to take a visit to the monument made in remembrance of Nan Lyle. We then came onto the A7 and followed the road to the old parish church hall in Hawick where we found the warmth of the heaters and could put all our bags down. Following that we were able to sit down and our lunch.

Furthermore, after lunch we were out into three groups for us to complete three activities, each took around 30minutes. One activity was taking place in the kitchen to learn basic Spanish, by Mairi (leader). We learnt numbers up to ten and to say hello etc. Following this we went into the small hall at the back to go through the golden rules which the group had created earlier in the year. Moreover, the final activity was a fitness session (circuit training) involving shuttle runs, skipping, burpees, step ups etc. for one minute each. Once the activities were finished the whole group came together to go over the golden rules we created, we ended up spending the whole time going over one rule; Alcohol.

At 3.00 we were split into groups of ¾ people and had to create an 80th birthday party for a granny with a budget of £5000. We had to organise the event and given a list of everything with a price on, such as the destination, drinks, food, guests, decorations and presents for granny. This activity taught us how to budget your money as in Bolivia we will need to be tight on money.

Repeating the theme of budgeting, at 4.00 we were told by the leaders that we had 6 guests arriving at 7.00 who were expecting a fun-filled evening organised by the venturers. We were put into groups to complete a separate task; there was a cooking team, decoration team and an entertainment team and we all had to budget our money to support the evening with £210. Two people from each team to go in front of the leaders to attempt to receive as much of the £210 as they could get for their group. With this, the cooking team took a trip to Sainsbury’s, the decoration team went to B&M bargains and the entertainment team called their parents to bring in their musical instruments. The cooking team had to create a 3 course meal with the starter having to contain the Bolivian flag colours (green, red, yellow) and the dessert containing the Scotland flag colours.

The guests arrived at 7.00 and were taken to their seats. The tables were laid out in a horseshoe shape with white table cloths and glitter sand sprinkled over. The back table had tinsel round the chair for the guests. The evening began with a parent reading allowed ‘Tam O Shanter’. The poem finished and platters were put on the tables containing a mix of cheeses and gluten free oatcakes (to meet the need of gluten free), salmon and lemons, and green and red and yellow peppers to meet the requirements of the Bolivian colours. The main was served, consisting of a potato curry and rice, with naan bread and coriander to suit the needs of the vegetarians.
Between the main and dessert we had the entertainment team. There was a quiz consisting of questions from past expeditions and to Bolivia, each corner in the room was numbered 1-4 as the questions were multiple and we had to go the corner which we thought was the correct answer. Joseph then played the bagpipes and Alex on the drums, then a piano piece from Joseph, an accordion piece from Harris and a second tune from Harris while the rest of us danced the Gay Gordon’s. Moreover, the dessert was served containing chocolate fudge cake with blueberries and cream to fit the Scotland colours. However, there were two gluten free cupcakes. Overall, the evening seemed to be a success.

The guests left at 9.40pm which left us all to clear up the hall and kitchen so it was the way it was before. Luckily this did not take long due to everyone mucking in. Following this, the leaders went off to have a meeting in the small hall beside the kitchen while the venturers had to settle down for the night. Did we though? For once, the venturers were not required to get up early and produce breakfast for everyone due to us producing a successful evening, resulting in the leaders having to get up at 6.30am, giving us an extra 45 minutes in our sleeping bags.
Woken at 7.15am on Sunday to get up and have breakfast. The sight of warm cooked food including bacon and porridge was SO exciting. The morning activity for the venturers started at 8.30am and it was to explore Hawick park and note down all the sights and smells that we could. This was great fun and we all enjoyed it as we split into groups and went for a stroll around the park grounds. There were plenty trees and a river and stream flowing in the centre. There was a museum in the centre near the waterfall and walled gardens. This gave us a bit of freedom as all the leaders stayed back at the hall, as it is ‘all about trust’ according to David (chief leader). The weather was a cooler crisp morning but compared to the temperatures the day before it was relatively warm. The venturers met back at the park gates at 10.00 to walk back to the hall, which was a few minutes away. When we got back we had to present our findings to describe to the leaders what the park was like, the leaders had chosen John and Theigan to talk for 10minutes. This activity was to make us describe a place people hadn’t been to before in order for them to picture it in their mind, as in Bolivia we will have to describe what it was like when we come back home to our friends and family such as the landscape, sights and smells.

Following on from this we got together and talked about ideas and catching up on fundraising and sending in the money you fundraise. The cluster groups then got together with their leaders to have a talk about how the fundraising is going and any ideas for group fundraisers or individual fundraising. Lunch was next which included the packed lunch we had brought. The last jobs to do were to tidy up the hall. This consisted of cleaning the kitchen, small hall at the back, the main hall, the bathrooms and mopping and sweeping the corridors. This took us to around 2.10 and we were getting picked up at 2.30 so we sat down and went round saying our highs of the weekend and the lows.

Overall, despite the freezing temperatures the 3rd weekend was a success and the whole group had already bonded and both the leaders and venturers get along so well, which makes the weekends and activities more successful and joyful as we all have a laugh.

Bolivia Training Weekend 2

Our base camp under a beautiful rainbow.

Training weekend 2 took place from Friday 21st October to Sunday 23rd October 2016 at Lilliesleaf.

When we arrived at the village hall on the Friday night we dropped our heavy rucksacks off our shoulders and partook in some ceilidh dancing to warm ourselves up as it was absolutely freezing! Following that we did several activities, including designing our Base Camp and going over risk factors for the expedition. After this we dozed off to sleep in our sleeping bags on the wooden floor at about 11 o’clock.

The Bolivia expedition’s first ‘base camp.’

Sharply woken up at 7 the next morning, we got ourselves ready for the intense 10 minute hike to our camping location for the Saturday night! Here we set up the Base Camp we had previously planned out, each of us having a different task to complete (mines personally being the honour of digging the toilet pit!) before getting on with the rest of our busy day which included team games such as moving hay bales from one point to another with blindfolds on and racing one another on make shift three-man-skis! (Basically just long planks of wood).

Blindfolded activities, which were much harder than they looked!

Other activities that day included learning how to cross a river safely as a team and finding out how to clean your whole body with just one cup of water! (Surprisingly effective). That night while we were all asleep the leaders began to bash pots and pans, screaming “CODE 1!” which means to get out your tent as fast as possible and meet at a rendezvous point. This thankfully was just a drill but the baltic conditions had given me such a shock my body took ages to calm back down and catch a few more hours sleep.

Morning came too early on Sunday to say the least.

Learning how to do a (very cold) river crossing.

However we still rose, bright eyed and bushy tailed, ready to tackle the day. After breakfast we took down Base Camp and headed back for our, not-so, cosy little hall. Once back at the hall we learnt a bit about observational skills and how to get the most out of our experience in Bolivia, before having a group discussion on what to do for our adventure phase of the expedition (still to be confirmed) until we were picked up at 2:30pm by our parents.

Personally I really enjoy the training weekends,  I feel each one is better than the last and it is noticeable how much stronger the team is becoming. We’ll be ready in no time!

Spooky pumpkins by the bonfire.

Bolivia Training Weekend 1

I think the first training weekend for the 2017 Bolivia expedition could fundamentally be described in a few short words: wet, cold and great fun.
A wrath of storm clouds drew in over St Mary’s Loch as the newly selected and somewhat apprehensive venturers (and leaders) gathered at Cappercleuch Village Hall on Friday evening. Dragging rucksacks half our body weight we were welcomed warmly as friendships were instantaneously established and bonds made.
Firstly: a quick briefing on what to expect over the coming days and then to kick off events with ‘pub’ quiz. Following this everyone was given the opportunity to show off their artistic abilities in the task of designing the team’s expedition logo to be voted on at a later date. Then set into small groups to combine our perhaps shaky knowledge on Bolivia (slightly aided by a few travel guides and manuals).
Several cups of tea and hot chocolates later we started to get ready for bed, setting up camp in the hall, we all squashed in quite nicely for lights out at 11 o’clock.
6.30 Saturday morning and the lucky breakfast team begin to peel themselves away from the lukewarm comfort of their sleeping bags, by 7.00 we are all up, getting dressed and packing/squashing sleeping bags back into rucksacks. The smell of bacon pouring out of the kitchen in barrel loads. Though there was a slight problem; we’d ran out of water. The hall wasn’t connected to the mains and so was reliant on a small stream feeding the loch that supplies the building in mere feeble doses, our ablutions ran it dry.

Beautiful views, lulling us into false security about the weekend weather…

Anyway, after a lovely breakfast we were divided into three groups to partake in three different activities. One of which was related to fitness and involved measuring our heart rates across various different exercises and considering the steps to be taken for improving our individual physical health before the final expedition. Another involved awareness of health and safety for when finally in Bolivia, giving us a briefing on our well-being and personal hygiene. And the third gave us some extremely beneficial advice on packing and equipment.
Then, in our groups we were given a map, a compass and a final destination and with much trepidation we set out along the route to make it to base camp. True to Scottish tradition, as soon as we left the hall it started raining and it didn’t stop. Along the way we encountered some breath taking views of the hills and loch(if not slightly obscured by clouds) and the picture postcard Dryhope Tower some miles down the line. As we pressed on up into the hills the rain became heavier and a thick mist set in. On the final stretch we found ourselves lost in the fog of the Heather, as if from the pages of a Bronte novel, the trying conditions only brought us together as a team and we persevered on towards camp.
As we neared we were all greeted with warm smiles and cheers from the teams already there. What came next was possibly the most challenging aspect of the entire experience: putting up tents in the rain…Some time later we have managed to have assembled what loosely resembled a base camp.
Running for the shelter of the trees we get out the tranjias and cooking equipment and threw together a fairly decent three course meal (cuppa soup,  vegetable pasta and fruit pie and custard-can’t complain really!). On our way back to the tents we battled not on the elements but also an army of midges(who were out in full force and were in no way remorseful!) The weather had us defeated, we’d given up on the hope of a camp fire and any form of group activity and so retired to our tents desperately trying to keep dry.
Some time later from outside the tents we hear the best news we’ve heard all day;
“ The rain is getting to 0much, cars are coming, we are going back to the hall, be ready in 10 minutes”.
Suddenly the energy in camp was immense and the excitement almost tangible. Throwing anything and everything into our rucksacks we left camp and thundered on up the road, racing to be the first to meet the cars. The rain continued to besiege the landscape though it was unable to dampen the spirits of the now united B.E.G team. We continued along the road showcasing our fantastic vocals and musical talent until at last we met the cars, the leaders taking sympathy for a select few who were seemingly under dressed and under prepared for the conditions and chose us to pile into the back of the first land rover and return us safely back to the hall.
As everyone, soaking, arrived back at the hall it was evident that the washout had some how brought us all together as a team, something had changed, the rain almost seemed to have a catalytic effect on our morale and on our relationships, everyone was laughing and getting on as one unit and the atmosphere of the evening was simply great.
Hanging our saturated belongings on chairs at the back of the hall we all warmed up around mugs of tea and coffee and headed to bed for one final night in the hall.
Sunday morning, we woke up astonished to see a million bright ambassadors pouring in through the windows on sunlight wings. To combat the scarcity of water, a few of us ventured down to the loch side to collect some in buckets.

St Mary’s Loch giving us a great backdrop to the first training weekend.

After breakfast the team divided, half of us travelling back to Saturday’s ‘base camp’ to collect the tents and the rest of us remaining at the hall to prepare lunch for everyone with the left over ingredients from last night’s feast. Those of us who remained at the hall took part in a small scavenger hunt around the site and a competition to come up with a poem either about our experiences of the training weekend or about Bolivia. After that we got lunch going and began to tidy up the hall. The other half of the team arrived back with all the equipment that had been abandoned in the rain and we all sat down to our final meal of vegetable pasta.
Packed up and tidied away, there was a final discussion on fundraising, the expedition, future training weekends , highs and lows an all that’s to come.
So that’s it. We headed home, many of us sad to leave our new friends, all of us looking forward to the next time and all of us that little bit more uplifted and in some way all of us a little bit more self assured.
It was a fantastic experience for all of us and precisely what the team needed-it certainly kicked things off with a bang!

(Almost) all of the 2017 expedition team!

Coldingham Beach Day, 15th August 2015

A great day was had on Coldingham beach with the BEG crew. The sun was out, picnics were enjoyed, with a fun game of rounders (destroying 2 of my bats!), followed by a dip in the sea. Attempting some surfing and bodyboarding on the waves, great fun was had by all! And a day on the beach just wouldn’t be right without fish and chips to finish off. Thanks to everyone who made the effort to come along!

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The Winter Sports Weekend

27th February – 1st March 2015

This weekend was decided upon by the Events group some time in 2014 and therefore was a long looked forward to event.

Nancy Anderson was the arranger of the “bothy” and the coordinator of people who signed up for it. At the end of the day thirteen members signed up and arrived at the location which is Glassie Bunkhouse, high up on the hill above Aberfeldy. The group comprised of Nancy & Les Anderson, Andrew & Frances Norman, Lisa Norman, Christine Anderson, Ruth Longmuir, Charles Hutchinson, David & Trish Hunter, Michael Haywood and Pat & Ron Sutherland.

 

An aside from myself.

We came via Comrie. We therefore had to come to Aberfeldy through the Sma Glen but on our way our Satnav, backed up by reports on the radio suggested an alternative route. We accepted the new route and we were routed up Glen Quaich. It is a minor road with passing places but we pressed on up the glen, admiring the scenery of snow clad hills. As we progressed the snow began to encroach closer and closer to the road. Eventually we had to start the climb out of the glen and as we approached the pass over into the Tay valley the road cutting was filled with snow and there was no chance of getting any further. So, we had to turn back and admire the scenery again as we retraced our steps back down the valley.

We decided that we would just have to go on to Aberfeldy via the route with the traffic problem on it. And there was no problem getting into Aberfeldy. No traffic problem and no snow drifts. We now just had to negotiate Aberfeldy and get up to Glassie. Once through the town and into the turn off we thought that we were almost there but, as we drove up the forestry track it seemed to go on for a long way and steeply uphill. Eventually though we gained the dizzy heights and parked up next to Les and Nancy’s Discovery. Hooray, we had arrived. We thought that everyone would have been there already but as we pushed the door open it was just Nancy and Les eating their spaghetti Bolognese. Our immediate reaction to the bothy was that it was not quite what we had expected. Bothies are not centrally heated with great kitchen facilities and a spacious social space, are they? The accommodation was truly first class and it was clear that we were going to have a very comfortable weekend while in the confines of the accommodation.

As the evening progressed we got our luggage into the rooms and had a general chat and welcomed all the others as they arrived. David and Trish were not going to arrive until Saturday morning. Some preparation had to be made for the following day: such as fitting crampons to boots and transferring wet weather gear and packed lunches to day sacks. We also had to decide where the walk was to take place and eventually plumped for the two Munroe’s to the north of Ben Lawers: Meall Corranaich 1069m and Meall a’ hoire Leith 926m. Ruth,Christine and Michael were going skiing and they decided to go to Glenshee rather than Glencoe. Andrew, Frances and Lisa opted for some local walks including the Birks of Aberfeldy.

We had been listening to the weather forecast and it did not seem to suggest that it would be the best for winter hillwalking or skiing: heavy snow, windy and rain at lower levels. So to bed, probably later than was best for us.

Saturday

Getting-ready

We were all up and about just after 7am, breakfasted and prepared to do battle with the elements, which were raging outside. It had indeed been very windy during the night and the gale was now peppered with sleet and hail at times. Rucksacks were filled with hot drinks and sandwiches for lunch and added to the bag were crampons that added to the weight that was to be humphed up the mountain. Well, if you are to go out into the mountains in winter you should be well prepared. Chuck was our leader for the day and he had us well warned that he was going to practice on us for his Winter Mountain Leader course which he is doing. We bade our farewells to the other walkers and the skiers and set off in the Landrover for the Ben Lawers car park, or further along the road if possible. As it turned out there was deep wet snow on the road and in the car park it would have been unwise to attempt to go any further. Our stopping point is shown on the map below.

As can be seen from the map above we followed the snow covered road for a short distance looking for a suitable place to jump the ditch and take to the hill. Once over the ditch it was onwards and upwards but thankfully with the wind ion our backs which helped a little, I think. We were snaking our way between crags and sometimes through deep soft snow which does not make progress very easy. At one point we stopped and Chuck did a short brief on how to walk safely across a steep snow slope with use of the ice axe that we had strapped to our rucksacks. He was an excellent and very patient teacher, considering the quality of his two apprentices. He also showed us how to arrest ourselves using the ice axe if necessary. We hoped this skill would not have to be called upon on this occasion.

Progress was slow, but sure. The wind was now whipping the snow into our faces and near the top it was time for goggles, which made a fantastic difference to comfort and visibility. We teetered close to the eastern edge of the ridge at times and tried our best to get a view of Ben Lawers and Beinn Ghlass but these were hazy at best. We made good time to arrive on the first top, which is Meall Corranaich. Here the weather was very windy and snow and hail were intermittently stinging our exposed skin. We discussed whether to carry on to the next top or to head back down. We decided to go for the second Munro and it was a bit of a relief to now be heading downhill gently. The underfoot conditions were now much harder and as we crossed a flattish area of frozen snow Nancy decided that les was taking steps that she could not follow, so we strapped on our crampons, which made footholds much more secure and added a great degree of reassurance to us as the incline of the slope became steeper. There was some discussion at this point about walking like cowboys and Pat lowered the tone by suggesting we should walk as if we had wet our pants!

On our way to top two we got a good view into the corrie to the east and Chuck pointed out an avalanche that had happened all the way from the top to the bottom of the sheer back wall. It was interesting also at a point in the procedure, as we were in a complete whiteout which Chuck and Les consulted on and found our way safely to the destination intended. It was easy to see however, how easy it would be to go over the edge and through a cornice if your navigation skills were not up to scratch. Well done the leaders. On the top we decided that it would be better to descend some distance to get out of the wind and sleet before having something to eat. The conditions had precluded that joy earlier, as they were just too severe and wind chill would have soon made us very cold, if we had stopped long enough to eat properly. On the journey we had to be satisfied with a sugary bite of jelly babies and for me, my favourite, a Bounty.

The downward and homeward journey involved a diagonal and quite steep descent, into the wind, and across deep soft snow which made it a bit of a trudge at times. However, we managed to find fairly sheltered spot to sit for a while to have our coffee and sandwiches.

By this time we were all very wet though still warm.  I could make a grip with my hand and squeeze the water out of my “waterproof” gloves. Once on our way again we passed through the Shielings marked on the map, but it was not easy to see any evidence of these, except what we assumed was a small hydro dam on the small stream.

At last we made it onto the road that runs along the eastern edge of Loch Lairige. As it had been when we started, it was covered in some feet of snow in places, so what I had thought would be easy, turned out to be a wriggly path on and off the road, walking where the snow had been blown off making progress easier. Arriving back at our transport we discovered that we were the last to return. The cross country skiers and the other walkers had all been and gone. It was only at this point that other parts of our clothing started to feel wet, I suppose due to cooling as we struggled to divest ourselves of waterproof trousers and boots. It was with some relief that we got into the warmth of the Discovery and headed back to the bothy.

The Skiers
Lunch-stop
Three of us headed to Glenshee to ski and were rewarded with a typical day’s skiing in Scotland: wind, rain, above freezing temperatures and patchy runs!  A sign at the foot of one of the tows summed it up, “It can only get better!”  We thought of the others, halfway up a Munro somewhere to the west, and we all agreed we were much happier being on skis in this weather because, despite the rain, we had a great day!  A return trip the following day afforded much better snow conditions and even some sunshine at points.  Scotland has a lot to offer in terms of snow sports and it just goes to show that the conditions don’t need to be perfect to have fun!

Back at the Bothy

Back in the central heating we all got rid of our wet clothes and got showered as soon as we could. It was only really after the walk, in the warmth that we really felt wet. But, after a shower we were all glowing from the change in temperature. Everyone had brought something with them to have for our meal on the Saturday night so we had an excellent menu to look forward to and it really was all very delicious.

After the food we sat down to chat over the events of the day and we did a quiz towards the end of the evening, but I could see that many of us were flagging from our efforts during the day. It was not long before our small groups drifted away to our rooms to get a well-earned rest.

The Sunday was a much more leisurely day for all. We went our separate ways with intentions of walking again, but perhaps tackling something less strenuous. Chuck and Michael however were bound for Schiehallion. Ruth and Christine returned for more fun on the slopes as indicated in their contribution above.

I am sure that everyone enjoyed the physical activities and the fellowship in the bothy, so I am sure that it is an event that could easily be repeated next year.

Ron Sutherland

Future events/dates  

  • Sunday 26th of April, walking the Borders Abbey Way from Selkirk to Hawick, starting at 11a.m. in Selkirk.  Meeting point to be confirmed.
  • Sunday 7th of June, Tower Trophy Challenge.  See the BEG website for details.

The John Buchan Way

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On Sunday 30th November 2015 a large group of 13 BEG Members and friends and two dogs assembled at the large carpark on the side of the River Tweed in Peebles to be transported to the beginning of our hike along the John Buchan Way, which runs for about 13 miles from the little village of Broughton back to Peebles. Instead of the very inclement weather of the last time BEG did the walk the weather was that of glorious sunshine. The weather could not have been better and that made the views excellent and the walk very enjoyable. The underfoot conditions were also not too bad except for the areas around gates where the stock have poached the soil there. Leaving the village a steady gradient took the group up the valley of the Hollows Burn with Clover Law to the west and Trahenna Hill and Grey Yade to the east. They look very inviting hills to climb sometime in the future. We reached the col at Cowiemuir Hass and descended to Stobo Hopehead where we picked up a good track leading down the valley along the Hopehead Burn. Too good a track! We passed the lovely cottage and carried on down the valley until we reached a large very well built sheep stell. This stell was unusual in that in the middle of it was a circular wall which has a light coloured leylandi conifer growing in it. We decided that this was a good location for a short coffee break. Les soon had his map out to see where we were and had to break the bad news that we were off the route of the JBW. Thankfully we were only a hundred metres or so from the proper route ans so once our break was finished we crossed the burn and back onto the path. Now it was downhill all the way along the Easton Burn past Harrowhope a now ruined cottage to Stobo where the burn joins the Tweed.

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At this point the JBW crosses the river and heads up the hill towards the Glack, but before the climb we decided it was lunchtime. This was enjoyed in the sunshine while Ron set off in search of some salmon in the river which was fruitless. After lunch we set off on a meandering course through the fields uphill to the high point where we picked up the Glack Burn along which we experienced our worst underfoot conditions, very muddy. At the foot of the hill we entered the Manor Water valley where Cademuir hill presented itself to be circumnavigated. The JBW tracks up the Manor first the turns eastwards following a minor road with Cademuir to the north. A couple of kilometres along Eleanor ( a Malawi venturer) left the group to return home as she stays along the little road. She provided Geraldine with her mobile number so that she could say when she reached home. After Les had investigated a strange plant growing among the scree of Cademuir we set off up and over it, our last ascent. All of us were struck by the great views over Peebles when we reached the top of the hill, as the sun was almost set to the west, highlighting the red and white of the Hydro on the opposite side of the valley. The last leg wandered down through the upmarket housing area of Frankscroft and the High School grounds. Soon we were back at the carpark a little bit dirtier and wearier than at the beginning but having experienced an excellent day out in glorious Borders countryside. Ron then took Les and Ross back to Broughton for the cars while the st of the group set off home or went for a well-earned coffee in the town.

Ben Nevis

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In September, eighteen hardy souls travelled up to Fort William to scale our nation’s highest peak – Ben Nevis. The group arrived the night before the hike to enjoy some social time together before retiring to our various Hostels, campsites and B n B’s to rest up for the challenge ahead. After a good night’s sleep and a hearty breakfast, we gathered at the foot of the mountain for a group photo before setting off on the trek. The mountain’s formidable reputation didn’t faze us and Ben Nevis soon turned in to “BEG” Nevis as we made excellent time on our ascent. The beautiful clear weather meant magnificent views which diverted attention away from any sore feet and it wasn’t long before we were enjoying our lunch at the summit. The fog was the enemy on top and after a chilly packed lunch it was time to descend again and before long the incredible panoramic vistas returned. The group made it safely back down to the bottom before heading to the Ben Nevis Bar in town for a well-earned refreshment. We were joined on the hike by our friend from India and cameraman Divvy. Having spoken to him weeks after the trek, he informed us that he had thought about his adventure “every day since”. A day to cherish indeed.

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