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December 2016
Mountain Leader

By Megan S. M. Craig

“There is no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothes.”

The KN gang, led by Mountain Leader in training, Debbie Anderson,
clambered into our very own mystery machine, Ivan, and set off on an adventure to the hills of Moray. In a past life Ivan was a big white van but now he is a blue, self-built bespoke camper van extraordinaire.

In the words of John Muir, “the mountains were calling and we must go!”

A discussion of timings ensues as Ivan bounds towards Ben Rinnes, the gang’s destination on a chilly Wednesday morning. Timing is one of the most important factors taught in Mountain Leader Training. Debbie, the gang’s leader for our day out, had recently come back from the week long training course.

As we travelled from Knock to Dufftown, Travis, Debbie’s photogenic German shepherd, snuggled up by the gear stick and Debbie gave me a day-by day account of her training so far.

Navigation is still a major part of the course. This often begins with pacing, i.e. how many paces or double paces it takes you to cover 100m on different terrains – uphill and on the flat.

This is crucial for micro-navigation and takes a lot of practice. Also still taught are traditional map and compass skills i.e. orientating the map with your surroundings, using a baseplate compass with the map, understanding your surroundings, map contour lines, weather, first-aid and now a large part of the course, especially useful to us here locally, is to understand the seasons, the fauna and flora and sporting periods and access rights in Scotland.

Debbie was one of five on the course – this small group’s make up was varied with a doctor, a procurer and two outdoor centre workers. Despite confessing to an age gap between herself and the rest of her group Debbie did not feel deterred and held her own as an experienced and fit hillwalker for the whole week.

To read the full story, be sure to pick up a copy of the December 2015 issue!

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October 2015
Those magnificent men in their flying machines

By Doug Matheson

Some of you will remember the TV series of Mission Impossible here ‘Jim’ is given his mission by miniature tape player. The message always included the phrase ‘your mission, should you choose to accept it…’ just before the tape self-destructed. It works in a similar way in the KN when a phone call comes in out of the blue from the illustrious Editor with some strange request to undertake some activity, often involving a degree of personal risk, with the aim of producing an article. For the life of me though I can’t remember ever being given the option of NOT accepting it. Sadly, he doesn’t self-destruct at the end of it.

And so the other day he called to say that he wanted to do an article on an autogyro and would I be interested in tagging along? It all sounded innocuous enough and, though I didn’t say yes, I apparently didn’t say no either. So when he phoned a few days later to say that all was arranged he rang off before I could say ‘As long as you don’t make me go up in that thing as I am very scared of small aircraft and will cry like a little girl if you do’.

The reason I was about to say that is I don’t have a very happy relationship with small flying machines. The first episode was when I was taken up in a friend’s Tiger Moth which is an elderly bi-plane made of plywood and canvas, held together by wire. Anyway, we had a lovely flight around Brize Norton and then came in to land in the grass as these things can’t land on tarmac. The grass was a bit long which is why we didn’t see a massive temporary landing light lurking there which we hit with one of the wheels. The little Tiger Moth bounded into the air and, fortunately, Gary reacted very quickly and pulled back on the control stick (trust me it is literally a stick in the Moth) and we took off again thus preventing what could have been a nasty prang. Strike one…

To read the full story, be sure to pick up a copy of the October 2015 issue!