The art of walking

I recognise myself in this and love the idea of ‘never walk just for exercise’, given that exercise isn’t in my dictionary I’m sure i manage that one!

A day training with RAF Search and Rescue

Mountain Rescue teams in some parts of the UK are more likely to see their local air ambulance respond to incidents than have the RAF Search and Rescue attend in their Sea King helicopter. In Cumbria, Snowdonia and Scotland the RAF Search and Rescue team provide a vital quick service to aid Mountain Rescue teams in getting casualties off the hill quickly.

As a member of the Holme Valley Mountain Rescue Team, in West Yorkshire, we rarely see the RAF Sea King helicopter. Our incidents are just not in very  remote locations which are far from a road or track accessible by vehicle. When we are lucky enough to not have to carry a casualty off the hill we’re more likely to see the Yorkshire Air Ambulance.

Despite that our annual training with the RAF is an exercise which is looked forward to by the team. Even if for the last 3 years they have been unable to join us due to low flying hours, or real incidents to attend to. So this year we went to their based at Leconfield instead.

After a morning briefing, we went out in 3 groups for a flight to practice being lowered in the strops and using the high line to prevent a stretcher from spinning whilst being raised by the winch.

Whatever your political views are of replacing the RAF Search and Rescue teams with private companies, it will certainly be a great loss to not see the Sea King helicopters providing their reassuring rescue service any more.

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Commemorating my best friend

Two things have happened this week. I finally got around to seeing some friends in Cumbria for the first time this year, and my 14 year old dog died.

The two things do not combine well for a post but heading off to Cumbria made me think about all of the trips around the Lakeland Fells which Dougal did over the years.

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Dougal, a labradoodle we got from a rescue centre when he was about 1 year old, loved to dig in rivers and bark at the stones. He would like nothing more than finding the largest rock to keep, which he could barely fit in his mouth to drag out of the river, and he got very upset when you insisted he left it behind. There’s been many a brick he tried to take home.

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He loved climbing mountains and has bagged more than some of my friends and certainly didn’t mind a night under canvas, though I spared him from wild camping trips.

In 2004 he climbed Ben Nevis on a very wet and foggy day, and that is the only mountain that ever left him aching and hobbling around, so the day after we spent the day heads out of the window on the steam train to Mallaig.

This is him at the summit of Scafell Pike with my mum in 2005, wet and misty as usual.

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And this is him (ear’s blowing in the wind) when we headed off on the second leg of the Pennine Way, from Standedge to Todmorden.

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He never shied away from daft outfits or having his photo taken. This is from a very windy day on Eagle Crag when mum was convinced he was going to get ear ache.

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Dougal loved travelling and only last month did he get to spend a month touring Scotland with mum and dad. I’m definitely going to miss him x