This blog doesn’t often get down out of the hills, but it’s not stretching the remit too far to give a plug for the first ever Braemar Mountain Festival which is due to happen on the weekend of 3-5 March.
Organised by local folk with a passion for the mountains, it has a great line-up, with both indoor and outdoor events looking good, from a talk by Himalayan climber Victor Saunders to one about Cairngorm legend Nan Shepherd, and from avalanche awareness workshops to guided walks and ski trips.
One of the festival organisers is Sue Harper, owner of Braemar Guides and one of the first British women to summit Everest. She said: “We are all skiers, climbers, walkers, photographers and lovers of the outdoors, who revel in living in this beautiful environment. It’s a huge playground in the hills, and we want to share it.”
There is a varied programme of workshops including ski touring and telemarking, winter skills and avalanche awareness, and low level walking. There will also be photography and art exhibitions and workshops, and in the evening, talks, films, music, food, and of course a ceilidh.
Heather Morning, Mountain Safety Adviser at Mountaineering Scotland, will give a workshop on winter skills, essential for everyone going into the hills in winter.
Poet and writer Alec Finlay is also one of the speakers and workshop leaders taking part in the Festival. He is giving a presentation on Gaelic place-names in the Cairngorms.
Another special event for the Festival is a talk by Samantha Walton on Nan Shepherd, followed by a walk to the bothy which was often Nan’s base.
The festival will also be used for the launch of a new book which is bound to ruffle feathers amongst some of the bothies old guard – Geoff Allan’s ‘The Bothy Bible’. Anathema to those retrogrades who still believe bothies should be kept secret, the author’s saving grace is that he is an active member of the Mountain Bothies Association and MO for Dibidil Bothy on Rum. Oh, and Geoff will be giving 10 per cent of the book’s proceeds to the MBA. But what the hell – it sounds like an interesting book anyway, packed with information including historical details, and walk-in descriptions as well as suggestions for day trips, cycle rides and places of interest en route.
For more information about the festival – there’s a lot more than mentioned here – and for ticket sales, go to: www.braemarmountainfestival.com
The team behind this first festival – and hopefully it’ll be first of many – comprises:
Katy Fennema – Katy is a local business owner and former professional musician with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra. She enjoys trail running and escaping into the Cairngorms in her spare time.
Sue Harper – Sue has summited Everest and sailed across the Atlantic and has been working in the outdoor environment for over thirty years. She has a BEd in Outdoor Education and is a qualified International Mountain Leader and BASI ski instructor. Sue is the owner of Braemar Guides.
Al Hubbard – Al has a winter Mountain Leader qualification and is a member of Braemar Mountain Rescue Team and a retained firefighter. He enjoys many mountain sports especially ski touring and mountain running.
Sarah Hubbard – Sarah is a local business owner. She enjoys hill walking and ski touring and has a keen interest in local wildlife and flora.
Rhi Turner – Rhi lives in Braemar and is the Coordinator of the Braemar Outdoor Group. She has a BSc in Hotel and Tourism Management and is passionate about the special place that is the Cairngorms. In her free time she can be found exploring the local mountains on ski, bike or foot.