The balance between mountaineering, wildlife and conservation interests, successfully maintained for many years by Maureen Stuchbury, the previous lectures organiser, has been continued over the past winter.

With a swish, Bob Reid [mountaineer, skier and wild land activist] launched us down the lecture slope in October describing the Verbier Haute Route and the Arolla Circuit. The rigours of ski mountaineering, amid the stark beauty of the Alps in winter, were contrasted with the pleasures of well appointed huts. December saw the mountaineering theme continue with Simon Richardson [climber and winter pioneer] taking us up some of the hardest on-sight, mixed, winter routes climbed in Scotland. Anecdotes about partners and places peppered a talk which, whilst touching on controversies regarding climbing styles, was a eulogy to the wonderful variety of climbing in our small country.

Alistair Lawson [Scotways] delivered the last of the climbing lectures in February with a talk which took us from glaciated valleys to the high peaks of the Cordillera Blanca in Peru. This stunning scenery acted as a backdrop to, and the source of, the sufferings of the indigenous peoples, whose villages had been devastated by a major earthquake. The wildlife lecture was given in October by that doyen of naturalists, Roy Dennis, and drew the biggest crowd of the winter. The successful re-introduction of sea eagles and red kite has persuaded Roy to argue for restoring beavers, lynx and wolves to the highlands.

The January lecture was on a conservation note. Jill Matthews [SNH], lead us, with sure navigational skills, through the complex terrain of protected areas world wide to focus on the achievements of nature reserves in Scotland and their potential.

By the time Mountain Views reaches you, the 'Windfarms and Wild land' debate will have taken place. Yes, by this time, Martin Mathers of Scottish Power Renewables will have locked horns with Davie Black of Ramblers Scotland - with no prizes for guessing which sides. We will know, by then, if common ground can be reached between the energy companies and wild land interests.

With an average of sixty, attendance at lectures has been encouraging but we are keen to know if the mix is right. Feedback would be welcome, as would ideas for future topics and speakers. Please let me know what you think and whom you would like to hear.

George Allan, NEMT Lectures Organiser

Editorial Note: George has since been back to advise us as follows:


Jill Matthews (see above) of SNH is interested in old photos or slides, taken in National Nature Reserves, which include areas of vegetation. These should be of easily recognisable spots so that SNH can make comparison between the flora and vegetation present in years gone by with what is there now. If anyone has photos or slides which Jill could borrow, please send them to her or contact her at or at 01224 642863 or at SNH, 16/17 Rubislaw Terrace, Aberdeen AB1 1XE.

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