TAC 43 Index
The orange placards proclaiming 'Lose weight, phone now' which usually line the routes into Stirling had been replaced. Instead there were blue ones stating, 'Mountain Safety Day, Albert Halls, Saturday 25th September 1999'. Was this the work of some subversive 'Fat is fun' organisation? After all, there is no surer way of losing weight than getting stuck out on the hills for a few nights with your only sustenance that fluff-encrusted Mars Bar masquerading as emergency rations.
In fact this was Boots Across Scotland's latest venture in its efforts to increase mountain safety awareness. The clout and influence of BAS were indicated by the combined display by Killin, Lomond and Ochil mountain rescue teams outside the hall. Three MRTs sharing the same publicity patch? Oh that Robin Cook had such powers of persuasion and diplomacy. It must be recorded that Lomond won the one-up-personship stakes by having to respond to a 'shout'. No-one could have been unaware of this coup as it was announced over the public address system in the form of a request for a car to be moved - a likely story.
There was further evidence of the high regard in which BAS is held in the foreword to the programme by Eric Langmuir and the usual support from Mick Tighe who regularly lectures on mountain safety for BAS. There was no royalty present but Cameron McNeish did his best, cutting a tartan ribbon to open the event and then making a sub-regal progress around the stands, bestowing hand- shakes on a deserving few.
The stands were hosted by a wide variety of organisations - SMC and MCofS, John Muir Trust, the Mountain Bothies Association (appropriately not mentioned on the publicity posters), the Met Office etc, plus retailers New Heights, Tiso and Cotswold, each displaying a different category of outdoor gear. Cotswold had footwear and as well as the Superfeet fitters (could the TAC number-crunchers move on from the debate about walking poles and tell me if it really is worth paying #30 for a bit of polystyrene?) had a paddling pool for testing waterproof socks.
Participation was encouraged throughout, especially by the quiz which required visitors to talk to folk on the stands to get the answers: a great success though I wouldn't try it in southern Albion. Unfortunately the Scottish Rights of Way Society had not appeared - perhaps because the M9 doesn't have a little green sign on it - so there was general discussion on what is Scotland's oldest right of way, but it all added to the fun. The whole event was imaginatively organised and had a positive, friendly atmosphere. I'd intended going for an hour and stayed for over two. But then I never have been good at estimating timing.
TAC 43 Index