Tuesday 24 October 2023

Remembering John Hinde & Skye Trek

Skye Trek students on the narrow path above Lochan Leum an t-Saigairt in Glen Pean, 1983

Back in the early 1980s I spent three summers working for Outward Bound Loch Eil leading backpacking trips across Knoydart and the Isle of Skye to Glen Brittle. The course was the brainchild of the late John Hinde and was called Skye Trek. John was a top mountaineer and a veteran of RAF Mountain Rescue. I learnt a great deal from him on those trips. Each course consisted of three groups, all setting off from different points on the edge of Knoydart. Given the terrain of both Knoydart and Skye these were tough walks for the teenage participants, many of whom had never been camping or hillwalking before.

Skye Trek group in Glen Pean, 1983

By coincidence I had recently found a couple of old B&W prints of one of my Skye Trek groups when I read this post  by David 'Heavy' Whalley, another mountaineer and ex-RAF Mountain Rescue leader, in which he mentions John Hinde and refers to a blog of John's diaries put together by John's daughter, Fiona Wild. This blog contains an account of a 1983 Skye Trek on which I was one of the group leaders. Reading it brought back many memories of John and those trips. I had been thinking about Skye Trek earlier in the year too, when I followed much of the Knoydart sections of the treks, as described here and here. With Tony Hobbs I followed the same route through Glen Pean shown in the photos from forty years ago.

In his Course Director's Notes John writes "several Primus stoves were damaged by irresponsible students, and it is suggested that Trangias might be more “student-proof” alternatives for next year" (this did happen). The Primus stoves were the old paraffin type with the burner sitting atop the fuel tank which had to be pressurised with a pump. This brought to mind an incident when John and I had retired to our sleeping bags upstairs in Pean Bothy leaving the students chatting downstairs. Suddenly there was an almighty bang and a big thump on the floor. Charging downstairs we discovered that the students had blown the burner out of the stove by seeing how much they could pump it. Luckily nothing caught fire. 

By another coincidence I was thinking of this episode when I read a news report  today of a gas stove catching fire and being thrown out of a bothy where it exploded. Take care with stoves in bothies! (And tents). 



  1. Great stories Chris, your tales of the Primus stove reminded me of a Lakes School trip to Rhum in the early 70's ( we were only the second group to visit, Sedbergh School went the year before) great times. Although the getting the Primus stoves going as 13/14 year olds was a bit of a black art!
    Thanks for posting your memories reminding me of such happy times.
    ATB Alistair