Get in the van!

The photos I’ve posted so far have been pretty focused on the team either doing pathwork or us on off time. However, to get a team of 5 or 6 people and all of their tools and personal equipment to the trailhead, we had modified Transit vans. “Get in the Van” is one of the oft-repeated lines from Henry Rollins poetry and is the title of one of his book that draws upon his tour diaries from his time fronting Black Flag. A lot of Rollins Band albums and 2.13.61 books came on these trips with me. Don Bajema’s story from ‘Boy in the Air’ about making his desert boots “Desert Boots” sticks with me to this day.


Geezer (by window), Owen (mobile supervisor) and Al in the rear crew cab bench on the modified Transit.

This photo shows three of us in a crew bench that replaced most of the seats. People of a certain hill-going vintage will recognize the ‘pile’ fleeces worn by Geezer and Owen. I am wearing a fairly early Paramo mid-layer smock that was only recently retired. I’ve already had to modify the zip by adding a new pull from a spare bit of bootlace, as the work was hard on kit. As we often hefted rocks rested against our chests, the sandstone would wear holes through gear.

The front was a standard two passenger and driver arrangement. Behind us were tool lockers built along the sides for most of the length of the vehicle on both sides and the main cargo space held other equipment and our tracked, motorized Honda HP 450 barrow aka a ‘Power Barrow’. It would be used to supplement our hands and packs for carrying tools into the site, especially our heavy-duty winch for moving large boulders to construct cross-drains or ‘blocker’ features to close down routes and minimize cutting off corners and the widening of paths as people tried to get round puddles. The latter aim was supplemented by our work to improve the run-off of water from the path.

A few years ago I was introduced to a wheeled power barrow while helping the PalAlba team recover a specimen in a large block from a beach on northern Skye but that is another story.


I am a palaeobiologist in my early 40's carrying out research work. I am based in Scotland.

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Posted in Palaeonotology, Scotland, Trips

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Al is a Summer Mountain Leader
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