Wednesday, 26 April 2017

MORE SNOW THAN IN THE WHOLE OF JANUARY

Rime ice on the 'teeth'

Fiacaill a Coire Sneachda

Best of the sun today

Top of Alladins Couloir

Definitely a winter traverse

Drifts even on plateau
It was minus 6 degrees on Cairn Gorm summit this morning. Two days of constant snow showers have transformed the Cairngorms into what looks like full on winter conditions! The snow had melted away down at Aviemore level this morning but definitely still winter above 500m. It was a full leg work out right from the Coire Cas carpark, knee deep in places. There was a couple of climbers just returning to the car park when I was heading out. They were the only folk I saw all day. It felt like I had the whole of the Northern Corries to myself. Poor visibility much of the day but light winds and only a few light snow showers. Eventually I ploughed up to the Fiacaill of Coire Sneachda. It was still heavy going along the ridge but absolutely wonderful. All the rocks were well rimed up. Even with no views the Fiacaill is always a fun and interesting day out. Probably the most snowy day this winter along here! I saw a wee vole at over 1000m, looking very lost as he made his way toward me! Plenty of ptarmigan about too and a Mountain Hare, but no human life at all. It was still heavy going in places along te plateau with the northerly winds of previous days dumping big drifts in places. Top day out. I think this snow will vanish once the temperatures go up from tomorrow onwards. Heatwave forecast next week!

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

A SHORT ARCTIC BLAST

Sun and snow showers
CraigellachieNature Reserve under snow
The Highlands have had a couple of days of Northerly winds, bringing snow down to low levels. It's not unusual to get snow on the hills at this time of year but down to sea level is a bit strange. We have had some sun between the showers so it's felt reasonably warm and of course the snow melts rapidly. No need to panic, Spring will resume shortly! The wildlife will have a tough time of it. Hopefully the mild weather coming across Scotland tomorrow will be enough for a quick recovery. I had a wander up Craigellachie this afternoon. On minute it was sunny and warm, within a short space of time I was blasted with snow. I think we had more snow lying in Aviemore the last two days than the whole of January!

Sunday, 23 April 2017

BIKING, WALKING, SWIMMING

Loch Mhic Ghillie-Chaoil

Braeriach & Gleann Einich

Karen swimming

Beautiful Gleann Einich

Biking

Sunshine in short supply

Going in
There is a light dusting of snow above 1000m on The Cairngorms but there may well be much more later next week. The weather folk have been forecasting snow to lower levels with an Arctic blast. Of course it's not really unusual as it is still only April. Spring in the mountains really only starts in May. Today Karen and I had a bike ride up the beautiful Gleann Eainaich, then a hike up to one of the more secluded and less frequented lochs in the area, Loch Mhic Ghillie-haoil (try Googling that one, you won't find much info). Not as chilly as some of the higher lochs but what would I know, being a land lubber! Lovely views of the surrounding  Munro summits of Braeriach and Sgor Gaoithe in an amphitheatre around us. The only other sign of life was a greylagg goose who was sitting on the wee island in the loch, think we disturbed his/her Sunday afternoon kip. Lets see how much snow falls on the hills in the next 72 hours.

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

CAIRNGORM WILDLIFE & A WINTER ON THE TOPS

Cairn Lochan

Ptarmigan now in Spring plumage

And the Mountain Hares

More snow and ice than mid January!

Cairn Gorm and rime ice

A fluffy Snow Bunting

Male ptarmigan

Female ptarmigan

Looking down into Coire an Lochain

Ice on Cairn Lochan

Twin Burns area

Cairn Lochan in sun
A clear and hazy sunshine day throughout much of the Highlands. Lighter winds but still sub zero on the summits today and cold hands for photography. The plateau and crags are looking far more winter like than mid January! Spring has definitely arrived for the wonderful wildlife in the Cairngorm Mountains. The Ptarmigan are now in their full Spring plumage. The Mountain hares are out of their full winter coat too. If you didn't see a ptarmigan today then you couldn't have been looking properly! They were in the corries, on the ridges and up high on the plateau. If you want to see all these wonderful creatures then why not book onto one of my Photography & Wildlife tours.  A lovely day to be out in the hills. Temperatures are on a slight rise over the next few days.

Monday, 17 April 2017

A TOUCH OF WINTER & SWIMMING IN THE CAIRNGORMS


Cairngorm plateau

Rime ice on Cairn Gorm summit

Loch Avon & Shelterstone Crag

Karen having an icy dip in Loch Avon

Snow Bunting on Cairn Gorm summit

Ptarmigan

Beinn Mheadhoin & Loch Avon
A cold, northerly airflow has brought snow to the mountains across Scotland. This isn't unusual for mid April. Winter isn't normally over until May 1st for me. Of course it isn't proper winter, much of the snow is superficial and won't last long once the temperatures rise again. Having said that, good navigational skills, warm clothing and coping in 'winter terrain' are still needed. An ice axe is also useful if tackling some steeper ground. Today Karen and I headed up to Cairn Gorm, we had Windy Ridge to ourselves. We headed down from the summit by the southern slopes and to Loch Avon. The main objective today was a another icy swim in the lovely Loch Avon for Karen. On the way back over from Coire Raibert the cloud came in and we had an hour or so of snow, coupled with a stiff breeze and it felt like a proper winters day. The suns now shining and a lovely evening back in Aviemore. Spring can easily turn into winter this time of year and vice versa!

Saturday, 15 April 2017

D of E WEEK, YORKSHIRE DALES

Sheep and clouds in the Dales

Plenty of map reading this week

Camping with the locals

Clapham

Sunshine and showers

Signage on the Pennines

Hawthorn

Pennines, Fountains Fell

A misty Ingleborough summit


Cold, clear nights

More fields, more sheep

Limestone pavement

Malham Cove, wet
Plenty of lambs
My annual foray down to the English Yorkshire Dales last week, working on the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme. Several Bronze, Silver and Gold groups out in the lovely Dales countryside. The lads getting some vital training before their assessment later in the year. Plenty of navigation, camp craft and first aid skills incorporated. We had the usual mix of sunshine, showers, cold winds and cloud. This week I was working for Addventure who provide top class training on DofE Awards.
 Back home and there has been a dusting of snow on the higher tops of the Cairngorms and other areas in the Highlands with the northerly airflow last few days. Of course we all know that there is more chance of snow falling at Easter than at Christmas time, don't we? So no great surprise. Don't worry, I am sure Spring will resume again soon.

Saturday, 8 April 2017

BEN MACDUI - THE SCENIC ROUTE

Beautiful Loch Etchachan

Loch Etchachan & Ben Macdui

Female patrmigan

Male ptarmigan

Shelterstone Crag & Hells Lum Crag

Loch Avon

Sun piercing through the Shelterstone Crag

Loch Avon sands

Karen post swim

Cairn Toul, Sgor an Lochain Uaine & Braeriach from Ben Macdui
A glorious blue skies day from dawn to dusk in the Cairngorms and much of the UK by the looks of things. Warm sun, chilly breeze first thing this morning but good to make an early start for a lovely scenic route on Ben Macdui. There are many ways up and down the second highest peak in the British Isles. The beautiful paths that run from the summit, down to Loch Etchachan and then down to Loch Avon are just wonderful trails to walk on. Of course you need to get out of the loch Avon basin back over the Cairngorm plateau to get home, so it's never going to be a short day. If you want to take in a swim along the way like Karen today then it makes for a good full day out. We saw more ptarmigan today than people. This time of year is always nice to observe the birds of the Cairngorms. Just going into their Spring plumage. A brilliant day out in the warm sun, even warmer towards the end, all those steps up Coire Raibert certainly was a hot way out onto the plateau. Brilliant. Best put your t-shirt and shorts away early next week though, snowfall on the mountains forecast!