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TOO WARM!

2018/11/15 16:29

I'm ready! Where's he snow?
Clouds breaking at 1pm

Nice afternoon

Windy on the tops!
Looking a bit wet

Never mid, soon be snowing
Pathetic temperatures for mid November. It was into double figures last night in Strathspey! Today, the same. A thick layer of cloud covering the Northern Corries this morning. Challenging conditions in the strong winds, then it started raining. Not ideal conditions for wildlife photography but by mid day it dried up and it was sheltered in certain areas in the corries. Right on cue I found several pairs of ptarmigan sheltering amongst the boulders. They're almost in their winter plumage so not too difficult to spot in the gloom of the coire. With no one around it made life easier too and they were settled nicely for plenty of time to capture a few half decent images. Thankfully it's due to go to normal November temperatures early next week with some light snow forecast over the Cairngorms. Winter is on hold but it will be back very soon! Until then enjoy the warm sun!

TOO WARM!


MONADHLIATH, WET

2018/11/12 22:02

Carn Dearg, final Munro

Best view of the day 

Carn Sgulaird 

We could have done with this later on!

3 Munros in the bag

Lovely start 

Loch

Final climb

Dry and clear

Final descent
Andrew has now been out with me for 5 hill days over the last few years. Unfortunately weather hasn't always been on his side when he books a day out with me. Today was no different. He was hoping for some winter conditions but sadly were still in a warm period. Well warm and wet today. Andrew was up with his friend, Joe, who has never walked on the Scottish mountains. This morning we set off from an empty carpark at Glen Banchor to 'bag' the three Munros in the Monadhliath.  These are great hills for Navigation and Joe fancied learning some map and compass skills enroute around the Munro summits of A' Chailleach, Carn Sgulain and Carn Dearg. After about 30 minutes of walking a light rain fell and didn't stop all day bar a few brief moments. Views were limited but the craic was great and kept us all amazed on the long stretch of high ground between the second and third Munros. It's a long descent and walk from the final top of Carn Dearg . At least here we had some nice views before the bog fest on the way back to the car. The final hour was through paddy fields in the dark. A long, wet day but great fun and Joe says he'll be back after his initiation ceremony.

MONADHLIATH, WET


OTHER SIDE OF THE CAIRNGORMS

2018/11/11 18:20

Atmospheric cloud on Carn an Tuirc

Best of the blue skies

Carn an Tuirc & Cairn of Claise

Map & compass out a bit today 

Silhoulettes a plenty 

Sunday mists

Sun on Loch Calleter

Post swim reflections

before the rains

Accommodation 
Mountain Hare

….and another

Watching, waiting for snow
Geese

A weekend away on 'the other side o' the Cairngorms '. The mountains to the South of Braemar offer a multitude of days out 'bagging' Munros.  On Saturday we had a romp over the four mountains of Carn an Tuirc, Cairn of Claise, Glas Maol & Creag Leacach. These hills are round and easy angled with nice walking underfoot so not too long a day out. There was no snow on the mountains here. We hardly saw anyone all day. There were more Mountain Hare than humans. Temperatures on the summits were just above freezing and a stiff breeze, not winter like really. The cloud came and went through the day. By afternoon we were in clag and some good navigation from Karen saw us off the hill at mid afternoon with 4 new Munros in the bag for her.
On Sunday the weather forecast wasn't great in the afternoon so we had a wander to Loch Calleter and a dip in the water.

OTHER SIDE OF THE CAIRNGORMS


WINTER IS BACK

2018/11/08 08:49

Fresh snow 

Ptarmigan 

Fiacaill Buttress

Last weeks refrozen snow

Good day for ptarmigan

Cairn Gorm

Fiacaill Coire an t-Sneachda

Almost full winter plumage

Coire an t-Sneachda

Good day for ptarmigan photography

Top of Alladin's Couloir
After a few days of warm weather it was back to wintry conditions again today. The temperatures overnight had dropped and there is fresh snow above 800m. This morning there was snow showers down to lower levels but these with brief. By mid day most of the showers had ceased and it was a pleasant day to be out. Those remarkable birds of the high Scottish mountains, the ptarmigan, are just going into their winter plumage. A good day for photographing them. I spent over 20 minutes with a group of about 15 high up in the corrie. Only other folk I saw today was a large group heading up the Goat Track. The remnants of last weeks snow has gone through a melt/freeze cycle and is solid. Unfortunately there isn't much left of this. Just a few patches in corrie rims and tops of gullies.  A stiff breeze on the tops today. Windier and a lot more snow forecast tomorrow, above 900m. Staying cold through the weekend on the higher tops so winter returns.

WINTER IS BACK


GLOOMY IN THE NORTHERN CORRIES

2018/11/06 19:53

Mountain Hare in transition
A gloomy Coire an t-Sneachda 

Best of the views this morning 

Quiet 

Loch Morlich only just visible

The only ice I saw today 
It wasn't the best of weather conditions for wildlife photography today. Very low cloud and strong winds in the Northern Corries. We've had a few days of warm weather since the weekend and this, of course, has stripped all the snow. What a contrast from just 4 days ago when we had stunning winter conditions and blue skies!
Despite the 'sumner' conditions the wildlife is getting into winter mode. Some lovely moments with the Mountain Hare's which are just transforming into their white winter coat. A big flock of Fieldfare were in Coire an t-Sneachda.  Very quiet day with not many folk about.  Snow forecast by the end of the week.

GLOOMY IN THE NORTHERN CORRIES


SOMEWHERE OVER THE RAINBOW

2018/11/03 10:07

Difficult walking at 600m

One of the calmer moments

battling against the gales

Into the calm of the trees
We've enjoyed 7 days of fine wintry conditions with some beautiful sunshine this last week in the Highlands. All that came to an abrupt end today. A sharp rise in temperatures has the Atlantic weather front brought warm air to our shores. Along with the mild temperatures came the gales.  With a forecast of 70+mph winds on the high tops we decided to stay at lower altitudes this morning .
Euan was out on his second day of his 2 day winter course. Navigation was the order of the day. The most important hill skill, summer and winter. We worked on the ground above Lochan na Binne.  The hills here are featureless and pathless so perfect for map reading skills. Even at 600m we were being hit with 60-70mph constant winds. Coping with walking in a straight line in these conditions is bad enough. Having to read a map and take compass bearings add to the fun! A massive rainbow seemed to be with us for most of the day, beautiful. In the afternoon we decided to do some navigation and orientation lower down in the Rothiemurchus forest. A wonderful respite from the gales. Some under-used trails make for good navigation on our route back up to the Ciste carpark.
A top two days out and a huge contrast in weather for Euan. Colder conditions by the end of next week. Winter will be back soon.

SOMEWHERE OVER THE RAINBOW


FIRST WINTER COURSE THIS SEASON

2018/11/02 17:43

No words needed

Spot the climbers

High up on the Fiacaill

Euan loving it

Coire an Lochain

Excellent snow cover
Fiacaill Coire Sneachda

Good here

The place to ourselves

Good ice for cramponing

The top!

Rimey Ridge

Coire an t-Sneachda
First winter course of the 2018/19 season started today. When Euan booked his two day course with me, little did he know what wonderful snow conditions we were in for. The snow in the Cairngorms has been around for a week now and snow cover has been improving almost on a daily basis. With constant below freezing temperatures there is also ice forming. We took advantage of this on the Flat Iron in Coire an t-Sneachda. A brilliant place for cramponing techniques and not too intimidating. After we had gone through the basics of axe and crampon skills in the morning we then moved on up to the Fiacaill Coire an t-Sneachda. Into the sun and a wonderful traverse of the ridge. Euan learning fast and enjoying the winter wonderland with only light winds and bags of glorious sunshine. The snow is still unconsolidated and hard work breaking trough the crust, but well worth the effort! Big change tomorrow. Warmer, windy and wetter.

FIRST WINTER COURSE THIS SEASON


FIACAILL COIRE AN T- SNEACHDA

2018/11/01 19:20



A fine day for the Fiacaill Coire an Sneachda
Moon above the Fiacaill ridge
Sunrise above the Fiacaill Ridge
Towers of rime
Someone enjoying Point Five Gully
Coire an Lochain looking good
Ice forming on Fiacaill Buttress
Mess of Pottage
Coire an t-Sneachda and Cairn Gorm
Coire an t-Sneachda
What a stunning morning it was. Clear skies, no wind and full snow cover down to 700m in the Northern Cairngorms today. A fine day for another Fiacaill Coire an t-Sneachda traverse. Lots of rime ice on the crags and there is snow in depth in some places. Still hard work in the unconsolidated snow if it's not already trodden. The walk into Sneachda was superb. The sun was rising above the plateau and the moon was setting just above the Fiacaill ridge. Brilliant. By the time I got onto the Cairngorm plateau some cloud had drifted in from the west with the odd snow flurry. Below freezing on the summits. A cracking day to be out. Another one tomorrow!

FIACAILL COIRE AN T- SNEACHDA


A FEW DAYS OF REAL WINTER CONDITIONS

2018/10/31 21:17

Five Sisters ridge, Kintail
Winter has definitely arrived in The Highlands. The last few days have been constantly below freezing on the Munros, the North West and Cairngorms seeing the best cover of snow. I've had three excellent days out starting on Sunday with Karen who ticked off another two new Munro summits in the Creag Meagaidh area, Carn Liath and Stob Poite Coire Ardair.

Coire Ardair from the summit of Stob Poite Coire Ardair
The ridge from Carn Liath
Sunday was a glorious day to be out. Clear skies were to be found the further west you headed. You didn't need to travel too far from Aviemore to find the best of the weather. So we chose the two summits of Carn Liath and Stob Poite Coire Ardair which are the two outlying Munros off the Creag Meagaidh plateau. These hills give super views into Coire Ardair, the main feature in this area.

Good snow cover
Dusk on the tops

Nice sunset
We mad a late descent off Stob Poite Stob Coire Ardair. We reached the top at 2.45pm only to realise one of us had dropped their mobile phone somewhere! Guess who!  So we retraced our steps, 4 times! Eventually after the third ascent to the top we found it! All good and of course we had a fabulous sunset on our route off to 'The Window'. It was torches out on the descent down into the coire. An excellent covering of snow amongst the boulders which was well trodden so much easier walking than in the summer months. A beautiful star studded evening and a beautiful moon rising at the car park.
Loch Duich
The North West Highlands has been the best place in the UK if you like your mountains to be snow covered and sun kissed over the last few days. So on Monday I headed up to Kintail to get some of it! The area boasts some of the finest ridge walks in the country and spoilt for choice. I arrived late morning at Shiel Bridge under beautiful blue skies and sunshine. With  the shorter days it had to be just a quick romp up to one of the peaks. I chose Sgurr nan Saighead, the most westerly of the Five Sisters of Kintail ridge. A fine viewpoint from it's summit looking out west.
Looking out to the peaks of Knoydart
Sgurr Fhuaran, Ciste Dubh & Glen Shiel
The snowline was around 600m but of course the snow is unconsolidated and hard going once you come off any trodden trails. There has been no melt/freeze cycles taking place since the falls of snow so its quite powder-like at the moment. Over toward Knoydart it looked very wintry with even more snow. I stood on the top for over 30 minutes photographing the sun setting and the light changing. A magical time of day, chilly too.
The distant summits in Glen Affric

The Saddle, Knoydart and Skye
Aonach Meadhoin & Dgur an Fhurail
Tuesday dawned fine and cold again. Today's jaunt was on Sgur an Fhuarail & Aonach Meadhoin, two Munros above the Cluanie Inn. It is not a big day and a good winter choice when the days are shorter. Another wonderful ridge walk. It was slightly milder by late morning with lighter winds and the approaching Atlantic weather front.  Very fine views in the morning. The cloud rolled in from the west during the day.
South Cluanie Ridge
A' Chralaig & Mullach Fraoch-choire
For two days I saw no one on these hills. Brilliant. Some fine mountains and always a pleasure to walk in this area. It felt like it could be any month in winter with the unusually cold conditions plus good snow cover. It's still only October. Will this be another cracking winter? Probably, maybe. Watch and see!
Winter ridges, love 'em
A' Chralaig and Loch Cluanie


A FEW DAYS OF REAL WINTER CONDITIONS


AND SO WINTER BEGINS

2018/10/26 22:03

First of the season's Fiacaill travers

Rime and soft snow

Awkward for crampons?

In cloud all day

Rime ice

Today's attire


Snow in depth in places
Fiacaill Buttress



Last month  we received a few odd days of snow high up but today saw the first proper 'winter's day'. Overnight the cold front had swept across much of the Highlands on a Northerly wind. North winds, of course are much colder and any precipitation will fall in the form of snow. This morning the snow was down to around 600m. So was the cloud base! Not much in the way of views all day. But what great fun and excitement as always for the first real taste of the winter season to come. I had my first traverse of a winter Fiacaill Coire Sneachda this afternoon. The first of many to come, no doubt. Rime, soft snow and some frozen turf along the ridge. It was well sheltered for much of the way from the chilly winds.  There was a strong 40mph blowing across the Cairngorm plateau and visibility was poor. Only other souls I saw today was a gentleman from China at 850m walking behind me into Coire an t-Sneachda. He wasn't quite dressed for the wintry weather and his mapping consisted of a photograph he had taken of the ski piste map in the Cairngorm car park! Thankfully he turned back after I gave some valuable and completely free advice. The other person I met was a Cairngorm Mountain Rescue guy who was out on Cairn Gorm checking out the wonderful wintry conditions. It was great to have a chat with him on the way back through the ski area.
Of course it is still October and there will be a rise in temperature next week, probably. Good to get the ground cold in preparation for a good base when we do get the winter season arriving for real. Until then enjoy this weekend has it's due to be cold for quite a few days, until mid week at least. Looks like plenty of sunshine about and lighter winds on Sunday. Welcome back winter!


AND SO WINTER BEGINS


NO CAPERCAILLE BUT A LOVELY RED SQUIRREL

2018/10/25 21:55

Everyone loves a Red Squirrel
Caledonian Pines
Acrobatics
loch Vaa
He loved posing
Autumn in the forest
Portrait
The only Capercaille spotted today
But this guy stole the day
The Caledonian Pine Forest in The Cairngorms are home to much wonderful wildlife. One of the rarest of these is the iconic Capercaille is one of these. This threatened species due to habitat loss and disturbance is a sight to behold and I have had some wonderful close encounters, but not today. Instead a wonderful Red Squirrel was the highlight of the day in the forest. I had the privilege of spending 15 minutes with one of these cuties. No feeders, no peanuts to entice, no car park just behind me. Seeing these guys in 'the wild' is always a bit special. I had to bike and hike over an hour from the house to observe him. Some things are more than worth it! A lovely morning to be out before the next weather front came in from the west. Tomorrow sees much colder weather and snow.

NO CAPERCAILLE BUT A LOVELY RED SQUIRREL


CLOUDSCAPES IN THE CAIRNGORMS

2018/10/24 21:41

Fiacaill Coire an t-Sneachda
Orographic cloud over Cairn Toul
Coire an t-Sneachda
Loch Morlich & Fiacaill
Clean air, fab lichens
Cairn Gorm
Braeriach from Cairn Lochan
Cairn Lochan
Cloudscapes
It was a good day if you like cloudscapes. The strong winds up high shifted the stubborn cloud in the afternoon. A good blast along the Fiacaill Coire an t-Sneachda which was deserted. Beautiful Orographic cloud over to the west on the Cairn Toul-Braeriach plateau. Then it was suddenly back to a cloud covered plateau on the way down. Colder weather coming our way by Friday. Some snow forecast on the hills.

CLOUDSCAPES IN THE CAIRNGORMS


SGOR GAOITHE

2018/10/21 15:43

Glenfeshie from high up on Sgor Gaoithe

Summit of Sgor Gaoithe

Braeriach from the plateau

Autumn on Sgor Gaoithe

Glenfeshie , sunshine & showers

Craigellachie
The Glenfeshie Road looking stunning 

We had a leisurely 2pm start up Sgor Gaoithe today, just because you can! Even at this time of year, with the nights drawing in, you can still get a good Munro hill day in from a late start. Sgor Gaoithe isn't a big day out and you can be up and down it in 5 hours. Having an early afternoon start meant we had the best of the sunshine as it was dull in the morning. It's also quieter. Not that this hill gets that much traffic, even at weekends. The light was ever changing as we headed up. Cloud, sunshine and some terrific shafts of sunlight poking through the gaps in the clouds. There were sudden changes from bright and clear spells to dark and moody conditions.
The colours in Strathspey are just wonderful right now. Probably the final week of colours in the leaves of the trees. With the strong winds they won't last much longer. Get out now and enjoy it.
Winter coming up next weekend! Low temperatures and snow showers for the high tops forecasted.

SGOR GAOITHE


REDWING & FIELDFARES, AUTUMN COLOURS & CALENDARS

2018/10/20 11:45

Fieldfare with rowan berry
Redwing in amongst the rowan
Redwing with rowan berry
Craigellachie

Lochan Dubh
More berries!
Craigellachie 
Loch Morlich and The Cairngorms
Fine colours at Craigellachie

A weekend of a bit of photography and some easy local walks in the Aviemore area. We are so very fortunate to live in a fabulous environment here in Strathspey. High mountains, the finest Caledonian pine forest in the UK and wonderful wildlife. All on our doorstep. The Autumn colours are probably at their peak just now. One of the finest short walks from Aviemore is the Craigellachie Nature Reserve. The woodland here on the lower ground is mainly Birch also Willow, Rowan and Scots Pine amongst other species. I like the reserve best in Autumn, the colours are stunning. The view once you come above the treeline is beautiful and a grand view of the Northern Cairngorms. You can even go swimming up at Lochan Dubh if so inclined! :)
Just now it is a fantastic time to see a few of the migrant birds that visit here in the Autumn months. Two of these are the Fieldfare and Redwing, two thrushes from Scandinavia on route to warmer climes south. Their diet is supplemented by the abundance of berries this time of year. On Saturday these birds were all over our Rowan tree in the garden, gobbling up the berries. I've never seen so many on the tree. Won't be much left if they keep at it! Hopefully the beautiful Waxwing will be visiting soon.
I've just had a delivery of my 2019 Calendars. If you're looking for a Christmas present then look no further! 12 beautiful images of the Scottish Mountains and Wildlife, my images of course. £12.99 including P&P. Drop me an email if you wish to order.

Calendars for 2019

Hurry while stocks last!

You know you want one!

REDWING & FIELDFARES, AUTUMN COLOURS & CALENDARS


CHANGING LIGHT & GOLDEN EAGLES ON BEN MACDUI

2018/10/18 11:04

Cairn Toul, Sgor an Lochain Uaine & Braeriach from Ben Macdui
Morning light on Fiacaill Coire An-t Sneachda
Fiacaill Coire An-t Sneachda

Fiacaill Buttress

Braeriach
Family of Ptarmigan
loch Avon from Castlegates Gully
Constant changing light and clouds this morning
A 'tour' of the Cairngorm-Ben Macdui plateau today. Early start and up Fiacaill Coire An-t Sneachda ridge. The cloud and light coming and going across to Ben Macdui. On the summit the cloud was swirling about and just has the tops were clearing a pair of golden eagles were soaring above. Then the skies cleared and they were gone. Brilliant. It was chilly hanging about near the summit (finest views are not on the summit trig point by the way). Winter not far away, in fact there was some ice and verglas on the ridge and across parts of the plateau. If there was any precipitation today I would have thought it would fall in the form of snow. After mid day the cloud filled in but still above the summit. Escaping the crowds (never seen so many folk on Macdui) I took a wander over to Carn Etchachan across pathless terrain, guaranteed to see no one. There are more grand views from here looking down to the Loch Avon basin. A trot across the plateau again and descended down the Goat Track. Nice day, no wind, great views and cold.

CHANGING LIGHT & GOLDEN EAGLES ON BEN MACDUI


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