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UNSETTLED AUTUMN & REDWINGS ARRIVED

2019/10/10 20:13


Redwing in the Rowan Tree


Berry nice
The unfrequented Strath Nethy

Beinn Mheadhoin

Blue skies this morning

Colder on Wednesday

Strathnethy and Strathspey
Mountain Hare today
Changing into winter pelage

Hiding in the rocks

So clever
Blackbirds like berries too

Sunshine amongst the Rowan
Another unsettled spell of weather with no long. clear spells in the near future. Just one cold, crisp day would be nice. I guess it will come. The east has fared best in any dry weather the last two days. It was forecast to be wet snow on Wednesday but it was just sleety showers and these were light. Even so it was chilly and a 40-50mph cold wind on Cairn Gorm. There was a nice big flock of 10 ptarmigan over on the east side of the hill but they were quite flighty and no photos yesterday. Down in the garden we have had the Redwing's visiting our Rowan Tree which is loaded with rowan berries which they love. Great watching them gobble up these. The Redwing and Fieldfare are Autumn and winter visitors to our shores.
Another wander up into the high Cairngorms again this morning. The winds were much lighter and just a few drizzly showers. A great couple of hours photographing the Mountain Hare who wasn't running about too much, but cleverly he ran into the boulder field to make me work for the images!

UNSETTLED AUTUMN & REDWINGS ARRIVED


2020 CALENDARS

2019/10/08 18:42







It's that time of year again. Winter approaches and time to think about Christmas stocking fillers. Cant go wrong with a calendar.  My 2020 Scottish  Landscape  calendars are now on sale. 12 beautiful images in The Highlands.  Limited stock so order quickly, once they're gone they are gone!
£10 plus P&P. Email me for orders.
gary@tarmachan-mountaineering.org.uk
Cheers.

2020 CALENDARS


AN TEALLACH & THE CAIRNGORMS (AGAIN)!

2019/10/03 20:21

Lord Barkeley's Seat in the murk

The resident high altitude goats on An Teallach

Some beauty in between the clag

Dave finds some snow

Sgurr Fiona summit views
Not so many blue skies recently in this Autumnal period. On Wednesday Dave and I headed NW to that most beautiful of mountains, An Teallach. My favourite mountain and for Dave a recee for some future winter climbing. The weather forecast looked reasonable, dry with cloud base above the tops occasionally. What we got was very different. Cloud covered above 800m for most of the day and frequent rain showers. There had been a light dusting of wet snow overnight but the temperatures had risen by the time we reached the tops. We saw no one all day. More wildlife than humans. Wild goats, ptarmigan, ravens and roaring stags. Not a single person. By the time we reached the road again we had received a good soaking and a good test for Dave's brand new Paramo jacket. No the best of An Teallach's traverses for me but good banter for 8 hours in cloud.
The goats are heading down, to drier ground!

The odd glimpse of Toll an Lochain
Today (Thursday) I took a wander into the Northern Corries. It was a fine morning with cloud in the glen and clear skies high up on the hills. It was mainly dry but some annoying drizzly spells and a strong wind. Despite the conditions it was a good day for wildlife. Nice to see the ptarmigan back in their usual locations where I observe them. They are just going into their winter plumage.
Female ptarmigan going into winter plumage
Male ptarmigan
Cloud lingering in Strathspey
Mountain Hare
Meall a' Bhuachaille
Changing plumage

He'll be white soon



AN TEALLACH & THE CAIRNGORMS (AGAIN)!


NAVIGATION

2019/09/30 17:59

David on top of Y Gully

Top of Hell's Lum

Fiacaill Coire Sneachda 

Cloud for first part of the day

Loch Avon and Stag Rocks
 Another low cloud day, 600m and lower at times. Another very quiet day in the Cairngorms. Dave and I had a good day over in the Fiacaill Coire Sneachda ridge and over towards the Hell's Lum crag. Colder temperatures again. Hat and gloves for much of the day.


NAVIGATION


LOW CLOUD AND COLDER IN THE CAIRNGORMS

2019/09/29 17:49

Shelterstone Crag

Coire an t-sneachda 

Time for a swim

Coire Raibert


Loch Avon basin
A quiet day on the Cairngorms,  just one person seen all day. We had a nice wander up the Goat Track and down into the  Loch A'an basin. Just has the rain came on it was time for a swim. Not wet enough? We then came back onto the plateau via Coure Raibert. The recent rain has given the burns a good top up and looking spectacular in the basin with the crags coming and going in the cloud. By afternoon the temperatures had lowered. There was s

LOW CLOUD AND COLDER IN THE CAIRNGORMS


AN TEALLACH

2019/09/27 14:12

Corrag Buidhe scrambling
Brilliant ridges and pinnacles
More fun

Lord Barkeley's Seat & Corraig Buidhe

Atmospheric conditions

We had An Teallach to ourselves

Carolyn heading along to Lord Barkeley's Seat

Loch na Sealaig

Corrag Buidhe

Final ridge to Sgurr Fiona

Classic An Teallach, nearly
Summit Bidean a' Ghlas Thuill

Toll an Lochain

Beinn Dearg group
A very atmospheric An Teallach ridge traverse today with Carolyn & Karen. The weather forecast was constantly changing on the run up to Friday. In the end we got a mixture of sunshine, swirling cloud and  an hour of rain at the end. Not a breath of wind on the tops, maybe if there was we may have got some clearer views at times. We saw just one person at the foot of Sail Liath this morning and that was it for human beings on the hill. Plenty of roaring stags in Toll an Lochain which gave real atmosphere to the Corrag Buidhe pinnacles as we traversed them. Another classic and memorable An Teallach experience. Topped off by an aurora this evening and more (close) stags roaring down at Dundonnell.

AN TEALLACH


SKYE

2019/09/25 22:28

Rainbow over Sligachan

The team enjoying Skye walking

Pools and falls

Afternoon showers

Sgurr na Gillean

Glen Sligachan

Afternoon rainbows

Returning

Tranquil
Final day with my fun group, guiding for Walkabout Scotland. Today we had a walk from Sligachan over the pass which eventually finishes in Glen Brittle. We walked up to the high point of the pass in lovely warm conditions before some showers broke out. The day was rounded off with a vivid and stunning rainbow, showing us the route back to the Slig pub :)
A fab 4 days with this group of fun folk. Average age of 72 years young. Brilliant.

SKYE


TOUR OF THE HIGHLANDS

2019/09/24 22:47

The team enjoying the Cairngorms 

Great day for cloudspotters

Sunshine

Coire an Lochain

Cairngorm plateau 


Nice views

Summit success 


First day steaming ahead

Speyside Way on Sunday 

Skye here we come

Kyleakin 

Fabulous sunset
Right on cue for my group

On Sunday I met up with a lovely group of folk from the USA and Switzerland who are on a week long trip in the Highlands. Guiding for Walkabout Scotland this week we travel and get to walk in a good chunk of Scotland in a short space of time. From the Cairngorms to Skye to Fort William. On Sunday we had a very easy stroll along the Speyside Way from Boat of Garten back to Aviemore with the added attraction of riding the Speyside Railway.
Monday saw us exploring the high Cairngorm plateau with a walk along the Northern Corries. The group had their first experience of a Cairngorms Breeze. 45mph winds on the tops. They all did a brilliant job coping in our weather.
Today was a travel day along the gorgeous Kyle line from Inverness to Kyle of Lochalsh. One of the great railway journeys in the world. It was wet in Aviemore when we set off but by the time we arrived in Kyle it was very warm and sunny. The day ended with a glorious sunset witnessed from Kyleakin.  The average age of my group on this trip is 72. What a fit, fun and enthusiastic group of folk.

TOUR OF THE HIGHLANDS


LIATHACH & BEINN ALLIGIN

2019/09/22 22:35

Beinn Alligin from Liathach
The Highlands were blessed with glorious weather for 3 days this weekend. A big high pressure system drawing warm air up from the south gave hot sunshine an clear skies for much of Scotland. A brilliant spell of weather to be out on the mountains. I met up with Robin and Clare in the NW Highlands on Thursday evening. Robin is on the final hurdle to completing all the Munros. He's got some fantastic mountains to finish on and 6 of these are in Torridon, the finest mountain region on Earth. On Thursday evening we arrived after dark in Glen Torridon, Robin and Clare had just knocked off 4 Munros in the Beinn Dearg cluster near Ullapool which is always a long day. They 'wild camped' with their camper van whilst I truly wild camped in boggy, heathery ground near the beautiful  Loch Clair.
Sunrise on Loch Clare, Friday
 At last it is nearly midge free time now we are getting a few cold nights. Wild camping season is now a joy. A beautiful clear and star filled night and a warm early morning. One of the classic views of Liathach is from Loch Clair so I got up early to catch the first light. I wasn't disappointed. It was surprisingly clear air despite the warm southerly airflow. A good start to two fab days.

The classic view of Liathach
FRIDAY 20TH SEPTEMBER
Liathach was our first hill day. What a beauty of a mountain. T shirt conditions from the word go and all away along the ridge. A lovely stiff breeze was perfect to stop us overheating. Stunning clear skies all day.

The fun begins

Great scrambling

Down as well as up

sensational
The first Munro summit along the ridge is straightforward walking, then the Fasarin Pinnacles beckon. This is the scrambling section, the fun section. What a pleasure, we had the place to ourselves, there were plenty of folk on the hill but they seemed to have set off earlier in the day. Perfect.
Looking east along the ridge, Beinn Eighe to the left

Munro no.1

Mullach an Rathain and Beinn Alligin
The scrambling isn't too difficult and you can bypass anything that is beyond your comfort zone. I would definitely NOT recommend taking the much lower traverse path, it is exposed and eroded and of course you miss all the fun and all the wonderful views to the north.
Ridge views to Glen Torridon

The final Pinnacle, Am Fasarinien

Lookin back
All too quickly the scrambling is over and it's an easy walk up to the 2nd Munro of Mullach an Rathain. Wonderful views out west to Loch Torridon from here. A steep descent then follows, what a day. It was still very hot by 5pm when we got to the glen. A pint and grub at the Torridon to end a fab day.
Am Faserinen and Glen Torridon from the west

Loch Torridon and Beinn Alligin

Northern corries and the ridge
SATURDAY 21ST SEPTEMBER

Another glorious morning. Clear skies and a warm night. It was feeling like the south of Spain, not the NW Highlands. Another classic ridge walk today and another two Munros for Robin. Beinn Alligin. A shorter round and easier scrambling. Equally as spectacular views from this westerly Torridonian giant.

Descending Tom na Gruagaich towards Sgurr Mor
Baosbheinn from Sgurr Mor

Tom na Gruagaich
Another hot day but a good stiff breeze to keep things pleasant. Today Clare and her dog, Berry, claimed another Munro summit. Walking up to the first Munro of Tom na Gruagaich. It's a fabulous view from here, especially out to the western seaboard. Very clear air again.

The Horns next

Flowerdale Forest

First 'Horn'
The scrambling on Beinn Alligin comes at the end of the ridge traverse. The 'Horns' consist of 3 peaks. More lovely warm rock and wonderful views as we made our way across the Torridonian Sandstone rocks.
Robin enjoying the scrambling

Something a little harder

Eyeing up the route

Final Horn
Sgurr Mor from the Horns

Nice

Beinn Dearg and Liathach

Beautiful pools, perfect after a hot day
A fab couple of days and great to catch up with Robin and Clare. That's Robin now down to just 18 Munros left.
Sgurr Dubh



LIATHACH & BEINN ALLIGIN


MOUNTAIN HARE & GEESE HEADING SOUTH

2019/09/17 22:03

Posing nicely today

Heading South
Loch A'an basin


Cloud breaking over Braeriach

Autumn colours

Loch A'an
More geese

….and another flock

Resting

Keeping an eye out

Don't feel like running today

Flock 6

Flock 7
For almost a year now I have been photographing one individual Mountain Hare in the Northern Corries. Like most animals, the mountain hare usually stays around it's same area for most of it's life. Indeed, they are known to stay in their same wee areas for generations. Today 'my' hare wasn't running around too much (sometimes he's very flighty). I sign that winter isn't far away and he's conserving his energy, or just used to me and my camera? It was a chilly day up high on the Cairngorm plateau. Very quiet and peaceful. The only sounds were the 7 flocks of geese I heard flying directly above me. This is always a wonderful sight and sound at this time of year. The geese are leaving their summer grounds in Greenland and Iceland and heading south to warmer climes.

MOUNTAIN HARE & GEESE HEADING SOUTH


EASY WALKS ON SKYE

2019/09/12 17:24

The Old Man of Storr

Impressive Pinnacles 

Sunshine between the showers

Bit to breezy for The Storr summit

Storr Lochs

Harry Potter fans about to arrive in Mallaig

The peace of Knoydart 

All aboard

A pint in the sun

My quickest visit to Knoydart 

Sun and showers

Great hills

Jim & Andre at the remotest pub in the UK
I've been guiding on some very easy walks in Skye this week for Walkabout Scotland. Only two folk from USA and Canada on a tour around the Highlands using the very scenic railways to get to and from Skye. Tuesday's walk from Sligachan was a very windy and wet affair. 40-50mph winds at sea level is pretty unusual,  even in Skye. We did have the best pub on the island at the end though. Wednesday's weather was much better with the cloud lifting and some nice sunny spells. Andre and I had a lovely wander around The Old Man of Storr. Some amazing g scenery for such an easy walk. Of course it was busy as usual. On Thursday the weather improved even more with some great sunshine by late afternoon.  Today's walk was a very short walk in Knoydart. We spent longer having a pint at the most remote boozer in the UK, The Old Forge at Inverie. If you want some fabulous scenery, easy walking and seeing a lot of The Highlands in the space of a few days then this is a great wee trip.
Good to catch up with Jon Haber who runs Walkabout Scotland.  I've known Jon for many years and always great fun to work on his trips.

EASY WALKS ON SKYE


BEN NEVIS WEEKEND, LEDGE ROUTE TWICE

2019/09/09 10:37

Shabaaz on Ledge Route

Easy scrambling

Carn Dearg Buttress

NE Buttress and Carn Mor Dearg arete

No. 5 Gully


Brilliant cloud formations on Sunday

Final section

Aonach Mor & Carn Mor Dearg

Ledge Route, upper section

The best bit

Allt a' Mhuillin & Great Glen

Mystical cloud

Saturday on the fun bit
Could watch this for hours!


Good spot

Fun, fun. fun


The Ben Race runners
Fabulous clouds
I was over in the west this weekend. A well timed bit of work for the good weather window. Saturday was glorious blue skies, no wind and very warm. I had a wander up Ledge Route on Ben Nevis. One of the finest easy routes up to the highest peak in the UK. Seldom do you see many folk on it, whilst hundreds of walkers head up the Pony Track every day in summer. The North Face carpark was absolutely chocka-block when we arrived on Saturday late morning. I thought the whole of the North Face of The Ben was going to be hooching with people. There were a few strollers heading to the CIC Hut for pic picnic-ing. After heading into the Ciste Coire it was wonderfully deserted. The rock was warm and the sun shone all day. No one on the route. Looking across to the top of The Ben you could see many folk and a piper was blasting out a tune for the runners on the annual Ben Race. T-shirt weather all day. Brilliant.
On Sunday I was out on Ledge Route again. Showing Shabaaz one of the easiest, most spectacular  ways to gain the summit of Ben Nevis. Weather today was very different but equally as spectacular than a clear day. There were layers of cloud coming and going, giving us glimpses of Carn Mor Dearg and the NE Buttress on The Ben. We could have watched this for hours! Alll too soon the fun is over and it's a easy walk back down on the Pony Track. Good craic with Shabaaz and quality couple of days.


BEN NEVIS WEEKEND, LEDGE ROUTE TWICE


POOR START TO AUTUMN

2019/09/04 14:58



Rain no problem for today's Mountain Hare

Sunset over Aviemore &Loch Morlich

Devil's Bit Scabious
Colours of Autumn


Scotch Argus

Fungi season

Loch Pityoulish

Cloud covered Cairngorms
Last of the summer's flowers
The weather hasn't been up to much this last week or so. A lot of cloud and for the west, a lot of rain. Autumn is a fine month to be out on the hills. The colours and light are far more interesting than the summer months. It's been a slow start but I am sure the beautiful cool Autumn skies and colourful landscape will reveal itself one these low pressure systems go away. A few images above from the last 7 days. It's not all bad.
I have a Ben Nevis open group on Sunday 8th September with two places left. This day will be via the spectacular and easy scramble on Ledge Route. Please drop me a line if you wish to book.

POOR START TO AUTUMN


BANK HOLIDAY HEATWAVE

2019/08/27 15:25

Feithe Buidhe and Hells Lum Crag
It's unusual to get very high temperatures that coincide with the late August Bank Holiday weekend. Even rarer for the Highlands to get the same kind of conditions. Thankfully we never got 33.3 C like down in Englandshire. A pleasant enough mid 20's was adequate for me.
On Sunday I headed off for an overnight camp in the heart of the Cairngorms. It was glorious clear skies from the word go.

Fiacaill Coire an t-Sneacda
Ridge under blue skies
A wander into Coire an t-Sneachda to gain the Fiacaill Coire an t-Sneachda ridge. Lovely and peaceful. Only a slight breeze on the tops and very refreshing away from the heat. From the plateau I headed over towards the lip of the Loch A'an basin. There are many choices to get down to the loch from the plateau. One of my favourite routes is down the pathless, wild and remote Feithe Buidhe watercourse.
Well camouflaged ptarmigan on the way down
The wonderful Feithe Buidhe slabs on the descent
Spot the climbers on Hells Lum Crag
Hell's Lum Crag was 'busy' with climbers, 4 folk out enjoying the warm rock. Of course the more spectacular Shelterstone Crag is in shade now for much of the day. Autumn is only round the corner. Actually, round the corner lies the beautiful Loch A'an then just a couple of hundred metres higher is Loch Etchachan. Home for the evening.

Shelterstone Crag in the shade, Beinn Mheadhoin in the background

Wonderful Feithe Buidhe slabs

Stag Rocks above Loch A'an
When I arrived at Loch Etchachan mine was the only tent. Only mid afternoon so it was time for coffee and cake in beautiful hot sun. A nice, stiff breeze kept the midges away. As you know, I never normally camp in the summer months. Loch Etchachan lies at 900m so normally a breeze and cooler at night which keeps the beasties away. The weather forecast was suggesting 30-40mph winds at Munro height, perfect.

Camping at Loch Etchachan

Looking down into Glen Derry from the shoulder of Beinn Mheadhoin

Beinn Mheadhoin's summit tor
After pitching the tent I had a late afternoon wander up to the Munro summit of Beinn Mheadoin. From Loch Etchachan it's less than 1 hour to the top. If you're climbing this hill in a day from civilisation then it makes for a much longer excursion. It's been a couple of years since I last walked up here. The finest features of this remote Munro are it's granite tors on the summit plateau. The actual top requires a short scramble if you want to 'bag' this one. The other remarkable feature is the unusual and spectacular view down onto Loch A'an. I'm guessing most folk don't wander off the short 10 minutes from the summit to a grand viewing platform, just before the hills NW slopes begin to steepen dramatically. Evening time isn't the best part of the day for this if you love landscape photography mind, the sun's in the wrong place. Even so, it is a beautiful view.

Loch A'an from the NW slopes of Beinn Mheadhoin

The silvery waters of A'an
Monday morning dawned chilly and breezy. All good to keep the midges away for breakfast, my breakfast that is! From Loch Etchachan to Ben Macdui there is a good path and very easy angled for much of the way. It's one of the finest high altitude paths in the area with a sense of wild and beauty all around. There was cloud coming and going in the stiff winds. Some summits free of mist, others clagged in as I made my approach to the UK's second highest mountain.

Loch Ethachan at 0700 with Cairn Gorm beyond

Early morning cloud and light
I reached Ben Macdui and it was in cloud. One of the highlights I was looking forward to over these two days was the early morning light onto the Braeriach plateau. From just down off the summit of Macdui you get a stunning panorama of the Western Cairngorm plateau. The Munros of Bod an Domhain. Cairn Toul, Sgorr an Lochain Uaine and Breariach stand high above the Lairig Ghru. At first all I got was thick cloud. But I trusted the weather forecast of a bright and sunny day once again, from mid morning onwards. So I sat for over two hours on the summit! The patience for landscape photography is well known. Well if you are patient you will get rewards. I got a wonderful Brocken Spectre as I sat in the cold wind. Then very slowly the swirling clouds did thin and break off the tops.

Clouds and a Broken Spectre

Wonderful cloud formations on Cairn Toul

Looking south over Bod an Diomhain

Sun an cloud

Braeriach, nearly

Lairig Ghru
Finally after about two and half hours the clouds suddenly disappeared and another world opened up. Just away from the summit area it was warmer, less windy and now completely clear skies over the entire Cairngorms. What a contrast. I 'escaped' the many folk walking up to Ben Macdui and found a peaceful spot over towards the Lairig Ghru. It's here that you get a better sense of scale of these mountains. The Lairig Ghru lies way low down below Breariach's slopes. When you think the highest point of the  Lairig Ghru is in itself 800 metres then these mountains really are impressive.
Clear at last

and enough to spot the wildlife again

The last remaing snow in The Cairngorms
I santered down and back to the Coire Cas carpark. By mid day it was back to heat. Another hot day. Another fab day in the big mountains.
Tuesday dawned good again. The Eastern Highlands fairing better than the west today. I had a another wee wander up to the hills for some wildlife watching. It was great to laze around in the corries. Unfortunately the wildlife wasn't very active. Although it was a nice surprise to spot a solitry juvenile of 1st summer Ring Ouzel amongst the boulders in the coire. I've been observing this wee guy for the last few days. Most Ring Ouzels  are away back to Africa by end of August.
Sun peeping over the cliffs of Cairn Lochain

Juvenile Ring Ouzel

Sheltering
And finally. The waters of the Feithe Buidhe.




BANK HOLIDAY HEATWAVE


SKYE SUMMER MUNROS

2019/08/21 15:10

Gavin & Aiden on Sgurr a Mhaidh 

In Pinn, next time

Gavin, Aiden and Ben summit selfie
Not great weather over on the west coast these last couple of weeks. Last Sunday and Monday Ben was guiding for Tarmachan Mountaineering. Gavin and Aiden were looking to explore some of the Black Cuillin ridge. With strong winds and rain it was looking doubtful for any summits on Sunday but the afternoon improved, wind wise. Ben got them onto Sgurr a Ghreathaidh and Mhaidadh.
On Monday the winds were fine but still cloudy and rainy. The boys did well getting Sgurr Mhic Coinnich done, the Inn Pinn will have to wait until next time.
Good effort.

SKYE SUMMER MUNROS


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