Sunday, 30 November 2014


Braeriach above the cloud from Cairn Lochan
Brocken Spectre
Cainrn Lochan looking west
Sea of cloud
The Spectre again
.....and then it all cleared and blue skies n the afternoon
November draws to a close and what an unusual month. Very mild, hardly any sign of winter bar a few short lived cold snaps and a few odd days with light snow dumps that were short lived. On the plus side we have enjoyed some days of fabulous sunshine, light winds and stunning sunsets. Great days to be out on the hill. Today in The Cairngorms there was a terrific Temperature Inversion around the northern side of the plateau with a sea of cloud out toward Strathspey. Along with this we had a Brocken Spectre below Cairn Lochan. By mid afternoon all the cloud had burned away and it was virtually clear skies in every direction. Hardly any breeze and walking across the plateau in warm sun it felt like summer! Finally to top another grand hill day off we had another one of those wonderful sunsets. Officially winter doesn't really start until 1st December and next week we are due some snowfall, lets hope so!

Friday, 28 November 2014


Stac Pollaidh from Cul Beag
Suilven from Cul Mor
Cul Beag and Beinn Mor Coigach
Cul Mor from the summit of Cul Beag
Stac Pollaidh surrounded by water!
Magic sunsets galore!
The Munro summits of Ben More Assynt and Conival
Cul Mors twin summits
Stac Pollaidh - next time
Mountains and sea
Suilven in Alpenglow
For some time now the very best of the weather has been in the far north west of The Highlands. No snow here as yet but some wonderful sunshine and sunsets to die for. This week as been the same so a wee jaunt up to that most beautiful of areas, Assynt. A couple of nights wild camping on Tuesday & Wednesday among the beautiful and many wee lochans that this area has in abundance. A land of mountains rising steeply out of a watery landscape. Here lie some of the oldest rocks in Europe, Lewisian Gneiss bedrock and Torridon Sandstone which give these relatively small mountains such a majestic appearance. With so much to choose from in the area you can spend several days, or weeks on a walking holiday here. Many of these hills I haven't been on for a number of years, this being my old stomping ground when I lived in Ullapool for 4 years back in the 1990's. Cul Mor and Cul beag are two of the hills which I did separately over my two days here. Despite the relatively low altitude they still take around 2-3 hours to the top, depending on which routes you take. I had a liesurley ascent of both to take in the glorious views and to capture the sunsets. The coastal views out to the Minch plus the many lochs and lochans mixed with a mountain landscape - what more could you want? Fab sunsets? Stac Pollaidh being the star attraction in this area and its no Munro and not even a Corbett. Take me back any day!

Sunday, 23 November 2014


Lunch spot today
Top of Hells Lum, Shelterstone in the distance
Loch Avon basin
Stag Rocks and Loch Avon
A dusting of snow and some frozen ground in places, Cairngorm Plateau
Cairn Toul & Braeriach, in cloud much of the day
A clear night and a overnight frost, up on The Cairngorm plateau it was below freezing this morning. There was bags of sunshine but a wonderful windchill on the face much of the day, and about time too! Some areas there was frozen ground and with the temperatures much colder this is all good for cooling the rocks and ground down for when the snow eventually arrives. It was a glorious day, especially toward the east, Braeriach and the western Cairngorms seemed to be getting more of the cloud today.

Saturday, 22 November 2014


Creag an Leth-choin (Lurcher's Crag)

Looking across to Braeriach's northern corries & Sgor Gaoithe
We're ready for winter!
No summit views today, Coire Brochain
Afternoon sun over Strathspey
Disappointingly it's remaining mild with no snow on the hills but hope on the horizon as it is due to become cooler with some snow on the higher tops by the end of next week. Today on Braeriach there was enough snow on the summit area to make a very large snowball. It was dry all day after overnight rain and winds were light so very pleasant to be out on the hills. Plenty of ptarmigan on the plateau, all looking very white so they are all geared up for winter! Plenty of snow buntings too but the bst sighting was a Capercaille down in the forest at the start of the Lairig Ghru area-too fast for a photo though. For a change and to be purist I walked directly from my house in Aviemore to the summit, no biking. It still only took 4 hours to the summit.

Tuesday, 18 November 2014


Ian on the 907m top of Beinn Sgritheall, Loch Hourn and Rum to the left
Loch Hourn & the village of Arnisdale
The final pull onto the summit ridge, Kintail mountains beyond
Grand views of The Cuillin
Wonderful ridge walking with sea and loch views to die for
Nearing the summit
The Isles of Rum & Skye from the summit with clear views of The Cuillin
Ian a happy chappy

Summit views to the Hebrides
And a fabulous sunset over Eigg to round off a wonderful day
There is a magical connection between the mountains and the sea, the NW Highlands has this in abundance. From Ardnamurchan to Cape Wrath lie some of the most beautiful mountain and seascapes in Europe and some of my favourite places to wander. For over a week the best of the weather has been in this part of the country, the hills in the east having had low cloud and rainy spells brought on from the Easterly winds. Today was forecast good sunny spells in the north and west so Ian and I decided to head over and climb Beinn Sgritheall which soars  steeply above Loch Hourn. The 3 hour drive was compensated with stunning views when we drove out of the clag and into clear skies through Glen Shiel. It was a late-ish 10.30am start but this Munro isn't a big day out and no long walk in, just steep straight from the sea level start from the tiny hamlet of Arnisdale on Loch Hourn. Those sea, loch and mountain views are with you all day and it is shear pleasure. After the final steep pull of 250m to the 906m top there is the most delightful ridge walk imaginable to the main summit. All the way along are views over to Barrisdale, Loch Hourn and the Hebridean sea. We saw a golden eagle soaring away toward Knoydart and Fieldfare darting around the summit ridge. Ian and I lingered on the summit savouring the fine view of a very clear Cuillin Ridge, Knyodart and Kintail, taking and many photos! The sun was soon starting to dip over the Isle of Eigg as we tore ourselves away and headed down the west ridge. The final hour of the descent and we were treated to a beautiful sunset. Even the 3km walk back along the road was magical, topped off with the final embers of the sunset, bats above our heads and a stag peering out of the trees at us from a couple of metres away. Not a bad day!

Sunday, 16 November 2014


Coire an Lochain, Monday
Above Glenmore looking toward Cairn Gorm, today
It hasn't been the best week of weather since last weekends cool and bright conditions. Monday stayed cool on the hills with some snow but from Tuesday onwards we have been enduring horrible warm and at times windy weather. There have been days of low cloud too as today was on Meall a' Bhuachaille. Very atmospheric all the same. Sgor Gaoithe last Thursday saw the high winds on the higher tops. All in all a mixed week. Hoping for something colder soon please!

Sunday, 9 November 2014


Braeriach summit with  upper Coire Brochain getting well snowed up
Ben Macdui from the final ridge on Braeriach
Ben Macdui, Lairig Ghru and Cairn Toul
Cairn Toul from the summit area
Coire Brochain and blinding sun/snow
Lurchers Crag and Strath Spey, snowline at 900m on Braeriach
Overnight it had snowed above 900m and this morning it was quite foggy in Aviemore, which means it is usually clear high up on the hills. Sure enough we soon broke through the mist at 300m on the bike ride into the Liarig Ghru. Braeriach was looking good from lower down the ridge and at 900m we hit the snowline. Beautiful crisp snow and some old snow from last week had frozen up. Stunningly clear skies all day and what a pleasure to be wandering up to the summit of Braeriach with dazzling sun, snow and hardly a breeze. Coire Brochain is starting to look quite wintry now as snow is building up on the upper reaches of the gullies. I'll let the photos tell the story......

Friday, 7 November 2014


Stomper belay
A nice afternoon in Coire an t-sneachda
Faye and Jim enjoying some early winter snow
Looking across from 0.5 Gully
Soft, deep snow and running water
Some of the snow that had been around on the hills this week had depleted today in the milder temperatures. Having said that there was still some ribbons of snow in the corries. Faye and Jim were with me to brush up on some winter skills and concentrating on moving on steeper terrain. By good fortune the only snow around was on steeper terrain. We headed up to 0.5 Gully which was holding a lot of snow and almost complete. The depth of snow here was nearly one metre but very soft and some running water underneath! We covered various snow belays and some rock belays lower in the corrie. A nice afternoon after some earlier drizzle and light winds so a very pleasant day and they are now keen to put their skills into action when back up in January.