Saturday, 14 October 2017


Meall a' Bhuachaille looking good
Autumn colours, Rothiemurchus Forest
Lairg Ghru
Quiet single track
Windy day
Crested Tit
Rothiemurchus Forest
A lovely sunny morning in The Cairngorms. A biking day through the beautiful Rothiemurchus Forest. One of the glories of the Cairngorms are the ancient Caledonian Pine Forest. The largest tracts of Caledonian Pine in the British Isles and it's on our doorstep. Looking particularly fine in the beautiful Autumn colours. Another windy day, even at lower altitudes. A spot of birdwatching along the way. The Crested Tit is one of the species of birds that live in these forests. Today I spotted about 10 of them. A couple of days ago I was staring at one of these guys, less than 1 metre away, perched in a tree at eye level but my camera was stuck in the bag!

Thursday, 12 October 2017


Loch Coire an Lochain, Braeriach
Braeriach's Northern Corries
Braeriach's summit
Lairig Ghru
Sunset over Strathspey
A lean period of fine weather continues. Occasionally we have had the odd decent day but just recently the spells of fine weather and nice views have been limited to just a few hours! Today on Braeriach there was only a few glimmers of blue skies and a bit of sun. The cloud shrouded the tops above 1000m for much of the day. The main weather feature was a stiff Cairngorm breeze, 50mph + much of the time, even at lower altitudes. Braeriach is my favourite mountain  of all the Cairngorms. It's remote, big, wild and has many corries to explore. The Northern Corries of the hill are wonderful places and guaranteed to see no one. There are two ridges to gain the plateau once you get high up on the north side. The finest of these is the one that bounds the high Loch Coire an Lochain. Just has It was windy up here, coupled with rain, cloud and then finally a glimmer of blue skies, clear views and the sun trying to break through the clouds. The glimmer of 'hope' soon receded and it was back to clag ton the summit plateau. Another descent in darkness through the Lairig Ghru back to the bike and cycle home ( I timed the day to be at the summit for the best weather hour!). Only people I saw all day were a few dog walkers in the trees. I'm sure we are due for a nice day again soon. In the meantime there is a storm out in the Atlantic heading our way!

Tuesday, 10 October 2017


Ptarmigan taking flight
Some ptarmigan think it's winter already
Weather fromt arriving over the Fiacaill Ridge
Meall a' Bhuachaille & Loch Morlich
Female Ptarmigan
More showing off
Taking off
No luck with the Mountain Hare's sticking around today
These weather windows we are experiencing are becoming shorter and shorter. This morning we had just a few hours of sunny and dry conditions in The Cairngorms. With yet another Atlantic weather front heading over in the afternoon. Enough time to get out and get amongst the ptarmigan for some wildlife photography. Today we saw around 20 ptarmigan in the Northern Corries. Some are just getting into their winter plumage. One or two were not far away from full winter feathers. The cloud came over by early afternoon but some nice spells of sunshine. Fingers getting chilly for photography and the down jacket was on when hanging about for any length of time above 900m.

Sunday, 8 October 2017


The Northern Corrie of Lochnagar
Warm sun and Autumn colours on the walk in to Lochnagar
The cliffs of Lochnagar from the West ridge

High altitude Field Mouse
West Buttress Lochnagar
Cliffs of Lochnagar
The many cliffs and gullies of Lochnagar
No signs of  settled weather anytime soon, unfortunately. We usually get a two or three day spell of fine weather in Autumn but we are still in a cycle of Atlantic lows across the Scottish Highlands. Sunday was looking half decent in the Eastern Highlands so Ian and I headed in that direction in hope of sunshine on Lochnagar. This is a fine mountain  and one I have not been on for at least 10 years. Like much of the Cairngorm mountains it has a big plateau with huge cliffs which have a wealth of  hard winter climbing routes. One of the best mountain in The Cairngorms. We had a late morning start in lovely warm sunshine and it was looking hopeful for a clear, sunny day with little wind. By the time we reached the bealach below Meikle Pap the cloud had come across the tops and plateau . Most folk who walk up Lochnagar head up the well constructed 'Ladder' path, the easiest, most straightforward route in summer with little navigation required. There is an amazing line of cairns higher up on the plateau (is there really a need for so many cairns on a obvious path?). We avoided the crowds on this route and headed down to Lochnagar (The name given to the mountain from this loch that sits below the cliffs). You get fine views from here and we were out of the wind. There is a nice, pathless route up the West ridge of the mountain to the summit plateau from here. Great views into the corrie. All the way up we could hear the stags roaring down below. We reached the plateau and into cloud for the final stroll to the Munro summit, Cac Carn Beag. Despite the claggy weather on top we had atmospheric views of the cliffs plunging down the corrie.  I forgot how easy a day this hill is in summer conditions. A bit different in winter!

Saturday, 7 October 2017


The Summiteer Glow Worm 800

Since March 2017 I have been testing out a sleeping bag by a new company called Summiteer. Summiteer are based in Kendal with an ethos of quality mountain equipment at affordable prices. They first started out in 2016 with a range of down sleeping bags. This year they have expanded their production with a line of quality rucksacks and tents in addition to the sleeping bags.
I was given the Glow Worm 800 sleeping bag to test. The ethically sourced goose down has a fill power of 800. Aimed for winter use or for those folk who require a warmer bag in Autumn. It has a temperature rating at  Extreme: -15Âșc, Lower Comfort -10c and comfort -5c.  The weight is 1.3kg (excluding the stuff sack). The outer is made of 440T ripstop nylon.
I’ve used the bag in a wide variety of temperatures and conditions including Cairngorm snow hole trips and a very wet and cold Iceland trek during May. It’s a very versatile bag and copes well in milder temperatures too. I’ve slept in it in Spring/Summer high camps in the Scottish mountains.
There are some really well thought out details. The baffles around the neck and face are very comfortable and cosy. The zipper is smooth and has never snagged once. I really like the stuff sack, it’s simple and easy to compress down. Great quality shines through.
For me the weight and compact size make it a great choice for chilly weather right up to winter use.

Snow hole, March
High camp, Braeriach, April
Cosy after a very wet day in Iceland

Friday, 6 October 2017


Gavin, starting up Afterthought Arete
Looking down the arete, Sheltersone Crag beyond
Lovely rock, Afterthought Arete
Warming up along the Fiacaill Ridge
Loch Avon
Coire an t-Sneachda
Rime Ice above 1000m
On the Afterthought Arete
Hells Lum Crag
Splendid Shelterstone Crag

Last nights Harvest Moon
It's been a fair few years since I was last on Afterthought Arete. A wonderful 3 star easy rock climb on the Stag Rocks crag. I met up with Gavin who was up for a rock climbing day. Gavin his half way through his Masters Degree in Outdoor Pursuits so he was looking forward to a fun day out. This Moderate graded climb is in a stunningly beautiful and remote area of the Cairngorms. The weather forecast was for a dry and sunny day, light winds. Perfect. We warmed up by heading over the Fiacaill Choire Sneachda ridge. There was some rime ice above1000m in the Northern Corries this morning. The skies had cleared overnight and low temperatures. Stag Rocks is on a south facing aspect so we were looking forward to some warm rock and sunshine. We saw no one all day apart from two guys who we met exactly at the same time at the foot of the climb! Afterthought Arete is a lovely ridg line with a definite arete half way up. A stunning line. Brilliant day out, easy peasy climbing for Gavin who climbs Grade VI routes in winter. Back to another wet day tomorrow but drier on Sunday. Good to get the good days inbetween the miserable weather days!

Wednesday, 4 October 2017


Pink footed geese, Coire an Lochain
Geese in flight
Feithe Buidhe and Hells Lum Crag
High winds over Northerrn Corries this morning

Loch Avon, Feith Buidhe
Feithe Buidhe waterfall
A windy day in The Cairngorms but some nice dry and sunny conditions. Temperatures below average for this time of year, no snow lying on high ground, not one single flake. It was lovely and quiet on the hills. Took a wander over to The Loch Avon basin. It was gusting around 50mph on the plateau but down beside the Feith Buidhe it was calm and very pleasant. There is some lovely and remote scrambling to be had on the slabs beside the Feithe Buidhe. It's a lovely spot and you're likely to see no one. The best of the granite slabs for scrambling are in the middle of the rocky area but if you go over toward the Feithe Buidhe (the stream flowing from the plateau to Loch Avon) it's quite atmospheric and beautiful. You get to see the we waterfall which plunges down from the plateau. The rocks here have more lichen and mosses growing on them so care needs to be taken. A fab place.