Sunday, 30 September 2018


Oliver checking out the ptarmigan

Male ptarmigan

Fiacaill Buttress clearing
A Ptarmiganless Coire an Lochain

Windless spot 

Blue skies in the afternoon
Ptarmigan rock
Ptarmigan terrain
Oliver from Singapore was out with me today on one of my Wildlife Photography Workshops. With just one day in the area he wanted to see the wonderful ptarmigan on the Cairngorm mountains. Initially he was going to venture up on the funicular but at the moment it isn't running because of structural problems. To be honest, the top of the funicular is not a great place to see the ptarmigan, despite the caf├ęs namesake! On my photography workshops you get a lovely walk in the hills and a chance to see much more of the Cairngorm wildlife. This morning we saw Mountain Hare, Ravens, Red Grouse and Fieldfare.It wasn't until after lunch we eventually got to see the ptarmigan. They had us working had this morning. They were absent from my usual spots in  Coire an Lochain so we traversed over to Sneachda and success amongst the boulders.
It was another cold day on the hill with a few snow showers down to 850m. A nicer, brighter afternoon. A tad breezy at times but we had good shelter in the corries. A few pairs of gloves were used in today's cold, wet periods. Not ideal photography conditions but Oliver got his images and another happy photographer.
My Wildlife Photography Workshops are run on demand right through the year. Details on my website.

Friday, 28 September 2018


Pink Footed Geese in formation

Male ptarmigan in croaking mode

Mountain Hare in Autumn clours

Clear early morning moon

More geese

Cloud over Coire an lochain

Nice to see clear skies again


More Pink footed geese

Good day for ptarmigan

Autumn colours 
It was nice to see a clear sky again over Strathspey. Light winds and dry today. We even had some sunshine but feeling cold again with summit temperatures hardly above freezing this morning. A good day for wildlife in The Northern Cairngorms. The Pink Footed Geese are on their migration and they've been in the skies for some time now. A wonderful sound has they fly in formation above the mountains. Plenty of ptarmigan in the corries and into their Autumn plumage.

Thursday, 27 September 2018


Loch Pityoulish

Clouds giving way to a sunset sky

Evening bike ride

Sunset clouds over The Cairngorms
It's been a bit wet and windy here in The Cairngorms last few days. Not much action up on the hills. A nice evening bike ride to one of the many loch's in the area. Spoilt for choice where to swim. Loch Pityoulish is a lovely quiet spot and only half hour bike ride from the house. We caught the sunset just on time before the showers again.

Tuesday, 25 September 2018


Different map scales

Forest tracks, navigation nightmare?

Autumn time

A tad windy on the high plateau

The tress were blowing here!
Final day on Leanne's 4 Day Navigation Course. Forecast for very high winds on the higher summits today so we stayed low in the forest of Rothiemurchus. Today we looked at the potential problems of navigating through woodland and forests (they keep changing unlike mountains)! We also got pacing and timing down to a fine art. The GPS was taken out and looked at the pros and con's of electronic wizardry. In the afternoon we battled the gales and headed up Craigowrie. Winds were blowing at over 70mph at700m. A taste of what the Cairngorms has to offer!
A brilliant 4 days with Leanne. Her skill level for travelling on the Scottish mountains now at a very high standard.  Always cheery and chatty even at midnight at 1000m on a cold dark mountainside after 7 hours of intense navigation in darkness and a full mountain day!
All details of my navigation courses are on my website. Tarmachan Mountaineering run bespoke courses geared to the individual and all year round. Navigation-the number 1 hill skill.

Monday, 24 September 2018


A snowy MacDui

Dark soon too

Night Navigation 

Night burn crossing

Fiacaill Coire Sneachda earlier on

Breezy crossing 

Nice light, Sneachda 

Ben Macdui 

Loch Avon basin 


Fiacaill Ridge 

Nearing the top

Fiacaill Buttress 

Braeriach with snow
The Cairngorms are probably the most challenging mountains to navigate in the UK. Throw in a dusting of snow, cloud and then darkness and you get a very good challenging experience. The only ingredient we didn't get last night was a storm force wind!
Day 3 of Leanne's Navigation Course this afternoon/night. A combined mountain day comprising some scrambling on the Fiacaill Ridge, a Munro and four hours of navigation under darkness. We reached a snow dusted Ben Macdui at dusk after a traverse over the Fiacaill Coire Sneachda and a wander over to the top of Hell's Lum.  During the 'night time' section we covered a huge area of the plateau. A descent down to Loch Etchacan,  then Loch Avon (supper)  before heading back to the Northern Corries and finally descending back to Coire Cas car park just after midnight. With Tarmachan Mountaineering you get a full on, bespoke course. How many other providers offer a big mountain day and finish long after bed time? Fabulous night on the hills. We saw no one at all after leaving the Cairn Gorm car park.  Top time and some fantastic navigation  from Leanne who has now reached a high level of navigation skills.

Sunday, 23 September 2018


Winter Navigation! 

Looking a tad wintery 

Rime ice at 1100m

Lots of compass work

Winter conditions on Cairn Gorm summit 

More like Autumn lower down

Mostly in cloud all day

Elevenses shelter today

Weather station rime 

A sunny end of day
Second day out for Leanne on her 4 Day Navigation Course. Another wintry day on the hill. Cold morning with the showers turning to snow above 1000m again. Light but cold winds and low cloud for much of the day. Perfect conditions for Navigation! High up it was almost ski goggles when walking into the blizzards! Today we spent a huge chunk of time on pathless and featureless terrain. Brilliant map and compass skills again by Leanne. Made even toughest battling in the snow and wind. Is it really only September?  Can't recall getting snow on the tops for so many consecutive days in September.