Thursday, 15 August 2019


The finest viewpoint in The Cairngorms 

Happy clients

Coire an t-Sneachda

Windy Goat Track

Coire an Lochain 

A view to linger over

Goat Track

Hells Lum

The green plateau

Coire an Lochain

Cairn Lochan

Strathspey from Cairn Lochan

Loch Avon Panoramic

Coire an t-sneachda 
Coire an Lochain

Loch Avon & Shelterstone Crag

This week has had a distinctly continental feel for Tarmachan Mountaineering. Clients from Europe out in The wonderful Cairngorms. Today Francesca & Luigi from Italy were first time visitors to Scotland.  They are in The Highlands for multi activities.  Scuba diving is their main sport but they also love trekking and hiking. They only wanted a Scottish day out after their midnight arrival in Edinburgh a d the drive up to Aviemore this morning. The beauty of the Northern Cairngorms is the quick access to some remote and wild and beautiful views. The finest of all the views of course is the various spots looking down into the Loch A'an basin. Plenty of routes to get to this area. We chose he Coire an t-sneachda, Goat Track way to gain the plateau. It was a wet morning in Strathspey,  we didn't set off until 12.30, perfectly timed to get the small ridge of high pressure over the Highlands. It was a glorious, sunny afternoon. Weather forecast was spot on today. A tad breezy in places but there is always shelter from the winds around my favourite viewpoint. Luigi & Francesca were amazed and blown away by the impressive scenery. They may be back :) . A lovely couple and great company.

Tuesday, 13 August 2019


Well camouflaged ptarmigan

Maurice on the ptarmigans

Mountain Hare too
Coire an t-Sneachda

Beautiful afternoon

Coire an Lochain

Afternoon shower approaching
Over 1 hour with this wonderful bird

Theis guy a bit wary

Billberries coming soon
Maurice was out with me today for a Wildlife Photography Workshop in The Cairngorms. He is over from Switzerland for a week of photography at various sites. Today was ptarmigan day. We had a beautiful day with plenty of sunshine and great clarity of light. Chilly for August but that's perfect for me. No midges! WE headed into Coire an t-Sneachda. Of course with my knowledge of the ptarmigan in the Cairngorms we were soon at a good spot to photograph. So good in fact we spent over an hour up close. The bird was so relaxed nibbling away at the billberries that we sat and had lunch with her! Brilliant. Also on show were the Mountain Hare's but a bit flighty this time. I was amazed to see a Robin up at 1000m in the mountains! Even more amazed to still see a juvenile Ring Ouzel at over 1000m too. Wildlife is always full of surprises which makes it such a great pastime. Maurice went away content. Just as we finished the day the showers moved in this afternoon.

Sunday, 11 August 2019


The team and Loch A'an

Our camp in the Lairig Ghru

Cairn Gorm
Temperature Inversion on Cairn Gorm
Nice light

A green Hell's Lum Chimney

Nice views

A big shower cloud about to creep in

Carn Toul peeping out

Lairig Ghru
A sea of clouds

Bod an Deamhain

Breariach & Lairig Ghru

Carn Toul and descent off Ben Macdui

Heavy showers

Ben Macdui

Shower clouds forming

Burns up

Lunch time

Loch A'an
The wild and beautiful Gleann Guisachan from Bod an Deamhain
A great challenge in The Cairngorms is to climb all the 4000 ft. peaks in the area. There are only 9 4000ft mountains in the UK and 5 of these are all in The Cairngorms. They can all be summited over two days on a backpacking trip. On Saturday and Sunday I was guiding a small group of just three folk for Kingdom Guides. The weather has been very erratic recently with heavy showers, high temperatures and a day of prolonged heavy rain on the Friday. The weather forecasters have been having a hard time predicting all this. The weekend weather forecast was looking quite poor just a few days prior. So it was with some relief that on the Saturday we got a really nice day. Pamela, Lee, John and I set off from the Coire Cas carpark in a thick layer of cloud (and midges)! We were soon away from the wee beasties as we headed up Windy Ridge to the first of our big peaks, Cairn Gorm. It's the easiest and shortest of the bunch and we were on the summit within an hour or so. Fantastic morning up here as we broke through the cloud layer above 1000m and into blue skies with a sea of cloud below us. What a pleasant surprise!
After a snack or two it was off across the plateau towards Ben Macdui, the second highest peak in the British Isles. As it was beautiful weather conditions I lead my group over to the finest viewpoint in the whole of the area, the view looking down into Loch A'an. Lunch here in beautiful sunshine and grand mountain and loch vistas. As we made our way back across the plateau the clouds were forming. The low risk of thunderstorms was always on my mind for this day. So after the obligatory summit photos we made a quick descent off the plateau and into the Lairig Ghru. A big, heavy shower crept in from the north but only lasted 10 minutes. We were back into sunshine for the late afternoon walk into the spectacular pass that splits the Central and Western Cairngorms plateau.
I don't usually do wild camping in mid summer and was dreading the thought of the midge making camp unbearable. To our surprise the winds had picked up significantly and a good stiff breeze blew right through the Lairig Ghru. absolute bliss! Cooking and eating in the fresh August air!
Saturday night into Sunday morning and the winds were even stronger. no midges for breakfast, but a wet soggy and windy day in store for part two of our mini expedition. The three remaining 4000ft peaks of Cairn Toul, Sgor an Lochain Uaine and Braeriach lie along the western plateau and give a fantastic high level traverse with not much ascent and descent in between all the summits. A good path leaves the Lairig Ghru at Corrour Bothy all the way up onto the high ground. It's not too much effort to tag along the other remaining Munro of Bod an Deamhain (I refuse to call it The Devils Point). Here we got the best and only view off all of the days summits! From Cairn Toul's lower slopes we were in thick cloud, steady light rain and strong winds of 40mph+ for the rest of the day. We saw not a single person all the way back to the carpark at the Sugar Bowl. At times it felt distinctly Autumnal. My group were well kitted out with plenty of gloves, woolly hats and fleeces. The key to an enjoyable backpacking trip through the Scottish hills is keeping the weight on your back down to a minimum. This doesn't mean sacrificing essential equipment of clothing mind. Today's tents, sleeping bags and cookware weighing so little and packing down small means you can get all your gear and food into a 40 litre rucksack with ease. I try and encourage folk to get the weight down to around 10kg.
We arrived back to civilisation by early evening. Very wet but satisfying trip in one of the finest backpacking adventures. Well done to my team, great effort.

Friday, 9 August 2019


Gran Paradiso
To brighten up a wet day I've put together a few images from my season in The Alps so far. Photography out of a proper camera, when I got a chance between work :)

Amazing geology, Gran Paradiso National Park
Aiguille du Midi & Mont Blanc
Waterfall in Valtaranche
Those wonderful Marmots
Good summer for Martagon Lily
Valsavarenche, Gran Paradiso NP
Female Ibex, Gran Paradiso NP
A lone ridge walker, Brevent
Monte Bianco reflections

Globeflower and Chamonix Valley

Lac de Chesrey & Mont Blanc range

Round leaved Pennycress

More reflections

Behind Le Brevent

Fenetre Arpette
Bosses Ridge, Mont Blanc
Swallow Tail
Moody skies over Gran Paradiso
Les Drus
King of The Alps, my favourite flower
Time for a nap
Kings (and Queens) of The Alps
Quiet Alpine trails
Alpine Chough, always around food!
Grandest Jorasses

Alpine Pansy

Aiguillete declined Posettes

Alpine Houseleek

Morning light Mont Blanc