Tuesday, 27 August 2019


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

And finally. The waters of the Feithe Buidhe.

Wednesday, 21 August 2019


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.

Tuesday, 20 August 2019


Fiacaill Coire Sneachda


Coire an t-sneachda 

Coire an Lochain 

Nice day

Fiacaill in profile
Cairn Lochan 
A fine day to be out on the tops today. Light winds and some good sunny spells. The best day weather wise this week as things about to change again tomorrow. I must have spoke too soon yesterday,  the remark about midges. They were out again this morning! Thankfully above 800m they were banished. Nice romp along the Fiacaill Coire Sneachda which I had to myself. Hills were quiet, despite the Coire Cas carpark being chock a block this afternoon . It looked like a lot of folk just going for short strolls. Since the funicular has been out of action it seems like folk are doing some walking rather than sitting on their bums in a train then in a cafe up a mountain.  Anything that gets folk walking and exercising has to be a good thing.

Monday, 19 August 2019


Mountain Hare in his usual spot

Very photogenic this week
Afternoon sun, Coire an t-Sneachda

Changing colours

Another shower

Bog Asphodel, slowly changing into Autumn
Still not moving


Ok, on the rock

Thinking about it

I'm off
The last couple of days Ben has been guiding on Skye for me. Unfortunately the two guys he's been taking out on the Cuillin haven't had very nice weather conditions, hence the lack of photos! Wet and windy for much of the time but they've bagged three Munro summits of  Sgurr a Mhadaidh and Sgurr a Ghreadaidh on Sunday and Sgurr Mhic Coinnich today
Here in the Northern Cairngorms we had low temperatures and a stiff breeze. There were a few quite short drizzly showers but it was mainly a fine day to be on the hills and no midges! Glad to see the back of those horrible beasties from a week or so ago. Much more comfortable temperatures just now.
Another day out with the camera with the Mountain Hare and Ptarmigan again. Quite low numbers of both in the corries, a bit unusual. Hopefully with Autumn in sight they'll be gathering in flocks. The Mountain Hare of course on their own this time of year. And what a fine sight they are with their dark pelage just now.

Sunday, 18 August 2019


Geal-charn Mor summit
Hare silhouette

Dark Northern Corries

Hare in heather

Loch Alvie

Burma Road

Cloud layers
A quick blast in the rain showers today up on Geal-charn Mor, a Corbett above Aviemore. It's quite a fast ascent via the Burma Road track. It's a good spot for Mountain Hare higher up the hill. No one about today but the Hare's were still a bit flighty and jumpy. It turned out a nice afternoon with some sunny spells and lighter winds.
Over on Skye, Ben is guiding for Tarmachan Mountaineering. We have two guys on the Cuillin . Today Ben guided them up  Sgurr a Mhadaidh and Sgurr a Ghreadaidh. Looked like wet and windy conditions. Hopefully better day for them on the Inn Pin tomorrow.