Saturday, 6 June 2020


Cairngorm plateau from Cairn Gorm summit
It has certainly been a very up and down Spring with regards to weather conditions. Most of April and May we've enjoyed very dry and very sunny conditions in the Cairngorms. Less than one week ago saw Aviemore reaching the highest temperatures in the UK at 27 C. Yesterday (Friday) there was a big drop in the thermometer with the tops of the Cairngorms dipping below freezing coupled with high winds and near constant snowfall throughout the day.

Fresh snow drifts and cornices

Moss Campion
On Saturday I headed out on the pedal bike from the house up to the Coire Cas carpark. Surprisingly the snow gates at Glenmore were open. They've been closed and locked since the winter and restricted access from COVID-19. Even more bizzare was the carparks at the Ciste and Cas are blocked off. Weird but hey-ho. There was just 4 cars parked up at Coire Cas. I never actually saw another human being all day on the hill.
Northern Corries from Windy Ridge

Fresh snow above 1100m on Cairn Gorm
It was a cold day for beginning of June but the temperatures were rising steadily as the day progressed. Most of the fresh snow from Friday had melted away but above the cafĂ©, on Cairn Gorm, there were still quite deep drifts and even wee cornices. I reckon it would have been a wild and cold time on the hill yesterday. The best of the weather was forecast to be around the middle of the day.  The weather man spot on as the cloud lifted and treated to some fine sunny spells with only light winds. I headed up Windy Ridge and up to Cairn Gorm summit. Fine views from the top with some quite big areas of deep snow. Looking across the plateau there seemed to still  be a good covering, far more than most of last January!
Big drifts

Cairn Gorm

Mountain Hare about

Ben Macdui and Loch Avon basin from the top
On the way down I ventured over to the Ciste Mhearad area in the hope of seeing and photographing Ptarmigan. This is usually a good bet for these wonderful birds. As mentioned in previous posts on my blog, the Ptarmigan have been low in numbers the last year of so. So it was lovely to spot a Male Ptarmigan, sitting and not really moving much. I had a sit down with him for a good while as the sun shone and hardly a breeze in a sheltered area. The Female Hen of course will no doubt be sitting on her eggs not too far away.
Male Ptramigan

Enjoying the peace and quiet
Ciste Mhearad is a well know snow holing location. The snow builds up here quite rapidly to some depth. Because of this it is always one of the last places in the summer moths to be completely free of snow. Quite a  good depth lingering on at the moment. The photos below are mostly of the old snow with some fresh stuff on top.
Ciste Mhearad

Ciste Mhearad

Ciste Mhearad
I had another wander around the plateau before heading back down. The clouds had rolled in, as forecasted, by mid afternoon. At just under 1200m I spotted a beautiful Mountain Hare. He was sitting quite content nibbling away and dozing. I spent a good hour near this wonderful high altitude hare. His pelage still had some of his winter coat hanging on.
A fine looking Mountain Hare

Seemed to enjoy the fresh snow
Rain not far away
Bog Cotton dried out

Thank you!

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