Tuesday, 1 September 2020


The 1st of September marks the Meteological Autumn. Yes! July and August are my least favourite months in the Scottish Highlands. Too warm, usually wet, midgey, poor clarity of air and too busy on the hills and on the roads. The best months are now here. Mother nature knows this well and the weather today reflected the change in season. A good stiff Cairngorm breeze was blowing, much cooler temperatures, beautiful light and the wonderful colours of Autumn starting to show through in the vegetation. Oh, and no midges :)

I took a wander up on the long Northern ridge that runs up to the Cairngorm plateau from the Ciste carpark and the finest, quietest and least 'ski industry infected' route to Cairn Gorm summit. It's also a great area to see some wildlife for those reasons. My previous visit here I was priveleged to spot Ptarmigan with 3 Juveniles. You get a grand view looking down Strath Nethy if you stick to the edge of these broad, grassy ridges
The wind was quite strong from when I set out.  Higher up, above 1100m, I dropped down into Ciste Mheard to get out of the breeze and to check out the lingering snow patch in this area. There is a 30 m long patch of snow hanging on. A snow tunnel has formed but it's quite low and the roof quite thin so I never ventured far into it.

There had been clear skies early morning but by mid day the cloud was building from the South on the Southerly winds. It is always quite dramatic here in the Cairngorms when a strong South wind blows over the plateau. Huge billowing clouds are created, usually topping the high ground and leaving Strath Spey to the North in the clear.

After lunch I walked up onto the Eastern slopes of Cairn Gorm. This is pathless terrain and you'll see no one in this area. I did get a nice encounter with a Mountain Hare at around 1150m, high altitude hares are brilliant to see. They must be in a select club. Usually lone hares up on the highest slopes, plateaux and summits.

There are still some late Summer flowers about. Devils's Bit Scabious, Harebells's and Alpine Ladies Mantle, even at high altitudes. I ventured across to the top of Stag Rocks it was great to see a couple of Ptarmigan. I'm now seeing these wonderful birds every time I am out in the Cairngorms. This is a good sign that maybe their numbers are on the way back up.

I walked over to the finest viewpoints looking down to Loch A'an. By now Ben Macdui was now in thick cloud and the sun was getting blanked out. I headed back across the plateau via Feithe Buidhe. Up to this point I had only seen a few folk, from a distance. Nearly all my route up to this point had been off a path. At 3.10pm I spotted a few folk wearing shorts at Lochan Buidhe, heading up on the Ben Macdui path. I was feeling slightly overdressed in a fleece top and softshell trousers with thin waterproofs on top. It had started to lightly rain.

I eventually dropped into Coire an Lochain, even here the winds were gusting to above 40mph at 900m. The winds had steadily increased since this morning. On the walk back down to the Cas carpark the sun was shining over the Rothmurchis Forest and Strathspey. Meanwhile, behind me, the clouds were thick, dark and rain bearing.

No comments: