Saturday, 30 May 2015

A SNOWY BEN NEVIS

A very wintery looking north face
The team celebrating on the summit of The Ben
One of the quieter moments on the pony Track
Carn Dearg
Heres a friend we met
Summit plateau
Lee on the crux move to the top
A bit quieter on the descent, Mamores looking wintery too

Drooping cornices
Spot the celebrities, lovies
Summit sunshine
And we finished on a lovely song from the locals

Just by good luck we enjoyed the nicest day of the week for our day up on Ben Nevis. It was a cloudy morning but as forecasted the clouds lifted and broke up leaving a lovely afternoon with lots of sunshine. Today I was guiding a group of 6 folk from South Wales for Lakeland Mountain Guides. Many groups and individuals on the hill, some not quite equipped for the current conditions. Seemed like many were turning back this morning. We hit the snowline at bend 4 on the zig-zags. The path was well trodden and therefore the compacted snow was getting icy. I was more concerned about the poorly shod people sliding into my group so we cut up through the zig-zag paths and made our own tracks onto the plateau. If your navigation is not up to scratch the area around bends 6-7 is a very confusing area at the moment. The conditions we have look more like the end of March than the end of May! The trig point plinth at the summit is still completely buried. There are huge cornices and a lot of footprints all over the plateau. I took my team around the lip of the north face crags to give them the stupendous views of the snowy and icy north face.  We were rubbing shoulders with celebrities this morning, chatting to some of the panel on a TV show called 'Loose Women' who were out raising money for charity. My group were laughing has I only recognised one of them, such is my knowledge of celebretism! Great day out with fun group with lots of craic. Well done to all the team in the winter like conditions today. Some more wintry weather next few days then midweek onwards it will apparently be more like what June weather should be like.

Friday, 29 May 2015

MORE SNOW, HAIL BUT A BIT OF SUN

My favourite clouds, big cumulus today
great biking trails and a bit of sun
A dusting of fresh snow o The Cairngorms
Downhill through the Scots Pines in the sun
Chilly breeze out of the trees
Last couple of days we've had more dusting's of snow in The Cairngorms and over in the west too. When will this cold weather end? Still there have been good periods of sunshine in between the heavy downpours. As always with a showery forecast, it is always hit and miss if you're going to get a soaking. Today on the bike it was mainly dry and lovely in the sunshine. Over working on Ben Nevis tomorrow and I dare say it will look a bit wintry. Summer will come soon, wont it?

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

BIKING

Lovely single track riding
The view at the top. Braeriach
The odd, natural obstacle
A quick blast on the bike today. Still on the cool side for late May and an overcast day. Good biking weather and some nice, quiet trails only minutes from the A9. Also a great place for catching a glimpse for that most elusive of birds, The Capercaille. But none today.
I recently entered the OS competition that they have been running for a few months. They are revamping all their maps of the UK along with new photos on the front cover. Winners were chosen by the general public who voted. Thanks to everyone who voted for me. Yours truly won the photograph competition for the Glen Carron map! One of my favourite areas in the whole of Scotland.  Here's the image that nailed it! :)
The one that nailed it! Guess where this was taken from


Tuesday, 26 May 2015

COOL DAY ON THE FIACAILL RIDGE

Cool and dry along the Fiacaill Ridge
Great scrambling
The 'Beyonce' of the bird world. Female ptarmigan in Spring plumage
Not forgetting the male ptarmigan
The Fiacaill Ridge in profile
Dotterel
Another cool day in The Cairngorms but it was dry and a high cloud base with some bright spells in the afternoon. Scrambling along the Fiacaill Ridge today we were shod in hat and gloves with the stiff, cold wind. Great fun as always, shame it's quite short but it's very sweet. Lots of wonderful wildlife including ptarmigan in their Spring plumage. A real contrast between the male and female this time of year and so very easy to distinguish between the two. The snow is now diminishing quickly and the Goat Track is starting look more spring like. Still large snowfields out toward Ben Macdui and in all the north and east facing corries. Apparently the long term weather forecasts are predicting something rather warmer come June. Flaming June? We shall see.....

Monday, 25 May 2015

DOLPHIN WATCHING AT THE BLACK ISLE

Bottlenose Dolphins (bits of)
Oystercatcher
Turnstones
Dunlin
Whimbrel

Nearly!
The weekend weather went a bit downhill, once again. After Saturday's lovely start we were back to showers but at least it's been a bit warmer! We had a day up to the Black Isle for some Dolphin & birdwatching. The Bottlenose Dolphins at Chanonry point is one of the finest places in Europe to observe these wonderful creatures. They come very close to land so its a really good spot to see them if you're not on the water. Like all wildlife though, it is mostly down to luck and timing if you get a good sighting. Not many dolphins breaching above the water today but plenty of fins and tails to tease! Lots of bird life to keep you happy though.

Saturday, 23 May 2015

SUMMER ARRIVES IN THE CAIRNGORMS

Family group, first Munro
Robert on the final steps to Cairn Gorm
Nice views!
The quieter route up to Cairn Gorm, avoiding the steep steps from the cafe
Strathspey and Loch Morlich
Northern Corries, Braeriach, Cairn Toul from Cairn Gorm summit
Family group Robert, Rachael, Andy & Andrew were out on their first Munro today with me. Indeed it was their first big hillwalk. They booked a while back so how lucky for them that they got a stunning, clear and warm day for their walk up to Cairn Gorm. After an unseasonably cool and snowy May so far, it looks like today could be the start of Summer, or at least Spring. Of course you may want to heed the old saying 'ne'er cast a clout till May be out'! Busy day on the hill with lots of groups, runners and challenge event folk out enjoying the sun.

Thursday, 21 May 2015

MACDUI & CAIRN GORM, MORE LIKE SPRING

Still ligering snow but more Spring like on the Cairngorm plateau
Go see this if you go to Macdui!
These fellows way, way outnumbered humans today
Nice afternoon on the way up to Cairn Gorm
Spring snow
Macdui summit
Cairn Toul & Braeriach

Snow bunting in the snow
The temperatures nudged up another degree or two today and it was a very pleasant day even with the stiff Cairngorm breeze. Jill, Paul & Carl were out with me for a couple of Cairngorm Munros. We headed to a deserted Ben Macdui just as the cloud descended and a bit of drizzle. For the first time in a long time the precipitation fell as rain, not snow! Soon after leaving the summit the cloud lifted and it was a lovely afternoon. Time for a wander over to the Loch Avon basin and some lovely views. We finished off on Cairn Gorm for the groups second Munro and my fourth visit up this one this week. The ptarmigan and now bunting way, way out numbered humans today, the only people we saw were a group of teenagers with 'minimilist clothing' including one guy with the latest in breathable denim ( jeans with many holes in). The adult 'leader' wore a full range of the latest out door kit! Another great day on the big Cairngorm hills. Maybe Spring is actually coming, sown to two layers most of the day.

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

CAIRN TOUL - BRAERIACH TRAVERSE

Edward on the final summit of Braeriach
ngels Ridge, Sgor an Lochan Uaine
The final steps to Cairn Toul
A couple of skiers having fun
Sgor an Lochan Uaine
Cairn Toul celebrations - 5.5 hrs after leaving Coylumbridge
The summit of the Lairig Ghru & Cairn Toul
Still a wintry scene
The classic high level route on the western Cairngorm plateau, Cairn Toul - Braeriach traverse, is one of the finest high level mountain adventures in Britain. Edward was fired up for this today. The weather was much nicer with bright skies, high level cloud and light winds. A tad milder too after all it is May. We cycled as far as the forestry in the Lairig Ghru and walked up nto the Garbh Coire Mor. It's a long walk in for Cairn Toul, whichever direction you tackle it from. We reached the summit in five and a half hours after leaving Coylumbridge. From here on it is over two hours across the plateau to reach Braeriach, traversing over the Munro summit of Sgor an Lochan Uaine. There were a couple of guys skiing just to the south of Angels Ridge then climbing back up through the corrie, the only people we saw all day. We got hit with a snow shower as we waled along toward Braeriach but it cleared through by the time we got to the summit. Big day out for Edward, 12 hours, and a good training day for his up and coming Kindrochit Challenge quadrathlon. A great couple of days and Edwards first foray into The Cairngorms and one he will remember for a while.