Friday 5 October 2007

Summer’s Over, Here’s The Sun: Walking the Western Cairngorms

Autumn in the Highlands has begun brightly with sunshine and sharp, clear views; a great relief following a dismal, grey summer of rain and low cloud. After a day of sitting in committee rooms discussing Mountaineering Council of Scotland business I was keen to head into the hills. The sunshine continued the next day but by the time I was climbing the path up Coire Fhearnagan from Glen Feshie the clouds were rolling in and drizzle was drifting down. Enveloped in mist I crossed the boggy expanses of the Moine Mhor (Great Moss) to camp on a patch of not-too-wet ground above Loch nan Cnapan. Rain was beating on the tent as I fell asleep but I woke to the heat and bright light of the newly risen sun. The mist and rain drenched land shone and sparkled. Rutting red deer stags bellowed nearby, the wild, guttural sound of the Highland autumn. The little pointed peak of Sgor Gaoith glowed in the long-angled sunshine. Far below Loch Einich lay in shadow. Leaving the wet tent to dry I climbed the big 1200+ metre peaks to the east: Braeriach, Sgor an Lochain Uaine and Cairn Toul, treading the rim of magnificent An Garbh Coire above the remnants of the first snows of the winter, which had fallen a few days before. Across the great cleft of the Lairig Ghru big, bulky Ben MacDui, the highest peak in the Cairngorms, was shedding the last of the clouds. Turning from the high tops I cut back down to the tent, packed up and retraced my steps down Coire Fhearnagan as the sun set and mists began to form in the glens, filling the spaces between the blue hills that stretched out into the west. A glorious day, indeed.

The photo shows the view over the Highlands just after sunset on the descent to Glen Feshie. Photo info: Canon EOS 350D, Canon EF-S 18-55mm lens @ 54mm, f5.6@1/80, ISO 400, raw file converted to JPEG in Capture One Pro and cropped in Photoshop Elements 5.

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