Monday 14 April 2008

Spring Snow in the Highlands

The snowiest winter for many years continues into the spring with deep snow on the hills this April. A two night trip to Glen Affric a few days ago showed that the snow isn’t just confined to the Cairngorms. Indeed, the extensive views showed snow covered peaks in every direction. Above 700 metres the cover is just about complete except where the sun has melted the snow from rocks and exposed banks. In places the snow is thigh deep and soft, in others crusty and thin, making for slow hard going. Not wanting to carry skis up to the snowline I walked into the hills. In places skis would have been easier but in others there were too many rocks for comfortable skiing. Recent heavy rain and snowmelt had left the ground saturated and finding a dry spot for a camp was difficult. Eventually I squeezed the tent onto a patch of not too sodden moss beside some large boulders on a slight rise. Wild geese called as they flew north low over the camp and the occasional grouse cackled in the heather. Faintly in the distance I could hear the rushing waters of the Abhainn Gleann nam Fiadh. Otherwise all was quiet as I sat outside the tent as the white peaks darkened and a crescent moon grew bright.

Although the sky was mostly overcast, just the occasional burst of sunshine or flash of blue sky colouring the monochrome scene, the clouds stayed above the summits and the air was sharp and clear. I wandered up Toll Creagach, leaving a madly meandering trail as I tried to avoid the deepest snow (not always successfully), and gazed on the mountains all around, a beautiful, wild sight sweeping round the horizon. To the south-west though the view, and my mood, was sullied by a new wind farm, a row of monstrous turbines running along the snowy hills above Glen Moriston, destroying the landscape and the environment. There are already too many of these industrial horrors in the Highlands. As well as fighting to prevent more being built I think it is time to argue that ones like this should be torn down and the land restored, as far as that is possible, not sometime in the future when profits can no longer be made by the developers but now. Destroying wild land in order to save the environment is a contradiction. Anything that reduces wild land and biodiversity is not environmentally friendly, whatever wind farm developers claim.

The self-portrait was taken on the col between Tom a’Choinich and Toll Creagach with Sgurr na Lapaich in the background. Photo info: Canon EOS 350D, Canon EF-S 18-55 mm IS@ 24mm, f8@1/500, ISO 100, tripod, raw file converted to JPEG in DxO Optics Pro.


  1. You're absolutely right about the awfulness of wind turbines. My heart too fills with great sadness at the sight of yet another desecration of the hills.

    The trouble is that after years of propaganda by the BCC and other media, the opinion of the majority is now firmly in favour of more wind farms.

    It's the new religion, paying lip service to the environment, and if you inveigh against wind turbines in polite society you're shunned.

    Sadly, our case has been lost. We've been overwhelmed by the incessant propaganda of the once 'liberal' media.

    Oppose wind farms and you become a pariah.

    I thought Scotland was heaven on earth, midges, gales and all.

    They are quickly turned into Paradise Lost.


  2. Clearly I'm not a member of "polite society"! Most people I know are opposed to wind farms in the hills. The giant Lewis wind farm has just been turned down. All is not yet lost.

  3. I'm really glad to hear that, because down here in the Lowlands I meet fewer and fewer people opposing wind farms. Whenever I voice my concerns, people pull funny faces because I'm not toeing the 'party line' on this matter...

    I'm glad it's a different matter up in the Highlands.

    I hope we can put a stop to this madness but the current government seems even keener on wind turbines than the previous one...

  4. There are groups defending the landscape and nature and opposing wind farms all over the Highlands. There were 11,000 objections to the Lewis wind farm. National organisations like the John Muir Trust and the Mountaineering Council of Scotland are opposing wind farms too. Joining these groups and writing letters and emails to politicians, newspapers, websites etc is all worth while. Our arguments for the land need to be put.