Thursday 5 February 2009

And The Snow Came

After days of warning, and after watching the chaos caused by a touch of the white stuff down south, the snow came to Strathspey. Yesterday heavy, wet snow drifted slowly down all day, sticking to trees and rocks, plastering the sides of buildings. Yet only a few inches actually lay on the ground. But this morning I woke to swirling clouds of much thicker, heavier and drier snow and the snow on the garden path was knee deep. This new snow was cold and had stuck to the wet snow of the day before. Trees were bowed down with the weight, bushes had disappeared under huge mounds (and so had two tents pitched in the garden) and great bosses of snow decorated chimneys, gable ends, gutters, bird feeders and other protuberances.

By early afternoon the snow was fading and the grey sky was turning blue with a strengthening sun appearing, strengthening in terms of brightness that is. The temperature remained below freezing all day. Fetching my old ski gear (dating back to the mid 80s and now only used for short local trips) from the garage I went on a tour of the local woods and fields. The snow was deep and soft and even on skis I sank in shin deep and sometimes more. Progress was slow walking pace at best but actually walking would have been even slower and even more tiring. Even downhill I had to push the skis through the snow, sending a wave in front of my buried skis. Trees heavy with snow were bent over, some forming arches below which I skied. Some had come down, blocking tracks (and roads – many were closed due to fallen trees). Under the trees it was grey and gloomy, the thick snow forming a canopy that cut out the sun. In the open fields the snow shone and the light was sharp. I met a neighbour also out on skis, the only other person about. “Snowshoes would make more sense”, she said. She was probably right. I only skied some three miles but it took me over two hours. Still, it is always wonderful to be able to ski from my front door. And the snow looks like lasting for several days at least. Late in the evening the temperature is -5C. A waxing moon glows palely in the black sky. Winter is here.

Photo info: Ski Tracks. Canon EOS 450D, Canon EF-S 18-55mm IS@18mm, 1/160@F5.6, ISO 200, raw file converted to JPEG in Lightroom 2.


  1. It might be a local wood but it looks like it is in a wilderness area. Magic scene. Is it one of the best winters you can remember in the Highlands Chris?

  2. Martin, yes! Especially at lower levels. I'm just back from a two day tour in the hills round my house - high point 549 metres - and the amount of snow is tremendous. I never expected to find superb snow for downhill skiing on these rounded heather-clad hills.