On the descent from Meall a'Bhuachaille
After the heat wave of March, the winter of April. Snow on the hills, frost in the glens, a chill in the air. This is how winter should be. The weather has turned and spring is on hold.
View down Ryvoan Pass to the Northern Cairngorms
Having a few hours to spare in Aviemore before a meeting I decided on a taste of the changed weather with an ascent of Meall a’Bhuachaille above Glenmore, a favourite walk that combines many of the features that make the Cairngorms so wonderful – ancient pine woods, a lovely lochan, a fine summit and a great sense of space – yet can be easily done in half a day. The frosty morning threatened fine weather with clear skies and touches of sunshine over
, though the high tops of the
Cairngorms were cloud-capped, just the ragged white edges protruding below the
greyness showing the snow that had fallen overnight. As I admired the
regenerating forest spreading up the slopes either side of An Lochan Uaine I
knew that the forecast was for heavy wintry showers. The Green Lochan itself
lived up to its name, glowing a rich green with the reflection of the pines on
its shores. At one end a new construction – a wooden viewing platform on a
steep slope with a pseudo-rustic bench and rail – was a jarring reminder of
some people’s inability to leave nature alone. Why ever was this completely unnecessary
edifice constructed here? I guess when the bright new wood weathers it will be
less brash and obtrusive but that’s no justification. Glenmore Forest
An Lochan Uaine
Beyond the lochan the trees started to thin out and I could feel the chill edge of the north-east wind. By the time I was on the climb up Meall a’Bhuachaille the first slashes of sleet were whipping across my face. Soon the sleet turned to snow, great wet flakes driven sideways on the wind. Visibility shrank as I entered the cloud and I felt as though I was inside the storm. The summit cairn and stone windbreak was rapidly disappearing under the settling snow. I lingered briefly, wondering if this was a squall that would soon pass, but soon decided the dense cloud and icy blast was here to stay and skittered off down the slippery stones of the descent path. Below two hazy walkers were also making their way down. Beyond them a shining patch of lighter air was all that was visible of Loch Morlich.
The summit of Meall a'Bhuachaille
Back down at the forest’s edge it was still snowing, though I was out of the cloud. Glad of the shelter of the trees I walked back down to the glen floor, the snow soon changing to rain. Later in the afternoon a quick clearance showed the hills shining white with new snow, as wintry as they’ve looked all year.