|Snow After Dark, April 2, 2012|
The heat wave with its record temperatures, deep blue skies and dry air has slowly faded over the last few days, ending this evening with heavy snow falling. Winter has returned and the early signs of spring will need to be resilient to survive the cold and snow. A few days ago, as the sun hung on in a hazy sky, I explored the local woods in search of the first flowers and found primroses and lesser celandine, bright against the debris of the forest floor. Those flowers will be under snow now.
On Bynack More
A day later I headed out for what was intended as a last sunny and warm day in the hills before the weather returned to normal for the time of year. The clouds were thicker than forecast though and the wind stronger and colder. I wandered up Bynack More on the eastern edge of the Cairngorms. The gusty, skin-tingling west wind swept across the long north ridge and I dropped down to a path on the eastern side rather than following the crest. On the summit the wind was gusting to 36mph and the temperature was 7.5°C. Instead of sitting in the sunshine as I had five days earlier on Ben Macdui I sheltered behind one of the many rough granite boulders that decorate the top for a snack and a drink before heading back down out of the wind.
The next day light drizzle heralded the final end of the exceptional weather. Overnight the temperature fell to zero. Snow was forecast. And yesterday evening it came, at the time predicted, starting out fine and thin but soon turning heavy and wet as darkness fell. By midnight the snow lay thick and deep and it continued to fall. The change is abrupt, the sunshine and warmth of a week ago already a fading memory, a story to tell of March days that felt more like summer. Now we wait to see how long the new winter will last.