|Loch an Eilein|
The last week has been misty and mild and damp with layers of clouds draped over the hills and filling the sky. Grey is the prevalent colour with little sign of the brightness of spring. In these conditions water often brings life to the landscape so with that in mind I headed for Loch an Eilein, a lovely little loch set in the ancient pines of Rothiemurchus Forest. The sky was banded with thin bright clouds through which the sun almost broke interspersed with much thicker, heavier and darker clouds. The forest was sombre and the hills mostly silhouettes. But the water was full of reflections and shadows, echoing the sky above and giving the landscape a subtle beauty.
|Loch of the Island|
I wandered along the shore looking out at the ruined castle on the island that gives the loch its name. In the distance white snowfields hung below the ragged edge of the clouds. All was calm in the trees. Out on the water ducks - goldeneye, mallard - paddled and dived. Two geese - greylags I think - disturbed the loch with a wing-flapping, honking, water thrashing landing. The woods rang with bird song, the only real sign of spring.
|Braeriach & Sgoran Dubh Mor|
Passing little Loch Gamhna I climbed steeply up through the pines beside the rushing snowmelt-filled Allt Coire Follais. As the trees thinned the first snow patches appeared, soft and wet. The last snow bridges, just inches thick, spanned the stream. Above the stony hillside was mostly snow free with just the bulky tor of Clach Mhic Cailein (The Argyll Stone) breaking the long flat horizon. On reaching the broad ridge I was met by a cool southerly wind. Time, finally, for a jacket. To the south Braeriach and Sgoran Dubh Mor were cloud-capped and snow-streaked, dark under the brooding sky. Walking that way didn't look attractive so I turned my back to the wind and followed the ridge slowly downwards to Cadha Mor and a steep pathless descent back to the forest.
|Loch an Eilein from Cadha Mor|