Wednesday, 21 December 2016
The Winter Solstice brings snow to the Cairngorms
After many days of unseasonally warm weather with grey skies, occasional drizzle and a distinct lack of frost or snow the weather finally turned colder this week and the winter solstice brought snow to the Cairngorms on a fierce south-west wind. Not much snow yet but the mountains look wintry again and more is forecast though the wind speeds also forecast for the next few days don't make heading up high sound very attractive or indeed sensible.
The solstice is always a day for a walk however brief, so I ventured out into the local woods and fields, tempted by some blue sky and shafts of sunlight. It didn't last. As I left the house the first flakes of snow fell. By the time I was a few hundred yards away the sky was full of swirling wet snow, blasted sideways by the wind and stinging my face. A flock of rooks whirled in the wind, black shape-shifting specks against the surging greyness. From the edge of the wood a buzzard took flight, keeping low, just above the grass, to avoid the wind. Turning away from the storm I headed for more sheltered ground. A few cows stood forlornly round a trailer of hay. As I passed a flurry of pheasants shot into the air and shrieked off into the trees.
The intended short walk became even shorter. Sitting by the fire with a hot drink was too enticing for me to stay out long in this weather, bracing and invigorating though it was. A short walk for the shortest day, just six hours and thirty-eight minutes between sunrise and sunset. Tomorrow the day will be a minute longer. By New Year's Eve eight minutes longer. The year has turned.