Wednesday 19 July 2017

Summer Heat in the Cairngorms

The Feith Buidhe and Lochan Buidhe on the Cairngorm Plateau

The last two days have been hot and sunny in the Cairngorms, a wonderful change from the generally dull and cool weather of the last six weeks or so. On the 17th two of us went across the Cairngorm Plateau to Ben Macdui under a rich blue sky with splendidly clear views all around. There was a fairly strong wind that meant it didn't feel too hot and which, I guess, helped keep the air so clear.

Coire Domhain, Carn Etchachan & Derry Cairngorm

Whilst the higher ground was dry and crunchy underfoot the corries looked wet and all the streams were running strongly. We saw no snow apart from a few small patches high up in An Garbh Coire across the Lairig Ghru. I can't remember when there was so little snow left at this time of year.

Cairn Toul & Sgor an Lochain Uaine

There were snow buntings around the cairn at the top of the Fiacaill a'Choire Chais and on the summit of Ben Macdui waiting for any crumbs we dropped, the males handsome in their black and white summer plumage. A ptarmigan scuttled low across the rocks, probably trying to lead us away from her chicks though we didn't see any. A young wheatear bobbed from rock to rock beside the path, its dappled brown plumage good camouflage but its white rump quite distinctive. The grasses were bright green and there were red and yellow splashes of moss in the damp areas. A bumblebee fumbled across the stones, blown up by the wind we assumed. Summer on the Cairngorm Plateau. Short-lived but glorious while it lasts. On a day like this it was hard to remember the arctic feel of winter or even the rainswept greyness of recent weeks. For today it was benign and friendly, basking in summer perfection.

Looking across the Plateau to Ben Macdui with Lochan Buidhe on the left and the headwaters of the March Burn on the right and the path crossing the narrow low watershed between the two

We met maybe a dozen or so other walkers, fewer than expected on such a fine day. The only camp we saw was in Coire an Lochain where three people were swimming in the lochan, which made my companion, a keen wild swimmer, jealous as we had no time to descend into the corrie.

Miadan Creag an Leth-choin & Cairn Lochan

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