Friday 24 November 2017

The First Snow

There’s been snow on the hills, there’s been a dusting in the glens, but the world has not turned completely white this winter, so white that I can step in snow from my front door, until the last forty-eight hours. Yesterday I woke to the snow falling steadily and silently, building up on the trees, the rocks, the ground. In the afternoon I wandered the fields and woods watching the whiteness increase, watching the world change. The heavy snow was over but frequent showers still blew in bringing more, transforming the landscape.

A calm frosty night brought a cold day and clearing skies. With a winter landscape all around there was no need to venture far for the first real snow walk of the season. The softness of the snow suggested snowshoes and I donned these before I set off. In the woods they were a boon. The snow was deep and unconsolidated. Even with the snowshoes I was sinking in ankle deep at times. Nothing moved but the tracks of fox, deer, squirrel and rabbit showed animals had been on the move, seeking food to get them through another frozen night.

Beyond the woods I climbed gently up a moorland track, the snow more compacted and thinner here. The wide expanse of Strathspey began to open up, stretching out to the Cromdale Hills and the distant cloud-shrouded high Cairngorms, only Bynack More clearly visible. 

At the high point of the track I stared out over the landscape, amazed, as always, at how much wilder and vaster snow makes these little moorland hills. A sharp wind had me moving again, heading back down as the first pink suffused the sky and the shadows on the Cromdale Hills grew even longer. The magic of winter has returned. 

More snow is forecast.

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