Sunday 14 January 2018

A bad weather retreat rewarded

Loch Morlich

The forecast wasn't good but as I had to be in Aviemore anyway and then drop off some snowshoes at Glenmore Lodge I thought I might as well go for a walk in the hills. A slow retreat ensued. In Coire Cas the car was rocking in the wind. I could see a small group practising ice axe braking on a nearby snow patch and other figures staggering in the wind. Fast moving clouds hid the summits. I ventured across the car park braced against the gusts. Maybe the Sugarbowl car park and a lower level walk to the Chalamain Gap was a better idea.

A brief, hazy, wind-shaken view of Creag an Leth-choin

The Sugarbowl was a sheet of ice. Sliding about holding onto the car while I unloaded my gear I wondered if I'd get out of the car park. Skirting round the edge I managed it. The path, thankfully, was less icy and sheltered from the wind as it crossed the deep ravine of the Allt Mor. Once up the other side the wind was ferocious. Some gusts stopped me moving, others blew me sideways. Bits of snow, gravel and heather lashed my face. Dim hill shapes came and went in the writhing clouds. I clung to my trekking poles. After nearly being blown over for the third or fourth time I decided this was foolish and I could injure myself - which would leave me feeling stupid if it happened on an easy path like this! Down to Loch Morlich I thought and a wander along the shore. Forty-five minutes after setting off I was back at the car.

The Allt Mor, Ryvoan Pass & Meall a'Bhuachaille

The loch was my reward for being sensible and retreating from the hills. The wind was sending big waves crashing onto the sandy beach where people sun themselves on hot days. In one corner shattered plates of ice had been driven onto the shore, remnants of the recent big freeze. Further out rafts of ice splinters surged up and down on the dark water. I'd never seen the loch like this before. Usually I only come here when the weather is good and the hills shine in the distance. Mostly I drive by on my way to and from the hills. Today I was glad the wind had persuaded me down here.

Mallards on Morlich

As I wandered the loch shore in the increasingly strong and cold wind I came across a large flock of mallard ducks bobbing on the water close to the shore. They seemed quite serene and unmoved by the weather as they rose and fell with the swell of the waves. Cold and wind-blasted I headed for Aviemore and hot coffee.

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