Wednesday, 15 July 2020

Fragile Beauty, Rugged Landscape

The view from Sgor Gaoith

A few days ago I walked from Glen Feshie up onto Carn Ban Mor and Sgor Gaoith, the same area I visited on my last walk before lockdown. Back then the hills were white. Now there is just one small snow patch left, high on the headwall of Gleann Einich. Winter is long gone, summer is at its height.

Summer colour. Bog asphodel and heather amongst the grasses

This is a rugged landscape. Big rolling hills with steep slopes falling into deep corries and glens. It looks challenging and tough and it can be, particularly in stormy weather. This is a place where you need your mountain skills. Yet at the same time much of it is fragile and easily damaged. Beside the path on the way up clumps of bog asphodel and heather shone brightly amongst the grasses, flowers easily crushed if you tramp over them.

Spring, Allt Fhearnagan

From a distance the hills look an almost uniform green-brown in colour. The bright freshness of new spring grass has gone. But look closely and in many places there are bright colours. Wet areas around springs and little burns are rich with vivid red, yellow and green mosses, beautiful and delicate.

Loch Einich

Follow the edge of Gleann Einich round to Sgor Gaoith (a much better route than the main path in good weather) and the scene becomes dramatic. Loch Einich lies some 600 metres below, a dizzying view. Mountain grandeur indeed.

This contrast between scale and form, between the vastness and ruggedness of the landscape and the delicate details of flowers and mosses, is one of the joys of the hills.

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