Thursday 3 August 2023

Clouds & Sunshine: An August Day On The Cairngorm Plateau

A pool on the Cairngorm Plateau with Sgor an Lochain Uaine in the distance

The first day of August and a short break in the rainy weather forecast I went across the Cairngorm Plateau to Ben Macdui, a walk that I always enjoy.

At first the day was typical of high summer, a haziness in the sky, a washed-out slightly faded look to the land. The thin clouds were far above the summits, the weak sun occasionally breaking through with heat and brightness.

Lochan Buidhe

Soon the clouds darkened to the south and began to break to the east. The change in the light brought colour and contrast to the landscape and interesting shapes and patterns in the clouds.The pleasant day became spectacular.

The summit of Ben Macdui

The stony summit of Ben Macdui was shaded by high pale clouds. To the south the hills were hidden in thicker clouds. These were moving fast towards me and I wondered if I’d make it back across the Plateau before I was enveloped so I didn't linger. A quick snack, some water, a few photos and it was on with the pack and away.

Clouds approaching Cairn Toul

However, as I turned to head back north the skies ahead of me cleared and the sun shone. At the same time the clouds surged along the cleft of the Lairg Ghru to my left, covering the big mountains on the far side. As I walked in the sunshine I could see the clouds advancing at the same speed, paralleling my route, an unusual experience.

Ben Macdui & Cairn Toul

Turning for a last look at Ben Macdui before dropping down the shoulder of Cairn Lochan I could see wisps of cloud just touching the summit.

Cairn Lochan

Lower down the sun shone on the cliffs of Cairn Lochan but immediately above them the clouds were thickening. The sunshine stayed with me all the way to Coire Cas and the end of my walk though by the time I reached there the clouds were down on the summit of Cairn Gorm. The weather window forecast had been just right. A great way to start the month.



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