Sunday 3 December 2023

Meall a' Bhuchaille in the snow on the first day of December

View to Cairn Gorm & The Northern Corries

December begins and the land is white. After the snow that fell at the end of November the temperature dropped and it’s been below freezing ever since. Winter is here. Dense fog sometimes fills the air. Sometimes the sun shines bright, casting an illusion of warmth.

My recuperation from the operation (non-serious but essential) in early November I decided on a longer hill walk than the short local one I did ten days ago. Since then I have stuck to little walks without a pack in the fields and woods by my house. A long winter day out with a full winter pack was probably unwise so I decided on an afternoon walk through Ryvoan Pass and over Meall a’Bhuachaille. I never need an excuse to do this lovely walk!

After sunset on Meall a' Bhuachaille

With snow down to glen level I still took an ice axe along with micro spikes rather than heavier crampons. The snow shovel stayed at home too. My pack still weighed 8kg. I hoped it wasn’t too much.

An Lochan Uaine

Last time I did this walk, back in October, the autumn colours were at their height. Now the trees are thick with snow. As there’s been no wind it has stuck to the trees, bending the branches and creating weird and wonderful ethereal shapes. An Lochan Uaine (the Green Lochan) was blue rather than green, reflecting the sky. Many people were here, enjoying the winter beauty. The air was cold but calm.

Approaching the summit

Beyond the lochan I met few others. Once I started up Meall a’Bhuachaille I met no-one until the summit, where a solitary walker was enjoying the sunset.

Mist fills Strathspey

Across Glenmore Cairn Gorm and the Northern Corries were catching the last of the setting sun. Drifting clouds were turning pink and orange. Looking the other way I could see mist filling Strathspey. From up here it looked impressive. Driving home slowly through it later on it didn’t seem so attractive.

Keeping warm

The summit was bitterly cold, a light breeze numbing exposed skin. I was very glad of the down jacket I’d brought. Out to the west I could see mist beginning to form in the glens.

Loch Morlich

Across silvery Loch Morlich the silent woods and hills were pale and grey below the orange horizon. On the descent I was glad of my trekking poles as the snow was slippery in places, especially lower down where it was thinner and slid easily off the stone steps of the path. I didn’t need my micro spikes or ice axe but I might have done.


I reached the forest as the bright spot of the planet Jupiter appeared above the shoulder of Meall a’Bhuachaille. The last light had gone now and I finished the walk by the light of my headlamp in the dark forest. It had been a glorious walk.


  1. hi Chris - you have posted many glorious photos recently - thank you so much!

  2. I second that opinion, keep up the great photos 😉 M&H xx

  3. Thanks for the comments. I'll keep posting pictures!