Thursday 9 June 2016

Thunderstorms & Sunshine: Days of Contrast

Coire an Lochain

That the weather can change rapidly in the Scottish Highlands is a truism. ‘Four seasons in one day’, as the saying goes. Sometimes the contrast is stark though and so it was on two days this week when I went on two short walks.

River Spey

The first was along the River Spey on a very hot day. The river shimmered in the heat. The sky was blue, distant clouds white. The banks of the river were rich with fresh vegetation and bright with blossom and early summer flowers. On sandy beaches children paddled in the edges of the river. Anglers waded out into the water thigh-deep to cast their lines. Further along a group of teenagers were swimming, splashing and shrieking out in the middle of the river. Away from the people birds dozed on rocks in the hot sun – mallards, pied wagtails, dippers, common sandpipers, black-headed gulls. All somnolent and still. It was a perfect summer’s day, an idyll, the sort of day summer should be.

River Spey

A day later I was in Aviemore as the first crash of thunder shook the skies and the rain began, torrential rain that lasted for several hours. It’s not wise being up high in thunderstorms (I’ve run from them a few times) so I amended my plans to a walk into the Northern Corries, and only that if the storm eased. In Corrie Cas I sat in the car watching the rain lashing down and decided another coffee was a good idea. Eventually the rain lessened a little and I ventured out. Although the sky was solid grey the cloud was above the summits. Heading into the lower reaches of Coire an t-Sneachda I could see a surprising amount of snow hanging on the walls of Coire an Lochain. After many days of hot sunshine I thought more would have gone. 

View over Glenmore to Meall a'Bhuachaille

Before I reached the upper corrie the rain strengthened again and there was a hint of thunder, just a distant faint rumble but enough to make me feel exposed. I turned and retreated back to the car, looking over a mist-filled Glenmore to the dark outlines of the Meall a’Bhuachaille hills. Only the new bright grass beside the path made any connection with the lush richness and sunshine of the day before.

It really was wet

1 comment: