Tuesday, 24 December 2019

The Solstice on Cairn Gorm

Top of the Fiacaill a'Choire Chais

A walk on the solstice to celebrate the turning of the light. Now the days grow longer. I went up onto the Cairngorm Plateau. My plan was to go over Stob Coire an t-Sneachda and Cairn Lochain and gaze down the cliffs to frozen lochans far below and across the white snowy sweep of the plateau to Ben Macdui.

Cairn Lochan

But clouds swirled over Cairn Lochan, shrouding the plateau. Ben Macdui was hidden. Cairn Gorm, though, was in sunshine. I changed direction and cramponed up the hard icy snow to the weather station. The ragged edge of the clouds was just breaking on Cairn Gorm, strands drifting over the summit.

The Cairn Gorm Weather Station

A party of walkers was just leaving as I arrived. Then I was alone, with the Cairngorms spread out before me and the sun sinking in the west. 2.30 pm. The shortest day.


A hot drink, a snack, another jacket, warmer gloves, camera on tripod, waiting for the sunset. The summit was hazy as thin tendrils of mist drifted over, then bright with sunshine, then hazy again. The clouds were thickening and rising though. The sun was disappearing.


For a few brief moments I was above the clouds, watching their tops turn gold and the sky darkening. Then the mist enveloped me, cold and damp. Time to descend.


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