Friday 30 October 2020

Very wet and windy in the Cairngorms - not the day to try and make a video.


With a forecast for cloud on the highest tops plus a strong wind and showers, sometimes of snow, I thought I'd head again for Carn Eilrig, which is some 500 metres lower than the high tops of the Cairngorms, having failed to reach it due to the burns being in spate at the start of the month. That had otherwise been a good autumn trip with sunshine and fine views. Given that it's been very wet ever since I expected the rivers to be even higher now so I planned to climb the hill from Gleann Einich - there's a bridge across the river! 

Rain started as I took my first steps but as the prediction was for showers I hoped I wouldn't need my waterproofs all day. Five hours later the rain eased enough for me to lower my hood. It turned out to be one of the wettest days I've been out in for quite a while.

The forest is always a joy even in the rain and whilst some of the birches and rowans have lost their leaves and others are fading to a dull brown there was still enough bright autumn colour to raise the spirits. And in the background the brooding hills, dark outlines rising into the clouds. 

As the path rose to run above the Am Beanaidh I looked down on the swirling white water and was glad of that bridge. Carn Eilrig lies on the edge of the hills above the forest with the Am Beanaidh on one side and the Allt Druidh on the other. They converge some 2 kilometres north of the summit. A descent this way looks appealing but it's a terrain trap, leaving you between the two rivers with no bridge.

Once out of the trees I met the buffeting wind, driving the rain down the glen and into my face. Carn Eilrig was behind me now but I was heading for that bridge first. Once across I was glad to turn away from the storm as I climbed boggy slopes to the col south of the summit .

The wind strengthened as I approached the little cairn, blowing me sideways and sending me staggering several times. Without poles I'd probably have fallen. If it was like this here, at 742 metres, what was it like at 1296 metres on Braeriach, which I could see fading into the clouds to the south, a streak of bright white marking a swollen burn crashing down the dark slopes. 

Wondering if I could make a short video showing the conditions even on this lowly top I pulled out my phone. It's waterproof, unlike my camera. Trying to hold it still when I could hardly stand still myself proved too challenging. The short clip at the top of this post was the only half-usable footage I got. 

Returning to the col straight into the storm was hard work, the wind wanting to blast me back up the hill and the rain, halfway to hail now, stinging my face. Turning down into Gleann Enich gave some relief but I only finally relaxed when back in the shelter of the trees. I'd only been out of the forest a couple of hours. It was long enough.

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