Sunday 20 February 2022

Storm & Sun: The first big snow fall of the winter arrives with Storm Eunice and gives two contrasting days.

For once the high winds brought by the latest big storm stayed well south of the Highlands. Up here on its northern edge we had a day of snow - heavy snow, by far the heaviest of the winter so far. It fell steadily hour after hour, plastering the fields and the woods. Out in the big meadows it was almost white-out conditions. In the the forest the trees were hazy and mysterious.

I ventured out into the blizzard. The snow was soft and deeper than I expected and the walking laborious. I should have had my skis or snowshoes. As so often the snow levelled out the bumps and dips, the rocks and rabbit burrows, so they couldn't be seen, but wasn't deep or dense enough to stop your feet finding them. I came close to breaking a leg in a rabbit hole a few times. My local fields had become dangerous terrain!

I returned home via a track with a bit firmer surface. The snow continued to fall. Sometime during the night it ceased. Day came with a clear sky, soon blue and bright. Time for the skis. 

The snow was still soft. I didn't get much glide. But the skis evened out the terrain, sliding over holes and bumps. It was a joy to be on skis for the first time this winter too. The fields felt like vast arctic tundra, so much bigger and wilder than when snowless. In the distance the white Cairngorms rippled.

The sun was warm and I'd soon stripped off gloves and undone jacket. The snow glare and bright sun made dark glasses essential. Under the blue sky the Cromdale Hills looked fine, the horrible scars of muirburn well hidden.

As the afternoon started to fade into dusk thin high clouds increased in the west. Tomorrow is forecast to be stormy again, with high winds, rain, sleet, and snow. But this was a perfect day.

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