My blog is now over seven years old and it was time for a revamp, so I’ve updated it to the latest version of WordPress and redesigned the theme, which is based on WP-Bootstrap, developed by 320 Press. The design also integrates with the rest of my website, which uses the Drupal Bootstrap theme, so now my whole website is ‘responsive‘.
Two academic papers have been published recently in the journal ‘The Holocene‘:
- Harrison S, Rowan A V, Glasser N F, Knight J, Plummer M A, Mills S C. 2014. Little Ice Age glaciers in Britain: Glacier–climate modelling in the Cairngorm mountains. The Holocene 24. 135-140. Abstract: http://hol.sagepub.com/content/24/2/135. Full text of paper (PDF; access only from subscribing institutions): http://hol.sagepub.com/content/24/2/135.full.pdf
- Kirkbride M, Everest J, Benn D, Gheorghiu D, Dawson A. 2014. Late-Holocene and Younger Dryas glaciers in the northern Cairngorm Mountains, Scotland. The Holocene 24. 141-148. Abstract: http://hol.sagepub.com/content/24/2/141. Full text of paper (PDF; access only from subscribing institutions): http://hol.sagepub.com/content/24/2/141.full.pdf
The two papers complement each other and describe different techniques to come to the same conclusion, that glaciers existed in corries in the Cairngorm mountains during the ‘late Holocene’, i.e. significantly later than the accepted date for the end of the last period of glaciation in the British Isles, which was the Younger Dryas stadial (also called the Loch Lomond readvance), about 11,500 years ago. They also speculate (and provide some evidence) that this may have been as recently as the period referred to as the ‘Little Ice Age‘ (LIA), corresponding roughly to the period from AD 1550 to AD 1850.
I have been interested in the Canadian island of Baffin Island since ‘Frozen Fire: a Tale of Courage‘ by James Houston was a set text when I went to school. Baffin Island, which straddles the Arctic Circle in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago is in many ways the archetypal ‘Arctic’ location – it has sea ice, polar bears, mountains, glaciers, icecaps, icebergs, fjords, the fabled ‘Northwest Passage‘, whales and Eskimos (now of course, known as Inuit). So Adam Watson‘s book, published in 2011, about his journey to Baffin Island sixty years ago as a young man in 1953 has been on my reading list for some time.
For several years now, there has been a secretive and remote location in the Scottish mountains that I have been trying to get to. This location is Garbh Choire Mòr, a corrie at the western end of the larger An Garbh Choire in the Cairngorm mountains, between Braeriach and Cairn Toul, and it is notable because it holds the most persistent snowpatches in the Scottish mountains (see my website pages about perennial snowpatches in the Scottish mountains here).
Three weeks ago whilst staying for a week in nearby Kinlochbervie, I climbed the 801m Corbett summit of Cranstackie in Sutherland. Cranstackie (along with its neighbouring Corbett summit of Beinn Spionnaidh) is the most northerly mountain (if you count a mountain as being above the Corbett height of 762m) in the British Isles, and Sutherland is a very dramatic and remote landscape.
At the end of March I did a 30km cycle route in the Scottish Borders. This route was a loop that started and finished at Longyester, and used 4×4 tracks to ascend to the 527m summit of Lammer Law and cross the high moorland of the Lammermuir Hills to the east of Lammer Law, along a track that follows a line of electricity pylons and doesn’t drop much below 400m. There aren’t many places in Scotland where you can cycle on decent tracks at such a high altitude. Unfortunately a new wind farm was being built on the moorland at Fallago Rig which I had to cycle through, although this was a Sunday and the site was quiet. I then continued on the B6355 road, which is one of the highest public roads in Scotland, rising to a height of nearly 440m, before an amazing descent, losing 200m of altitude in 4km.
Last week I climbed Ben Nevis with Lesley’s sister, Kate. Kate had had an ambition to climb the highest mountain in the British Isles, and asked me to guide her as she is not an experienced hillwalker.
Because the aim of the trip was simply to attain the summit, and not take Kate anywhere dangerous or uncomfortable, I chose to do this the simplest way, using the ‘tourist’ route up and down. I knew there are many things about this route that make it a less than pleasant route choice, though, and so it turned out to be!
Five weeks ago I undertook an expedition from Blair Atholl to Aviemore. This was a long walk, 66km in total that took me three days with two nights of wild camping. This was a route that I had wanted to walk for a long time as it’s one of the longest largely linear walking routes that can be done in Scotland through terrain that has no public roads or settlements of any kind, and travels through one of the most remote and wild landscapes in the British Isles. It also has the advantage of having a train station at either end meaning that a return journey to the starting point can be done easily by train.
Six weeks ago in mid-May I travelled to the Cairngorms for a trip to take advantage of some rare good weather that was forecast. Upon arrival in the evening I camped overnight in an excellent site in the heart of Rothiemurchus Forest, only 45 minutes’ walk from the road at Coylumbridge but with a real feeling of being in a wild and remote area (see photo to the left). The site is well-sheltered on a flat piece of grass next to the Cairngorm Club footbridge that crosses the Am Beanaidh river and is surrounded by the Scots Pines of the forest.
A month ago Lesley and I travelled to England and Wales for a week’s holiday. During the trip we went on two great walks in upland areas.
The first was in Snowdonia National Park. We started at the village of Beddgelert where we were staying in a B&B and walked east out of the village past the Sygun Copper Mine towards Llyn Dinas. This lake is not far from Nantgwynant where I started the ascent of Snowdon with Martin and Kate in April 2010 (see my previous blog posting ‘Snowdonia‘). Then we climbed up to the pass of Cwm Bychan where there was a view of the summit of Snowdon and some old mine workings. A descent then took us to the village of Nantmor and the recently reopened Welsh Highland Railway.