Adam Watson has been continuously observing and collecting data about snow in the north-east of Scotland (and particularly in the Cairngorm mountains) since the 1930s, and this important book represents the culmination of that activity. It will have a strong claim in the future to being the standard reference work in the discipline of research into and observation of long-lasting snowpatches and snow-cover in general in the Scottish mountains.
Adam Watson can surely lay claim to being a true ‘Mountain Man’ of Scotland – perhaps the premier contemporary claimant to this auspicious title!
Adam Watson’s recently published ‘It’s a fine day for the hill‘ (subtitled ‘And once in a blue sun and moon’, the meaning of which is explained in the book) is his personal memoir of mountain exploits (especially in the Cairngorm and Mounth regions of the Scottish mountains) in the years from the 1940s to the early 1960s and the people he has known. In his time he has been a young amateur naturalist, a gillie, a student and researcher, a bird-watcher, a hillwalker, a rock climber, a mountaineer, a cross-country skier, a writer and an environmental scientist.
One of my pet interests is the study of long-lasting (and sometimes ‘perennial’) snowpatches in the Scottish mountains. I have written many previous postings on my blog on this subject (see a list of these on my website here).
The question of what factors affect the longevity of snowpatches in the Scottish mountains through the summer and autumn seasons, and potentially until they are covered permanently by the snow of a subsequent winter (making them ‘perennial’), is one which has been discussed at some length in the relevant academic and scientific literature since the early 20th century (see a complete list of these references on my website here). Simply put, these factors are many and varied, but include:
Last week I went for a short walk in Glen Lethnot, one of the Angus glens north of Brechin, with my friend Katy. We walked from the farm at Auchowrie, up the west slope of Hill of Wirren, to look for two air wreck sites on the hill. However the weather was not as good as we had hoped and the light was very poor in the low cloudbase (not very good for photos), so we only investigated one of these sites, that of a Bristol Beaufort bomber that crashed on the hill in 1942.
Last week I went for a short walk on the moorlands to the east of Largs, in the Clyde Muirshiel Regional Park. I was looking for the wreckage of a BEA Vickers Viking, one of the first commercial passenger aircraft in the UK, that crashed in the area in 1948 on approach to Renfrew Airport near Glasgow.
Last week I travelled to the Cairngorms and spent the day walking in the Braeriach area. I walked from Whitewell in the Rothiemurchus Forest, into the Lairig Ghru and up along Coire Beanaidh (where I spent a night camping on a Mountain Leader training course three years ago) to the 1296m summit of Braeriach. I wanted to explore Coire Beanaidh to see if I could discover any wreckage from a World War Two Airspeed Oxford training aircraft that crashed on Braeriach in 1943. I found many pieces of the aircraft in the upper reaches of the corrie, including the two engines from the Oxford. This wreckage does not seem have been recorded by anyone else, in any book or website, to the best of my knowledge.
Three days ago I travelled to the Galloway Hills and walked to the 814m summit of Corserine from Forrest Bridge, through a large forest plantation and steep grassy slopes. Approaching the summit via North Gairy Top, I saw the unusual sight of a herd of wild goats, although I have now seen wild goats on various mountains in Scotland, including An Teallach and Slioch in the north-west Highlands and Swatte Fell in the Borders.
Last week I met up with my friend Bernhard and we undertook a 35km cycle route in the northern Cairngorms. The route was an anti-clockwise loop starting and finishing at Loch Garten.
We took advantage of the only day with a forecast of good weather that week, and we had ideal conditions for cycling, with no wind or rain and some blue skies towards the end of the day. There were still some midgies about, but they were not too bad.
Last weekend I went on a 2-day first aid course. The course was run by First Aid Academy and was based at the Bonaly Outdoor Centre in Edinburgh. After the 2 days of the course I gained the ITC Certificate in Outdoor First Aid.
I don’t like to think of myself as a Munro-bagger (see my previous blog postings, ‘I’m not a Munro-bagger, honest‘ and ‘Munro nonsense‘), but I do keep a diary of all the hills I climb, so inevitably I also have a record of how many Munro summits I’ve got to the top of.