Three weeks ago I travelled to South Wales to take part in the Big Black Mountains Challenge. This is an annual long-distance mountain walk organised by the Longtown Mountain Rescue Team. I had never been to South Wales before, so walking in this part of the Brecon Beacons National Park was a new experience for me.
During my recent trip to Skye (see my previous blog posting, ‘Skye (2)‘), I looked for the site of a USAAF B-17 Flying Fortress bomber that crashed on Beinn Edra on the Trotternish Ridge during the Second World War.
This wreck is well-known amongst locals on Skye and I have heard many discussions about it in the past, so it was good to finally visit it.
Last week Lesley and I travelled to Skye to spend a week in a holiday cottage in Fiskavaig. The weather for the first 5 days of the trip was absolutely perfect, allowing us to have a couple of barbecues in the evening with the added bonus of there being no midgies this early in the year. We saw a couple of impressive sunsets over Fiskavaig Bay with the sun disappearing behind Macleod’s Tables.
Three weeks ago I spent a couple of days in Aviemore, and went for a couple of long walks. The first was a walk through the Scots Pines of Abernethy Forest, somewhere I’ve not been to before. I had hoped to see some wildlife (including Capercaillies, which I’ve never seen before), as this is the right location and time of year to see them lekking, but I only caught a glimpse of a couple of black birds flying low though the trees and I couldn’t tell if they were Capercaillies or more probably, Black Grouse.
A month ago I travelled to the Cairngorms for a high-level walk around the Allt a’ Mharcaidh catchment. The Allt a’ Mharcaidh is a relatively small river in the north-western Cairngorm mountains and is a tributary of the Spey, joining it at Kincraig via the river Feshie.
The catchment (or drainage basin, or watershed) of the Allt a’ Mharcaidh is relatively small (compared to other rivers in the Cairngorms like the Spey or the Dee) but is notable as it was chosen a couple of decades ago by the Macaulay Land Use Research Institute in Aberdeen as a sample upland mountain catchment for scientific study, and much hydrological research has been done into the soil and water chemistry of the catchment, and also the effects of precipitation and snowmelt on the hydrology of the catchment – see this page here for much detail about this.
Last month I went for a short one-hour flight over Ayrshire. Lesley had bought me a voucher for my birthday last year for a one hour flight experience offered by Sportflight Scotland, who operate from Strathaven airfield in Ayrshire, which has a small grass runway.
I was very lucky with the weather, as the scheduled day for the flight had clear skies although there was some wind. The plane was an Ikarus C42, a German-made aircraft which is very small and requires hardly any length of runway for take-off and landing.
Iain Cameron (with whom I visited a long-lasting snowpatch on Aonach Mòr last October, see the blog posting ‘Autumn snowfields in Lochaber‘) and Adam Watson have just written a book together, called ‘Cool Britannia‘.
This book is a welcome guide for anyone interested in the little-known area (although now coming to more public prominence after the last two cold and snowy winters in the UK and the current hot topic of climate change) of meteorological and environmental research concerning extreme snow events in Britain and in particular the topic of long-lasting snow in upland areas in Britain.
Something I’ve always been interested in are the environmental conditions that are required for glaciers to form. Glaciers are often associated with high mountains and polar areas, and the major environmental factors that influence their existence are long-term climate trends (e.g. precipitation, average air temperatures and prevailing wind direction and strength), latitude and altitude, and local topography (e.g. slope angle and aspect).
Last week I went walking in the Cheviot hills, just south of Kelso. I walked along the Pennine Way past some horseriders and up to the 564m summit of The Curr. There were great views northwards into the Scottish Borders and south to the summit of the Cheviot in England, just a few kilometres away.
Three weeks ago I travelled to Lochaber to walk to the summit of Aonach Mòr. The purpose of the trip was to locate an area on the mountain which contains a long-lasting snowpatch from last winter. I’ve visited similar areas in the Cairngorm mountains many times (see several previous blog postings and my website page about perennial snow), but this was my first trip to sites in the Lochaber area.