This is the seventh iteration this year of my monthly walk up the Lairig Ghru.
|Loch an Eilein, Rothiemurchus Estate|
It being high summer in the Scottish mountains one would obviously expect to see clear blue skies and warm temperatures. Today I was wearing waterproofs and, for some of the day, my woolly Fair Isle hat – my only real concession to the summer weather being the fact that I didn't need to put my gloves on. In fact the weather wasn't too bad – there were gaps between the showers (isn't that a definition of British summer?) – and at least as I walked up from Loch an Eilein into the Lairig Ghru the rain was blowing against my back.
|Climbing through the Forest|
It’s been about six weeks since I last did the walk – on that walk the fresh green tree shoots looked very bright, and other dominant colour was of yellow flowers. This time the green shoots had mellowed to match the rest of the trees, and the yellow flowers replaced by purple ones.
The birds have also moved on in their breeding cycle. The ptarmigan that were so vociferous a couple of months ago as they tried to distract you away from their nests are now silent, but you just might see them leading their flightless young away from perceived danger.
The other change was less welcome. The slightly warmer weather and (on the day I was walking) light winds gave the legendary Scottish midges all the encouragement they need. I'm really very fond of most forms of wildlife, but I'm really not sure how the midge fits into the bigger picture – would anyone miss the midge?
|Top tree - heading into the Lairig Ghru|
|Cairns on the Path|
The other big change in the six weeks was the retreat of the snow. In mid-June there were still patches of snow at path level, by late July the only snow was very high up on north-facing slopes. It’ll be interesting to see how soon the new season snow puts in an appearance.
|Looking back down into Speyside|
|Looking through into Deeside|
Next walk iteration is planned for early August. Lets see if the weather improves, if there is fresh snow, or if the midges are any thinner on the ground. I'd be happy if any of these pans out.