Sunday, 1 February 2015

Ice and Snow

We woke to find a light dusting of snow right down to sea level and a sharp frost, but the forecast for the day was good - something one might not have believed looking down the Sound as a heavy snow shower worked its way south.

Once the sun was out and the frost rapidly melting on the roads, we drove out along the Sanna road and spent the morning walking along the south slopes of Creag an Airgid, heading up towards Meall an Fhreiceadian (pictured), as this kept us out of the north wind and in the sunshine.  It also gave us the Estate fence as something to follow down in case the weather closed in suddenly.  At lower levels there was a thin rime of ice on the puddles and occasional patches of melting snow but.... we climbed so the lying snow increased and the temperature fell.  As well as these two stags, on Kilchoan common grazings, we saw a young stag, three grouse and what might have been a woodcock but seemed larger.

Each time we poked our heads over the ridge-line so that, despite the increasingly biting wind, we could look north, the view became more spectacular.  Here we looked across the bowl of the Ardnamurchan ring dykes to Meall Clach an Daraich and Sgurr nan Gagbhar and the snow-capped peaks of Rum.

The higher we climbed, the more the burns and rills were turned to ice, and the nastier the going became underfoot.  But the sunlit ice made beautiful patterns, especially....

....where the water from a small puddle had been blown onto the surrounding vegetation, freezing to form the most wonderful ice structures on every blade of deer grass as well as....

 ....building strange blobs on stalks and sprigs of heather.

 We were now walking across a bleak landscape, windswept and lifeless, except...,

....each time we came to a vantage point, we looked out across a warm, sunlit view.  The ben to the left is Beinn na h-Imeilte and the more rounded peak in the distance Meall Sanna.

It was one of those walks which felt as if it could be continued for ever. Each time we crested the next knoll, a further gloriously wild and broken landscape opened before us.  In this picture, the peak in the distance is Meall nan Con, about three kilometres of hard walking away.  We were tempted, but coming down, particularly descending icy slopes, is always slow work, so we reluctantly turned for home.

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