The greening of Creag Meagaidh

16th December 2016

First forecasting day of our season today. Don’t think the weather gods realised this though. It has been very mild indeed recently with pretty much all the evidence of last month’s snowfall now absent.

Looking remarkably like low tide on Loch Laggan at the moment. The loch is fed by diverted run off from the headwaters of the upper Spey (courtesy of the Rio Tinto Alcan hydro scheme) plus its own local catchment, of course. The water levels are normally very carefully managed by the hydro scheme but water levels are very low indeed due to the deficit of precip.

Must have been dry for some time, and it’s certainly been very mild. Vast expanses of exposed sand on Loch Laggan ‘beach’. It varies quite a lot but I can’t remember when the beach was quite this big.

The hills throughout our patch looking more like October than mid-December.

Shades of brown, tan, yellow, some green but no white!

 

More autumn hues in Coire Ardair. Approach to The Window is a bit of a scramble over rocks at the moment.

 

Primula growing in the wall near the vehicle parking at Aberarder: in flower a little too early.

Well-meaning cairn builders have left their mark on the main Coire Ardair path again. Not necessary and widely discouraged by most mountaineering and walking national bodies. The one below marks a departure point for Carn Liath but not a very good one! ¬†For further elaboration check out last season’s opening blog, here:

http://meagaidhblog.sais.gov.uk/2015/12/plus-ca-change/

Now you see it……….

 

………..now you don’t.

SNH have been pretty active beefing up their green credentials here at Creag Meagaidh since the end of the last winter season. Two hill ponies have been transferred from SNH on the island of Rhum to Aberarder to assist with the transfer of deer carcasses off the hill during stalking operations. This development will help reduce the stalking team’s total reliance on fossil fuel-powered quad bikes and Argocats when they’re busy with the annual deer cull. The ponies can also get to places that wheeled or tracked vehicles can’t, which to a certain extent will make the stalkers’ jobs a little easier.

Recently acquired hill ponies at rest in the field next to Aberarder Farmhouse.

 

New accommodation for the equine beasts of burden.

 

A new addition to the mechanical stable, too. (‘Monarch of the Glen’ memorabilia from when there was filming in the area some years ago.)

 

An eco-friendly electric powered quad bike. Charged up courtesy of the recently commissioned micro hydro scheme at Aberarder.

 

SAIS cranked into gear in the first part of the week with an initial meeting at Glenmore Lodge.

The gathering. Routine pre-season get together earlier this week to discuss new developments including arrangements for our CPD training……….

……..ordeal by meteorology, courtesy of the Met Office ‘Spanish Inquisition’ team……..for two full working days. Have they no pity?

We now have a sketchy understanding of are well-versed in boundary layer dynamics, the Froude number, hydraulic jump theory when considering air flow near mountains, plus many, many other abstruse aspects of meteorology.  Joking aside, it was a really important two days that challenged our micro and mesoscale understanding of how salient elements of the weather and climate affect the winter environment of the Scottish mountains.

Kudos to our two Met Office mentors, Colin McCallister and Mike Mason, for toughing it out with us, quelling our uncertainty and for making it a very well spent two days.

Comments on this post

  • Sue Phillips
    17th December 2016 1:05 pm

    I haven’t been closer to Creag Meagaidh than the A86 for quite some years but I really enjoy reading your blog and wish you well for the current season.

    • meagaidhadmin
      17th December 2016 2:39 pm

      Our blog followers seem to be quite a broad church, ranging from the committed winter climbers through to those who prefer less strenuous ways to enjoy our mountains. Many thanks for your comment, Sue.

  • Stan Wygladala
    18th December 2016 12:49 pm

    It used to be one of my most favourite of places, but I can no longer visit. Please continue your excellent blog and continue to produce pictures that bring the past alive for me.
    Wishing you a great winter season with plenty of compact snow and solid ice.

    • meagaidhadmin
      18th December 2016 2:11 pm

      Hey, thanks Stan!

      I wish we could somehow magically transform the place into the winter wonderland that’s probably so vivid in your memory! With the way the weather’s looking it’s not going to get it’s winter mantle of snow any time soon.

      Best regards and Christmas greetings from the SAIS ‘Meggie boys.

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