Glorious Winter

Posted in Hiking, Hills with tags on February 14, 2017 by Jinja Coo

A rare (of late), stunning winter’s walk with harsh whites and blues book-ended by warm browns and reds. Strong winds lifted waterspouts off the surface of Cruachan Reservoir and higher up spin-drift was occasionally driven into all nooks and crannies by gusts, leaving behind air heavy with glistening ice crystals.

Amazing views – close up the crags of the Cruachan horseshoe, further away the eye was drawn by the snowy peaks on Mull and Jura.

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Sgurr nan Coireachan and Sgurr Thuilm

Posted in Hiking, Hills with tags , , on February 3, 2017 by Jinja Coo

A big day in (and above) Glen Finnan, which started out bright, but with height gained, it turned grey. All along the tops and ridge, we were denied views unfortunately, from what must be a good vantage point for the Morar and Arkaig areas. Snow was poorly bonded to the ground, making the walking trickier – a bit bruising on tested ankles and knees – adding to the sense of a big day out.

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Arbroath to Auchmithie

Posted in Paddling, Sea Kayak on January 23, 2017 by Jinja Coo

A very leisurely start to this year’s paddling – just 13km along the stunning coastline between Arboroath and Auchmithie – with every cave cutting into the soft, red cliffs explored to some extent.

As we set off from Arbroath a coastguard helicopter and RNLI boats seemed to be training together and made for an impressive sight, with the helicopter hovering low above the sea at times, whipping the surface up into the air.

The cliffs are peppered with caves, mostly tall and narrow, but others are much wider and squarer, occasionally of the size of a large house. Looks can be deceiving, often the narrow entrances lead to a widening cavern behind and at times we could turn our 5m kayaks inside with room to spare, others had to be cautiously reversed. Some have more than one entrance, even leading to hidden beaches and some have stalactites – not something I can recall seeing on sea caves before. All have colourful walls (when you can see), partly a result of the colour in the rock itself, partly due to growth on the surface – lots of oranges, purples, golden hues and greens too.

Though the sea was relatively calm, on a couple of occasions we experienced unnerving amounts of swell and chop suddenly within the caves, which act as funnels for all the water entering them. As well as being on the scary side of things, it (and the lighting) makes it difficult to do the caves any justice with the camera – too much movement, too much contrast and too little light.

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This is definitely a stretch of coastline to return to, there is more beyond Auchmithie for a start, but also to return to the same caves and try and capture the experience a bit better with the camera next time.

Meall Tairneachan and Farragon Hill

Posted in Hiking, Hills with tags , on January 17, 2017 by Jinja Coo

A day that started with a drive through dawn, cocooned in a warm car, heading towards hills increasingly coated in snow. The slopes turned orange and pink as the sun rose behind me and the moon descended behind the area we would be walking in.

After meeting up with two friends, we dropped a car at our end point and continued on to our starting point where it was out into the cold, a biting cold in the wind, which died down over the course of the day.

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Despite the snow, a track up to Meall Tairneachan gave us easy walking, gaining views of Schiehallion and other hills to the west as we went. Views to the south and east were blocked by the higher ground we were headed to, until finally, cresting the summit we had views of identifiable hills in all directions. The world around us was largely white, but layered and textured by distance and features.

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Both summits were quite steep and gnarled, requiring focus to find a line down slopes with fresh snow on them, and occasional drifts of surprising depth along the way slowed us down slightly, resulting in us finishing just as darkness arrived.

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Braeriach – Where Did All the Snow Go?

Posted in Hiking, Hills with tags , , on December 23, 2016 by Jinja Coo

Winter’s first snows have arrived and departed again so quickly even the ptarmigan have been caught out. Less than three weeks after a walk in the Cairngorms with the hills well coated with snow, they were now all but stripped bare. That was the first surprise, two others: the nicer weather than was forecast; and the shortness of the walk versus the times quoted in various sources.

Highlights were Chalamain Gap, the narrow, bouldery feature traveled through and the many ptarmigan clustered in groups around the remaining patches of snow on the higher ground. Though I have been through and near the Lairig Ghru over half a dozen times now, we had great views down and over it from a new angle for me and of Garbh Coire sitting above it to the south of Braeriach, within it an ice patched Lochan Uaine nestled in the colder side of the corrie.

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As we walked out we were treated to lovely skies and colouring on the hillsides as the sun set and a moon, already high, began to dominate above.

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