Saturday, December 04, 2010

A day on the Ochils

The weather again. Some of us were meant to go to a bothy for the weekend, but the exceptional cold and snow put a stop to that. Myself and a friend arranged to go a day walk in the Ochils instead.

On the way, both of us fessed up to an interest in photographing the oil refinery at Grangemouth. We found a snow-covered golf course to do this in. I'll spare you the pictures, but here is a nice one of my shadow in the snow.
We crossed the new Kincardine bridge, and drove through a foggy Clackmannanshire. All the glens on the south side of the Ochils are worth exploring, but we chose Alva Glen and followed it up to gain the open hillside. This wasn't easy, as the deep snow made crossing the burn and climbing the flank of The Nebit into a proper mountaineering exercise. When we reached more level ground, we found obvious traces of some recent avalanches.
With this in mind, we kept away from the slopes above the burn which seemed to be worst affected. The snow was deep and only just frozen on top, in some places giving about the most strenuous walking conditions you can get, where your front foot sinks in just a little, but then crashes through as you put your full weight on it. As we headed up Ben Ever we met some skiers, who were arguably having an easier time.

We were heading for Ben Cleuch (721m), which does not normally figure as a major peak. In these conditions though, it felt like quite an adventure. These rimed-up fence posts tell their own story.
There were fine views of the edge of the Highlands. Bens Lomond, Ledi, and Vorlich could be picked out among others, and the peaks on Arran just topped out the Campsies.

It was something of an impromptu day, and we had talked of descending to Castle Campbell and Dollar Glen, but time was passing and it seemed best to take the most direct way down over The Law. The light started to get even more extraordinary.
We were reminiscing on the way down about a similar winter day on Beinn Fhionnlaidh years ago where a late start also meant that we got a spectacular sunset on our way down. Sometimes things just work out.

And after descending Tillicoultry Glen, some nice people gave us a lift in their van back to the starting point.

For a parallel account of this walk, see Love of Scotland.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Back garden in the snow

I daresay a lot of snowy pictures will have been put in blogs recently. But why should I be different? Taken recently while working from home and wishing it would just stop.
I didn't open my bedroom curtains for a few days, but when I did I saw these icicles.
There was a LOT of ice around the downpipes and gutters. Thankfully it seems to have melted without any damage.

More nature notes

This week has been a complex pattern of snow, office closures and trying to do work on a crappy laptop at home.

On Wednesday, I was the only one in the office, and sat in glorious splendour having a conference call, and looking out at the snowy landscape. This time I saw two jays. They were more obvious against the snow, and I am getting more confident in my identifications.