As I've been doing the various iterations of the Lairig Ghru walk this year (the plan being to do the same walk each month during 2015) I've been saying that while I'll stick to hotels during the winter I'll revert to camping once the weather improves. Once it gets to June (even in Scotland) it's hard to say this with a straight face and book in to an hotel - so for this first time this year the tent was broken out.
And, perhaps surprisingly, the Scottish weather co-operated - I got to spend a couple of dry nights camping and a couple of downright hot days in the mountains. It was about six weeks since the last walk, and the seasons had clearly moved on. There was much more bird life visible (and audible) below the tree line, although there were fewer grouse making their presence felt higher up. The gorse was in flower, and there were lots more insects around (including the legendary scottish midge). The snow banks that were still very obvious in early May have mostly disappeared except in a few protected gullies.
|June at the Pools of Dee at the top of the Lairig Ghru|
After two days of sunshine (often referred to the Scottish summer) weather reverted to type. The cloud base dropped to Loch an Eilein level, and now that my tent was throughly soaked I decided to pack it up and move on to the second target for this trip.
|June at Loch an Eilein, Rothiemurchus Forest|
|Lochan Dubh, RSPB Forsinard|
|New viewing tower, RSPB Forsinard|
|Ceannebeinne Beach, Sutherland|
If you get a chance to visit here, you should also stop off at the Smoo Caves - a dramatic little series of caverns!
|Smoo Caves, Sutherland|
And the hospital visit? I decided to ignore an ear infection on the assumption that it would sort itself out. A GP in Ullapool told me that I'd got to a state where some intravenous antibiotics were needed - so if you ever wind up in Inverness, the Raigmore Hospital is highly recommended. Although I'm hoping to avoid needing a repeat visit next time I'm in the north of Scotland.