Cairngorms May 2015

The story so far.  The plan is to walk from Loch an Eilein, up into the Lairig Ghru each month during 2015.

In January, fabulous clear blue skies, but was eventually forced to retreat by thigh-deep soft snow.

In Febuary, still sunny but had to turn back when the wind through the Lairig Ghru was lifting me off my feet.

In March, glorious still weather meant I was able to get right up to the top of the Lairig Ghru where I could see the Pools of Dee, even if they were still covered with snow.

In April, more sunshine and fast disappearing snow meant that I again got to top of the Lairig Ghru.

So surely my luck would hold and I'd get another bright sunny day in May for my once-a-month walk?

The weather luck runs out, Lairig Ghru

But, to look on the bright side, the object of the project is to record how Rothiemurchus Forest and the Lairig Ghru changes through the year.

On the May walk, one of the most notable changes was that the green gets ever more intense both on the trees and on the ground too (the rain has certainly helped the mosses and ferns to come on).

Getting Greener

The other dramatic change was in how the forest and paths are being used.

Early in the year cross-country skis (and even on occasion snow shoes) were in evidence, gradually being replaced by walking boots.  In May, it felt like the transport of choice was the mountain bike - even if on occasions the most effective way forward was to walk or carry the bike. I might have passed quite a lot of bikes on the upward bits of the path, but they certainly outpaced me on the downhill sections.

Biker passing the last tree

I don't mind walking in the rain or the wind, but there is a point when in combination they make things feel a bit bleak, so at the point when both I and the camera were feeling a bit too soaked I decided to turn back to spend more time down in forest and around Loch an Eilein.

The ford at NH 967 025 - Turning Point on the May walk.

Back in the Rothiemurchus Forest, and below the low clouds. 
Loch an Eilein, beautiful in any weather.

Next trip will be in June - but I'm not taking any bets on the weather.  Given the recent variations, I wouldn't even rule out seeing the snow return.  I had assumed that by June I'd be looking for camp sites rather than hotels....

Shetland May 2015

Spring can be a fantastic time on Shetland - the cliffs start to fill up as the nesting birds return, there are (usually) lots of migrants around and you regularly get to experience all four seasons in a day.

And of course it's always a delight to see the puffins back on this cliffs.  Hopefully this year there will be a decent breeding season, there was certainly plenty of nest building activity in early May.

Snow on Fitful Head
Odd one out - every flock has it's black sheep, St Ninians Beach
Evening Light, Sumburgh Head
West Voe of Sumburgh
Atmospheric light over Quendale Bay
Scat Ness and Quendale Bay
Quendale Beach, and the ever changing streams
Returning Puffins, Sumburgh Head
Incoming - nest building time, Sumburgh Head
Soft furnishings needed too, Sumburgh Head