Some days really are very special, and last Sunday was one of them.
I’d arranged to meet up with Will Copestake, the 2015 UK and Scottish Adventurer of the Year, who’s currently doing a winter round of the Corbetts. (To find out more, read my previous blog post featuring his #ColdestCorbetts trip). We were also joined by Bruce Macaulay, Anne Seifert and Ruaridh Withington who’d been following Will’s travels and who were also looking for a fine day’s winter walking.
…and if you’d rather skip straight to the video produced by Bruce please go to the bottom of this post.
It was a fairly inauspicious start. Parking up in Lochearnhead we made our way away from the village, through a farm and up the Glen Kendrum track. Our goal was the two Corbetts, Creag MacRanaich and Meall an t-Seallaidh, lying either side of the col at the head of the track. It was a cold, dull morning with mud and leaves underfoot. Crossing the Kendrum Burn we started to climb, soon reaching the snow line. We got our first views of the two peaks ahead of us as the snow became deeper, resulting from a heavy overnight storm. Rounding a corner we looked back to see the top of the cloud base, sunshine and blue sky above: a perfect temperature inversion. We even saw a faint fogbow, lit up by the sunshine.
From that point on the walk took on a different character, transformed by the soft powdery snow, lack of wind and amazing views across the sea of cloud. From the shoulder of Creag MacRanaich the views opened up right across the Southern Highlands. Ben More and Stob Binein stood proud in the west, with angular Ben Lui behind. The Black Mount and Breadalbane munros completed the panorama on the northern horizon amid crystal clear visibility.
The snow was soft, powdery and deep: knee- and even thigh-deep in places ! It wasn’t particularly cold either, so we lunched on the summit and took plenty photos. I was in great company and our conversation was wide-ranging, from kayaking and hiking expeditions to Patagonia and Iceland to blogging and vlogging about Scotland’s mountains.
In all my years hillwalking this was the first real temperature inversion I’d experienced – and what an experience it was. It felt as though we were surfing on a sea of cloud which extended almost the whole way around. It petered out a little towards the east but right out beyond Tyndrum to the northwest and as far as the eye could see beyond Loch Lomond in the southwest the thick layer of cloud lingered all day.
We dropped back down steeply to the track at the col, enjoying making deep tracks in the snow. If anything, the view from the summit of Meall an t-Seallaidh was even more stunning as the cloud layer showed up wispier and brighter with the strong sun behind. The distinctive whale-backed shape of Ben Lomond stood out in the distance. By this time the sun began to slowly get lower, giving an impossible range of bluey-white tones, topped by high clouds just beginning to turn orange.
This was truly a spectacular and memorable day in superb winter conditions. These are just a selection of some the many, many photos I took that day. I really do hope they do justice to a perfect winter’s walk.