I know a couple of blogging acquaintances are currently undertaking long backpacking trips into the heart of the Cairngorms, but as I work in the area I’m able to take short frequent strolls there. It doesn’t equate in any way to the wilderness experience the backpackers will get, but still, it’s nae bad for a ‘Sunday afternoon’ type stroll.
I had originally planned to tackle Beinn Mheadoin, but I was delayed in leaving Glenmore as I waited for my son to come to drop off a few large plant pots and to rig up a support and notice board in my ranger tent. When I set off I was not feeling 100%, so decided to have a short day and save the longer route for another day.
The ski ‘resort’ area on Cairngorm will always be an eyesore to me in summer, but as I have occasionally skied there (rather badly) I realise it serves a purpose in winter and supports the local economy. I’ve not ridden the purple funicular railway up the hill and may do so one day if ever sharing the experience with non-walking visitors.
My ‘easy day out’ route started with a simple plod up the Fiaciall a Choire Cas and ascent of Cairngorm. The top was surprisingly empty of people. There were a fair few folks out and about on the hill, but the cold wind meant they didn’t linger long.
After a few quick photos I dropped down to the bealach and walked around the rim of Coire an t-Sneachda.
and on to Cairn Lochan.
Some of the snow was still a bit icy – as I found out as I slithered my way across a small patch on my descent! Mind you, I should not have been surprised as it was freezing cold down at Glenmore on Thursday night. I got chatting to a guy from Carrbridge who I met on the top of the Fiacaill ridge and he told me it had been -2°C in the village on Tuesday night.
I find short, easy walks, gives me more time and inclination for studying and photographing the flora and fauna. I heard several ptarmigan throughout the day and was delighted to get a close view of this one on the ridge.
I was found lying flat on my belly on several occasions as i snapped both Stag’s Horn Club Moss (here creeping over Ling)
and Alpine Cub Moss
Club mosses are not in fact mosses, although they resemble them, but are considered to be evolutionarily more advanced because they are vascular, that is they have specialised fluid-conducting tissues. They were a dominant plant group in the Carboniferous period, when they grew to the size of trees, and contributed to the coal deposits then being formed.
Now, you may well be asking what’s the wee flower under the Alpine Club Moss?
I’ve not decided if it’s Cowberry or Bearberry.
I saw several flowering Cloudberries. This is a moorland relative of the common bramble or blackberry. Unlike the blackberry, the fruit is orange in colour, although it is said to only flower and fruit infrequently in Scotland. I’ve previously seen flowers and fruits on Cloudberries growing on Meall a Bhuachaille at Glenmore.
On the lower slopes I came across this one wee clump of Marsh Marigolds growing beside a small burn. This flower resembles a buttercup, and is from the same family, however the flowers of Marsh Marigold are larger than those of a buttercup (about 15-20mm diameter) and they are also more golden yellow in colour. The dark green leaves are large and kidney-shaped with a glossy appearance.