Friday, 27 November 2015

Winter arrives - a fleeting brilliance

Sunday 22nd November dawned bright and brilliantly white.  Through Saturday evening and into the small hours snowfall had been steady and had resulted in quite an accumulation.  I tried the nordic skis at home, but the snow was just a little "sticky" for good cross country touring - good for walking though.

Just a few minutes drive from home is a hilltop parking area at the start of the Gordon Way.  I set out into a landscape transformed....

...into a winter wonderland.  It was still, cold and quiet in the forest, every branch of the spruce trees  heavily loaded with powdery snow.

Breaking out onto a more open area, the view to the north opened up.  The distinctive sliced-off cone of Tap o'Noth was an unbroken white.....

....alternately lit with a fleeting, brilliant light.  The capacity of snow cover to utterly transform the landscape never ceases to amaze; I have to confess to a childlike pleasure in a good fall of snow!

And there had been a good fall too.  In contrast to the northerly wind of the preceding days, the night had been almost windless and the snow had settled where it fell.

On the higher ground the depth of cover made walking an energetic and aerobic experience, but I certainly wasn't complaining!  My objective was Knock Saul (Cnoc just means "hill"), the broad hill with tree cover in the middle distance of this image.  To get there I intended to drop down to a forest track between Suie Hill and Knock Saul, then effectively walk around the back of the hill to climb it from the far side.

Climbing back out of the forest an hour or so later, the weather to the north looked somewhat different with dark clouds and a banner of snow flying off Tap o' Noth in a strengthening wind.

By the time I reached the summit of Knock Saul the sky to both north and west was full of snow and a bitter wind was blowing.

My eyes were streaming in the cold, so I took a quick look back over to Suie Hill where I'd started the walk.....

...and then turned my back to the wind.  The view southwards from this small hill is really extensive; the distinctive tor on the side of Clachnaben is some 50 kilometres distant but clearly visible in the sharp air.

I didn't linger too long on the summit and was soon back in the shelter of the forest, heading down towards home.  The snow lasted just a couple of days, its fleeting brilliance a brief taste of winter to come - and there's more snow in the forecast over the coming days.


  1. Brilliant indeed, Ian, in many looks lovely. I remember you pointing out the summit tor - remarkable visibility at 50 km! Sending warm wishes to snowy Aberdeenshire.

  2. Thanks Duncan, I could actually see further - I estimate I was seeing around 80km but the camera's zoom didn't pick up what the eye could see!

    Warm wishes to you both

  3. beautiful pictures as always, Ian. Snow is beautiful when one is out in it by choice and on foot; not so beautiful for driving. We had out first blast of winter here last weekend as well, but all the heavy accumulation was forty miles north of me.

    1. Thanks Dan... and you're right, big snowfall isn't as much fun when one has to get places. We're fortunate in not getting the huge amounts of North America...well, not most years anyhow!

      Kind Regards

  4. Nice to see the snow. We are still knee deep in rain here. Never knew about the Gordon Way as it's not an area I've visited much. Looks interesting. I,m guilty of zooming in on sunsets or mountains to capture and magnify the best section of sky with the brightest intensity or rugged cliff but a lot of folk might consider that cheating. Not having a great camera for low light levels I've got to use other tricks available to photograph outside of normal daylight hours.

  5. There does seem to be a bit of a northeast/southwest split in conditions at present Bob....this lot pretty much disappeared but there's more replaced it!

    Kind regards