Chasing the sun

Sat, Apr 2, 2016

There had been high pressure over the UK for a few days and I’d been enjoying some great cycling in 17C, t-shirt and summer gear when the weather finally broke on the Saturday a couple of weeks ago. It was that kind of feeling though. The cloud was very low, 200m in places. The grey ceiling wasn’t producing any rain and it was lighter than it should be with that amount of cloud. It all screamed “inversion” and coupled with reports from a friend of an inversion in the Cuillin the day before and a forecast of cloud tops being around 1050m I headed out, making for the biggest hills in the area. The north Glen Shiel ridge.

Brocken Spectre on Sgurr nan Conbhairean

I parked at Lundie and headed up into the clag at 400m and it stayed claggy all the way up Carn Ghluasaid, the “hill of movement”. Aptly named today as I was certainly moving as I neared the top. Wisps of cloud came and went and I could see patches of blue. Then the sun burst through warming me up and a smile spread from ear to ear as the plateau was clear. Too much cloud though. I was in a cloud amphitheatre with only blue above. I kept moving.

Down round the top of Coire Bodach nan Gobhair, the “coire of the old man of the goats”, where once I’d seen fox prints come up the cornice. Back into the clag round the side of Creag a’Chaorainn and as I approached the ridge above Glas Bhealaich I popped out into a new world.

Ahead, Sgurr nan Conbhairean soared white and majestic into a clear blue sky. I whooped like a madman and ran down to the bealach, hopping and skipping across the rocky hillside, eyes streaming with the cold air. I made my way up the steep ridge as fast as I could and stood panting at the summit, awestruck at what I was seeing.

Cloud inversion on Sgurr nan Conbhairean

To the south stretched a sea of cloud with Ben Nevis and Carn Mor Dearg sailing like giant ships.

Ben Nevis and Carn Mor Dearg from Sgurr nan Conbhairean

Ben Nevis and Carn Mor Dearg from Sgurr nan Conbhairean

To the west it was thicker with only A’Chralaig breaking free and some occasional risers from the south Glen Shiel ridge.

A'Chralaig from Sgurr nan Conbhairean

Eventually I calmed down and sheltered behind the big cairn for some lunch.

Lunch above the clouds on Sgurr nan Conbhairean

and what a lunch spot it was!

Looking over Creag a'Chaorainn to Ben Nevis from Sgurr nan Conbhairean

Looking east over Creag a'Chaorainn from Sgurr nan Conbhairean

After an hour or so big waves began to literally break in the cloud sea, rearing up and tumbling over and the cloud mass started to rise and engulf A’Chralaig next door. Eventually thin wisps reached my spot and the sun began to melt into the white and the wind became much colder without its warm smile.

I headed back down over Creag a’Chaorainn and sat in the silence on a flat rock on the summit, watching the last of the inversion break up. On the descent back to Lundie I came below the cloud as it rose higher to form a grey blanket above the tops. But what a day I’d had. The best inversion for many a year.

Summit panorama Sgurr nan Conbhairean

You can see all the pics here