When first lockdown was lifted

Getting out of Glasgow

With the lifting of our first lockdown in Scotland we were allowed to travel a bit further than the 5 miles from home we previously had to stick with. In fact on my Dad’s birthday in June, the date coincided with his birthday, so I used this as an opportunity to travel down by bike, to visit my parents. The first time in four months.

Later on, I used this new-found freedom to take a trip to the highlands and stretch my legs on a hike up the ski hill at Glencoe Mountain Resort and inspect the remnant snow patches.

I stopped in to see mum and dad before traveling up the A82. Living alone I could have an extended household with them and it was good to catch up again. 

ride on lawnmower
Dad and his new lawnmower

Hiking Meall a’ Bhùiridh

On arrival, at Glencoe the weather was overcast with occasional sunny patches.

I took the easy path up the access road and walked the line of pylons for the new chairlift being constructed. I stopped briefly to inspect the progress of the top station. It wouldn’t be ready for the upcoming ski season, but I was looking forward to seeing it run all the same.

I turned back up the hill, just at the corner of Mug’s Alley ski run. Just below the rock band was one of the final snow patches of the previous winter. 

The snow tunnel in the photo doesn’t have much depth left. It sits below what would be Rannoch Glades, and again what is now a shear cliff behind, is a perfectly pitched snow slope in winter that I was getting some great turns on before lockdown.

Inside the snow patch. Always approach with caution!

The ski season that was cut short by covid. The shape continued the downward slope of the mountain behind. A cyan and white scalloped roof formed an archway over a small stream the trickled its way downhill. I took a few photos of the snow formation before cutting across the hill. 

Remember to stop and look closer

I stopped to inspect some unusual plants I didn’t recognise. These turned out to be Common Butterwort, a carnivorous plant. As its name suggests, its actually pretty common. I’d just never stopped to look close enough before.

Common Butterwort
Common Butterwort. A carnivorous plant I’d never spotted before.
Common Butterwort flower
Common Butterwort with flower.

Passing the Scottish Ski Club and the rescue hut, I climbed up the top T-bar track, Ski Tow Gully as its known. This took me all the way to the summit of Meall a’ Bhùiridh. There I rested and took in the view ‘over the back’. Loch Tulla and the River Ba glistened silver with dark misty rain clouds hanging close above.

My return path took me directly down the Main Basin. In winter this is a wide snow-filled bowl. I was amazed at the topography, the depth of some of the gullies like the Haggis Trap. These comprised of cliffs and waterfalls. Some had shear drops of a couple of metres.

It was great to visit Glencoe Mountain Resort and check out the remnants of the snow patches. I’ve climbed the mountain many times outside of winter months, but this is the first time I’ve explored the Main Basin while it has been devoid of snow. I was blown away by the depth of the gullies. Especially the narrows above the Haggis Trap. It’s amazing to think when I’m snowboarding here there are so many metres of snow below filling this ravine.

As I inspected these features, I turned to look across Rannoch Moor to see a rainbow formed out of the rain from the brooding clouds.

In my head I told myself this was a positive omen.