Saturday, June 06, 2009

Highlands of Scotland Holiday - day 5

With the forecast of mostly clear skies and some cloud we set off just after 6am to climb Carn Ban Mor a shortish drive from Aviemore. The walk promised an elevation gain of 700 metres and our best/only chance of some Highland specialities, namely Dotterel and Ptarmigan. The walk was heavy going and took us around two hours twenty minutes to get to the top of the Carn and a little beyond. On the road heading toward the hill climb we encountered a small group of chats, I believe juvenile Whinchats?

En-route we passed first the tree line and then the snow line:

spotting the Ptarmigan first, about 50 metres short of the top. The male was showing very well - though I didn’t think the way it wandered towards the female on the nest was the best option but it was fantastic to see one:

At the top we decided to turn back for the car on the basis the weather was closing in, including a cold strongish wind, spots of rain and low cloud. As we headed back Helen spotted a Dotterel, one of a pair:

Fantastic, both target birds within 100 metres, we were delighted! From the top I took first a picture of the view:

Then early on during our descent a mountain spring:

Unfortunately (!) on the way back down Helen slipped and fell, fracturing bones in both her left arm and left hand in the process, which put a dampener on the day and indeed the holiday, as six to ten weeks with only one functional hand is not an entertaining prospect for either of us! It took over an hour to walk off the mountain and to reach our car. Once ready I drove at an ‘aggressive’ pace to get Helen to hospital and get her treated before heading back to the hotel to pack.

We had a real sense of achievement in making the climb, despite being out of wind and with complaining legs and were chuffed we found the two new species but clearly Helen breaking her arm changed all of our plans. Tomorrow is Skye, possibly.

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