Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Freeze-thaw see saw

Since my last post we have had some dramatic weather, at one turn thick snow to all levels allowing cross country skiing, then a few days later much milder and vanishing snow. The last couple of days have been a thaw period, and the hills are looking a lot less white than they were. However, there's likely to be still plenty to go at over the New Year period. Today was mild with strong winds over the tops, a good day for mountain biking in the glens! We went to Inshriach forest and the bottom of Glen Feshie. It was hard going in the sections (thankfully short) that were exposed to the wind, even at glen level, but once in the forest is was a lovely day. The pictures are looking west and show the extent of the snow at present on those slopes.

Happy New Year to all who have shared a path or rope with me with this year, thanks for all the fun, here's to 2015!

Sunday, 7 December 2014

The excitement builds.......

The familiar rush of excitement this morning as  I woke up this morning to snow at my doorstep. Beautiful atmospheric day. We spent some time exploring more of the wonderful Abernethy forest. Great views in between the snow showers of higher hills, looks like they have caught a good amount of snow, particularly further west. Hopefully this will be the the first storm cycle of the season that lays a proper base for us to build on. 

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Moray coast trail run

We've added some pictures from today to our Facebook page......

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Glorious sunshine

Sometimes, the best weather forecast is looking out of the car/house

window. Having done so this morning, tentative plans for other areas were shelved, and instead I opted to stay in the sunshine by having a quick yomp over the Kincardine hills. It was lovely to feel the sun beating onto the face today, a real change from the recent greyness. A chill wind to remind us it's November, but no snow of note yet unfortunately, though there was a heavy frost in places this morning. More of this weather please!

Saturday, 8 November 2014

First taste of winter

Very changeable weather this week, at times mild then very cold, as the winds switched round from different directions. Out on the Cairngorms plateau mid week there was a suprising amount of new soft snow, mid calf drifts in places. Much will now have gone in the milder temperatures of the last few days but a definite taste of things to come. Getting excited for more snowy adventures to come soon with any luck......

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Winter is coming

Cold today up high with a very strong wind. Much nicer down in the shelter of the pines. Colder weather forecast for the coming week, with perhaps some more sprinkles of snow on the tops.....

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Navigation Course

Out today with Brian and Nicole, who have taken up proper hillwalking recently and were keen to get to grips with the basics of navigation.  We started with a short session indoors looking at different map types, scales, grid references and basic use of the compass, before heading out to put it into action. We started in the Rothiemurchus forest, looking at following paths, contours, tick off features and handrails. We then moved up onto the hill and looked at taking a bearing from the map and using it for short sections in pathless terrain. They both coped admirably with lots of new information, as well as the strong winds, and went away with things to practice and improve on.  Well done to both of them for putting themselves out of their comfort zone and challenging themselves.  Thank you both for the fun day.

Monday, 13 October 2014

Autumn Gold

A real feeling of Autumn in the hills and woods just now. The trees are golden and the hills are turning russet brown. This can be a lovely time of year......crisp dry weather, not too cold but the prospect of a crackling log fire to end the day. And no midges! Some photos from today. Make the most of Autumn before winter descends, whether that be climbing a classic Cairngorms peak or preparing your hill skills and navigation ready for the challenge of winter.

Thursday, 9 October 2014

The other side of Cairngorm

Out with Alex today to do some navigation training. I set him a mixture of legs on the quieter side of Cairngorm, which he accomplished well.  We looked at some techniques and little things that can help a lot.  As an interval we visited the El Alamein Refuge. This is tucked well away and not marked on any maps, and although in disrepair still has a great atmosphere. It is one of two huts (the other being the now dismantled St Valery) built in the Cairngorms to commemorate the 51st Highland Division. Weather was overcast and drizzly, but not much wind. Burns all in spate after the recent heavy rains, glad no river crossings required today. 

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Compasses & Reindeer

Out on the lower hills above Rothiemurchus forest yesterday, to trial some new areas for navigation training. Lovely wild feeling despite being so close to the ski road. Not much sun, very windy, but not cold and it stayed dry. We saw the Cairngorm reindeer, who often frequent this area.

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Here be dragons......

A quick blast on the bike today over at Moray Monster Trails at Fochabers. It was raining when we left home but the sun came out for the ride. I did the red loop here, which wasn't at all technical but a good hour's exercise in lovely surroundings. At the top of the trail there is a memorial to a previous Duchess of Richmond & Gordon. It's a great spot for it with fantastic views north over the Moray Firth and up the north east coast. 

Friday, 19 September 2014

Glen Feshie

Some photos from previous trips to this magical glen of the Cairngorms. It is utterly beautiful at all times of year, and offers everything from gentle strolls to appreciate the scenery and wildlife, to challenging Munro summits to fantastic mountain biking. If you would like to explore here with On High Hills then get in touch,

Wednesday, 17 September 2014


No diary updates for a couple of weeks.....a good excuse though, as I now have a beautiful new baby son! It must be a good omen, because the weather in the first half of September has been great.  The Indian Summer definitely here.

Time now to draw breath just enough to post some photos from a previous trip. New client Nicholas was visiting Edinburgh for a week, and being a keen hiker got in touch to see whether he could be guided up Schiehallion, a lovely accessible Munro in Perthshire that offers great views in good weather. I met Nicholas off the 10:28 train at Blair Atholl railway station, and we motored over to the mountain. We enjoyed beautiful weather except for some cloud right at the summit, and some stimulating conversation along the way. Really interesting to compare goings on in Greece to those at home.
After a great day out Nicholas caught the 17:20 train back to Edinburgh. Thanks Nicholas for a great day out.

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Indian summer

There is talk that the great weather may be returning for the start of September. It's certainly a damp, windy day on the hills today, but I thought I'd share this photo from earlier this week to whet the appetite for things to come. Looking South towards the main Cairngorms, just a perfect day. On a day like that it's easy to think the mountains are benign, but things can change so quickly that it's always important to be able to cope with whatever they throw at you. If you have no problems navigating when it's clear like this, but lose confidence when the cloud rolls in, then get in touch for some personal tuition.

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Return of summer?

Quick route over the Cawdor moors on the bike today. For today at least summer had returned, a lovely warm day with lots of sunshine. These are very quiet hills, their loneliness and peace are quite beguiling, especially on a day like today. Great views north across the Moray Firth to Ben Wyvis and beyond.

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Dodging the showers at a run

Short run today up a lovely wee hill overlooking Lochindorb. This area is just outside the northern boundary of the Cairngorms National Park,and at first glance can seem a lot bleaker, but when the sun comes out it is big sky country with a great feeling of open space. Can be a good place to practice moorland style navigation too. Some atmospheric lighting across the Loch, with the ruined castle of the Wolf of Badenoch always adding that extra twist.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Hills of Cromdale

A drier day today, if rather grey and murky. Chilly for August too. We went for a wander up the Hills of Cromdale, just south of Grantown-on-Spey.  It must be said that they're not the most dramatic of hills, being typical rounded heathery domes, but they make up for this by lots of history, great open views and (at this time of year) fantastic purple heather. The route up from Cromdale takes one close to the site of the Battle of Cromdale, where a Jacobite army fought a Government force in 1690.

Up on the ridge there is an elaborate cairn built to commemorate the Coronation of King Edward VII in 1902.  The views from up here over Strathspey are great, even on a dull day, with waves of purple covered hills and forest rolling away to the horizon.