...weather over a weekends camping trip.
I'm a bit slow in writing this one, life has been a bit busy of late and I always seem to find an excuse not to sit down for 30 minutes and write this!! Anyway, on with this blog post!
This trip had been planned for a while, a weekend back in Assynt with the intention of climbing Stac Pollaidh for a sunrise on one of the mornings. The rest of our time would be spent checking previous locations and looking for new ones.
As the saying goes "The best laid plans o' mice and men..."
Well that pretty much sums up the weather for our weekend. My travel companion was once again Jason Owen of Icarus Owen Photography. We departed a sunny but cold Aberdeen with high hopes of snow and freezing conditions around the mountains of Assynt - ideal for photographs! - as we drove west the temperature started to rise, first we hit zero, then as Keith approached we hit 4C and by the time we arrived in Inverness we were looking at temperatures of 8-9C with dark clouds on our western horizon...
After a brief stop we continued on our way, heading to Ullapool before turning north. After driving roads that had snow to the verge and looking at mountains with large volumes of snow our spirits lifted a little, maybe we would be lucky after all? The temperature refused to inspire though, in Ullapool it was now a balmy 10C!
Never the less we pressed on, noting frozen hill lochs and with a sky that was looking a little less threatening. We decided to camp on the Friday night at Ardvreck Castle, the same spot we camped at back in February. With camp set we settled down to a hot meal and observed the incoming weather - it wasn't good. The rain started later in the evening and continued all night, we awoke to a world where all the white from the previous day had disappeared and been replaced by grey clouds. With no sunrise to speak of we struck camp and headed for Lochinver to have a cup of tea and contemplate our next move.
Our plan for the Saturday had been to walk up Stac Pollaidh and camp over night to capture the Sunday morning sunrise. A check of the forecast showed Sunday was to improve and it was enough to have us convinced a wet walk would be worth the effort.
Around lunchtime we were set to start our walk in the persistent if not particularly heavy rain. An hour and 20 minutes later found us on the ridge of Stac Pollaidh, in the rain and cloud. A quick scout around confirmed there was nowhere to pitch a tent so we elected to drop back down to see if we could find a spot. We did, however it was under a bout 2 inches of water - we suspect it was snow melt as the day before the Stac had a dusting on the high ground.
With nowhere to camp and being thoroughly soaked we decided the best course was to return to the car and find somewhere close to the road that was dry enough to place a tent and not have us swimming during the night. With a suitable spot found we sorted ourselves out, had some food and a much needed change of clothing. Once this was completed we looked up to see a clearing sky with dropping temperatures - typical!!
As cameras hadn't left the bags at this point we decided it was worth shooting the Milky Way which was now clearly visible over head. With this now done, and enthusiasm waning we decided to crawl into the warmth of our sleeping bags.
Sunday dawned bright and clear as was forecast with a cold easterly wind blowing across the landscape. We again struck camp and headed off to a location we knew that was close tot he main road north and afforded views into Stac Pollaidh with the peaks of Beinn Mhor Na Coigich, Sgurr Fhidhleir and Beinn An Eion. As we waited for the sun the cold wind was started to bite into us, still suffering from our soaking the previous day our enthusiasm was taking a further dive. Undeterred we moved on to try one more location, this involved a little walk and it lifted spirits as we worked some warmth into our bodies.
With this last location we decided to call an end to our trip and head back to Aberdeen. Unlike our trip back in February this one wasn't the most successful, from either a weather point of view or for photographs. It was however successful from the point of view of checking locations, testing our camping equipment and scouting locations. Hopefully next time we'll manage to catch the weather as well!!