Challenge blogs from recent years are full of tales of derring-do as Challengers write of their gonad-freezing experiences wading Highland rivers in spate after several days of rain and battling through Monadliath blizzards. Folks experienced black hole of Calcutta conditions as innumerable people crammed into squalid bothies because it was too windy to pitch their tents. The weather, to put it mildly, has been ‘challenging’.
Not this year. Perhaps the best description of the weather in the Highlands this May was benign. No days of torrential rain, except maybe the last Thursday, (but I finished in sunshine on the Wednesday – yes, I am a smug bastard), no blizzards, no searing heat, no gales and really only one day when it was a bit windy. You didn’t get the emotional highs that you get from battling bad weather successfully but the trade-off was that there was you didn’t need to put on wet clothes in your tent in the morning.
The weather was actually perfect for walking – it was cloudy most of the time with a few heavy showers when I was in Attadale and Strathfarrer – but they weren’t prolonged enough to overwhelm Paramo. Apart from these, we had a dry Challenge (weather wise, obviously – a ‘dry’ Challenge in the other sense of the word is unthinkable)
I think we had at least a blink of sunshine to cheer up every day. There were a couple of still, freezing nights at Ault-na-Goire and Glen Mazeran, where I’ve never seen such condensation on my tent but these were followed by clear sunny mornings.
There was only one day (Shieling of Mark to Tarfside) where it was humid, claggy and a bit hot.
And the weather on my last day for the short walk from Northwaterbridge to finish at St Cyrus was simply fabulous.
Being a Brit, I couldn’t write about weather without complaining. The weather wasn’t great for photography. Too much flat light and white skies. I’d have liked more blue skies and fluffy clouds. shadows on the landscape and glorious sunsets. But, in truth, I’d gladly settle for this year’s weather next time.