Snowy owl sighting - Beinn Meadhoinn

A little over a year ago, I rode from the Linn of Dee, through Glen Derry and on, up past the Hutchinson memorial hut - though it is a carry beyond until Loch Etchachan is reached - en-route for the summit of Ben Macdui. It was a superb day and a fantastic descent, one of the best. But as I dropped rapidly toward the loch, I noted the steep track falling from the summit plateau of Beinn Meadhoinn whose tors I had also seen many times from the surrounding ridges, but never visited. A return trip was assured.
Looking towards Ben Macdui from the summit, Braeriach the distant cloud topped summit to the right of the frame - the second and third highest mountains in Britain respectively.
The approach - riding beneath the flank of Derry Cairngorm - easy ground before the steep stuff begins in earnest.
Looking down on Creag รก choire Etchachan - one of the most remote and impressive crags in the UK it faces east and lies at 750m, but offers one or two lines that dry quickly including the Classic Rock route: The Talisman. Another climb that I'd earmarked years ago and never quite got round to. No excuse. One for next summer perhaps.
And looking across to Cairngorm itself - an all too brief moment of sun catching the broad flank high above Loch Avon.
Setting off along the broad ridge for the summit tors of Beinn Meadhoinn. Lumpy riding but easier than initial appearances had suggested despite the closely scattered and irregular lumps of granite that litter the ridge.
Not the best image but a beautiful and rare sight - this snowy owl watched warily as I climbed the gentle slopes toward the summit. Native to the arctic, the last recording of a breeding pair in the UK was apparently in 1975 and the last sighting in the Cairngorms I believe was in February 2013.
We watched each other for several long minutes before he took flight - it seemed a casual departure, a moment of graceful power and unhurried beauty.
I stayed a while longer, soaking in the scene - the grey granite of broad summits catching an elusive sun - and pondering my luck, before making my run down toward the loch, bothy and eventually Glen Derry.
A last look toward the tors of Beinn Meadhoinn and a memory that will stay in my mind's eye for many years.


Ian Johnston said…
Great stuff Will, I understand that the Snowy Owl has been seen again recently - what a super bird

Kind Regards

Will Herman said…
Cheers Ian - presumably the same bird - though it would be fantastic if a pair. I was amazed how long I was able to watch before it took flight.
Taran Tyla said…
A breeding pair would be even better! Cant hurt to dream :)
Fab pics as always!