Being British (that’s Scottish first, then British) I’ve always had an obsession with the weather driven into me from an early age. I’ve tried to fight against it and be neutral towards weather with varying degrees of success. In fact, the only weather I really notice is weather that is out of the ordinary. The rest is pretty much the same, cloudy with frequent rain showers. So with that in mind I thought I’d catalogue some of the more memorable weather experiences I’ve had over the years, mostly while hiking in my home country of Scotland.
Wind that makes rivers flow uphill.
I experienced this while climbing Ben Nevis (that’s Scotland’s highest mountain) a few years ago with a good friend of mine.
We opted to not follow the “tourist path” up the mountain because it’s so commonly used and it’s tedious (I believe you spend several hours looking at false summit after false summit thinking you’re nearly there, which you’re not, until you just don’t care any more). So we skirted around to Allt a’Mhuilinn, the glen on the north side of Nevis and proceeded to walk straight up the side of Carn Mor Dearg (next to Nevis) and around the ridge and up to the summit (look on a map if you want to know what the hell I’m talking about). Hard work though it was it was made far, far harder by the ridiculous wind that was blowing all day. On the way up to the foot of the mountain proper all the little streams running down the sides of the hill were actually being blown straight up in the air like fountains. Quite a sight (should have taken a picture). The hike up the top part was tough because every few steps we would literally be blown onto our knees, powerless to stop it when it happened. I’d never felt so small and insignificant before.
Cold to freeze your soul.
Quite a few winters ago Scotland got hit by an unusually cold spell. The down side was that many thousands of home were without electricity or water for a time, but the up side was the clear skies that made excellent hiking conditions.
So I went with my then girlfriend, her brother and his wife (you following this?) on a day’s hiking. It was seriously cold and about -35 degrees C (which is damn cold by UK standards). I was wrapped up in 21st century technology (gore-tex jacket and ex-Russian army furry hat) so I didn’t really notice it until I took my glove off to throw a snowball at my girlfriend (I missed, for what it’s worth). Almost immediately my hand decided to put me through all kinds of pain as it rapidly started to freeze (I’m no wuss, every time I go biking in the cold my feet freeze numb almost straight away and I never complain about that). I had to work quite hard to get my hand to work again. Anyway, as I said, it was seriously cold. Lesson: keep your gloves on when you throw a snowball.
Life above the clouds.
I’ve always been fascinated by temperature inversion where you find yourself above the clouds looking down on a sea of white fluff. My most memorable encounter with this phenomenon was above Glen Shiel where a friend and I camped at over 3000 feet and woke up to perfect blue skies above us and rivers of cloud below.
You don’t have to be very high above sea level to experience weather inversion but it makes you feel like you’re on top of the world (at least it does with me).
Sunshine on a rainy day.
You can’t beat slogging through clouds and rain to have it all magically disappear and the sun shine through. It does occasionally happen and it’s great when it does, especially when you’re on the top of a mountain (even better if you’re in Scotland). Anyway, Glencoe seems to get more than its fair share of rain and it’s rare that it’s sunny when I’m there, but as you can see (right) it did one day.
So that’s a few of my favourite weather memories that I have accompanying photos for. More when I encounter them. I do have recurring dreams about tornadoes so maybe some day I’ll see one of them and it’ll make it onto the list…