Cloud watching – from Mam na Gualainn

Layers of cloud from near the summit of Mam na Gualainn

Layers of cloud from near the summit of Mam na Gualainn

Being held up by road works and a red traffic light can be a little frustrating at times, – but not when you’ve been stopped by a traffic light in Glencoe …..as we were at about quarter past eight on Wednesday morning. It was one of those works where they run a convoy system and as we’d just missed the previous convoy, there was going to be a bit of a delay and so Nita turned the engine off. The mountains rose all around us with wisps and heavier banks of cloud drifting at different levels, breaking around the dramatic rocky peaks. As I opened the window to get a better view, we heard the distinctive calls of eagles and Nita and Guy said they could see three of these huge birds high above us. It was a great way to start our day and the convoy vehicle returned almost too soon and we had to leave the birds and these magnificent mountains behind ….but not too far behind.

From Mam na Gualainn

From Mam na Gualainn

We were headed for Mam na Gualainn, a 796 m hill set in a fine location on the north side of the fjord like sea loch, Loch Leven. Nita and I had first walked this hill back in 2005 and had been so impressed with the views from its high grassy ridge that we always said we’d return dragging our friend Guy with us…..he’s not a Munro bagger, but someone who simply appreciate a fine hill in a fine location….regardless of its size or stature. We thought he’d appreciate this one. Have to admit though, that it took a little longer to get back there than we’d originally planned!

Wild flowers on the slopes of Mam na Gualainn

Wild flowers on the slopes of Mam na Gualainn

The views we had on Wednesday from Mam na Gualainn, were spectacular, made even more so by an almost continuous flow of very low cloud drifting in from the west and breaking around and over the big hills of Glencoe to the immediate south of us and the high tops and ridges of the Mamores to the north. We had a constantly changing view all around, sometimes with peaks sticking out above the mists and at other times, the mountains almost completely clearing or disappearing. As we sat eating our lunch at the summit, the cloud rolled up the glen to the north of us, engulfing the West Highland Way far below, and then after another ten minutes engulfing us too. For a while it became very dark and we reached for waterproofs and maps but within half an hour it all passed and we were still dry and back to watching the mountains around us coming and going again.

On the steep slopes of Mam na Gualainn

On the steep slopes of Mam na Gualainn

I often say to visitors to my studio, that the best days on the hill are often not the perfect bright sunny days, but the days where the conditions are constantly changing. These kinds of day with the ever changing light and colours make a great location even greater and provide me with lots of ideas for paintings and drawings. Quite what will come out of Wednesdays trip to Mam na Gualainn, ….well, we’ll just have to wait and see…..but our nine hours of cloud watching have certainly got me reaching for the graphite pencils again and I’m tempted to try and do some new large drawings while the memories are fresh in my mind.

Cloud arriving ...the summit of Mam na Gualainn

Cloud arriving …the summit of Mam na Gualainn

Heavy skies above Mam na Gualainn

Heavy skies above Mam na Gualainn

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