Sunny Spring Start

1st March 2024

Today is the first day of meteorological spring. It was also a very pleasant day with lots of sunshine and light winds. Weather conditions allowed a good look at the current distribution of the snow pack. For the time of year, it is not looking great. However, that is not to say that there is not some decent winter activities to be done, particularly when the weather is so good. A some point I might try to write a more in depth blog post on snow amounts over the years based on some of the SAIS records.  Hopefully the photos below will give you a good idea how things are looking.

Where there is snow, it tends to be either be recent windslab (bottom left and top right in this photo), or very hard and icy (such as in the middle).

Exposed areas tend to hold little snow such as here looking North-East to Cnap Coire na Spreidhe (altitude 1151m).

Looking North from the top of Cnap Coire an Spreidhe with Strath Nethy on the right. Not much snow here for the time of year.

Looking back from Cnap Coire an Spreidhe over Ciste Mhearad with the East side of Cairngorm behind. Looking a bit snowier in this area, but again not much for the time of year. In former times Ciste Mhearad was know to hold snow all year round most years. It became a bit of an attraction for adventurous Victorian tourists, from memory I think it was called the ice house. In recent times, it has melted most years, and has survived all year round only once (in 2015) since the year 2000. Not looking good for it surviving very long this summer.

The view over the plateau towards Ben MacDui. Continuing the theme of Victorian tourists, according to Wikipedia, Queen Victoria hiked to the summit of Ben MacDui on 7 October 1859, aged forty. About her experience, she wrote: “It had a sublime and solemn effect, so wild, so solitary – no one but ourselves and our little party there … I had a little whisky and water, as the people declared pure water would be too chilling.”

Coire an t-Sneachda. I am not sure what the Victorian’s had to say about Coire an t-Sneachda, but am sure in the typical March a century and a half ago it would have a been a fair bit snowier, and they would have said something suitably dramatic about towering precipices striking fear into the hearts of even the bravest soul.

Comments on this post

  • Rhys Jaggar
    1st March 2024 6:02 pm

    When I lived in Scotland in the 1980s and early 1990s there were very, very snowy winters and two (1988 and 1989) where there was really very paltry snow levels. In fact in 1989, the most snow I hiked on that winter was in May on the hills NE of Tulloch. Whereas 1991 and 1992 had copious amounts, including 15ft snow piles on either side of the A82 across Rannoch Moor in late January 1991….

    • ncairngormsadmin
      2nd March 2024 2:32 pm

      I grew up in the highlands and remember both the poor winters at the end of the 80’s and some of the good winters in the mid 80’s and early 90’s. Unfortunately it seem to have gone from mostly good winters with the odd poor one to mostly poor with the odd good one.

  • Kenny Gregor
    1st March 2024 7:41 pm

    Thanks for the great blog and photos. Feeling lucky to have enjoyed a super week in January in the Northern Cairngorms, with blue skies and better snow cover. Would definitely be interested in snow amounts over the years!

    • ncairngormsadmin
      2nd March 2024 8:08 am

      You obviously chose your week well, it has not all been blue skie and snow cover. Glad you enjoy the blog and your trip up.

  • Calum Jones
    1st March 2024 8:08 pm

    Very interesting observations – thank you as always. I wonder if low snow levels this year are principally due to dry conditions, rather than warm temperatures? The met office has reported that the average temperature in the Scottish highlands this winter has been roughly average. However it’s not clear whether that’s been the case above say 700m elevation.

    • ncairngormsadmin
      2nd March 2024 8:07 am

      Hi Calum, glad you are enjoy the blog. In terms of the rainfall over the past few months it has been around average (this can be seen at and then looking at the data from Glenmore lodge, or some of the other local stations). Although temperatures have been average, it there have been some very cold spells (first half of January for example) and some very mild spells (2nd half of January). Unfortunately the cold spells have tended to be dry, and the mild spells wet. I think that the actual amount of snow (rather than precipitation) that has fallen at higher level has been below average a higher percentage than normal has fallen as rain, and then the rain and mild temperatures has melted what was there.

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