13th May 2016 Sgurr Mhic Bharraich - 2nd attempt at a night camp
Another fantastic week weather-wise in Scotland and another week I was stuck in Wales for work. Looking at the weather reports suggested that the weather was changing for the worse on Saturday, so I started looking for somewhere to go on Friday night when I got home.
Most areas looked cloudy overnight and a little bit on the windy side but when I looked at Kintail the forecast was for clear skies all night with wind dropping to around 5 or 6mph. I had wanted to go back to Sgurr Mhic Bharraich after my aborted attempt a few weeks previously. The view from the summit is great and I wanted to see what it was like at night lit by a half moon.
The only issue was time. My flight from Bristol was due in at 1.30pm so I really wanted to be able to set off from home around 3pm to get to the summit for sunset.
It wasn't to be though. Flight was delayed. for an hour. That along with an accident on the A96 and dropping colleagues off around Inverness meant it was closer to 5pm by the time I actually set off for Shiel Bridge. It was around 7pm before I set off up the mountain.
By 8.30pm I was at the Bealach around 500m and in a dilemma. The light was already starting to change for sunset to the west. Do I continue on up the east ridge and miss the sunset but still get the overnight summit views and sunrise from the summit, or do I camp at the bealach where I get a view to the west and should be able to see the sunrise to the east.
As I was already pretty knackered I decided it would give me an excuse to come back sometime if I just camped at the bealach beside the small loch. So that's what I did and 20 minutes later the tent was up and I was wandering over a small rise to the west to take some photos of the effect of the sun setting to the west. The tops of the peaks of the southern Cuillin on Skye were just visible.
When the sun is setting in the west, the effect on the sky to the east is just as beautiful, so I decided to go back to the tent and see what it was looking like this time:
Then back to the west to see whether there was anything spectacular going on. This is what it's usually like. Wandering backwards and forwards as the light is changing, to try not to miss anything. In this case, about 15 minutes walk every time I decided to move position, carrying the tripod with the camera attached each time.
Once the sun had set and the odd star was starting to come out, it was time for some food. Wayfarers Boil in the bag Chicken Tikka with rice followed by chocolate pudding. The first thing I'd had to eat since Bristol so it went down a treat.Took a couple of photos, but it wasn't dark enough yet for oodles of stars. In fact I wondered whether it would get dark enough with the moon out and it being close to mid summer.
The darkest part of the night looked like it would be 1am, so I set my alarm for then and settled down to see if I could get some sleep. I guess I did, because before long my alarm was going off and when I got up for a look around. I wasn't disappointed!
Around about this time I was also aware of things flying about. I couldn't see anything but I kept hear whirring around me. Sort of like the sound a boomerang makes when it flies through the air. It was a bit disconcerting as I didn't know what it was. I wondered if it was bats echo locating but couldn't see anything with my headtorch. When I heard a splash in the loch behind me though I was really spooked. Your imagination gets a chance to play in the darkness and I was imagining creatures crawling out of the loch to get me. Time to take another wander over to the west....
The moon was getting low towards the horizon and it was clear it was going to set over Skye. I had though it was due to set at around 2am, but a quick check with the Photographers Ephermis let me know it was actually 2.56am. It was still a good way from setting so I took a couple of photos and headed back to the east for a while. before coming back just before 3am.
When I came back, the moon was just disappearing beneath the horizon. Snapped a couple of photos just as the last of it was visible then decided to head back to the tent for some sleep and wait till sunrise. Sunrise was due at 5.03am.
Got back up around 4.15am and headed out to see what the views were like. Headed over to the view west first, but it was pretty uninteresting as the light hadn't really started to change there yet, so I went back towards the tent and decided to get some photos from the loch with the Five Sisters of Kintail in the background
Then I went to wait on the sunrise. Found a spot with a great view to the 5 sisters and it was clear that sunrise would be just to the left of them. I knew the light to the east would be going through the early morning rainbow from blue to purple, but I didn't want to miss the sun peaking over the mountains.
And that was my latest mistake..... 5,03am was sunrise over the horizon, not sunrise over a hulking great mountain. It was closer to 6am before the sun eventually made it's appearance. Although it was nice, I was annoyed as I would have like to capture the changing light to the east.
This mountain is one which will probably remain on my redo list. Great view from the summit (and the Bealach), relatively close and reasonably quick to get up. I'm looking forward to the next time I'm back up it and will need to find out what those boomerang whirry noise beasties are and if they're likely to attack :)
Keywords: Astrophotography, Graham Bradshaw, Kintail, Landscape Photography, Sgurr Mhic Bharraich, Wild Camp, hike, night, photography, scotland, stars, sunrise, sunset
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