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Wednesday, 22 December 2010

The Winter Solstice in Lochranza

Whilst mainland Scotland has been having a truly Arctic winter, being a small island has meant that Arran hasn’t suffered such extreme conditions. Arran has kept being a brown blob on the BBC weather map when most places are blue. It’s been easy when walking along the coast to distinguish the other snow-free islands of the Clyde against the white backdrop of mainland. The CalMac ferries have been sailing with serene regularity, whilst road traffic chaos on the mainland has made headlines daily. Today, however, after some heavy snowfalls, everything here is white.
In early December much of Lochranza goes into its famous sunless period which will last through January. The sun never quite makes it on to the campsite, as it circles low behind Torr Nead and Meall Mor. The north-facing cliffs along the coast have curtains of icicles. There is a sharp division between sunshine and shade which works its way across the hillsides as the day goes on. You might think that being sunless would make it gloomy, but it’s more as if there is a golden ceiling just above your head. And it might be the winter solstice but the sparkling frosts seem to lengthen the days.
The herds of deer are high up on the hillsides now as there is nothing left to eat on the golf course. It’s already being another tough winter for wild things.

Nigel and I would like to wish you a very happy, safe and warm Christmas.
The photograph shows the lunar eclipse just before dawn on December 21st.