The Worst Winter? – Muir of Dinnet NNR

“They said there’ll be snow at Christmas, they said there’ll be peace on earth. But instead it just kept on raining…” …yup, with you on that one, mate. We all picture snow at Christmas…or, at least, some nice frosty mornings. But we’re in a maritime climate here in the UK, which means our weather generally isn’t too extreme. We don’t get the really harsh, bitter, continental winters, nor do we swelter in 40+ Centigrade in the summer. And, over  the winter, the longed-for snow is far more likely to be mild weather(well, 2-6 degrees) and rain. But let me take you back to the winter of 2009/10….remember that one?

The Vat

I certainly do, especially when my feet get cold, as I got a toe nipped with frostbite that year! The snow started in early December and persisted, on and off, until February. We were working outside in minus 8 daytime temperatures, in wellies, as the snow was high enough to go over the top of walking boots. At its worst, I think there were about 15 inches of snow on the reserve.

Snow, Burn Vat trail

Snow, Burn o Vat trail

It meant there were a lot of trees down! That quantity of snow starts to get heavy and the trees were gradually bending or breaking under its weight. Some of these sprang back after the snow melted but many broke and had to be cut off the paths, We had about a dozen trees down in the first 400 yards of the Vat trail…but we couldn’t clear them up for ages as they were frozen into the snow.

Many of the trees were bent over with snow

Trees flattened with snw

The lochs froze from November through until March. Kinord was especially hard-frozen and, though I wouldn’t advise it, lots of people were walking or ski-ing over the ice.

Loch Kinord

It was so cold – night-time temperature of minus 18 – that the waterfall in the Vat almost completely froze. I’ve never seen it like this before or since but there was only the tiniest ooze of water still flowing. And the land rover wouldn’t start as the diesel was turning to jelly!

The frozen waterfall in the Vat

ice around the waterfall

Ice in vat

Icicles in Vat

Icicles in the Vat

The birds were made bold by hunger and the tits weren’t even waiting until you had the peanuts in the feeder. They were taking them straight out of the cup in your hand.

Who’s your friend?

We most definitely had a white Christmas that year. So I thought I’d share the pictures from then with you to compensate for the rather nondescript weather this year! See you in the new year, folks!

Snow on birch trees


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