The wild flowers of Carn Ban Mor

On a hot day in June 2010, we climbed Carn Ban Mor, one of the peaks in the Cairngorms.  Our quest was for dotterel, elusive little plovers which arrive on the high Cairngorms plateau every spring, and breed on the windswept summits before heading off again at the end of the summer.

We succeeded in getting great views of dotterel, but we also encountered some wonderful wild flowers on the walk up.  These provided a good excuse to take photographs and drink in the views as we rested our weary limbs.

Carn Ban Mor rises to 1,052 metres (3,090 feet) above sea level, and it isn’t classed as a ‘Munro’ simply because its near neighbour, Sgor Gaoith, rises to 3,668 feet and there isn’t enough of a dip in between them.  That sounds too much like bureaucracy to me!

Looking back, showing the snow fields

The ascent begins from Glen Feshie, to the south of Aviemore.  A rough track leads through some woods before emerging onto the open hillside;  the rest of the way is along a stony but well-defined path right up to the summit, which appears impossibly distant from lower levels.

In the boggy areas close to the woodland we found Fragrant Orchid (Gymnadenia conopsea), Heath Spotted-orchid (Dactylorhiza maculata) and Arctic Starflower (Trientalis europaea), also known as Chickweed Wintergreen.

Fragrant Orchid (Gymnadenia conopsea)

Heath Spotted-orchid (Dactylorhiza maculata)

Arctic Starflower or Chickweed Wintergreen (Trientalis europaea)

Cold winds were blowing off the still-lying snow field near the top, even though the midday sun was baking.  Underfoot, the ground was dusty with the heat, and the grasses were crisp and parched through lack of rain.  (Remember this was 2010 – the scene would have been very different last summer!)  The beginnings of mountain streams created damper patches, and here we discovered Marsh Violet (Viola palustris) and Marsh Marigold (Caltha palustris).

Marsh Violet (Viola palustris)

Marsh Marigold (Caltha palustris)

Frog - a surprising find, near the summit!

Alpine Clubmoss (Diphasiastrum alpinum)

At the summit, bright pink mats of Moss Campion (Silene acaulis) were growing among the scattered boulders, along with Alpine Azalea (Loiseleuria procumbens).  Even on a hot summer’s day, with nothing but a few innocent-looking white clouds floating in a clear blue sky, it was easy to see how harsh and inhospitable this landscape is… and how lucky we were to experience it in such conditions.

Moss Campion (Silene acaulis) with bee

Alpine Azalea (Loiseleuria procumbens)

Spring near the summit

View towards Cairn Toul and The Devil’s Point

We did find dotterel – and, much to our delight and amazement, they had tiny chicks in tow!  If you’d like to read more, you’ll find a full report and a gallery of photos by following this link to my other site, Jo’s Journal.

Dotterel with chick

More information:

All images copyright © Colin & Jo Woolf


  1. What a great adventure and the views are spectacular. Love the photos from the original post too!!

  2. simply beautiful…

  3. The scale on that bee shot is alarming — I’m hoping those are really tiny moss flowers, because if not, I’ll be having nightmares about that bee…


  4. Great photos 🙂

  5. Wonderful photography and truly beautiful scenery and wildlife. Thank you very much for sharing such beauty and congratulations on being freshly pressed!

  6. all the pictures are nice….

  7. I enjoyed the photography. I wish you luck in your travels.

  8. Jo, absolutely gorgeous. Where exactly is the Cairngorms? I drove through some towns in Scotland a few years back, and the country is so lovely, would love to go back soon.
    You’re pretty knowledgeable about flowers. Is that what you study?
    Thank you for the beauty you share.

    • Thank you! The Cairngorms is a mountainous region in north-central Scotland – it’s a beautiful wilderness. No, I don’t study flowers – we’re just interested in nature, and we try to identify what we see.

  9. Nice shots and the flowers are beautiful. I always love to look at people’s pictures. Thank you.


  10. Thank you for sharing this natural bounty and beauty.

  11. I love the wildflowers.. Stunning vistas. What a treat. Congrats on being Pressed!

  12. Beautiful Pictures!

  13. Violets are my favorite 🙂

  14. Thankyou for this fascinating glimpse into a place I have never heard of before.

  15. God surely makes beautiful things. Connie

  16. Really beautiful, what an amazing climb and view!

  17. That picture with the bee is amazing! The tiny flowers make the bee look gigantic. Actually, I’m going to revise my statement and say, That the picture with the bee is terrifying!

  18. Amazing and Beautiful! I am jealous of your Journey, but was satisfied by the beautiful photography!!

  19. I’m across the ocean, but I would love to visit the park! Thanks for the great photos.

  20. Lovely photos, thank you.

  21. Thanks for sharing your adventure through photos.

  22. oh my! the starflower is gorgeous. i like wild flowers. thanks for sharing! : )

  23. Peter Rudd says:

    Beautiful – images and words. Thanks!

  24. looks like an epic hike!

  25. A great adventure with great pictures! 😉

  26. Not so barren and forbidding after all!

  27. Thank you very much for this beautiful sharing of nature. Keep sharing and save the nature..

  28. Beautiful photos!

  29. Happened to me once – Freshly Pressed does that. I’m glad, I wouldn’t have found this great blog without it.

  30. james ewing says:

    Lovely report. brings so many things together.
    Dotterel pictures very sweet.
    Do you know best place and time for snow bunting?
    Best wishes.

    • Thank you! As for snow bunting, we saw them around the Glenshee ski centre car park in January, with plenty of snow on the ground. I think anywhere around the Cairnwell is good, in late autumn/winter.

  31. amazing picture……………!!!

  32. Gorgeous photos! They look amazing

  33. Wow! Stunning photographs! I can almost taste spring in the air. 🙂

  34. Excellent photos!

  35. akosigabz says:

    Wow. Epic.

  36. A fantastic account of your journey in the Cairngorms and the pictures were stunning!

  37. Do you mind if I quote a couple of your articles as long as I provide credit and sources back to your webpage? My blog site is in the exact same area of interest as yours and my visitors would definitely benefit from some of the information you present here. Please let me know if this okay with you. Thanks a lot!

  38. Red Toenails says:

    So pretty.

  39. Wonderful photos! Love the delicate wildflowers! . . . Congrats on being “Freshly Pressed”!!

  40. Beautiful vistas and love the flowers!

  41. wow amazing photos thanks for sharing 🙂
    check out my blog to

    thank you

  42. Great photos!

  43. Thanks for sharing a piece of the beauty you see all around you. Lovely photos and congrats for being Freshly Pressed! 🙂

  44. Thank you for the beautiful photographs of my homeland that I miss so very much, and has a place in my heart that no other country can ever fill. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  45. Beautiful photos!

  46. Lovely photos. Enjoyed the tour. Thanks

  47. Gorgeous pictures, thank you for sharing!

  48. Very nice photos 🙂

  49. Your photos are lovely.

  50. arctic star flower ❤

  51. Love the dotterel!

  52. i like this

  53. No small wonder this post is so well liked. Very descriptive and some excellent images.

    Keep up the good work.

    Kind Regards

    Tony Powell

  54. uterly gorgeous. The birds were so cute too. The thought of walking, picking woldflowers really appeals. Thanks for sharing

  55. World …..Earth ……are the same things?
    but your places there are the haven on earthe.

    Peachful and calmness came to me …. All your pictures are beautiful to shine in all minds .

    O.k, Let go to do trip& tour around the world as you can.

  56. Those are some great shots; it’s always amazing what we can find out in nature, when we open up to it. I’m glad to hear you enjoyed your hike and climb:))Thanks for sharing and I look forward to connecting more with you:))

  57. Beautiful, so beautiful… Congratulations once again, Thank you, with my love, nia

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