The Cairngorms are Britain’s Arctic. In winter, storms rasp the upper shires of the range and avalanches scour its slopes. Even in high summer, snow often lies in the coldest corries, sintering slowly into ice. The wind is such a shaping power there that up on the plateaux are bonsai pines, fully grown at six inches, and juniper bushes which flatten themselves across the rocks to form densely woven dwarf forests. The range itself is the eroded stump of a mass of magma that rose up through the Earth’s crust in the Devonian period, cooled into granite, then emerged out of the surrounding schists ...


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