(In September 2017 the Sphinx on Braeriach, the only snow patch in the UK to last all year round since records began, melted away)

Riddle me this, grand Braeriach thinks,

“the head of a human, haunches of a lion,

I treasure my long-living snow-sculpt Sphinx

lying deep, unmelting and sound for nigh on

ten thousand millennia in pristine glory,

its profile known only to gangrel walkers

and windswept eagles: to share this story

became the aim of all good Cairngorm talkers”.

Now thanks to the creature that starts on all fours,

then stands on two feet but at last needs a stick,

there’s no snow on the hill and Garbh Choire Mor’s

as granite and grey as the Devil’s hard prick.

“In every high summer my Sphinx kept its ice,

with a firn good and solid, and a hail-mottled skin:

but it’s the twenty-first century’s climactic price

and my glacier would fit on the head of a pin.”

So sings Brindled Upland, its translated name:

“two sisters there were, one gave birth to the other,

whilst the second one became the first one’s mother –

night and day, day and night, the rhythm’s the same.

Come winter, my Sphinx will guard me again,

but its wings will take flight in this new summer bane”.

Ted Eames, 2018