SNOW may disappear completely from Scotland’s mountains this summer in what appears to be an accelerating warming of the climate.

It has remained on some of the highest peaks throughout the year since the 1700s but all cover has ­melted away in recent summers.

The patches are monitored by Scottish snow hunter Iain Cameron who told the Sunday National he was worried by the trend.

“It’s looking pretty grim,” he said. “Historically the snow never ­disappeared. From anecdotal evidence from the 1700s onwards it was always there.”

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The first time the snow is known to have disappeared completely was in 1933 then again in 1959, 1996, 2003, 2006, 2017 and 2018.

“You can see the direction of ­travel,” said Cameron. “The snows seem to be a shrinking phenomenon. Fewer patches are surviving from year-to-year, and it seems that less snow is falling in general terms. There are annual differences, of course, but the trend is that of less snow.”

Cameron said the few patches that remain this year were a lot smaller than he would expect them to be at this time.

“It is looking pretty bad,” he said. “Realistically they have got to ­survive for another two months until the snow arrives and it looks to me like they are going to really struggle to make it.

“Even though there was complete cover in the Cairngorms in May it has shrunk rapidly to the extent that there are hardly more than a dozen or so patches left, so it looks to me as though all the snow in the Cairngorms could melt again this year.”

Cameron, who contributes his findings to the Royal Meteorological Society’s journal and who has just written a book called The Vanishing Ice, said the phenomenon was “a concern”.

“It worries me because I have been observing the patches for over 30 years and visit them fairly regularly,” he said.

Even though there was fresh snow this spring, there was a “complete lack” of it in the winter from the ­directions that fill in hollows which would normally hold the longest ­lasting patches of snow.

Cameron’s interest has caught the imagination of the general public in recent years and there are now ­almost 4000 members of his Facebook page Snow Patches in Scotland, with some helping to monitor and photograph the patches.

Footage of him exploring a snow tunnel with presenter Dougie Vipond on the BBC programme Landward, and appearances on Countryfile and Winterwatch have fuelled interest in the phenomenon.

“When I went with Dougie and the camera crew they were gobsmacked as they had no idea something like that could exist in Scotland in the summer,” said Cameron. “The ­absolute beauty and unusualness of it really touched a nerve with a lot of people.”

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The snow patches vary ­dramatically from year to year, according to ­Cameron, but around four or five are present most years.

Garbh Coire Mor on Braeriach in the Cairngorms, Britain’s third ­highest mountain, holds the most reliable patches of snow – the Sphinx and Pinnacles patches, called after the names of rock climbs above them.

“Historically they are the most durable patches of snow in Scotland and there are some on Aonach Beag over at Fort William and on Ben ­Nevis as well that are very reliable and survive quite often but what we have seen even there in the last few years is that they have been disappearing as well,” Cameron said.

“There is no such thing as an ­average year in the Scottish climate but what we are pretty clear on is that the patches that we look to ­survive most of the time are increasingly ­disappearing.”