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Strathfarrar - A ridge too far - so 3 simple steps

Strathfarrar - A ridge too far - so 3 simple steps

Postby Hills4dogs » Mon Nov 15, 2021 6:32 pm

Munros included on this walk: Càrn nan Gobhar (Strathfarrar), Sgùrr a' Choire Ghlais

Date walked: 13/11/2021

Time taken: 7.1 hours

Distance: 22.58 km

Ascent: 1308m

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Since moving to the Black Isle about a year ago, I have started using WH more and more. But every walk I've done has always been reported on in-depth so not really seen what I can add, here at last was an unusual approach to these hills so I thought I would contribute my first walk report.
Again since being in the Black Isle, I have become somewhat obsessed with the Strathfarrar 4 munros. In particular, being quite a slow walker, how could we complete them under "the access gate" time limitations. Then in September I hit on the "not rocket science" idea of not doing them all at once and life seemed to become much more simple! Yes I would miss out on the "complete ridgewalk experience" but being a bit of a feartie when it comes to edges, that wasn't a major blow for me.
Step 1 In September Kirsteen and I popped along to the end of Glen Strathfarrar and hiked Sgùrr Fhuar-thuill up and down the very good stalkers path (13.4 km 5.30 hr), we had hoped to do a loop back over Gob a Chairn but it was the middle of stalking season and the estate requests you don't disturb the areas outside the "non standard ridge walk"
Step 2 In October stopped at the first parking area in Glen Strathfarrar and we hiked Sgùrr na Ruaidhe (10.4 km 4.30hr) up and down the rather rough and boggy ATV path which goes almost all the way to the top.
Step 3 So now how to squeeze in the middle two before the end of the year. During the year I have made several trips to Strathconon, including hiking Beinn Mheadhoin from Inverchoran and this seemed like a possible access route. Given the shortening day length and the presence of an Estate track I thought I could speed things up by cycling the ~5km in from Inverchoran to Glen Orrin

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What I hadn't allowed for was the complexity of the estate track, grit, large stones/rocks and steepness which all came as a bit of a shock to my level of mountain biking skills - I seriously need to work on those!!!
View of Sgùrr a'Choire Ghlais from track around Beinn Mheadhoin

I parked up the bike in the woods next to the foot bridge that crosses the river Orrin in this beautiful spot
Glen Orrin

And then it was time to start the ~7.3 km walk

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Went up the stalkers path which has an unmarked, very convenient foot bridge to cross the Allt a' Bhealaich Bhig. Once I got to the end of the path I branched off to the west up the Glun Odhar ridge to hit the main ridge just above Bealach Toll Sgaile and from there it was a quick trip up to the summit of Sgùrr a'Choire Ghlais. I chose to go this way because I wasn't sure how steep the section upto the main ridge was going to be and I always prefer to go up steep bits rather than down them!
Sgùrr a'Choire Ghlais

Clouds over the ridge

Clouds over the second hill of the day Càrn nan Gobhar

Route over to Càrn nan Gobhar

Didn't take too long to make the walk over to the second hill of the day, bumping into the only person I saw all day who had done the long cycle in from the access gate in Strathfarrar before starting the walk
Looking back along the ridge from Càrn nan Gobhar

Sgùrr na Ruaidhe

Fannichs in the distance (I think)

Started the trip back to Glen Orrin and came across this boulder field from the top of Càrn nan Gobhar. This was quite a challenging descent, especially because of the clouds all the stones were damp and slippery. In hindsight it would have been better to go up this way, doing my route in reverse.
Looking back up, boulder field below Càrn nan Gobhar

Once out of the boulders it was an easy walk down over grass meadows and heather.
On the way down looking into Glen Orrin and the track out around Beinn Mheadhoin

Once back in the glen, it was time to get back on the bike and the ~5 km cycle out, which seemed much easier than the cycle in despite still being fairly steep and stony!
All in all a very enjoyable day :D :D
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Re: Strathfarrar - A ridge too far - so 3 simple steps

Postby gld73 » Mon Nov 15, 2021 8:40 pm

Always useful to see variations of routes up local hills, thanks :)
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Re: Strathfarrar - A ridge too far - so 3 simple steps

Postby Huff_n_Puff » Thu Nov 18, 2021 10:21 pm

Interesting route, I'd wondered about approaching these hills from Glen Orrin, but in the end chose the conventional route - but these are local hills so perhaps, in the future ... we may revisit them this way thank you :D
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