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Tarf Water Six

Tarf Water Six

Postby ketzster » Sun May 01, 2011 5:02 pm

Munros included on this walk: An Sgarsoch, Beinn Dearg (Blair Atholl), Càrn a' Chlamain, Càrn an Fhìdhleir (Càrn Ealar)

Corbetts included on this walk: Beinn Bhreac, Beinn Mheadhonach

Date walked: 20/04/2011

Distance: 55 km

Ascent: 2995m

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Having spent a few weeks trying to decide whether I should approach An Sgarsoch and Carn an Fhidleir from the Linn of Dee or Blair Atholl, I noticed a couple of people discussing ‘the Ring of Tarf’ on the internet. As I have always enjoyed trying to combine Munro bagging with a good endurance walk this route particularly interested me. I knew that An Sgarsoch and Carn an Fhildleir were probably the most challenging pair remaining on my Munro round and knew that the walk in from Blair Atholl was longer, but unable to drive because I haven’t yet learnt to I opted to start there because of the easy travel from Birmingham.

After a good nights sleep in the Atholl Arms Hotel and a good fry up with a cup of tea, I set off towards Old Blair at 9.30am. Never having been too keen on camping out in the wild (particularly on my own) I had it in the back of my mind to try and bag the pair and get back to Blair Atholl within the day. On the other hand I also wanted to kick start my Corbett round and could pick up two by doing the whole round. I have walked every step of every Munro so despite being told by most books that cycling makes it easier (I’m terrible on a bike too) I headed for the very long walk in via Forest Lodge up Glen Tilt.

GT 3.jpg

I had tried to pack my bag as lightly as possible but it never seems to work that way and my bivvy bag and sleeping bag were proving to be slightly heavier than I remembered them being. After about an hour and a quarter I reached Marble Lodge and was starting to think about which route I would take to the pair of Munros on the other side of Tarf Water. I had climbed Beinn Dearg and Carn a Chlamain last summer so had a fairly good idea of what would be involved but I hadn’t decided whether to climb up over the pass between Carn a Chlamain and Conlach Mhor or continue along Glen Tilt past Forest Lodge. After about another twenty minutes I reached the path where I would turn up to go up between Carn a’Chlamain and Conlach Mhor if I was going that way but looking at the map I decided that the route past Forest Lodge was too long with a full pack and only enough supplies for one night so began my ascent. This was fairly easy along the track and it wasn’t long until Carn a’Chlamain was in sight.

Carn a'Chlamain.jpg

I had decided on my way up that I might as well repeat it while I was so close and by 12.15 I was on the top and was looking at my route to the two new Munros that were my priority.

Fhidleir and Sgarsoch.jpg

Thinking that they didn’t look as far as they did on the map I set off for the Tarf Hotel at a good pace and it didn’t take long until I was sat eating lunch outside the bothy.

Tarf Hotel.jpg

As the weather was so perfect and because I was enjoying the route I had decided to write off my idea of trying to get back to Blair Atholl and would definitely camp out. I wanted to try and get to somewhere near Beinn Dearg before dark because I was worrying about getting out to Blair Atholl to meet a concert organizer the next day whom I had agreed to meet a couple of days earlier.

An Sgarsoch was now looking further away than it had before. The path disappeared behind the bothy and I was left having to cross peat hags to reach the point where I would start going up. I was starting to get frustrated and the pack was getting heavier. With my head dropping slightly I eventually reached where I needed to be and finally began climbing the heathery slopes of An Sgarsoch. This was definitely the least enjoyable part of the walk. Beinn Dearg looked quite a long way from where I was standing and was starting to think that my chance of doing the four munros, two corbetts and getting back to Blair Atholl in time the next day was disappearing fast.

Beinn Dearg from An Sgarsoch.jpg

I was now thinking of bagging the two munros and returning to the bothy before walking back out past Forest Lodge the next morning. I called my dad near the top of An Sgarsoch to tell him of my change of plan so that somebody knew where I was. It had taken about three and a half hours from Chlamain to the top of An Sgarsoch which meant that time was pressing on. My knees had now started to hurt as well. I was carrying a knee injury from running for my club and going down hill to the gap between Carn an Fhidleir and An Sgarsoch was fairly painful. After a short break at the relatively low col I headed up the grass and heather slopes above me and surprisingly it didn’t seem to be too long until I reached Fhidleir’s summit. Spurred on suddenly by achieving my main aim I decided that Beinn Dearg didn’t really look too far away now and that if I could reach the lower slopes by nightfall I would be able to climb that and the second Corbett in the morning.

Beinn Bhreac (right) and Beinn Dearg from Carn an Fhidleir.jpg

Pushing away all thoughts of going back to the bothy I was on my way towards Corbett number one, Beinn Bhreac. There still wasn’t a path (there hadn’t been one since leaving Carn a’Chlamain) but walking along the high arm of Meall Tionail la Glais Feith was very easy.The climb once I reached Beinn Bhreac was very similar to climbing An Sgarsoch (the drop is always big on Corbetts) but not as far and I knew that I was nearly at the point I had chosen on the map for camping at the head of Tarf Water.

Beinn Bhreac.jpg

Reaching the top of Beinn Bhreac at just after 6pm I headed for my camping spot below Beinn Dearg. With the spot in sight and only about twenty minutes away my legs decided they had had enough and it seemed like an eternity before I reached my destination. Eventually, about half an hour or so later, I got to the head of Tarf Water which was a stunning place and I was feeling very fortunate to be able to spend a night there, and eat a tin of the old walking favourite-Heinz tinned Spaghetti.

Camping spot.jpg

After a night of fairly heavy rain I awoke and packed my gear ready to go up Beinn Dearg. Despite the weather being a bit murky the views were still pretty good and upon reaching the top of Beinn Dearg I looked back to where I had come from.

Carn an Fhidleir and An Sgarsoch.jpg

My warm glow was shortened by a text message from my uncle saying that the Aston Villa manager was in hospital which turned my mind to a relegation battle (obviously these things are very important!) and temporarily ruined my morning but I carried on and headed for Beinn Mheadhonach, the second Corbett and last hill on my round. Getting to the point of ascent was further than it looked on the map and the walk down the stream was quite rough. After about 40 minutes I got there and headed up the side. Still no path and the terrain was quite rough up the grass bank but with the top and my final goal in site I pushed on. Once I reached the top the feeling was absolutely fantastic. Of course I hadn’t bothered considering how far the walk back to Blair Atholl was from here as I thought it would be easy after what I had already done. A path appeared just beyond the top and I started down the long arm back towards Glen Tilt. My knees were again hurting going down hill and it seemed that Blair Atholl was miles away but after a while I picked up a bit of momentum again and was soon down looking back up at Beinn Mheadhonach.

Beinn Mheadhonach.jpg

It was a mile or so back to Gilberts Bridge from here where I changed into my trainers for the return along the track. I reached Blair Atholl for about 1.30pm with lots of time before my 5pm meeting, leaving me with enough time to reflect on an absolutely stunning day and a half. I have seen people describe these hills as boring but doing the whole round is an exhilarating experience.

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Last edited by ketzster on Sun May 01, 2011 5:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Tarf Water Six

Postby Johnny Corbett » Sun May 01, 2011 5:24 pm

Well done thats a fair wee hike, especially when you can't drive yet and don't like cycling and camping. I'm hoping to go up there tomorrow, but only to do Carn a' Chlamain and Beinn Mheadhonach, by bike of course.
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Re: Tarf Water Six

Postby Stretch » Sun May 01, 2011 5:26 pm

Excellent stuff ketzster, I was tinkering around with the GPS planner on the site the other day, drawing up a similar route but from the Linn of Dee. Your report has given me a much better idea of what is in store for my own wildcamp up that way.
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Re: Tarf Water Six

Postby davetherave » Sat Jun 04, 2011 2:51 am

I dont believe it,

My plans for this weekend were to complete the Momores, but with the prospect of thunder our plans look like getting changed.
Its now short notice and now i have decided on getting this round complete, hopefuly. I had just made my route up, and then had a look on WH and came across your recent report ( sorry for missing ) thats it, i think my mind is made up. :lol:

Thanks to you this now looks like the route of choice.
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Re: Tarf Water Six

Postby monty » Sat Jun 11, 2011 8:47 pm

Just had to bumo this back up as Dave has just completed the same walk. Its big, its stamina sapping, good effort. :D

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