Hooarah… I can finally write up that I have completed what my 100 Best Routes on Scottish Mountains calls “The Stathfarrar Six” after walking the full ridge in Glen Strathfarrar and ticking off four Munro’s in the process.
Glen Strathfarrar I have been considering renaming Glen Strath – see not very – farr since everytime I go there by borrowed car, bike or thumb the weather is atrocious. I have already made three attempts to walk this route and two previous on the Beinn A Bhariach Aird at the other end – which I eventually did with a resolute friend who was undeterred by the horrid conditions and absence of a view.
This walk is always a substantial investment of time, and my last attempt saw me cycle all the way through the Glen only to abandon the walk way up the stalkers track as the weather deteriorated.
Today I knew the weather would be good, but only until about 3pm so I set of at 5am in the morning with the hope of being down, or at least on the stalkers path when the rain/snow came. However I didn’t realise that even in summer the gate does not open until 9am. So I had to park the car and walk the long road through the glen to my starting point – some 12-15km away! That’s the equivalent of a day walk for most, for me it was my walk in.
Nevertheless it was a bright, calm morning with the slight touch of lying snow alongside the road, with some cars by the gate showing a very thick coating of ice on the screen for this first week of May.
I walked and walked through the Glen I know so well from previous cycles and long walks and the hours passed away. I kept checking OS 25 and 26 to see where I was and I didn’t seem to be getting any further.
Eventually I passed a landrover track (NH304392) near the power station and strode up through bemused deer to gain some height and leave the road and before I got to 200m cars started to come by indicating it was past nine. I could have stayed in bed until 8.30 and been in almost the same place.
Using my eyes and my compass I made rapid progress over the dusty dry hinterland and slopes following a deer track down the hill which was leading me swiftly up towards Garbh Cairn at 854m. I made for the bealach and then turned west up the slopes to sit at a rather well constructed tight cairn and gaze on to the chain of hills that lay before me.
After a little breakfast I headed of north and down and up through the lying snow to gain the heights of Sgurr na Ruaidhe and my first peak of the day. Soft, gentle, bouncy rolling hills that soothed my feet and my path along the ridge to Carn na Gobhar and then the biggest hill of the day Sgurr a Choire Ghlais where I took lunch before scooting easily of the soft snow – skipping with joy as the sun warmed my skin and I started recognising the hills all around from The torridon massifs, to An Teallach and even the unmistakably jagged teeth of the Cuillins out west where my feet where headed next.
Before 2 o’clock I was nearing the end of the ridge and walking up to Sgurr na Fearstaig and considering heading out over the impressive bulk of Cadha Raineach when the cold snow arrived and thus I scooted down the slopes in the corrie snow to join the stalkers path out to Braulen lodge and hopefully a hitch back to the gate.
After 5km of walking a landrover passed with two Cumbrian gents inside and 4 knackered dogs but they very kindly stopped and squeezed me in horizontally between the seats and the dog cage and speeded my way to the gate and a waiting borrowed car by 5pm instead of a possibly 9pm allowing my the time to head to Beauly for a fish supper. Full with joy at finally finishing and so much enjoying these wonderful and taunting hills.
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Warning Please note that hillwalking when there is snow lying requires an ice-axe, crampons and the knowledge, experience and skill to use them correctly. Summer routes may not be viable or appropriate in winter. See winter information on our skills and safety pages for more information.