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The Strathfarrar Four

The Strathfarrar Four


Postby bootsandpaddles » Thu May 17, 2012 1:08 pm

Route description: Glen Strathfarrar Munros circuit

Munros included on this walk: Carn nan Gobhar (Strathfarrar), Sgurr a'Choire Ghlais, Sgurr Fhuar-thuill, Sgurr na Ruaidhe

Date walked: 16/05/2012

Time taken: 8 hours

Distance: 23.6 km

Ascent: 1667m

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They promised a bit of a window in the weather on Wednesday so I drove up to Struy on Tuesday. As I parked the van it started to hail – window indeed! But it brightened up as I walked through the glen beside the river.
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The walk in along the river
Very picturesque. It didn’t seem to take that long until I reached Loch Beannacharan and in the distance I could pick out the power station and a little hill with a tree on top which told me that it wasn’t far to go. I found a great place for the tent and soon had some water on for a cup of tea.
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Campsite
The glen is certainly very beautiful despite the hydroelectric infrastructure, which by and large is quite discreet, and there are some wonderful ancient alders and evidence of previous settlement. I could pick out Sgurr na Lapaich, which had a good covering of snow, to the south.
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Sgurr na Lapaich


There was a bit of low cloud the following morning but I set off up the path beside the Allt Coire Mhuillidh. A good track at first deteriorates into a bit of a boggy paddle but at last I had my first glimpse of the hills.
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First glimpse of the hills
I play a little game when I am out in the hills on my own. “I’ll just do the first hill and see what it’s like” I say to myself. So off up Sgurr na Ruaidhe I went as the snow flakes whirled about and the view came and went – clearly quite a small window, then! Sgurr na Ruaidhe is not very exciting really, round and rather grey on the day.
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Sgurr na Ruaidhe - yes, you're right that isn't the summit
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But this is!
As I reached the summit the view vanished completely so I took a bearing for Carn nan Gobhar. As I turned to the right direction the cloud lifted and there was the way ahead beneath me. “I’ll carry on and do the next one, then” I said to myself.
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Towards Carn nan Gobhar
Reaching the bealach it was time for big winter gloves and waterproof jacket and trousers. Then on up the broad ridge to the plateau that leads along to Carn nan Gobhar. By this time it was all a bit grim but then the cloud cleared again and I could once again see the way forward, or rather down and up again. This next bit looked more interesting.
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The ridge to Sgurr a' Choire Ghlais
As I walked south west across the plateau the wind chill was quite fierce but the sun was at last doing its best. The view towards Sgurr Fhuar-thuill was spectacular – could it really be May rather than January?
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Looking towards Sgurr Fhuar-thuill
Reaching the bealach I decided it was time to get my ice axe out for the ascent up the ridge to Sgurr a’ Coire Ghlais.
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Think I'll get my ice axe out now!
It looked quite steep in places – it was quite steep in places! And hard work. I had put all my layers on for the wind but in the lee of the ridge I sweltered as I trudged up through the snow. And then at last there was the trig point, not to mention 2 cairns. The ridge carries on from the more northerly cairn descending quite steeply and then up the narrow ridge to the top of Creag Ghorm a’Bhealaich.
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Creag Ghorm a'Bhealaich
From there it was but a short stroll to Sgurr Fhuar-thuill.
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Sgurr Fhuar-thuill
You know that photo Doug Scott took of Dougal Haston on the summit of Everest – well I felt like that as I approached my summit. May be not the top of the world but as good as! I walked further along the ridge towards Sgurr na Fearstaig
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Sgurr na Fearstaig
and decided to take the stalkers path down past Loch Toll a’ Mhuic rather than going along the ridge to Sgurr na Muice.
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The way down
This was a bit of a mistake really as the snow was all banked up on the path and I slipped and slid as I descended. There was evidence of a few avalanches and looking up, I could see some cornices and decided not to hang about. You wouldn’t want to be in the way when it all came crashing down!
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The stalker's path
The loch made a great place for lunch and then I carried on down past some nice waterfalls to rejoin the road through the glen. A 6k walk saw me back at the tent by about 3pm so I decided to have a cup of tea, get the tent down and walk out. That 12k to the gate seemed about twice the distance it had on the walk in. Winter boots are great for the snow and ice but not so brilliant for walking on the road. I began to feel like those Chinese women who had their feet bound to make them smaller. But eventually I made it to the gate and home by about 11pm. A wonderful day and only 22 Munros to go now.

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bootsandpaddles
 
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Re: The Strathfarrar Four

Postby wilkiemurray » Thu May 17, 2012 7:29 pm

heading up to this region this weekend - looks like there is lots of snow- what condition was the snow - was it mainly new soft snow and would you recommend ice axe and crampons!!!!!
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Re: The Strathfarrar Four

Postby bootsandpaddles » Thu May 17, 2012 7:33 pm

Soft enough not to require crampons but I felt I needed my ice axe on the steep bits. Conditions can change quite quickly though. Have fun.
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Re: The Strathfarrar Four

Postby wilkiemurray » Thu May 17, 2012 7:40 pm

Thanks will stick them in bag - nice report and pics BTW
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Re: The Strathfarrar Four

Postby wolf1973 » Fri May 18, 2012 1:45 am

Fantastic report and pic's, planing to do this in August when on a visit to family I have up that way!
Good to know that there is a good site for an overnight wild stay, may just take my tent with me!
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wolf1973
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Re: The Strathfarrar Four

Postby bootsandpaddles » Fri May 18, 2012 7:18 am

There are a lot of spots you could put a tent up by the burn at the start of the track up Sgurr na Rhuaidhe.
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Re: The Strathfarrar Four

Postby monty » Sat May 19, 2012 6:00 pm

Nice one Boots.......
I was up there last month with similar conditions. Its a nice round. Know what you mean about the snow cornice on the drop from the beallach. Getting to the path was a bit dodgy but manageable, just :lol:
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