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The weather gods take revenge on Knockfarrel Ridge

The weather gods take revenge on Knockfarrel Ridge

Postby denfinella » Wed Aug 28, 2013 2:54 pm

Route description: Knockfarrel from Strathpeffer

Sub 2000' hills included on this walk: Cnoc Mor

Date walked: 31/07/2013

Time taken: 1.75 hours

Distance: 7 km

Ascent: 255m

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If you're expecting to hear a report of dramatic knife-edge aretes, driving rain and gale-force winds, you're in for a disappointment. But so were we when we left the waterproofs in the car amidst forecasts of a dry, bright afternoon.

After a lovely visit to Rogie Falls in the morning, we drove around the corner to Strathpeffer - a lovely small spa town which still seems to attract plenty of visitors today. It has plenty of good places to eat, an interesting museum housed by the old railway station, and an American-style "ice-cream diner" which seems completely out of place in Highland Scotland - I'd recommend the tutti frutti flavour though.

Strathpeffer was also the start for a walk along Knockfarrel Ridge. From the car park at the top end of town, a track led up to an assortment of wooden sculptures - apparently carved whole out of tree trunks - at Fir Lodge.



From here, we briefly left the walkhighlands route and headed along a newer path near to the northern edge of the plantations. Soon we rejoined the official route which arrived at, eventually, the Touchstone Maze. This looks like a random assortment of stones but actually has an amazing amount of detail. Firstly, the shape of the maze is based on prehistoric labyrinth designs. Secondly, the stones' positions relate to their origins in different parts of Scotland - for example, the top right stones are from Orkney / Shetland, whilst the bottom left ones would be found in Dumfries & Galloway. This is all explained very clearly by an information board which also overlays each of the stones onto a map. Finally, the stones are apparently also aligned with solstices and pagan festivals, so this is really a very impressive piece of artwork, in a seemingly quite random location. Also quite a few flies here today.


From here we quickly joined a larger track which traverses the hillside in a north-easterly direction, first in forest, then through bracken. All of a sudden you reach the ridge: this has to be one of the easiest routes to the crest of a ridge, ever - which almost imperceptible ascent. We were surprised to see that this point is also accessible by car from the other side.

The setting for the end of the ridge is excellent - this was once the site of a hill fort, and has expansive views both along the ridge behind and into the Moray Firth ahead.



After a while we turned tail on the blue skies over the sea and headed along the backbone of Knockfarrel Ridge. Some unexpected heavy rain was encroaching upon Loch Ussie to the south, and we hoped it wouldn't make inroads towards us. Some hope - at Bealach Bhrathan a steady drizzle started, which followed us up through the trees to the summit of Cnoc Mor. The views were impeded by haze and trees, but at least it was a sub-2000 ticked off.

The descent from Cnoc Mor was narrow and pretty steep - the exact opposite from most of the rest of the walk, and quite enjoyable. Unfortunately at the end of the steep bit we entered a large deforested area, ensuring we were pretty wet by the time the car was reached. Lesson learned - it's almost never too nice to leave the waterproofs behind!

The morning: Rogie Falls: http://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/Forum/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=35486
Next day: Reelig Glen: http://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/Forum/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=36025
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Joined: Mar 19, 2012
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