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Glen Strathfarrar

Glen Strathfarrar


Postby portinscale » Mon May 05, 2014 6:53 pm

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

Date walked: 20/04/2014

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The one thing every mountain walker in Scotland knows about Glen Strathfarrar is that it has a locked gate and difficult access times, so the discovery of self catering accommodation (one cottage and 4 lodges) on the other side of the gate was an immediate attraction. We booked in for a week after Easter hoping to combine a family holiday with some good walking.
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Culligran Cottage

Walk 1 the Strathfarrar Four
12 miles and 1550 m ascent

it was a stunning morning as we drove up the glen for the first time. There is some unsightly hydro infrastructure but this is still a superb place.

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We decided to go against the prevailing wisdom and do the walk in a clockwise direction to take advantage of a stalker's track all the way to the ridge. It was a nice ascent although it was banked out with snow near the top.

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Sgurr na Muice and Loch Toll a Mhuic

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Mia enjoying herself

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Sgurr na Lapaich and An Riabhachan

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Sgurr Fuar-thuill

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When we got on the ridge there was a stunning view west up Loch Monar and everywhere else really. There was enough snow to pick out the hills and it was very easy going along the ridge. We met the first people coming the other way on the summit of Sgurr a Choire Ghlais . The drop off the summit looked a bit alarming at first as we didnt want to walk on to a cornice but in fact it was straightforward.

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Sgurr Fuar-thuill

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Sgurr na Lapaich, An Riabhachan and An Socach

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Looking west from Sgurr a Choire Ghlais

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Descending Sgurr a Choire Ghlais

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Lookig west from Carn nan Gobhar

The two final munros came quickly and were carpeted in soft moss which was a joy to walk on. The final descent from Sgurr na Ruaidhe seemed to drag on a bit and was wet in places but we made it back to the road in good heart. Here we had great good fortune when a kindly soul offered to drive me back up the road.

Walk 2 An Riabhachan and Sgurr na Lapaich
9 miles and 1280 m ascent

The forecast was for all hills to be cloud free by afternoon so we set off in hope in not great conditions. It was dry at least. We drove over the 2 Loch Monar dams to the power station at Gleann Innis an Loichel. This is a long way from anywhere but not far from the tops. We followed a track, then a stalker's path into the coire leading to the bealach between these two hills. It was easy going except for the ford which was knee deep. There is an easier crossing upstream.

The coire was quite confusing and the clag was below the bealach. It is best to keep to the high ground between the 2 lochans and then traverse to the bealach through big boulders. This was intimidating as we had to climb a lot of steep snow covered with debris from landslides. It was not therefore an entirely happy party that gathered at the bealach in the clag and ferocious south wind. After a venison pie we set off up the ridge to An Riabhachan. This was very strenuous as we were blown about by the wind. Fortunately it eased further up and it did not bother us further. We topped out in thick clag and navigated to the summit. We rested here hoping the clouds would shift and they did.

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An Riabhachan summit

We then saw a solitary walker approaching - the only person we saw the whole day. As we appeared in his walk report this turned out to be Pigeon. The walk back to the bealach was much more enjoyable and the long pull onto Lapaich was no problem with excellent going underfoot. The summit was out of cloud by the time we got there.

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Pigeon crossing the bealach

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Looking south from Lapaich

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Looking back up Sgurr na Lapaich north ridge

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An Riabhachan and coire

The SMC guide is a bit sniffy about the north ridge of Lapaich as an ascent route but it gave a really good carefree descent that ended up right by the car.



Walk 3 Maoile Lunddaidh
15 miles and 970 m ascent

This was a walk into the wild country around Loch Monar so evocatively described in Iain Thompson's book Isolation Shepherd. We set off from the first Monar dam and ML looked a long way away.

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Yes that is Maoile Lunndaidh and yes it is a long way

After Monar Lodge there was a rough bit of path to a notch through a headland.
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Monar Lodge from the notch

After that however the path improved markedly and we made good progress. The path was enlivened by crossing a number of side valleys and by meeting a very angry adder. Our dog is very very inquisitive and had never seen an adder before. Hissing Sid had possibly never met a sassenach dog before and certainly wasn't going to move an inch off the path.
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Hissing Sid

After about 2 hours we got to the hill. There was an excellent stalkers track all the way to the lip of the coire under ML. Once there we cut across to the SE ridge which we followed to the summit. This was a spectacular viewpoint - the best of the week. Unfortunately a shower came along so we didn't linger. We cut along the summit plateau to descend the ridge on the other side of the coire marvelling at the views of Bidean an Eoin Deirg , Cheesecake and Lurgh Mhor.

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Looking up Toll choin on Maoile Lunndaidh

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Summit plateau

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Bidean an Eoin Deirg and Sgurr a Chaorachan

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Lurg Mhor

Then it was back to the stalker's path and the loch and then the walk back to the car. We did not see another person on the hills all day and felt very privileged to have had this special place to ourselves.

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Looking back up the loch to the dam

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Looking west up Loch Monar

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An Socach
portinscale
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Re: Glen Strathfarrar

Postby Gordie12 » Mon May 05, 2014 8:35 pm

Looks like you had a brilliant week.

First Hissing Sid of the year award goes to you I think.
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Re: Glen Strathfarrar

Postby AnnieMacD » Mon May 05, 2014 10:00 pm

Great report and pictures, Looks like you had three great days in the hills. Hope you got a rest too!
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Re: Glen Strathfarrar

Postby pigeon » Tue May 06, 2014 4:55 pm

Good to speak to you guys,you were the only folks i seen on the hills all week :lol: Looks like you had a few good days,if you don't mind me asking ,how long did the Lunndaidh take you ,quite fancy doing it this way,Ralph Storer in his book reckons 8 and a half hours but i'm not so sure,don't want to get stranded in the glen! :wink:
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Re: Glen Strathfarrar

Postby portinscale » Tue May 06, 2014 5:37 pm

pigeon wrote:Good to speak to you guys,you were the only folks i seen on the hills all week :lol: Looks like you had a few good days,if you don't mind me asking ,how long did the Lunndaidh take you ,quite fancy doing it this way,Ralph Storer in his book reckons 8 and a half hours but i'm not so sure,don't want to get stranded in the glen! :wink:



Hi Pigeon

it took us about 9 hours including stops of maybe 30 mins so Ralph Storer is about right. Once you get past the notch the going is pretty good and the path up to the coire is a godsend. There is no difficult ground on the whole walk so you can make decent time. i think it is deservedly in Storer's book as it is a great route. Dont forget the time needed to drive up and down the glen- allow 30 mins each way. i think the opening hours are longer in summer but you need to do it before stalking starts.

it was good to see you on An Riabhachan.
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Re: Glen Strathfarrar

Postby Fife Flyer » Tue May 06, 2014 7:59 pm

Very informative report with some superb photo's, you even arranged the weather :clap: :clap:
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Re: Glen Strathfarrar

Postby pigeon » Tue May 06, 2014 9:04 pm

Thanks for the info,i checked up and the glen is open for 11 hours June,July and August so will be ok for time,just need to fit it into the schedule now :lol: Hope you get a few more good trips this year :thumbup:
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