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Fersit ? I've nae idea, up North I think !

Fersit ? I've nae idea, up North I think !


Postby naepace » Thu May 04, 2017 4:25 pm

Route description: Chno Dearg and Stob Coire Sgriodain

Munros included on this walk: Chno Dearg, Stob Coire Sgriodain

Date walked: 01/05/2017

Time taken: 5 hours

Distance: 13.5 km

Ascent: 915m

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It’s not often I’m off on a bank holiday, and technically I wasn’t off this one either as I started a week of nightshifts tonight. However, for the purposes of getting out and up a hill or 2 it was as good as. My good mate and colleague Wullie also had the day off (all of it !!) so for the first time in a wee while I’d have company for the day, hopefully that would also mean I could avoid some of the ‘daftness’ that had occurred during my most recent solo outings…..aye right, his mountain mutt Indie was the most sensible member of the party !! MWIS seemed to be suggesting that the further North and West you went the greater the reward in terms of a wee bit of blue sky and cloud free summits. Unfortunately the further North and West you go the longer you spend in the car and I had a nightshift to get back for remember. Eventually we settled on a wee double from Fersit. Walkhighlands was suggesting a round time of 6-7 hours, I reckoned we could do it 5. Although, given I had woken up as stiff as an old cart horse (easy Mrs !!) that may have been a tad over ambitious.
That’s what I got for being too lazy to change out of my ‘good gear’ the day before when I was attempting to garner a few Brownie points by tidying up the garden. Front and back lawns mowed and strimmed, I made a start on the weeds in the borders. Anybody a smidgen brighter than me would have gotten changed first allowing them to kneel or sit as they leisurely worked their way along the garden pulling out the offending greenery. To keep my expensive strides clean I thought I’d just squat for the 5 mins it would take….45 minutes later I ripped the last Dandelion from the dirt. No wonder I’d started the morning walking like I’d spent the night straddling ‘The Weather Girls’ !! Recalling the sage advice of my old football coach and master of inspirational words, (“it’s hairs up his erse son, no rockets”) being his favourite cry at an over-hit pass! I’d just have to run…well...walk it off. We left Perth around 07.30 heading up the A9 to Dalwhinnie before heading West towards Spean Bridge. Arriving at the large turning area/carpark at Fersit by 09.30 to find 7 or 8 cars had already beaten us to the punch.

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Plenty of space. Stob Coire Sgriodain ahead.

We were soon heading down the track towards the farm. Now anybody who has spent some time reading the walk reports for these hills on this site will be well aware of the slightly over zealous farmer who resides there. It seems he likes nothing more than issuing sermons on the perils of taking our four legged friends into the countryside….regardless of whether you have a dog with you or not ! As we made our way past the large barn I could see whom I presumed was the farmer on his ATV in the field a fair distance away. Now Wullie always keeps Indie on a lead and shackled with more contraptions than a BDSM convention, ensuring she remains tightly tethered to his side, she’d need to be Harry Houndini to escape ! However, said farmer had clearly spotted there were 8 legs in our party of three and immediately started down the field towards us. Not particularly wishing to be lectured we quickened our pace past the farm and along the track heading towards the turn off point on the map before venturing South towards the mountains. Looking ahead it soon became clear that a small herd of free roaming cattle were strewn over the most direct path to the foot of the hill and obviously would have to be given a wide berth. Suddenly I was aware of someone ranting and raving behind us, turning around I witnessed the farmer frantically waving his arms, he was so animated and generally just ‘funny looking’ I couldn’t help but picture the hapless farmer from the Wallace and Gromit movies. At the top of his voice he was bellowing “STAY AWAY FROM THE COWS. GET AWAY FROM THE COWS !!” Bearing in mind we had no intention of going anywhere near the cows, it was all the more comical as we were currently nowhere near the bloody things. In fact at this point I’d go as far as to say I doubt the most recently tested North Korean missile would have had the range to trouble the buggers. In an attempt to appease him further we headed a fair distance over still, before making our way around them. “THEY’LL CHARGE YOU” he roared repeatedly. Charge us ??? 50% of them were lying down, 30% were looking in the other direction and the other 20% looked about as enthusiastic at the prospect of beginning a charge as the second wave of the light brigade at the Battle of Balaclava !! Walking sirloins safely negotiated and clearly untroubled by our intrusion, the walk proper could finally begin.

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Don't stare at the cows for Christ's sake, whatever you do don't stare at the cows !!

Basically the route involves, well….making your own route ! There is the odd bit of well-trodden foliage that resembles a path but as we made our way over the moor with the glorious Spring sunshine beating down on us towards the steep nose of Sron na Garbh-bheinne, it’s generally just a case of trampling through the least boggy bits whilst attempting to avoid the worst sections. I had read that the early stages of this walk were wetter than a bank holiday weekend in Scotland...*ahem*…eh….mmmm……However, most uncharacteristically, like the weather, the underfoot conditions were well above those expected, it was more ‘spongey’ than it was boggy. Having said that it was a bit of slog to finally reach the crags of the ‘nose’. At this point we were treated to the first glimpses of the magnificent Easains over Loch Treig to the West.
We were now an hour in and as we were sheltered from any real wind it was bloody warm, I decided it was time for me to take a breather and get the factor 50 on. I’ve repeatedly joked on these pages that my genes are half Ginger & half Vampire, honestly I think I would burn if someone waved a copy of a famous ‘Red Top’ newspaper in my general direction ! Wullie on the other hand is blessed with the ‘Berry Picking’ genome of his Romany forefathers and can carry on regardless whilst turning a lovely shade of mahogany. An enviable attribute. However it is not without its drawbacks, I’m never sure when we return from a walk to a particularly picturesque layby/carpark whether we’ll be heading home or ‘moving in’ for a fortnight !!

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The first sighting of the Easains.

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Heading straight up the nose....almost as unpleasant as it sounds !

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Chno Dearg from the nose of Sron na Garbh-bheinne.

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Is it getting any nearer ???

As we continued up the steep rocky slopes towards Stob Coire Sgriodain itself it was a bit of a ‘thigh burner’ and a bit reminiscent of the infamous route straight up the front of Ben More from the A85 at Crianlarich. Unlike Ben More though there are a couple of ‘false dawns’ as you head up and along the ridge. The final few hundred metres along the ridge above Coire Sgriodain which plunges almost vertically towards the steely blue depths of Loch Treig give a real sense of the height gained. Being extremely careful not to get too close to the edge as we were now exposed to the very strong Easterly winds (also correctly forecast by MWIS), we ventured towards the small summit cairn at 979m reaching it in exactly 2 hours from setting off. A bit of buffeting was a very small price to pay for the magnificent views down the loch and over it to the Easains. From the summit the visibility was a wee bit hazy preventing the hugely extensive views you could experience on a perfect day but we were still greeted with tantalising glimpses of Ben Nevis, the Mamores and the many favourites in Glencoe. Unfortunately for you guys, the camera didn't pick them up quite as well as the naked eye.

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Wullie & Indie on the ridge high above Loch Treig.

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The final pull to the summit.

As we rattled off the final few summit pics the high cloud chose that moment to blow in and block out the sun resulting in an instant temperature drop from simply ‘fresh’ to bloody ‘baltic’ in the blink of an eye. Fortunately we were able to drop down from the summit to an idyllic spot just a few metres below the cairn, high above the loch. Completely sheltered from the wind in a little alcove in the otherwise sheer drop of the Coire Sgriodain. The sun quickly reappeared and soon warmed the bones again as we cracked open the pieces. I’ve been lucky enough to enjoy some amazing locations for lunch but this was right up there with the best of them. As I fired into the obligatory cupcake I became aware of a new sound, not the incessant howling of the wind, but the various croaking calls of what sounded like a fair few frogs, a veritable ‘Frog Chorus’, on closer examination there was no sign of Paul McCartney, or any sign of water other than the loch for that matter, do the tadpoles come with parachutes in this neck of the woods ?

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#79 Summit selfie, Stob Coire Sgriodain.

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The amazing view over the loch to the Easains.

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....and again !

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Beat that Starbucks !

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One last look. I don't usually take my life in my hands quite so recklessly, but handing over my phone to a Dundonian to take my pic at that distace was quite the risk !!

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Loch Treig Pano

After enjoying the views, and the warmth, for about 35 minutes it was time to drag ourselves back up to the summit and begin our traverse round to summit number 2, Chno Dearg. From the summit of Stob Coire Sgriodain the route around to the next hill was laid out clearly before us. The initial steps are down and over some fairly rocky ground as we headed for a fairly substantial cairn marking the way ahead, such was the strength of the wind on the exposed plateau that we stayed to the left of the cairn trying to garner as much shelter as we could. Unfortunately this meant we missed the simpler descent from this rocky section onto the easy slopes of Chno Dearg and had to negotiate a potential ankle breaking drop down through some very large, and very loose, boulders as a result. After crossing another boggy section just after the rocks it was simply a case of walking up the gentle, mossy slopes to the huge cairn marking the higher of today’s two summits. Only problem was these gently rising slopes seemed to go on forever ! As pleasant as the mossy terrain was on the old knees it was still hard going, like walking on a never ending bouncy castle. The view ahead was nothing to write home about, however, the view behind of the road travelled was quite spectacular with the Easains looming menacingly in the background and appearing to dwarf the previous summit. Further South saw us gazing over the impressive, and probably little visited, outlying top of Meall Garbh perched above the hidden cliffs of Creagan Coire nan Cnamh. After around 50 minutes we reached the second and higher summit of Chno Dearg.

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Just a hop, skip and a jump around from left to right and we're there.

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Looking back to the ridge of Stob Coire Sgriodain and the Easains beyond.

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Chno, it doesn't half go on a bit !

The wind up here had undoubtedly been turned up a notch or two, making it very difficult to remain still enough to take, or indeed pose, for the summit pics. As I tried to climb down from the cairn a particularly strong gust sent me off balance and falling back onto my rear end in a most unceremonious manner, in attempting to cushion the inevitable blow to my best feature, I stuck out my hand and sustained a pretty horrific and bloody injury to the base of my little finger (see pic below). After some considerable debate about whether I would need to call in the chopper to whisk me off to the local A & E, I decided I would try and soldier on as best as I could, sincerely hoping I would make it off the mountain before I ‘bled out’ !!

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#80 selfie, Chno Dearg. The buff on the heed and shades may make me look like a tool but they fairly keep the wind oot !

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Decent views from the summit but the first hill is undoubtedly the star of the show.

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You've hurt your finger? Puir wee man!
Your pinkie? Deary me!


With the howling wind and the sun temporarily engulfed in cloud, plus my injury of course, the summit was not a great place to hang around for long so we began the descent over another initially rocky section before hitting the grassier slopes and the heather. This side of the hill was much wetter and the potential for one of us, probably not Indie ! doing the old bog slide was again on the high side. Eventually we found a very narrow, muddy path running through the heather alongside a pretty little stream towards Lochan nan caorach. You can see the farm and the parked cars away in the distance so it's really just a case of heading straight for them. Of course we'd have to skirt around the world's most dangerous dairy herd again which led to a conversation about how far East the farmer would like us to hit the landrover track, after some deliberation I settled on around Stonehaven !!
The views on the way down were good over Glen Spean to the Creag Meagaidh Munros beyond and looking behind us gave a great perspective on the morning's first climb up Sgriodain. Further down the slopes we were once again sheltered from the cold Easterly winds and the early afternoon sun meant it was pretty hot, O.U.G.H.T, hot. Time to shed a layer or two for the final few furlongs. Stopping just shy of a wee rise after stepping over another little stream we dropped the packs and stripped back down to the T-shirts. Wullie decided this was the ideal opportunity for a quick pee before getting back to the busy carpark, whilst him and 'wee Wullie' were getting reacquainted, Indie decided she would check out his downed rucksack for any remnants of our earlier lunch. In doing so she nudged his pack which sent it rolling down the slightest of slopes and upside down into the burn we had just crossed. Wullie still in ‘mid-flow’ was unable to react quite as quickly as he would’ve hoped, however as it was only the top of his rucksack in the water he was not overly concerned. Fishing the pack out, he immediately turned it up the right way not realising that whilst the top was submerged it had filled the top pocket and the contents had now just flooded right through the big compartment of the rucksack. I know his particular bag was a hydration compatible rucksack but surely he was missing a vital component of the system !! Fortunately he is a smidgen OCD and the contents were all protected in individual dry bags, or so he hoped ! What he did not anticipate was that he would be subjected to a constant dripping down the back of his legs for the remainder of the walk…he’d better get used to the feeling cos he aint getting any younger !

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Creag Meagaidh beyond the forrest.

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Looking back over to Sgriodain on the way down.

Re-joining the landrover track I noticed a warning sign generalising the hazards of enjoying this wee corner of the world. Surprisingly though it did not specifically mention the malevolent bovine threat, worthy of such a performance earlier in the day. As we neared the farm buildings I couldn’t believe my eyes, here he was again, right on coo…I mean cue, heading towards us on his ATV. Whilst I began bracing myself for the inevitable lecture, the less empathetic Wullie was deciding in which particular order he would phrase the innumerable expletives poised on the tip of his tongue. Rather unexpectedly when just about in shouting range, the farmer turned off the track and started heading up through the boggy field towards his cattle. I’m still not entirely sure how I managed to resist the temptation to return the earlier courtesy of issuing a rallying, warning cry of “STAY AWAY FROM THE COWS. THEY’LL KIDNAP YOUR WEANS & YOU SHOULD SEE THE HAVOC THEY’VE WREAKED ON THE BLOODY O-ZONE LAYER !!” Perhaps it was the wee voice in the back of my head suggesting that farmers often have shotguns that succeeded in rendering me mute. The farm behind us, all that remained was the short walk past a few houses and the welcome return to the car. As we meandered down the road we commented upon how every house seemed to have a rather aggressive sounding dog, each one reacting to our presence with increased fury and hostility. It was here that Wullie noticed, tucked away behind some bushes, a battered old vehicle extremely reminiscent of Walter White’s mobile laboratory in Breaking Bad. Suddenly it all made sense, the hostile, gun toting farmer who didn’t want you on his land, the extraordinary number of rabid guard dogs and the predilection for violence among the village's livestock…..Who’d have thunk it ! Could Fersit be caught in the grip of the abominable Crystal Meth !!

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....and STAY AWAY FROM THE COWS !!!

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Admit it, you thought I was making this nonsense up !! Exhibit A

I know, I know, you are all now thinking it is me who is ‘high’ ! Anyhow, conspiracy theories aside, we arrived back at the car just 5 minutes over the target time of 5 hours for the round. After a quick change out of the boots we were soon heading back towards the A9 and would be home in plenty of time for tea. Unfortunately, whilst I had been revelling all day in the fact that I was ‘off’ on a bank holiday I had forgotten the most famous aspect of these public holidays…travel chaos ! A fact we were starkly reminded of as we ground to a halt a good few miles North of Perth and subsequently crawled our way along the remaining stretch to the Inveralmond roundabout. Despite bogs, river crossings, boulder fields and incredibly steep inclines, this was the slowest we would move all day…well apart from me getting out of bed this morning. It was here that I recognised that Wullie’s impatience and general lack of compassion towards his fellow man was not exclusively reserved for over protective farmers ! A little later than expected I was dropped off back at my house with another 2 Munros in the bag, taking my tally up to 80. I can’t wait to return to Fersit, despite it’s apparent *ahem* drug problems, to tackle the Easains who were such a feature of another fantastic day in the hills. Until the next time folks....

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Most people's all too familiar bank holiday view.
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naepace
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Re: Fersit ? I've nae idea, up North I think !

Postby naepace » Thu May 04, 2017 5:47 pm

RTC wrote:Very entertaining!

Glad you enjoyed it RTC :D
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naepace
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Re: Fersit ? I've nae idea, up North I think !

Postby katyhills » Thu May 04, 2017 9:48 pm

Great report and some cracking photos :)
I still have these two to do - last time I went I could see b***er all from the car park, so didn't do them. The views are tremendous, so it's a waste if the weather's poor.

When you get to do the Easains, pick a good day. The views are fabulous and it's a great walk too. :)
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Re: Fersit ? I've nae idea, up North I think !

Postby naepace » Fri May 05, 2017 12:17 am

Thanks Katy.
I'd love to have been back up there this week seeing the weather is so brilliant, bloody nightshift :crazy:
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naepace
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Re: Fersit ? I've nae idea, up North I think !

Postby Mal Grey » Fri May 05, 2017 9:07 am

Excellent, a most enjoyable read!
:clap:
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Re: Fersit ? I've nae idea, up North I think !

Postby katyhills » Fri May 05, 2017 7:00 pm

naepace wrote:Thanks Katy.
I'd love to have been back up there this week seeing the weather is so brilliant, bloody nightshift :crazy:


I know - work....what's that about? :eh: :lol:
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Re: Fersit ? I've nae idea, up North I think !

Postby naepace » Sat May 06, 2017 6:51 am

Mal Grey wrote:Excellent, a most enjoyable read!
:clap:

Cheers Mal, thanks for taking the time to read it.
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naepace
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Re: Fersit ? I've nae idea, up North I think !

Postby PeteR » Sat May 06, 2017 3:59 pm

Cracked me up reading this :lol: Very entertaining indeed :clap:

Fersit is a strange place is it not. I know on my two visits to the area I've always imagined a rifle toting local twitching their net curtains as I walk past their houses :shock: Luckily though I avoided the welcoming farmer on both occasions
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Re: Fersit ? I've nae idea, up North I think !

Postby naepace » Sat May 06, 2017 6:04 pm

Cheers Pete. He is probably a lovely bloke :shock: :lol:
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naepace
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Re: Fersit ? I've nae idea, up North I think !

Postby naepace » Mon May 08, 2017 11:57 am

katyhills wrote:
naepace wrote:Thanks Katy.
I'd love to have been back up there this week seeing the weather is so brilliant, bloody nightshift :crazy:


I know - work....what's that about? :eh: :lol:


7 nightshifts and every day has been perfect mountain weather. I finished this morning and it is still fantastic...however, my wee dug is booked in to get spayed this morning. I won't get out until Friday at the earliest now, best look out your brolly now :roll:
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naepace
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Re: Fersit ? I've nae idea, up North I think !

Postby fersit64 » Mon Jul 02, 2018 1:44 am

Hello,
Enjoyed your essay on the Fersit Munros but I'd like to say a word on Fersit's behalf!
I live there and the dozen or so residents are perfectly 'normal' I can assure you.
There are a handful of very playful spaniels and other dogs.....yes they bark but I'd say that's pretty normal too.
Chno Dearg was my final Munro on 31/12/99... my millennium project.
Liked your picture of that odd vehicle.....it was originally a mobile dental clinic serving outlying communities of the Highlands and Islands, it was subsequently converted into a campervan but now needs scrapped.
If you research Fersit you will see it was the site of the very famous 'Nancy's Bothy' , very well known in older hillwalking circles. Hamish Brown also spent a lot of time here.
Anyway, glad you enjoyed your day up here and I certainly appreciated all your pics and text.
:D
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