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Fuar Tholl From Balnacra; A Magical Mystery Tour

Fuar Tholl From Balnacra; A Magical Mystery Tour


Postby Cairngorm creeper » Thu Jun 29, 2017 9:24 am

Corbetts included on this walk: Fuar Tholl

Date walked: 21/06/2017

Distance: 8.9 km

Ascent: 987m

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After days of heavy rain approached Fuar Tholl from Balnacra to avoid the river crossings. We were not quite sure exactly what to expect, but the pathless approach, scrambling up to Fuar Tholl along the top of the South Cliffs and winding our way down the nose all made for an adventurous outing and questing around to find the best route all added to the fun. :D
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The Route

There was parking along the side of the road between the level crossing and the village and we were walking by 9:15.
The first challenge of the day was gaining access to the hillside but once across the gully and the fence we were surprised to find a path running parallel with the road. The path came from nowhere and ended abruptly at a stream. :? Fortuitously, this was the burn we were intending to follow, so up we went, keeping to the edge of its deep, tree lined gorge.
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The Charming Gorge

It was a battle to forge a path through a forest of chest high bracken, wondering if we would emerge before we were devoured by ticks :eh: . We out foxed the blood suckers and reached the open hillside where the only difficulties were finding a route up steep and at times slippery terrain and avoiding the mutiple man traps created by fence posts and wires, cunningly hidden in the heather.
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A Forest of Bracken

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Looking back across Loch Dughaill

The incline levelled out at about 400m and the gorge came to an end, making for an easy stream crossing as we headed right towards the base of the South East Coire of Fuar Tholl. We traversed Coire Dubh, aiming to stay below the craggy slopes but were led astray by a natural bias that had us veering higher than intended. :think:
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Traverse below the slopes.

Fuar Tholl was a magnificent site as its summit came into view, and even better when seen backed by blue skies later in the day.
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Looking back at Fuar Tholl Summit

Walking on rough terrain you spend a lot of time looking at the ground, providing lots of opportunities for enjoying the wild flowers. Secreted under the heather and ferns I spotted one I had not seen before. I think it's small cow wheat, a semi parisitic plant, found in a limited number of sites in Scotland (please let me know if I have got it wrong).
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? A Small Cow Wheat

We reached the the South East Coire at 11:45, so decided to have an early lunch by the stream and contemplate the way ahead.
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Early Lunch and a View of the route

The South Cliffs of Fuar Tholl are topped by a rocky ridge which leads directly to the summit.
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Top of the South Cliffs. About 300m ascent of easy to moderate scrambling

The ridge is initally quite broad with lots of easy angled slabs. There are some grassy paths between them but they looked muddy and slippery. The rocky slabs had great friction and although my boots seemed to stick to the rock like limpets I am of little faith would have appreciated a little more in the way of hand holds :lol: .
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Lots of easy angled slabs
Higher up there were some steeper sections
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Some steeper sections
but at least these had hand holds
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And a close up
although there was plenty of loose rock and some very large boulders were improbably balanced :? .
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The last slabs were the trickiest
then
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A loose and muddy grove
finally a short walk to the summit
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14 :30 Fuar Tholl summit

The magic of Torridon mountains near and far,
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Across to Meall Chean Dearg
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A distant Liathac

And after providing us with much need refreshment Jeremy Jetboil insisted on a summit pose.
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Jeremy Jetboil posing with Bein Liath Mor

It was time to leave the summit but Fuar Tholl was still to delight and excite us and not always at the same time. :lol:
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Time to go

We walked around the top of the Coire, admiring the South Cliffs before coming to a delightfully narrow ridge, initially an eroded path led below some tottering stone pinnacles but before long the bypass path seemed less safe than joining the pinnacles on top of the ridge with fingers crossed that you would not be the one to push them over the edge.
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Crumbling Narrow Ridge
Relieved to have left the ridge as we found it, :lol: we then balanced, wobbled and scooted over the loose stones and boulders on the sharp slope leading down to the nose.
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Descending the boulders
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Nose Ahead
On the map the slopes of Leth Chreag looked like a steep mix of crags and boulder fields, but this was a maleficent illusion, hiding grippy slabs at easy walking angles, interspersed with stripes of greenery. Before long we were back at the base of Coire and Jeremy was steaming up a brew under the waterfall :D.
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The Slopes of Leth Chreag and the South East Coire of Fuar Tholl
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Brewing up under the waterfall

We followed a much better line on the way back, the upward pull had lost some of its power :lol:
On the final slopes we took a diagonal towards the road, there was a large boulder in line with the level crossing and we avoided most of the bracken by heading towards it. As we got closer we became aware that we were being guided by a dark power. :twisted:
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A demonic presidential doppelgänger

We were back at the car at 18:45 having experienced the magic of a Torridon and pondering two great mysteries how had we taken 9.5hrs to complete a 9km walk and where were the midges. :lol:
Last edited by Cairngorm creeper on Thu Jun 29, 2017 8:20 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Fuar Tholl From Balnacra; A Magical Mystery Tour

Postby dogplodder » Thu Jun 29, 2017 1:44 pm

That looks a bit more challenging than the way we did it a few weeks back! 8)

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Re: Fuar Tholl From Balnacra; A Magical Mystery Tour

Postby BlackPanther » Thu Jun 29, 2017 4:12 pm

I'm jealous. Twice on FH and I never saw the views :(

We descended part of your route once (the bottom half by the waterfall) and I remember it as an overgrown, steep nightmare...
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Re: Fuar Tholl From Balnacra; A Magical Mystery Tour

Postby Mal Grey » Thu Jun 29, 2017 7:52 pm

An interesting way up this fantastic hill. Looks like a fun scramble. Enjoyed your report, thanks.

Once went up the corrie and the gully at the back, in winter conditions. Very murky so didn't see anything, which was probably good as that gully was flippin' steep at the top! We descended off to the west of your ascent I think, steep slopes but fine.

On a different occasion, came down the way you did, but was so knackered after doing the 3 hills around Coire Lair when fairly unfit, that I barely remember it.
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Re: Fuar Tholl From Balnacra; A Magical Mystery Tour

Postby litljortindan » Fri Jun 30, 2017 7:14 pm

Sounds like hard going at the start but looks great hjgher up.
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Re: Fuar Tholl From Balnacra; A Magical Mystery Tour

Postby Cairngorm creeper » Sat Jul 01, 2017 11:30 pm

dogplodder wrote:That looks a bit more challenging than the way we did it a few weeks back! 8)

<span class="skimlinks-unlinked">viewtopic.php?f=9&t=72898</span>

It certainly had its moments :lol: :lol: but then we didn't have a party to take care of.
BlackPanther wrote:I'm jealous. Twice on FH and I never saw the views :(

We descended part of your route once (the bottom half by the waterfall) and I remember it as an overgrown, steep nightmare...

What a shame about the views. Definately some of the best. Steep and overgrown sums it up nicely, proabley better early in the year, but we did manage to avoid the worse coming down.
Mal Grey wrote:An interesting way up this fantastic hill. Looks like a fun scramble. Enjoyed your report, thanks.

Once went up the corrie and the gully at the back, in winter conditions. Very murky so didn't see anything, which was probably good as that gully was flippin' steep at the top! We descended off to the west of your ascent I think, steep slopes but fine.

On a different occasion, came down the way you did, but was so knackered after doing the 3 hills around Coire Lair when fairly unfit, that I barely remember it.

Thanks Mal, The scramble was a good one. That Coire did look steep and I may quote you if my other half starts eyeing it up this winter :lol:

litljortindan wrote:Sounds like hard going at the start but looks great hjgher up.
[/quote]
Very true, but the hard going did avoid crossing rivers railways and forestry.
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Re: Fuar Tholl From Balnacra; A Magical Mystery Tour

Postby Huff_n_Puff » Sun Jul 02, 2017 3:25 pm

Enjoyed that - from the comfort of my armchair :lol: :lol: Stunning photos :clap: :clap:
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Re: Fuar Tholl From Balnacra; A Magical Mystery Tour

Postby Cairngorm creeper » Mon Jul 03, 2017 9:16 pm

Huff_n_Puff wrote:Enjoyed that - from the comfort of my armchair :lol: :lol: Stunning photos :clap: :clap:

Glad you enjoyed. Reading walk reports from the comfort of an armchair is one of lives guilty pleasures :lol:
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