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Grab some snow whilst its there!

Grab some snow whilst its there!

Postby duncanlawson » Wed Feb 14, 2018 6:56 pm

Route description: Meall Tairneachan and Farragon Hill

Corbetts included on this walk: Farragon Hill, Meall Tairneachan

Date walked: 11/02/2018

Time taken: 5 hours

Distance: 17.25 km

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Thought I would try to get some hills climbed in a gap in the wintery weather on the Sunday, but my main criteria were that they had to be ones I hadn't done before, ones that everyone else wouldn't have thought of, and, finally, and most importantly, ones where the round trip would get me back to Edinburgh in time to watch Scotland in the 6 nations.

Process of elimination led me to these two corbetts in between Aberfeldy and Tummel Bridge (my other option was Beinn Mholach from Dalnaspidal but I didn't fancy being too isolated in the snow).

So arriving about 7:45 I parked up at the entrance to the mine track - there is space before the cattle grid that doesn't seem to be obstructing anything (but it was a Sunday - so I could be wrong when the mine is actually operating). I met a couple of guys from the mine who were heading up in snow chains to check things out - but alas I was on foot.

Safe to say, the walk up the road was a bit of a slog, the cloud was down, and snow was falling. But hey that's what I signed up to! Once out the forestry, I caught a couple of glimpses of gaps in the clouds, but it didn't come to anything. Also due to the low light levels I decided to get the ski goggles on - just to help me see where the feet were going more than anything else (but turned out they had much more useful applications later on the walk).

The mine track takes you all the way up to the first top (nearly) - when I got there, the wind was up, the cloud was down, and it was notably chilly (MWIS had forecast a cool -23C at 900m with windchill). Apologies for the first pic - but this was the best I'd seen so far.

Top of Meall Tairneachan

I made a hasty descent from the top - straight off the edge... But with plenty of snow this was actually great fun as I decided to park myself and slide on the snow - a far more effective, if moderately risky way of descending. Luckily there was enough fresh snow that I never really took off and was able to control the speed. Also - in the 5 minutes I had taken to get back to the mine track the clouds had dissipated - why does this always happen!?

Sliding down from the top

Now the weather had cleared, I was soaking in the views on the walk between the two tops.

View from between the tops

Interesting winter light looking south

I soon arrived at the mine - this is an odd and interesting place. The guys I had seen earlier had not managed to reach the mine in the 4x4 - I had passed them coming down as I was still walking up - and I could now see they had to stop short and walk over the mine itself.

The mine

The walking now got a bit tougher, no 4x4 tracks to follow, and drifting snow every few yards. It was a slog over the next hill, but once there, the view of Farragon Hill was worth it. I was also out the wind so I decided to stop for my mid-morning lunch.

View of Farragon Hill

View back to Meall Tairneachan

With food in my belly (Nutini reference anyone?) I headed off cross country for Farragon Hill. Now this was really tough - the snow had a weak crust and was soft underneath - which meant that every step was a gamble of whether I was going to be floundering or gracefully skipping over the surface - unsurprisingly it was more often floundering.

I decided to keep out the wind as much as I could (it really was freezing) and stayed to the south side of the ascent. Once on the top the full force of the wind hit - and as can be seen below - my nose and beard had developed icicles (and may have started going a bit crazy?)

Ice encrusted on top of Farragon Hill

All that was to do now was to retrace my steps. The first part back to the track was a struggle again, but once back I re-grouped, got some food in me and marched off back through the mine and past the first top (even running some of the downhill sections). All this meant I made good time. A quick stop to photograph Schiehallion (which never cleared its cap of cloud) was my only stop.

Schiehallion from the East

By 12:45 I was back at the car, and thankfully on track to get back for the rugby. The only stumbling block being queues getting across the Queensferry Crossing (wasn't this meant to have improved?). Sure fire way to come tumbling back to mundane city living....

An enjoyable pair of hills, more interesting than they get credit for (although maybe that's just because they were in snow).
Munro compleatist
Posts: 2
Munros:200   Corbetts:19
Joined: May 17, 2014

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