Our blog - Strathfarrar, 11-12 Nov'17

A blog of our mountain adventures in Scotland, hiking, biking, rock-scrambling and more !

Strathfarrar Munros

11-12 Novermber 2017
A winter weekend of hiking on the Munros above Glen Strathfarrar and Loch Monar. Johnny and Richard were leading, here's Johnny's tale of the days....

Day 1

Myself, Steven and Richard had been watching the forecast develop for our planned walks in Strathfarrar and on Maoile Lunndaidh this weekend, and they weren't promising - up to 60mph Northerlies, snow, poor visibility. Oh dear ! Then, as is almost always the case, it changed, but this time improved slightly, the forecasted winds having dropped to 40mph. OK, conditions will be wintry, but it'll be a goer.

And it most certainly was. We had a large group of 12 folks day 1, and 10 on day 2, but everyone was prompt, (so important with restricted daylight hours at this time of year), well equipped with winter gear, (or had got it off us), and moreover, were very keen! Both days needed a lot of organisation in terms of access and cars, as the glen is closed to anyone other than members of Mountaineering Scotland, and we needed to minimise the amount of traffic going down the narrow road. Also, having had to source the access code to the padlocked gate, we needed to shuffle cars around to ensure we had them at the end of the walk, otherwise it was a long 6-odd kilometres road walk in the dark at the end of a tiring day!

All this done, we set off for the four Munros North of the glen, the "Strathfarrar Four". These are characterful hills, made more so by the generous coating of snow, being whipped and moved around by the wind into cornices, drifts and the like. Indeed, we saw ample evidence of avalanches caused by collapsed cornices, and altered our ascent route accordingly. Once on the ridge, it was a joy, the wind being behind us, and the views changing from brooding clouds and heavy snow showers to beautiful shafts of winter sunlight setting the hills on fire! We picked off the summits smartly, resting only long enough to take on sufficient food and drink to keep up our strength and good humour, before dropping back through the boggy lower coire and to the waiting cars. A fantastic day.

Day 2

So what could possibly top that on Sunday? What about a long walk into untamed wild country North of Loch Monar, and an off-piste ascent of one of the most remote munros, Maoile Lunndaidh? We chose to ascend the rough snow-covered slopes rather than take the stalker's path to avoid the two river crossings, and it worked a treat. Once on the ridge the terrain was a puzzle of snow drifts and filled peat hags, leading onto rockier ground, and finally the summit plateau. We worked as a team, each person taking it in turns to break trail for as long as they felt fit, and accordingly we progressed steadily upwards, ever more aware of the biting cold and drifting snow. Thank heavens for ski goggles....vital kit at this time of year.

True to this weekend's form, we got some spectacular views between squalls, even on the summit, but didn't hang around, as the cold sent us off in search of shelter from the wind. The descent comprised of uneventful contouring once off the ridge, followed by the long undulating path back to Monar dam and the cars by torchlight. Yes, it is a long way. Yes, a lot for work for one ‘tick'. But yes, it is certainly worth it!

A fabulous weekend in great company, well done to all. Challenging conditions at times, breathtaking at others, demanding underfoot, but everyone smiled throughout, (behind the goggles). Winter is well and truly here!

More photos by John and some of the group are here on Flickr.



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