Sgurr Fhuar-thuill, Sgurr a' Choire Ghlais
Carn nan Gobhar & Sgurr na Ruaidhe
Thursday 18th July 2013
Weather/Conditions: Quite a nice day. Few summit views, lot of cloud, but dry and a lot warmer than the previous day on the North Shiel ridge.
Distance/Ascent/Time: 18.1km / 1530m / 5h 20m
Accompanying: Alone, then Gerald from Gloucester from Sgurr a' Choire Ghlais onward
Glen Strathfarrar has a strange access situation. The road through it is controlled by a gate at the entrance, opens (usually) at 9am and closes (usually) at 8pm. It's a public road built with public money, but it seems the estate would want to keep the traffic out. I'm sure they've got reasons. This odd access arrangement was agreed; a compromise, and the Strathfarrar gate was the result. So the hills would have to be done in this time frame, not too difficult though as they don't take too long.
I first visited Glen Strathfarrar last November and it's an amazing place, a subtle glen, and well balanced. Despite all the hydro works, it maintains an unchanged aura and the lack of traffic makes it very quiet.
I'd slept outside Cannich and arrived at the gate about 8:30am. On discovering the gate didn't open until 9, I drove up to Beauly, got breakfast and headed back to the gate. When I got back, a line of cars were being let through, one by one.
I parked up underneath Sgurr Fhuar-thuill at the western end of the range, and headed up the track to the first Munro. I felt pretty sluggish: I'd had a couple of big days, now I'd come here looking for an easy day. Every time I expect that, it always turns out to be a hard day!
Sgurr Fhuar-thuill went by hardly noticed - just a cairn in the clag. Each successive hump wasn't very inspiring. I headed up Sgurr a' Choire Ghlais, where I met Gerald from Gloucester, up for some hills.
The conversation was good, and to be honest, joining up with him was a solid kick up the arse: my lethargy disappeared altogether and we steamed over the two remaining Munros, the hillsides breaking out in colour under the sun, the views eastward opening.
He very kindly gave me a lift back up the glen to my car, too, which saved a long walk and gained me a lot of time to prepare for Affric.
Back in Cannich, I went about getting myself prepped for Affric: I got a meal from the Slater's Arms (great place - I owe the guy that runs it) and drank a lot to get hydration back up. The clouds blew themselves away and a big blue sky appeared. It was the start of a prolonged heatwave. If I'd felt cold in Glen Shiel the day before, Affric was to be the polar opposite: unrelenting heat.
I drove to the Mullardoch dam, and pitched the tent. To my surprise, the midges were almost non existent, despite the still warmth. I settled in, ready for a big couple of days ahead.
Sgurr na Ruaidhe
(0.00) 10.40am Invuilt parking
(1.58) 12.38pm Sgurr Fhuar-thuill
(2.50) 1.30pm Sgurr a' Choire Ghlais
(3.25) 2.05pm Carn nan Gobhar
(4.05) 2.45pm Sgurr na Ruaidhe
(5.20) 4.00pm Parking, nr Loch a' Mhuillidh