Thursday, 12 March 2015

Northern Gothic. Glen Strathfarrar. An Sidhean.

                                             ALL PHOTOS CLICK FULL SCREEN
The reason for our Northern Gothic trip was to hunt hills. In this case it was a winter excursion down Glen Strathfarrar to collect the remote Corbett of An Sidhean at the very end of the glen, halfway down Loch Monar. As it's a private locked glen we had to phone in advance for the security access code to the padlocked gate at the start. Munro baggers come here to collect the Strathfarrar big four and sometimes do Maoile Lunndaidh from here as well. It's the only time I've been down here to do just that and I remember a miserable night spent shivering in an orange plastic bivi-bag in a cold gully waiting for sunrise to claim this isolated and hard to reach solitary Munro.
We walked in from the dam at the start of the loch, passing Monar Lodge in the process. This area is fairly typical of the highlands, being divided into large shooting, hunting and fishing estates getting most of its income from this and hydro electric ventures. The forecast was for medium strength winds with clouded in summits, getting progressively worse with snow and sleet showers throughout the day. Being avid Corbett baggers Alex and John were still keen to claim their prize in the misty murk above... me less so.
A view of Monar Lodge from the pass.
Walking along the loch side.
At the top of the pass looking towards the western end of Loch Monar and the long walk along the rugged right hand side to finally reach the base of An Sidhean, another one of the hard to reach Corbett's that Alex particularly enjoys these days. He's almost finished them now thank God. John is well over half way through the list I believe.
A zoom towards the lower slopes of An Sidhean, summit ridge buried in the murk. It was at this point that cant be arsed angel made a welcome appearance on my shoulder. The great joy for me in not becoming addicted to Corbett bagging is that I really savour these precious moments like the treasures they are. On a good day I might carry on but as I hate trudging up invisible peaks in the mist with nothing to see or photograph these days it was an easy choice to make. There was supposed to be a storm front coming in later so the chances of it clearing up didn't seem like a good bet, whereas the chances of it turning grim appeared high, especially on that long walk back. Rain and stronger winds had been predicted later on that afternoon. 
" Best of luck boys. Have a great day! "
" You're not coming up the hill?" They exclaimed. "C'mon. It's character building!"

" I,ll set up base camp here in case of emergencies." I informed them, getting out my Iron Bru and almond slices, then a big Mississippi mud muffin bun. They had both been walking at a frantic pace to eat up the long miles into the hill and complete it in daylight hours whereas I had eating of a different kind in mind... now I had a lovely view down the loch. " Thankfully, my character was built up years ago on the Munros. I like honey and sunlight now. That's my addiction." I recited my and this blogs mission statement....
" Stay away from grim conditions if possible. Find sun and shelter on trips outdoors instead of murk and rain. Try to climb exciting jaggy hills instead of boring featureless lumps just because they are on a list somewhere. Have fun, Keep Warm. Always attempt to turn winter into summer where possible. "
" It's a shame you cant enjoy this". Alex implored. " It's not as bad as it looks. It might clear."
"I,ll meet you back at the car in six hours. I,m going to explore the glen later after an extended lunch."
And then there was one. I happily watched them speed march along the bleak shoreline into the grey distance. It seemed a long way.
Most hill-walkers coming into the glen arrive to do the hills but on the drive up I noticed large herds of red deer all along it where there were flat meadow sections and the river itself looked interesting and gorge- like in places. As expected it was sheltered and warm once away from that biting cold wind high up and almost summer like down in the gorge sections. Result for Bobby!
I also had loads of things to stalk and photograph with my trusty camera along the River Farrar. Red deer stag above- Feral goats with young below. Animals aren't stupid and always find the warmest places to shelter in winter.
Warm, good views, even sunny at times with blue skies. Happy days for me as well!
Goats bagged... the deer came next.
Glen Strathfarrar landscape.
Red Deer herd. Young stags band together.
Monarch of the Glen.
Deer dance.
River Farrar.
Deer crossing river to reach green meadow on far side.
River Farrar Gorge.
Deer pastures.
My kind of day out.... To be continued.....

No comments: