Hills: Sgurr na Ruaidhe, Carn nan Gobhar, Sgurr a'Choire Ghlais and Sgurr Fhuar-thuill
Date: Friday 11th January 2013
Company: Just myself
Distance: 21.2km, Ascent: 1780m
Time: 7Hrs 40Mins

On Thursday morning, I contacted the MCofS to request the combination lock code to gain vehicular access to Glen Strathfarrar. During the winter months, there is no gatekeeper and no associated time restrictions, albeit you are still not permitted to leave a vehicle in the glen overnight. Winter vehicular access is only available to MCofS members – more info.

On Friday morning, I arrived at the gate around 08:00 and let myself through. It had originally been my intention to drive as far as the Monar Dam and either pick-off some of the easy Sub2000ft Marilyns or to head for the remote An Cruachan. Instead I decided to re-ascend the four Strathfarrar Munros including the two Munro Tops.

Once beyond the gate, I drove along the glen to just beyond the power station. I parked at the start of the track leading towards Sgurr na Ruaidhe. There were literally hundreds of stags in the glen.

I first ascended the Strathfarrar Munros in April 2003, with Sheryl.

Click here to see a map of the route undertaken

At the start of the walk, I met another walker who had cycled down from Inverness. On asking if he was also intending doing the circuit of four Munros, he advised that he was only intending going as far as the first or second Munro and then returning.

I set off up the fairly good track leading to Coire Mhuillidh. Once in Coire Mhuillidh it was a bit of a bogfest.

Start of track leading towards Sgurr na Ruaidhe:

On catching my first glimpse of Sgurr a’Choire Ghlais, I was a little surprised to see so much snow. I had seen some photos on Facebook of Beinn Alligin the day previous, which was devoid of snow.

Meall a’Gheur-fheadain and Sgurr a’Choire Ghlais:

Coire Mhuillidh:

Looking back, I could see that there wasn’t much snow on Sgorr na Diollaid (Corbett). The snowline was sitting around 800m.

The next photo shows that the track was fairly wet underfoot. Much of the wetness was easily avoided to the side of the track. I was glad to be wearing fairly new boots, as my feet remained dry.

Looking back along wet track and across Glen Strathfarrar to Sgorr na Diollaid:

I always enjoy seeing nice warm colours as the sunshine starts to light up the hills.

First sunlight on Sgurr a’Choire Ghlais:

As I ascended the North-West flank of Sgurr na Ruaidhe, I could see the walker I met at the start about ten minutes ahead. He set off about ten minutes before me so we were pretty-much going at the same pace.

Ascending North-West flank of Sgurr na Ruaidhe:

The MWIS forecast had suggested 40% cloud-free Munros. I was therefore quite happy to be walking in mostly cloud-free conditions.

Looking back towards Glen Cannich hills:

As I approached the summit of Sgurr na Ruaidhe there was still only a very light covering of snow.

Looking towards the summit of Sgurr na Ruaidhe:

Sgurr a’Choire Ghlais and Carn nan Gobhar:

On arriving at the summit, I had another brief chat with the other walker who had decided to head back the same way from Sgurr na Ruaidhe. Always disappointing to have to look down onto a windfarm from the summit.

Summit cairn of Sgurr na Ruaidhe:

View from the summit of Sgurr na Ruaidhe:

View from the summit of Sgurr na Ruaidhe:

Carn nan Gobhar, the next Munro, looked straight-forward. However, from a distance Sgurr a’Choire Ghlais looked a bit trickier given I was wearing my three-season boots and had no crampons.

Heading for the col between Sgurr na Ruaidhe and Carn nan Gobhar:

It didn’t take long to reach the col as the short grass made for easy walking.

Carn nan Gobhar from the col:

Looking back to Sgurr na Ruaidhe from Carn nan Gobhar:

As I made my way up Carn nan Gobhar, I could see that the underfoot conditions were about to change from short grass to boulderfield.

Carn nan Gobhar:

Crossing the snow-covered boulderfield definitely slowed me down.

Boulderfield leading to summit of Carn nan Gobhar:

I was only carrying 1 litre of water for the day, so my Ribena was strictly rationed to a cup of hot Ribena at each summit. Always nice to have a hot drink at the summit(s) on a cold winter’s day.

View from the summit of Carn nan Gobhar:

From the summit of Carn nan Gobhar, I followed the wide ridge towards Sgurr a’Choire Ghlais.

Looking towards Sgurr a’Choire Ghlais:

As is normally the case, the ascent looked much easier from up close.

Sgurr a’Choire Ghlais from the col:

About half-way up the steep slopes of Sgurr a’Choire Ghlais, I swapped walking poles for ice axe.

I was treated to numerous Brocken Spectre during the ascent .

Brocken Spectre seen from steep slopes of Sgurr a’Choire Ghlais:

The final 50m ascent was up fairly steep compact snow/ice. A mix of kicking and cutting steps up this section got me to the summit. I visited the trig point and both of the large cairns.

Large cairn and trig point at the summit of Sgurr a’Choire Ghlais:

Cairn and trig point at the summit of Sgurr a’Choire Ghlais:

From the summit, I made my way towards Sgurr Fhuar-thuill via Creag Ghorm a’Bhealaich (Munro Top).

Looking back to Sgurr a’Choire Ghlais:

Looking back to Sgurr a’Choire Ghlais:

Looking towards Creag Ghorm a’Bhealaich:

Approaching the summit of Creag Ghorm a’Bhealaich:

After a quick visit to Creag Ghorm a’Bhealaich, I continued on to the fourth Munro summit of the day, Sgurr Fhuar-thuill.

Summit cairn of Creag Ghorm a’Bhealaich:

Large cairn at the summit of Sgurr Fhuar-thuill:

Large cairn at the summit of Sgurr Fhuar-thuill:

From Sgurr Fhuar-thuill, I continued on to ascend one final hill, Sgurr na Fearstaig (Munro Top). This was my first and only new summit of the day.

Looking back to Sgurr Fhuar-thuill:

Heading for Sgurr na Fearstaig:

Cairn at the summit of Sgurr na Fearstaig:

From Sgurr na Fearstaig, I returned a short distance towards Sgurr Fhuar-thuill to reach the start of the track that descends towards Loch Toll a’Mhuic. The descent track was not straight-forward, without crampons, as it was covered in sections of hard snow. I ended up abandoning the path to head more directly towards Loch Toll a’Mhuic.

During the descent, I passed a Ptarmigan in winter plumage.


Descent towards Loch Toll a’Mhuic:

During the descent, I was particularly impressed with Sgurr na Muice. It is an incredibly rocky hill. It is a Corbett Top of a Munro and a HuMP.

Loch Toll a’Mhuic and Sgurr na Muice:

Looking back at descent path from Sgurr na Fearstaig:

I followed the path alongside the Allt Toll a’Mhuic for much of the descent.

Descent alongside the Allt Toll a’Mhuic:

Descent alongside the Allt Toll a’Mhuic:

There is a nice waterfall during the descent, a short distance above the glen.

Allt Toll a’Mhuic waterfall:

On reaching the glen, the thought of the long walk back to the car wasn’t exactly appealing. I walked along the tarmac track to a short distance beyond Braulen Lodge where I was offered a lift by one of the estate workers. Lift gratefully accepted.

Braulen Lodge:

Nice to visit Glen Strathfarrar in winter. A good day out .