The Road goes ever on and on; Down from the door where it began;
Now far ahead the Road has gone; And I must follow, if I can;
Pursuing it with eager feet; Until it joins some larger way;
Where many paths and errands met; And whither then? I cannot say.

[JRR Tolkien, Lord of the Rings]

Wednesday 16 October 2019

The Fara (NN598842; 911m)

Tuesday 15 October
Distance: 8.6 miles
Ascent: 570m
Weather: Overcast start, sunny intervals later. A bit of mizzle as we were up in the cloud on the summit.

In 2013 The Fara appeared on our TGO Challenge Route Sheet. In fact, we were supposed to go over it the day before we didn't go over Carn na Caim (but went over Meall Cruaich instead - see Monday's post). Unlike Carn na Caim, it didn't go onto my 'must get around to going up there' list and barely did I think of the hill over the next 6.5 years. Then on Monday, as we descended from Carn na Caim and its neighbour, we had The Fara in front of us and suddenly it seemed like a jolly good idea to stay around Dalwhinnie for an extra night and nip up it.

The plan was cemented not only by an acceptable weather forecast, but when I saw that there's another Marilyn next door (Meall nan Eagan) that could be combined into a pleasing-looking lollipop of a walk.

Read on to find out what happened to the lollipop plan and the second hill. 
Leaving Bertie just to the north of Dalwhinnie, a road walk took us to the track that runs along the Allt an t-Sluic, half a kilometre or so along which we bore off onto a track that doesn't appear on my 2010 map, but that we could see would take us a significant distance towards our ridge.

Bottom left you can see a ford at the start of our ascent track (snap taken on the return leg, hence the blue sky). We didn't get wet feet, opting instead to detour 100m downstream to a simple, non-permanent bridge that's currently in place.

We gained height quickly, which gave us a good vantage point to observe a group of tweed-clad chaps heading out from the lodge and up the glen - in the direction of our second hill.

The track wiggling its way up the hill. Our second summit is on the right of the snap.

Initially we knew not where they may be heading, but that question was broadly answered as we walked past a group of beaters working their way through the heather in between our ascending track and the one running along the glen. It was at this point that we decided that our second hill was being taken off the agenda. We accidentally walked through a shoot once before and it's no fun scurrying up a hill with shots being fired nearby.

That still gave us The Fara as an objective and after a relatively easy walk (first on the track then on firm, short vegetation up the ridge) we arrived at its summit only about a quarter of an hour after pausing for elevenses in the lee of some convenient little crags. The wind was biting up there and shelter was a fundamental requirement of any break.

Our arrival at the summit was only just in time...

Looking a bit grey as Mick snapped me atop the summit tor

I snapped Mick from a higher vantage point, so captured the views too

...for as we stood at the high point, the cloud descended. It had been brushing the top earlier, but this was undoubtedly the lowest level it reached all day. It was at 800m that we dropped below it (or it rose above us, or a combination of the two) as we retraced our steps. We had given thought to forming a circuit by dropping off the east side of the ridge, but were deterred by the visible sogginess of the ground down there.

As we descended we could see the beaters now working on the other side of the glen, seemingly confirming the merit of our decision not to continue on to Meall nan Eagan. Had we not stopped for lunch, we would thus have gone away happy. As it was, as we reached the ford the vehicles of the tweed-brigade all drove back out to the road. Harrumph! We not only could have done our second hill, but we would have had good weather for it. The cloud that had descended whilst we were on The Fara was the last hurrah of the grey skies and from then on the day only got sunnier.

Ne'er mind. There's another Marilyn just up the road, so at some point in the future I'll combine Meall nan Eagan with that one.

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