The Fara

The Fara, DalwhinniePosted on February 27, 2011 by jester1970

The Fara is one of those hills that seems to be regularly overlooked, and I’m as guilty of that as most people who come to this area.. With so many Munros in the area it’s hardly surprising. If walking on my own I usually travel by train and Dalwhinnie is a great station to start from. Normally I have my bike, and from Dalwhinnie you can arrive on an early train, cycle to and complete some decent Munro walks and be back for the afternoon train home. However my bike was in for repair, which limited me somewhat. With short winter days and a timetable to keep The Fara shouted “pick me”! So I did…

The 0706 departure from Glasgow Queen Street arrives in Dalwhinnie at 0915. Not the earliest of starts, as I could already see people up on Carn a’ Caim, but early enough for a decent day on the hills.

From the station walk down the road to the level crossing. There are pedestrian kissing gates here, but it’s worth giving the signaller a ring to check it’s clear to cross. There is a good track down the lochside, and on a good day you can get a cracking view of Ben Alder. This however wasn’t a good day.
Looking south west towards Ben Alder
Follow the track down the loch side, and you pass a couple of lodges, straight out of ‘Monarch Of The Glen’.
Lochside lodges
Just after the second of these is a wide firebreak, which initially appears blocked
The Firebreak- the gate is at the left side

but is easily bypassed by a helpfully open gate at the bottom left side of the trees.
The ever open gate
The firebreak is short, but steep, and on arriving near the top I sighted a herd of deer. With hard snow underfoot it was hard to move quietly, but I did get a few pictures before they all headed off in the direction of Loch Pattack.
Deer above the treeline
Visibility was now down to a few feet, so from the top of the treeline to the summit it was compass work all the way, navigating on a bearing and counting paces. I could see little, although I occasionally caught glimpses of the remains of an old fence, metal posts disappearing into the murk. The route was crossed with tracks, deer and foxes mainly. There were other tracks, bootprints running parallel to the fence posts. Eventually on the last steep pull, my tracks met the others and led me up to the summit cairn, cocooned in rime and looking like something from an episode of Dr Who.
Summit weird... This summit provides some stunning views, being slap bang in the middle of an awesome area, with hills and lochs stretching off for many miles. Sadly all I could see was the cairn and a poor remnant of a long defunct fence, separating who knows what. This fence post is at the cairn, and the posts I saw leading uphill do indeed lead to the summit. This is very helpful in poor visibility. The fence is not marked on the 1:50,000 map, but is on the 1:25,000 one.

The frozen fence post
I followed my tracks back down and as I got lower the landscape began to reveal itself, and I could look across to Meall Cuiach, another hill I’d done as a combined cycle/walk from Dalwhinnie only last year.
Meall Cuiach and Dalwhinnie
On arriving at the top of the treeline I checked my watch. Bags of time before the next train, so time to vary things with a different route back.  There appeared to be a new track about 200m along from the corner of the wood, running in a direction which would possibly see it meet up with a track which ran all the way to the distillery. Unfortunately the gate was locked, so over I went instead of through.

I followed the path down, and after five minutes came to what appeared to be a turning circle, obviously the termination of the old path.

The path is good and fairly wide, and runs for about 3km to a high stile, just before joining the main road near the distillery, but with well over an hour left before my train and the rain coming on I tucked myself into the woods, found a nice dry spot and heated a spot of lunch.

The walk back to the station is straightforward, along the roadside and past the distillery. Perhaps next time I’ll forego the heated lunch for the liquid variety instead!

All in all a nice short day walk, great for a short winters day. It allows time to take lots of pictures if the conditions are good, without the pressure of ‘clock-watching’ I sometimes get when travelling by train, and having bypassed this for so long, it’s one I’m looking forward to doing again already.

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3 Responses to The Fara

  1. I’ve been thinking about doing The Fara recently so your report is very useful. I was planning on taking that track from the main road near the distillery and walking along the ridge – didn’t realise there was a locked gate though 😦 I still think I’d prefer that route to the plough up via the firebreak.

    Just one comment on your blog design – I find it quite difficult to read the writing which is over your main photo (great as your photo is) – my eyesight isn’t great though so perhaps that’s why.
    Carol.

    • jester1970 says:

      The firebreak isn’t that bad, and it’s not that long, but at least the route is circular. One thing I’m not overly keen on are out and back routes where you cover the same ground twice. It would be nice if land managers recognised that if they were to put in access gates it would help people access the mountains (which they will do anyway) without damaging fences.

      As for the writing, I take it you mean the small white box on the photo? I’ll try and make it bigger next time I edit the site.
      Cheers,
      Jim.

      • Ah – ignore my comment about the writing being over the photo – that’s just how my work PC was displaying it with all the access restrictions! I’m looking on a normal PC now and it’s fine – sorry about that!

        I don’t like doing out-and-backs either. I was considering doing the Fara by either the firebreak or the end over the Distillery and then descending the far end by Loch Pattack and walking back round. Would be quite a long route though I think – definitely one for a nice day!

        And yeah, landowners do need to recognise that, if a hill or route is in use and fairly popular, if they don’t provide stiles or opening gates, people will damage their property climbing over instead!

        Didn’t realise you were ‘Jester’ off various forums 🙂
        Carol.

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