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.
Follow the track down the loch side, and you pass a couple of lodges, straight out of ‘Monarch Of The Glen’.
Just after the second of these is a wide firebreak, which initially appears blocked
but is easily bypassed by a helpfully open gate at the bottom left side of the trees.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.