Or Half Way up a Hill
I, like many fellow hiking bloggers, like to walk in the hills and mountains in our country. Some hikers like to stay low down, exploring remote valleys often walking long distances to access places miles from the nearest roads, while others of us feel a compulsion to go uphill. Most days in the hills demand a summit or two. However, sometimes it’s good to simply be in the hills and not ‘bag’ a top. Today was one such day. OK I admit I originally set off with the plan to go to the summit of the hill, Beinn a’ Bha’ach Ard- my local hill and one I can see from our house-but due to several circumstances I changed my plan.
*Circumstances included 1. losing the path near the start and wasting time and energy checking the grid reference with the GPS and studying the map in detail and retracing my steps. 2. Feeling a wee bit below par today, and 3. Being a lot less fit than I wish to be. Either that, or I’m a lazy sod, who’s membership of the Outdoors Bloggers really should be revoked. 😉
As my one day with free time and access to MY car coincided with the one day the locked gate up Glen Strathfarrar is not open, I parked at the parking area immediately before the gate and set off along the road on foot.
The walk started with a very pleasant walk along the narrow road that leads up the glen. Because of the fact this is a private road with a locked gate restricting access, the relative lack of cars through the glen contributes to the feeling of remote place.
Although the higher slopes of the hills on either side are heavily managed for farming and forestry, the land immediately beside the river shows typical riparian vegetation such as birch trees and bluebells at this time of year.
The name of the glen doesn’t make sense, and is a ‘Gaelicisation’ of the Gaelic. A strath is an elongated glen, and it is thought that an English-only speaker, ignorant of the meaning of ‘Strath’, recorded this as the ‘Glen of Strathfarrar’ on early maps.
The River Farrar is part of the Affric-Beauly hydro-electric power scheme, with a dam at Loch Monar and underground power stations at Deanie and Culligran.
The path up the hill leaves the single track road beside the underground power station at Culligran.
Once past the power station, there is a track heading uphill through more birch woods. On the grass verges and in small clearings in this natural broadleaved woodland there were numerous flowers including chickweed wintergreen, heath milkwort, tormentil and greater stitchwort.
Leaving the woodland behind the path leads to the open moorland with distant views to the tops of Beinn a’ Bha’ach Ard (the name means the hill of the high byre).
As I climbed higher I could see views of the Strathglass with the stretch of agricultural land either side of the River Glass.
The hills to the south-west in Glen Affric
And looking north-east to the Beauly Firth.
From the slopes of Creag a’ Gharbh-choire, just south of the top of the main hill, Loch na Beiste came into view to the east.
After sitting in the heather for a long lunch (at one point lying in the heather until I remembered dear hubby-and tick-checker-was away this evening) I decided to change my original plans and leave the top for another visit. I chose to head to the loch, crossing more boggy ground on the way.
Loch na Beiste is a scenic wee loch and today was looking picturesque with the masses of Bogbean growing there.
Heading south again from the hill and loch the track runs through a deer enclosure and as well as the farmed deer here I spotted wild deer outside the fenced area.
I really enjoyed my wandering around in the hills today and the lack of ‘summiting’ was not important. It was specially delightful because Beinn a’ Bha’ach Ard is visible from our upstairs window . It is our ‘barometer’ hill; In late October and spring we always look for early/late snow.
I loved the solitude of today’s walk. After leaving the car at the gate and passing the houses there I didn’t see another soul for the whole time out. At several places I sat and absorbed the ‘wildness’ of the place. Looking around I noted that apart from the managed moorland and the forestry in the distance, there was no visible evidence of human impact. Yet, I was only a short distance from home. I appreciate I am so fortunate to live in a wonderful corner of the country.
I leave you with some images of some of the wildlife (mainly flowers) seen today. Also seen, or heard, but not captured include cuckoo, red deer stag, froglets and toads and numerous birds.