Strathfarrar Estate: winter access arrangements

Posted by Catherine Flitcroft on 01/11/2017
Loch Mullardoch in the Highlands of Scotland. Photo Shutterstock/Ian Good

Are you intending to visit Strathfarrar Estate in the Scottish Highlands this winter? Read on to find out how to access this remote and beautiful area, as vehicular access to the estate is subject to seasonal conditions.

Strathfarrar Estate contains four Munros: Sgurr na Ruaidhe, Carn nan Gobhar, Sgurr a’ Choire Ghlais and Sgurr Fhuar-thuill, as well as a couple of Corbetts, Beinn a' Bha'ach Ard and Sgorr na Dìollaid.

Who can access Strathfarrar Estate?

Responsible non-motorised access to the glen on foot, bicycle or horse is available at all times.

Walkers wishing to explore the remote hills around Strathfarrar Estate can gain vehicular access to the 17-mile private road which leads up the glen under arrangements negotiated by Mountaineering Scotland with the estates.

What you need to know about vehicular access

Vehicular access arrangements for Strathfarrar Estate are seasonal.  

1) Winter vehicle access arrangements (1 November - 31 March)

The Land Reform Scotland (2003) Act and Scottish Outdoor Access Code do not confer a right of vehicle access to the private road through Glen Strathfarrar. Mountaineering Scotland has negotiated an arrangement with Braulen Estate for vehicle access over the winter period (1 November 2017 to 23 March 2018) which applies only to Mountaineering Scotland members.

The winter vehicle access arrangements include conditions which apply to hillwalkers and climbers, and it should be obvious to members from what follows that there are significant sensitivities around ongoing provision, due in the main to the behaviour of some individuals who have previously ignored conditions. The arrangement will therefore be subject to a review for continuity in 2018 following this winter season.

Members are asked to recognise that estate staff undertake extensive stalking during the winter vehicle access period. Hill walks taking in the four Munros on the north side of the glen, and climbs on the crags accessible from the parking location at the Power Station at Gleann Innis an Loichel are unlikely to disrupt stalks, but members should be prepared to take advice from estate staff, in accordance with the requirements of the Scottish Outdoor Access Code, and note that that may be asked to change their plans.

A padlock system operates during winter months and the padlock combination number changes regularly. On the day of your visit, access through the gate is only permitted after 8am.

Specific conditions upon which vehicle access is provided:

This arrangement is only available to Mountaineering Scotland members (everyone in your vehicle must be a member) who are hill walking or climbing, and does not extend to lower level walks in the glen, for which vehicle access is not available under this arrangement.

The conditions include a requirement for members to park only in one of the three designated locations shown below.

Members are reminded that continuity of this arrangement relies on them not breaking the conditions stated on this website. Access by members' vehicles is monitored closely by us and the estate, and failure to follow the conditions will put the continuation of this arrangement at risk. We have worked closely with the estate to maintain these arrangements and in the event that their staff make a formal complaint about a member we will deal with the matter through the Mountaineering Scotland Complaints Policy, which may result in sanctions being applied.

Before you go:

Mountaineering Scotland members should email us at info@mountaineering.scot or call us on 01738 493942.  To avoid inconvenience or disappointment, contact our office between 10.00am and 3pm, Monday to Thursday. Do not leave your call until the Friday morning or the day of your intended visit as we may not be able to obtain agreement to your visit by estate staff.

When you contact us, please provide the following details:

  • Your name, Mountaineering Scotland membership number and telephone number
  • Specific date of your intended visit and hillwalking or climbing objective for the day – note that a date “week commencing … “ is not acceptable to the estate
  • Vehicle registration number
  • Names and number of other occupants of your vehicle, their Mountaineering Scotland membership numbers and telephone numbers

We will pass this information to estate staff.

If you have to change the date of your visit, you must advise us of the change before you go, in order that we can inform estate staff. Similarly, if you change your vehicle or the members of your party change, please let us know.

When we have provided you with the code, do not pass the code to any third party, as doing so without us being able to confirm vehicle details to the estate will jeopardise continuity of winter vehicle access.

Your visit to the glen:

The blue padlock has a 4-digit code (see photo). To operate the padlock:

  • Turn the dials to the correct combination, then
  • Press the black button located on the bottom of the padlock to release.
  • It is essential that you close and then scramble the padlock code digits on both your entry in to the glen and on exit.

The gatekeeper is not available to provide advice or assistance during the winter access period and you should not contact the gatehouse. During the winter, the padlock can get frozen solid, so it is worth being prepared with de-icer or anti-freeze as a precaution.

The private road is tarmac but is not gritted or cleared of snow and there may be areas of rough surface or potholes which could damage your vehicle if you do not exercise appropriate care. A related condition of the provision of winter vehicle access is that the estate will not accept any liability for damage to people or property caused in any way whatsoever by road or other conditions.

Be aware that estate staff and residents are not able to provide assistance to drivers and there is no mobile phone signal in the glen at the time of writing (October 2017). As with any other visitor to the glen you are asked to take litter home.

Parking:

Winter vehicle access is conditional upon members parking in the following designated locations to walk or climb the following routes or crags...

Park at Mhullie Greens / Allt Coire Mhuillidh (grid ref: NH 283386) for:

  • Strathfarrar Munros: Sgurr na Ruaidhe, Carn nan Gobhar, Sgurr a' Choire Ghlais and Sgurr Fhuar-thuill
  • Sgurr na Lapaich: GR: NH 162342 E and NE faces above the Garbh-choire GR:NH161349 E face
  • Creagan Toll an Lochain N Face: GR NH143 -150347
  • Sgurr nan Clachan Geala (the south top of Sgurr na Lapaich) GR:NH162343

Park at start of the Allt Toll a'Mhuic (grid ref: NH 223392) for:

  • Strathfarrar Munros: Sgurr na Ruaidhe, Carn nan Gobhar, Sgurr a' Choire Ghlais and Sgurr Fhuar-thuill
  • Sgurr na Muice: GR: NH228416 (covers SE, E and NE faces)
  • South top of Sgurr na Fearstaig: GR: NH225426 (covers E and NE faces)
  • Sgurr Fhuar-thuill NE face GR: NH236438
  • Creag Ghorm a' Bhealaich N and NE faces GR: NH245434

Park at the Power Station at Gleann Innis an Loichel (grid ref: NH 183381) for:

  • Sgurr na Lapaich: GR: NH 162342 E and NE faces above the Garbh-choire GR:NH161349 E face
  • Sgurr nan Clachan Geala (the south top of Sgurr na Lapaich) GR:NH162343
  • Creagan Toll an Lochain N Face: GR NH143 -150347

2) Summer vehicle access arrangements (1 April - 31 October)

During summer vehicle access is available to everyone, though controlled by a gate keeper and subject to a number of conditions.

Access is permitted most days of the week between 9am and a closing time that changes by month. 

You do not need to advise Mountaineering Scotland if you wish to visit the glen during the summer access period. 

Check online when planning your visit to avoid disappointment and ensure you are aware of the details.

The glen is closed to vehicles all day Tuesday, and closed Wednesday until 1.30pm

DAILY OPENING TIMES (by month):

 April                

 9am - 6pm

 May                 

 9am - 7pm

 June                

 9am - 8pm

 July                

 9am - 8pm

 August            

 9am - 8pm

 September      

 9am - 7pm

 October           

 9am - 6pm

Last vehicle access is one hour before closing time. 

A maximum of 25 vehicles are permitted in the glen on a given day. 

Vehicles can be taken as far as the power station at NH183381.

3) Overnight in the glen

It is within your access rights to access the glen using non-motorised means (disabled transport excepted) at all times of day or nightincluding wild camping (away from road and buildings). Please camp responsibly under the guidance in the Scottish Outdoor Access Code.

Your access rights do not, however, extend to your car.  
Overnight parking is not permitted in Strathfarrar at any time of the year.

If you wish to stay in the glen overnight you should either walk in, bike in, or arrange for someone to drop you off in the glen and then drive the vehicle out of the glen. Abuse of this arrangement could result in access to the glen for vehicles being revoked by the estate.

Access rules: respect them or lose them

Remember, access legislation in Scotland is different to England and Wales. Your access rights extend to most land and inshore water, but these rights only exist if exercised responsibly, as set out in the Scottish Outdoor Access Code (SOAC). The SOAC does not extend to motorised vehicles.

There is no automatic right of vehicle access to Strathfarrar.   

Vehicular access to the area originally resulted from negotiations between Mountaineering Scotland and Strathfarrar Estate. This agreement relies on goodwill and respectful adherence to the access guidelines and voluntary access codes. 

The current agreement has recently been jeopardised by the actions of some irresponsible members who did not follow the established vehicle access arrangements as outlined on the Mountaineering Scotland website

The majority of people visiting the area follow the access rules outlined, however, there is a small minority who have chosen to disregard the arrangements.  Breaches of the guidelines have resulted in a tightening of the access arrangements and administrative problems for Mountaineering Scotland.

Please respect the rules to ensure future access.  Don’t set a bad example to others, don’t ruin access for all. It is essential to respect access conditions, as further non-compliance could result in loss of access to the estate. 

 


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