FARRMHEALL, SUTHERLAND

This is a real littIe gem of a hill. In itself it is not that special, a big lump by the side of the road leading north to Durness and the far north west tip of Scotland, but the views are superb.

Most guidebooks overlook this hill and it is usually only populated by sheep, proving there is almost always something unusual to find in the outdoors.

The route is pathless most of the way but simple enough to follow and only takes a little over an hour to reach the top. At this point you may need a good supply of sandwiches and snacks as you may well want to linger on a clear day.

Vast expanses of moor and hill stop suddenly at the high cliffs of Cape Wrath to the north west and the beaches of the north coast near Durness can be glimpsed while Orkney lies quite a distance off shore. A range of mountains including Cranstackie and Foinaven are closer to hand either side of the deep Strath Dionard. Further south the great bulk of Quinag can be seen while the bays and inlets of the jagged west coast are laid out.

If this is not a perfect hilltop, I don’t know what is.

DISTANCE: 3 miles.

HEIGHT CLIMBED: 1,190ft.

TIME: 2 to 2½ hours.

MAP: OS Landranger 9.

PARK: Drive about four and a half miles north of Rhiconich on the A838 and there is a small, rough parking area on the left of the road just after crossing a small bridge over the burn Allt na Gualainne.

WALK: A rough path sets off from the parking area beneath electricity wires towards the bulk of Farrmheall. Initially, you should aim for a point between two rocky outcrops on the south west flank of the hill. But just less than half way to them from the electricity wires veer right to pick your way over boggy ground to the broad ridge of Farrmheall.

Bear left and walk up to a point about 100 yards right of the outcrops. At this point the terrain becomes stonier and a rough vehicle track can be picked out. Follow this track up and to the left. Don’t, however, rely on it all the way as this is no bulldozed, built track and can be indistinguishable in places.

It does point you in the right direction for the summit, at the end of a large plateau. Eventually, you reach a summit cairn – rather large for such and isolated place and the view towards Cape Wrath. After taking plenty of time to enjoy the magnificent panorama retrace your steps to the start.

 

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