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Tairneach, Foss Baryte Mine, Farragon Hill, Scotland
[18.3 km]  Fri 12 May 2017

OS Grid ref: NN 77994 56220
Lat/Long: 56.681748, -03.993141

I parked my car on the B846, the old Military road, across from the entrance track to the Foss Mines. I set off walking up the track at 06:10 and followed the zig zag road steeply up through the forest for a few kilometres. As I approached a clearing I heard the sound of one of the huge earth mover trucks coming up the track.

Tairneach trig post

Mine buildings in the mist

Site safety
I stood to one side on the verge as the vehicle was about to pass and was surprised when the driver stopped and offered me a lift. I reluctantly declined as I wanted to enjoy the walk but it would have been interesting seeing the inside of the cab. I was soon in thick mist and when I emerged from the forest I still couldnít see anything. I followed the track for another 2kn then turned off right to follow a path the short distance to the trig post on Tairneachan at 747m.
Farragon Hill cairn
The mist continued and there was nothing to see and with a string wind at temperature of 2degC I retraced my route back to the road and continued to the mine area. Descending to the mine buildings I passed a large tunnel to my right which was being used for ventilation for the mines below. I walked along the track through the mine area and on to Lick Hill where there was no path to follow, just rough heather and some bog. The going wasnít too wet due the recent dry weather. The final climb up Farragon Hill was steep grassy but not too long. The summit was marked by a cairn at 783m but I still didnít have any views so returned the way Iíd come.

Around 30 tonnes of baryte on its way to Aberdeen
At the mine area I stopped to talk to a couple of the workers about the mine. The main use of the barite is in the North Sea oil drilling industry as a weighting agent for drilling fluids in oil and gas exploration to suppress high formation pressures and prevent blowouts. It is very dense at around 4-5 specific gravity. On the descent to the forest area the truck that I saw on the way up was descending and the driver stopped for a chat. I said most of the Barite goes to Abefeldy for crushing then on to Aberdeen for the North Sea Oil Drilling use. Some is also used for the production of high density concrete for radiography rooms in the medical industry.
FThe weather was Dull all day