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A Sunset Walk Below the Torridon Giants

A Sunset Walk Below the Torridon Giants


Postby Anne C » Sat Jan 22, 2022 7:30 pm

Route description: Triple Buttress of Coire Mhic Fhearchair

Date walked: 28/12/2021

Time taken: 5 hours

Distance: 14 km

Ascent: 540m

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After the soft, green lushness of the Black Isle, where we spent 4 lovely days with the family over Xmas, Torridon’s gothic grandeur seemed almost unreal. Making that left turn at Kinlochewe and entering Glen Torridon, I always feel I’m entering another world and one that makes my heart soar.

ImageLiathach from Glen Torridon. by Anne C, on Flickr

We were staying in a cottage in Wester Alligin for a few days and though the icy conditions ruled out the bigger stuff, there are so many brilliant low and mid level walks in Torridon, we were spoiled for choice. But of all the superb options, it was the grand walk to Coire Mhic Fhearchair (Son of Farquar’s Corrie) that appealed the most. It had been three years since we'd last walked in, on a wind-whipped day of vicious snow showers, with the mountains wrapped in scudding low cloud and distant views largely hidden in the clag. Today's forecast at least promised little wind and drier conditions. A nice early start too would give us plenty of time at the loch itself given daylight hours are so short in late December.

Bad start next morning when somehow, we both slept in! :( We never bother with an alarm because we're usually awake pretty early but Sod's Law, it was 8.45am before we woke up. Bizarre! ) That led to a bit of a grumpy start with me already stressed that we would be playing catch up with daylight from the off and with little time to do more than turn around once we reached the loch itself. No sandwiches made up the night before either :shock: Chris as ever was very laid back and reckoned we would be fine...RELAX, he said (his favourite word and one I rarely use :roll: )
As we drove along Loch Torridon, we had the thrill of seeing an otter swimming quickly away from the shore, probably spooked by our car pulling to a halt when I spied it scurrying over rocks.

ImageAn otter glides away from shore by scotlandmac, on Flickr

'You might not have seen that if we'd scooted along here earlier...' Chris said pointedly. :wink:

So at 11am, 90 mins later than planned, we finally set off from the glen car park opposite the Ling Hut, under cloudy skies but with the tops clearing.

ImageLiathach as we set out by Anne C, on Flickr

Beinn Eighe clearing too...

ImageBeinn Eighe having cleared by Anne C, on Flickr

There was a majestic stag in the car park which has clearly got a good thing going where, if he's fed titbits - he'll allow his photo to be taken up close. :D I was quite alarmed at just how close he came as I got the camera out - a big beastie! That said, there are warning signs not to feed him because deer can get aggressive if they start to expect food and none is forthcoming. But what a handsome chap...

ImageDSC_0393.jpg by Anne C, on Flickr

The path starts off flat then rises into Coire Dubh Mor, the well named Great Dark Corrie between the giants of Liathach and Beinn Eighe. A bit of ice dodging at times but it was fine.The view into and up the icy terraces and gullies of Liathach was quite a sight – intimidating and unforgiving.

A few small burns to cross but they were shallow; the mountains were holding all of their water instead of shedding it into the rivers below. The countless waterfalls that plunge down Liathach’s terraces after rain , were frozen solid, garlanding the mountain with ice.There would be a sudden loud crack, then a sound like glass shattering as a frozen waterfall lost its battle against the slowly rising temperatures.
It was around 4C with no wind and pretty soon, with the initial effort of the first bit of the climb, it was time to take my big duvet jacket off - hot work! (I always wear far too much at the start of a walk, hating the initial feeling of being cold.I haven’t managed the Be Bold, Go Cold approach to a walk yet :roll:

After about 75 mins, the path forked and we took a right, climbing below the base of Beinn Eighe, the route becoming slightly rockier and more icy.

ImageThe Triple Buttresses walk, Torridon by scotlandmac, on Flickr

Now we could see Beinn Dearg, Baosbheinn and Beinn an Eoin – the great inselberg mountains that rear out of the wild, empty moorland, dotted with countless lochans and hauntingly beautiful. Many looked frozen solid and I wondered whether the loch we were headed for would also be solid ice, rather than turquoise-y and crystal clear.

To the north west, lay the sea and North Skye.

ImageTowards North Skye by Anne C, on Flickr

Clusters of pink boulders left behind by the last Ice Age, edged the path. The whole place was just majestic.

ImagePink Torridon rocks by scotlandmac, on Flickr

We still had an hour to go, but the slight impatience I felt about reaching the loch soon evaporated as we turned a corner and saw the great mountain ranges above Loch Maree. The sun, so low in the sky, had found a breach in the clouds and now cast Slioch in a spectacular fiery orange light. It was absolutely stunning and a major highlight of the walk in.

ImageSlioch appears beyond the higher ground by scotlandmac, on Flickr

ImageSlioch in the afternoon light by Anne C, on Flickr

The sun had found a gap through the Torridon giants...

ImageDSC_0425.jpg by Anne C, on Flickr

Coire Mhic Fhearchair is guarded on this western side by a great lip of stone where waterfalls rush down onto a series of rock terraces but the path cleverly winds it way up a nice route to the loch itself on beautifully built stepping stones.

ImageFinal approach to the loch by scotlandmac, on Flickr

Looking back as the path climbed...

ImageLooking back to Beinn Alligin and Beinn Dearg by scotlandmac, on Flickr

Last few steps before we reached the corrie bowl...

ImageLast section below Beinn Eighe by Anne C, on Flickr

ImageAbove the waterfalls by Anne C, on Flickr


Suddenly, after 2hrs 15 of spectacular walking, there we were – in the corrie itself, the loch now in front of us - carefully traversing the big flat rock slabs of this stunning place. The Triple Buttresses of Beinn Eighe fall sheer into the cold waters and today, the shores were heavily ringed with ice but the water itself was not frozen.

ImageThe Triple Buttresses of Beinn Eighe, Torridon, Scottish Highlands by scotlandmac, on Flickr

ImageMyself at the lochan by Anne C, on Flickr

ImageChris at the lochan by Anne C, on Flickr

A photographer already had a tripod set up to get a shot of the scene across a pool, waxing lyrical about where he was when I stopped to chat to him.

The flattish slabs needed careful negotiating as there was a lot of ice where we were now, given we were at over 600m.A reminder if any was needed that the mountains are a different place to the more benign conditions at Loch Torridon itself.
A winter picnic of cheese and coleslaw sandwiches tasted great, as outdoor food after a good walk always does, but we were very glad of the flask of hot water for tea; now that we'd stopped, it felt very chilly in the below freezing temperatures and the ice. The low winter sun didn’t reach the loch itself and the water looked dark and brooding - very fitting for winter.
This really is a place that is good for the soul.

At 1.50pm Chris suggested we head down to avoid getting caught out by darkness. We had head torches but that wouldn’t have been ideal in the icy conditions.

ImageHeading down by Anne C, on Flickr

I thought the views on the walk in had been fantastic but now, the angle of the sun really lit up the island mountains we'd passed earlier.
Beinn Dearg, living up to its name of the Red Mountain...

ImageBeinn Dearg lives up to its name - the Red Mountain by scotlandmac, on Flickr

ImageAn ancient land - Torridon, Scottish Highlands by scotlandmac, on Flickr

ImageBeinn Dearg and Baosbheinn by scotlandmac, on Flickr

ImageSun on Beinn Dearg by scotlandmac, on Flickr

Baosbheinn; Beinn an Eoin, the Mountain of the Birds; Beinn a Chearchaill. Beinn Alligin, the Jewelled Mountain...all in their glory.

Liathach looked Alpine...

ImageHeading back by scotlandmac, on Flickr

ImageDSC_0498.jpg by Anne C, on Flickr

ImageLiathach by Anne C, on Flickr

It took us the same time on the return as the walk in, what with watching our feet with the ice but mainly because I couldn’t stop taking photos of the ever changing light! It was stunning.

ImageSun in the east by scotlandmac, on Flickr

Loch Torridon appearing through the gap in the glen...

ImageBeinn Dearg , Alligin behind by Anne C, on Flickr

A very difficult place to leave but the light was going quite quickly. The sky was softening into the pinks and lemons of sunset and away in the distance above Achnasheen we could see the familiar pyramid of Foinn Bheinn, completely covered in snow, though very distant in this photo...

ImageDSC_0523.jpg by Anne C, on Flickr

Looking south east we weren't sure what we were looking at...Moruisg? The Monar Forest area?

ImageUntitled by Anne C, on Flickr

ImageGetting back to Glen Torridon before dark by scotlandmac, on Flickr

Beinn Eighe lit up...

ImageDSC_0522.jpg by Anne C, on Flickr

Beinn Eighe in the final stages of light at 4.15pm...

ImageBeinn Eighe in the dusk at 4.15pm by scotlandmac, on Flickr

The last of the light in the glen...

ImageDSC_0536.jpg by Anne C, on Flickr

Liathach turning rose pink...

ImageLiathach in late afternoon light by Anne C, on Flickr

It was pitch dark in the glen by the time we arrived at the car park at 4.20pm, weary but thrilled that we’d had a such a fine day to savour one of the hidden glories of the Highlands.

'The best laid plans go aft agley' and we have plenty experience of that, but sometimes - sometimes! - the stars align. If we’d been an hour earlier, we wouldn’t have enjoyed quite the same glorious light on the descent from the loch. And as Chris reminded me, we might not have been so lucky as to have seen the wee otter!

The spectacle continued as we left the darkness of the glen and drove along the shores of Loch Torridon, bringing what had been a memorable day in this finest of places to a close.

ImageLoch Torridon in last light by Anne C, on Flickr
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Anne C
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Re: A Sunset Walk Below the Torridon Giants

Postby Verylatestarter » Sat Jan 22, 2022 11:21 pm

Anne

Great photos of a wonderful area of the country.

The last time i saw the car park deer, he was poking his head in a van window hustling for snacks.

Thanks again

John
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Re: A Sunset Walk Below the Torridon Giants

Postby Hillbeback » Sun Jan 23, 2022 6:33 pm

Anne,

What beautiful images you have captured especially the sunset ones. I try to imagine how it would feel to be there in such breathtaking surroundings. One for you both to saviour and never forget.
Thanks for sharing them with us.

Moira
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Re: A Sunset Walk Below the Torridon Giants

Postby Huff_n_Puff » Mon Jan 24, 2022 4:36 pm

Well, just think if I'd got my act together we might have met on this walk :roll: :shock: :D . Stunning photos in, thank you for sharing. What an amazing light. This walk had been on my holiday list too, but somehow we didn't make it, but I will remedy that soon, not that I expect to be so fortunate with the conditions!

Wonderful :clap: :clap: :clap:
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Re: A Sunset Walk Below the Torridon Giants

Postby Anne C » Tue Jan 25, 2022 12:04 pm

Verylatestarter wrote:Anne

Great photos of a wonderful area of the country.

The last time i saw the car park deer, he was poking his head in a van window hustling for snacks.

John - thank you, yes Torridon is just magical, I love it. He knows what he's about that stag :D - I saw deer hustling like that near the old Kingshouse Hotel before the refurb but one large hind began to butt a woman who was not sharing what she had - a bit scary, they are big animals!

Hillbeback wrote:Anne,

What beautiful images you have captured especially the sunset ones. I try to imagine how it would feel to be there in such breathtaking surroundings. One for you both to saviour and never forget.
Thanks for sharing them with us.

Many thanks Moira, great to know you enjoyed the photos, the light was just made for taking them! Torridon was looking glorious, though it usually does but lit up like that was very special.

Huff_n_Puff wrote:Well, just think if I'd got my act together we might have met on this walk :roll: :shock: :D . Stunning photos in, thank you for sharing. What an amazing light. This walk had been on my holiday list too, but somehow we didn't make it, but I will remedy that soon, not that I expect to be so fortunate with the conditions!

Wonderful :clap: :clap: :clap:


Oh that would have been really nice, to meet! I often wonder, when we set off on a walk, if we will meet anyone that is on the Forum - I wouldn't recognise everyone but I think I'd know a few folks from photos. Maybe next time :)
Lovely to hear you enjoyed the photos too - I hope you get some good weather when you next do the walk, there is something so special about winter light and that 'golden hour.'
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Re: A Sunset Walk Below the Torridon Giants

Postby Colin1951 » Tue Jan 25, 2022 12:16 pm

Fabulous Alpenglow photos. Just think, if you’d been rushing for the summit you probably would have missed most of those….
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Re: A Sunset Walk Below the Torridon Giants

Postby Mal Grey » Tue Jan 25, 2022 6:22 pm

Fabulous images and a lovely description of your day.

Sometimes its the low level wanders that offer the best views and help you connect the most with the landscape.

The only time I've been into Coire Mhic Fhearchair we saw nothing, as we waded in through deep snow in a whiteout, also finishing in the very last light.
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Re: A Sunset Walk Below the Torridon Giants

Postby Anne C » Thu Jan 27, 2022 10:08 am

Colin1951 wrote:Fabulous Alpenglow photos. Just think, if you’d been rushing for the summit you probably would have missed most of those….


Yes we would have missed the best of the light , Colin! Sleeping in has it's rewards occasionally :lol: Great to know you enjoyed the photos.

Mal Grey wrote:Fabulous images and a lovely description of your day.

Sometimes its the low level wanders that offer the best views and help you connect the most with the landscape.

The only time I've been into Coire Mhic Fhearchair we saw nothing, as we waded in through deep snow in a whiteout, also finishing in the very last light.


Many thanks Mal and glad you enjoyed the report.

I love the great wee Peter Barton book on Torridon and of all the walks he described in that area, including all the big tops, he said his own No 1 walk for views was the coastal walk from Torridon to Inveralligin which is as low level as anyone could want. It's a favourite and one I've done many times, beautiful.

This is the first time in 3 sojourns into the corrie that I've had such great views and light - our previous was in a howling gale with a lot of snow showers. First time was over 30 years ago and I was head down making for the gully and the summit on an overcast day and barely gave the corrie a second glance. Seems a terrible lack of appreciation now! :shock:
I'll blame youth.
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Re: A Sunset Walk Below the Torridon Giants

Postby BlackPanther » Thu Jan 27, 2022 6:31 pm

It was a magical day! We were on Beinn a' Chearcaill, looking into Corrie Mhic Fhearchair from the summit (my report HERE). Fantastic light for photos, especially in the morning! Glad to see we were not the only ones enjoying the views that day. At least we got something out of this winter - at the moment it feels more like April than January...

The car park stag is a local celebrity, he's been wandering around for a few years now. According to this article his name is Callum :D I had a close encounter with him in 2019:
2019-05-27 sail mhor B E 281.JPG
Panther meets Callum, but he refuses to shake paws/hooves ;)
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Re: A Sunset Walk Below the Torridon Giants

Postby dogplodder » Fri Jan 28, 2022 1:58 pm

A great choice of route for a short winter's day when the low sun shows off the Torridon landscape at its best. :clap:

Not that I'm jealous or anything. :mrgreen:
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Re: A Sunset Walk Below the Torridon Giants

Postby Anne C » Sat Jan 29, 2022 1:18 pm

BlackPanther wrote:It was a magical day! We were on Beinn a' Chearcaill, looking into Corrie Mhic Fhearchair from the summit (my report HERE). Fantastic light for photos, especially in the morning! Glad to see we were not the only ones enjoying the views that day. At least we got something out of this winter - at the moment it feels more like April than January...

The car park stag is a local celebrity, he's been wandering around for a few years now. According to this article his name is Callum :D I had a close encounter with him in 2019:
2019-05-27 sail mhor B E 281.JPG


Hi Black Panther - yes it was such a great day.I read your report and what excellent photos you got, brilliant light! Funnily enough the hill you were on was also one we'd considered that day.
As it was, we could have been waving to each other, across the moorland, if we' d known :D Most likely we were looking across it at the same time - us to Chearcaill, you to Beinn Eighe.
Callum was looking very well fed and very sure of himself :lol:
Yep same down here with the snow - after enjoying a cracking day of it on the Glenshee hills, next week saw 95% of it gone - it was like another world. :shock:
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Re: A Sunset Walk Below the Torridon Giants

Postby Anne C » Sat Jan 29, 2022 1:21 pm

dogplodder wrote:A great choice of route for a short winter's day when the low sun shows off the Torridon landscape at its best. :clap:

Not that I'm jealous or anything. :mrgreen:


Hi Dogplodder, yes that was the beauty of the route, it being short - especially since like numpties, we robbed the day of more time by sleeping in :roll:
It's such a magical area - I always feel very happy just being in Torridon.
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Re: A Sunset Walk Below the Torridon Giants

Postby molemike » Fri Feb 04, 2022 9:49 am

When I remeber my second visit to Scotland in April 2013, there has a been no rain for about 4 weeks. There were sandstorms on my way from the ferry at Newcastle to Ullapool.
Alba (14).JPG

The weatherforecast next day - standing at the parking-place at Stac Polly - said "heavy rain in about 30min". BBC-weather is always reliable, so I did Stac Pollaidh and became wet allover on my first walk.
My last walk about 10 days later was Tripple Buttress - should I mention the rain???
But it was my very first time - and the last one too- when I had the chance of looking down on a rainbow!
Alba (492).JPG


Thank You Anne for reminding me!
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Re: A Sunset Walk Below the Torridon Giants

Postby Anne C » Sun Feb 06, 2022 3:48 pm

Oh Mike - Sod's Law!! :roll: :roll: But at least you had that lovely reward - every cloud etc...
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