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Torridon and Applecross

Torridon and Applecross


Postby Gareth M » Mon Jul 17, 2023 12:02 pm

Munros included on this walk: Ruadh-stac Mòr (Beinn Eighe), Spidean Coire nan Clach (Beinn Eighe)

Corbetts included on this walk: Beinn Bhan, Sgùrr a' Chaorachain

Date walked: 09/06/2023

Time taken: 48 hours

Distance: 50 km

Ascent: 3072m

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I was indecisive this weekend. Driving north my plans kept changing, as I considered the merits of the various routes I had in mind in the Torridon area. The early morning weather was so good I changed my plans completely and decided I’d start with Bienn Eighe. I normally try to avoid busy places, but this had the advantage of a very early start (5:30am) to, hopefully, get some quiet on what I’m guessing is often a popular mountain. I was also looking forward to a relatively light load and left the camping stuff in the car until later.


Beinn Eighe.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts



Beinn Eighe
Distance 11.5 miles
Assent 3,270 ft


There’s not really much need to go into detail about the route, as it’s well trodden, and probably familiar to lots of people. As I was there very early, I opted to park in the top car park with it's steep short assent to get some height as quick as possible, doing the loop of the two Munro’s anticlockwise. The views throughout were out of this world. There is nothing too scary, the only part that got me thinking was the last part of the walk out to Spidean Coire nan Clach. Here there is a very short section where you walk on a ledge just before the summit with a large drop below. It’s nothing too difficult but had enough exposure to get me concentrating.

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Liathach looking good in the early morning sun


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Fionn Bheinn


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Stùc Coire an Laoigh, Loch Clair, Loch Coulin and many hills beyond


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Looking south into Coulin Forest


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Think that's Sgùrr a Chaorachain far to the south east


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Ruadh-stac Beag and Meall a' Ghiuthais from Spidean Coire nan Clach. I was originally planning to climb these two, but they'll have to wait for another time


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The eastern summits of Beinn Eighe looking particularly fine. Hard to believe there are no Munros amongst them


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The next target Ruadh-stac Mòr on the right with the ridge leading the way


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Coire Mhic Fhearchair


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Sgùrr Bàn and Sgùrr nan Fhir Duibhe


After walking over the two Munros in perfect weather and complete solitude it seemed a shame to drop down the scree gully to Loch Coire Mhic Fhearchair, but I was eager to see the much talked about view of the Triple Buttress. The scree gully was fine in decent, as many others have said, there is plenty of solid rock on the right-hand side to make it manageable. At the bottom of the gully, I did lose the path slightly, making a diagonal for the far side of the Loch Coire Mhic Fhearchair, rather than dropping more steeply down to the nearside and following its shore. It turned out this was a stroke of luck, as here I saw my first person from a distance. It was someone camping near the Loch who was taking an early morning dip, minus clothes. It would have been an awkward 'good morning' if I'd been on the shore path! I then passed an area where people had found it acceptable to move a considerable number of rocks to create garden walls for their tents. No tents here today, and I’m sure it looked impressive with a tent in the middle, but it is hardly leaving no trace, in a place that feels very much like an unspoilt wilderness. I sat at the end of the Loch for a while enjoying the impressive view to the imposing cliffs.

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Triple Buttress across Loch Coire Mhic Fhearchair


Doing the walk clockwise made the walk out from the Loch down to the road and then up the road to the car seem very long. However, it was worth doing it this way as I saw lots of people on their way up after the Loch and felt pleased that I’d had the mountain all to myself.

While walking I’d been checking the forecast which now had changed from rain on Sunday afternoon to thunderstorms for Saturday night. I’ve camped up the top of a mountain in thunderstorms before, and it’s not something I’d be keen to repeat. Therefore, I decided to camp up Beinn Bhàn that night (Friday) rather than Saturday. I’d rather have camped somewhere less strenuous after the mornings walk, but I had my heart set on camping up the top of Beinn Bhàn, and this seemed like the only viable night of the two I had. I thought about sneaking up from the top of the Bealach na Bà road, but I thought this wouldn’t really do the mountain justice and I was keen to see its eastern cliffs from below. So, slightly reluctantly, I climbed it from sea level, my legs didn’t thank me after the mornings efforts, but at least I didn’t sell this wonderful mountain short. After a bit of a rest and some food on the shore of Upper Loch Torridon I was sort of ready for the climb.


Beinn Bhan(2).gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts



Beinn Bhàn
Distance 9.5 miles
Assent 2,922 ft


I roughly followed the walkhighlands route, except anticlockwise. On the stalkers path, just before the footbridge, I followed a path up the hill next to a burn. This seemed to be heading to the wrong part of the mountain and I think I should have stayed on the stalkers path a bit longer before heading up to Lochan Coire na Poite. I had to cut across on deer paths to reach the lochan, but it wasn’t too bad as everywhere was bone dry after a long dry spell. At the lochan I slightly regretted doing the walk anticlockwise as the late afternoon sun was sitting above the impressive cliffs of Beinn Bhàn making getting any decent photos impossible. After looking at the beach, where an empty tent was pitched, I headed up into the imposing Coire an Fhamair. Not much of a path here but my target was obvious, the small grassy part of the corrie headwall. This looked impossibly steep from a distance. Luckily the closer I got the better it looked, although it was still very steep. Once again I was regretting the anticlockwise decision as it would have been much easier to come down. However, I still had plenty of time, so I just plodded very slowly up the unrelenting slope. I’m not sure how long it took, but it seemed ages. But it was an impressive place that made me feel very small. To the left were massive cliffs with a huge black cleft cut deep into the heart of the mountain. To the right was a line of cliffs where a giant central section had collapsed in the distant past, coming to rest halfway down the slope.

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Massive cliffs of Beinn Bhàn and the warm sun getting in the way. The grassy assent up the corrie headwall can be seen on the extreme right of the photo and was looking fairly unappealing from this distance


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Sandy shore of Lochan Coire na Poite


Eventually I reached the top of the headwall, with some relief, and I was now totally spent. My original plan was to camp just to the north of here on the sticky out bit marked with an 846m spot height on the OS map. However, I’d come this far, and I thought I might as well camp nearer the top to get the view to the south. First, I went to Loch na Beinne Baine to fill my water up, however, after all the dry weather, this was shallow in the parts I could reach and the water didn’t look very appealing. I kept the water in my filter bag just in case I needed it, luckily, I didn’t.

I plodded on to the top where there was plenty of flattish grass to pitch the tent. Sea and hills in all directions, it was a perfect place to spend the night. I set about eating and pottering around taking photos as the sun lowered. Just when I thought I was all alone (I’d seen two people on the path near the start and an empty tent up to this point) a man appeared on the summit. He was working on the rig in the drydock for the whole of June and was taking advantage of the light nights to get out after work. Not a bad place for an after work stroll!

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Hide and seek (...with a long camera lens)


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Evening light illuminating the spectacular peaks to the east


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Golden light over Skye


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Last light on Sgùrr a’ Chaorachain


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Hazy views to Trotternish


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Glamaig


The night was still, and midge free, perfect conditions for a summit camp. I set my alarm nice and early to catch the sunrise. While sunset had been good, it had been tempered by a bank of cloud far to the northwest. Sunrise, on the other hand, was perfect. With a bit of high cloud to light up vivid reds and oranges and a slight haze to show the sun’s rays penetrating between the many peaks to the east. I waited a while watching the vast sweep of peaks light up in the morning sun. Eventually I pulled myself away and packed the tent up to make my way down the fine south ridge of the mountain. The advantage of doing the walk this way round was that I clung onto the superb views for longer as I descended the mountain peering down into the huge corries to the east. After the last rise on the ridge, I descended the broad ridge to the south, where the route became indistinct. At this point I made a bee line for the car, descending rough pathless ground east, to the road.

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First light to the east


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Sunrise behind Liathach


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Golden light penetrating the hills to the east


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Spectacular eastern corries of Beinn Bhàn


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The way ahead down the southern ridge


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Looking back to the summit



Sgurr a Chaorachain.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts



Sgùrr a’ Chaorachain
Distance 3.7 miles
Assent 1,403 ft


Since the forecast thunderstorms had changed what was possible, or at least sensible, I now had to decide what I was doing for the rest of my time. It was now early Saturday morning, and the temperature was already well into the 20s, I still had a full day and one more night before I was travelling back on Sunday. I wasn’t really sure what to do today, but I knew I might as well start by climbing Sgùrr a’ Chaorachain, as it is so easy to get to from the Bealach na Bà road. The start from over 2000 foot seemed like cheating, but after yesterday’s efforts I’d earned the relative ease of this climb. It was a spectacular place that I surprisingly had all to myself, although it was still relatively early. I climbed it via the mast track and then around the corrie to the true top where I sat for a while in the sun. There was a path most of the way, especially well defined as it avoided the difficulties on the ridge out to the summit. On the way down I varied it a bit by cutting down to the road more directly over pathless terrain.

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Sgùrr a’ Chaorachain from near the mast


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Cioch Nose definitely doesn't look like the route for me. Beinn Bhàn beyond


I decided that a trip to the beach was a good idea after talking myself out of climbing more mountains in the heat and humidity. I headed around the coast road to Cuaig Beach. Unfortunately, I timed it for high tide so there wasn’t a lot of sand, but it was empty. I spent an hour and a half alone, swimming, exploring, and relaxing on the rocks in the warm sunshine.

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Crystal clear waters on Cuaig Beach but bad tide timing



A Bhainlir.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts



A’ Bhainlir
Distance 1.5 miles
Assent 306 ft


I’d now decided that I would head some of the way home before sleeping in the car to avoid camping in any thunder. But before that I nipped up A’ Bhainlir, a small rocky hill near Kenmore. At only 574 ft it’s a minnow compared to the peaks that you can see from the top. But it is pleasingly rocky and rises straight from Loch Torridon which makes it feel loftier than the stats suggest. The view from the top to the grand mountains of Torridon is particularly impressive, and it was a good place to sit and relax. I parked next to Loch na Creige and headed up the road a short distance before cutting over grass and smoothed rocky outcrops to the top. On the way down I followed the path marked on the OS map to the top of the road and then the road down to the car.

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The spectacular summits of Torridon from A' Bhainlir


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Loch Torridon with Baosbheinn peaking over the hills in the background


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Liathach looking spectacular from A' Bhainlir, as it seems to from most places



Coire na Ciste.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts



Lochan na Beinne
Distance 4.1 miles
Assent 1,228 ft


After A’ Bhainlir it was time to start heading home. In Kinlochewe my car thermometer reached 30c (I’m not sure how accurate it is, but it was certainly hot). The other side of Inverness the effects of all the dry weather and heat were very evident as a huge fire burned on a hillside to the east of the A9. By this time, I had checked the forecast, which was still predicting thunderstorms for the west coast, but these were looking like they would miss the Cairngorms. Since I was driving right past, it seemed daft to spend the night curled up on the backseat of the car when I could camp somewhere much more scenic than a layby on the A9. So, I decided I would head up to the Coire na Ciste car park. From here I still had plenty of light to make it up to the ridge above Strath Nethy. However, once I reached the ridge, I realised that, although still warm, the wind was way too strong to pitch the tent. After searching around for some non-existent shelter, I decided to head back down to Lochan na Beinne where the wind was marginally less strong. Using my tried and tested headphones with relaxing drum and bass technique, to block out the noise of the flapping tent, I managed to get a good night’s sleep. By the morning the wind had dropped and it was still dry which made putting the tent down much easier than getting it up. It was a good place to camp and felt remote despite only being 15 minutes from the car.

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Bynack More from the ridge. Way too windy to camp here though


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Moody skies to the west beyond Loch Morlich


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Sunset from Lochan na Beinne. The tent really was that shape and I was just glad it didn't blow away as I put it up.


Despite many changes of plan, I’d got plenty of walking in and got a few more mountains ticked off, not that I’m ticking them off (…goes away to tick off the summits in three separate places). Although next time I go camping I must try and not destroy myself on the first day, I always do it, and then spend the subsequent days scaling back my plans. The rain finally came once I’d driven to Dalwhinnie, which seemed perfect, as its much easier to leave when the weather is deteriorating.
User avatar
Gareth M
 
Posts: 34
Munros:24   Corbetts:15
Fionas:8   Donalds:7
Hewitts:183
Wainwrights:43   
Joined: Apr 5, 2022

Re: Torridon and Applecross

Postby Elaine Henderson » Fri Aug 04, 2023 10:18 am

Absolutely superb photography. Have you ever entered them for competition, or publishing them? Thanks anyway!
Elaine Henderson
Ambler
 
Posts: 3
Joined: Aug 1, 2023

Re: Torridon and Applecross

Postby Gareth M » Sun Aug 06, 2023 8:54 am

Elaine Henderson wrote:Absolutely superb photography. Have you ever entered them for competition, or publishing them? Thanks anyway!

Thanks Elaine, no, I just do it for fun. I take so many so a few of them are bound to come out ok
User avatar
Gareth M
 
Posts: 34
Munros:24   Corbetts:15
Fionas:8   Donalds:7
Hewitts:183
Wainwrights:43   
Joined: Apr 5, 2022

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