Two Days in Torridon
by weaselmaster » Tue Oct 15, 2013 12:21 am
Munros included on this walk: Mullach an Rathain (Liathach), Sgurr Mor (Beinn Alligin), Spidean a'Choire Leith (Liathach), Tom na Gruagaich (Beinn Alligin)
Date walked: 11/10/2013
Time taken: 14.16 hours
Distance: 23.6 km
Ascent: 2896m11 people think this report is great. Register or Login free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).
I drove up on friday afternoon to meet them in the Torridon Inn, managing to take a left at Achnasheen roundabout and going to Torridon via Loch Carron - just an extra 45 minutes driving and much stress driving winding single track roads into a low and dazzling sun amidst some of the most spectaular scenery imaginable which - as a driver - you can't even look at cos you'll go off the road in a trice. Somewhat shaken I eventually got to the Inn and had a pint and a meal and retreated to the cottage to plan our day ahead. The news that a few other WH folk were planning on Liathach on the saturday sealed the deal and it was off to bed with the excitment of a challenge ahead.
Saturday dawned with blue skies, a little more wind than forecast but plenty of promise. Sickly Kid was living up to her name after a few too many beers and had a hangover and jelly legs - perfect preparation for what lay in store for us. We arrived at the car park by Glen Cottage about 7.45 and were debating how long to give Davy & Dean after their suggested meet up time of eight am when, right on the dot of 8 they drive up - perfect timing after a 4 hour drive
By the time we set off there was a regular little posse of 9 of us heading up. I've never walked as part of a group before so it was a welcome change, specially as some of the crew had plenty of climbing experience which could only be a good theing when it came to the Pinnacles It's a steep climb up right from the car park, no messing around with walk ins. The top portion of the mountain glowed red in the morning sun as we set off.
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The hills south of the glen were silhouetted in deep blues and blacks, the sandstone crags of Liathach rugged and wild. We got to the bealach and decided to head up to the viewpoint on Stuc a choire dhuibh bhig just as the temperature dropped and the mists whistled in. All of a sudden there's an excited shout from Davy and wow! my first Brocken Spectre looms out of the mists below. We were perfectly placed for this phenomenon, with the mist below us in Coireag Dubh Beag, bright sun behind - the spectres kept dissolving and reforming so that after 20 or so we got used to them and no longer stared in wonder. Pretty cool though
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As we left the eastern top and headed back to the main track the skies cleared and we were rewarded with the incredible vista of hills to our north. As in Sutherland, these beauties rise out of the ground individually like eruptions of tusks and demand that you marvel at them. the white quartzite slopes of Beinn Eighe, the ramparts of Beinn Dearg and the curled jewel of Alligin - oh these are sights that set the soul soaring. Over rough boulders, up to the next top of Stob a Choire Liath Mhor then on up the steep slopes to Spidean a Choire Leith. All the time we ascend, the eastern top of Dhiubh Bhig remains secreted behind its own puff of cloud. There's still some snow frosting the north facing slopes as we climb to the summit. Finally there, we tuck into our pieces and let our eyes feast on the vista all around - the Skye ridge, the graceful curve of Sail Mhor on Beinn Eighe - oh it takes your breath away. Up on top we met more folk from WH including GillC & Tomsie. Small world
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Replenished it's time for the next part, the Fasarinen Pinnacles. Not sure how I'm feeling about these, but determined to enjoy the experience on such a perfect day I head down the bouldery slope to the beginning of the ridge. There are spectacular clefts, rocky shelves and almost as much fun to be had as on Stac Pollaidh.
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Years of crampons have gouged deep claw marks in the sandstone and it's a joy to go up, down and round the corner. On a couple of occasions I opt out of short downclimbs where i need to face into the rock - still not very confident about descending facing in, but otherwise there's no real problems to be encountered, the exposure is much less than I'd been anticipating with the exception of a couple of moves where you come to the top of a narrow section and have to balance over the void below.
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All too soon we;ve come to the end of the jaggy teeth and onto smoother grassy slopes leading up to Mullach an Rathain. We pause near here for more sustenance, once again just drinking in the views and finally get to the summit.
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It's then time for a slow and slippy descent over scree and boulders that takes a very long time indeed. Eventually we make it back to the road for the couple of Km back to the car park, still marvelling at the might of the mountain we've just climbed as we walk below it.
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We'd arranged to meet up with a few of the folk in the hotel at Kinlochewe. Firstly though, I needed pertol. Never having been to Torridon before, I had naively assumed there'd be a petrol station in the village. Oh no - the nearest in Kinlochewe. Fair enough - it's less than 10 miles - easily enough in the tank to get there. Hmm - Davy had told me that the shop in Kinlochewe kept "odd hours" and unfortunately the petrol station was shut - 4pm on a saturday. We were then in a bit of a fix. The options were either north to Gairloch or South to Garve - surely one of them must have a petrol station. While we were sitting deliberating a couple of friendly bikers drove up and were in the same low fuel predicament. We eventually decided that south was a safer bet - but I was worrying about running dry on the way to Garve After trying to drive as econimically as possible we made it to Garve to learn - no petrol stations in Garve The needle's sitting right on empty by this time - it's Contin or bust... Fortunately we made it there with a few drops of gasoline to spare - i've never been so pleased to part with £1.42 per litre!!
Replenished there's then the matter of the 50 miles back to the cottage against the low dazzling sun. The road from Torridon to Diabeg where we were staying was extremely pretty but also extremely twisty with big drops and to say I was a little stressed by the time we finally made it back would have been something of an understatement. Nothing a bottle of good beer and a tasty meal couldn't fix though. Tired out, we planned the next day's exploits on Ben Alligin.
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Sunday dawned even more perfect than the day before. I couldn't believe my luck at getting such fine weather to enjoy my first exploits in Torridon.
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After tyding up the cottage in preparation for leaving (oh I wish we could have stayed on for another couple of such days here) we got to the spacious parking area beside Coire MhicNobaill just before 9 and headed off, once more straight into the ascent. The going was reasonably dry and the path well made, though more eroded the higher up we went. The mountainside was alive with the bellowing of stags, who we could occasionally make out against the heather. Into the great bowl of Coire nan Laogh, with the dark bulk of Liathach glowering to our right - for much of the day cloud hung along the peaks of that mountain, so we picked the right order to do these hills in.
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Stopping for the occasional drink from the stream we ascended beside we finally made the flat section at the top of the gully and headed the short distance to the trig point at the summit. I wasn't prepared for the view of Sgurr Mor which suddenly rose as I looked north from the summit. Out to the wast were the Hebrides, North lay the Sutherland hills and to the south, over the expanse of Loch Torridon, the blue of Loch Damh snaked in and out around the bases of the hills.
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Nearer at hand, the Horns revealed themselves. Utterly fabulous. With views like this it wasn't a day for hurrying anywhere, but we eventually dragged ourselves off to descend to the bealach and then the climb up Sgurr Mor, passing the mighty cleft of the Eag Dubh. We parked oursevles at the summit, trying to find some shelter from the suddenly cold wind that had arisen. Some mist briefly occluded our views, but produced another Brocken spectre. We set off for the Horns, looking forward to a bit of scrambly fun. We met a few folk who'd gone round the route anticlockwise as we were descending towards the horns - they had all enjoyed the experience.
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Sickly Kid took the lead and soon we'd reached the first, then second, then third of the horns. Again there was nothing particularly challenging about any of them, just good scrambling with a profusion of ledges and handholds on grippy sandstone - wonderful.
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Sickly Kid in action
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Then it was down quite a steep track off An t-sail Bheg to rejoin the footpath leading down by the river, across a couple of snazzy new bridges, past some beautiful waterfalls and eventually through a section of pine forest before popping out right at the car park. What a brilliant couple of days.
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I'm so glad that we got the weather to see this special place at its best (though I'm sure a crisp winter's day when the hills are clad in glistening white is also something to behold). It's taken me 51 years to get to Torridon - don't think I'm going to keep away from it now!
by SMRussell » Tue Oct 15, 2013 8:15 am
by Tomsie » Tue Oct 15, 2013 8:22 am
Sunday produced another sunny day, although we got clagged in on the summit of MCD.
Was same last April, shop/fuel station closed when folk are heading away for the day and shut when they get back, I think they have binoculars watching when we coming off the hill and get ready to shut up
Good report, see ye at Kinlochleven.
by jimandandrea » Tue Oct 15, 2013 8:31 am
by basscadet » Tue Oct 15, 2013 11:32 am
Shame about the petrol drama, I learned the same lesson a couple of years ago - When heading up to the north west, always top up your tank in Inverness on the way past
by ed_hill » Tue Oct 15, 2013 12:43 pm
by BlackPanther » Tue Oct 15, 2013 2:00 pm
I had a similar feeling when watching "The Munro Show" on Liathach, doubting if I'd ever be able to tame the beast. Seen from the road below it looks like a vertical wall. But I managed it - though Kevin chased me off the pinnacles It took him some time to learn my forgiveness
by riverlodge » Tue Oct 15, 2013 2:06 pm
by weaselmaster » Tue Oct 15, 2013 2:08 pm
basscadet wrote:Shame about the petrol drama, I learned the same lesson a couple of years ago - When heading up to the north west, always top up your tank in Inverness on the way past
After the ready availability of petrol stations in Kintail/Glen Shiel I'd just assumed that other places up there would be well served too. Obviously not
by ceaser » Tue Oct 15, 2013 5:51 pm
by Jabber » Tue Oct 15, 2013 7:21 pm
by Stuart Angus » Tue Oct 15, 2013 7:36 pm
by AnnieMacD » Wed Oct 16, 2013 10:13 pm
As for the petrol, sounds like you didn't ask the right people. Both Lochcarron and Applecross have 24/7 petrol stations and, additionally, there is a garage in Lochcarron which is open till 8pm 6 days a week so would have been open when you came through Friday evening. Had you come to Applecross at least you would have had magnificent scenery over the Pass! The drive after Gen Docherty to Contin can be pretty bleak!!! My advice in these circumstances is to ask three people and make sure at least one of them has a local accent!
by Bruno » Wed Oct 16, 2013 11:16 pm
Beautiful pics - always enjoy your reports.
by GillC » Thu Oct 17, 2013 7:09 am