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The Mountain of the Stag: A Torridon Cracker

The Mountain of the Stag: A Torridon Cracker


Postby Anne C » Sat Nov 29, 2014 6:27 pm

Route description: Beinn Damh (or Ben Damph)

Corbetts included on this walk: Beinn Damh

Date walked: 15/11/2014

Time taken: 6 hours

Distance: 12 km

Ascent: 903m

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ImageUntitled by scotlandmac, on Flickr

It was our last day in Torridon. Unfortunately, the 80mph summit winds which had raged during our 4 short days in this most stunning of places, was playing havoc with our hillwalking plans.
I’ve wanted to climb Beinn Damh for years but the fates were always against it. And so it was proving once again. The Shipping Forecast the night before didn’t suggest it would calm down any time soon either. The Mountain of the Stag - even its name thrilled me - was not to be.

But as we lay in bed enjoying a cup of tea , I noticed the wind that had howled against the windows of our cottage each day had stopped and the sky, just after first light , was crystal clear.

ImageUntitled by scotlandmac, on Flickr
A quick tune in to the outdoor conditions forecast at 8am promised a fine day with light winds! What on earth…….even the shipping forecast was wrong! We slurped down the last of our tea, threw on the walking gear, got the flask and some food stuffed into the rucksacks and by 9am we were driving along the shore of beautiful Loch Torridon towards the start of the Beinn Damh walk.
I couldn’t quite believe we were here, as we headed up the beautiful forest track lined with ancient Scots Pines.

ImageHigh on the forest track above Loch Torridon by scotlandmac, on Flickr


We’ve been on the three major Munros a few times over the years but my eye was always drawn to Beinn Damh , a truly magnificent looking hill that anywhere else would win plaudits. I’m not really a Munro bagger as such. Some hills or walks or areas interest me and that pretty much drives what I fancy doing. This was one of them , short by 10 metres or from the magical 914m. I imagined the views would be good too into the Coulin Forest and also out to the sea, always a big draw.


Torridon in November takes on the colour of the Sossusvlei sand dunes. When the sun lights up the mountain slopes, they look on fire. I have never seen such colourful country anywhere to compare with the North West Highlands and also around Rannoch Moor. It is still seems pretty much under - sung at this time of year IMO, totally magical.

ImagePano from Inveralligin road by scotlandmac, on Flickr


The excellent path, almost cobbled at times, continued once we were out on the open moorland. The air was sweet and fresh, not a breeze stirred; it was hard to imagine it was mid-November. We stopped so often to take in the magnificence of it all, it was 1.5hrs later - 10.45am - before we reached the top of the saddle.

ImageBeinn Alligin across the Loch from the moorland path by scotlandmac, on Flickr

ImageLiathach from the moorland track by scotlandmac, on Flickr

It was then that the views changed from superb to ..well, off the scale.
What a spot!
The main ridge of the mountain reared ahead of us, narrower than I’d thought from the book description. (my ‘wee feartie’ angst kicking in). Forgetting what might lie ahead, it was time to drink in the scene! The Trotternish Ridge on Skye, the North Harris hills, Lewis and the deep blue Sea of the Hebrides. The giants of Torridon opposite, with Beinn Eighe looking most impressive of all, with its bright snow like topping of quartzite. Wow.

ImageBeinn Eighe from slopes of Beinn Damh by scotlandmac, on Flickr

To the south, Blaven and Beinn Bhan (what a great looking mountain) , Eigg, Rum and …was that Coll too? It was!

ImageUntitled by scotlandmac, on Flickr

ImageView to the south and west including Eigg and south Skye by scotlandmac, on Flickr

It’s another 1.5miles from the saddle to the final summit.We chose not to take the bypass path but to carry on up the ridge to the first summit, it was just such a glorious outlook. What a beautiful mountain it is.In fact the narrow bit I was dreading a bit turned out to be nothing of the sort, plenty room. And the views, if it were possible, just got better all the time.
The final broken quartzite boulder slope to the first summit was difficult underfoot but no problem as such.

ImageThe stony slopes to the first top above the Crag of the Eagle; Creag na h Iolaire by scotlandmac, on Flickr

The rocks were pretty stable and sometimes a wee boulder hop at least lets you gain height quite quickly. The absolute calm was astonishing.That's so often the way of it - it blows a hoolie for a couple of days then a cracker of a day dawns.
We caught our breath at the summit and I can only say, the view was a jaw drop.

ImageThe Coulin Forest: Beinn Liath More and Sgurr Ruadh by scotlandmac, on Flickr

ImageMaol Chean - Dearg by scotlandmac, on Flickr

ImageThe Trotternish Ridge and Rona by scotlandmac, on Flickr

ImageLiathach and tiny Fasag village below by scotlandmac, on Flickr

South Uist was visible now beyond the jagged peaks of the Cuillin, always a joy to see. But possibly most astonishing of all was the view east. The final summit ridge of Spidean Coire an Laoigh sweeps round the impressively precipitous northern Corrie of the Warriors/or Calves - Coire an Laoigh - which lay in deep dark shadow. Beyond, Meall Chean - Dearg and the peaks of the Coulin Forest looked almost primeval, bathed in sunshine. A sea of peaks and wild country which lay before us , the clarity and light unequalled in my experience. It was already one the finest views I have seen from any summit. My better half, C , a man of few words was chattering nineteen to the dozen about future wild camps, pitching on the saddle or even up here, to catch the sunrise and sunset.It's a dead giveaway that he is seriously impressed and very, very happy.
One of my top 3 favourite hills – Beinn Alligin – looked like an enormous but beautiful volcano from the Jurassic era.

ImageBeinn Alligin by scotlandmac, on Flickr

ImageThe Coulin Forest mountains by scotlandmac, on Flickr


We dropped down on less bouldery slopes though still quite rough and picked up the bypass path for the final ridge walk to the main summit. A couple came up behind us who had clearly decided to miss out the first top, a mistake I thought given the views.

ImageThe final ridge and slopes up to the main summit by scotlandmac, on Flickr

What a view as you make your way round the corrie headwall! There was a small ascent again and I scrambled a little to the right to avoid the gravelly path which teetered a bit too close to the chasm at one point. Then it was a short stroll to the final summit. We’d made it! Oh that feeling when you know you’ve done it and that you are surrounded by some of the most spectacular scenery in the world. We both agreed that compared to some albeit minor hiking we’d done last year in the Rockies, this was even more beautiful. I think it’s the ancient quality of our mountains, with some of the oldest rock in the world exposed. And the sea and loch interplay, plus the incredible colour and light. A killer combo.
It was now 12.15, so 3 hours of minor slog, oohing and aching to reach this spot.

ImageLooking back round the final ridge to Spidean Coire an Laoigh by scotlandmac, on Flickr

ImageRum visible and the Cuillin beyond Beinn Bhan by scotlandmac, on Flickr

ImageBeinn Shieldaig, Rona and Skye by scotlandmac, on Flickr

ImageRum, Skye and Kishorn by scotlandmac, on Flickr

ImageBeinn Bhan in all its majesty.Skye and Harris beyond. by scotlandmac, on Flickr

ImageBeinn Liath Mhor and Sgurr Ruadh by scotlandmac, on Flickr

ImageThe Storr and Trotternish, Skye beyond B.Shieldaig by scotlandmac, on Flickr

The couple behind us arrived and we chatted briefly about what a brilliant day it was. Everyone is always so happy on a hill….well, in good weather anyway!
With the wonders of phones nowadays I sent off a photo to my two sons back in civilization and to my ‘wee’ brother, a one time Munro Bagger who hung up his boots when the family arrived and has proven very difficult to entice back. I always hope a pic or text might do the trick. I used to call my Dad if possible from each summit and knew I’d get the same response of ‘what the heck are you doing up there? Get down immediately!’ It was a wee joke between us; he loved these missives from the mountains. That mild scold is, three years after he died, still a big miss.

Knorr’s chicken noodle soup and a cold lamb sandwich to fuel us up a bit ,though I'm never very hungry on a hill walk. Nerves maybe? Adrenalin? I've always felt an odd bod for that.
It’s always hard to leave the heights especially on such a day but descend we had to.


ImageB.Alligin, Liathach and Beinn Eighe by scotlandmac, on Flickr

As we headed down the steepish initial section of the track below the saddle, the mountain lived up to its name as a large red deer stag was etched in silhouette on the edge of the mid slope. Below, a herd of stags grazed unperturbed by our movements.

ImageStag etched on the skyline, Beinn Damh by scotlandmac, on Flickr

ImageStags on the mid slopes by scotlandmac, on Flickr

ImageBeinn Liath Mhor by scotlandmac, on Flickr

The sun had now swung round to the south west and Beinn Alligin and Liathach were lit up as if by fire. The colours were almost unreal.

ImageAbove the saddle, Loch Damh and B.Shieldaig by scotlandmac, on Flickr


ImageLiathach in mid afternoon sun by scotlandmac, on Flickr


We reached the car at 3.15…six hours in total. The drama wasn’t quite over because the Loch itself was at its best now.

ImageLoch Torridon, mid afternoon sun by scotlandmac, on Flickr

We drove up the Inveralligin road to catch the last hour or so of good light.

ImageLiathach from the Inveralligin road late afternoon sun by scotlandmac, on Flickr

ImageLoch Torridon, B.Damh in left centre by scotlandmac, on Flickr

....... before fitting in an obligatory visit to the excellent Torridon Stores and Café.Now the appetite kicked in big style and it was some Iced Ginger Flapjack for me (500 calories worth - ouch) , wine and a cheese scone for C . At last, a tea room (my choice) which serves alcohol (C's choice).Both happy.
We watched a spectacular sunset from the café as darkness fell around 4.45pm.

ImageSunset over the loch from the village by scotlandmac, on Flickr

ImageSunset pano across Loch Torridon by scotlandmac, on Flickr

ImageSunset over Loch Torridon by scotlandmac, on Flickr

Perhaps Fate was saving Beinn Damh for just such an unforgettable little window of early winter weather.I certainly hope that it is not the last time I climb the Mountain of the Stag. I agree with W H Murray that the view from Beinn Alligin is unrivalled by its greater neighbours. But that leaves out its smaller neighbour, Beinn Damh. I think this less - highly sung mountain may well offer the views to at least equal it.
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Re: The Mountain of the Stag: A Torridon Cracker

Postby wilkiemurray » Sat Nov 29, 2014 6:59 pm

WOW -Amazing shots - looked like a crystal clear cracker of a day - very jealous!! Great :clap: :D report
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Re: The Mountain of the Stag: A Torridon Cracker

Postby Huff_n_Puff » Sat Nov 29, 2014 7:01 pm

Stunning photos and great reading - this is hardcore mountain porn :lol: :lol: - love it :D

Beinn Damh is high on my winter list - so a big thank you for the information. I couldn't agree more with what you have to say about the beauty of Torridon and old mountains - all the new comers seem to need their rough bits knocked off them :lol:

I particularly liked your photos of Beinn Laith Mhor - we were up there yesterday in wonderful clear conditions but with cloud inversions - your photos give a better impression of the drama of that mountain than mine - I was too close :roll:

Many thanks - this has been a beautiful November!
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Re: The Mountain of the Stag: A Torridon Cracker

Postby scottishkennyg » Sat Nov 29, 2014 7:12 pm

A1..superb images reflecting a great day. :clap:
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Re: The Mountain of the Stag: A Torridon Cracker

Postby Dunni » Sat Nov 29, 2014 7:22 pm

Wow! These pics! What a day you had in one of my favorite areas in Scotland. Last time we tried Beinn Damh, Rain and Storm drove us back. Next day was cracking sunshine as well and we headed for Liathach instead. This little one is still high on top of my To-Do-List.
Thanks a lot for posting and making us jealous! :clap:
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Re: The Mountain of the Stag: A Torridon Cracker

Postby Sgurr » Sat Nov 29, 2014 7:29 pm

Am green with envy given the clag that we walked in for almost the entire day. Brilliant photos. Enough for an entire calendar and more.
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Re: The Mountain of the Stag: A Torridon Cracker

Postby Blokewithastroke » Sat Nov 29, 2014 7:36 pm

Absolutely stunning photographs! The middle of November - who would have thought it? :clap:
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Re: The Mountain of the Stag: A Torridon Cracker

Postby Beaner001 » Sat Nov 29, 2014 11:05 pm

Now those are cracking pics Anne, cracking report, look forward to this one now. I ended up that way today did Beinn Liath Mhor and Sgorr Ruadh, ran out of time for Fuar Tholl tho :(
I am now obsessed with Torridon :lol:
Cheers
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Re: The Mountain of the Stag: A Torridon Cracker

Postby mountain thyme » Sun Nov 30, 2014 12:26 am

Cracking pictures as always. One of my favourite areas. Still to do this one :D
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Re: The Mountain of the Stag: A Torridon Cracker

Postby roughwalker » Sun Nov 30, 2014 11:02 am

Stunning :clap:
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Re: The Mountain of the Stag: A Torridon Cracker

Postby BlackPanther » Mon Dec 01, 2014 12:17 pm

Huff_n_Puff wrote:Stunning photos and great reading - this is hardcore mountain porn :lol: :lol:


I totally agree, BD is as much "pornographic mountain" as any hill can be. One of my fav Corbetts and yes, it is a stunner in winter conditions.
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Re: The Mountain of the Stag: A Torridon Cracker

Postby Anne C » Mon Dec 01, 2014 2:17 pm

Thank you - glad the report and pics were enjoyable! :D I don't think I've ever walked in such incredible clear light.

Huff_n_Puff wrote:Stunning photos and great reading - this is hardcore mountain porn :lol: :lol: - love it :D

Beinn Damh is high on my winter list - so a big thank you for the information. I couldn't agree more with what you have to say about the beauty of Torridon and old mountains - all the new comers seem to need their rough bits knocked off them :lol:

I particularly liked your photos of Beinn Laith Mhor - we were up there yesterday in wonderful clear conditions but with cloud inversions - your photos give a better impression of the drama of that mountain than mine - I was too close :roll:

Many thanks - this has been a beautiful November!


Thank you Huff_n_Puff - yes, Beinn Liath Mhor just looks so incredible, definitely the next one to do.Got up there last year but nearly blown off at the lochans :( so will wait for a better day.
Beinn Damh looks great as a winter walk - I enjoyed BlackPanther's report about it in winter conditions earlier this year.
It really is a cracker of a mountain - there's some you just know you'll always want to return to and this was one of them. :)
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Re: The Mountain of the Stag: A Torridon Cracker

Postby Anne C » Mon Dec 01, 2014 2:21 pm

Dunni wrote:Wow! These pics! What a day you had in one of my favorite areas in Scotland. Last time we tried Beinn Damh, Rain and Storm drove us back. Next day was cracking sunshine as well and we headed for Liathach instead. This little one is still high on top of my To-Do-List.
Thanks a lot for posting and making us jealous! :clap:


It was just such incredible weather, flat calm on the summit and Liathach looked so close given the clarity I felt I could have reached out and touched it (which is about as close as I'll ever get anyway to those pinnacles!) :roll: :D
It's a beautiful hill walk, from start to finish.
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Re: The Mountain of the Stag: A Torridon Cracker

Postby Anne C » Mon Dec 01, 2014 2:31 pm

Beaner001 wrote:Now those are cracking pics Anne, cracking report, look forward to this one now. I ended up that way today did Beinn Liath Mhor and Sgorr Ruadh, ran out of time for Fuar Tholl tho :(
I am now obsessed with Torridon :lol:
Cheers


Yes.....Torridon is just the most beautiful, stunning place, I'm completely in love with it! :D
The scenery at sea level takes some beating too . I was reading Peter Barton's great wee book "Walking in Torridon' and for all that he'd scaled every big peak and loved them all , his favourite walk was the Inveralligin circuit, along the coast from Fasag , then above the loch and back via the single track road.It was the one we were planning to do that morning before the weather changed its mind - and ours - completely! It's a cracker of a walk too, completely agree with him :D
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Re: The Mountain of the Stag: A Torridon Cracker

Postby Anne C » Mon Dec 01, 2014 2:40 pm

wilkiemurray wrote:WOW -Amazing shots - looked like a crystal clear cracker of a day - very jealous!! Great :clap: :D report


Hi wilkiemurray - yes, I've never seen such clarity and colour , though that might be to do with my lack of getting more walks in, in winter . :-
I always thought the view from Beinn Alligin couldn't be beaten - those big terraces that swing round in front of you in the foreground - but I really was stunned by Beinn Damh itself . And because it stands on its own, the scene all around was magnificent in every direction.I was surprised too that it was the view to the south rather than to the Torridon giants which was most impressive at the top. A Jurassic park landscape dotted with hidden lochans.
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