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Torridon is such a diva! In 4 days Eighe, Alligin, Liathach

Torridon is such a diva! In 4 days Eighe, Alligin, Liathach


Postby Mancunian » Thu Jun 04, 2015 8:25 pm

Munros included on this walk: Mullach an Rathain (Liathach), Ruadh-stac Mor (Beinn Eighe), Sgurr Mor (Beinn Alligin), Spidean a'Choire Leith (Liathach), Spidean Coire nan Clach (Beinn Eighe), Tom na Gruagaich (Beinn Alligin)

Corbetts included on this walk: Beinn an Eoin

Date walked: 13/05/2015

Time taken: 96 hours

Distance: 70 km

Ascent: 4500m

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Torridon in May 2015 - Beinn Eighe, Liathach and Beinn Alligin in 4 days

tl;dr (for those in a hurry)
4 day walking trip to Torridon. Great weather on Beinn Eighe, Bad weather on Liathach and Beinn Alligin. Had lots of fun!

Introduction

Everything started with lasts years trip to An Teallach and the Fisherfield Munros. To be precise it was A’Mhaighdean where we had met a nice chap from Glasgow who tried to show us the surrounding mountains although the munro was in the clag.

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A’Mhaighdean 2014, just when the clouds parted and unveiled the phantastic view

He was describing Bheinn Eighe and the loch under the Triple Buttress with the highest praise as one of the most beautiful spots in Scotland. I had read many trip reports about the Torridon Munros before and so it was decided. This years trip should bring us to Bheinn Eighe, Liathach and Ben Alligin. In January the preparatins started with booking a flight to Edinburgh, in March we discussed the planned route and after many iterations we decided on a route that started in Kinlochewe, led up from the east to the Bheinn Eighe range with a first stop below the triple buttress. After that we planned to place the tents north of Liathach and ascend the range from there. The third day would lead us to Ben Alligin and on the fourth we’d head back into civilisation towards Talladale. In April we booked two rental cars and in May we finally met at the local train station for our way to the airport.

Day 0 - We must be in the wrong place, there is SUNSHINE!

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Forth Bridge

The flight was unremarkable and at 11.50 we landed in Edinburgh. We collected our cars (a pretty battered Ford Focus and a shiny Vauxhall Corsa with a poor engine) and drove off to Inverness. I recognised a few places from last years trip as the layby man near Blair Atholl. I was also curious about these funny yellow poles that must have been installed since last year while maintaining my 60+ mph speed. Only after a while I recognised them as average speed cameras. So far I haven’t received a ticket. Anyway, in Inverness we stopped at the retail centre for some burgers as we were starving and for the necessary foodstuff, as well as beer and whiskey. After that we headed to the local Tiso Store and spent some time in the traffic jam in front of the Kessock bridge for the gas cartridges. Surprisingly they did not have lighter fuel in stock so we had to head back to the Tesco for that. Sadly this also meant we had to spend valuable time in the traffic jam again. After crossing the Firth there was less traffic and after Gorstan we had the road almost to ourselves. It was wonderful to drive through these valleys towards the west and see the mountains of Torridon rise on the horizon. Seeing the river Bran sparkling in the sunlight I was dreaming about kayaking and sitting at the river bank watching the water.

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on the A835

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near Achnasheen

But at length we arrived at the Bheinn Eighe Visitor Centre NW of Kinlochewe. There the inevitable changing into walking gear and the repacking of all the foodstuff into the crammed rucksacks had to start. I’m always incredibly slow when packing or changing clothes is concerned and by the time i had changed all the others were almost ready. But before we could head into the mountains we had to take one car to Talladale. This was quickly done because Talladale is only an 8 mile drive.

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the mighty Slioch

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is this a gate or art?

Once back at the visitor centre we were finally ready to start. By that time it was already half past eight and we had to hurry in order to find a suitable spot for our tents somewhere below Creag Dhubh at 400 mts. The sun was already below the horizon when we finally found a nice, flat and dry spot at NG996620 which wasn’t exactly sheltered but the close burn provided clean water for a last tea and fresh coffee in the morning. However I must have had too many beers the evening before because I had to leave the tent twice that night to not only to admire the stars but to follow natures call.

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Kinlochewe


Day 1 - An almost perfect day


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It was a cold night and I really really have to get a decent sleepy bag for next years trip. Although I had put on my functional underwear and an additional shirt it was still quite cold. The next morning welcomed us with sunshine and some wind and great views of the surrounding mountains. The eastern end of the Bheinn Eighe Ridge with Creag Dhubh to the W, Meall a’ Ghiuthais to NW and the mighty slioch to the NE. It took some time until I felt warm again but after some coffee and porridge we were all ready to go and keen to follow the ridge all the way to Sail Mhor and the Triple Buttress.

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camp below Creag Dhubh

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on the way to Creag Dhubh

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moon setting behind Creag Dhubh unter

The views were great and were getting better with every foot we climbed. The same cannot be said about the path … because in the end there was no path visible any longer. Thats why we tried to find our way along the eastern spur but found it too rocky and steep and in search for an easier path we went along the scree. That wasnt a great idea and after a while going became strenuous and a wee bit dangerous as well because for every rock I stepped on three more became loose. So we turned back and after we had reached the spur again going was easier although with the heavy rucksacks not quite a walk in the park.

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on scree

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on scree

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view to the north with Slioch and the Fisherfield Munros

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Panorama - Creag Dhubh

On the first top of the Beinn Eighe ridge we had a short break and we excited to see the long ridge that we had to follow all the way to Ruadh Stac Mhor. Here we also met the first walkers coming up from Kinlochewe on a day trip. The views we absolutely phantastic. All around just hills, mountains, lochs of the finest scottish countryside.
We continued along the ridge and passed the black carls deep gully which highlights the tremendous forces that have formed the ridge.

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Along the ridge towards the Black Carls

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Somewhere on Black Carls

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a deep gully

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a view back to the Black Carls

From Sgurr nan Fhir Duibhe we descended for a while just to ascent the next top, Sgurr Ban that is. From here we followed the ridge to Spidean Coire nan Clach, the first Munro of this years tour. Well deserved we had our first whisky from one of the three whisky bottles that we have brought with us (Well, actually it was just 2 bottles: “Black Grouse” and “Famous Grouse” that we filled into 3 smaller bottles). At this point also the first cereal bars were eaten and we just felt phantastic about being on Beinn Eighe, about the great weather and about having that adventure together once every year. Well, we felt so good that disaster was imminent.

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Along the ridge

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Panorama - Sgurr Ban looking N

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Panorama from Spidean looking W with Liathach looming in the back

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Liathach in its full beauty - our goal for tomorrow

My reliable 5 year old stainless steel water bottle fell out of a rucksack pocket and began to roll. Very slow at first but then faster and when I realised what had happened it had already rolled half a meter. This was too far to grab it and once i had moved into a better position it tumbled already down the gully behind me. Quite loud at first but then fading we heard the impact of the bottle on solid rock and my bottle was gone. The loss of the bottle itself wasn’t something that would see me weeping but the bottle wasn’t filled with water. It was one of our three bottles with whisky! When I told my friends that I had just baptized the mountain with half a litre of precious “Black Grouse” their eyes became cold. Feeling guilty I tried to scramble down the gully to see if I could find the bottle but after 10m I had to give up, it was too steep and a faint smell of whisky was a sure sign that the bottle had cracked open and the precious liquid was lost.

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Whisky Gully - thats were the precious liquid tumbled down the mountain

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on the trig point of Spidean

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Ruadh Stac Mhor

I was however forgiven and a further distraction was a hillwalker that had brought his dog along. After a short chat we followed the ridge to the west and just before we reached Coinneach Mhor we couldnt believe our eyes. There was an elderly chap that was dressed in a kilt, an outdoor jacket and a russian ushanka hat. Quite an unusual sight on a mountain but apart from looking a wee bit out of the ordinary he was very nice and we had a wee chat as well. On Coinneach Mhor we had then to decide whether to go straight for Ruadh Stac or to follow the ridge to Sail Mhor. We opted for Sail Mhor and left the backpacks behind a snow field.

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view from Coinneach Mhor down to Loch Coire Mhic Fhearchair

The weather was great and we had some time left because we had planned to camp near Loch Coire Mhic Fhearchair which is just down the hill. The path to Sail Mhor however wasn’t an easy one. The first part over Coinneach Mhor is a nice walk over grass but after that there is a very steep and rocky section which involved some serious scrambling. Especially the last 10m or so were quite difficult and one of my mates decided to head back.
During the scramble I stumbled across a large piece of wreckage from the Lancaster bomber that crashed into the ridge in 1951.

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piece of wreckage

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the path to Sail Mhor

After the steep section the way became easy again and soon we reached the westernmost top of the Beinn Eighe Ridge, the top of Sail Mhor. Someone had obviously too much time and made a sculpture of stones and while I think its beautiful I also reckon that something like that doesnt belong here. Views from the top however were phantastic especially over to Liathach and a bit further away to Beinn Alligin. On the other side the three buttresses looked like a mighty fortress. But what impressed me most was Morrissons gully which seemed deep and steep.

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Someone had too much time...

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Triple Buttress

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Panorama from Sail Mhor

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Morrissons Gully

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return trip to Coinneach Mhor

The way back to coinneach Mhor was strenous but it felt less dangerous on the steep section. Back at the rucksacks we continued down to the bealach left the rucksacks there and walked up to Ruadh Stac Mhor. Views were great as well, especially to Sail Mhor and the Triple Buttress.

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Fuselage Gully

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view from Ruadh Stac to Sail Mhor

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Panorama from Ruadh Stac Mhor toSail Mhor

We spent quite some time at the top where it was sunny and warm but not very windy. We must have felt somehow that this would be the last Munro on this years tour were we could actually spent some time at the top. Back at the bealach we started the exhausting descend to the loch. The path through the corrie is badly eroded and requires extra attention to avoid slips. According to our maps there was a path somewhere between bealach and first lake but it took some time until we found it. The little burn with its waterfalls provided fresh water for our water bottles and our sweaty heads. Soon we arrived at the lake and were amazed to see large pieces of wreckage in the lake. The crash although it had happened more than 60 years ago had left its traces here.

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down to the Loch

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still a few meters to go

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Triple Buttress - the face of Beinn Eighe

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Loch Coire Mhic Fhearchair

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view from our Camp to Loch and Triple Buttress

Since we had left the steep section of the descent behind we were looking for a nice and flat area to pitch our tents. There was a nice place at one of the little lakes below the triple buttress but 5 min before we arrived there two other walkers had claimed the spot and began to pitch their tents. In the end we walked all the way to the northern end of the loch and pitched our tents there. And once that was done we decided to take a bath.
The warm sun and the exhausting ridge walk demanded some cooling and the lake looked so refreshing that we took our clothes off and jumped into the lake. Well, we waded because of the cold water and even with all possible caution I slipped and splashed into the icecold water. WAAAH! Now that was cold. There was no way I could spent more than a few seconds in there. So I ran out, soaped myself and ran back in to wash the soap off, ran back out tried to dry myself, realised my back was full of soap, ran back in … again cold and pain and ran out again. But by the time I had dressed again I felt warm. Nothing beats an icecold bath after a hot day. Well apart from icecold beer obviously which made me looking forward to the 3 cans of beer that we have brought along.

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Our camp

After some noodles and tea we were longing for the beer that our mate had placed in the burn that runs from the loch to the waterfall. Three cans for five of us. Not bad. Well, but he came back with only two cans. The third had floated away over the edge of the waterfall and the other two were also floating but had not started their journey yet. This wasn’t our day with regards to drinks. So we shared the two cans and made our jokes about our heavy losses.
The sunset however was great. Slowly the sunlight began to fade and turned from bright white to yellow to orange. The triple buttress and Ruadh Stac were coloured in red while the sun disappeared behind Baosbheinn. It was fantastic to watch and a long moment of peace. But after the sun had set the wind became stronger and quite suddenly it was cold. Time to go to bed.

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Triple Buttress in orange

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sunset over Baosbheinn

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Waiting for the sunset

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Colours of the evening

Day 2 - This was supposed to be the tour’s highlight...


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During the night the tent was shaken by strong gusts and the forecast for the following days wasnt very good. Rain, wind and much colder temperatures. A first glimpse out of the tent apparently confirmed the forecast. The sky was grey, there was a lot of wind and the lake was choppy. A towel that we had hung over one of the guy ropes was found 10 meters away blown against a rock and two of my shirts were nowhere to be found at all. They must have been blown away. The weather was a reminder that the day before was an exceptionally beautiful day and that this was Scotland and not some Caribbean island.

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Triple Buttress on the next morning

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Morrissons Gully - a possible descent from Sail Mhor?

After breakfast we packed our stuff and followed the path to Liathach. Once we had walked around Sail Mhor we headed to Allt Mhic Nobaill towards Beinn alligin and found the path through the valley after a few hundred meters. It was our intention to pitch our tents at Loch Grobaigh but the loch wasn’t providing any suitable places. So we continued along the path and found a flat grassy area 500m to the west where the burn from Loch Coire na Caime flows into the valley.

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a local visitor at the second camp

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Preparing a soup

We pitched the tents and boiled some water soup and tea to regain our strength for the daunting Liathach. We had not decided at that moment which route we should take over Liathach and were reassessing our options. In the end we decided for the way to the ridge to walk SW and through the Coireag Dhearg to Mullach an Rathain. The way down back to the tents had to be decided and depended on whether we made it over the Pinnacles to Spidean or not. I had opened a thread on here to discuss the options of a descent or ascent from Spidean to the north or east but all the options were tricky and only for walkers who are fit and experienced.
So we started to Mullach and left the heavy rucksacks (apart from one with our raingear and some food) in the tents. This rucksack was then carried by our fittest mate to slow him down a bit but when the rain finally set in halfway up to Mullach I had to hurry in order to get my raingear from the rucksack because my mate was almost flying up that hill.

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Ascent to Mullach na Rathain, Sail Mhor and Beinn Eighe Ridge in the background

The rain got stronger and especially the wind increased with each meter that we gained in height. In addition the ascent was loooooong but because of the lack of the heavy rucksack and the grassy slope it was still much easier than the ascent up to Creag Dhubh the day before. At around 850m the cloud ceiling began and once we reached to top of Mullach an Rathain there was no view at all. Only the pinnacles of Am Fasarinen could be seen from time to time.

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view from Mullach na Rathain to the east - Go on mate, there is nothing to be seen here!

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Meall Dearg and Loch Coire na Caime

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The Pinnacles and beyond Spidean

We followed the ridge to the east and once we reached the pinnacles our group separated. While three of us opted for the bypass my mate and I wanted to go over the pinnacles.

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Loch na Caime as seen from the Pinnacles

I had read a lot about Am Fasarinen and the route over the pinnacles and the opinion of each author depended heavily on his/her experience. It was either described as highly dangerous scrambling that should only be attempted by the experienced walker in good weather conditions while others wrote that this route was no more serious than any other Munro. The truth is somewhere in between at last from my point of view. There were two sections which I found difficult mainly because of the exposure and the sheer drop to either side. One tiny slip and the consequences of a fall could be fatal. So I took extra care and was slower than my mate who is more experienced. I also found my walking pole cumbersome. While it was sometimes quite handy on the downward sections the scrambling upwards was awkward with the pole because it was dangling from my wrist.
The views which I tried to take in during the short breaks were not great but now and then Loch Coire na Caime could be seen deep down in the corrie.

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Pinnacle One- Bypass to the right, our route is to the top

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in the Pinnacles section - view down to Loch na Caime

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a view back to the Pinnacles

I am not quite sure how much time we needed to cross the Am Fasarinen section but the bypass group must have been much faster and was nowhere to be seen. So the two of us started the ascent to Spidean with its top in the mist.
There was no obvious path (or we must have missed it) up to the top but there was only one direction anyway, upwards. Finding the way over the big boulders wasn’t really funny and once we were at the top we found our mates huddled together behind the cairn, waiting for us. The wind was strong and cold, there was rain and mist. Thats why we didnt really stop for long but continued along the ridge to the east. Or what we thought would be east. Because 100m later we were wondering why the slope became steeper and there were also no signs of a path although there should be obvious signs of the thousands of walkers that are walking along the ridge each year. A look at the GPS showded that we were walking to the north so we turned to the right and found a path after some time and followed that one down to the bealach. There we tried to avoid the ascent of Stob a Choire Liath Mhor by following a bypass path but after a few meters the path was lost. So we headed east along the hillside while trying to maintain our height and avoid the steep sections further down. Finally we found the path coming from Stob and followed this one to the fork where we could drop down to the Torridon valley in the south or continue along the ridge to the east. This decision was rather easy. No one fancied to stumble around in the mist on the steep northern or eastern flanks of Stuc a Chiore to find a way down. So we descended via the main path through the Coire Liath Mhor.

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Descend from Spidean a Choire Leith in the mist, this time on the correct path

But even this path is initially very steep and requires care especially in wet conditions like this one. Once we had descended to 800m the mist opened up and Glen Torridon came into view with the river and the little hill of Seana Meallan.

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Glen Torridon

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a look back up

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Falling waters

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almost down

The path itself was horrible for anyone with knee problems especially in the upper section where it is quite rough in places. Further down its easier. A nice waterfall on the way provided a photo opportunity. Finally we reached the road and were happy to have tackled the mighty Liathach although it wasnt half as nice as Beinn Eighe on the day before. And to make things worse, we were in the wrong valley because our tents stood exactly on the other side of Liathach. So we trudged east along the road for 2km and then turned north to Coire Dhubh Mhor and for the last kilometers back to the tents.
Back there we realised how late it already was and boiled some water for delicious couscous. We did not hang around waiting for the sunset because there was no sunset and we were tired and went straight to bed.

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The mighty rock splitter ;-)

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Last view from the tent

Day 3 - Beinn Alligin the beach of my dreams


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The night was rather quiet and due to the lack of alcoholic beverages the evening before there was no need to spent time looking at the stars. There were no stars anyway. When we woke in the morning the weather was the same as the day before. A light drizzle, a thick grey cloud ceiling, some wind.

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The Pinnacles the next morning…

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Quaaaaak

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Beinn Alligin

After a delicious breakfast we packed and walked west to follow the path into Choire Mhic Nobiall. In hope for better weather I had even taken my shades out of the bag but the sun had other plans. After 20 mins of walking a heavy rain shower convinced me to put the shades away and put raingear on instead.

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5 min later - Beinn Alligin and a rain shower

The path down to Torridon is great and soon we reached the fork where we had to turn north to the Horns of Alligin and from there head further into Bealach a Chomhla.

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Waterfalls of Allt a Bhealaich

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Can anyone see the stag?

At first the path was clearly visible but after it forks off to the Horns the path leading to the bealach is faint and soon disappears altogether. We passed the Horns to the east and crossed the stream that emerges from Loch Toll nam Biast and then headed west to find a nice spot on the shore of the Loch. But once we had emerged from the bealach the rain increased and the wind became stronger so instead off finding a place on the shore we tried to find a sheltered spot. While planning the tour at home I had seen on Google Maps a sandy beach at the western shore of the loch which looked somewhat out of place and thats where I had planned to pitch the tent but not under these weather conditions. The sheltered spot we found was close to the second and smaller loch behind a low ridge. The ground was quite uneven and we had to do some stomping before we could pitch the tents. You might guess what we did afterwards. Right we boiled some water for tea and soup. And then? On to Beinn Alligin!

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Beinn Alligin as seen from the north

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a quick hail shower

Our route led us along Loch Toll nam Biast and then SW onto the foot of Sgurr Mor. From there we followed the slope all the way to the top. At around 650m we were caught in a short hail storm. The tiny hailstones were so painful on the skin that we had to hide behind some rocks and wait for the storm to abate. We even discussed whether it would be better to return to the tents but after a couple of minutes the storm was over and the weather better than before. Good for us, the difference in height between loch and summit was only 450m. The whole slope was now white and covered in hail but walking was still not difficult and we arrived soon at the top. Up here the wind was cold and strong again but the clouds were today higher than yesterday so the view was better.

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on Sgurr Mor

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Brrr, its cold!

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view to Loch Torridon

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descent from Sgurr Mor close to Eag Dhubh

Well, we could have headed east for the Horns of Alligin but then we would have missed the second Munro Tom na Gruagaich. So we turned west instead and stood in awe in front of Eag Dhubh the enormous cleft in the south face of Sgurr Mor. It would be interesting to know if this geological feature was formed over thousands of years or during one massive event. If so I would not have liked hang around back then.

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Eag Dhubh

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Panorama as seen from Eag Dhubh

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view to Torridon

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and to Liathach

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view back to Sgurr Mor

From Eag Dhubh the path becomes really easy and leads over a smaller summit all the way to Tom na Gruagaich. Only the last meters are more exposed and require some care.

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Funny rocks

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Beinn Alligin

So this was the last Munro of this years tour. I think we all felt a bit melancholic because even if our final arrival back home was more than 48hrs away the last Munro of the tour (and for the year) is always a turning point. But in the end Tom made our farewell not too difficult it was windy and cold and so we followed the path back to Sgurr Mor.

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Time to think

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Flowers

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infinite fence

Because of the time and the bad weather we decided not to walk over the Horns but to follow the path back to the tents, but omitted Sgurr Mor's summit. So we passed Loch Toll nam Biast again and I found the beach that I had spotted on Google Maps. I have no idea why there was so much sand here to form a beach (ok, the surrounding mountains are sandstone) but it looked idyllic and out of place. So I let my mates walk on to the tents and spent some time walking along the tiny beach, and enjoying the view and the weather which had at that point improved (almost no wind and rain). There was even a rainbow. This was just my perfect moment. But perfect moments pass and shortly afterwards the wind increased.

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spectacular beach

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beach panorama

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back at the tents

On the last few hundred meter the weather turned really bad and there was hail and gusts. The decision to find a sheltered spot was remarkably good because over here there was still rain and hail but with less intensity so that we could even boil water and enjoy our noodles. Thereafter everyone went to bed while I walked in a great circle around the lower lakes looking for an opportunity to take some photos but in the end I gave up to darkness and rain and went to bed as well.

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dinner

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hail storm

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at 4 degrees the hail quickly melted

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but it looks nice

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Free refill included ;-)

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Panorama - tents are located at the upper end of the right lake

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Baosbheinn and Loch a Bhealaich

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360° - Beinn Alligin

Day 4 - Is there no end?


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The night was alright just some rain and a few gusts. No snoring because of too much alcohol ;-) A typical morning routine had developed by the third morning: boiling water for coffee, tea and porridge, having a slice of bread with honey or ham, drinking another cup of coffee, brushing the teeth and packing the stuff...

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Beinn Alligin and some fresh snow

What was our schedule for this day? Well, not a lot. Walking north to Talladale and driving to the start point of the tour. Changing into civilian clothing and driving to Inverness where we wanted to buy some food. After that finding a campsite with warm showers.
So we started at ten and headed for the flat expanse between Baosbheinn and Beinn an Eoin in the north and Beinn Dearg in the south.

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Baosbheinn

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somewhat closer to Baosbheinn which we passed to the south

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a last glimpse to Beinn Alligin and the Horns

The weather was cold and windy but rain had ceased over night and the morning was dry so far. Snow must have fallen during the night because Sgurr Mor had turned white. Going cross-country was no problem and although the map showed a relatively flat area with loads of small lakes it was not boggy but grassy with many small hills.

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Beinn Eighe with Ruadh Stac to the left and Sail Mhor to the right

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Once more: Beinn Alligin

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Beinn Eighe as seen from the base of Beinn an Eoin

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Rocks, rocks everywhere

After some 3 km it was time to make an important decision for the remaining distance to Talladale. There were 3 obvious options:
  1. Pass by the bothy Poca Buidhe west of Beinn an Eoin, from there to Loch Garbhaig and then directly to the road
  2. or we could go over Beinn an Eoin and head then for River Talladale and follow its left bank to the road
  3. or instead of going over we could bypass Beinn an Eoin on the right or eastern side
I favored the first option. But, alas, I was the only one with this opinion. The others wanted to climb Beinn an Eoin because it looked like a nice little hill with a great view from the top. And it was directly on our way. Bypassing this hill on the left or right would have meant a detour.
So I was outvoted and shortly after I found myself climbing that “little” 855m Corbett. For the first 50m I still thought “Aahh, piece of cake!” but my view changed because of 3 facts:
  1. Exhaustion from the last 3 days was not to be underestimated
  2. The fully packed rucksack (which I didnt carry on Liathach or Beinn Alligin)
  3. The complete absence of a path. There was just heather, high heather, rocks, loose rocks and grass.
So the ascent took ages. Every glimpse at the GPS made it just appear longer and longer. Instead of the 100m I had hoped to have gained there were just 25m. Rocks became loose that the heather had overgrown. Well it wasn’t a lot of fun. But we had made an error by ascending to far to the east instead of following the ridge. Two Mars bars later and pretty knackered I finally arrived at the top. The views were good but probably not worth the effort.
Loch Maree with its many islands in the north, to the east Slioch and Beinn Eighe to the SE. To the South there was Beinn Dearg which obstructed the view to Liathach (as far as I remember). To the west there was Baosbheinn and the sea.

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Panorama from Beinn an Eoin to the north: Loch Maree and Tallladale

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Loch Maree

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Low clouds and Loch na h-Oidhche (Is that Klingon or how do I pronounce that?!?)


However what kept us from enjoying the view for too long was again the weather. The wind was cold on this unsheltered ridge. So we followed the ridge to the north and descended down to 700m. Directly on the path were the remains of a small animal, maybe a rabbit? There we left the ridge and headed NE towards Talladale but what looked like a flattish area from the top of the corbett was in reality quite steep and wet with water filled trenches.

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Remains of lunchtime for a bird of prey

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on Beinn an Eoin

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Rockformations

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descent from Beinn an Eoin

It must have been around 2pm when the sky darkened and the rain started and this made the last couple of kilometers to the car annoying. There were no paths it was just cross-country over grass, rocks, heather, trenches, around puddles and so on just into the general direction that the GPS pointed to. Going itself wasn’t that difficult, it was just a bit slow and we realised we still had some kilometers between us and the car. We finally arrived at the river which we initially wanted to cross. But there was no way we could have done that. The river was far too wide and also fast flowing.

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Rapids in River Talladale

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Should I jump?

So we followed the left bank and soon came to a large waterfall where the river enters the narrow gorge. It possible to go all the way to the rim and look into the gorge. A great view and I can only recommend to visit this place. In good weather conditions it must be very idyllic.

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Panorama of the waterfall of River Talladale

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and a close-up shot

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another smaller stream

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the water just disappears into a cleft

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Loch Maree and Beinn Airigh Charr

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another waterfall... Talladale is a beautiful spot

Well, the lack of time and the continuous rain drove us on towards the road and the car. There is at least no apparent path in the gorge (on any maps) so we walked on the left side along the upper edge of the gorge. We had to cross a few deep gullies while the grass became higher and the ground more boggy. But finally we had reached the place where the gorge widens and we could see the road. Everyone of us had enough from cross country walking at this point. But there was one last obstacle. A high fence. So we had to follow the fence until we came to a farm building where there was a gate in the fence. After inital concern whether to enter the farm in order to get to the road or not we just opened the gate and walked over to the road. The buildings belonged to the “The Old Mill Highland Lodge” by the way. Through pouring rain we walked the last 500m to the second car and discussed what to do next. Either two of us fetched the other car or all of us jumped into the little Vauxhall Corsa and drove to the other car. I had doubts whether all of us including rucksacks and walking poles would fit in the Corsa but in the end they did. I didnt care, i was the driver and the 12km were not that far.

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Finally back at the car park ... dry clothes and BEER ;-)

That is where the hiking tour actually ended but just to make it complete I’ll write some facts about to journey back home as well. Back at the car we had our priorities: first some beer then clean clothes. Once we looked a little more civilised we started the return trip.
First to Inverness while passing the lochs and rivers that sparkled in the sun on the drive to Torrridon. Now they were grey and dull just like the sky. I had to fight my desire to sleep while driving and was more than happy when we parked in front of the Tesco to get some refreshments and a coffee. It was now already around 5pm and we had to think about a campground. So I phoned Rothiemurchus where we stayed last year but they were full but recommended Glenmore. After buying the typical stuff thats only available in England or Scotland (salt and vinegar crisps, hot cross buns, decent tea, thick sliced bacon) we drove off to Aviemore and arrived in under an hour at the Glenmore campground. Reception was already closed but the receptionist saw us and emerged from her caravan. Her name was Claire and she was very helpful in explaining the campground, where to pitch the tents, the code for the shower and so on. We then pitched the tents, had the long awaited shower aaaand … headed for Aviemore to get something to eat and some pints. Unfortunately the winking owl was full or at least offered no food so we looked for something else and were lured by a the music of a piper to the Cairngorm hotel.
The hotel is a great place with a lot of atmosphere and I can highly recommend a visit. We had a very nice evening with burgers, haggis many pints and only the ticking of the clock reminded us that we had to leave because we wanted to start very early the next morning.

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Highland Burger at the Cairngorm Hotel in Aviemore

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The Cairngorm Hotel

Back at the campground we disappeared into the tents because our plane left Edinburgh Airport at 11.50.

Day 5 - Goodbye

For the return trip to Edinburgh we had reckoned that we’d drive for 2 hrs 30 min. An additional 2 hrs for the check-in and security at the airport meant we had to start at 7.20. We wanted to have an additional 20 min as a safety margin and started at 7 am. This was more than enough and at 9.15 we arrived at the airport and handed the cars in. A heavy shower forced us to wait in the car for a couple of minutes. At the terminal we checked with the time table which had a surprise for us. Our plane was scheduled for 12.50. One hour later than what my smartphone had told me! What had happened? My lovely phone had corrected the departure time from Middle European Time to GMT but the departure time was already given in GMT so an extra hour was subtracted. Well thanks to the phone for the extra hour shopping time at the airport.

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Glenmore campground in the morning

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our plane

The flight back home was without any problems but the takeoff was delayed for a couple of minutes and our connecting flight was in jeopardy but when we landed in Cologne we learned that our next flight was delayed as well so there was no problem for us. We landed safely at our home airport in Dresden, Saxony and after a short ride with the urban railway we finally arrived home.
The 5 days in Torridon were great although the weather did not really play ball but we are used to that from the previous years. Beinn Eighe was phantastic (mainly due to the sunny weather), Liathach is definitely worth a return trip and Beinn Alligin was good as well. Both should be climbed in better weather conditions though.

Thanks for reading :wink: Its a bit long :shock:
Last edited by Mancunian on Tue Jun 09, 2015 2:35 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Torridon is such a diva! In 4 days Eighe, Alligin, Liath

Postby rockhopper » Thu Jun 04, 2015 9:03 pm

Maybe long but makes for an excellent and entertaining read ! :clap: Pity about the weather (had something not dissimilar on Liathach) but sounded a very enjoyable trip nonetheless. Makes me realise just how easy I have it getting to the hills compared to the effort you have to make - well done all - cheers :)
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Re: Torridon is such a diva! In 4 days Eighe, Alligin, Liath

Postby malky_c » Thu Jun 04, 2015 9:34 pm

Another year, another interesting story :D . Looked like an interesting few days, even if the weather didn't behave the whole time (it isn't much better just now). I think I was in the US with lovely 30 degree temperatures while you were doing this :lol:
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Re: Torridon is such a diva! In 4 days Eighe, Alligin, Liath

Postby Mancunian » Fri Jun 05, 2015 8:00 am

rockhopper wrote:Maybe long but makes for an excellent and entertaining read ! :clap: Pity about the weather (had something not dissimilar on Liathach) but sounded a very enjoyable trip nonetheless. Makes me realise just how easy I have it getting to the hills compared to the effort you have to make - well done all - cheers :)


Cheers rockhopper. It was an enjoyable trip indeed and about the weather ... its Scotland, isnt it. In the 5 years that I've come to the Higlands there was just one year where the weather was really great (2012). The remaining years were all pretty much the same: rain, wind, sometimes snow. But we dont really care about that and enjoy our tour and the mountains. So far there hasnt been an occasion where we had to turn back or alter our plans due to the weather.
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Re: Torridon is such a diva! In 4 days Eighe, Alligin, Liath

Postby Huff_n_Puff » Fri Jun 05, 2015 8:45 pm

That was a great read with some brilliant photos that really reflect your story. Shame about the weather but congratulations to you all for making such a wonderful journey. I live close to these mountains so it's easy to just be a day tripper, reading your report suggests that a back packing trip might be in order. Many thanks for the ideas and the inspiration :clap:
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Re: Torridon is such a diva! In 4 days Eighe, Alligin, Liath

Postby Fife Flyer » Fri Jun 05, 2015 9:53 pm

"Phantastic" reading, enjoyed that and as already stated some great photo's :clap: :clap:
Hope to head that way this summer (when it arrives) :lol: :lol:
It is amazing how many folk travel many, many miles to enjoy the hills 8)
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Re: Torridon is such a diva! In 4 days Eighe, Alligin, Liath

Postby Mal Grey » Fri Jun 05, 2015 10:02 pm

What a fantastic few days that sounds. Yes, the weather was "mixed", but you obviously made the most of it, and really appreciated your wonderful surroundings. Some excellent photos really capture it well too.

Thanks for sharing.
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Re: Torridon is such a diva! In 4 days Eighe, Alligin, Liath

Postby Alteknacker » Fri Jun 05, 2015 10:57 pm

A great read, and some equally great pics.

Notwithstanding the inclement weather after the first day, you seem to have cloud doesn't seem to have descended too low to judge from the pics.

Your preseverance in the face of dampness make me feel a bit ashamed that I'm waiting for high pressure over the North West before I head North again.. :(

I must say, your packs look absolutely massive! I'm seriously impressed that you lugged these up and down such country. I can just imagine how wonderful the beer tasted on the last day!!!
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Re: Torridon is such a diva! In 4 days Eighe, Alligin, Liath

Postby Mancunian » Sat Jun 06, 2015 5:57 am

malky_c wrote:Another year, another interesting story :D . Looked like an interesting few days, even if the weather didn't behave the whole time (it isn't much better just now). I think I was in the US with lovely 30 degree temperatures while you were doing this :lol:


Cheers malky. Just one story every year it is for me. I would absolutely love to write a dozen TRs but we live too far away. Thats why we have to make these 4 days as interesting as possible. The difference in temperature and weather is something that always wonders me. Yesterday we had a warm, sunny 25°C degrees over here in Saxony while Torridon had rain and 6°C. So I guess its not that bad living a but further away.
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Re: Torridon is such a diva! In 4 days Eighe, Alligin, Liath

Postby Mancunian » Sat Jun 06, 2015 6:01 am

Huff_n_Puff wrote:That was a great read with some brilliant photos that really reflect your story. Shame about the weather but congratulations to you all for making such a wonderful journey. I live close to these mountains so it's easy to just be a day tripper, reading your report suggests that a back packing trip might be in order. Many thanks for the ideas and the inspiration :clap:


I know what it feels like to live to close to such an area of outstanding beauty. Where I live the "Saxonian Switzerland" is just around the corner. Its a National Park mit fascinating rock formations forest and the river Elbe. Its just an hours drive but we come there only 5 times a year and of course only for days trips.
But you have a point when you say, that you should pack your tent and go for a back packing trip. Its great!
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Re: Torridon is such a diva! In 4 days Eighe, Alligin, Liath

Postby Mancunian » Sat Jun 06, 2015 6:06 am

Fife Flyer wrote:"Phantastic" reading, enjoyed that and as already stated some great photo's :clap: :clap:
Hope to head that way this summer (when it arrives) :lol: :lol:
It is amazing how many folk travel many, many miles to enjoy the hills 8)


Thanks FF. We made a simple calculation and learned that we had travelled 60 ´miles (car and plane) for every mile we had walked. I guess thats not exactly an eco-friendly foot print. But yeah, many guys I've spoke to know that the Highland are great for walking and apart from Scandinavia there is not other area in Europe where you can actually pitch a tent and stay overnight in the wild.
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Re: Torridon is such a diva! In 4 days Eighe, Alligin, Liath

Postby Mancunian » Sat Jun 06, 2015 6:10 am

Mal Grey wrote:What a fantastic few days that sounds. Yes, the weather was "mixed", but you obviously made the most of it, and really appreciated your wonderful surroundings. Some excellent photos really capture it well too.

Thanks for sharing.


Thanks for commenting. :D As for the photos ... its a neverending story. Two years ago I had brought a pocket camera where the flash got damaged on the trip because of the moisture (due to to much rain and sweating). Last year I lost my new camera on the plane and never got it back. This year the camera survived but the flash isnt working anymore. Must be the weather ! :shock: :lol:
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Re: Torridon is such a diva! In 4 days Eighe, Alligin, Liath

Postby Mancunian » Sat Jun 06, 2015 6:27 am

Alteknacker wrote:Your preseverance in the face of dampness make me feel a bit ashamed that I'm waiting for high pressure over the North West before I head North again.. :(

I must say, your packs look absolutely massive! I'm seriously impressed that you lugged these up and down such country. I can just imagine how wonderful the beer tasted on the last day!!!


Many thanks Alteknacker. (Btw I'm sure you know what an "Alter Knacker" in german is?)
Your TR's (especially "Beinn Eighe, Liathach and Mountain Rescue") are proof that you are exactly the opposite :lol: Anyway your TR was amazing (and insane to walk Bheinn Eighe and Liathach in a day) gave us the idea that there is a way to ascent or descent Liathach from the north. In the end we did not climb down that horrible gully but I always told my friends that there are guys on walkhighlands that are brave (or mad :wink: ) enough to even attempt something like that.
The rucksack was "only" 16kg and more than heavy enough for me. My mate's dad Thomas had the heaviest pack at 20kg and he is around 63 I guess. He is the true hero of this walk (and all the previous walks) for keeping up with us younger folk (we're all around 37) and never lagging behind and even insisting on carriying the heavy 3 person tent. :clap:
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Re: Torridon is such a diva! In 4 days Eighe, Alligin, Liath

Postby mamoset » Sat Jun 06, 2015 7:43 am

Great TR & photo's, particularly like the first Slioch one :thumbup:
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Re: Torridon is such a diva! In 4 days Eighe, Alligin, Liath

Postby Mancunian » Sat Jun 06, 2015 9:19 am

mamoset wrote:Great TR & photo's, particularly like the first Slioch one :thumbup:


The Slioch picture was actually taken from the moving car. Had to cut away all the blurred grass in the foreground. :shock:
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