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The Torridon magic

The Torridon magic


Postby BlackPanther » Wed Oct 05, 2016 5:27 pm

Route description: Maol Chean-dearg ascent, Coulags

Munros included on this walk: Maol Chean-dearg

Date walked: 02/10/2016

Time taken: 7 hours

Distance: 14.5 km

Ascent: 977m

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It's been two weeks since I last set my feet on the hills and my previous walking experience was rather unpleasant, due to a nasty stomach bug. It took me a week to recover and after spending days on dry toast and crackers, I felt week, squeezed out of energy. I wasn't sure how my body would cope with hard exercise. I've definitely lost weight and most of it was probably muscle. So when the forecast for the first weekend of October was good, I started looking for something nice but not too overambitious, preferably a hill with good views and paths to the summit. And then The Red Baldie came to help :wink:

We had already Maol Chean-dearg (in 2011) but though we enjoyed it, we missed summit views due to lingering cloud. Now, it was a good chance to revisit this Munro with perfect panos almost guaranteed. I find Torridon hard to resist on a sunny autumn day...

Nothing adventurous this time, we kept to the traditional route from Coulags. I remembered that the car park at the start of the walk is not very big, so just to make sure we got there early enough, I dragged Kevin out of bed at 6 am sharp, deaf to his moaning "let me sleeep" :lol: :lol: We were the first visitors to arrive and took the best place - rightly so, when we returned the parking area was packed full.

Track_MAOL CHEAN-DEARG 02-10-16.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts


Just a few words of warning for other walkers. One, during the week this route is used by stalkers, although the main access path is a right of way and should be OK. The little bothy up the glen, Coire Fionnaraich, is closed till the end of October.
Two, the glen is currently undergoing a major invasion of bulldozers, diggers and other weird equipment, due to a hydro scheme under construction. No restrictions on access to the main path, but as the board at the start of the walk says:

"The walking path will remain open at all times, however during the upgrading works there will be a construction footprint measuring approximately 20m-30m, including one excavator. If the excavator is working please wait until the driver or banksman has acknowledged you and signaled that it is safe to pass before doing so. This work is anticipated to take approximately 3 months to complete"

So the initial stages of the path have been turned into A9 :(
2016-10-02 maol chean dearg 007.JPG

On our way back we had a closer look at this equipment (without touching it of course). Diggers and excavators. On a working day, this site would be helluva noisy :?
2016-10-02 maol chean dearg 013.JPG

Further on, the new bulldozed track has been made alongside the original path. At the moment, it ends about 300m before the path crosses the wee footbridge. More diggers on the way:
2016-10-02 maol chean dearg 015.JPG

At least, once we crossed the bridge, it was all back to normal, an undisturbed glen, blue sky and lovely views around:
2016-10-02 maol chean dearg 018.JPG

Coire Fionnaraich bothy:
2016-10-02 maol chean dearg 028.JPG

The Stone of Fingal's Dog - Kevin said it reminded him of a certain rude hand gesture :roll: :roll:
2016-10-02 maol chean dearg 037.JPG

The path has suffered from "overuse" in places and there are a few boggy areas where tuft-jumping abilities are required :lol: but walking in the shadow of magnificent cliffs should make up for the inconveniences of wet underfoot:
2016-10-02 maol chean dearg 040.JPG

The path dried out once we started to climb to Bealach a Choire Garbh, it was getting surprisingly warm and luckily, we could refill our bottles from the wee stream running alongside the path. Higher up, the majestic steep slopes of Meal Chean-dearg dominated the view:
2016-10-02 maol chean dearg 046.JPG

Closer to the bealach, the path is a bit eroded and in wet weather could be slippery. I've been up this way twice before (once for the Munro, once for An Ruadh-stac) and I'm always amazed by the pure white of the quartzite rock:
2016-10-02 maol chean dearg 071.JPG

An Ruadh-stac - no comment needed. One of the best Corbetts, I think. The two can be combined if one's fit enough, but we were only aiming for the Munro today.
2016-10-02 maol chean dearg 077.JPG

I was feeling good, no trace of stomach bug left. We were not pushing it, indeed somebody overtook us about half way up, but we didn't care. On a day like that, better do it slowly and enjoy for longer :wink:
2016-10-02 maol chean dearg 086.JPG

What you can see behind me is the least pleasant part of the ascent, about 100m of steep ascent on a very tumbly, eroded path (actually, there are a few different paths, all just as badly eroded). It's bearable on the way up and an absolute nightmare on descent :shock:
From the top of that steep slope, its now only a short climb to the summit. I was happy to see great blue sky - no cloud to obstruct the views this time!
2016-10-02 maol chean dearg 095.JPG

The Cuillin ridge emerging on the horizon:
2016-10-02 maol chean dearg 100.JPG

Of course, as we tackled the final 100m of ascent on large boulders, I twisted my leg and my knee bumped into the rock exactly in the place of the scar tissue from my recent injury :shock: :crazy: I couldn't stop wailing for a few second, mainly two words "ouuuuch" and sh*****t" :lol: It hurt, but luck was on my side - I only ended up with a nasty bruise. I was more worried what other walkers would think of me (there were a few of them following us)...
Looking back at the ascent/descent ridge from near the summit:
2016-10-02 maol chean dearg 175.JPG

All the pain and shame was quickly forgotten, as we emerged on the summit plateau. The top of Maol is surprisingly flat, with a big summit cairn close to the northern flanks. We dumped our rucksacks and started a lengthy photo-session. Those views!
The best panos are of course to the north, towards the other Torridon mountains. Liathach can be seen face on, proudly presenting its long ridge and pinnacles. Also Beinn Alligin is seen from the best angle, Beinn Dearg popping up in the gap between the two Munros. To the right, the white tops of Beinn Eighe add to the flavour. The whole set looks like one very long mountain ridge. And in the foreground, slightly to the left, the shapely bulk of Beinn Damph and slightly smaller, rounder lump of Beinn na h-Eaglaise, a Graham:
DSCF7557.JPG

If this is not one of the best panos in Scotland, I don't know what is...
We ended up with over 300 photos :roll: I picked a few for this report... :D I hope this is not considered too "mountainphornographic" to be displayed :lol: :lol: :lol:
Beinn Damph, another hill we climbed twice already and I'm happy to do it again!
2016-10-02 maol chean dearg 114.JPG

Zoom to Alligin, the Horns to the right:
2016-10-02 maol chean dearg 116.JPG

The eastern pano, from Beinn Eighe to Fuar Tholl:
DSCF7559.JPG

I'm in my element!
2016-10-02 maol chean dearg 123.JPG

The western view, from An Ruadh-stac to Beinn Damph:
DSCF7564.JPG

Zoomed Cuillin ridge:
DSCF7579.JPG

Loch Carron and the hills of south Skye. To the left in the foreground another wee Torridon Graham, Sgurr a'Gharaidh:
DSCF7587.JPG

Another pano to the north - simply couldn't take my eyes off it!
2016-10-02 maol chean dearg 139.JPG

The Achnashellach hills, and the Fannichs on the horizon:
2016-10-02 maol chean dearg 145.JPG

Our last two unclimbed Corbetts in this area (Sgurr Dubh and Sgorr an Lochain Uaine), probably will have to wait till next year but no hurry needed here. Another route worth keeping for a sunny day:
2016-10-02 maol chean dearg 147.JPG

Fuar Tholl and the Strathcarron hills behind:
2016-10-02 maol chean dearg 166.JPG

At some point, I was disturbed by somebody stubbornly trying to get into the picture... Lucy, bad girl!
DSCF7601.JPG

The family photo :lol:
2016-10-02 maol chean dearg 152.JPG

We spent an hour or so on the summit. Other walkers came and went, we didn't see a reason to leave too quickly on such a splendid day. Eventually, we packed up and at a lazy pace, began the bouldery descent:
2016-10-02 maol chean dearg 176.JPG

An Ruadh-stac panorama:
DSCF7624.JPG

Looking south-east from the 757m top:
2016-10-02 maol chean dearg 198.JPG

We suffered the hellish 100m of descent on the eroded quartzite, shuffling down the white scree... Here, this section seen from above:
DSCF7636.JPG

...but it was a small price to pay for all the delights of the day!
Kevin caught in the act with An Ruadh-stac behind him:
DSCF7634.JPG

We manged to get down to the bealach without any incidents on the steep section, and the rest of the walk was a pleasant formality :D I don't really care that this was a repeat, I'm happy to repeat Torridon hills all over as long as weather's good enough!
Last edited by BlackPanther on Mon Dec 09, 2019 11:24 am, edited 1 time in total.
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BlackPanther
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Re: The Torridon magic

Postby Huff_n_Puff » Wed Oct 05, 2016 5:54 pm

Wow - that was lovely :clap: :clap: - MCD is one of my favourites too, although I've only been up once on a clear day in late winter - it was stunning. Torridon and the northwest highlands take some beating don't they, we were a bit north of you on Sunday, but more of that later ...

Glad you've recovered from your bug and hope the bruising is fading :D
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Re: The Torridon magic

Postby dooterbang » Wed Oct 05, 2016 8:36 pm

Nice work if you can get it eh :)

Looks like that was well worth the wait. Views and photos are fantastic.

Did think of heading down that way but Assynt always wins ;)

See you and Kev in Kintail end of month...bring the ice axe and crampons :)
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Re: The Torridon magic

Postby BlackPanther » Thu Oct 06, 2016 2:38 pm

Huff_n_Puff wrote:Wow - that was lovely :clap: :clap: - MCD is one of my favourites too, although I've only been up once on a clear day in late winter - it was stunning. Torridon and the northwest highlands take some beating don't they, we were a bit north of you on Sunday, but more of that later ...

Glad you've recovered from your bug and hope the bruising is fading :D


Thanks :D I had problems choosing photos, nothing can beat a good day in Torridon...
Bruises changed colour from purple to brown :lol: that's some progress.

The next one to repeat on such a day is Sgorr Ruadh, we did it in winter but again, cloud was low and we saw very little from the summit.

dooterbang wrote:Nice work if you can get it eh :)

Looks like that was well worth the wait. Views and photos are fantastic.

Did think of heading down that way but Assynt always wins ;)

See you and Kev in Kintail end of month...bring the ice axe and crampons :)


I know we're lucky to live so close to the far north... Great views for little effort :wink:

We will most likely arrive Friday evening (Kevin can't take a day off now, the crazy season is close), crampons and axes packed. Can't wait for the fun of pitching a tent in the dark :lol:
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Re: The Torridon magic

Postby dogplodder » Thu Oct 06, 2016 5:14 pm

This one will always be special to me as it was my first Torridon hill after we moved north in 2001. Lovely to be reminded of that day with your excellent photos. :D
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Re: The Torridon magic

Postby BlackPanther » Fri Oct 07, 2016 6:58 pm

dogplodder wrote:This one will always be special to me as it was my first Torridon hill after we moved north in 2001. Lovely to be reminded of that day with your excellent photos. :D


I'm glad my photos reminded you of your special day :D In a way, each hill is special, but some of them are just unforgettable. For me it will always be Beinn Eighe...
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Re: The Torridon magic

Postby rockhopper » Fri Oct 07, 2016 8:45 pm

Cracking day for it - well worth a repeat visit for you - cheers :)
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Re: The Torridon magic

Postby Cairngorm creeper » Sat Oct 08, 2016 5:55 pm

Good hills are always worth repeating and this definately in that group with that whiter than white rock and summit views. Your report was a good read and lovely photos.
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Re: The Torridon magic

Postby BlackPanther » Mon Oct 10, 2016 6:39 pm

Thanks again and yes, there is another one coming from Torridon, Beinn na h-Eaglaise this time and one more perfect day :D
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Re: The Torridon magic

Postby simon-b » Mon Oct 10, 2016 8:40 pm

The Coulin Forest Munros are definitely worth saving for clear weather, as your photos show, BP. I did MCD as a single too - it's nice still having An Ruadh-stac to look forward to.
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Re: The Torridon magic

Postby SecretSquirrel » Mon Oct 24, 2016 2:05 pm

That looks a good single route for the shorter days now. Good to see you over your bug and back on the hills :thumbup:
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Re: The Torridon magic

Postby Sarah86 » Tue Oct 25, 2016 11:30 am

We had a holiday in Torridon in the summer there but unfortunately didn't do any proper hill walking so it is great to see what views from above are on offer and from your photos they look pretty spectacular. I love it when conditions allow to remain at the summit and just enjoy it.
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