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A view from the ridge:Beinn Liath Mhor/ Sgorr Ruadh

A view from the ridge:Beinn Liath Mhor/ Sgorr Ruadh


Postby Walk cycle » Sun Jul 16, 2017 11:05 pm

Route description: Beinn Liath Mhor, Achnashellach

Munros included on this walk: Beinn Liath Mhor, Sgorr Ruadh

Date walked: 05/07/2017

Time taken: 8 hours

Distance: 18.5 km

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Day 5 : Beinn Liath Mhor 926m and Sgorr Ruadh 962m


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Early morning - Torridon SYHA

It started with a red telephone box and ended with a can of cola: the best walk I have ever undertaken. I had arrived fifteen minutes earlier at the parking space and now, at 8.11am I was walking to Coire Lair. Walking boots laced up; sun cream applied; midges dodged (unsuccessfully).

Months earlier my plans for Torridon had taken shape. The routes on the Big Three were studied and considered. As I became more familiar with the many possibilities I shifted my attention south to Lochcarron and Achnashellach; previously unknown hills came into focus: Beinn Liath Mhor, Sgorr Ruadh and Fuar Tholl looked as thrilling as the more obvious choices and route cards were written.

So here I was at NH 005 483 having driven from Torridon via Achnasheen; a perfect Highland morning. The sharp visibility and blue sky lent a fantastical quality to the landscape. I had three days consecutive walking under my belt and the rucksack, heavy on Sunday, sat comfortably on my back.

I always like the beginnings of walks, how the route commences at unassuming parking spaces that only those in the know regard as thresholds. I headed past the red telephone box on the roadside and the 21st Century began to lose its grip. A couple of dwellings on the track were silent. The Achnashellach request stop invited walkers to cross the track but warned of the dangers. Up a right then a sharp left, the track passed through forestry land, felled trees emitting a thick oily resinous odour. Another walker, who had parked minutes before me, had jumped out of his car and passing the phone box sentinel without hesitation, disappeared. Later I was to meet him on the return track but other than that I didn’t speak to another soul.

From the crossing of the track to the sign for Coire Lair the distance was about 700m. I had read that you had to observe carefully for where the path doubled back on itself but this was quite an obvious left turn.

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Marking the path to Coire Lair

From the sign for Coire Lair the iconic nose of Fual Tholl projected against the blue sky then dropped into the Allt an Leth-chreig with Teanga Fiadhaich rising to its right. This had a dream-like quality, a submerged memory of a landscape from the pages of a myths and legends picturebook.

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Fuar Tholl : Leth Chreag and The Nose

I followed the path by the side of Allt an Leth-chreig north west across a footbridge and out of the forest into more open terrain where the River Lair met the burn. The path hugged the fence before zig-zagging north through the Coire Mac an Leasgadir. Sometimes the path was soft earth and mountain bike tracks were imprinted and sometimes there were sections of slab. Passing craggy rocks to the right and then the fording of a small stream I was led to my first view of the majestic Coire Lair, Beinn Liath Mhor and Sgorr Ruadh.

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Coire Lair (image distorted by 'waterproof' case)

I reached the path division at NG 990 501 for the return path over the River Lair after 70 minutes. From there the path headed north, dividing again: the Coire Lair path ribboning and I followed my route to the eastern prow of Beinn Liath Mhor. After about another 400m a cairn indicated a further split and I continued north to climb on to the ridge.

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Up the path above Drochaid Coire Lair

The path up to the 876m cairn was obvious, steep at first with clear steps up the grassy slope before becoming increasingly rocky. The gradient eased a little through some craggy sections and it then advanced west with crags to the left above Coire Lair. Quartzite boulders increased as the summit became prominent and then I was at the large cairn at 876m. What followed was the finest ridge walk I have been fortunate to experience. All along the ridge the views in all directions were overwhelming: some peaks I recognised and many I couldn’t identify.

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876m cairn view - blurred by case

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Clearer view from the cairn


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Sgorr nan Lochan Uaine, Liathach and Beinn Eighe

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Fuar Tholl

Fual Tholl looked particularly impressive from the cairn. The highest point was a reclining arm ending in a in a fist-like buttress, its vertical slashes finishing in scree runs. This mountain had considerable presence as did the Mainreachan Buttress with its sheer face and scree collar.

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Sgorr Ruadh

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Towering clouds

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Coire Lair south west view

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Coire Lair north west view

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Beinn Eighe/Sgurr Dubh

A ptarmigan was startled and I took a photo, the bird silhouetted against Sgorr Ruadh.

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Ptarmigan

The glistening white Beinn Liath Bheag looked smooth and rounded.

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Beinn Liath Bheag

Beinn Liath Mhor’s ridge dipped to a col rising again to other tops at 874m and 887m before descending more precipitously with a choice of a scrambly route or a narrow path, which hugged the right hand side.

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Lochan Uaine

Climbing to the summit of Beinn Liath Mhor, grass and crag fell away to what was one of the most arresting images of the day: the motionless beauty of the two lochans below Sgorr nan Lochan Uaine with Beinn Eighe’s scree slopes behind.

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Lochan Uaine and Sgorr nan Lochan Uaine

From the rocky summit of Beinn Liath Mhor at 926m Torridon’s famous trio punctured a dramatic sky.

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Beinn Alligin/Liathach/Beinn Eighe

All along the ridge the mountain scapes, together with the equally impressive clouds created the most phenomenal views I have ever seen on a walk.

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Loch Coire Lair

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Sgorr Ruadh buttresses

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Skye/Applecross hills/Maol Chean-dearg

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From the summit

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Loch Torridon


I seemed almost in touching distance of Torridon village from the summit. Munro no.19! Leaving the summit I headed downhill towards two small lochans. Although I had uploaded the route on to Viewranger, today I was reverting to map and compass and I had noted down bearings for the route.

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Coire Lair

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Cloud drama

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Glen Torridon

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Rejoining the path by the lochan

I headed too far south on the descent and looking now at my route compared to the WH one I saw I had walked with the 800m contour until I rejoined the intended route. I scrambled down some easy steps to reach the path, which ran alongside a lochan, and it then contoured around a knoll and met the Coire Lair path by a loch at the bealach.

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Path heads down to the bealach

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Lunch stop

After a break for lunch I ascended Sgorr Ruadh on grass diagonally to a col above the lochan.

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Scree below Sgorr Ruadh

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Coire Lair

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768m col

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Liathach

Then it was a straightforward ascent over quartzite blocks and smoother sandstone. It was quite noticeable on this climb how the quartzite and sandstone co-exist.

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Quartzite boulders

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Maol Chean-dearg and An Ruadh-Stac

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Sandstone and quartzite

The summit was rough underfoot and I had concerns about my depleting water. Sgorr Ruadh was my 20th Munro and 7th this week – I had climbed more Munros in the past four days than I had climbed in the past four years!

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Summit view


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Summit view to Fuar Tholl


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Beinn Alligin and Liathach

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Scree on Beinn Liath Mhor

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Sgorr Ruadh buttress

Over the summit I headed down a grass slope that made for easier walking. I walked through outcrops to the east of Loch a Bhealaich Mhoir and followed a bearing across Bealach Mor that took me to the path under Fuar Tholl. The Mainreachan Buttress was certainly intimidating ( it surprises me that it's never been used as a backdrop for a sci-fi film). It was never my intention to climb Fuar Tholl as the walks on this break were about following the most obvious planned routes (mostly Munros) and sticking to them.

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Close encounters with Mainreachan

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Return path

Then it was a very fast walk back. I met the other walker on the path who was also from Merseyside. It was then a matter of getting wet feet in the River Lair, which was in spate and then walking (damply) back the way I had come that morning, to the parking space beyond the red phonebox.

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Close up of River Lair

Before I knew it I was in Lochcarron drinking a can of cold coke and eating a packet of salt and vinegar twists watching people walk their dogs as the magic of Coire Lair began to fade. However, I don’t think I will lose the memory of the views from Beinn Liath Mhor's ridge quickly nor will I forget the brooding Mainreachan Buttress.

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Loch Torridon on the return to the hostel
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Re: A view from the ridge:Beinn Liath Mhor/ Sgorr Ruadh

Postby Driftwood » Mon Jul 17, 2017 7:49 pm

Some great views of two superb hills, thanks. :clap:

These were my first taste of Torridon a couple of years ago and the scenery got me hooked. Maol Chean-dearg is another stunner and, again, surrounded by wonders in every direction (if you're lucky with the weather).

I even came down Beinn Liath Mhor a bit too far left/south as well, even further than you, which was my "warning" what rugged and rocky hills these are.
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Re: A view from the ridge:Beinn Liath Mhor/ Sgorr Ruadh

Postby Cairngorm creeper » Mon Jul 17, 2017 8:05 pm

Walk cycle wrote:unassuming parking spaces that only those in the know regard as thresholds. I headed past the red telephone box on the roadside and the 21st Century began to lose its grip. A

I can relate to this, and I can see why say this was your best walks, the views from these two are splendid and I really enjoyed your photo's.
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Re: A view from the ridge:Beinn Liath Mhor/ Sgorr Ruadh

Postby simon-b » Mon Jul 17, 2017 9:51 pm

Views don't get much better than those from the north Achnashellach hills. I was glad to trade the Munros I did in mist to have a clear day on these, as you did. The view of Liathach from BLM is particularly impressive, isn't it? I look forward to getting back to the area for Fuar Tholl and An Ruadh-stac, hopefully with views again. But if you're looking to notch up a good number of Munros, Walk cycle, don't use up all the classics too soon! Save some for later :thumbup:
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Re: A view from the ridge:Beinn Liath Mhor/ Sgorr Ruadh

Postby Walk cycle » Wed Jul 19, 2017 10:29 am

Driftwood wrote:Some great views of two superb hills, thanks. :clap:

These were my first taste of Torridon a couple of years ago and the scenery got me hooked. Maol Chean-dearg is another stunner and, again, surrounded by wonders in every direction (if you're lucky with the weather).

I even came down Beinn Liath Mhor a bit too far left/south as well, even further than you, which was my "warning" what rugged and rocky hills these are.


Thanks - Maol Chean-dearg did look amazing and I would like to return to do it some day.
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Re: A view from the ridge:Beinn Liath Mhor/ Sgorr Ruadh

Postby Walk cycle » Wed Jul 19, 2017 10:30 am

Cairngorm creeper wrote:
Walk cycle wrote:unassuming parking spaces that only those in the know regard as thresholds. I headed past the red telephone box on the roadside and the 21st Century began to lose its grip. A

I can relate to this, and I can see why say this was your best walks, the views from these two are splendid and I really enjoyed your photo's.


Thanks - glad you enjoyed the photos.
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Re: A view from the ridge:Beinn Liath Mhor/ Sgorr Ruadh

Postby Walk cycle » Wed Jul 19, 2017 10:32 am

simon-b wrote:Views don't get much better than those from the north Achnashellach hills. I was glad to trade the Munros I did in mist to have a clear day on these, as you did. The view of Liathach from BLM is particularly impressive, isn't it? I look forward to getting back to the area for Fuar Tholl and An Ruadh-stac, hopefully with views again. But if you're looking to notch up a good number of Munros, Walk cycle, don't use up all the classics too soon! Save some for later :thumbup:


Thanks - I need to walk some of the Munros further south as I have often focussed on the North west of Scotland.
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Re: A view from the ridge:Beinn Liath Mhor/ Sgorr Ruadh

Postby malky_c » Sat Jul 22, 2017 12:13 pm

I still remember my first time in this area - one of those bright, crisp late autumn/early winter days around 17 years ago. It was probably the first time I saw Torridon close up as well :D

These are now some of my most visited hills as they are easy to get to (even without a car) and full of variety.
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Re: A view from the ridge:Beinn Liath Mhor/ Sgorr Ruadh

Postby BlackPanther » Mon Jul 24, 2017 9:09 am

Ohhh, lovely :D One of my favourite corners within reasonable driving distance :wink:
We climbed these two in separate trips, I don't know why... Maybe because it's such a beautiful area. You just can't wait to get back! Fuar Tholl is a cracking hill, too, one of the best Corbetts IMHO.

We are hoping to re-visit Sgorr Ruadh this autumn. We did it in winter conditions and cloud was low so we never had the views, but scrambling up the final quartzite slope in deep snow was an adventure in itself :lol:
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Re: A view from the ridge:Beinn Liath Mhor/ Sgorr Ruadh

Postby Walk cycle » Mon Jul 24, 2017 8:15 pm

malky_c wrote:I still remember my first time in this area - one of those bright, crisp late autumn/early winter days around 17 years ago. It was probably the first time I saw Torridon close up as well :D

These are now some of my most visited hills as they are easy to get to (even without a car) and full of variety.


It was my initial intention to get the train from Inverness and walk from the station, it's great that it is so accessible. I feel like I have only really scratched the surface of the area.
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Re: A view from the ridge:Beinn Liath Mhor/ Sgorr Ruadh

Postby Walk cycle » Mon Jul 24, 2017 8:17 pm

BlackPanther wrote:Ohhh, lovely :D One of my favourite corners within reasonable driving distance :wink:
We climbed these two in separate trips, I don't know why... Maybe because it's such a beautiful area. You just can't wait to get back! Fuar Tholl is a cracking hill, too, one of the best Corbetts IMHO.

We are hoping to re-visit Sgorr Ruadh this autumn. We did it in winter conditions and cloud was low so we never had the views, but scrambling up the final quartzite slope in deep snow was an adventure in itself :lol:


Just read your walk report for BLM - it brought the ridge walk vividly back - some great photos.
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