Munros: Beinn Liath Mhor, Sgorr Ruadh
Date walked: 29/04/2017
The Coulin Forest had been calling to me for 12 months, ever since I first ventured south of the Glen Torridon road. Last November I'd had an aborted trip out there on a perfect day with snow everywhere but I had completely overestimated how long winter days in Scotland last I'd gone for a wander and then wandered back, was all that happened that day. And then recently I'd read a fellow scrambler on here, it might have been basscadet?, and the phrase 'Beinn Liath Mor from the north' had stuck in my head. I'd already decided I preferred to enter this region from the north rather than the south, where current hydro works are making the approaches unpleasant at best.
The Coire Dubh car park in Glen Torridon is somewhere that I am inevitably drawn to so Beinn Liath Mor From The North seemed like the perfect day out and I set out past the Ling Hut, that already feels so very familiar to me.
Perfect weather, a perfect path, and countryside that stills the mind and warms the heart.
I was stopping a lot just to take it all in. I'd only been back in Torridon for 24 hours and those who read my reports will know what Wester Ross means to me. I was feeling slightly emotional, and recent hill-mounted exertions were making themselves felt in my back. "Beinn Liath Mor from The North" became a mantra I used to keep myself going once I left the path and started up the rough hillside at a point I deemed appropriate. Slipping, sliding, bogs, heather, back pain. Beinn Liath Mor from The North. And then things came over all Torridon.
First it became wonderfully rocky underfoot and then it broke out in scrambles.
Oh yes. Thank you. Beinn Liath Mor from The North. Just what the doctor ordered. Just to the west of where I was were precipitous cliffs falling down to the the Lochan Uanie. Cliffs which I might one day return to to see if they "go". They look like they might. And the fact that idea hit me at all, and the realisation that it had, was the moment I realised that Torridon had once again worked its magic on me and my mojo was restored. One again I was looking at challenges as things to be savoured, at mountains as playgrounds. Oh what would life be without Torridon?
I had already read that the route from Beinn Liath Mor over to Sgorr Ruadh was a challenge, but right at that moment I felt invincible. I paused for a while on Beinn Liath Mor to munch a few bits of food but now I was eager for more and set off down pretty fast.
The route was challenging. I have no photos of it which is testament to the concentration it took. There was scrambling, there was backtracking, there was an eventual acceptance that a great deal of height loss was inevitable and that it was better to do it on the southern side despite there being fewer exciting and dangerous cliffs there. And eventually a bealach was reached containing a tiny, lonely lochan from whose stream I refilled my water bottle - the memory of which is making me thirsty even now.
The path up to Sgorr Ruadh from there wasn't difficult. A bit of boulderfield and then some more scrambling and suddenly a summit with views that required adjustment of the eyes to comprehend. To the north and east the ruggedness of Torridon, to the south the broad calm of the gorgeous Strath Carron, and to the west the remaining Coulin peaks like an immense tidal wave that had rolled in from south and frozen in time, waiting for the impenetrable wall of Liathach to crumble before they carried on.
I had the place entirely to myself, although I was aware there were some people behind me somewhere and I met them on the way down, but I've rarely felt solitude as a cleansing power as I did for the next hour. Something about this place, something that connects so deeply to something in my soul, I left only because I could no longer feel my feet, but I wasn't sure if that was because they were cold or because I didn't need them any more because I could now fly. The man who left the summit was not the same man who arrived; he was happier, he was calmer, he was content, he truly desired nothing else. Well, perhaps a hot cuppa
The way back passed uneventfully but peacefully. I met 5 people, I saw what might have been a buzzard, I fell in a bog, I gawped at the views, I smiled.
Had a cuppa in the car park then drove up to a view point overlooking Loch Torridon and met more people, had more tea and then while driving back up Glen Torridon in the last light of the day it said good night in the way only Scotland seems to.
This is no place for analysis, no time to ask why this happens. And there's no need, just accept it. Magic exists and it's called Wester Ross.
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- Location: In a van, somewhere
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