Torridon Panorama from Beinn Liath Mhor

Route: Beinn Liath Mhor, Achnashellach

Munros: Beinn Liath Mhor, Sgorr Ruadh

Date walked: 10/11/2018

Time taken: 8.2 hours

Distance: 20.3km

Ascent: 1505m

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Manda, Lee and I were late arrivals at the Walk Highlands meet in Torridon on Friday so were keen to get out on Saturday to make the most of a predicted weather window over lunchtime. Some were keener than others, Manda had to come kick me out of bed at 7am as Lee and her had been up for an hour :lol: :lol: We'd chatted a lot about possible targets for the day and had ruled out any of the ridges due to daylight issues and the predicted winds, the final forecast had said be as far east as possible so we agreed on Beinn Liath Mhor with the possibility of Sgorr Ruadh should the day progress well.

First off, the parking was much further down the Loch Carron road than I thought. We knew other keen morning people (Geoff, Steve, Ross Tommy, Jim, Michelle and Nicki) had set off a good hour ahead of us so the car park would at least have some cars in it. Manda asked me if there would be anything unusual in the car park for us to recognise it, "Aye, a Porsche!" I replied! :lol: The Walk Highlands book was, as ever, bang on with it's description and as soon as the red phone box was visible on the right, the car park / bigger layby was on the left.

The start of the walk was simple along the track up to the station, across the tracks then up into the forest. I did wonder why the station was there? It must only be used by the occasional walker, pretty cool that it is still in use. The route is well marked and once we cleared a deer fence we turned left to follow the path along the side of the Allt an Leth-chreig. This was a beautiful section of pathway walking along with the crystal clear water burbling past and the ancient pine forest around us. It smelt really fresh here, a weird thing to say perhaps, but I'm sure you know what I mean.

The weather wasn't brilliant and we had several stops to put on layers of waterproofing as the showers were becoming increasingly frequent. The path up to Coire Lair was an excellent stalkers path which passed over and by several huge slabs of what I think was sandstone with veins of a harder rock through it. The sandstone had eroded quicker so the white rock did look like actual veins sticking out from the rock. I wish I'd taken a picture of it.

Walk up to Coire Lair with BLM on the right

Once we got up to the level (ish) ground of the coire there were paths all over the place. I don't think I've ever seen such a network of well maintained routes in the hills. We had to take the one slightly off to the right which took us right to the foot of the big climb up the east end of the BLM ridge, and it was a heck of a climb! Still on a good path but really, really steep. The advantage, as always, is height is gained quickly and the views open up quickly. We spotted a person high above us, turns out that was Tommy taking pictures of us (stalker much :lol: :lol: ) The weather, at least the rain, was easing but the wind was picking up in the exposed areas of the climb. The sun began to break through the cloud and was shimmering off all the pools of water below us.


The climb took a bit out of us so, in a small depression in the hillside, we got some shelter and had a quick snack. The path was now turning into a rock field and the easiest route was straight up, with the wind battering into our left hand side. Time for another equipment adjustment, hat and gloves were a must!

Looking over to Sgorr Rhadh and Fuar Tholl

The cloud was annoyingly hanging about on Sgorr Rhadh and Fuar Tholl but as we made the ridge to the summit of BLM the wind seemed to be doing us a favour and blowing the cloud off of the summit. One thing I love in big landscapes is the contrast in scale. Descending Fhurr Tholl I could see one tiny person, I think it was Steve, and up ahead were the earlier group of Walk Highlanders just making the summit of BLM. The hills were alive with Walk Highlanders!!!!! The way ahead was clear with another good path to follow but there was much more ascent and descent that I expected to get to the summit, and a few more rock fields to negotiate, including the final one to the summit.

Looking north with the way up BLM on the left of the photo

I love the landscape of Torridon. To me it looks prehistoric, it wouldn't look out of place in a Jurassic Park movie! Thankfully the weather was playing ball and was getting steadily better. I'd hoped so for Lee as he'd never been to Torridon and Manda and I had been telling him for ages how stunning the scenery was.


Lee and Manda on their way to the summit

It took us about 3 1/2 hours to get to the summit, perfect timing for lunch and I can't think of many places better to be. The summit cairn provided great shelter from the wind so we all sat down and just soaked in the view. We could see everything. We had a view from Loch Torridon, across the village and along all three of the major ridges. It was simply stunning. I could've just sat there all day.

Panorama north west from the summit of BLM

View south through Coire Lair

Sgorr Ruadh and Moal Chean-dearg

Happy Mountain Goats with a view and food!

Eventually we did start getting cold so moved off the summit to descend down to Coire Lair. This was just as steep as the ascent in places with some tricky hands on bits and a small section of large sandstone plates that took a bit of figuring out to pick the safe route. We had to walk across more massive areas of exposed rock which was fun balancing on the contours of the rock.



Coire Lair panorama

As we were getting towards the stalkers path through the Coire we could see the others ascending Sgorr Ruadh. We'd not decided what we were doing yet, but as we made the path Steve was on his way out. He told us the summit of Sgorr Ruadh was about 45 mins away. We had over 2 hours of light left but I left the choice up to Manda. Lee had said we could come back on Sunday instead but Manda uttered the phrase "Well, it's just there so we might as well go get it." I think I've turned her into a Munro bagger :lol: :D Manda had thought the summit of Fhur Tholl was the Munro so had been apprehensive to go all that way with the short daylight hours, but as it was actually much closer we were off again. She did make a deal with us that we'd make the summit then come down the same way we'd ascended and exit via the stalkers path all the way along Coire Lair. Made sense to me, good path meant faster walking and much easier navigation with the head torches if it came to that.Plus we had a booking at the pub for dinner, priorities and all that :thumbup:

Another good path started the ascent up Sgorr Ruadh, this one was grassy and a bit boggy in places but soon gave way to a massive rock field to the summit. There was no great view of a path so we just made the ridge line and started heading straight up. Again easy enough to do and closer to the summit there was a path. We could see the other Walk Highlanders posing for pics on the summit, it wasn't far at all, it took us just under an hour to get there. Boy, was it worth it though. The sun had started to go down so everything to the north of us got lit up in the glow of the sunset. The view to Liathach was stunning.


View south over Fuar Tholl

Sunset on Liathach

Summit of Sgorr Ruadh

BLM from Sgorr Ruadh

We chatted to the other group about the way down. They were heading for the bealach between Sgorr Ruadh and Fuar Tholl, we told them our plan, Tommy was torn but went with his group, a Top Gear challenge was on! We started to descend as we'd ascended. We were in no rush, why would you with this view!

Descending Sgorr Ruadh

Liathach on the way down

Back down to the stalkers path and now for the walk out. This was a good plan, a well maintained path to make good progress on and, of course, win the Top Gear challenge 8) We got to the spaghetti junction of paths about 10 mins ahead of the other group. Light was fading fast so we continued to get as much of the decent done without torches.

Sun set over Fuar Tholl

Moon rising as we got close to the railway

Ended up doing the last 20 mins in the dark with the head torches but this was simple following the path along the river and across the railway back to the car. Back in time for dinner and the always excellent and world renown Walk Highlands Quiz.

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Location: Falkirk
Activity: Hill Bagger
Mountain: Bidean nam Bian
Place: Glencoe or Skye
Gear: Platypus Water Sack
Camera: Panasonic Lumix TZ70

Munros: 180
Corbetts: 4
Grahams: 2
Donalds: 1
Sub 2000: 2
Long Distance routes: West Highland Way   

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