Thrilling time in Torridon

Munros: Beinn Liath Mhor, Maol Chean-dearg, Sgorr Ruadh
Sub 2000s: Bidein Clann Raonaild, Carn nan Iomairean

Date walked: 18/03/2018

Time taken: 20 hours

Distance: 52.8km

Ascent: 3519m

As has been my wont of late I was studying the weather forecast all week. Snew, high winds, general death and destruction seemed to be visiting most of the country...apart from the North West, which was due to get high winds, admittedly, but was forecast to get sunshine. And the SAIS forecast for Torridon was perfect. Needing little additional encouragement I hastily made plans on Thursday morning for a northwest escapade. Had nowhere in mind to stay - I did phone - somewhat reluctantly - Ledgowan Estate to enquire about their campsite "open all year" the listing says. But no, it was "too wet" for anyone to camp at this time. Really :?

We set off late afternoon, Allison quite pleased with the destination. I wondered if we'd pitch up in a little spot we've used before some miles before The Clunie Inn, but we found an alternative in Glen Garry that suited our purpose fine. Friday was to have the worst winds - 50-70mph - so I had written off Munros and decided we might attempt something more daintily sized instead. I had two in mind - Carn nan Iomairean at Attadale and Bidean Clann Raonaild between Achnasheen and Kinlochewe. The day was dry, overcast and very windy, the car juddering as gusts hit us side on. We parked at Attadale and as we were preparing to set out a guy in an SUV asked if we were headed for the Munros. "Too windy for that" I replied, which I think he'd been going to suggest. We talked about the hill we had in mind - he said the hill path marked on the map was a bit difficult to find, but at least it'd be a day out. As we turned to walk out the gate a flock of sheep rapidly approached us, hoping for food and looking bitterly disappointed when we turned and walked away over the cattle grid. :(

Hungry Sheep
ImageDSC00854 by Al, on Flickr

Back onto the road for a few hundred metres south, til a sign marks the beginning of the hill track, a helpful gate through the deer fence. There was something - deer track or hill path it didn't really matter, it was heading in the right direction - up! The hillside was surprisingly dry underfoot. On our left were the threesome of Cheesecake, Lurg Mhor and Beinn Dronaig. The south Torridon hills also came into view as we climbed, the sun bursting through the puffy clouds in fitful spurts. Onwards up the hillside, reaching a land of knolls and knobs, hidden lochans and gullies. The actual summit was a considerable distance away, but in reaching it we were exposed to some fine views of Beinn Bhan over in Applecross, the Isle of Skye looking all chocolate-boxy and Kintail to the south. What a mouthwatering vista. The wind was reasonable - cold when it blasted you but often we found sheltered spots.

Cheesecake et al
ImageDSC00858 by Al, on Flickr

South Torridon
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Nearing the top of one of many tops...
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Beinn Bhan
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After lunch at the summit, we headed back by a more northeasterly route taking us through forestry. Numerous trees had fallen across the path, necessitating some scrambling over recumbent trunks and branches or diversions through the trees. Emerging from the woods we returned down the hillside towards the farm buildings, negotiating (badly) some razor-sharp brambles and having a shallow ford to cross just before the car park.

Summit pano
ImageDSC00873 by Al, on Flickr

South to Kintail
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It was only around 2.30 and the day was still bright - we decided to head up towards Kinlochewe for our next Marilyn, keeping eyes out for likely places to wild-camp for the night. Unfortunately we found none of those. We stopped on the A832 by the start of the track running to the summit of Bidein Clann Raonaild, thought twice about camping inside the fence (too tussocky) and set off up the track without rucksacks. Wind was still bitterly cold but we were able to walk briskly. A deer fence gate to be climbed then the track continues. We could look over to Beinn Liath Mor and Robertson's Buttress on Sgorr Ruadh but the full beauty of the views are not realised until you reach the summit. And then wow! you look straight down Loch Maree, squat Slioch sitting guard. East are the Fisherfield hills, with an appearance also from snowbacked An Teallach. Beinn Eighe and Liathach sit haunched on the north side of Glen Torridon. If you block out the intrusions from the transmitter mast and buildings at the summit, this is a sublime place. Easily reached and a superb spot for watching a summer sunset. We turned and followed the track back to the car, having decided to drive on to Torridon village and use the community campsite there.

ImageDSC00881 by Al, on Flickr

South Torridon Hills
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ImageDSC00883 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC00885 by Al, on Flickr

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View down Loch Maree
ImageDSC00890 by Al, on Flickr

View down Glen Torridon
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ImageDSC00892 by Al, on Flickr

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ImageDSC00899 by Al, on Flickr

Another few tents were spaced around in the campsite, bravely taking shelter from the ferocious wind. The ground was drier than I've ever seen this campsite (ha! Mr Ledgowan man - you just don't like campers, do you). We had a bit of a struggle with the wind getting the tent pitched, and a few extra pegs were placed to ensure we remained earthbound. After a tasty tea of tofu palak paneer there was time for a wander down to the shore and back through the village as night fell. Back in the tent we battened down what hatches we could find. It was a wild night - lying in the warmth of the sleeping bag listening to the wind barrelling along Glen Torridon, whipping the trees like crazy until it came to the tent with a bang! Oh, it was exciting, with the thrill of being tossed on a stormy sea (whilst actually not moving) - I forced myself to stay awake to listen to the sturm und drang of it all.

In the morning the grass was white with frost and the day clear and chill. Blue skies greeted our emergence from the tent, the sun even threatened to make an appearance. The wind was still there, but hopefully it would behave and not impede our plans for the day. I'd decided it would be good to do Beinn Liath Mor and Sgorr Ruadh from the north, using the footpath that runs past the Ling Hut and ends in Choire Ghrannda. We parked at the carpark east of Liathach which was full of cars by just gone 9am (climbers, I guess, making good use of the perfect snow and ice). We wandered along the footpath, being alternately baked by the sun then chilled when the wind found us. I felt privileged to be able to enjoy the views, especially of Liathach behind us.

Morning sun
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Liathach / Beinn Eighe
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As we neared the opening of Choire Ghrannda we spotted a number of footprints in the snow heading up Sail Garbh, rather than into the choire. As the wind was making its presence felt more persistently it did seem a reasonable idea to climb Beinn Liath Mor first, meaning we could decide on the risks of ascending the ridge and slender cone of Sgorr Ruadh later. It turned out to be an easier ascent than from the choire too - we reached the flat area between Sail Garbh and the tower of BLM without much difficulty then steeled ourselves for the 100m or so up to the summit. Manageable despite intermittent gusts - we traced our steps back down, noting crampon marks from today already there. We later saw the 2 walkers on Sgorr Ruadh.

Choire Ghrannda
ImageDSC00920 by Al, on Flickr

Maol-chean Dearg
ImageDSC00921 by Al, on Flickr

Zoom of Liathach
ImageDSC00923 by Al, on Flickr

Loch Torridon, Ben Alligin
ImageDSC00926 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC00927 by Al, on Flickr

Beinn Liath Mor
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ImageDSC00930 by Al, on Flickr

Beinn Damh
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Sgorr Ruadh
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Summit section of Beinn Liath Mor
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A profusion of peaks
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The next section, over Sail Garbh and down to the south proved a mite terrifying. I'd forgotten the steep sandstone tiers that lead down to the little lochan. We were faced with a section of 50 metres or so of near vertical (well, not really but quite close :wink: ) descent on frozen snow or ice. A number of folk had been up/down, so there were steps kicked, but I do admit to getting a bit of the jelly legs going down, not least because a fall here would be onto sandstone boulders at the bottom. With some relief we made it down, then set off up to the summit of the south top (Sim) and down towards the lochan in Coire Lair. I could see the 2 guys coming down from Sgorr Ruadh and hurried off to ask if they'd made the summit and what the wind was like. They reported it wasn't too bad, and we decided to give it a try.

Steep section off BLM - not nearly as scary looking as it felt!
ImageDSC00942 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC00944 by Al, on Flickr

Beinn Liath Mor
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Sgorr Ruadh
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Maol-chean Dearg
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Stuc a'Choire Ghrannda
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Firstly, a visit to another Sim, the outlier of Stuc a'Choire Ghrannda and some more fabulous views across to Liathach and Ben Alligin. I was feeling a little anxious about the climb up to the summit of Sgorr Ruadh, particularly the final section to the top which looked narrow and exposed. We meandered along the ridge until it narrowed. Glad that there were rocks amongst the snew for handholds I followed Allison up, knowing that we had to return the same way. I was not enjoying this part very much, my quota for anxiety already having been expended today on the earlier section. My main worry was that a gust of wind, such as we'd experienced earlier on Liath Mor would hit us in an exposed position - it would be a long and rocky way down. Added to which Allison kept pausing as she had cramp in her calf muscle and I just wanted it over with. We made it to the summit, I took a couple of photos then said "I want off of here". Feeling the fear coursing through me, I beetled away back down, pausing when I had left the exposed section behind for a deep breath.

Sgorr Ruadh
ImageDSC00953 by Al, on Flickr

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The rest of the day was pure enjoyment in glorious sunny weather as we dropped down from the lip of Choire Ghrannda and traversed the frozen snow slopes back to the path out. We looked straight over to Liathach, remembering the time we'd bum-slid right down Way-Up Gully :lol: Walking back towards the Ling Hut the day had the feel of spring, at last. An utterly grand day. Back at the tent the temperature had fallen, we were both quite tired and had an early night after dinner. Some campervan dudes put paid to a good night's sleep with music that went on til after 2am :-x

ImageDSC00960 by Al, on Flickr

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Ling Hut / Beinn Eighe
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Maol-chean Dearg had been chosen for Sunday's hill - the wind supposedly having died away by then. Although I had looked at doing it too from the north, given the long drive back awaiting us it seemed prudent to start from Coulags which was both shorter and on better track. The sky was heavy - light flurries of snew were in the air and the temperature had dropped another couple of notches. Hmmm. By the time we'd driven round to Coulags the sun was shining. We left just after a couple of guys and set off along the track by the Fionn Abhain. I had thought we might have made use of the bothy last night and had an earlier start but reckoned it would most probably be crammed given the good weekend. We wandered past it, and Finn's fingerstone, turning up the zigzag track into Bealach a'Choire Ghairbh. We hit frozen snew at about 400m, stopping to put crampons on. Further into the choire we met Jennifer Cardno who'd been at the summit already - always nice to meet fellow Walkhighlanders.

ImageDSC00968 by Al, on Flickr

Sgorr Ruadh
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The steep ascent up the shoulder to the 757m point took our breath away - literally. The wind, which hadn't really been noticeable til then was funneled straight at us and it was all we could do to keep upright. I had gone up the hill a bit east of the path, keeping on snew - I was blown right round like a crab. At the top of that section we met the 2 guys who had left the car park before us, they were turning back. I wasn't sure what to do - there were another 200m of height to go and the summit plateau might get the full thrust of the wind - however Jennifer had said that it got easier nearer the top, so we decided to continue. Maol-chean Dearg is a bit of a whaleback, so not the corncern about being blown off a narrow ridge we had the day before. And true enough, the wind, though still a forecful presence, was not as strong as we walked towards the summit - indeed the top was relatively tranquil and Allison was able to climb up onto the cairn without fear of being airlifted back to Torridon :lol:

An Stac
ImageDSC00972 by Al, on Flickr

Beinn Damh
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Alligin & Liathach
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We were not particularly looking forward to the descent down the shoulder, but I took a line around the leeward aspect of the hillside, which meant dealing with more scree but less wind. As we walked back down the path (having chosen not to add on An Stac or the Sim of Meall nan Ceapairean for obvious reasons) we did see the Coastguard copter descending into Coire Lair across the way. Cheeks ruddy with the wind and sun it had been a fabulous weekend's walking.

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Comments: 11

Lovely Loch Quoich

Attachment(s) Munros: Gairich, Spidean Mialach
Date walked: 10/03/2018
Distance: 25.7km
Ascent: 1852m
Comments: 4
Views: 400

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Attachment(s) Date walked: 04/03/2018
Distance: 21.5km
Ascent: 1700m
Comments: 5
Views: 307

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Attachment(s) Munros: Beinn a'Chaorainn (Glen Spean), Beinn Teallach, Chno Dearg, Stob Ban (Grey Corries), Stob Coire Sgriodain
Date walked: 25/02/2018
Distance: 57.3km
Ascent: 3688m
Comments: 7
Views: 551

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Attachment(s) Grahams: Culter Fell, Gathersnow Hill
Donalds: Chapelgill Hill, Culter Fell, Gathersnow Hill, Hillshaw Head, Lochcraig Head , Molls Cleuch Dod
Date walked: 15/02/2018
Distance: 53.7km
Ascent: 3028m
Views: 135

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Attachment(s) Munros: An Socach (Braemar), Carn an Righ, Glas Tulaichean
Sub 2000s: Creag Ghiubhais, Meall Alvie
Date walked: 11/02/2018
Distance: 55.6km
Ascent: 3004m
Comments: 8
Views: 613

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Munros: Carn a'Gheoidh, Carn a'Mhaim, Carn Aosda, The Cairnwell
Date walked: 03/02/2018
Distance: 33.7km
Ascent: 1650m
Views: 318

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Attachment(s) Grahams: Cauldcleuch Head
Donalds: Cauldcleuch Head, Windy Gyle
Sub 2000s: Greatmoor Hill
Date walked: 28/01/2018
Distance: 42.3km
Ascent: 1753m
Comments: 11
Views: 635

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Attachment(s) Munros: Ben Chonzie, Driesh, Mayar, Mount Keen
Date walked: 21/01/2018
Distance: 58km
Ascent: 2949m
Views: 449

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Attachment(s) Munros: A' Bhuidheanach Bheag, A' Chailleach (Monadhliath), Carn Dearg (Monadhliath), Carn Sgulain, Geal Charn (Monadhliath)
Date walked: 14/01/2018
Distance: 57.4km
Ascent: 2752m
Comments: 2
Views: 568


User avatar
Location: Greenock
Occupation: Janitor of Lunacy
Interests: Solvitur Ambulando
Activity: Wanderer
Pub: A whisky at sunset
Mountain: Foinaven
Place: Around Knoydart
Gear: Satmap Active 12
Member: MCofS
Camera: Lumix FT5 / Fuji Finepix
Ideal day out: A long walk that thrills, chills and makes me feel alive
Munro rounds: 1
Corbett rounds: 1
Graham rounds: 1

Munros: 208
Corbetts: 54
Grahams: 32
Donalds: 89
Wainwrights: 15
Hewitts: 31
Sub 2000: 128
Long Distance routes: West Highland Way   

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Trips: 12
Distance: 494.87 km
Ascent: 29246m
Munros: 29
Grahams: 3
Donalds: 8
Sub2000s: 6


Trips: 76
Distance: 2994.86 km
Ascent: 175243m
Munros: 67
Corbetts: 12
Grahams: 72
Donalds: 81
Sub2000s: 96
Hewitts: 13
Wainwrights 12


Trips: 78
Distance: 2035.42 km
Ascent: 124390m
Munros: 17
Corbetts: 4
Grahams: 142
Donalds: 71
Sub2000s: 24
Hewitts: 15


Trips: 68
Distance: 2453.94 km
Ascent: 164961m
Munros: 77
Corbetts: 126
Grahams: 17
Donalds: 8
Sub2000s: 2


Trips: 64
Distance: 2406.7 km
Ascent: 166291m
Munros: 109
Corbetts: 112
Grahams: 16
Donalds: 10


Trips: 64
Distance: 1894.46 km
Ascent: 127277m
Munros: 219
Corbetts: 17
Grahams: 4
Donalds: 3
Sub2000s: 1


Trips: 24
Distance: 254.33 km
Ascent: 16304m
Munros: 26
Corbetts: 5


Trips: 1
Corbetts: 1
Donalds: 1

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