Six days in Torridon, Part 1: Beinn Alligin

in mountains •  2 months ago


It's the darkest time of year, with less than seven hours of daylight. And those daylight hours are pretty muted! So it seems like a good time to take a look back at my summer trips to the beautiful Torridon region in the north west of Scotland.


I made two trips to Torridon in 2018, the second one being a long weekend that I organised for my hillwalking Meetup group. As this was the first group long weekend I had organised, and as I was the only organiser, doing three big mountain walks in three consecutive days, I decided to do a recce trip first.

I had initially planned the weekend along with two other organisers for my hillwalking group, but those organisers both dropped out. None of us get paid – we just do it for the love of hillwalking – so I couldn't really complain. But it left me with a lot on my plate!

A Mecca for mountaineers


Torridon is a magnet for mountaineers, climbers and walkers. Strictly speaking, the name Torridon refers to a small village near Loch Torridon, a sea loch in the north west of Scotland – and the area that mountaineers refer to as Torridon is really Glen Torridon.


The mountains of Glen Torridon are different from the mountains further south. They are more barren and rocky, with jagged, angular shapes. Most of the rock is Torridonian sandstone, and it's some of the oldest rock in Britain.

Many of these mountains have a terraced appearance, with pinnacles at the top, and the way these tops are spaced apart from each other in bare jagged peaks rather than rolling hills, gives the area the appearance of subtropical, even desert terrain, especially on hot summer days.


A view of Baosbheinn, a mountain in Torridon with a typical jagged ridge.

The highest mountains in Torridon are Liathach, Beinn Eighe and Beinn Alligin, all of which are Munros (Scottish mountains with an altitude of at least 3,000 feet/914.4m). I decided not to include Liathach in my weekend, as it's an exceptionally tough walk, and I wouldn't have felt comfortable organising a group walk to this mountain. Instead, I chose to do Beinn Eighe, Beinn Alligin and Slioch. Slioch is not in Glen Torridon, but it's very close – a big Munro, but not a technically difficult one.

The recce weekend


The Meetup group weekend was booked for late June/early July. I decided to do a "recce" weekend in May, to ensure that I was familiar with all the routes, and fit enough to lead them!

The recce was planned at short notice, on the first few sunny days I had free. With the forecast looking good, I posted the trip on my Meetup group at very short notice. I knew that my mum wouldn't be happy about me doing the trip on my own!

One person signed up – a woman called Rosalind, whom I hadn't met before, but we had lots of friends in common. Rosalind has loads of hillwalking experience. She was only able to take two days off, and she wanted to do Beinn Alligin and Beinn Eighe.

We decided to start with Beinn Alligin, a mountain I hadn't climbed before. Beinn Alligin has two Munro summits: Tom na Gruagaich, at 922m, and Sgurr Mor, at 986m. It also has a narrow jagged ridge split into three sections, known as Na Rathanan, or "The Horns of Alligin". We were both a bit nervous about doing these!


The Horns of Alligin in the foreground, with Beinn Dearg behind.

Hot and sunny


It was a beautiful sunny day, and the temperature was already starting to rise as we set off from the car park at 10am. The climb up to the first summit, Tom na Gruagaich, is pretty steep, and we only took a few short breaks before arriving at the top a couple of hours later.



The views from the summit of Tom na Gruagaich are simply breathtaking.

 


Views over to Gairloch, just north of Torridon.

 


Views out west to the Isle of Skye.

To the east, we could see our way forward, over the ridge to the next Munro summit of Sgurr Mor, and then on towards the Horns of Alligin.


The walk to Sgurr Mor was a bit scrambly initially, with some tricky downclimbs, and then just a lovely scenic stroll followed by a short, steep climb.


Me at the summit of Sgurr Mor, with the first of the Horns just visible below.

We had lunch at the top, and contemplated the quite scary-looking Horns below us. Both of us were totally determined to climb them, and both of us were nervous at the prospect! The Horns can be avoided by walking on a bypass path, or you can completely avoid them by going back the way you came.

Neither of these options even occurred to us. We were going for it!

A hill runner put in a brief appearance at the summit. He'd just run over the Horns, doing the route that we were doing, but in reverse.


We were partly astonished and partly reassured by his presence. Once we'd finished our lunch, we started to make our way down the steep eastern side of Sgurr Mor. We were so focused on the sight of the first Horn ahead of us, that we didn't even notice how steep the path was that we were going down.


The first Horn ahead of us.

The closer we got to the rocky stack in front of us, the less daunting it seemed. There were a few people ahead of us climbing up it, and we just followed them. There some small paths, all ending abruptly in boulders.

We were soon using our hands as well as our feet, and really enjoying the scramble. It didn't take long for us to reach the top, where we enjoyed more breathtaking views.


Me at the top of the first Horn.

There was a short, narrow Ridge along the top of the first horn, with glorious views all around. We thoroughly enjoyed walking along it.


Rosalind walking along the top of the first Horn.

The face of Sgurr Mor looked astonishingly steep from this angle, yet it had not been a particularly difficult walk down. It shows how deceptive appearances can be on mountains, especially from a distance.


The steep path down Sgurr Mor.

The other two Horns were smaller, with more enjoyable scrambling, especially on the third Horn. As we walked down the last Horn, we felt a little sad that it was all coming to an end!


Walking down the last of the Horns.

There's a steep, bouldery climb down from the Horns, followed by a long walk-out. As we walked back we saw Beinn Alligin, the mountain that we had just traversed, from a very different perspective.


Beinn Alligin as seen from the east.


The next day we were planning to climb Beinn Eighe, a mountain that encompasses two Munro summits, and that I had attempted to climb twice before. I have very mixed memories about Beinn Eighe, as I had a terrible accident on it in 2017. However, it's one of the most beautiful mountains I've ever seen, and I don't want it to be forever associated in my mind with an unpleasant memory, so I was very keen to complete both summits without a fall.

To be continued...


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Gosh you don't have much daylight in winter! We have at least 11 hours in winter, in summer we have at least 14 hours of daylight so our days are much longer. Love the mountains but I'd never be able to walk like you, enjoy it!

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Thanks @lizelle! I suppose our long summer daylight hours make up for it - in high summer we only have a couple of hours of darkness.

Hiya, @livinguktaiwan here, just swinging by to let you know that this post made the Honorable mentions list in today's Travel Digest #404.

Your post has been manually curated by the @steemitworldmap team, and if you like what we're doing, please drop by to check out all the rest of today's great posts and consider upvoting and supporting us.

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Thank you!

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Hi natubat,

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Congratulations! This post has been chosen as one of the daily Whistle Stops for The STEEM Engine!

You can see your post's place along the track here: The Daily Whistle Stops, Issue 361 (1/04/19)

I am beginning to think you were a mountain goat in a former life or that may be in your cards as an after life to come. Either way though, I enjoy seeing the beauty you share in these posts of yours.
Congrats on the great acceptance of this post from @curie and some other heavy weights, very much deserved.

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Haha! Thanks @sultnpapper! I do have quite an affinity with goats, and I even like goat's cheese. And I could really enjoy a life in the mountains if I come back as one. So you meheheh-be right!

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Me be right on something? BahBahBaaaaaaajjaaaa ja.

Another adventure that I get in steemit and I like it. thanks for sharing. the photos are amazing. the landscape is beautiful

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Thanks @wisejg! Glad you enjoyed it. Torridon is such a beautiful area.

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yes it is...in venezuela we have some similar places. of course I've only seen them by photos hehe

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I've read about Mt Roraima in Arthur Conon Doyle's "The Lost World". I'd love to go there.

If I was asked to climb up Sgurr Mor, I'd definitely say no!!! What's a reece weekend?

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Haha! Honestly it's not as bad as it looks :) Recce is short for reconnaissance, so it just means preparation and research.

I had not heard of any of the place names here, and thought you were in the Middle East when seeing the first pic. This is nothing like I thought I would see in Scotland!

I saw another post from you about these climbs a few months ago. I see you are still so brave. I'm glad to see it, but not in a million years would I try. Good for you to push the boundaries :)

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It's incredible isn't it - I'd love to know how these mountains became so barren and desert-like.
Thanks for your lovely comments. I don't feel brave - I just love mountains, and I think you build up more confidence the more often you visit them!

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I would love to know that too. I think of Scotland as green. A couple of your photos showed the slope very well. You are definitely brave!

Wow, breathtaking! I wonder what it would have looked like at sunset especially since it's close to the West. Must be beautiful light in the late afternoon... that's the photographer in me speaking! :D Thank you for sharing!

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Thanks @erinparis. I would love to see these mountains at sunset, and I hope to do so this year. I'm hoping to go there and camp on one of the mountains. Hopefully I'll see the sunrise too :)

I can understand why it is a mecca for hikers and climbers such amazing scenery, and beautiful views thanks for sharing with us

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Thanks@tattoodjay! It is so beautiful up there.

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and you showcase its beauty for us to see so well

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Thankyou.

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Most welcome :)

Nice photos of the Mountain of Beauty! I've never heard of them before so I'm glad I get to know them from your blog. I hope you will be able to conquer Beinn Eighe next, and this time I hope your trip will be without accident. Good luck!
                   
And congrats for your curie vote ^_^.

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Thanks @scrawly! The Torridon mountains are incredible - they are all mountains of beauty really. You can read about Beinn Eighe on my blog now :)

Whoah! The mountains look so dry, steep and rocky.

We were soon using our hands as well as our feet

I felt nervous that you ladies might have rolled down the mountains! It must have been a real physical challenge climbing those peaks.

How long did it take you to finish the hike up to the time you got back down? Are there anyone who dared to camp somewhere in the mountains?

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The mountains up there are so barren and rocky, it's unbelievable - not like other parts of Scotland at all! And climbing them was a bit of a challenge, but so much fun!
The trip took about eight hours from start to finish. There was quite a long walk-out at the end.
Actually, as we were climbing up in the morning, we met a photographer coming down, and he'd camped out all night to get good sunset and sunrise views from the top. He didn't know the area very well, and I recommended another beautiful mountain, Beinn Eighe, for his following night's camp. The next day we met him on Beinn Eighe!

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The next day we met him on Beinn Eighe!

The world is small after all. You recommended the mountain to him and he took it. Nice one! How about you ladies, where did you take the night before continuing to Beinn Eighe the following day?

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We stayed at the Kinlochewe Bunkhouse. It's not a bad place, but in future I'd probably stay at the Torridon Youth Hostel - or camp.

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It's good that there are still bunkhouses or hostel near a place like that. Somehow an option if hikers don't want to camp.

Hello there @natubat!!

You are one amazing person to have walked over that huge mountain! I am afraid I dont have your energy and spirit. Actually I have never heard of a hillwalking before till now.. hehehe..

But the views are worth all that walking. Sooooooo breath takingly gorgeous.. You should have used @actifit!!!!!! I wonder how many steps yoj could have generated in a day. Do you have one? 😊.. you should check and get one.

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Hi @maquemali! Thanks for your lovely comments. Actually I have tried Actifit on a hillwalk, but I felt it didn't really give an accurate impression of the effort you make when hillwalking. It gives the number of steps, but it doesn't record the core-work and leg muscles work you do while going up a hill. It's really good for other types of exercise though.

Amazing terrain @natubat and it looks treacherous too because of the steepness of some of the hills and mountains.

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It can be very treacherous! But there are paths and it's fine as long as you know where you're going.

¡Hola! ¡Esas montañas son increíbles! Las fotos se ven muy bien, yo no podría hacer una caminata de esa magnitud, se necesita estar en forma, me imagino que siempre haces caminata, u otro tipo de deporte, para poder escalar esas montañas, gracias por compartir y te felicito por tu voto curie, cariños y besos @natubat.

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Gracias por sus encantadores comentarios @celinavisaez, y me alegra que haya disfrutado mis fotos. Me encanta escalar montañas, así que lo hago con regularidad, y también hago mucha escalada en interiores. ¡Eso es lo que me mantiene en forma!

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De nada espero sigas disfrutando tus escaladas, un abrazo