Our blog - Torridon, 14-16 Oct'17

A blog of our mountain adventures in Scotland, hiking, biking, rock-scrambling and more !

Torridon Giants

14-16 October 2017
Hiking and scrambling on the Torridon Munros over and extended autumn weekend. Emma O'Shea was leading with John King also on the Liathach day, here's Emma's tale....

Day 1

Beinn Alligin is one of our favourite of the Torridonian mountains and it didn't disappoint us today. The climb is long and makes it way through the corrie, right onto the summit, and after a couple of heavy showers on the ascent the rain cleared for the summit leaving us with views of all of the surrounding mountains including the Fisherfield Munros which were clear to the north. There was a fairly gusty wind, but we were reasonably sheltered for most of the route across to Sgurr Mor, although it was rather windy on the summit as Clive and Kate demonstrated with a wonderfully windy spot chosen for a photograph.

The Horns of Alligin beckoned, and we made the most of the dry sandstone for some scrambling over the ridge. We opted for some of the steeper sections of scrambling and enjoyed stops on each of the horns, practising our scrambling technique between each one. The views were excellent and the ridge is a great introduction to Torridon. Scrambling over, we headed down into the glen and as soon as the tea shop was mentioned everyone speeded up to get back in time before it closed. Hot drinks and homemade cakes were an excellent end to a very enjoyable day.

Day 2

The wind was the biggest feature of today. After some careful studying of weather forecasts we opted for a slightly later start as the wind was due to drop about 1pm, and we were hoping to combine arriving on the ridge with the decreasing wind speeds. The first part of the Beinn Eighe route takes us up into Corrie Mhic Fhearchair. This is a fabulous walk in its own right, with an excellent built path climbing all the way up to the loch. We were aided by a southerly tail wind for much of the way, and enjoyed views of the north side of Liathach, Beinn Dearg, Baosbheinn, Beinn an Eoin and Slioch.

As we turned the corner into the corrie we could see that the waterfalls flowing down from the mountain were now heading backwards, up the mountain! An impressive sight as vast plumes of water headed up into the air and then blew backwards. We found a sheltered spot at the loch edge to enjoy the grandeur of the corrie, which is one of the most impressive in the Highlands, backed by the Triple Buttress. However, it was the wind which entertained us most today, as it repeatedly whipped up the water across the loch in all directions with mini tornadoes swirling around and the noise of the wind echoing around the corrie. Our next challenge was to cross the backward flowing waterfall, we waited for the gusts to drop so that everyone could cross the stepping stones without being blown into the river. With everyone across except Emma, the next set of gusts arrived and a wall of water resembling a tsunami blew up soaking everyone who had already crossed, leaving Emma clinging to a rock in the river!

We headed round the loch, pausing as the strongest gusts swirled around the corrie and moving when they stopped. After passing the remains of the crashed plane we climbed upwards on the Torridonian sandstone willing the wind to start to drop. Our next goal was the geological unconformity where 500 million year old Cambrian quartzite sits on top of 750 million year old Torridonian sandstone. Reaching this, a decision was required, and after ten minutes holding onto the wet rocks whilst the wind continued to howl around us it was an easy one to make, we were going to retrace our steps and head down. As we did so the rain got heavier and cloud base dropped so that we could barely see the edge of the loch, but it was the crossing of the river that was even more dramatic than on the way up as we couldn't see the stepping stones for the amount of water which was soaking us whilst we were waiting for a drop in the wind to cross! We were very happy to follow the path back to the cars after a very exciting day on the mountain.

Day 3

With the remnants of tropical storm Ophelia forecast for Monday afternoon we opted for an early start for Liathach and were setting off up the hill path with our head torches on before 7am. It is a steep climb onto the ridge, and we enjoyed watching the daylight break on our ascent. Higher up there was a stag roaring with two hinds very close by too. We reached the ridge within a couple of hours and there wasn't a breath of wind. The sky was fairly ominous looking but we had good views across to the Flowerdale and Coulin Forests.

There is nothing like the threat of a storm to keep a group moving and we pushed on, reaching the summit of Spidean a'Choire Leith by 10am. After a quick bite to eat and the easterly wind starting to blow some snow showers across us, we descended to the pinnacles. Our initial plan was to combine the bypass path with Am Fasarinean, the highest pinnacle, but as we traversed the first section of the ridge, the wind started to pick up and we decided it was best to stick to the bypass path today. This is very exposed in places and there were a few members of the group who were very happy when we reached the end of this section! We pushed on through some heavy rain up onto Mullach an Rathain and were rewarded with clearing skies and a wonderful westwards outlook across Loch Torridon to the Isle of Skye and beyond to the Outer Hebrides. It was a moment to savour and it was still only just after 11am!

The descent back to the glen is always tough on the knees, and we had a few stops on the way down. The light was incredible, with dark storm clouds and a very unusual orange sunlight caused by Ophelia's winds blowing up air from the forest fires of Portugal and deserts of the Sahara. Lower down the mountain the gusts were really increasing and we were very happy to have the road in our sights. It was a very memorable Liathach traverse, and one that we certainly won't forget in a hurry.

More photos taken by Nick Goldfinch and John King are here on Flickr.

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