Friday, 25 April 2008
The above map shows the locations of the cottage and the walks we enjoyed during the week.
I think it really demonstrates well that once you have arrived in Torridon, very little driving is needed - a wide variety of fabulous walks are literally on your doorstep.
The reports on the individual days can be accessed via the ‘Torridon08’ label on this blog. The entries were made each evening from the cottage (occasionally under duress!) and the photos were added later.
I’ve discovered that one of the disadvantages of the format of this blog is the inability to effectively publish (my albeit rather amateurish) panoramic images, other than as a header or footer, due to the narrow space available. I like the format apart from that, so don’t intend to change it. On this occasion I’ve published a separate web page which is a better medium for the wider images. It also summarises the trip and provides some statistics which may be of interest to those who came along.
Whilst Notchy, Dave, Pam and Paul enjoyed an uneventful 10 hour journey home, Sue and I had TGOC food stashes to drop off. We also had Heather’s stashes to take back home as we had discovered that her poorly metatarsal had suffered a setback, meaning that she is out of this year’s Challenge.
It proved a long but pleasurable journey, and we were very lucky to escape past a comatose petrol tanker that was lying on its side on the A82 near Fort Augustus, before the police and fire engines arrived to stem the river of fuel that we had to drive through, and no doubt also stem the flow of traffic and rescue the driver!
Further on, we enjoyed this classic view of Ben Nevis from the Memorial at Spean Bridge.
Most importantly, we arrived in Dundee in plenty of time to enjoy a lovely evening with Chris and Avril, and their daughter Sue and her children. Chris and Avril had been with me in Ullapool in 2006 (I think the report may still be outstanding!) and were very jealous of the good weather we had enjoyed in Torridon.
Thank you Chris and Avril for such a lovely evening to conclude this most pleasurable trip.
Wednesday, 23 April 2008
This was a big day for Dave, Paul, Pam and me – Beinn Eighe, after Martin’s frittata for breakfast.
It was another lovely morning, although the wind was brisk and cold. There was a good rising path from the plantation near Loch Bharranch.
The final snowy section (above) up to the first summit was hard work, with axes employed despite the soft snow, due to the steepness of the slope. Elevenses of tea and caramel shortbread had been just in time!
A man and his seven year old Munro bagging son were also going well.
The snow was good up to and beyond the Munro summit of Spidean Coire nan Clach, where Pam and Paul are pictured below, and the ridge ahead, with Liathach as a backdrop, was beautiful.
The ridge was narrow but felt safe – we were all high as kites with the blue sky and stunning views.
Lunch was on a snow-free, south facing slope with a grandstand view of Liathach, always bathed in sun. Clouds from the east evaporated as they passed overhead.
There was another stiff pull up to the point where another narrow ridge heads off to the main summit of this mountain, Ruadh-stac Mòr. The wind now increased in earnest, spindrift filling the air. The chill wind bit into our faces and strengthened as we approached the summit. Care and strength were needed to stay upright. Dave and I reached the summit and waited….and waited…
Meanwhile Pam and Paul were hunkered down in the snow on the final approach, as Pam had nearly blown away! Here they are, just after staggering to their feet after their long 'hunker'.
A team effort got us all back up to the summit.
On the descent we encountered others nearing the final haul to the summit. We recommended approaching from the leeward side! Here we are, descending to the right of our upward route.
The next obstacle was the gully into Coire Mhic Fhearchair. Although the snow was mostly soft there were a couple of tricky sections where it was shallow, steep and icy. …Steep, but enjoyable once the difficulties were over.
After this we descended gradually to the clear lochan, where the breeze was still stiff. Stepping stones made easy work of crossing the outflow, then a good path traversed the hillside, descending gradually. The northern flanks of Liathach again revealed themselves, covered in snow.
We saw several more folk after a break for afternoon tea by some waterfalls, before completing the final 5-6 km in a cold headwind that persisted all the way back to the car.
What an epic day on which to conclude a wonderful week!
Here's our route - 16 km and 1200 metres ascent:
Friday, 18 April 2008
A strong, bitter easterly wind had discouraged us from going higher, despite the clear blue sky above. Having normally done this walk in the rain, I found it a pleasure to have such fine conditions. The four and a half hours it took to reach the car park below Beinn Alligin passed all too quickly.
The scenery reminded us of the Annapurna Circuit; only the scale was different!
We started with a number of folk who may have been going up Beinn Eighe, but were more likely just walking up to Loch Coire Mhic Fhearchair for a gander at the snow clad triple buttresses. We met two cyclists battling against the headwind. They had chosen the wrong direction, and given the boggy terrain in the middle section of today's route, perhaps an inadvisable cycle track. It didn't look hugely enjoyable. We weren't sure whether they should be here at all, but they seemed harmless enough.
This is our lunchtime view towards Beinn Dearg and Beinn Alligin (the shot left to magnificent, Annapurna-like, Liathach was directly into the sun).
I recall a day up here with Nick and Johnny, when it wasn't so windy but Johnny's rope was used to rescue someone who had fallen, and the air was thick with feathers from the poor man's ripped jacket. When was that, Nick?
Thanks for reminding me once again of the exciting trip we had to Beinn Eighe all those years ago. It was a week which also saw Johnny and I climb up an interesting gully between the 'horns' of Beinn Alligin. I also recall a walk we did more recently when we enjoyed a scree run almost all the way down to the deer fence, it seemed. Was that the same day we sat with some of the Aberdeen guys in a precarious position on the ridge in the mist? And I have a photo of one of the wheels of the wrecked WWII plane somewhere.
Anyway, we reckon the 'rescue' was about 1983 or 84 based on where Johnny remembers he was working at the time. I guess that means we must have travelled up from London together.
The route Notchy and I took today is shown below - 19 km and 500 metres ascent.
Thursday, 17 April 2008
Another cloudless morning greeted us, Janet arrived as planned, and we set off up Beinn Damh at 9.30.
The walk through the native pine forest was delightful.
It was a cool morning, with a brisk easterly wind, but we were relatively sheltered right up to the 600 metre col. We made sure that our compulsory 'elevenses' were taken, according to tradition, in a nice warm sheltered spot with a fine view.
Much extra clothing was needed at the col to combat the icy wind, but heading up the ridge we regained the lee of the mountain and enjoyed warmer, calmer conditions. The snow was firm and easy today - not like yesterday's sugary blemonge (sic - see Nick's comment).
The final ridge proved enjoyable, with no horrendous abysses to trouble the vertigo sufferers amongst us.
Remarkably, it was calm and warm on the 903m summit, where the seven of us enjoyed lunch with fine vistas under a dazzling sun. Views extended far and wide, perhaps the best of the week, with all the local hills looking very close, and fine views to the Cuillins and the central and northern Highlands.
The magical vistas accompanied us all afternoon. Janet's chocolate gave us a boost before most of us visited the NW outlier, Sgurr na Bana Mhoraire, which overlooks the magnificence of Loch Torridon and the Hebrides beyond.
An easy descent brought us down to the daily tea and cakes we all enjoy, followed by the Pacific Ramblers' gunpowder sausages, then Sue's apple crumble - finished just in time to witness another stunning sunset.
And so ended yet another wonderful mountain day.
Today's route is shown below - 15 km and 1300 metres ascent for those who did it all.
Wednesday, 16 April 2008
Whilst Notchy went to explore the Diabeg coastline and the Pacific Ramblers donned shorts for a perambulation around Beinn Damh, Dave, Sue and I daubed ourselves with suntan cream and tried to re-energise our muscles on the walk in to Slioch from Incheril.
A lovely gentle stroll in hot sunshine took us beside the Kinlochewe River.
Once across this bridge, the ascent starts - on a nicely graded path that soon heads up towards Coire na Sleaghaich. We lingered beside the river, admiring strenuous waterfalls.
A man in a kilt and two others passed nearby, on their way up Sgurr Dubh. We didn't see them, or anyone else, again.
We saw many deer today, including this small herd of females who had their patch beside the path and were jolly well not going to move, however close we got!
Today's route is shown below - 19 km with 1300 metres ascent.
Tuesday, 15 April 2008
Five of us headed up the well graded 'Pony Track' towards two outlying Corbetts in the Beinn Eighe massif, whilst Notchy found his own route from further up the road.
Here we are with our first objective, Meall a' Ghiubhais (886m), which gradually grew in stature as we approached.
The Beinn Eighe range opened out, much higher, in the other direction. Sunglasses were essential to counter the blindingly bright yellow orb. Cameras were constantly out to record the thrilling scenery on this fantastic wintry day. Those on our Christmas Card List may see something like this in December...
Steps were kicked by Sue (again - the rest of us are pensioners)!
These led us to the first summit for more excellent vistas, with Loch Maree and Slioch now also in view.
A lone woman had just tramped past, curiously not bothering to either stop and admire the views, or visit the true summit, some 10 minutes to the west of us. Here we are at that summit, with the Beinn Eighe range stretched before us. Our next objective, Ruadh-stac Beag, is in the foreground above Paul's head.
On descent we met Notchy, and another couple of people on this fine hill in winter conditions (it may be rather boring in summer!).
After lunch we headed up our second Corbett of the day, Ruadh-stac Beag (896m). I followed the recommended route beside a burn, past this pretty waterfall.
Meanwhile the others gave up their bid to penetrate the crags, Pam and Paul went down, whilst Sue and Dave retraced to pick up my prints and chase me to the summit. I encountered them as I descended steeply through the sugar. Here's Dave descending from the summit, still in 'chase mode', with Beinn Eighe behind.
Dave's carbonara, the manufacture of which we think featured telepathic communications with Pat, rounded the day off!
Monday, 14 April 2008
Beinn Alligin is a favourite hill of mine.
Only now did we need a windproof shell on this fine, calm day.
There was nobody else on the hill - we have now spent two days walking without seeing another soul.
After a slightly tricky descent down terraces covered with unstable snow, we rose easily past the spectacular Eag Dubh cleft to the even more splendid viewpoint at 986 metres - Sgurr Mhor, with a fine view to the Horns, with Beinn Dearg beyond.
As we descended, snowballs raced each other ahead of us. Later these were joined by the top of Paul's flask.
Our descent around the back of the mountain to the road was uneventful aside from a wet crawl under a deer fence to reach the road.
It was a lovely afternoon, and only 4pm, the reason Dave gave for walking the 4 miles back to the lodge. Or was he scared of Paul's driving?
Sunday, 13 April 2008
The six of us set off past the Ling Hut in as good spirits as the very friendly dog we met there.
The next 3 km along the stalkers path up Coire a Cheud-Chnoic was a delight.
The showers eased and 5 of us continued easily to the Corbett summit - Sgorr nan Lochan Uaine (871m), whilst Notchy meandered around to the north ridge to which the rest of us descended to meet him for lunch.
WNW took us past a cliff to descend easily to regain the stalkers path below Ling Hut and get back to the car by 4pm after being out for over 6 hours.
We then rescued Notchy who was enjoying an amble along the road after his adventure with a tricky 'log and wire' bridge over a river.
From the cottage we enjoyed fine views as the Munro tops of Alligin and Liathach (below) cleared.