Date: Saturday/Sunday 1st/2nd October 2016
Distance: 8.5 + 11.1km
Ascent: 1300 + 300m
MWIS was talking about winds falling light for the weekend before anyone else, as the week progressed the forecast firmed towards a NW Highlands high camp opportunity.
As always we had any number of possibilities, but in the end we decided to finally camp on the jewel of Torridon – Beinn Alligin.
Prior to being hillwalkers we’d followed an OS walks book’s description of a circuit around Alligin which suggested a diversion to Sgurr Mhor via the easy slope on the west side. A knackering day for 2 unfit non-hillwalkers, but the views on a stunning summer’s day left a lasting impression.
We’ve fancied a summit camp here for a long time but have never got around to it. Time to put that to bed.
Parked up a little later than usual at the Alligin car park. We’d toyed with a number of routes, however the nature of big prominent hills is that joining them up means a big increase in ascent. We decided to simply head up the Horns and over Sgurr Mhor to pitch the tent on Tom na Gruagaich.
This would allow for a slow day with a lot more time to appreciate the surroundings.
It was a lovely day, we emerged out of Liathach’s shadow once we crossed the bridge over Abhainn Coire Mhic Nobuill and the chilly air suddenly felt warm in the sunshine.
The track splits at NG 881 601 – the left hand fork heads for the Horns of Alligin. The route here is quite a staircase, heading very steeply up 150m or so until a brief respite.
Quite hard work with the camping packs. The views provided adequate distraction however.
Wildlife is a little harder to come by on these busy hills, we did see an adult Golden Eagle whisk past at this point but it wasn’t hanging around.
The day had started crystal clear, Liathach had bubbled up a cloud hat which robbed it of direct sunshine for much of the day while Sgurr Mhor had stayed sunny. In an irksome turn of events Sgurr Mhor developed a shading cloud just before we reached the summit.
Donned some insulating gear, sat down and had a rather extended lunch break. The cloud hat didn’t prevent us enjoying a rather fine view. With great air clarity we could see Lewis, Harris and down the chain to Barra. Eigg and Coll could be seen to the south, Ben Nevis was just peeking up and once again we could make out Boreray in the St Kilda group at 176km. Not too shabby.
With almost no wind the clouds were not moving. Interestingly over about 15 minutes our cloud hat shrunk away, with sunshine encroaching from both sides, until our direct sun was restored.
Not being in any rush we waited it out and enjoyed some sunnier views from the top.
On our last visit in August we’d explored the summit of Tom na Gruagaich. We’d decided that a pitch at 900m just SE of the summit offered the best views of Torridon and out to sea, while being just a minute or two from the summit.
Tent pitched at 1600hrs allowing about 3 hours to enjoy the end of the day. Picked up the night’s water from the spring in Coire nan Laogh at 830m.
The last of the day’s visitors passed by, a runner stopping for a chat at the summit, he’d also been over Beinn Eighe earlier while we were lazing the day away on Alligin.
We could see a fellow summit camper on the summit of Beinn Dearg, wondered if it was anyone we knew.
Sunset was approaching fast, a few of the hills started to develop isolated skims of thin cloud an summits.
Watched as the light dwindled before heading back to the tent to celebrate with a little liquid fire and some chocolate.
Grabbed a couple of hours sleep before getting up just before midnight to have a look at the view.
Headed up from the tent to the summit to enjoy the view and the aurora. As with all night photography it wasn’t nearly as impressive to the naked eye, but the green glow and columns were visible out past Stornoway.
It’s an amazing viewpoint – we could see house and street lights down the Hebrides chain. A map check back home confirms that the lighthouse seen over Achiltibuie must have been Cape Wrath.
For the next hour it was simply a matter of watching the rising light levels and enjoying. A delight.
Visibility was fantastic – spent some time identifying hill silhouettes across the NW highlands. A couple of Mull hills were just visible too.
The first walker of the day passed by at just after 0800. We lounged around for quite a while. The tent warms quite nicely once some sun hits it.
Eventually packed up and got going at about 1100. A classic no rush trip.
We could have simply dropped down Coire nan Laogh to the car but what a waste of a stunning day that would have been. We decided to use our previous route, dropping west off Sgurr Mhor and heading round via Bealach a Comhla.
We’d considered visiting the Graham, but although it has splendid sea views, its views into Torridon are blocked by Beinn Alligin. We decided on the easier option of heading up Creag a Chinn Duibh instead. A nice walk on easy terrain here.
Great air clarity – the detail visible on distant hills was amazing.
Headed up to Creag a Chinn Duibh summit and had a seat. Not a bad wee pitch site itself. Quite a nice angle on some rather fine hills.
There’s a pretty decent seaward view too.
With some unwillingness we got up and started the return leg to the car. Not really a day to turn for home.
The pace picked up – a quick yomp on battery power before we could slow back down on solar power further down the glen.
A slow meander down the glen. We’ve had a few nice Torridon days, but they still need savoured.
Back to the car just before 1700hrs – pretty much managed to extract a day and a half out of an 8 hour walk. Result!
The drive back through Torridon was simply awesome – what a place.
Pretty pleased with that – not the most ambitious plan, but one executed at sloth-like pace and enjoyed with Epicurean delight.