A First Taste of Torridon: Beinn Eighe

The week after my epic Kintail adventure, Sarah and I enjoyed a week away in Gairloch. Naturally, we wanted to include some hills as part of our trip and opted for a couple of the Torridon Munros in the form of Beinn Eighe.

[June ’21]

Thankfully this trip didn’t start with a drive from Ayrshire – a 5ish hour trip – and began in Gairloch, around 45 minutes from Glen Torridon. We parked and headed off shortly before 0900. We were very glad that we hadn’t left it much later as the car park was already pretty much full – I guess that’s what happens on weekends, but it’s still hard to get used to having spent 4 years of my life as a student with 3-month summers and 7 days to explore!

Despite an excellent forecast, there was some cloud lingering around the tops, especially those on the north of the glen, which is where we were going. It added to the drama of the peaks though and made Liathach look even more menacing!

Liathach capped with cloud

The first 1.5 miles of our day was on tarmac, following the A896 to another small car park just north of Loch Bharranch. From here we turned off to follow a good stalker’s path up into Coire an Laoigh. The views down the Coulin pass were superb.

Loch Clair

We climbed steadily into the corrie and stopped every now and then for photos of the awesome landscape surrounding us. Having been to loads of places across Scotland, Torridon’s rugged landscape is one that is truly unique. The cloud began to lift as we neared the crest of the ridge towards our first Munro of the day and transformed the landscape from moody, dramatic mountains to a colourful and vibrant landscape.

Lovely colours on Beinn Eighe
Cloud lifting from Liathach

From the ridge, there was another short and steep push to the summit. We first reached the trig point a short distance from the actual summit before scrambling across to the highest point and bagging our first Munro of the day, Spidean Coire nan Clach, around 3 hours after setting off from the car.

Final push to the first summit
Spectacular views of Torridon

As expected, the views were simply awesome. We soaked in the scenery and headed back to the trig point and sheltered cairn for a wee snack before heading on our way once again. The second Munro – Ruadh Stac Mor – seemed a long way away around Coire Ruadh-staca, but between us and it was a brilliant looking ridge.

The second Munro of the day

We tackled the ridge with no real difficulty and made good progress towards the grassy plateau on Coinneach Mor, before heading back downhill slightly to reach the bealach that would be the start of our descent into Coire Mhic Fhearchair. First though, there was the small matter of Ruadh Stac Mor.

Up and over before the final ascent

Other than Sarah being a little fatigued from her first day back in the hills since Beinn Bhuidhe earlier in the year, we made the summit with relative ease, reaching the top a little shy of 5 hours after setting off. After taking in the dramatic views across the other Torridon peaks, we retraced our steps back to the bealach where the long and tricky descent down into the corrie would begin.

Into the wilds of Torridon

The path followed a scree-chute for a short distance to reach some larger boulders at the bottom and thereafter followed a good path, but the chute meant our progress was hampered significantly as we took care on the loose terrain. There were no technical difficulties, but it was worth slowing down slightly and being sure of our footing rather than ending up in a heap in the corrie. Quicker, yes, but much more painful! The views were superb though, so taking our time was no real hardship.

Down to Coire Mhic Fhearchair

After the scree and larger boulders, we soon reached a better path that headed for – then skirted round – Loch Coire Mhic Fhearchair. This was an awesome place to be and the clear blue water of the loch looked really rather inviting after a long and sweaty outing thus far. We stopped at the end of the loch for a spot of food and admired the awesome cliffs at the back of the corrie before heading off down the good stalker’s path that we’d follow all the way back to the car.

Triple Buttress

We made excellent progress on the good path, passing quite a few people who were headed to the lochan for the afternoon (there are certainly worse places to spend your Sunday).

A pleasant stalkers path to end the journey
Nearing the end

An hour and 45 minutes later, we reached the end of our journey and were back at the car. By now the sun was baking hot and we were glad that the ascent had been in cloudier conditions as this would have been pretty horrific. The journey took us exactly 8 hours, covering 13 miles and nearly 1300m ascent. Ruadh Stac Mor was also my 65th Munro and Sarah’s 20th, so was a special part of our holiday.

This was an excellent way to begin a week in the NW Highlands and we spend the rest of the week (in the rain mostly) pleased that we’d managed a hill walk in one of the most scenic parts of our beautiful country!

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