The best destinations are often the ones that hide in the shadows of noisy neighbours…
Beinn Bhan and Sgurr a’ Chaorachain
An alternative to: Torridon
While the ancient and venerable hills of Torridon attract the crowds, relatively few hillwalkers venture onto the hills that lie south of Glen Torridon; hills that share the same geological antiquity. Here lie some of the finest Corbetts in the country. Take for example, Beinn Damh, or Sgurr Dubh and Sgorr nan Lochan Uaine – three hills of immense character – or travel further west towards Applecross where the landscape is dominated by two wonderfully rugged and corrie sculpted hills: Beinn Bhan and Sgurr a’ Chaorachain.
While Sgurr a’ Chaorachain can be climbed in about 20 minutes from the summit of the Bealach na Ba road between Kishorn and Applecross village, the hill is probably best known for its majestic rock climb, the Cioch Nose, first climbed by Tom Patey and Chris Bonington in 1961. The route is probably the finest V.Diff in the country. Neighbouring Beinn Bhan (896m/2939ft) is a different kettle of fish. Writing in the Scottish Mountaineering Club Journal in 1892, author Lional W Hinxman described it as having “every attribute of hell except its warmth”. In wintry conditions Beinn Bhan can display a savage imagery, made no less dramatic by the vertiginous slopes of no fewer than six impressive corries that have been bitten out of its east-facing slopes. The hill forms the most eastern and highest part of an elevated plateau of Torridonian sandstone that occupies much of the south-eastern area of Applecross.
Tourist information: Applecross, 01520 722357
Maps: Ordnance Survey 1:50,000 Landranger sheet 24 (Raasay & Applecross,
Loch Torridon & Plockton); Ordnance Survey 1:25,000 Explorer sheet 428
(Kyle of Lochalsh, Plockton & Applecross)
Image by Cameron McNeish