One of the more accessible mountains in the renowned Torridon area, Alex Roddie finds that Beinn Eighe makes for a memorable adventure visiting two Munros.
For hillwalkers in the Highlands who like their mountains rugged, the cluster of peaks north of Glen Torridon holds a special allure. Beinn Alligin and Liathach are shapely and distinctive. They’re also challenging, with sections of exposed scrambling. All of these factors add up to make Torridon one of the best bases in Scotland for hillwalking. But what if I told you that Torridon’s greatest mountain is neither of the above – and that it’s easier to climb than either, whilst still retaining a good level of challenge? Beinn Eighe is that mountain.
It’s huge but intricate. It has two Munro summits and a clutch more tops. There are enigmatic corries, craggy escarpments, a high-level loch and the legendary Triple Buttress with its climbing heritage. With well over 1000m of ascent and plenty of rough terrain to cover, this is a full day’s hill walk – with one short section of easy, ungraded scrambling. And the views will captivate you, especially southwest to Liathach. In my opinion, Beinn Eighe is one of Scotland’s best mountains.
Words and images: Alex Roddie
Beinn Eighe: route guide
Start/Finish: Glen Torridon car park (GR: NG957568) | Distance: 19.6km/12.2 miles | Ascent: 1191m/3907ft | Duration: 7 – 9 hours | Maps: OS 1:50,000 Landranger sheets 19 and 25 (Gairloch & Ullapool and Glen Carron & Glen Affric); OS 1:25,000 Explorer sheet 433 (Torridon); Harvey British Mountain Map XT40 Torridon & Fisherfield
1. NG957568: Start at the parking area in Glen Torridon between Liathach and Beinn Eighe. A good path begins NE before soon turning NW, climbing gently up into Coire Dubh Mor. The going here is easy and there are plenty of opportunities to pause and enjoy the dramatic views of Beinn Eighe’s steep S wall. Left are the steep buttresses of Stuc a’ Choire Dhuibh Bhig, Liathach’s easternmost peak.
2. NG934594: Reach a fork between a small pool to your right and a lochan on your left. Ignore the left fork, and instead begin climbing right, contouring around the W slopes of Sail Mhor. Views open out here – both along the broad valley between Liathach and the steep battlements of Beinn Dearg, and also NW into a vast landscape of lochans and rivers leading into the Flowerdale Forest.
3. NG939610: A short, steep climb right of waterfalls leads to Loch Coire Mhich Fhearchair. This is one of the scenic highlights of the area, renowned for its impressive view of the brooding Triple Buttress cliffs. Cross the burn (tricky in spate) and continue on a path along the loch’s E shore.
4. NG944606: At the S end of the loch, follow a path that climbs towards the bealach on the skyline, largely following a burn as it flows between small pools. The path climbs over rocky terraces and eventually ascends very steep, loose scree – take care to avoid sliding all the way back into the corrie! – to reach the 868m bealach. Here, turn N to climb a gentle grassy ridge to Ruadh-stac Mor (1010m, fine views, especially to the N) and then retrace your steps to the bealach.
5. NG952603: Climb more steeply SW towards Coinneach Mhor until you reach a path junction. Optionally, continue 600m W with 30m ascent to the summit (976m, not a Munro). Otherwise, descend SE and follow a ridge that soon narrows. This section can be heavily corniced and a little exposed in winter, but in summer it’s only likely to feel intimidating in high winds.
6. NG957595: The ridge begins climbing and remains well-defined, growing rockier, with exceptional views looking back W to Liathach. Reach a 972m trig pillar – this is a rather cruel false summit, and it’s easy to mistake it for the true summit, especially in bad weather. If you’ve been paying attention to your map-reading, you’ll know to continue. Keep going along a short, rocky crest with a few moves of easy scrambling to Spidean Coire nan Clach (993m, small cairn). Return to the trig pillar and descend steeply S on scree to a cairn at a small bealach. There is one final good view W to Liathach from here.
7. NG966594: A very steep path (vague in places, so keep an eye on navigation if visibility is poor) descends E into Coire an Laoigh before breaking out onto open slopes and descending directly to the road.
8. NG977578: Turn R and follow the road back to the car park.
Transport: None to start; buses to Torridon village from Strathcarron (702) and Gairloch (705)
Information: Ullapool iCentre, firstname.lastname@example.org (01854 612486)