Saturday, 18 October 2014

In Torridon

Sometimes you just want to get away, reconnect with places you know are charged with goodness. One place I have never had anything other than a good time is Torridon. I have always been lucky with the weather, and the hills are amazing. A weekend in Torridon is a world apart from normal suburban life. The eerie keening of wildcats echoing off the banded tiers of Liathach at night. Eagles soaring on thermals during the day. An absorbing day on the hill, and a perfect pint in the Beinn Damph Hotel after talking to a stalker. This is the stuff of Torridon.

The bothy:

I arrived in Strathcarron on the south side of Torridon well after sunset, but the walk-in to the well-maintained bothy is straightforward. I had it to myself. The glen in which it sits is a beautiful one. There is a strikingly phallic white rock in the glen, to which legend says the hero Fingal tied his dogs when he went off hunting. Why he didn't take his dogs hunting isn't explained. But there is a feeling of rightness about this glen, the arrangement of water, land and trees. Once again I was lucky with the weather in one of Scotland's most beautiful areas.

The glen:

My targets were a Corbett and a Munro, An Ruadh-Stac and Maol Cheann-dearg. A good stalkers' path heads up to a bealach at 600m, making the initial ascent easy. Deer streamed across the flanks of Meall nan Ceapairean. I stopped at the lochans sitting in a rocky bowl below An Ruadh-Stac and bathed my feet.

Any stress drained out of me into the ground. Contentment at the situation welled up in its place.

Beinn Damph from the lochans:

The hills of Torridon are singular, rocky, banded, full of character. The way up An Ruadh-Stac looked intimidating, but on a clear day it is easy. From the summit, precipitous drops to shadowed corrie lochs. West, hilly islands of Rum and Skye interlock with the sea.

Distant Rum:

North, my target for sunset. Maol Cheann-dearg.

An Ruadh-Stac is grey. Maol Cheann-dearg is made of different rocks, red and pink underfoot as I peched my way to the summit cairn. I could sit up here for hours, nursing a dram and simply enjoying the moment. To the south, An Ruadh-Stac caught the evening light.

But it is the view north to Liathach that commands the attention. This is the place to be as sunset enroaches and the shadows lengthen, on the airy summit of Maol Cheann-dearg with a hipflask of Talisker. I waited until half an hour before sunset before reluctantly retracing my steps back down to the bothy, more content than I had been in a while.

Glen Torridon from Maol Cheann-dearg:


blueskyscotland said...

A great area. Glad you got decent weather for it.

Robert Craig said...

Yes, Torridon never disappoints (unlike Knoydart, which I've yet to see in dry weather!)