After our Winter Skills days in January and February, our Torridon event in March was the first major guided hillwalking and scrambling trip of the year. And what perfect conditions we had !
On the Saturday, a group of 7 people, with women outnumbering men (including the guides), were lead by Richard and myself up Beinn Alligin. A pleasant walk took us into Coire an Laoigh, stopping several times to take in the ever expanding view that grew behind us. Onto the first Munro summit, Tom na Gruagaich, and time for a lunch break. Wow, just stunning ! We could see all the way to Fionaven in the north, to Ben Nevis in the south and a full-frontal of Skye and the Cuillin.
An easy scramble down, followed by a grassy walk, the group split briefly into 2, some taking a direct line, others heading to the top of the Eas Dubh to gaze down the huge gash created by a massive landslip. Onto Sgurr Mor, time to for more food as we blethered with other hillwalkers enjoying the fine weather. Onto the Horns of Alligin and the guides lead the group over the sections of rock-scrambling, everyone enjoying themselves.
Down to the river below and we were greeted by a dismantled bridge. The NTS were in the process of replacing it and fortunately the river level was fairly low and the group crossed easily (well almost !). There was the possiblity of continuing over Liathach, but there just wasn't quite enough daylight at this time of year.
Sunday saw the group (now down to 5) being lead by myself up Beinn Eighe. Again fine conditions and we walked from the car-park in Glen Torridon up Coire Dubh Mor, passed some waterfalls and into Coire Mhic Fhearchair and gawped at the Triple Butress. Some pieces of the wreckage of the plane that crashed in the 1950's could still be seen amongst the rocks and boulders, which gave the place a slightly haunted and dark feeling.
After sunning ourselves by the loch, it was time to get out hands out of our pockets and scramble uphill. Rock is loose and it's two steps up and one step down for a fair bit of the way - tough on knees and ankles. We had the opportunity to leave our rucksacks at the col, before heading north onto Ruadh-stac Mor, the highest point on the mountain. The wind had really picked up by now and we were walking into 40-50 mph gusts. If you're wandering on the eastern side of Ruadh-stac Mor, you might find my cap that blew off ! We managed to more or less get out of the wind on the summit, but after a few photos, we didn't hang around and returned quickly to the col.
Around Coinneach Mor, we stopped for lunch on the path well out of the wind. Ken, the estate manager for the land below Slioch ran passed us, stopping briefly for a chat. He's a keen hill-runner and beat me (just) on the Slioch hillrace last year ! Onto the ridge and up Spidean Coire nan Clach, competing with the wind. More stunning views from the summit and after some more posing for the camera, it was time to get down. A couple in the group started to slow, knees were suffering a bit, so we decided to take a leisurely pace back down. I could see Dave was itching to move more quickly and asked if he fancied jogging down and picking the car. It gave the rest of the group a chance for a rest just above Stuc Coire an Laoigh and a blether out of the wind. Back down, Dave had not only picked up the car, but also walked back part way up towards us, bringing Lucy some isotonic juice - what a gentleman !