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Seeking inspiration on low-level walk in Torridon in Wester Ross wonderland


By John Davidson

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ACTIVE OUTDOORS: John Davidson looks at the highs and lows of this special part of the Highlands on a short family stroll

Sgurr Mor with the Eag Dhubh (left) and the Horns of Alligin.
Sgurr Mor with the Eag Dhubh (left) and the Horns of Alligin.

Beinn Alligin is one of those popular mountains that I still haven’t got round to climbing, despite it being on the mental list for a good few years now.

However, a recent family visit to Torridon gave me the opportunity to at least get a closer look at this dramatic peak – and its two Munros – looking at its best in its winter cloak.

With kids in tow and only a brief window for a walk, there would be no getting onto the tops on this occasion, but just to be out in the wilds was a tonic for body and soul.

The Eag Dhubh – the black notch – made for an impressive contrast against the bright white snow as we looked up from the path through Coire Mhic Nobuil that gives access to this stunning area.

A National Trust for Scotland car park just west of the Abhainn Coire Mhic Nobuil provides the starting point for a number of walks, though the round of Alligin taking in the Munros of Sgurr Mor and Tom na Gruagaich along with the scramble over the Horns of Alligin is surely the most popular.

A National Trust for Scotland marker at the start of the path.
A National Trust for Scotland marker at the start of the path.

With Beinn Alligin and the other two Munro double-headers in the area – Liathach and Beinn Eighe – making up part of what is often referred to as the Torridon triptych, poor Beinn Dearg, at just a few inches below Munro level, is often the forgotten fourth sibling. Yet I’m told the ascent is well worth it, too.

A lower-level walk links the path we were ascending through Coire Mhic Nobuil with Coire Dubh, which heads between the eastern edge of Liathach and the Beinn Eighe. This makes for a great walk if you can arrange transport at each end – and Meg and I once did this by leaving the car at the NTS car park and cycling east to the car park in Glen Torridon before walking the route in a westerly direction.

Even without completing such a long walk, and certainly without venturing onto the tops with the children at this time of year, it’s great to be able to let them experience the magnificence of the mountain environment.

I could hardly keep my eyes off the view of Alligin’s ridge, with the two Munros and the Horns clearly visible for the coire path. The children may have seemed more interested in snowball fights and snacks, but I’m sure that exposing them to this environment must stimulate their minds as it does mine.

Clara takes aim with a snowball while Jennifer looks on.
Clara takes aim with a snowball while Jennifer looks on.

For myself, after spending very little time in the winter mountains last year, I intend to keep my seasonal outings to a fairly basic level to refamiliarise myself with technique and equipment, as well as navigating in more testing conditions than the other three seasons usually offer – though they have their moments!

There is something special about winter, though. For all the additional challenges and preparation it entails, on its day it can reward you with some of the most spectacular moments and lasting memories.

Even a brief flurry in the snow like this is enough to remind me, though, that a simple low-level trek in a special place is often just what’s needed – and sometimes all you have energy for while juggling family life, work and hobbies.

That hasn’t stopped me scribbling down an extensive list of hills and other outings I would love to do in 2022, though, and Beinn Alligin is very high up on that list, so hopefully I’ll be back here in the spring or summer to finally get up there.

Whatever winter walks and other fun you manage to get up to this Christmas, I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

A rights of way sign points the route to Coire Dubh.
A rights of way sign points the route to Coire Dubh.

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