The walk One of the best views any­where

The Herald Magazine - - etc OUTDOORS -

Lo­ca­tion: Sgorr nan Lochan Uaine and Sgurr Dubh, Wester Ross

Grade: Se­ri­ous moun­tain walk Dis­tance: 8 miles/13km Time: 6-7 hours

YOU’LL see them if you drive over the road be­tween Ach­nasheen and Kin­lochewe, two knob­bly bumps that gen­er­ally only serve as the fore­ground to the big­ger hills of Tor­ri­don.

Sgorr nan Lochan Uaine (2,858ft/871m) and Sgurr Dubh (2,566ft/782m) suf­fer the fate of neigh­bour­ing some of the most dra­matic moun­tains in the coun­try but their very po­si­tion, just south of Liathach and Beinn Eighe and west of the lovely Lochs Clair and Coulin, makes them among the best view­points in the land.

Sev­eral years ago I climbed the two hills as part of a long through route from Ach­nashel­lach to Dun­don­nell. The weather was su­perb and, rather than fol­low the recog­nised low-level route through the Coulin For­est, I took to the tops – over Beinn Liath Mor and down into the mag­nif­i­cent cliff-girt cor­rie that cra­dles Sgorr nan Lochan Uaine’s epony­mous lochan.

Even years later I can re­call with a gri­mace the burn­ing heat of that day as I toiled up scree-cov­ered slopes un­der the weight of a heavy pack. I had wrongly as­sumed that a pleas­ant high-level ridge walk would take me across to Sgurr Dubh, from where I could eas­ily de­scend to Loch Clair, but I had se­verely un­der­es­ti­mated the dif­fi­cul­ties of Tor­ri­do­nian ter­rain.

Fed upon by blood-suck­ing clegs, de­hy­drated and sun­burnt, I soon dis­cov­ered that maps could lie. On pa­per the broad ridge looked sim­ple enough; on the ground it was Tor­ri­don rough at its most vi­cious – craggy, ragged, scabrous and jagged. Ter­races of sand­stone cut across the ridge at right an­gles, mak­ing straight line walk­ing al­most im­pos­si­ble – a com­plex and con­fus­ing land­scape.

For­tu­nately the con­tor­tions of the sand­stone ribs and ter­races also cra­dled dozens of small lochans and I re­mem­ber limp­ing from pool to pool, dous­ing my head in the wa­ter and tak­ing on board as much liq­uid as I could as though each drop was my last.

The sum­mit of Sgurr Dubh took a long time in com­ing but its fan­tas­tic po­si­tion was a wor­thy con­so­la­tion. High above the glen I gazed up the length of Coire Dubh into the very heart of Tor­ri­don. On one side rose the steep slopes of Beinn Eighe and on the other the ter­raced crags of Liathach, that most daunt­ing of moun­tain shapes. I sat there as long as I could be­fore the fierce­ness of the sun drove me down to the shade of the pines be­side Loch Clair.

I re­mem­bered that view­point re­cently when I was try­ing to think of a point from where I could pho­to­graph Beinn Eighe for a mag­a­zine fea­ture. This time I climbed Sgorr nan Lochan Uaine from the ex­cel­lent foot­path that runs south from Glen Tor­ri­don through the cor­rie of a hun­dred hillocks, Coire a’ Cheud-chnoic. Wan­der­ing up be­tween th­ese rounded moraines makes a

Dis­tance: About 8 miles/13km Ap­prox Time: 6-7 hours Start/Fin­ish: Car park at foot of Coire Dubh in Glen Tor­ri­don (GR:NG958568) Route: Just E of the car park a foot­path leaves the main road and con­tin­ues past the Ling Hut and into Coire a’ Cheud-chnoic. Climb­ing gen­tly, the path con­tin­ues S to­wards the col be­tween Sgorr nan Lochan Uaine and Beinn Liath Mor. Just be­low the col, leave the path and head E, up heather slopes, to reach the W shoul­der of Sgorr nan Lochan Uaine. Fol­low this shoul­der to the fi­nal scree-cov­ered sum­mit slopes. From the sum­mit de­scend N to the broad sad­dle. Take any one of a num­ber of lines across this rocky, ter­raced sad­dle and climb to the sum­mit of Sgurr Dubh. De­scend W, then SW to reach a deep gully from which the Allt nam Cor­rag flows. Fol­low the N bank of this stream back into Coire a’ Cheud-Chnoic and the foot­path back to the road.


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