The walk One of the best views anywhere
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.
© CROWN COPYRIGHT 2018 ORDNANCE SURVEY. MEDIA 059/18