‘I award this walk,’ wrote Peter Barton in his wonderful guidebook Walking in Torridon, ‘the Golden Rose for its beauty, variability and grandeur.
First published in: The Times Click here to view a map for this walk in a new window
I have walked widely in the Torridon region and have been to the summits of all its mountains, but I still rate this walk the loveliest of all.’
Powerful words. You could go a long way on them; all the way out to Torridon in westernmost Scotland in my case, spurred there by the promised magic of mountain, loch and wide empty country. I was lucky enough to be walking with Jim Sutherland of the Nine One Six mountain adventure company, who with his co-author Chris Lowe has updated what’s certainly the best guidebook a hillwalker in the sublime Torridon region could want. The weather might have been better (wind and rain – what’s new in west Scotland?), but at least it kept the damned midgies at bay, and it didn’t interfere with our enjoyment of the day at all.
Inveralligin village lies isolated on the north shore of Upper Loch Torridon, a sea loch under beautiful towering hills. The walk started with a mountain view of impossible majesty: the three summits of the Beinn Alligin horseshoe standing tall and formidable to the north, and across the racing whitecaps of the loch a dark uplift of ridges, corries and peaks centred on Beinn Damph. On a sunny day that prospect could easily have you trapped like a fly in a silken web; but not with half the North Sea trying to reach the Atlantic in the form of rain on a tree-shaking easterly.
We got down to the loch shore and were soon in the shelter of big beeches and limes, walking seaward with the rain at our backs. On a promontory beyond Torridon House stood a little church and a tall Celtic cross to the memory of a Victorian Laird of Torridon, Duncan Darroch. His tenants thought well of their landlord; after his death a hundred of them escorted his body over the mountains to its burial, a courtesy normally reserved for a clan chief. From the headland in the loch, more mountain heads revealed themselves: Sgurr Ruadh, the Red Peak; Beinn Liath Mhor, the Big Grey Mountain; Sgurr an Lochan Uaine, the Peak of the Green Lakelet.
Inveralligin lay beyond, a handful of white houses scattered along the shore, a tiny pier stacked with creels. There are communities even more remote than this along the coasts of western Scotland, but on this wild day we could have been well on the way to the end of the earth. A Golden Rose of a walk: Peter Barton had it just right.
Start & finish: Beinn Alligin car park, Torridon (OS ref NG 869576)
Getting there: Follow Inveralligin signs from Torridon village (on A896 between Kinlochewe and Shieldaig). Car park on left, 2½ miles west of Torridon.
Walk: (7½ miles, easy, OS Explorer 433): From car park, right along road, down to loch shore. Right along loch. In ¾ mile, fork left (870572, ‘Stables Cottage’); follow track past houses. Left in front of Stables Cottage (868573); over stile and on to pass track to church (863572). Continue to Inveralligin. Fork right by phone box; right along upper road (837579) to car park.
Refreshments: Torridon Stores Café (01445-791400) – try those amazing cakes!
Accommodation: Kinlochewe Hotel, by Achnasheen, IV22 2PA (01445-760253; www.kinlochewehotel.co.uk)
Nine One Six mountain guiding: 01520-755358; www.nineonesix.co.uk.
Walking In Torridon by Peter Barton, updated by Chris Lowe and Jim Sutherland (pub. Cicerone – www.cicerone.co.uk) – Walk EW7.