Into the wilds
Into the wilds
With heavy snow and gales forecast, I wanted to get up a hill before the bad weather struck. My appetite for Torridon Grahams had been whetted after an amazing day on Beinn na h-Eaglaise, so I set my sights on another, expecting it to be just as engaging.
An Ruadh-mheallan lies behind Beinn Alligin, and while it lacks the high drama of its much bigger neighbour, it’s an excellent viewpoint for some very wild country. Despite being pathless it can easily be done in a few hours, so seemed like the perfect choice for the limited light of a winter day – albeit a very windy one.
I parked up at the Bealach na Gaoithe, the highest point on the road to Diabaig, with a stunning view across Loch Diabaigas Airde.
A strategically positioned bench, unseen from the road, is a grand vantage point to chill out and admire the scenery, though not today with a fierce blast blowing. A sharp bend, followed by a sizeable roadside lochan, will help you locate the start point.
The domed 672-metre summit of An Ruadh-mheallan is clearly visible from the road and I set off along what looks like a promising path, though it soon peters out. From here the route to the top is pathless apart from deer tracks, but is never a drudge.
En route you weave through a landscape of lochans and little rocky outcrops, while the huge bulk of Beinn Alligin dominates the view to the right, its finest features hidden on the other side.
The best navigational aid for our Graham, and an interesting feature in itself, is Loch nan Tri-eileanan – well named in Gaelic because it contains three small islets. I took a bearing on it and wove my way along to reach its narrow right-hand shore, with a burn emanating from it.
From there I took a diagonal line for the right-hand shoulder of An Ruadh-mheallan, staying well left of the Abhainn Alligin, dividing the Graham from Beinn Alligin.
The west side of the hill is much steeper and more craggy so is best avoided. As I approached I could see a fairly obvious gully that looked like a good ascent route and, while it proved a bit steeper than I’d anticipated, allowed me to gain height.
With a left turn, I made for the top. While I’d been sheltered from the worst of the gale until now, it hit me with full force and I was more than happy to take refuge behind the substantial summit shelter and warm up with a hot coffee.
Sgurr Mor, one of Beinn Alligin’s two Munros, looks like a cone from here, but the most imposing view is to the north and the great wall-like ridge of Baosbheinn – such a fine mountain. The nearest road, linking Loch Maree and Poolewe, is 11 kilometres away across some unforgiving but incredibly beautiful terrain.
My return took me along the same route, though I was now facing into the wind and was forced to battle against it until I reached lower ground again. For variety I walked towards the other end of Loch nan Tri-eileanan and kept my eye on a mobile phone mast located on the south side of the Diabaig road, which I knew would get me back to my start point.
In the end, the bad weather failed to materialise but I can thank the forecasters for spurring me on to do another rewarding Graham.
Distance 3 miles / 5km
Terrain Pathless mountain
Start/finish Bealach na Gaoithe on the road to Diabaig, near Torridon
Maps Harvey Superwalker, Torridon; OS Landranger 24, Raasay & Applecross
A fine Torridon Graham which can easily be climbed in half a day, lying in some superb scenery