Prayers answered on this perfect day
Prayers answered on this perfect day
They follow one after the other on the drive down Glen Torridon, a magnificent triptych. First is Beinn Eighe, then Liathach, their soaring rocky ramparts throwing down a gauntlet to anyone willing to take them on.
Closer to Torridon village comes the shapely form of Beinn Alligin, the jewel – a major feature of the walk I’m about to do because it will constantly be in my eyeline on descent.
It’s Monday on a glorious Torridon morning and I’m on my way to church. And no, I’m not a day late, because this church is a hill – Beinn na h-Eaglaise, or hill of the church in translation.
With the big three on the tick list for most visitors to the area, this attractive Graham is somewhat overlooked, which is a pity because whether you’re a church-goer or not, it has a lot going for it. It’s a hill that keeps on giving, with numerous interesting features and incomparable views of the surrounding mountains.
I’m out to do an anticlockwise circuit over it, following the excellent path up from the Torridon Inn, mostly used to reach Beinn Damh. As I exit the pinewood after the initial climb, the sunlight is beginning to illuminate Beinn Alligin, giving me a taste of just how good the views are going to be today.
Where the path divides I take the left branch, dropping to the Allt Coire Roill, while the right branch heads to Beinn Damh. I get my first views of Beinn na h-Eaglaise as I cross the burn – a long ridge which can be traversed in either direction, but I’m aiming for the far, south-eastern end, which will afford the best views on descent.
A good path makes for easy access to the charming little lochan at Drochaid Coire Roill – the bealach between Beinn na h-Eaglaise and Beinn Damh. The huge dome of the Munro, Maol Chean-dearg, rears up ahead as I reach the partially-frozen lochan.
Taking a bearing on the summit of Beinn na h-Eaglaise I make my way through a jumble of sandstone boulders and small lochans to a plateau, marked on the map at 676 metres. On the way up my eyes are drawn to the hills above Achnashellach, gradually lit by the rising sun like a picture being brought to life. Behind me the view of Beinn Damh is no less impressive.
From my perch on the plateau I head down to a group of lochans. The summit of Beinn na h-Eaglaise is within reach now, and as I prepare to make the final climb my attention is caught by something glinting above.
So I decide to take a look and continue again through sandstone boulders, offering some easy scrambling, to a small bothy, built into the side of the hill.
Its window was what I could see glinting from below. The door is locked but I can see evidence of occupancy inside, with cooking utensils, mugs and other paraphernalia. It’s not marked on the map so I’m intrigued by its purpose.
A short step from here and I’m approaching the altar of this church, the summit cairn, at 737 metres, when a collie pops his head over the top, followed by his owner. We are both equally surprised to see anyone else on a little-frequented Graham on a cold winter’s day.
She turns out to be Anne Butler from Aviemore, who achieved some fame with her previous dog Molly – thought to be the first collie to complete a round of the Corbetts.
Our meeting is one of those strange coincidences that happen to hillgoers sometimes, and since Anne is a vice-president of the Munro Society and has done no fewer than five rounds of the Munros, we have a lot to talk about.
She plans to go down Beinn na h-Eaglaise the same way as me so we chat about all things hills and landscape on our descent, admiring the mind-boggling views of Beinn Alligin and Loch Torridon.
Meeting another church-goer helped to make my day that much more enjoyable and I can only assume the bothy I came across is used by stalkers – maybe someone can enlighten me?
Beinn na h-Eaglaise
Distance 5.5 miles / 9km
Terrain Good paths and some rough hill ground, with mild scrambling
Start/finish Torridon Inn car park
Maps OS Landranger 24 and 25
A fine day out on a hill that not only provides some incredible Torridon views but also has interesting terrain