Monday, 14 May 2018


Lochan Fada and Slioch
Two years ago I guided a fun group of Australians along the Tour of Mont Blanc. They loved the trekking in The Alps but had never walked in the Scottish hills. Of course I enthused how wonderful our mountains here in the Highlands are. So with a seed planted they were keen to visit Scotland and for me to put together a 'trek'. Their first thought was to walk the West Highland Way. Well that's a straight forward walk and very nice scenery too. I quickly got them interested in more spectacular, wild and remote options. I came up with a 6 day trek across Torridon and The Fisherfield Forest. Some of the finest mountains we have. This is our trek which started last week. A mix of walking through beautiful glens and getting high on stunning mountains.

Achnashellach - Torridon
The team at our start point, Achnashellach 
Erm, where are those views?
Our start point for this trek was Achnashellach train station. A lovely, relaxing train journey from Inverness. It was sunny and blue skies when we left. 5 minutes before getting off the train the team were donning waterproofs in the isles. A wet start as we made our way into Coire Lair. Usually there are stunning views as soon as you leave the treeline. Not this morning. The cloud crept ever slightly so lower as we trekked higher into the coire. I think the guys were wondering what all the fuss was and had no idea of the amazing mountains either side of the stalkers path that runs through the coire.
Views at last! Loch an Eoin
Sunshine and blue skies 

Liathach reveals itself
We reached our high point over the Belach na Lice and then we got our views! The rain ceased and some lovely afternoon sunshine on the walk down to Torridon. This is one of the many brilliant stalkers paths that run through the hills from Glen Carron to Glen Torridon. Always a pleasure and some amazing views with very little effort. The path lands you down at Annat, a stones throw from our digs for two nights, Torridon Lodges.

Beinn Damph
A dry start up to Beinn Damph
The final ridge to the summit
Loch Torridon views
Not too windy on top
The rain increased but at least the winds eased off by the afternoon. The team gaining their first Corbett summit. There are many fine mountains in Glen Torridon to choose from . From the top of Beinn Damph you get to see most of the big Munro ridges. Not today though. Only 270 odd to go. It was a fine day to test out their kit. Some stuff worked, some not so good. Tomorrow promised a better day!

Glen Torridon - Coire Dubh Mor - Coire Mhic Fhearchair-Glen Grudie-Bridge of Grudie

Coire Dubh Mor & Liathach
Today's route travels through two of the 'Torridonian Giants', Beinn Eighe and Liathach. A wide, open coire, Coire Dubh Mor splits these two monsters. Another fabulous path and so easy to gain a 'wilderness' feel just one hour from the road in Glen Torridon. The sun came out and some beautiful clear views. You can't walk up here and not visit one of the great corries in Torridon, Coire Mhic Fhearchair on Beinn Eighe. The coire's finest features, the Triple Buttress and it's lonely lochan. A fine spot.
Tripple Buttress of Coire Mhic Fhearchair
Flowerdale Forest from the coire
Morrison's Gully still holding snow
Lunch ended quickly in the coire as a hail shower rattled through. Within 5 minutes it was sunshine and warm again. Not for the first time on this trek do we leave a path and head along trackless terrain now. Our route  follows the burn flowing out from Coire Mhic Fhearchair and eventually into the remote Glen Grudie.
Bein Eighe from Glen Grudie
Flowerdale Forest
Slioch from the lower reaches of the Grudie
Slioch and Caledonian Pines on Loch Maree
A beautiful evening on Loch Maree
By the time we descended to Bridge of Grudie on Loch Maree we were bathed in beautiful afternoon sun. Tonight's humble abode was The Loch Maree Hotel. A fine, relaxing spot to put your feet up and admire the lochside views, and deer in the garden.
'Pet' deer chilling in the evening sun at the hotel
Tomorrow's mountain

The long but beautiful approach to Slioch
Slioch is always a long day, summer certainly, winter definitely. The long approach from Incheril near Kinlochewe is the 'normal' route up for many folk. We set off in warmer temperatures, clear summits but overcast and strong winds.
Loch Maree from the ascent into the coire
Lovely waterfalls on the way up
It's a long slog up into the big bowl that lies below Slioch's main summit. Quite a unique area. A massive, shallow coire and makes a great spot if you were wild camping. Unfortunately time was getting on for us, we were just 200m below the summit. Dinner down at The Kilochewe Hotel took priority over bagging a Munro. We descended down the rough path and walked through the hotel door just as the first spots of rain landed. Well timed I would say.

Kinlochewe-Heights of Kinlochewe-Lochan Fada-Bealach na Croise-Loch an Nid-Achneige-Corrie Hallie
Slioch and Lochan Fada
 The Fisherfield Forest is one of the most remote areas in the land. No roads and no habitation apart from a couple of bothies. The nearest we have to 'wild' land. The words wild and wildness can mean many things. Not seeing many or any people all day and no mobile phone signal for much of the route is wild in this  hustle, bustle and technology driven world. The big mountains in the area are collectively know has the Fisherfield 'five' (there used to be six before Beinn a' Chladeimdh was remeasured). This refers to the Munro summits. Nestled deep in the heart of the Fisherfield is the lonely Lochan Fada. A beautiful spot. Most folk who walk the hills in this place usually spend a night or two wild camping/bothying. Our trip doesn't involve any camping, my group like their creature comforts! Today's trek to Little Loch Broom was the longest, 10 hours,30km in distance.
Views from the word go, Beinn Eighe
Fab path and views ahead
Lochan Fada and A' Mhagadean beyond
The track, then trail into Lochan Fada is superb underfoot. The whole route to Corrie Hallie is approx 30km. Sounds a long hike but much of the way is excellent paths and not much in the way of ascent. By mid morning we were at Lochan Fada. What a morning, what a day! Beautiful warm sun, no wind and clear skies. From Lochan Fada over to Loch an Nid it is pathless. The key to the route is the Bealach Croise. A low pass. On the way we spotted lots of deer and a lovely wee waterfall. Loch an Nid is another superb, lonely spot. Nestled between steep mountainsides. Idyllic place for lunch.
Bealach na Croise
Beautiful, refreshing water stop
Loch an Nid
Loch an Nid and An Teallach
An Teallach now in full view
From Loch an Nid the path runs to Achneige and joins onto a good 4 WD track and onwards to Corrie Hallie. Nice to have a easy finish. Some fabulous scenery en route. An Teallach now dominates the view in front, to the east lie the Fannaichs. Late afternoon light just wonderful.
Strath na Sealaga
An Teallach's Corrag Buidhe and Toll an Lochain
Beinn Dearg group
An Teallach

An Teallach
What better way to finish this 6 day trek across the NW Highlands than an ascent of An Teallach. For me this is the finest mountain on the planet. For many in the UK it is the finest mountain in Britain! The team were up for another mountain day. The weather forecast was rain and cloud am, brighter skies by late afternoon. We went with the weather and set off late morning. Taking our time to fit in with sunshine on the summits!
Sgurr Fiona, Corrag Buidhe and Loch Toll an Lochain
Beautiful afternoon light on our way to Sgurr Fiona
The team on Sgurr Fiona
Bidean a' Ghals Thuill from Sgurr Fiona
Grand scenery

Sgurr Fiona
We reached Bidean a' Ghals Thuill just in time for the lovely period of sun. The team were up for An Teallach's other Munro summit, Sgurr Fiona. Probably the best weather was had right on the summit. What timing! No wind, warm sun, great views. Final night at The Dundonnell Hotel and a second night of stunning sunset over Little Loch Broom. Perfect.

Sunset on Little Loch Broom

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