Tom na Gruagaich - Beinn Alligin

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201022
2016781142
2017242724443334
201810131132321
20192634115189531
202017331
2021141111
20223321
20237113611

You have climbed 104/282 munros.

Climbed by year and month

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unknown11
2017111
201911
20203111
2021681211111
202223111
202323111

You have climbed 12/221 Corbetts.

Some days you just get your legs into an almost effortless rhythm, that fine steady 'alpine pace' that takes you up steep hills in a relative breeze. This was not one of them. I hadn't slept well, people arriving in the car park after midnight woke me with headlights blazing and doors slamming. It took me at least another hour to settle again before dozing off. So I was tired before I even started.

Date started:21/04/23
Distance:4.2 miles
Ascent:873m
Descent:876m
Time taken:6:37
Moving time:4:29
Average speed:0.93mph
Maximum speed:2.62mph

Tom na Gruagaich - Beinn Alligin

Bein Damh across Upper Loch Torridon
Bein Damh across Upper Loch Torridon

Nearly at the deer fence and ladder stile on the way to Beinn Alligin
Nearly at the deer fence and ladder stile on the way to Beinn Alligin

The evening before I'd parked up in the Beinn Alligin car park. It was quiet, the last of the days walkers were off, a couple of guys were going to sleep in their cars. They'd been over Liathach that day, Beinn Alligin the next. I wish I had that... oomph. That fitness I can only dream of. I fancied a stroll up to the ladder stile which was about 600m from the roadside to check if there was dog access under the deer fence. That went fine, the path rough, muddy in places was okay. Typical Torridon, away from the road and straight up, no walk in to warm up. We found a small square cutout low down in the fence a dog could easily get through, but not a deer. Skye was eager to rush through and up the steep bank the other side. That'll do us just fine then.

Heading for Coire nan Laogh - Beinn Alligin
Heading for Coire nan Laogh - Beinn Alligin

Na Rathanan - The pinnacles - Beinn Alligin
Na Rathanan - The pinnacles - Beinn Alligin

I woke as the sun was coming up, so did the guys in their cars. I lazed for a while till nearer the alarm eventually getting up just before 7am. It was going to be a fine day, just the Met Office mountain forecast said it was going to be windier than they did last night. To me the difference between 10 - 20mph and 20 - 30mph is significant. I was less than impressed. It was nearly 8:30am when me and Skye finally left the camper. Her champing at the bit to get off lead and up the hill. Mindful of warming up and not racing off I took it steady. The forestry beside the road quickly thins and the moorland begins. My pack felt heavy, the steps somehow bigger than yesterday evening. Hmm. "Keep it slow and steady" I thought to myself.

Eag Dubh and Sgurr Mor - Beinn Alligin
Eag Dubh and Sgurr Mor - Beinn Alligin

Skye at the top of Coire nan Laogh - Beinn Alligin
Skye at the top of Coire nan Laogh - Beinn Alligin

By the time we reached the ladder stile again I knew I'd be lucky to get the first munro with anything more a huge bonus. My legs simply had nothing in them, no oomph to get me up the stone pitched steps, let alone 4 foot high natural rock walls. So head down, slow steady plod it was to be and see how far we get type day. People began to catch up and breeze past us. Skye loving the attention each one gave her.

Behind us the view south opened up across Upper Loch Torridon to Beinn Damh, Loch Damh, and Applecross. Though it was pretty hazy and it didn't clear all day. I'd brought the Sony A6000 and the wee Voigtlander 35mm Ultron to keep the weight down, but struggled to find any creativity; I was just too shattered with the effort. I cursed the path builders who kept putting in superfluous drains and steps in the most pointless of places, and yet didn't put a large rock down to ease a naturally high step.

Na Rathanan - The pinnacles - Beinn Alligin
Na Rathanan - The pinnacles - Beinn Alligin

Tom na Gruagaich - Beinn Alligin
Tom na Gruagaich - Beinn Alligin

We reached the entrance to Coire nan Laogh 1h50mins after setting out. After a brief respite from the gradient the path continues into the coire and up steeply hemmed in by rock walls. Step after step, the only joy is the Alltan Glas cascading over rocks to our right. Skye finds a good spot to have a drink from the burn. I finish off the 2nd small bar of Aldi 85% chocolate. At the back of the coire the steps become more purposeful. Here the headwall is eroded scree, bare earth and washed out gullies. People have spread out here leaving a trail of destruction over time. This is obviously the place for stone pitching, and finally I'm grateful for them. Yet just as I'm feeling more enthusiastic, I find a drain across the path, it has no slope to it, it's trying to drain a path that sits above the surrounding scree. "Just why?!". It's new as I discover when I finally reach the col before the summit of Tom na Gruagaich as a posse of helicopter bags still full of rock have been left. I wonder how long they will remain there.

Sgurr Mor from Tom na Gruagaich - Beinn Alligin
Sgurr Mor from Tom na Gruagaich - Beinn Alligin

Baosbheinn over the shoulder of Sgurr Mor - Beinn Alligin
Baosbheinn over the shoulder of Sgurr Mor - Beinn Alligin

Finally we reach the summit. There's a weather beaten stone and cement trig point on the summit rock outcrop. Despite the haze the views lift my spirits, this is what I'm here for. Sgurr Mor and the pinnacles jump out in the foreground, Slioch and Gairloch instantly recognisable. Of course Beinn Eighe and Liathach close by with the corbett Beinn Dearg looking formidable. Skye hassles me for her lunch so I sit her down in front of me and get her kibble from her pack. Giving her about half I leave some in-case we continue round. The day is still young so maybe, just maybe after a rest and some food I might feel like it. Chicken and chocolate for me gets devoured almost as quickly as Skye wolfs hers. She of course gets some chicken as well.

Gairloch from Tom na Gruagaich - Beinn Alligin
Gairloch from Tom na Gruagaich - Beinn Alligin

Coire MhicNobaill, Beinn Eighe, and Liathach
Coire MhicNobaill, Beinn Eighe, and Liathach

We sit near the summit for nearly an hour, I take photies, let Paul know I'm at the first munro, and inevitably decide not to go further. I'll take the win and hopefully return, maybe over the pinnacles next time when I'm feeling a bit more sprightly. I give Skye the rest of her lunch. Whilst I'm sitting about a voice calls over "hello!". A young woman is at the trig having come over the pinnacles and Sgurr Mor. We chat and she soon continues down, almost skipping over the rocks to the descent path. It's obvious she's not alone! What a start in life, running over the munros before the wee one was born. I bet they'll hate being reminded of that when they're a teenager. Ah well, time for me to get down whilst I can still move.

Just as we we are descending the steep bank down to the ladder stile and deer fence I heard really heavy footsteps behind me. Stepping off the path and turning round to see what was bearing down on me, a lad late teens maybe wearing Scarpa winter boots goes clomping past me and was over the stile and gone before I could utter a word. I know they were Scarpa because they had it written on them in big letters. And the boots were big and strangely out of proportion to the rest of him which is why my attention was drawn to them. Keep that up for another 5 - 10 years and his knees will be completely toast.

Tags: munro, outdoor, scotland Written 23/04/23 

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