Hills: Beinn Alligin [Sgurr Mhor and Tom na Gruagaich]
Date: Sunday 17th February 2013
Company: Myself, Jenny, Dave, Ray, Malcolm, David, Bill and Ian
Distance: 10km, Ascent: 1200m
Time: 6Hrs 40Mins

On Sunday, I attended my Club’s Bus Meet, destination Torridon. After picking up members in Elgin, Forres, Nairn and Inverness, we travelled as far as Kinlochewe before dropping members off at various points along the road between Kinlochewe and the Coire MhicNobaill car park. Eight members, including myself, set out to undertake an anti-clockwise circuit of Beinn Alligin.

Click here to see a map of the route undertaken

From the car park, we followed the good track alongside the Abhainn Coire MhicNobaill. The weather was fantastic from the start and remained so throughout the walk.

Abhainn Coire MhicNobaill at start of walk:

As we walked along the track, we could see that Beinn Alligin looked almost devoid of snow. Eag Dhubh (the Black Cleft) looked impressive from the track.

View towards Sgurr Mhor and Na Rathanan (the Horns) from the walk in:

Eag Dhubh (zoom):

After walking circa 1.5km, myself and Ray both stopped to take some photos of the Abhainn Coire MhicNobaill waterfall.

Beinn Alligin from Abhainn Coire MhicNobaill waterfall:

Beinn Alligin above Abhainn Coire MhicNobaill waterfall:

A short distance beyond the waterfall, we crossed a bridge over the Abhainn Coire MhicNobaill before taking the left fork on the track heading towards Na Rathanan (the Horns of Alligin).

Crossing the Abhainn Coire MhicNobaill:

The surrounding views improved as we started to gain height.

Looking back towards Beinn Damh and Beinn Shieldaig:


It didn’t take long for us to reach the initial steep ascent leading up towards the first horn of Na Rathanan.

Initial steep ascent en-route to Na Rathanan:

Beinn Dearg:

A brief stop before the initial ascent:

I last ascended Beinn Alligin in 1998 during which I undertook a clockwise circuit. This time I was undertaking the route effectively in reverse, tackling the horns first. The initial ascent had more easy scrambling than I recalled from my previous ascent. During this ascent, I found that the large camera bag strapped to my chest was throwing me a bit off-balance, so about half-way up I took the opportunity to stick the camera in my rucksack as well as put away my walking poles.

Initial ascent:

Beyond the initial ascent, myself and Jenny made our way towards the ascent leading to the first horn.

Jenny heading for the first horn:

View from a cairn a short distance below the first horn:

We scrambled the horns sticking to the ridge line instead of using any of the by-pass paths below. The traverse of the horns was quite slow progress. In summer the scrambling would have been straight-forward, but yesterday we had to take care on sections of slushy snow and water ice. We didn’t bother with crampons as it was mostly really soft snow. Nice crisp neve with crampons would have been easier than traversing through slush.

Na Rathanan (the Horns):

Looking back from the first horn:

Looking back towards the first horn from the second horn:

The views from the horns were pretty-good.

Looking towards the third horn from the second horn:

Tom na Gruagaich and Sgurr Mhor:

Scrambling down the second horn:

Scrambling down the second horn (photo courtesy of Dave):

View during ascent of final horn:

Traverse of the final horn (photo courtesy of Dave):

On reaching the top of the final horn, we stopped for a short break to take some photographs. I particularly liked the view of Baosbheinn – a superb Corbett.

Loch a’Bhealaich and Baosbheinn from top of third horn:

After descending the final horn, we started our ascent towards the summit of Sgurr Mhor.

Looking back at the descent from the final horn:

There was a fair mix of snow and ice during the final hundred metres or so of ascent, but kicking steps into any of the harder bits worked fine.

Ascent towards Sgurr Mhor from beyond Na Rathanan:

On reaching the final stretch to the summit, I recall shouting out something about how awesome the view was. Funnily enough a few minutes later, Jenny did the same .

I took a few photos while waiting for everyone to re-group at the summit.

Outstanding views from Sgurr Mhor:

Approaching the summit of Sgurr Mhor:

View towards Trotternish:

Na Rathanan, Beinn Dearg, Beinn Eighe and Liathach:

Liathach from Sgurr Mhor:

South Torridon hills from Sgurr Mhor:

Myself at the summit of Sgurr Mhor:

Click here to view summit panorama

Looking back to the traverse of Na Rathanan:

Jenny at the summit of Eag Dhubh (photo courtesy of Dave):

From Sgurr Mhor we made our way towards Tom na Gruagaich. During the descent, I decided to get my ice axe out for a short section.

Ascent towards Tom na Gruagaich:

Circa 1Hr and 15Mins after leaving Sgurr Mhor, we arrived at the summit of Tom na Gruagaich.

Jenny at the summit of Tom na Gruagaich:

View from Tom na Gruagaich:

View from Tom na Gruagaich:

We didn’t spend long at the summit of Tom na Gruagaich as we were conscious of the time and the need to get back to the bus by 17:30. From Tom na Gruagaich, we descended towards the top of Coire nan Laogh before descending into the coire. We were relieved to find little snow in the coire, as this coire could be prone to avalanche if plastered with snow.

During the descent we did witness not one but two avalanches occurring in the coire both sufficiently distant from our route of descent. The avalanches were a mix of snow and large chunks of ice resulting from collapsing ice walls on the steep crags to the West of the coire.

Looking back at descent through Coire nan Laogh:

The final stretch out to the car was a bit hard on the feet and legs but what a great day!

The day was rounded off nicely with a couple of drinks in the Kinlochewe hotel, before returning home .