Torridon is a mountainous area with many famous names, including the high summits of Beinn Eighe, Beinn Alligin and Liathach. I have reached all these peaks as part of my first Munro round. But, as I am now discovering, the Corbetts, while a little smaller, offer superb walking and amazing views, too. Recently, during some late season good weather in the west Highlands, I joined my friend Ben to bag the Corbett, Beinn Dearg.
Overview: Hiking Beinn Dearg
Beinn Dearg (Torridon) is one of the tallest Corbetts at 914m. (Note that it’s just metres shy of a Munro.). There is an option to do a circular route, taking in the full ridge of Beinn Dearg, or follow an out-and-back route.
Ben and I were hoping the good weather would hold for the whole day but we were not sure. This meant we made the decision to do the return route, instead of tackling the full ridge. Walk Highlands grade the return route as 4 (out of 5) and the ridge traverse as five. Other grade five routes include the rather gnarly Liathach, so we were also erring on the side of caution.
By the end of the day, I didn’t feel cheated by our decision to walk the same route there and back – and, as I said to Ben while we walked, you see different views when you go in one direction to the top of a mountain and then back the other way.
Walk to the summit of Beinn Dearg
The start is a few kilometres along the road past Torridon village. Ben was staying for a short break in Kinlochewe, so I picked him up on my way past having left Inverness about an hour before.
We parked at a car park on the west side of the Abhain Coire Mhic Nobuil and then picked up a nearby stalker’s path that stays on the east side of the river. At first, we enjoyed a lovely pinewoods setting. The sound of the rushing stream was never far away and there are several stunning waterfalls along the route. However, it was the impressive wider views of the Torridon landscape that we both oohed and aahed at.
It quickly felt like me were walking in a wildly remote place, although with the benefit of a good path.
There are various junctions as the path winds uphill, including one that forks right to go behind the long ridge of Liathach. We ignored this and continue to the left. At a footbridge, the path crossed to the west side of the steam.
A little way further on, we spotted a cairn at another path junction.
It’s here that walkers would go left to continue to the infamous Horns of Alligin. Instead, Ben and I stayed right tracking along the western side of the Bealach a’ Chomhla.
The path continued, headed north, but became less obvious and in places it was wet and boggy. Our general aim was the western slope of Stuc Loch na Cabhaig in the distance. We would need to climb to a high point on Stuc Loch na Cabhaig, before continuing south to reach the summit of beinn Dearg.
At first, the gradient of the slope that heads to the ridge looked very steep but, thankfully, as we came closer it looked a little less steep. This slope is also covered in many large rocks and we found the best approach was to try to skirt around these a little further north.
Steep ascent of Beinn Dearg (Torridon)
The ascent was on rough vegetation – a mix of grass and heather – and involved a bit of navigation to avoid some larger rocks and crags. Looking up it appeared there was an impenetrable jumble of rocks but we were able to follow bits and pieces of trod, although, at times, it felt like the paths formed a bit of a maze.
We checked the map a few times and corrected ourselves to ensure we made it around the rocky outcrops and crags and safely to the shoulder of the ridge at about 750m elevation. The route became clearer here with a fairly obvious trod around and over the rock-strewn ground.
I’d read that there were options to scramble or divert some of the steeper rocky sections but, each time, Ben and I chose to climb up and over. There was little to cause concern. The rocks were not slippery and the weather was fairly mild for the time of year. The exposure was also relatively minimal compared to some of the other ridge walks in Torridon.
Then, as we reach the high point at 882m on Stuc Loch na Cabaig, we were rewarded with spectacular views of the surrounding mountains and especially Beinn Alligin. From here, we could also see along the ridge to our summit goal. But before we could bag the Corbett, there came a descent and another climb.
Along the ridge to the summit cairn
Ben and I started the descent, which headed down quite steeply at first and then progressed over a series of rocky steps to the south. From a grassy bealach lower down, we began the final ascent. The climb was also steep and rocky and just before the summit we came to a rocky tier. To navigate this, we tracked to the left on a faint path with a little exposure.
We took our time and we were careful where we placed or feet but it felt easily manageable. Certainly, there are tricker and more exposed parts of other nearby mountains, especially Liathach so if you have a half decent head for heights you will not be daunted by this Corbett. Also, there is an option to ascend to the right of this section on an apparently more benign rocky staircase.
The cairn that marks the highest point of Beinn Dearg was just a short way along a small plateau. The wind was cold air this elevation and after touching the cairn, we started our return walk.
Continuing back over Stuc Loch na Cabaig, we started the descent down the long slope and finally found ourselves sheltered from the wind. The sun made an appearance and we sat in a warm spot on rocks to enjoy a second lunch. It was the first time this winter that I had packed a flask of tea and I was grateful for the small cups of piping hot drink.
The views from this point were spectacular, especially over the mountains of the Baosbheinn round at Flowerdale. It was a similar time last year that Ben and I completed this circuit. I remembered it was a long outing and the final descent had seemed brutally rough and rugged at the time. Of course, much of this tougher part of the outing had been forgotten in favour of the rewards of a brilliant day out.
Ben and I found a sheltered spot nearby for another stop for a drink and snack. As we sat down on rocks, the sun came out and it felt warm on the mountainside, despite still being fairly high.
We continued our descent, mostly retracing the route we had climbed until we met the track again and followed this back to the start.
I would recommend this Corbett and make sure you choose a good weather day to make the most of the views.
Details of Beinn Dearg in Torridon
Corbetts bagged: 135