Beinn Alligin traverse

by Dan Bailey - ? Feb/2013
This route has been read 1,645 times

WalkingBeinn Alligin traverse

Highland, SCOTLAND

google map Graded difficult ?

Voting 5*
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Distance 6.33 miles (10.19 km)

Total ascent 1,186m

Steepest climb 62% (1 in 2)

Time 6 hours (Walking)

Start/finish Car park near Torridon House, NG868576

Summits included en route:
Hill Beinn Alligin - Sgurr Mhor 986 m
Hill Beinn Alligin - Tom na Gruagaich 922 m

Nearest town Gairloch

Terrain Clear paths throughout, quite well engineered in places (thanks NTS). There's some fun grade 1 scrambling on little rock tiers if taking the Horns directly, but all the difficulties are short lived, and this whole section can be bypassed (see route description). A little more light scrambling on the north ridge of Tom na Gruagaich.

Seasonal variations A classic grade I winter ridge traverse, and a brilliant first timer's intro to mountaineering ridges.

Weather and hill conditions mwis: Northwest HighlandsMet Office: West Highlands

Public transport Infrequent buses connect Torridon and Diabaig with Kinlochewe and Achnasheen

Guidebooks Scotland's Mountain Ridges by Dan Bailey, pb. Cicerone

Maps OS Explorer 428 (1:25,000), OS Explorer 433 (1:25,000), OS Landranger 24 (1:50,000), OS Landranger 19 (1:50,000)


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Tourist info Lochcarron (01520 722357)

One of the true jewels of the north west, Beinn Alligin gives a stunning scrambly horseshoe that takes in two Munros and some exciting ground on the famous Horns of Na Rathanan. The day proves less tricky than the traverse of nearby Liathach, but it's equal in quality and perhaps even better for views. With Torridon's incomparable mountains rising all around you, there can't be many better hill walks in Scotland.

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+Beinn Dearg and Liathach from Beinn Alligin's highest Horn, 172 kb
Beinn Dearg and Liathach from Beinn Alligin's highest Horn


Detailed description

NG8688057638 Take the path along the east bank of the Abhainn Coire Mhic Nobuil, initially through a lovely patch of native pine woods. After nearly 2km cross the burn on a footbridge, then soon after take the left path at a junction. Follow the Allt a' Bhealaich uphill to cross it on another footbridge, and shortly after that branch left where a cairn marks a path junction.

NG8823360152 The terminal buttress of Na Rathanan rises ahead. A well-made path winds steeply up the heathery crags, with some simple scrambling on sandstone tiers. Pass over a pronounced shoulder to make the final climb towards the lowest and most dramatic of the three Horns. Nb. Not far below this rocky peak a well-used path can be joined to traverse the broken slopes just left of and below the Horns; this is worthwhile, but does miss out the scrambling on the ridge crest. Better to continue onto the top of the first Horn, where more nervous climbers might like to rope up in wintry conditions.
+Beinn Dearg and Liathach from the first Horn, Beinn Alligin, 143 kb
Beinn Dearg and Liathach from the first Horn, Beinn Alligin
© Dan Bailey -, Feb 2013

NG8763661079 Descend a series of ledges and short rock steps (technically the crux of the route) to reach a narrow col below the second Horn. This gives a rough ascent with some hands-on fun. There’s a little more light scrambling in the descent to the gap on the far side of the second Horn, then another climb up broken rocky tiers onto the ridge forming the summit of the third Horn. Now drop into a low col before trudging up the long convex slope leading onto Sgurr Mhor.
NG8656161305 Head briefly south from the summit cairn to pick up a descent path cutting around the head of the dramatic Eag Dhubh, an unusual one-sided 'gully'-type feature. Then just follow easy ground along the broad ridge to circle the head of the mountain's cavernous central corrie, passing over a gentle minor summit. The ridge soon swings south, narrowing as it climbs and offering some short-lived easy scrambling en route to the wide flat summit of Tom na Gruagaich, Alligin's second Munro.

NG8594460147 Go southwest and then south into Coire nan Laogh, where a well-trodden path makes a steep descent (can offer a good glissade in winter). The trail follows the stream out of the corrie, then leaves it to pass over a rough knobbly shoulder before making the final descent to the road-side by the car park.
+Descending Coire nan Laogh, with Loch Torridon and the Coulin hills beyond, 151 kb
Descending Coire nan Laogh, with Loch Torridon and the Coulin hills beyond
© Dan Bailey -, Feb 2013

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