Coire Mhic Fhearchair

Beinn Eighe in Torridon

Hillwalking route on Beinn Eighe and Coire Mhic Fhearchair

Beinn Eighe is a vast mountain in Torridon, boasting seven peaks, two of which are Munros. There are many route options, but ensure you visit its most dramatic feature, Coire Mhic Fhearchair, a spectaular amphitheatre with a famed 'Triple Buttress'.



Route outline


Munros

Ruadh-stac Mor, 

Spidean Coire nan Clach

Ascent 1250m (4100ft)
Distance 17km (11m)
Time 6:15hr
Start/finish Glen Torridon
Grid Ref : NG97757
Terrain
easy hard
Nav
easy hard
Effort
easy hard
Scenery
ok fab


When viewed from the Glen Torridon, Beinn Eighe's south facing slopes appear as a uniformed wall of scree, however the northern side of this mountain is complex with corries pushing out on a grand scale.

Beinn Eighe's complexity gives many route options, though with having two Munro peaks, most baggers will aim for these. The ridges of Beinn Eighe are on quartzite blocks and fairly straghtforward to traverse. The mountain's most most dramatic feature is hidden Coire Mhic Fhearchair - a spectaular amphitheatre with the famed 'Triple Buttress' - a visit to this is highly recommended.

There is some varied and entertaining rock scrambling which can be enjoyed on detours along Beinn Eighe's ridges, with 'Ceum Grannda' on Sail Mhor and the Black Carls on Sgur nan Fhir Duibhe being most noteable.



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Route description


1. Getting to Glen Torridon

The foot of Spidean Coire nan Clach

The foot of Spidean Coire nan Clach

In Wester Ross, Glen Torridon stretches eastwards for 10 miles from Kinlochewe by the southern tip of Loch Maree. The narrow single track road of the A896 travels along the length of the glen and being part of the NC500 scenic route, can be busy in peak holiday periods !

The hike up Beinn Eighe begins from a small car-park by a square patch of forestry around 7km west of Kinlochewe. The car-park is gained by a track heading off the A896.

The route finishes by a larger car-park around 2km to the west of the start point.


2. Spidean Coire nan Clach

At the top of Coire an Laoigh

At the top of Coire an Laoigh

From the car-park, aim to the patch of trees and pick up a fine path by an information board. This well maintained path climbs around 400m in a series of zig-zags up towards Coire an Laoigh.

Just as the coire is entered , the constructed path ends abruptly and an eroded and worn wet path takes over and continues into the coire. The path then climbs steeply up grass and loose gravel up to a small cairn on a grassy ridge between Spidean Coire nan Clach and the knobbly Stuc Coire an Laoigh.

In winter, a cornice can form above the head of Coire an Laoigh. Hiking up the rough eastern spur of Stuc Coire an Laoigh should avoid any difficulties.

By the cairn, turn northwards, and after an initial easy climb on grass, cross gravel and scree to climb up to a trig point on Beinn Eighe's ridge. In mist this can be mistaken for the summit of Spidean Coire nan Clach !

Spidean Coire nan Clach's summit , with its small cairn, is 200m north-east and is reached via a narrow ridge and short easy scramble. Note that although the OS Landranger has spot heights marked (972 for the trig and 993 for the summit), contour features are completely missing !

Nearing the summit of Spidean Coire nan Clach

Nearing the summit of Spidean Coire nan Clach

Spidean Coire nan Clach's summit is a superb vantage point to view the entire Beinn Eighe range of peaks and ridges.

Nearing the summit of Spidean Coire nan Clach

Nearing the summit of Spidean Coire nan Clach


3. Ruadh-stac Mor

On Beinn Eighe's ridge west of Spidean Coire nan Clach

On Beinn Eighe's ridge west of Spidean Coire nan Clach

From Spidean Coire nan Clach's summit, return to the trig point, then tracing the crest of Beinn Eighe's ridgeline, head westwards down a path through boulders and over rock.

Over a couple of minor bumps, the path twists around some rough rock as Beinn Eighe's crest begins to turn north-west and drop to a bealach at c820m. Beyond the bealach, the rough ridgeline is followed uphill to gain the grass-covered ground of Choinneach Mor's eastern rise.

If snow is lying on the upper parts of east facing corries, the small cairn on the eastern end of Coinneach Mhor will need ascended to, in order to continue further. In summer conditions, there is a by-pass path cutting through the grass some 50m or so below this 'summit'.

Both the route from Coinneach Mhor's summit and the by-pass above the corrie lead to a rough, sandstone arête and short gap above Coire Mhic Fhearchair. Crossing the arête and gap is straightforward, beyond which a clamber up more rock reaches a flat grass covered area with the white summit of Ruadh-stac Mor directly ahead.

The arête leading to Ruadh-stac Mor

The arête leading to Ruadh-stac Mor

There's a little clambering up quartzite boulders and scree to gain Ruadh-stac Mor's summit from where views are particularly fine over Baosbheinn and Letterewe to the Outer Hebrides.

The arête leading to Ruadh-stac Mor

The arête leading to Ruadh-stac Mor


4. Coire Mhic Fhearchair and return to Glen Torridon

Beginning a descent from the arête

Beginning a descent from the arête

The most popular return begins by re-tracing steps from Ruadh-stac Mor's summit to the gap , then heading westwards down very steep sandstone scree and gravel to wet grassy ground below. The descent down this is loose and quite unpleasant.

An easier and more direct route begins from Ruadh-stac Mor's summit by retracing steps for 300m , then turning right (west) and picking a route directly down the fall-line of the hill's slope. Although on loose gravel and scree in bits, lines of grass can be found to follow.

Once down onto more level ground in Coire Mhic Fhearchair, progress involves much bounding over wet grassy ground with hidden boulders and burns. Try not to stumble as you awe at the Triple Buttress ! By the western shore of Loch Coire Mhic Fheachair, there is some wreckage of a Lancester plane which crashed in the 1950's.

Head around the northern shore of the loch to where there are some lovely spots to sit and take in the splendour of Coire Mhic Fhearchair. Cross the loch's outflow and pick up a well constructed path at the foot of Sail Mhor.

On the path out, Beinn Dearg ahead

On the path out, Beinn Dearg ahead

Follow the constructed path as it travels around the base of Sail Mhor path to meet with a large cairn by a junction with the Coire Dubh Mor path. Keeping eastwards, follow the path into Coire Dubh Mor and back to the roadside in Glen Torridon by the eastern end of Liathach, around 2km west of the start point..

On the path out, Beinn Dearg ahead

On the path out, Beinn Dearg ahead


5. Detour to Sail Mhor

The scramble on Ceum Grannda

The scramble on Ceum Grannda

Choinneach Mhor and Sail Mhor are 'Munro Tops' on the western end of Beinn Eighe's ridge overlooking Loch Coire Mhic Fhearchair. To reach Choinneach Mhor is a delightful detour from the main ridge, walking in the main on grass up a gentle incline. To gain Sail Mhor is much more commiting and involves a downward rock scramble at Grade 2.

From Coinneach Mor's eastern summit , head westwards over a wide grass covered plateau above Coire Mhic Fhearchair for around 500m. The grass gives was to stoney ground and Coinneach Mhor's western summit is gained.

To begin an approach to Sail Mhor, head further westwards from Coinneach Mhor's western summit for a few metres to be greeted by a drop preventing progress. This rocky quartzite slant is called 'Ceum Grannda' (meaning 'the ugly step'), and looks more difficult than it actually is. The rock is quite solid and an enjoyable scramble will see you down this !

Reach the bealach between Coinneach Mhor and Sail Mhor from where a hike up easy ground gains Sail Mhor's summit .

Loch Coire Mhic Fearchair from the bealach below Sail Mhor

Loch Coire Mhic Fearchair from the bealach below Sail Mhor

There are routes descending Sail Mhor to Loch Coire Mhic Fhearchair, but most hilwalkers will most likely return up Choinneach Mhor and continue along Beinn Eighe's ridges. Fortunately the scramble back up Ceum Grannda is easier in ascent !

Loch Coire Mhic Fearchair from the bealach below Sail Mhor

Loch Coire Mhic Fearchair from the bealach below Sail Mhor


6. Sgurr nan Fhir Duibhe and the Black Carls

Sgurr nan Fhir Duibhe from its eastern shoulder

Sgurr nan Fhir Duibhe from its eastern shoulder

Sgurr Ban and Sgurr nan Fhir Duibhe are 'Munro Tops' on the eastern end of Beinn Eighe's main ridge. These minor summits are gained by following Beinn Eighe's crest eastwards from Spidean Coire nan Clach and tracing a faint path on stoney ground .

Sgurr nan Fhir Duibhe stands at the southern end of a fine little ridge called the 'Black Carls' which leads out to Creag Dhubh and its minor northern summit from where fine views are to be had over Loch Maree and Slioch.

The scramble along the Black Carls is at Grade 1 and there are by-pass paths below the pinnacles. The route north of the Black Carls over Creag Dhubh's summits is straightforward following a path along a crest.

Instead of gaining Sgurr nan Fhir Duibhe by detouring from Spidean Coire nan Clach, there are other possible approaches. A path beginning from just south of Kinlochewe follows the Allt a' Chuirn heading upstream and onto the eastern spur of Creag Dhubh. Another path begins by the Beinn Eighe Visitor Centre which stands by the roadside around 1km north-west of Kinlochewe (see Meall a' Ghiubhais and Ruadh-stac Beag route page).

Sgurr nan Fhir Duibhe and the Black Carls from Sgurr Ban

Sgurr nan Fhir Duibhe and the Black Carls from Sgurr Ban

I haven't approached Sgurr nan Fhir Duibhe from these two alternatives, but I have began hiking from by the entrance to the Coulin Pass (at NH002581). The route begins up heather clad slopes and are no paths to follow. Higher up, a slog up boulderfield gains the crest of Beinn Eighe to the east of Sgurr nan Fhir Duibhe . Not the best of routes !

Sgurr nan Fhir Duibhe and the Black Carls from Sgurr Ban

Sgurr nan Fhir Duibhe and the Black Carls from Sgurr Ban


7. Alternative return

Returning to the bealach between Choinneach Mhor and Spidean Coire nan Clach

Returning to the bealach between Choinneach Mhor and Spidean Coire nan Clach

Having bagged Ruadh-stac Mor, a more direct route back to the roadside can be made by returning part way along Beinn Eighe's crest. This misses out a visit to Coire Mhic Fhearchair, so perhaps a recommended route if weather turns foul.

From Ruadh-stac Mor return along the arête above the eastern end of Coire Mhic Fhearchair and back up Choinneach Mor's eastern rise . Retrace your steps along Beinn Eighe's centre ridge down to the bealach between Coinneach Mhor and Spidean Coire nan Clach.

Just to the east of the lowest point on the bealach is the head of a little used scree run that drops southwards down to Coire Dubh Mor below. The scree is perfect for a fast run downhill !

Upon reaching the bottom, hopefully intact and with a big grin on your face, cross heather and some wet ground to pick up the Coire Dubh Mor path to follow back to the roadside.





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Meall a' Ghiubhais and Ruadh-stac Beag

Some fine hillwalking with some challenging navigation and route selection to gain the summits of two rugged Corbett peaks behind Beinn Eighe in Torridon.

Peaks : 2 Corbetts

Ascent : 1430m (4690ft)
Distance : 18km (11m)
Time : 6:55hr

Liathach

Liathach, "the Grey One", is situated in the heart of the Torridon. Being the most dramatic of the Torridon Giants, Liathach's slopes are composed of terraced sandstone, above which the highest peaks are topped with quartzite blocks. Forboding on first aquantiance, there are however some chinks in Liathach's armour which has allowed rough routes and a bypass path around the scramble over the Am Fasarinen Pinnacles to develop over time.

Peaks : 2 Munros

Ascent : 1280m (4200ft)
Distance : 6km (4m)
Time : 3:40hr

Beinn Alligin and Beinn Dearg

Beinn Alligin and Beinn Dearg are the most westerly of the Torridon Giants and not quite as large or complex as their higher neighbours Liathach and Beinn Eighe. A traverse across their mountain ridges makes for a fine introduction to scrambling on Scottish rock.

Peaks : 2 Munros, 1 Corbett

Ascent : 1250m (4100ft)
Distance : 10km (6m)
Time : 4:35hr

Beinn an Eoin and Baosbheinn

A fine track heads in from near Gairloch to the foot of Baosbheinn and Beinn an Eoin, from where a circular hiking route over long wide ridges gains superb vantage points for stunning views of Torridon and the north-west coast.

Peaks : 2 Corbetts

Ascent : 1575m (5170ft)
Distance : 23km (14m)
Time : 8:25hr









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