THE jewel of Torridon, Beinn Alligin is well named and equal in stature, for me at least, to any diamond tiara. It was my hundredth Munro and its distinctive shape, with the pinnacled "Horns of Alligin" at its eastern end, makes it instantly recognisable to hillgoers.
The National Trust for Scotland has been doing some stalwart work on the paths here too, making a traverse all the more enjoyable.
It’s as well to choose a clear day to get the best of the incredible views from the ridge. Good visibility also helps with route-finding over the horns, for those who enjoy a scramble.
My day began in the midge-infested car park on the road between Torridon village and Inveralligin, on the western side of the bridge crossing the Abhainn Coire Mhic Nobuil. Repellent seemed to have no effect on the voracious little beasts so I hauled on my boots as quickly as possible and hurried away. If you’re going in a clockwise direction, a narrow path to the left of the bridge climbs up the hillside away from Upper Loch Torridon. There are glimpses of Beinn Alligin and a great view back over the loch towards Shieldaig.
A stile over a deer fence is reached and the path continues to weave upwards, finally levelling off, revealing Beinn Alligin in all its glory. The path surface is excellent, making for easy progress up into Coire nan Laogh, beside the burn issuing from it.
I followed the path as it zigzagged up, eventually crossing the burn and emerging close to the lower of Alligin’s two Munros – Tom na Gruagaich.
The view from the trig point, not only of the other Torridon hills but also the route ahead, is dramatic indeed. Arriving just behind me was Mac – another solo walker from Blairgowrie – and we agreed to pair up for the rest of the traverse.
The route continues down Tom na Gruagaich’s narrow north ridge. Those not so keen on exposure can stick to its left flank. An intervening bump is crossed before a deviation left round the deep gash of the Eag Dhubh – the Black Cleft – which scythes into the mountain. It’s not something you’d want to fall into, so take care if you venture to the edge for a look down. Now comes the steep ascent of Sgurr Mhor – Alligin’s higher Munro at 986 metres. Again the views are stunning, with the long ridge of Baoshbheinn – a spectacular Corbett in the Flowerdale Forest – prominent across Loch a’ Bhealach. Mac and I took a break as a heavy shower blew in and the horns disappeared into the cloud. I felt confident the rain would pass, so rather than turn round and go back the way we came, we sat it out.
Sure enough, 20 minutes or so later the rain stopped and the horns emerged from the mist. We set off to the base of the first pinnacle, then scrambled upwards along a well-defined route to reach the top. The scrambling can be made as difficult as you like and easier options are always available. The second horn was conquered and we made for the third. Although lower than the other two the scrambling is more difficult, with a little more searching around for hand and footholds and some steep rock. The hardest bits can be avoided though.
The south-east ridge of Beinn Alligin looks challenging at a distance from below, but a path cuts through the sandstone rock terraces to reach flatter ground at the base of the hill. However, in places there are awkward steps so it’s as well to stay alert on the descent.
Once the difficulties are passed the rest of the walk back to the car park is very straightforward, with bridges over the watercourses and a fine path beside the Abhainn Coire Mhic Nobuil.