Day 12: A Breathtaking Torridon Hike

Day 12 Destination

My most ambitious hike for the entire trip saw me walking a shade over 20 KM to traverse the drop-dead gorgeous hike of Coire Mhic Fhearchair (which I’ve already waxed about in our main post). The day’s sights, sounds and feelings make up the most of this post.

Day 12 Travel Map
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Topological map to show the trail between 2 mountain complexes

Day 12 Costs

£23 hostel = £23 ($29)

Lessons Learnt (skip to pics & ramblings)

Mental fatigue trumps physical fatigue: I deemed it impossible for me to be able to walk 20 kms  / 38K steps in a single day with my average fitness. On this day of walking through some spectacular scenery, I learnt first-hand that if the mind is motivated, the body can push through raising your limits. The spectacular scenery did not let mental fatigue be a factor at all till the very end of the walk where..

Mainland Europe drivers visiting Scotland are the best: ..I was given a lift by a sweet European couple from Italy + Germany. It was my first lift received in many (10+) attempts made the whole day. I hope they went to eat Skye’s Oyster Shed oysters when they toured the island (one of our tips vended offline).

A hitchhiker’s appeal: If you’re a traveller in a remote region with sparse traffic and see someone asking for a lift, please acknowledge that you saw the hitchhiker and mouth the word “sorry” or “can’t” instead of whizzing past if you don’t want to give a lift (looking at you British car travelers). And if you do give a lift, thank you, you’re the best kind of person. 👍

It’s difficult to experience extreme natural beauty without your partner: This was a solo camping trip and I knew I was going to miss Yoda a lot. However, it was on this day when I was walking through some of the best topological features I had ever seen when I missed her the most and did not feel happiness overwhelm me like when we were in Arran. On the plus side, took the opportunity to tell her how much I loved her from said scenic locations

Phone signals in weird places: I had phone signal once in my 3 days in Torridon, at the end of a 17km hike into the hills! Plus with 4G data active. Hard to comprehend but thank you Technology 🙂

SYHA Torridon is great value for money: 23 GBP a night might seem a lot for a hostel but if you consider it’s in the middle of nowhere, lets you take unlimited hot showers, has good meals & an operational drying room for those soaked shoes, it’s not a bad deal at all. Plus the beds, view & lounge are all awesome.

I enjoy wild peeing: When out hiking for a number of hours, you answer nature’s call in nature. With the trail so deserted, especially on the way up, I dabbled in wild peeing off trail near vegetation. It feels so, so liberating in these open spaces. This did make me open to future such dabblings across my trip. 😛

Ramblings

Woke up at 6 AM to get an early start to the biggest walk I undertook the whole trip as the forecast predicted a dry spell from 8 am to 4 pm. The start of the trail was 6.5 km away from the hostel through a valley. I’d never asked for a lift in my life before but knew I needed atleast one to not be physically broken.

Left the hostel at 7 AM sharp in a light drizzle towards the trailhead. As seen in the travel map above, the hill Liathach that towers over the Torridon village stretches the full 4 miles till the start of my trailhead. It gave me company in a weird way when I was being refused a lift by single person cars every 10-15 minutes. The sparse traffic had a silver lining as I could enjoy the spectacular views with minimal traffic interruptions. Reached the trailhead in 2 hours as expected.

The trail is considered gentle in wild terrain because it pierces between 2 huge mountain complexes (also visible in the Travel Map above). What’s more is that the left side of the trail looks so different from the right side (grey quartz & stone on the left vs a delightful brown colour sandstone on the right). The low clouds also added a lot to the atmospheric feel for the place. Spent a fair bit of time ascending along with a stream on the right till the trail flattened out.

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Beinn Eighe showing off its sandstone

Tip: This particular hikes ascent is heavily front-loaded with another short steep hike at the end. Use energy drinks based on this info (I drank a batch when the trail first flattened & that helped me).

The flat section of the trail had 2 highlights. The first was listening to the sweet song of the Highland birdie pictured below with the sounds reverberating between the mountains. It was an unforgettable experience. The second was finally reaching a stream that I had to cross & had been expecting for some time now (having walked for a few hours). Reached for my Walkhighlands cached page to find I had covered only 40% of the trail! Cursed heavily under my breath but skipped over the stepping stones to continue my journey.

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Highland bird, my only sentient companion for miles

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Only 40% of the trail covered, FML

Reached the next progress marker when I reached the large cairn marking a fork in the trail. Thanked the hikers who created this cairn over time & added a stone from my side as well. At this point, the view opened up into seemingly infinite valleys & mountains, albeit in poor visibility. I took so many pictures from this point on hoping to showcase the amazing rugged landscape but unfortunately all my pictures look very 2-dimensional and topologically flat.

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Pic looks 2D but it really pops out in real life

Finally reached the final ascent alongside a beautiful waterfall. Here is where I lost focus a little and fell on stone a couple of times with my excitement getting the best of me. Climbed the final section to finally see the mountain lake endpoint. The disappointing bit was that only one of the 3 buttresses were visible due to the low cloud. But the lapping waves of the light blue water made up for it. Took my well deserved seat at the top of the waterfall with a rock shielding me from the wind to eat a lunch of a meal deal and a delicious smoked porter beer from Fallen Brewery (one of the best in Scotland).

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One of the three buttresses

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View facing the other side

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Beer with a view

Talked to a few hillwalkers and asked them to take pics with me in them. One group told me that if I walked around the lake, I’d be able to see a plane’s wreckage from a 1951 accident. Left seeing that for a return trip to this region with Yoda. Started walking back after taking in the views for an hour. Got back on the road and almost immediately got a ride back which was fortunate as it’d started to rain. Another curry meal at my SYHA along with talking to a fine gentleman from Liverpool who’d cycled across Britain made up for a great evening. Slept like a log (as you’d expect) after an unforgettable experience.

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