Beinn Eighe : the greatest wild swimming in the World ?

Each of Torridon’s three great ridge walks provide a unique mountain experience.  On a sunny day, Beinn Eighe sparkles with alpine brightness, topped completely in quartzite icing.  The hidden gem though nestles on the far side of the range, with the turquoise waters of Loch Coire Mhic Fhearchair lapping gently against the magnificent cliffs of the Triple Buttress.

Best to park at the small parking area near the bridge (OS ref NR 958568).  Walk East up the road for about a mile and the follow the clear path that leads up towards Coire an Laoigh.  The grassy start soon steepens as it approaches the quartzite ‘wall’.  The route up the side gets pretty steep and eroded in places, but the direction you need to follow is pretty clear.  Up !

After reaching the floor of the corrie, there is just one final push until you arrive on the main ridge – where a fantastic view of Liathach suddenly opens up in front of you.

A short detour along the ridge to your right, via quite a narrow crest, takes you to the first Munro of the day, Spidean Coire nan Clach.  From here, you get a great view along the Eastern ridge of Beinn Eighe.

Retrace your steps along the crest and follow this for a mile or so, the dark hulk of Liathach contrasting in your view as you pick your way across the dazzling quartzite top of Beinn Eighe.

The highest point of the range is Ruadh-stac Mhor, sticking out Northwards and at right angles to the rest of the ridge.  The advantage is that you get a fantastic viewpoint covering most of the Torridon mountains.
A great day out so far – but now the fun bumps up a gear!  Firstly, retracing back to the main ridge shows the only way down : a really steep scree gully.

Sam and I really love scree runs – but this one is pretty warn and we took plenty of spills along with our thrills on the way down.  Once at the bottom of the scree, you emerge into boulder field straight out of a geography text book on ice-age features.

By this time we were really hot – and the cool blue loch looked far too inviting to ignore.  A quick check that there was no-one around (a couple of red deer didn’t count), and I was in !  Fantastic !!  So refreshing after the climbing and scree run.  The huge cliffs towering over the Loch mean that every sound you make (including the squeal as you jump in) echo straight back to you at seemingly twice the volume.  Definitely my favourite swim – ever.

Sam, being a teenager, wasn’t quite so keen on the idea of skinny-dipping in a frozen lake in the middle of nowhere!  However, after a few minutes he couldn’t resist, only to emerge in a panic.  Expecting a few feet of water, Sam slid straight into – and under – the smooth surface.  Unfortunately his glasses didn’t emerge wih their owner.  Twenty minutes of duck diving later, I finally spotted the white rims, deep down in 15′ of water.  A couple of dives later and they were back where they belonged.  Most highland lochs are so peaty that this recovery would have been impossible : luckily Loch Coire Mhic Fhearchair is no ordinary loch, the water being beautifully clear.

Enough excitement for one day.  The route back skirts the far end of the loch and contours around the west end of Beinn Eighe, then squeezing back through the gap between it and Liathach.  This would be a great little walk in itself – even if you don’t fancy the walls and screes of the high mountain trail.

A fabulous end to a great day out in the mountains and lochs of Torridon.

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One thought on “Beinn Eighe : the greatest wild swimming in the World ?

  1. Glad to hear that your climbing adventures are still as thrilling as ever and that Sam enjoys the fantastic landscapes that Scotland has to offer. Did you know that Lewis has also got the climbing bug? It must be genetically inherited!!! 🙂 Fiona

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