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Grid Ref: NG 859 601
Beinn Alligin Seen Across Upper Loch Torridon
Beinn Alligin Seen Across Upper Loch Torridon

Beinn Alligin is the western of the three great mountain masses crowding in on the northern side of Upper Loch Torridon and Glen Torridon, the other two being Liathach and Beinn Eighe.

Though still subject of some debate amongst Gaelic scholars, the name "Beinn Alligin" probably means jewelled mountain. And a fitting name it is when seen from across Upper Loch Torridon, a view which shows all the main peaks of the mountain.

The Eag Dhubh or Black Cleft
The Eag Dhubh or Black Cleft
Tom na Gruagaich
Tom na Gruagaich
Horns of Alligin
Horns of Alligin

Those whose only interest is in bagging Munros will have found Beinn Alligin twice as interesting since the publication of the revised list in 1997, in which Beinn Alligin rightly had Tom na Gruagaich added to Sgurr Mhor to make this a two-Munro round. If you aren't into Munro-bagging or lists, you can safely ignore this bit. Suffice it to say that while no-one has yet launched a University degree in the theology of Munro-defining (as far as we know), it can only be a matter of time.

Beinn Alligin has a good parking area conveniently located at the foot of the two alternative means of ascent. The mountain is usually tackled as a circular round. The clockwise route takes in of the Coir nan Laogh, which forms a steep rising valley up the face of the lower of the two Munros, Tom na Gruagaich.

Liathach Viewed End-On
Liathach Viewed End-On
Liathach and Beinn Eighe
Liathach and Beinn Eighe
The Horns of Alligin
The Horns of Alligin
Loch Torridon from Beinn Alligin
Loch Torridon from Beinn Alligin
View up Tom na Gruagaich
View up Tom na Gruagaich

The views from the top of Tom na Gruagaich are tremendous, taking in the end-on perspective of Liathach, which you will have seen growing steadily less tame in appearance as you gained height, and beyond it Beinn Eighe. And to the west and north you can marvel at a vast swathe of the western coast extending out to Gairloch and beyond.

But your attention is drawn most compellingly to the rest of the mountain you came here to climb. The ridge stretches away from you towards the summit of Sgurr Mhor, the highest point on Beinn Alligin: complete with the magnificent gash that cleaves its face from top to bottom: the Eag Dhubh, or "Black Cleft."

Most striking is the highly tiered appearance of the steep slopes leading from the ridge to the encircled corrie below. These give Beinn Alligin a formidable appearance when viewed from the east or south east.

And further round again, your view takes in the Horns of Alligin, the three peaks that mark the most technically challenging part of any round of Beinn Alligin. It's your attitude to the Horns and what the guide books call "some easy but, in places, exposed" scrambling that should decide whether you tackle the walk in a clockwise or counter-clockwise direction.

Some people favour tackling the Horns first, and saving the easy bits until later. Others prefer to assure themselves of two Munros before taking a close up view of the Horns. Because if you'd prefer to leave them for another day, you can still retreat having achieved something.

One alternative is to head back as far as the bealach between Sgurr Mhor and Tom na Gruagaich and descending north west, before completing your circuit at low level around the foot of the Horns; and then on to the path leading back to your starting point.

Another alternative route is simply to retrace your steps all the way from Sgurr Mhor to Tom nan Gruagaich and then back down the Coir nan Laogh. You may note in passing that we offer no first hand views of the route over the Horns themselves and draw your own conclusions. A nine year old daughter can be a very useful companion in the mountains when you're looking for an excuse for taking the easy route...

Sgurr Mhor Seen from Tom na Gruagaich
Sgurr Mhor Seen from Tom na Gruagaich
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