Climbers who know this great mountain will agree that it is the mightiest and most imposing in all Britain. On leaving Kinlochewe to drive down Glen Torridon, you first skirt the quartzite slopes of Beinn Eighe, but on reaching Loch Clair it suddenly burst upon the view across the moor, its eastern ramparts falling almost vertically and its impending cliffs of red sandstone stretching as far as the eye can see.
That’s Walt Poucher waxing typically overblown about the view of the mountain Liathach from Glen Torridon, captured above by the Boon Companion. Not exactly “as far as the eye can see”—but the sensation on first rounding the corner and catching sight of this hulking great mountain is not unlike coming out of harbour in a rowing boat and finding an aircraft carrier bearing down on you.
We were bound for the far end of the glen, to a cottage on the shore of Loch Torridon.
It boasts a fine view of the gentler, western end of Liathach, with the village of Torridon nestled below:
And to the left of that view, the cliffs of Beinn Alligin loom across the loch:
So a fine spot to spend a few short November days. We didn’t stray far. One trip took us above the snow-line on the infamous Bealach na Ba road to Applecross, with its stunning view of the Skye Cuillin:
On other days we went north to Loch Maree, to wander through the woodlands there, with views towards the castellated bulk of Slioch:
The frosty tracks behind the Beinn Eighe Visitor Centre were still accessible, even though the centre itself (along with a large chunk of the Highland hospitality industry) was closed for the season. There’s been a big change since I first visited this spot, fifty years ago. At that time a visitor centre for a geographical feature was a complete novelty. The paths were rough and un-signposted. Nowadays they’re broad, smoothly surfaced tracks, waymarked and decorated with sculpture and carvings and … other stuff:
We had some good and bad wildlife encounters. The bad one happened at Applecross, where a dog broke its lead and attacked a pair of red deer stags on the shoreline:
The deer made a good job of defending themselves, but eventually one broke and ran for the hillside, while the other plunged into Applecross Bay and swam a kilometre to the other side. We watched it through binoculars until we saw it wade out of the water on the far side, and breathed a sigh of relief—but perhaps prematurely. An hour later, as we drove around the coast road, we saw it still standing on the shoreline—a wet and exhausted deer at sunset, with a frosty night ahead.
On a happier note, we also communed with Calum—a thirteen-pointer stag who intermittently hangs around the walkers’ car park below Liathach, successfully cadging food.
And then there was our almost customary encounter with distinctly un-wild life:
But the highlight was this little fellow:
The picture was taken through a glass door, using a security light for illumination, so it’s not the sharpest of images—but it gives a good impression of what a smart little creature a pine marten is.
It turned out our cottage was on the beat of a pair of martens, who visited several times every night. Using advice the Boon Companion had gleaned from a wildlife photographer, we baited our picnic table with dollops of jam topped with raisins, and I was able to get this little burst of infra-red footage of a pine marten experiencing some kind of culinary ecstasy:
The martens were (obviously) the highlight of the show outside our front window. But the view was never really dull.