#330 – Behind Liathach

Walking through Coire Mhic Nobuil – ‘Behind Liathach’

For the best viewing experience, left-click the images and maps to zoom in to a new window, then exit that window to go back – go on, it really does work!

The North West Highlands of Scotland – Torridon at the red cross

Most years we end up in Torridon in Wester Ross on our Scottish trip.  It’s a mountain walkers paradise, with ‘proper’ mountains that don’t take prisoners, and my usual companion for the big mountain days had been Border Collie ‘Mist’.  In her final year, the high peaks were getting to be too much, even for a willing Border Collie, so I had come up with a route that would be easy enough for the dog and interesting enough for the humans.

The route ‘Behind Liathach’ – from west (left) to east (right)

Over the past few years, I had come to realise that a hiking day through the mountains could be as worthwhile as one over the tops.   One such trip in Torridon had been planned with the senior dog in mind – a linear route passing the northern side of Liathach, the side that the tourists don’t see, linking Coire Mhic Nobuil to Coire Dubh Mor.  In other words, it was  ‘Behind Liathach’.  ‘Mist’ passed away in June 2022, so our trip in the following September was our first one without a dog in years.  The ‘Behind Liathach’ route was still waiting to be done though.

The route – Start/finish at the red circle, taxi route out in black, the walk back in blue

Being a linear route, there was one small problem of logistics to sort out – the interesting bit through the mountains was almost 12kms (7½ miles) but 10.5kms of road lay between the start and finish points.  The answer was simple – get a taxi to the start point (we had done this in 2018 on a 18km walk between the Skye Cuillins and Blabheinn – see post #248).  A phone call put us in touch with Donald, who as well as sorting out the taxi, gave us the inside story on Callum the stag.

Local Torridon resident and Facebook celebrity, Callum the stag
Wildlife meets modern human – which one is the dumb creature!

Callum had turned up in Torridon about six years earlier, in a poor state of health.  Several locals had started taking buckets of vegetables out to the semi-emaciated stag, and he had bounced back to health.  Before long, he had become a local attraction, and tourists were using Facebook to find out where they could see Callum.  Sadly, the rescue mission by the locals has become a bit of a circus, with people forgetting that they are dealing with a wild animal, not a Disney character.  It’s amazing that no one has been injured – yet!

Meet the family – the missus and baby
Closer view of the calf
The rutting call – almost as old as the hills

In the meantime, Callum now has a Mrs Calum and Baby Callum (and yes, the name can be used for females as well as males).  We were in Torridon at the end of September, marking the start of the rutting (mating) season.  Although Callum is a bit of an ‘old boy’ now, hundreds of years of evolution tell him it’s time to find more females for his harem, and we were frequently treated to Callum’s rutting bellow, though I’m not sure treated is the correct word – if you can imagine what a noisy chainsaw sounds like, you are on the right track.

Our start point and the start of Coire Mhic Nobuil ….
…. Setting out through shadowy woods ….
…. before bursting into the light, with the hills of Beinn Alligin above
Heading out up Coire Mhic Nobuil….
…. with Beinn Dearg ahead

So, on our taxi ride to our start point at the start of Coire Mhic Nobuil, we were given a history of Callum and family, along with other fascinating local stuff – taxi drivers are brilliant at that sort of thing.  Once at our destination, we were soon ready to start our wee trek.  One nice thing about being taxied to a start point is that there is a sense of commitment – our camper was about 12kms away along mountain tracks, so if we wanted to eat that night, we would have to get moving!

Bridge over the Abhainn (River) Coire Mhic Nobuil
The hills of Beinn Alligin, seen from near the footbridge
Beinn Dearg getting closer (left) with a distant view of Beinn Eighe (right)
Now Beinn Eighe (ahead) getting closer, and Liathach peeping out on the right

As it was, we had great weather for the trip, and good light for photographs.  The path rising through Coire Mhic Nobuil was a typical stalkers path taking the most efficient route through the hills.  The main attraction early on was the bunch of hills known collectively as Beinn Alligin – once past Alligin, we traversed below Beinn Dearg and eventually an old friend in the form of Beinn Eighe came into view (see posts #230 and #246).

A final view back to Beinn Alligin ….
….with Beinn Eighe ahead getting ever closer
The Am Fasarinan Pinnacles on the Liathach ridge, on the south side of our route
The lump of Sail Mhor (Beinn Eighe) looming ahead

OK, so this wasn’t exactly a ‘thrill seeking’ kind of a day – what we did get for our efforts was a pleasant wander through some of the most dramatic mountain scenery in the UK.  And what’s more, we didn’t see a soul!  With Beinn Alligin and Beinn Dearg behind us, the path entered a bealach (pass) with Liathach and its pinnacles on one side and the huge bulk of Sail Mor marking the start of the Beinn Eighe hills.

The cairn marking the fork in the path leading to Coire Mhic Fhearchair
The wild lonely corrie of Coire Mhic Fhearchair, seen in 2017

Soon after we started the descent of Coire Dubh Mor, we passed the cairn marking the path out to Coire Mhic Fhearchair, a magnificent lonely corrie that we have visited before and will almost certainly visit again (see post #227).  That wasn’t the plan for this trip though – the steady familiar descent of Coire Dubh Mor soon brought us back to the camper and our noisy neighbour, Callum.

For us, it’s time to head for home ….
…. and our noisy neighbour

Text and images © Paul Shorrock

About Paul Shorrock

I've been mucking about in the mountains for longer than I care to mention. I started out by walking my local hills, then went on to rock climbing, mountaineering and skiing. Still doing it, and still getting a buzz. I'm now sharing the fun, through my guided walking business (Hillcraft Guided Walking) and by writing routes for other publishers, mainly Walking World and Discovery Walking Guides. Just to make sure I keep really busy, I am also currently a member of my local mountain rescue team.
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4 Responses to #330 – Behind Liathach

  1. I was hoping for a photo of Coire Dheirg seeing you’d gone around the back of Liathach – I’m interested in ascending/descending that way sometime. How on earth much was a taxi and where did you get one from?! Definitely a walk I want to do sometime…


    • I went back through the photo ‘out-takes’ of the trip, but without success – the views and photographic interest are to the north until the Am Fasarinen area comes into view.
      The taxi cost something like £20-25 – that’s for the taxi to come out to the Ling Hut car park and to take us to our start point. A bit expensive for one, less so for a couple. Donald’s phone number is 07519 002787.
      It’s a great walk for the views even though it doesn’t go to any summits, though you could always vary the route.


  2. Pingback: #331 – The Moray Coast Trail and Bow Fiddle Rock | Paul Shorrock – One Man's Mountains AKA One Pillock's Hillocks

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