The leaving part of Applecross was surprisingly beautiful. We took the road, that follows the coast form Apple cross to the north, all the way around the peninsula. The views are again magnificent! A perfectly balanced combination of sea, beaches, hills and mountains, dotted with some beautiful, hairy highland cows. There the nature seemes to have had a particularly good eye on the colors, creating a landscape almost pretty enough to cry over. Later I found, that what we were looking at was Wester Ross, one of the National Scenic Areas in Britain.
We entered some tiny, cute seaside villages, explored some Wikiloc and eventually bought a map. We had found a very recommended hike up to Beinn Eighe, one of the peaks of the famous Torridon hills. That would be some 19 kilometers of hill walking.
To get to the start of the hike, we drove from Torridon toward Kinlochewe and parked at the Beinn Eighe car park. Since it was already afternoon, we packed the camping gear with us. 19 kilometers in rough terrain would have been far too rough for us to do in just a few hours, so camping on the way was the plan.
The first part of the trail was beautifully maintained stone path, cleanly passing the dozens of small streams running down the mountain side, to the bigger river in the valley. We wobbled on for a few kilometers, through the glen next to Beinn Eighe. Already in those kilometers we got to see a herd of deer, grazing at the hillside. Then it started raining.
Luckily right there we happened upon a perfect looking camping spot. On closer inspection it turned out to be just that; perfect. There was a flat grassy spot for our tent, a small stream of fresh water right next to it and a superb view over to the neighboring peaks and the lake dotted valley to the west. All of it promising quite a spectacular sunset.
We huddled in our tent, waiting for the rain to pass. That gave us time to dive into the map and see where in the world we actually were. The trail on Beinn Eighe would actually climb three peaks; Ruadh-stac Mòr being the tallest at 1010 meters, the next one, under which we were sitting, called Còinneach Mhòr at 902 meters and the last peak of 977 meters was Spidean Coire nan Clach. Should there be anybody out there who can guide me in pronouncing these names, I would be very grateful!
The rain was over and we started our evening routine. We filtered water form the stream and cooked. In the meanwhile the sun was preparing for the evening show; lighting up the lakes underneath us and the clouds above, casting playful shadows in the glen and changing the colors of the mountain peaks around us. Not a bad setting to have your evening meal in, I think.
We stayed out until quite late, looking at the landscape changing with the dimming light and listening to the rustling of the wild animals in the surrounding shrubbery. The darkness forced us to bed around 10 pm, so we had plenty of time to drool on our pillows before the hike on the following day.
We woke up fresh and started the hike with spring in our steps as we headed further to the north, in order to reach the approach trail to the peaks. The landscape continued being pretty, with small lakes dotting the glen. The actual climb started at the side of a beautiful water fall and then winding up to a bigger lake, nestled beneath the peaks. The skies were clear all the way, but the wind was quickly picking up in the higher ground. The gusts were beating down the sides of the mountain, and even throwing up water when they hit the lake surface.
With that wind in our backs, we commenced the first steep ascend, to the saddle between the Ruadh-stac Mòr and Còinneach Mhòr. The trail disappeared for a bit, and we found our own way between the small lakes on the way up to the rocky and gravely slope, which would bring us to the saddle. We were fist hopping from stone to stone, before reaching something like a serpentine trail up to the narrow gap between two boulders.
Up there in the ridge, the wind was downright violent. We made our way to the peak on all fours at times, while the gusts tried to beat us off of the hill. Slowly we made our way to the peak, took quick photos while desperately hanging onto rocks, before crawling back the same way to the saddle. The climb to the next peak was luckily sheltered from the worst of the wind, and although steep, we managed to move a little faster.
After the second climb, we faced a long grassy ridge walk, those lovely ones where you can imagine you are in the opening scene of The Sound of Music and just want to go frolicking about. The wind was back again though, so much so, that it was difficult to breathe at times. I had to trap my hat to my head by otherwise needless sunglasses.
The ridge ended to yet another wind beaten and rocky climb. After all the climbing and frolicking I was getting pretty tired in my legs. And naggy, if you ask Waffle, bless him. But up was the only way forward, so that’s where we went. And a small hour or so later we were at the last cross point and on our last peak, looking at our final descent back to the road where we came from.
As often, the way down proved to be rougher than expected. It was brutally steep and for the large part, there was a river of melt water running on it. The descent itself took a good hour. The distance wasn’t great, but the steepness and wetness took its toll on our speed; it was tough going. I often dislike downhills. They tend to be painful, dreary and too long, but still, without them, there would be no climbs either.
We made it to the car and started to figure out where to next. Some browsing of our beloved park4night -app happened. We weren’t extremely impressed by any of the spots close by, so we ended up driving to the east coast, to the town of Cromarty and up to the cliffs a little way out of town. We camped there, between some Germans and their vans, happily looking forward to the last bit of our trip, before leaving the island.