Beinn Alligin Hike in Torridon

Jul 22, 2018 | Munros, Scotland's Mountains

Chances are you’ve heard about Torridon’s famous ridge walks and the Beinn Alligin hike is one of these. This is the shortest and probably the most beginner friendly.

It offers some of the most stunning views in the country and certainly earns its name, Mountain of Beauty, in Gaelic. There are some incredible land formations to appreciate and plenty of the route looks impassable at first glance. As you approach you realise it’s not as tough as it looks but this makes the feeling all the more spectacular.

view of mountains from alligin summit

Beinn Alligin is a huge curve of a ridge which is adorned with crags, buttresses and scree-covered slopes. While not as hulking as Beinn Eighe, Alligin takes a much more elegant formation. Two of the most notable features are the Na Rathanan, the Horns of Alligin, and Eag Dubh, a huge chunk of land which has been cleaved from Sgurr Mor’s southern slopes.

Fully appreciating these features are only done with good visibility so I highly recommend you keep up to date with the weather!

Contents


Munros Climbed


  1. Sgurr Mor – 986 metres (3235 ft) – pronounced SKOOR-MORE
  2. Tom na Gruagaich – 922 metres (3025 ft) – pronounced TAUM-NA-KROO-AKEEK

Getting There


This area of mountains is a long drive from pretty much anywhere unless you’re one of the few from the local area.

Follow the straight and fast A832 road for 25 miles (40 km) until you get to Kinlochewe where you’ll take a left onto the single track road to the village of Torridon. 10.5 miles (17 km) along this winding but spectacular drive you arrive at Torridon where you head through the village (as opposed to continuing along the south side of Loch Torridon).

Another 2.5 miles (4 km) of steep, narrow roads and finally you’re at the Beinn Alligin Car Park!

Click here for the exact location on Google Maps.

 

Difficulty


This is considered possibly the easiest of Torridon’s famous ridge walks. It does still include its tougher sections where care needs to be taken.

Some blogs I’ve read would disagree but I think it’s an easier hike if you approach the ridge from the east. The walk in is steady until you get to the rocky steps heading up to the ridge. There are some very steep sections involving some clambering and careful footwork but as long as you take care, you don’t need to be an expert. I do think that descending this steep section (i.e approaching from the other way) would be much trickier.

rocky slope while climbing beinn alligin

For me this was the trickiest slope of the hike

This part is undoubtedly the toughest. You can then choose to scramble over the ridge horns but there’s a bypass path for the less confident. The rest is a relatively straightforward ridge walk with two steep but short ascents up to the Munro summits.

Descending the southern slopes of Tom na Gruagaich is steep but there’s a clear path all the way down back to the car park. There are plenty of man-made steps so those with potentially dodgy knees will want to take their time.

Hiking Beinn Alligin in winter or pouring rain will be a different ball game and much more difficult.

 

Duration & Length


Duration: 4 – 7 hours

Length: 6.3 miles (10.1 km)

Below is my hike according to the Viewranger App.

my hike screenshot on viewranger

 

Ordnance Survey Map of hike: Explorer 433

 

Where To Stay


There are plenty of decent accommodation options in the area.

The Hike


Starting off in the Beinn Alligin Car Park, the path is directly across the road. Depending on what route you take, you can head to the left or the right.

As mentioned before, we took the path to the right.

path beginning the hike

Liathach are the mountains you can see ahead

The first mile of the path follows the Abhainn Coire Mhic Nobuil river before crossing a bridge and branching to the left. From here you’ll start a steady ascent towards the towering peak of Na Rathanan. Take a few minutes (presuming visibility is okay) to marvel at the towering ridge and two Munro peaks to the west that you’re about to climb.

view of the entire beinn alligin ridge

It actually looks a lot more daunting and difficult than it is.

The going starts to get tough as you make your way onto Na Rathanan’s slopes. It’s a steep climb with a bit of rocky clambering involved – although it’s nothing too difficult. Make sure you stick to the clearly marked path which does its best to avoid any seriously precarious situations.

scrambly section of the hike

Once up above this section, there’s another short but steep climb up onto the ridge. From the ridge, you’ve got the option to take the path up onto Na Rathanan (which actually means the three horns of Alligin) for a bit of scrambling, or take the grassy path to your left which bypasses the scrambling completely.

Take care on this during wet conditions because I can imagine the ground gets very slippery.

view of ridge and first peak

Ahead is the ridge and climb up Sgurr Mor

Once around the horns, the ridge flattens out before a final steep climb up to Sgurr Mor – the first Munro of the day!

In clear conditions the views are epic all around, I recommend soaking it all up because this is one of Scotland’s most spectacular corners.

view back across ridge

This is what you’ve just traversed

The rest of the hike is quite self-explanatory. Head down the steep slope initially. You’ll pass the spectacular Eag Dhubh which is the gully narrowly splitting the first Munro summit in two.

eat dubh rock cleft

Spectacular cleft splitting the summit in two

Follow the path to the top that sits in between both Munros. The mist descended at this point and we thought this was Munro number 2 but there’s actually still a bit to go!

Continuing south, the path starts to climb again and is broken up in rocky sections. The going is pretty straightforward, however, and the only way to go is up. This final 500 feet or so is steep and rocky but is the last bit of climbing for the day!

rocky slopes up second munro

The final ascent up Tom na Gruagaich

Sadly, the summit of Tom na Gruagaich was completely shrouded in mist so we got no views but on a clear day, you’ll get an amazing look at what you’ve just traversed and the prominent Horns of Alligin. Or, if you’re coming the other way, what you’re about to traverse.

Take the path southeast initially avoiding the rocky outcrop which is clearly indicated on the map. Very shortly after you’ll hit a marked path which is your route all the way back down the mountainside.

path descending the mountain

The path is clearly marked all the way down.

You’ll zigzag initially before more of a straight route with some very steep sections. There are plenty of steps as well which can be tough on the knees.

Eventually, you’ll hit a deer fence with a stile and that’s you almost back at the car park!

 

Alternative Routes


The main alternative route is the one I’ve already mentioned and it’s probably more popular.

It’s simply the same route the other way around. The difficulty won’t vary much at all but I can imagine some of the rocky slopes up to the three horns being tougher to descend than ascend.

 

Nearby Hikes & Things To Do


Hikes

The two other very popular hikes on this road from Kinlochewe to Torridon are just as spectacular:

  • Liathach.
  • Beinn Eighe.

 

To Do

The number 1 reason for most visits to Torridon is hiking or simply enjoying the stunning scenery. You can also:

  • Take a trip to Gairloch.
  • Follow the road to the scenic Applecross.

To Conclude


An epic hike in one of Scotland’s most stunning locations. It’s one I couldn’t recommend more and is probably in my top 10 Scotland hikes up until now.

I reiterate that you should definitely try and do this one in as clear conditions as possible in order to truly appreciate the landscape.

A popular option with hillwalkers is to set up base camp in a campsite/B&B nearby and hike all 3 of the Torridon ridge walks in a weekend.

Thanks for reading and please leave any questions or experiences in the box below! 🙂

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