The Infamous Liathach Ridge in Torridon
Liathach is a massive hunk of rock with eight tops, two of which are classed as Munros. The ridge is approximately 5 miles (8 km) long and the slopes fall down the mountains on either side in a series of sandstone steps.
It’s a piece of beauty which can be marvelled at from two of its neighbouring ridges – Beinn Alligin and Beinn Eighe. The trek is a combination of hiking, scrambling and walking.
I highly recommend you get this hike on a clear day because the views are staggering. Not only of the surrounding mountains but of the Liathach ridge itself.
- Spidean a’ Choire Leith – 1055 metres (3461 ft) – SPIDYAN-A-COYLAY
- Mullach an Rathain – 1023 (3356 ft) – MULLAK-AN-RAHIN
Liathach is the name of the ridge and is pronounced LEER-ACH in Gaelic.
What is a Munro? Need more information about Scottish mountain classification? Check this out.
Follow the A835 west towards Gairloch. 20 miles before Gairloch you’ll take a left at the small village of Kinlochewe. This is the A896 towards Torridon and is single track.
Continue along this road for another 8 miles where the starting point is a small layby on your left, a few hundred yards before Glen Cottage. Here you can see the exact starting point on Google Maps.
If you’re an inexperienced hillwalker/hiker then this isn’t one I’d recommend you tackle alone. There are some tricky rocky scrambles and plenty of exposed ridgewalking throughout.
It is by no means impossible and just requires extra care on certain sections. The terrain from the roadside up to the ridge gets extremely steep with lots of loose rock. I do believe that a lot of the guidebooks classifying this hike as ‘only for pros’ is an exaggeration.
Once on the ridge, some of the route has two options – the main ridge or a bypass route. The bypass paths avoid the toughest scrambles but they are still extremely exposed. Below, left is the bypass while right takes you up onto the ridge.
Duration & Length
Duration: 5 – 8 hours
Length: 6.5 miles (10.5 km)
Where To Stay
The nearest places to stay are Torridon and Kinlochewe. If you’re staying in the area then I also recommend the beautiful Gairloch.
Start off by leaving your car in the layby at the foot of Liathach. Merely from the roadside, what you’re about to hike looks daunting. A lot of it seems completely vertical.
The path starts to climb steeply and stays this way for a significant period. The first mile of the hike is the steepest section of walking all day and took me the best part of an hour.
The path crosses the Allt an Doire Ghairbh river early on and sticks to the right of it as you pass a couple of minor waterfalls. The terrain will begin to look more forbidding and vertical but the path eventually veers to the right, avoiding the cliffs ahead.
It’s here the path takes a sharp right and continues all the way up to the ridge. A couple of sections are punishingly steep and there are plenty of loose rocks on the sandstone face.
Keep going until you reach a cairn marking the first ridge and the first of the day’s sensational views.
While the real route heads left, I decided to slightly detour to the right to get some photos of northern Torridon. It didn’t disappoint.
The first two peaks make up the Munro top of Stob a’ Choire Liath Mhor. The third and furthest away is Munro number one!
Follow the path up and over the two tops before reaching the final climb up to the Munro. The terrain is very bouldery so take your time. The rocks come in many shapes and sizes, jutting out at different angles with no apparent order.
Take in the views from this summit. Comparable to the beginning of the ridge, not one angle disappoints.
To the northwest, you’ve got Beinn Alligin, an easier but equally as exhilarating ridge walk. To the northeast is Beinn Eighe, the most colossal of Torridon’s peaks.
Again, there’s a clear path ahead which forks. Right takes you up and onto the prominent Am Fasarinen Pinnacles, left bypasses the scrambling but is still an extremely exposed walk.
Take a few moments to soak in what you’re about to traverse. The view ahead reminded me of something out of Lord of the Rings with its towering crags and undulating terrain.
I chose to scramble and climb the pinnacles because I love that sort of stuff. The route is always relatively clear but there are plenty of rock faces that need negotiating.
Only go with what you’re comfortable with, you can always turn back and take the exposed path if you approach the pinnacles and think they’re too much.
You’ll probably find that reaching the Munro peaks feels pretty insignificant after traversing the epic ridge.
There’s something extremely satisfying about looking back along the ridge you’ve just traversed. You can also enjoy views of Beinn Alligin again to the northeast and the Skye Cuillins to the west.
Your knees get a brief interlude at a grassy section between two streams but this is short lived. The path continues alongside one of the streams before veering of to the southwest and all the way down to the A896 road!
Unless you’ve brought two cars or get offered a lift then you’ll have to endure the slog back along the road. The surroundings are spectacular, but nothing in comparison to what you’ve just witnessed.
This part of the country is laden with famous peaks. Along with Liathach, the two most popular are:
Beinn Eighe is definitely the giant of the three but they each offer their own unique experience. If you’ve come from afar (which is likely) then I recommend staying nearby and tackling all three ridges over a few days.
There’s really not much more to say about this magnificent walk. It’s undoubtedly one of Scotland’s finest and I reiterate, you should definitely do it on a clear day. Just take another look at the above photos.
While you do get two Munros under your belt, this hike is all about the ridge. Never have I felt so overwhelmed by the spectacular ridge that I kind of forgot I was bagging two Munros on the way.
The lochan-strewn landscape on show is epic, the terrace-lined mountain itself is mind boggling, the surrounding mountains are not far behind in grandeur….the Liathach ridge in Torridon is one of those walks you run out of superlatives for.
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