Start/Finish: Strathcarron Station
Terrain: 50% good trails, 25% Forest track, 15% Vague/Rough trail, 10% surfaced road
Transport: train station at Strathcarron (infrequent)
Route: Route Map
|Looking back N over Glen Torridon towards Beinn Eighe (from Bealach Ban path)|
This loop takes in two passes through the mountains between Strathcarron and Torridon, including a scenic trail through the Torridon giants of Beinn Alligin, Liathach and Beinn Eighe. At time of running, refreshments were available at the nice store/cafe in Torridon village. This is a wonderful area to explore by foot, with numerous tracks cutting between steep-sided mountains. I ran the loop clockwise, which has the advantage of tackling the roughest part of the day when freshest. However, I had to regularly stop and look back as the opposite direction seemed to offer the best views. (I have no problem with regularly stopping and looking!)
|Looking over the head of Loch Carron from above Tullich|
My day's run started at Strathcarron Station at the Southern-most point of my loop. The sky was clear and the wet, brown hillsides were lit by a low sun. I'd had to scrape ice off the car this morning. I settled into an easy run along the road to Lochcarron. My route of escape into the hills was at the gate for Tullich on the A896 (there's a gate on right-hand-side with waymarker arrow). The arrows took me on a non-intrusive route around the houses, the boggy path still frozen in places, then I was onto a very wet and rough track into the hills. I eventually lost this track in bog. The OS map suggested the route was on slightly higher ground to the W, so I ascended, following some deer for a bit, then came across old mossy cairns and traces of path again. I found it hard work, but with hindsight I can say this was the hardest part of the day, both in terms of effort and route-finding.
|Hazy ridges of Attadale, from the summit of Bealach a Ghlas-chnoic|
|Beinn Bhan (from E) over the Allt a Ghiubhais|
Do not cross the bridge into the woods like I did - I quickly realised my mistake and retraced my steps back over the bridge and onto a less-obvious continuation of the track down towards the Moine Mhor. My route disregards the OS map at this point and follows an unmarked but good track N across the wetland to Kinloch Damph at the base of Loch Damh. Additionally, there is no longer a bridge over the river at Kinloch Damph - but your trailshoes will be soaked by now anyway so wading across is no problem.
|The road alongside the incredibly clear and calm water of Loch Torridon|
|A hail shower moves across Loch Torridon, Beinn Damh behind|
From here I was lured by a waymarker onto a nice trail above the road - another section of old road perhaps? It was nice to be back off the tarmac but I warn you that you have to drop back down to the road when the next waymarker post tells you otherwise its a rough passage through boulders and scratchy bushes! With hindsight I'd have just stayed on the road - which is very quiet and means I could look at the scenery for a bit rather than where my feet were going.
|Looking E towards Beinn Eighe, snow on Liathach visible top right|
|Liathach from the NW|
|Liathach over Lochan an Asgair|
The gradient does eventually relent, cairns now marking the way on rocky but drier terrain as I found myself looking into Coire Grannda.
From here it was a gentle drop down to the road. I was looking forward to my dinner by now - a family meal in the Plockton Hotel booked for 6:30pm! After following the A890 Lochcarron road SW for a few minutes, I was able to escape the tarmac just before a picnic spot where a sign marks the start of a woodland walk to Strathcarron down along the river, where salmon pools are marked by signs ("Johnny's Pool", "Hill Pool"). The waymarkers lead me back to the road bridge over the river where it was a short final sprint along tarmac to beat the next squall. Great day out (and just part of a brilliant week with family in Plockton).