Monday 26 July 2021

Heat & Mist in the Torridon Hills

My first camp as the mists cleared on the second morning

Heading for the Torridon hills last week I was looking forward to some sunny weather and hoping it wouldn't be too hot, not something that often concerns me. I was planning on climbing some Corbetts I hadn't been on for many years, hills that lie between the Torridon giants and Loch Maree. Starting up the Mountain Trail from the latter I wondered about the forecast as the summits were all in cloud.

In dull evening light I found a spot to camp wondering what the view was like. I didn't find out the next morning as I woke to find my tent enveloped in thick mist and dripping with dew and condensation. Leaving it to dry I set off for Ruadh-stac Beag, a spur of Beinn Eighe that is most easily climbed apart from the rest of the mountain. Only when I reached the summit after some laborious final steep scree and boulders did the clouds begin to clear, the temperature rise, and the spectacular mountain landscape all around reveal itself.

The eastern summits of Beinn Eighe from Ruadh-stac Beag

The heat built rapidly and by the time I was back down the scree slope I'd drunk all my water and was longing for the first running stream. Many were dry as there had been little rain for several weeks.

A welcome water stop below Ruadh-stac Beag

As the heat increased I sweated my way up Meall a' Ghiubhais. Further west there was still cloud drifting round the hills. That's where I was going next.

Beinn an Eoin & Baosbheinn from Meall a' Ghiubhais

Back at camp late that evening the sky was clear though and the views of Beinn Eighe superb. 

Beinn Eighe

Overnight the mist rolled in and again I woke to a damp tent and no views. The sun broke through more quickly though and the sky was clear by the time I set off back down the Mountain Trail. The air was hot and stuffy, and I was feeling the heat so I took time to sit in the cafe in Kinlochewe with cold drinks for a while before driving along Loch Maree and round to the start of the walk-in to Beinn Eoin and Baosbheinn. My feet were sore and my trail shoes felt too tight so I removed socks and insoles to make more room.

By the time I camped near Loch na h-Oidhche the sun had gone. I was soon asleep. As on previous nights mist drifted in and moisture formed on the tent. The night was a little too hot but nothing like the heat that blasted me as the sun appeared over the shoulder of Beinn an Eion, making the dew on the grasses sparkle. I was quickly outside watching the clouds slowly fading from the hills. 

Loch n h-Oidhche and Liathach

A few midges appeared (most of the trip there were none) and I retreated to the tent for breakfast. It was cooler now, with the doors open. 

View from the tent

Not cool enough for long though and as soon as the midges vanished I was back outside to eat the rest of my muesli in the sunshine and drink plenty of coffee and water before setting off for Baosbheinn. 

Baosbheinn's behind me

The ascent of Baosbheinn, a wonderful and much under-rated hill, was hot and sweaty but I was beside a stream most of the way and so could drink my fill and regularly soak my hat and shoes to keep my head and feet cool. The views from the summit were superb. Westwards the sea was covered with another sea, a mass of white clouds. The Torridon hills shone in the sunshine. The heat had ended my plan of climbing Beinn an Eoin as well and I welcomed the decision as it meant I could spend time on the summit enjoying the wild landscape. It was a marvellous place to relax.

Beinn an Eoin & Beinn Eighe from Baosbheinn

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