Standing outside the SYH building Dorothy summed up the surroundings brilliantly. Everywhere you look they are so big. It doesn't matter which way i look.
I smiled and said there's another 1/3rd still up in the cloud yet.
We were of course facing Liathach in Torridon. It was grey, floor to ceiling of almost shear rock.
Today it looked like the glen was curtained, there was no sun shining on its slopes to pick out the colour or the detail. Quite foreboding, there was no gap between mountain and sky.
I'm not going up there, am I she said. Not today i replied.
The path i chose today, i hadn't done before, and i was hoping that it wouldn't be too hard for her. I said tell me if you feel its too much and we will go back. My plan was to get to Loch an Eion below the bulk of Maol Cheon-dearg which would be an ideal turning point and a place to have lunch.
I'm sure that many TGO challengers would pick this route on the first day out of Torridon and do it quite quickly.
Cloud base was about 800m and grey, but it was pleasant as the sun occasionaly found its way through. We found the start of the path in Annat and said good morning to an elderly chap who looked like he was waiting for a bus or a lift.
The path is a good one, obviously been used as a way through the glens for many a year, probably hundreds of years.
Great views across to Liathach and Beinn Eighe and Sgurr Dubh beyond Loch Neumha. At one point the clouds lifted just above Liathach's highest point Spidean a Choire Leith giving me a chance to get a photo of the whole ridge. Then as quickly as it cleared, the tops disapeared again.
During this spell of clear, Beinn Eighe was sparkling with its quantity of 600 million year old
Cambrian Quartzite and at the other end Beinn Alligin looked imense.
Our rise was quite a gentle one, ideal for backpacking in fact. The geology again stopping us numerous times to visualise the glaciation. Numerous boulder fields have been left as the glacier melted and massive eratics abound. I can spend hours looking around these areas even though i know nothing really.
Dorothy was doing really well, i had expected one or two moans but she was enjoying it. As we levelled out and the waterfalls came into view from Loch an Uilt-bheithe the loud sound of birds defending their territory startled us. It was so loud considering that the wind was picking up. I tried to see if i could make a bird fly so that i could identify it but alas no. The ground birds may have been further away than they seemed and my efforts were futile. As we moved on 100m the birds became quiet again.
Approaching the Loch an Eion i found a good spot to stop for lunch, sheltered from the now very strong wind. The sky lowering itself down the slopes of Maol Chean-dearg. It was looking ominously like we were in for a downpour. We had not stopped long before the first smatterings of raindrops interupted our break. We had already put on our waterproofs because of the strong wind but now they were needed for real. Down it came with some force and the view of Liathach and all the high tops disapeared completely.
Time to head down i thought, not a place to have Dorothy slip sliding around on wet sandstone. Not that there was any complaining.
When we reached the boulder field we met a mountain biker coming up, pushing his bike. He was a jolly guy, telling us why he was pushing his bike instead of spending all the energy in cycling. It seems that his wheels were spinning more than he liked and decided progress would be better pushing.
He was meeting a group of friends coming up from the other side, and he was meeting them halfway. I presume he meant somewhere at the saddle or the bealach na Lice. He asked if we were staying at the Torridon Hotel where if were he would have a chat with us later. Unfortunately we weren't, which was a shame.
The rain was easing as we descended and before we got to the bottom it was almost like summer. Waterproofs off and back to daudling.
Reaching the Annat road the old boy we said good morning to hours ago, was still stood there, waiting. We sat in the car and finished off the coffee and sandwiches, we were going to offer him some when a car pulled up and he got in. How long he had been waiting before we set off is anyone's guess. Strange we thought.
A most pleasant few hours walk anyway.
Once again pictures won't load, i will keep trying.