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davidx Diabaig - A travel report by David
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Diabaig,  United Kingdom - flag United Kingdom
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davidx's travel reports

Diabaig, Torridon and area

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Height isn’t everything. I have never known anybody, whatever mountains they have seen elsewhere, who has sampled the Torridon Highlands without being impressed. Diabaig is a delightful backwater.


Diabaig travelogue picture
Many would put the Torridonian sandstone mountains of Scotland’s northwest second amongst all the UK’s scenic attractions with only the black gabbro Cuillin of Skye ahead of them. I go further and rate them first equal. I simply can’t bring myself to declare the ‘winner’ of these two. There are two main types of landscape in the Torridonian mountains. The first, stretches from Beinn Bhan above Applecross northwards via Beinn Alligin, Liathach and Beinn Eighe, from Loch Torridon itself to Loch Maree and recurs a bit further north in the magical group of An Teallach above Little Loch Broom. It consists mainly of massive [by UK standards] peaks, usually having a number of separate summits and connecting ridges. The second is found even further north and consists of lower [none of them comes near 1,000 metres or aspires to Munroe status (3,000 feet}], and isolated peaks – but the shapes of some of them and the views from them are unimaginably good. Suilven, Stac Pollaidh and Quinag coming particularly to mind. Inevitably this kind of generalisation omits some and I don’t want to play down Beinn Damh, Beinn na h’Eaglaise, both of which have given me intense enjoyment or Slioch, which I have seen so many times towering beyond Loch Maree but never ascended. Then in places, such as Lower Diabaig, covered later in this report, the scenery resembles that of mountain tops, although it is only a few hundred feet above the nearby sea. Some of the UK’s most spectacular corrie [coire] lochs are also to be found in these areas. Loch Toll an Lochain, nestling below the An Teallach peaks, is my personal favourite, perhaps related to the fact that I saw my nearest ever golden eagle only yards from it. Coire Mhic Fheachair, on Beinn Eighe is another marvellous sight that springs to my mind. Lochan Fada behind Liathach is another pearl. N.B. I have checked all these improbable spellings with the Ordnance Survey online maps. Don’t even attempt pronunciation.

Favourite spots:
Loch Diabaig from outside the caravan
Loch Diabaig from outside the caravan
The area around Loch Torridon itself has to be a favourite, or perhaps a few favourites as we have camped in different places with and without family and stayed several times in the same rented caravan. Of areas more than a day’s drive away, there is none to which we have been so often. I concentrate here on the end of the little road going on the north side of the loch. It ends at Lower Diabaig on the perfectly rounded Loch Diabaig, just to the north of Outer Loch Torridon. If you don’t fancy staying at a place over 7 miles, by twisting narrow road with a blind summit, from the nearest pub – this is not for you! If you like the idea of a very small hamlet on the coast at a spectacularly beautiful place, with fine walks in any direction [other than the sea!], you might enjoy it as much as us. One way a footpath goes around the shore, crossing tiny roads at Wester Alligin and Inver Alligin, to Torridon Village itself. The other way is to Craig Youth Hostel and Red Point.

What's really great:
Boys' tent at Annat, S. side of Loch Torridon
Boys' tent at Annat, S. side of Loch Torridon
To me there’s nothing in this whole area that doesn’t tend towards the special – except the pub perhaps. One of the very best sections of the coastal route is that through the estate between Torridon Village [Fasaig] and Inver Alligin. My wife and I stood near the Alligin end once and watched two otters swimming together for a considerable distance and they then landed in front of us and started to play. This was sadly too much for our dog and her barking was too much for them so they promptly disappeared. The village itself, with its one excellent store, Youth Hostel and some basic facilities cowers under the mass of Liathach and is pretty spectacular. The road along the south side of Loch Torridon to Shieldaig was being made the first time we stayed in the area, Shieldaig being a small settlement with an island just off shore. Even more recent, once a scar on the landscape but now settling down, is the road on to Applecross, the peninsula seen across the water from Diabaig.

Sights:
From end of Loch Torridon
From end of Loch Torridon
If you drive inland from Torridon, you will come to the small town of Kinlochewe. Turning left here will take you along Loch Maree. This is not so big as Loch Ness or Loch Lomond but is certainly my favourite of the large true lochs [i.e. not sea lochs].
There are a few small islands in the Loch and at the other side rises Slioch, a mountain I shall always regret not ascending, towers in splendour. On your own side the bulk of Beinn Eighe continues for some miles. Turning left when you reach the coast will bring you to the picturesque seaside village of Badachro and then on to Red Point with a large beach and the path, via the isolated Youth Hostel at Craig, to Diabaig. Even now some supplies can only be brought to Craig by boat.
There are some less well known and smaller mountains of Torridonian sandstone to your left after passing Beinn eighe and the walks among or up them are not to be derided. You’ll be almost, if not completely, alone.

Accommodations:
The caravan at Diabaig
The caravan at Diabaig
We have camped at Inver Alligin and taken a caravan to Annat at the south side of Loch Torridon near its head. Both places have minimal facilities and honesty boxes. At Annat a heron came daily to fish just near the site.
More recently we have taken an old static caravan at Lower Diabaig for at least four separate weeks. When we first used it, there was a solid fuel stove, though that gave way in time to an easier but less cosy electric fire. I don’t know whether it’s still rented but it was almost absurdly cheap and we loved it. If you’re seriously interested I’ll try to find out.
There are a number of B and Bs in the area.
If you like Youth Hostels, the one at Torridon is very high standard and the location of the simple one at Craig is magic if you like remoteness. [www.syha.org.uk]

Nightlife:
Beinn Alligin
Beinn Alligin
If there are any, I’m sure they would be effectively for locals only and would be inhibited by the appearance of outsiders.
Now that I’ve put something in this section, for only the second time in many reports, I’ll cheat and put some good urls that won’t fit anywhere else and any applicability to clubs is both accidental and remarkable! – no gaps of course.
http://www.undiscoveredsco tland.co.uk/index.html
http://www.scottish sport.co.uk/walking/index.htm
http://www.treasures ofbritain.org/LochMaree.htm
http://www.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/oswebsite/getamap/ [This is NOT a sales site but when you are allowed to download essential maps if you plan on walking.]

Hangouts:
Loch Diabaig again - see salmon farm.
Loch Diabaig again - see salmon farm.
The Beinn Damh, a short way along the southern shore from the head of the loch, is OK to play pool with the family but I can’t say I find it particularly appealing. The pub at Badachro [see sights section] has a superlative view as does Loch Maree Hotel, where I have enjoyed numerous drinks. A good trip out with a drink, possibly needed, on the way is to Shieldaig and towards Lochcarron, turning right over an exciting unclassified [and indeed unclassifiable] road to Applecross. This passes over the Bealach na Ba [Pass of the Cattle] and to say it’s steep is like saying that Hell’s a bit on the warm side. You can have your well deserved drink at Applecross and no, you don’t have to go back the same way! Take the road to Shieldaig.


Other recommendations:
Good night!
Good night!
Although some of the walking in the area might seem a bit hairy, there is enough that isn’t to keep you going for ages. My favourite smaller mountain is Bheinn na h’Eaglaise on the south side of the Torridon river before it enters the Loch. It can be circumnavigated quite easily and you will only need to find your way between paths for a short way. Further up the valley there are striking views, in return for a minimum of effort, of the great peaks reflected in the waters of Loch Clair.
On the north side of the glen there is a marvellous path that starts by going between Liathach and Beinn Eighe. It leads either to Coire Mhic Fheachair, a wonderful walk in itself or on with Liathech ever on the left past Beinn Dearg and Beinn Alligin to the right until eventually you arrive at a car park on the Torridon-Alligin road. The easiest way is to drive here early in the day to get the Postbus up to the start of the walk and have the car waiting on your return.



Published on Tuesday February 15th, 2005


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Sun, Feb 20 2005 - 10:06 AM rating by gloriajames

great report! thanks for sharing another place with us. 5*

Wed, Feb 16 2005 - 07:25 AM rating by britman

This is the best report that you have written! It is an excellent rendition of the true nature of this area that I first visited, climbed, hiked and youth hostelled in when I was a teenager. It brought back so many memories and to this day Diabeg remained my own very best worldwide secret location. You have just revealed and shared this delicious secret with all our fellow Globo's - what a gift! I can only award 5 ***** - otherwise you would get 10! The photographs are also admirable and are the icing on the cake.

Tue, Feb 15 2005 - 07:49 PM rating by magsalex

Loved the reports on Scotland

Tue, Feb 15 2005 - 05:47 PM rating by mtlorensen

You've captured real serenity here. Great report!

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