Monday, 22 October 2012

Autumn in Torridon


The crispest of light on Liathach 
On a day of unbroken autumn sunshine like yesterday, there can be few places anywhere so totally stunning as the North-West Highlands.

Since 2009 I have waited for a perfect late-October forecast for the North-West to coincide with a 
day off. I've made a point of leaving some mountains for perfect days so they live up to my expectations, and one of those mountains has always been Liathach.


Liathach under a warming autumn sun

Today the weather forecast was finally spot-on for what I wanted. But due to having to work at 5pm I found myself yet again leaving Glencoe at 3am to do a mad-dash to the North-West and back before my evening shift in the Clachaig. Sometimes…it is so worth the effort.



Thick fog from Fort William onwards slowed my journey and thwarted my original plan to run most of the Liathach traverse in order to dash back by 5pm. I arrived too late to be able to get it done and enjoy it.



Am Fasarinen

But not to worry. A vivid and spectacular sunrise to light my dark ascent to Spidean a'Choire Leith, a cloud inversion spreading over a glen to the East, a frost on the ground and the sound of stags roaring….it was definitely a day to stand and stare, not to go as fast as I could.




A vivid sunrise on the approach up Spidean a'Choire Leith

Photos and words don't do it justice, you really have to see Torridon in full autumn splendour to understand the sheer scale of it. Glencoe is the only other part of the Highlands I know with so much beauty in every direction and around every corner.




A cloud inversion to the East

And this year the autumn colours are extremely impressive, far more so than last year and the native woodlands south of Upper Loch Torridon are a real spectacle just now. Even though I have seen many "unbroken-sunshine-days" in the Highlands, I still find myself slightly in disbelief at it all when they happen. From the crystal-clear reflections in the lochs to the vibrant splashes of colour in the forests, there seemed to be small natural masterpieces everywhere I looked today.




Autumn colours near Shieldaig

This will be my last trip to the North-West now before the winter. The start of the winter climbing season is possibly only days away, and for the next few months I will be spending far more time closer to home and concentrating on the frozen and lonely nooks and crannies of Glencoe. But I have developed a deep love of the North-West Highlands recently, and for this winter for the first time I intend to climb here.

Possibly my last photos of warm sunshine for a while. It turns cold on friday.
James

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