Slioch (Landranger 19) is considered one of the classic, photogenic mountains, featuring in most calendars.
I approached this walk with some trepidation, due to a total lack of fitness brought on by months of knee injury followed by 2 weeks on a sun lounger in Jamaica. I was walking with 5 of the Black Rock Mountaineering Club from A berdour.
Slioch is located just by Kinlochewe in the Torridon area. We drove up on the Friday night in torrential rain, but with the promise of better conditions on the Saturday, at least until late afternoon.
We enjoyed a meal in the hotel to which our bunkhouse was attached and a convivial evening before a relatively early night with the intention of a reasonably early start to make the most of the good weather window.
The day began promisingly weather-wise with Slioch towering over the valley. The walk in is relatively long, from just outside the village, about 3.5 miles, although very scenic with wonderful views across the valley and Loch Maree.
At a bridge over a raging waterfall we turned uphill beside the river to skirt round the back of Slioch to approach from the only really practical direction, due to a range of cliffs. At around 2000 feet, the going started to get really tough with galeforce winds and sleety showers. We then got onto a plateau before making the final ascent of essentially 2 large steps.
Crossing the plateau was hard going due to the severe bog underfoot. The first step took us up to 2 small lochans, which on a fine day would be a truly beautiful location. We then pressed on up a wet, loose hillside to a cairn, which unfortunately does not mark the summit. There are actually two summits and the first was revealed briefly as the howling gale swept aside the low cloud and we could see that we had only about 10 minutes and 200 feet of climbing to do, confirmed by a quick check on the GPS.
There remains some debate about which summit is the higher, the trig point is on one, but the other with the cairn is accepted as being the higher. The first has the trig point, so, in the interest of completeness we pressed on to the second across a short bealach.
Not pausing, due to the steadily worsening conditions, we retraced our steps back to the car. We got into the car, switched on the radio and heard the commentator say “only another 11 minutes and Scotland will have achieved a truly historic victory”. A day’s hillwalking doesn’t get much better than that. Back to the bunkhouse then for showers, chilli con carne and celebration .
Contributed by: Richard Johnson - October 2006
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