Guided Mountain expeditions in Scotland, Torridon

Scottish guided mountaineering adventure

Guided Mountain expeditions in Scotland, Torridon

Guided Mountaineer expeditions Scotland
The impressive 3 pinnacles of Beinn Alligin

Last autumn we took our first group on the first guided mountain expeditions in Scotland. As with all our multi-day expeditions, the aim is to give the clients an unforgettable experience. We want to allow you to fully immerse yourself in the adventure. We allow you to reconnect with the wilderness to explore these amazing environments. Learning how to enjoy the simplicity of a journey through some breathtaking scenery.

About Loch Torridon

The expedition will take you across the Torridon Mountain Range. We will look to bag multiple peaks whilst immersed in a truly beautiful wilderness area. Some of the oldest rocks found in the world throw up peaks, Liathach, Beinn Eighe, Beinn Alligin, Beinn Dearg and Baosbheinn.

Each of the Torridon mountains sits very much apart from one another and they are often likened to castles. They have steep terraced sides and broken summit crests, riven into many pinnacles. There are numerous steep gullies and the summit ridges provide excellent scrambling. These mountains provide a really committing venture that you will not forget easily.

Whilst in walking in Torridon you will be surrounded by wildlife in abundance. The trip provides good opportunities to see Golden Eagles, Raven’s, Dippers, Red Deer, Otters and numerous other species. 

Guided Mountaineer expedition in Scotland
The storm came in quick producing this incredible rainbow.

Our guided mountain expeditions in Scotland comprised of…

This was a five-day trip meeting the clients in Inverness before travelling to the stunning Loch Torridon. We spent five days in the mountains climbing three of the famous ridges Beinn Eighe, Ilathac and Beinn Aligain. We spent some nights wild camping under the Scottish stars and others in a highland pub by the fire. Here’s the story of how it went…

Day 1

We met up with both clients Simon and Arthur, the night before. Where we enjoyed a pint to discuss the week’s plans. The next morning we picked them up and drove west towards Loch Torridon. It takes about two hours to drive to Torridon, with stops. It is one I always look forward to driving through the striking highlands.

We arrived at the car park at the bottom of Beinn Aligien, and take five minutes to stretch the legs. Then it is time to share out the food and fuel, to prepare for the three-day mini-expedition. We give a quick demonstration of what and how we pack our rucksacks, it is important to only take the essentials.

Before the trip, we help everyone prepare properly, by sending a comprehensive kit list. Also if you have any questions we are happy to answer them before the trip. 

Guided Mountaineer expedition in Scotland
The group walking to the first nights wild camp.

We where soon ready and eager to set off walking into the mountains. Day one is a half days walk into the Torridon valley. We walk for three hours along the valley floor surround by magnificent peaks. Along the way we teach navigation techniques, allowing you to practice your map reading. Soon enough we arrive at a couple of lochans and start exploring for the perfect wild camp. It takes a little while to find a flat area big enough to accommodate four tents.

Eventually, we find a good spot and pop the tents up before making some dinner. There are a good variety of dehydrated meals to choose from and set about boiling water. Soon enough we have all eaten and it time to explore the local area. We make the most of the good weather, as we are expecting a storm to come in midweek. The evening is spent watching out for deer and other wildlife. Moving on to picking lines of weakness on the steep mountainsides. Eventually, settling into some stargazing for the remainder of the night.

Scottish guided mountaineering adventure
Waiting for the stars to come out

Day 2

We wake to a clear still morning, with birds singing and deer’s piping and bellowing. I get the water boiling for a cuppa to warm up the hands. It is an early start as we have a long day ahead, the aim is to climb Iliathac. At 8 am we leave base camp and head east, back along the valley floor. One we leave the main path we contour around the bottom of Iliathac, slightly gaining height. It is rough going with thick heather underfoot, we slowly gain height traversing around the south-east side. Finally, we find the main track up and continue up to the ridge.

Guided Mountain expeditions in Scotland
Tackling the traverse, whilst taking in the views

Once on the ridge, we take in the views have a breather and grab a snack. It is a spectacularly clear day, allowing us to see the striking landscape. Ilathac’s ridge is pretty impressive, it has many peaks connected by knife-edge ridges. It also takes at least 4 to 5 hours to comfortably walk from one end to the other. You are humbled at the base and amazed when on top it is a truly a magnificent place to experience. Each horizon line gives you differ offers another spectacular view. Every now and then you have to stop and take it all in.

Scottish guided mountaineering adventure
A long way to go

After a long but thoroughly enjoyable walk and scramble, we make it to the end of the ridge. It is now time to find our way back to basecamp, picking our way down the steep sides. We find a steady route down and before long we are back at camp ready to tuck into some dinner. With tired legs and sore feet, we enjoy a cold but refreshing swim in the little stream near camp. Relaxing into a night of stargazing, and listening out for bellowing deer.

Scottish guided mountaineering adventure
Enjoying a brisk wild swim

Day 3

Another early start as we have another long day ahead of us, today’s mountain is Beinn Aligain. It is a cloudy start to the day, with patches of blue peaking through. We have breakfast and break camp with conversations about the days plan. Today we are dropping our big bags at the car park first. We then head up Beinn Aligain, taking the beating track from the south peak ending at the Pinnacles. 

Guided Mountaineer expedition in Scotland
Beinn Aligain from Ilathac

Beinn Aligain is another magnificent mountain, and provides another great day out. It is slightly less intimidating than Ilathac, but still has some exposed ridges to get the juices flowing. A steady walk up to the first peak, with the cloud settling and visibility low we practice navigation techniques. The tricky section make us take time to find the right route, but we find the next ridge and make away along. The cloud soon lifts and leaves us with more amazing views, this landscape is so rugged and vast you can easily get lost in views.

Guided Mountain expeditions in Scotland
Halfway along the ridge, we come an amazing gully.

We make our way up to the second pitch, passing a striking gully which looks like the to mountains have been pulled apart.  Its time to break for lunch on top of the second peak enjoying some cheese and chorizo thins. After lunch its time to tackle the impressive three pinnacles, these steep and narrow peaks are are truly unique. Once we have completed the pinnacles we make our way back down the Torridon along the fast-flowing river to car park. It is the end of the three day mini-expedition and we have earnt a shower and good meal.

Guided Mountain expeditions in Scotland
The three pinnacles

On to the local Torridon youth hostel nestled at the bottom of Ilathac, one of the best YHA’s I have stayed. The night is spent at the Torridon Inn a 5 minute drive from hostel. We sit by the fire feast on a delicious meal enjoying the local ales and whisky, the perfect end to a few day wild camping.

Day 4

On the fourth day we wake in our comfy hostel beds, and enjoy a cooked breakfast. It is a slower start to the day, with the storm finally arriving in the night. We decided in the pub to listen to forecast and give Beinn Eighe a miss and go canoeing on the Loch instead. Luckily we had our fleet canoes with us from finishing the Whisky explorer the week before. So we jump in the van and headed to the nearby coastal town of Shieldaig.

Guided Mountain expeditions in Scotland
Arthur and Simon looking out for Golden eagles nesting on the nearby island

We spend about 3 hours exploring this incredible bay, full of wildlife and fishing boats. The storm brings in some nice winds and manage to get the sail up. This gives Arthur and Simon a taste for canoeing, so we spend the rest of the afternoon canoe coaching. Teaching them paddle strokes and trim and all things solo canoeing. 

Guided Mountain expeditions in Scotland
Canoe sailing to the rainbow

As the rain gets heavier we call it a day pack away the canoes and equipment and head down the coast. Our destination is the beautiful  coastal town of Applecross. The journey is an adventure in itself, driving over the famous Bealach na Bà pass. It is a winding single track road through the mountains of the Applecross peninsula.  It has the steepest ascent of any road climb in the UK, rising from sea level at Applecross to 626 metres (2,054 ft), and is the third-highest road in Scotland. Once over the pass, we head down to the stunning town of Applecross. To enjoy a meal at the Applecross Inn, my favourite restaurant in the UK. Our evening is then spent back at the Torridon youth hostel playing games into the night. 

The next day is a relaxed affair travelling back to Inverness. We aim to get people back by 3 pm at the latest. This allows you to get connecting flights or trains home. Alternatively, you can spend one more night enjoying Inverness.

How to book onto The Mountaineer?

If you would like more information about our Torridon trip, please go to The mountaineer page. You can also get more insights into how we run our expeditions from our youtube channel.

A Scottish wilderness canoe adventure, Loch Awe 2019

Scottish wilderness canoe adventure

A Scottish wilderness canoe adventure, Loch Awe 2019

Scottish wilderness canoe adventure
Jason getting his pose on in the princess seat.

At the end of September, we took our first group on The Whisky Explorer trip to Oban for a four-day Scottish wilderness canoe adventure exploring the beautiful shores of Loch Awe. Altogether there were 4 clients, 1 photographer and 2 fuzzy faced canoe guides leading the way. Here is the story of how it all went.

Day 1 

Glasgow to Oban

We started the trip in Glasgow picking the lads up at their accommodation in the city centre. They had all travelled up the day before and stayed overnight ready for an early pickup. Once picked up we head out of the city north-west towards the coastal town of Oban. This took us about 2 hours driving through the scenic highlands giving us a taste of the adventure to come.

We arrived at the busy coastal town of Oban at 11 am and picked up some lunch before going to the Oban distillery ready for our tour at 12pm. The tour was expertly lead by our guide, who educated us on all aspects of making their famous whiskey. It really was an interesting tour, ending in the tasting room. Here we sampled three different bottles, with the Oban 14-year-old being my favourite. They even gave the drivers a tasting travel drams for later in the evening. After the tour, we passed through the shop buying a couple of bottles for the trip. It was then time to get back on the road. Our Scottish wilderness, canoe adventure was about to begin.

Starting our Scottish wilderness canoe adventure

We start at the north-west corner of Loch Awe and park at a road lay-by. Here we make our final preparations before loading and launching the canoes to start our expedition. To start with we go over canoe tandem essentials to get everyone paddling in the same direction. Then with the light winds blowing in the direction of our journey, we paddle off into the expansive waters of Loch Awe. It is only a short paddle to our first nights’ wild camp on one of the beautiful black Island’s in the middle of the loch.

Scottish wilderness canoe adventure
First nights campsite on one of the northern black islands of Loch Awe

We circle to look for the best camp spot. Once happy we land the canoes and start the evening routine of setting up camp. There are a few things to do before everyone can settle around the fire. The camp set-up involves: collecting wood; setting up your bivy; identifying a toilet location; starting a fire and setting up the group shelter.

These are all simple tasks once you know what to do, which we guide guests through every step of the way. Once camp is set up we got stuck into making dinner, on this trip it was chicken & sweet potato curry.

It’s always a nice group activity to help relax around the fire. Once dinner is cooking, we have some time to explore the small island and have a play in the canoes. The rest of the evening is spent around the fire getting to know each other and discussing tomorrows route, whilst enjoying the stars on a wonderfully clear night.

Scottish wilderness canoe adventure
The evening view from camp one on Loch Awe.

Day 2

Morning routine on the Loch

We wake to birds singing and a crisp still lake.

I always start my day with a little walk to wake up before uncovering the embers from the night before to get the fire going again. Food and drink are such an important aspect to any expedition, breakfast being the most important meal of the day! I get the water boiling and find my wooden spoon to get stirring the porridge. Soon everyone is up filling their cup and tucking into the delicious banana and honey porridge.

We then go about packing up camp which involves; packing up our bivvy; cleaning and packing the food equipment away; loading the canoes; doing a litter sweep; and finally making sure the fire is properly put out.

It was time then to launch the boats for our first full day on the water.

Scottish wilderness canoe adventure

A Long days paddle on Loch Awe

It was a still day again with light winds which makes for a very glassy lake. The weather always the aspect that dictates how the day’s paddle will go.

This day was very much about perfecting our tandem forward paddle technique and our J- stroke. We spent the day exploring the lakes and bays of Loch awe.

It was a peaceful day chatting away to our canoe partner, spotting interesting things on the horizon; washing our socks and underwear and generally taking in this spectacular environment. Every now and then stopping to explore or having some lunch.

Just after lunch we felt a breeze and thought we would give sailing a go. Unfortunately, once we had put up the sail it wasn’t to be, the wind had completely dropped. So we derigged and carried on paddling south towards our second nights camp.

Anthills on second nights wild camp.

True wilderness

We arrived late afternoon at our second nights camp, on the west shore close to the little island of Innis Errich, we found an absolute beauty.

Everyone got straight into the launching routine, and soon enough camp was set up. Whilst looking for a suitable bivvy camp, we came across an impressively big ant colony. With further inspection, we discovered interconnecting ant tracks throughout the forest. 

As it was such a long day paddling, some of the group wanted a wash so went for a quick swim, followed by drying off by the fire.

Dinner time soon arrived and as normal, the group got stuck in to helping out, soon enough we had the beef stew bubbling away over the fire. 

One of the lads going for a swim.

Whilst we waited for the stew to thicken it was time for the famous Mike Robbinson whiskey tasting quiz. This involved us getting into pairs, we had a selection of 5 different whiskeys to sample.

Mike would read a tasting description note and we would have to match our whiskey too. It went down a storm with lots of wrong answers but plenty of laughs. Soon enough the Stew was ready to chow down on and we continued sipping whiskey into the night.

Scottish wilderness canoe adventure
Sipping whiskey by the fire.

Day 3

It was a still and cloudy start to the day with a light breeze. I always love waking up in my hammock and peaking out to predict what the day will hold. On this morning I sensed a bit of wind in the air, which always gets me looking forward to the day.

This camp spot felt nice and wild, no noise pollution just the sounds of the forest and birds singing with the trees swaying in the wind, definately worth the journey.

A glassy Loch Awe, with the porridge cooking away.

It was a slow morning as we didn’t have a huge distance to paddle. Along with the possibility of some wind, we decided to have a relaxed morning. So after breakfast, we spent a couple of hours coaching the group on their canoe paddle skills which went down a treat.

Let’s go sailing

The wind picked up and we got on our way heading south again to our final camp. It was nice few hours spent paddling, sailing, navigating and exploring a few more tiny islands before arriving at the final camp. Once we launch the group jumped right to the normal routine to get the group camp ready for the evening. It is great to become part of a team whilst out on an expedition. It happens so naturally everybody getting stuck into the various task with smiles and a look of content.

The final evening was spent eating sausages, sipping whiskey and laughing into the night. We reminisced on the past few days, a great end to another wonderful Scottish canoe trip.

Scottish wilderness canoe adventure
Mike looking very content next to the fire.

Day 4

The final day of this Scottish wilderness canoe adventure is always a bittersweet affair, but there is always another trip on the horizon to look forward too.

On the last day, we start early to have time for breakfast, break camp and get the vehicles packed ready to depart for Glasgow. This leaves time to get everyone back to Glasgow for 1 pm, so they can carry on with the journeys. We say our goodbyes leaving with great memories. 

Reflections

Another great trip with a really top bunch of lads. It was a pleasure spending 4 days in the highlands. The weather was very calm for us which made for a relaxed and comfortable trip, with my personal highlights being;

  • The discovery of a new wild camp on the second night, and exploring the ant Colony – definitely a first.
  • The amazing whiskey tasting quiz that Mike put together for us and the many laughs we had.

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If you would like to find out more about our Scottish wilderness canoe Adventures or the Whiskey Explorer click on the links.

Finally here’s a short video of from the trip The Whiskey Explorer video