This one of the classic mountains of the Torridon district of Wester Ross, stretched across the lands north of Loch Torridon. The mountain has two peaks which are listed as Munros in their own right: Sgùrr Mhòr at 3,235 feet to the north and Tom na Gruagaich (3,025 feet) to the south.
The name in Gaelic is Beinn Àilleagan, meaning "Jewelled Hill".
The peaks of Ben Alligni are decorated with ferocious crags at all sides. They are joined by knobbled ridges, but divided by the precipitous drops from these uneven ridges; the traverse between the two Munros of the mountain is recommended but a sure foot and a head for heights is required, and at Na Rathanan, the Horns of Alligin, the exposed top scoured by the wind is most felt most.
|Summit:|| 3,235 feet NG865612 |
Sgùrr Mhòr reaches a height of 3,235 feet at its summit, and is listed as a Munro. This is the main summit of Ben Alligin and listed by its own name in order that Tom na Gruagaich, part of the same mountain, can be listed itself. The name Sgùrr Mhòr means simply "Big Peak".
Sgùrr Mhòr and Tom na Gruagaich are connected by a long curved ridge enclosing the large corrie named Toll a' Mhadaidh Mòr. Sgùrr Mhòr sits at the northern end of the ridge and Tom na Gruagaich in the south. To the east of Sgùrr Mhòr is nother subsidiary peak, known as Na Rathanan or as "the Horns of Alligin", and the Horns of Alligin provide the best vantage point from which to admire the south face of Sgùrr Mhòr.
Tom na Gruagaich
|Beinn Alligin - Tom na Gruagaich|
|Summit:|| 3,025 feet NG859601 |
Tom na Gruagaich is a subsidiary top of Beinn Alligin, and though considered part of that mountain nevertheless it is distinct enough to be listed not merely as a top but as a Munro in its own right. It is to the south of Sgùrr Mhòr and linked to it by a long curved ridge enclosing the large corrie named Toll a' Mhadaidh Mòr. Its summit stands at 3,025 feet above sea level.
The best feature of Tom na Gruagaich's is its eastern face, which is made up of terraced layers of red sandstone and is a remarkable sight from any angle.
Another deep corrie, Corrie nan Laogh, bites deep into Tom na Gruagaich's southern face.
Na Rathanan otherwise known as The Horns of Alligin (NG873613) is a subsidiary peak of Ben Alligin which reaches 2,841 feet. Not as high as its fellow tops, it is listed as "Corbett Top".
This is an exposed spot, much beloved by climbers, those who brave it, and a fine vantage point.
The walk is normally done south to north starting with Tom na Gruagaich, ascending it by way of the eastern rim of Coire nan Laogh. The usual route of ascent starts from the minor road between Torridon village and Inveralligin, following the route of the river named Abhainn Coire Mhic Nobuil before heading up into the corrie of Coir nan Laogh. Steep grassy slopes then lead to the summit of Tom na Gruagaich. The main ridge of Beinn Alligin is then followed round to the north, leading the hillwalker towards Sgùrr Mhòr. Below the summit of this peak is a deep gash in the hillside known as Eag Dubh, the black notch, one of Beinn Alligin's most recognisable features.
This is a fairly accessible route, with moderate scrambling. In summer conditions the rest of the walk is moderate but the winter can wreak havoc with these steep-sided hills, and in these conditions winter climbing equipment is needed.
From the summit of Sgùrr Mhòr, it is possible to continue along the ridge, now heading in an easterly direction. The ridge at this point becomes much rockier, and a series of pinnacles known as the "Horns of Alligin" must be negotiated. The horns provide good summer scrambling for those with a head for heights, but in winter they are a much more serious proposition.
An alternative descent, avoiding the horns, can be made by leaving the Beinn Alligin ridge at the bealach between the two summits where grassy slopes can be followed westwards down into a neighbouring glen. This route is not straightforward under winter conditions.
A great cleft, Leum na Caillich, cuts into the ridge south of the summit. It is the scar of the most spectacular rockslide or rock avalanche in Britain, which runs out into the corrie of Toll a' Mhadaidh Mor. It occurred around 3,750 years ago and is around 123,601,330 cubic feet in volume.
For all this, Beinn Alligin is a superb mountain and a firm favourite with walkers and climbers alike. It is considered one of the greats of Scottish Mountaineering.
- Ballantyne CK (2007) in Mass Movements of Great Britain, ed. RG Cooper, JNCC, 111-116.