Iona had one burning ambition for our time in Scotland this year: to climb a Munro. Last year, we conquered Beinn Dàm, a Corbett (a mountain over 2,500 feet). This year, the goal was Tom na Gruagaich, part of Beinn Alligin, which stands at 3,024 feet above sea level.

Watch the video of our Beinn Aligin Climb on our YouTube Channel

The Meaning of Tom na Gruagaich

Tom na Gruagaich, meaning “jewelled mountain” or “hill of the maiden,” is the southern Munro peak of Beinn Alligin. Most hillwalkers tackle it as part of the circuit traverse of the full Beinn Alligin ridge, including the “Horns of Alligin.” But for Iona and me, it was our solo summit target and a chance for Iona to become a Munroer.

The Climb Begins

You start at just 50 feet above sea level, and from the moment you begin, you’re climbing. The sound of a waterfall tumbles down, and trees surround you. Quickly breaking out from the trees, the path leads you upwards, with Tom na Gruagaich towering above, black and forbidding. For us, the top was shrouded in cloud, adding an air of mystery!

Soaking in the Views

As you climb, the view over Loch Torridon and the surrounding mountains and valleys is fantastic, requiring frequent breaks to soak it all in (or at least that’s the excuse we gave ourselves!). Of course, we also enjoyed a Haribo or two.

Lunch at Coire nan Laogh

Stopping for lunch as we reached Coire nan Laogh, we appreciated the views and the music of the nearby mountain stream while munching our sandwiches and cakes from Crumbs of Gairloch.

The Final Ascent

Then came the final ascent, up steep steps impressively created by volunteers working on the route, into the swirling cloud around the summit. With whiteness all around and utter quiet, it felt very “otherworldly” as we crossed the final few meters to the trig point marking the summit. A lot chillier than the valley below, we donned our bobble hats and gloves and took a brief moment to appreciate the achievement before retracing our steps back down.

Descending with New Perspectives

Every now and then, the cloud would break, and finally, we got to see the summit we had just climbed. Wow. The other advantage of descending is facing Loch Torridon and enjoying the panorama every step of the way, as well as spotting furry caterpillars. We saw several other groups as we descended, including another young lass, aged 8, who’d done the whole ridge. Impressive! We tried out our Water to Go bottle which we bought at the National Outdoor Expo, filling up from the the mountain stream and the filter in it makes it safe to drink, I loved it, Iona wasn’t so sure!

Celebrating the Achievement

Back at the car (which we dived into quickly to escape the midges), we started our journey back to Gairloch. But I’d promised an ice cream for Iona, and fortunately, the Old Hall Cafe was open in Kinlochewe. We stopped off, sat down, and enjoyed this welcome refreshment to celebrate Iona’s fabulous achievement. Another fantastic adventure in the Scottish Highlands, and she’s already committed to coming back to climb more Munros!

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