Beinn Eighe seems out of place. As the hill appeared before me I thought of Crete. At the centre of Crete you find the Lefka Ori, the White Mountains, and Beinn Eighe is similarly quartzite white. There might be other white hills in Scotland but I don’t know of them. I was disoriented and wasn’t sure if I liked it.

Beinn Eighe is a remarkable place. Not for the colour but because of the undulating, sweeping plateau which makes it distinctive at Torridon. There are two summits, worth exploring not to bag them but for the views.

Torridon is itself a tremendous place to visit with some of the best and most famous hills in Britain. You could spend a week there. I stayed a few days. There’s a free camp site next to the youth hostel. I find that very pleasant. Not because five or six pound a night matters, but because it’s commerce regardless.

You may however want a desperate youth hostel retreat if you camp close to the summer season of midges. It’s a peculiar fact about Scotland, difficult to convey if you haven’t experienced it. Is it such a problem, in such a beautiful place. I’m at the extreme of the spectrum because midges like me. Over one hundred bites after one night in a tent shows typically how much they like me.

No one however can survive them at their worst, such as I experienced once at Loch Etive. The day was dull and overcast so I rested and explored the valley in my car. I reached the Loch, got out, walked to the water, then ran as fast as I could back to my car. There was a thick swarm of them aiming for my face, neck, hands, up my trousers, anywhere they smelt skin. Close the windows, I reasoned. A murderous quantity had filled my car but the majority were outside. I sped away as fast as I could then flung the windows open and turned on the ventilation blower as fully as possible. I didn’t count but it was probably another fifty or so bites. That’s how bad it is.

There were few midges at the summit of Beinn Eighe because there was a breeze. I found the descent path difficult to find because there were two options. I walked further than necessary then came back, feeling irritated. It did however give me a few more photographs of this remarkable and enjoyable Scottish mountain.


Scotland Mountain Photography: Beinn Eighe (7)

Sunday July 15, 2012