Torridon is recognised as one of the major hill-walking and mountaineering regions of Scotland and, given the right weather, gives some of the most dramatic mountain scenery on the West coast. The area is bounded in the north west by Loch Maree, running from Poolewe on the coast to Kinlochewe, and to the south east by Glen Torridon itself. To the west the coastline between Red Point (to the north) and Diabeg (on the north shore of Loch Torridon) is not covered by road - the only roads circle the south and east of the district and leave a wide expanse of open and unpopulated mountainside in between.
The mountain scenery is dominated by the three large mountains of Beinn Alligin, Liathach and Beinn Eighe that are ranged west to east along the north side of Glen Torridon. There are other not so dominating mountains and remote glens behind these but since they do not (quite) reach Munro status they are much less frequented - which is to their advantage of course. Many tours pass through the district and take advantage of the dramatic scenery including the views across and along Loch Maree - reputedly one of the most beautiful lochs in Scotland. On the far (eastern) shore of the loch lies Slioch - an absolute fortress of a mountain that features prominantly on postcards and calendars throughout the land. Although technically outside the regional boundaries defined above this mountain is included in this round - making a total of six Munros over four mountains as Liathach and Beinn Eighe both have two.
The largest tourist centre is Gairloch where you will find shops, hotels, a golf course, an excellant sandy beach and camp sites. However this is some 20 miles from the centre of the mountains - and a further 10 or more to reach the starting points of walks for Beinn Alligin. The largest village in the heart of the mountains is Kinlochewe at the head of Loch Maree. There are cottages offering bed and breakfast throughout the district, a hotel at Kinlochewe and the Loch Maree Hotel towards the north end of Loch Maree, plus the somewhat up market Loch Torridon Hotel on the southern shores of Loch Torridon. For campers there are excellant family facilities at the beach side site of Big Sands (3 miles beyond Gairloch) but the site at Kinlochewe is for caravans only and tents are not welcome. The Nature Reserve runs a small site with basic facilities at Taagan farm at the southern end of Loch Maree - but this is targetted at back-packers and car campers who are stopping for only one or two nights. There is a similar facility next to the youth hostel in Torridon (where the adjacent public toilets include showers). The National Trust allows camping in a small clump of trees 1km east up the glen - but this is likely to be plagued by midges.
It is area we have wanted to visit for some time but with the limited accommodation for families, and the lack of alternatives to high ridge walking, we have only driven through and only recently spent time exploring the region. The use of light-weight tents to pitch over-night and move around the region in responce to the weather gives a much needed flexibility to explore the dramatic glens and high ridges, and in the wet summer of 1998 we made two visits to the mountains of Torridon.
The area behind Slioch takes in the Forests of Letterewe and Fisherfield - a magnificent and remote region not traversed by roads. Paths do cross the region and this makes for some excellant cross-country treks. In the summer of 2000 we walked across from Poolewe to Kinlochewe. The weather was not very good but the scenery was magnificent. A number of variations using different paths are possible - and return trips are supported by a bus service that runs to Gairloch / Poolewe by both Kinlochewe and Dundonnell.
The area is well served by maps although the 1:50000 scale OS maps do not fall kindly for use in the field. Beinn Eighe is split between two sheets 19 and 25; Liathach is in the extreme NW corner of map 25 (not that a map of this scale is much use) and Beinn Alligin is on map 24 (the northern half is also on map 19). The OS 1:25000 Outdoor Leisure Sheet 8 map is a better bet (shared with The Cuillin of Skye on the reverse - or is Torridon on the reverse?) although the contours merge into one brown squiggly pattern around some of the steeper ridges and cliffs, and the extensive (if accurate) application of the boulders and loose rock symbols give a stippled background to much of the sheet. Fortunately the NTS boundary shown as a solid bold green line happens to pick out the ridge over Liathach and much of Beinn Eighe - if only they owned half of Beinn Alligin instead of all of it, it would be perfect!
Perhaps the best bet is the new (1998) Harveys Superwalker of Torridon; this covers all mountains in the area and the wider 15m contour spacing ensures legibility at all times. You also get an enlargement at 1:12500 of the Liathach ridge - not that a map of the ridge is an essential aid to navigation by all accounts.