4 - 5
FATMAP difficulty grade
The day proves less tricky than the traverse of nearby Liathach, but it's equal in quality and perhaps even better for views.
With Torridon's incomparable mountains rising all around you, there can't be many better hill walks in Scotland. Take the path along the east bank of the Abhainn Coire Mhic Nobuil, initially through a lovely patch of native pine woods.
After nearly 2km cross the burn on a footbridge, then soon after take the left path at a junction.
Follow the Allt a' Bhealaich uphill to cross it on another footbridge, and shortly after that branch left where a cairn marks a path junction.
The terminal buttress of Na Rathanan rises ahead.
A well-made path winds steeply up the heathery crags, with some simple scrambling on sandstone tiers.
Pass over a pronounced shoulder to make the final climb towards the lowest and most dramatic of the three Horns.
Not far below this rocky peak a well-used path can be joined to traverse the broken slopes just left of and below the Horns; this is worthwhile, but does miss out the scrambling on the ridge crest.
Better to continue onto the top of the first Horn, where more nervous climbers might like to rope up in wintry conditions.
Descend a series of ledges and short rock steps (technically the crux of the route) to reach a narrow col below the second Horn.
This gives a rough ascent with some hands-on fun.
There’s a little more light scrambling in the descent to the gap on the far side of the second Horn, then another climb up broken rocky tiers onto the ridge forming the summit of the third Horn.
Now drop into a low col before trudging up the long convex slope leading onto Sgurr Mhor.
Head briefly south from the summit cairn to pick up a descent path cutting around the head of the dramatic Eag Dhubh, an unusual one-sided 'gully'-type feature.
Then just follow easy ground along the broad ridge to circle the head of the mountain's cavernous central corrie, passing over a gentle minor summit.
The ridge soon swings south, narrowing as it climbs and offering some short-lived easy scrambling en route to the wide flat summit of Tom na Gruagaich, Alligin's second Munro.
Go southwest and then south into Coire nan Laogh, where a well-trodden path makes a steep descent (can offer a good glissade in winter).
The trail follows the stream out of the corrie, then leaves it to pass over a rough knobbly shoulder before making the final descent to the road-side by the car park.
© Dan Bailey - UKHillwalking.com, Feb 2013