There are about 500,000 words in the English language. But when describing Torridon, don�t mess about. Just use one of them, several times: big, big, big, big, big. It�s also Scottish, but we�ll get to that.
Frosted meagrely onto the shores of its namesake Loch, Torridon the village is far smaller and pleasingly less developed than its reputation would suggest. There is only enough space for one street between the mountains and the edge of the sprawling sea loch: a few hundred metres of narrow tarmac, in which lies very little beyond a few B&Bs, a hostel, a school and the odd beached rowboat. Round the headland lies the amenable Loch Torridon Inn and the posh Loch Torridon Hotel, which caters for most budgets on the accommodation front and offers a great place to unwind and gaze contentedly across the Loch at Torridon�s biggest, grandest draws: the mountains.
If you�re a mountain lover, this is Your Place: a landscape hewn from the sandstone of the Northern Highlands with the express intention of injecting a gargantuan dose of unfiltered joy into your veins. The mountains in this part of the Highlands are famous amongst mountaineers and discerning hill-walkers, and would be more so if the area they live in was a little more within reach of the fair-weather walker. Each offers a challenge which you can fulcrum to a level which either pushes you out of your comfort zone, massages it nicely or simply gives you an opportunity to window-shop for future visits when you are feeling brave. At least three mountains here are indisputably world class: Liathach (1055m), Beinn Alligin (986m) and Beinn Eighe (1010m). These three multi-Munro massifs freestand within a few square kilometres of each other and offer three long days worth of walking (how often does that happen?) with blistering perspectives on each. Of the three, Liathach is probably the most entertaining: a ziggurat of sharp sandstone, its two highest summits lofty bookends to a pencil-point ridge � vertical on one side, steep to the other and scrambly along its top. This mountain represents everything that isn�t English about Scotland�s mountains � ludicrously, brain-bendingly sheer, sharp and stunning to look from and at. And there are ways the mortal can bag this giant tick without committing themselves to the famously exposed scrambles of its higher reaches � an unobtrusive path skirts almost all the main difficulties.
The best hill no-one climbs
For the less vertically inclined, Beinn Dearg (913m/2,998ft) is possibly the best hill no-one ever climbs in Torridon. This challenging Corbett-but-is-it-a-Munro received minor fame in 2007 when long controversy was put to rest when the Munro Society re-measured it, finding it to be 2.42ft short of the magic 3,000ft watermark required to up its classification. Nevertheless, it trounces many, many indisputable Munros in the spectacle stakes� and the views this satisfying summit offer are simply some of the best in Scotland, offering all the best perspectives on Liathach, Beinn Alligin and Beinn Eighe. Golden eagles are also a relatively frequent sight from its top.
Off the hills, Torridon is the gateway to many other diversions. Take a drive across the pass of Applecross and let the incredible space and silence saturate you. Gaze out at the isle of Skye while sipping a pint of Black Cuillin Ale from the shoreside Applecross Inn. Enjoy some fresh seafood in the whitewashed village of Shieldaig, hunkered in a pretty cove of Loch Torridon. Or take a drive up the coast and discover even more of the pirate-rugged coastal delights of this part of Scotland. There are few places where the monstrously challenging and achingly easy-going sit quite so prettily hand in hand. So don�t be daunted by the drive � and if you are, fly to Inverness and hire a car for the last 90 minutes of increasingly skinny tarmac. There is nowhere else in the UK better equipped to thrill the hill-walker. You belong there. It�s your place.