Beinn a’ Chreachain, Beinn Achaladair and Beinn Mhanach: An Unconventional Route
This hike was a bit of a monster in terms of distance but don’t let the length of it put you off. The vast majority of the miles were along the flat forestry track we took to get to the hills. We happened to get an absolutely stunning day for November so the views were among the best I’ve experienced.
Beinn Achaladair has a much finer summit and I felt could be appreciated much more from a distance than Beinn Chreachain. It has another spectacular north side and the views from the summit are arguably better than those from Beinn Chreachain.
Beinn Mhanach is perhaps the anomaly in this set of hills but we decided to throw it in for good measure. It’s quite unspectacular and from a distance just looks like a big grassy mound. We climbed up just for bagging purposes but it’s not one I’d rush up again.
- Munros Climbed
- Getting There
- Duration & Length
- Where To Stay
- The Hike
- Alternative Routes
- Nearby Munros
- To Conclude
- Beinn a’ Chreachain – 1081 metres (3547 ft) – pronounced BAYN-A-HICKIN
- Beinn Achaladair – 1038 metres (3406 ft) – pronounced BAYN-AHAL-ATARE
- Beinn Mhanach – 953 metres (3127 ft) – pronounced BAYN-
You can read more about Scotland’s mountains and their different classifications here.
Our starting point was slightly different to normal (because these mountains are usually tackled separately). We started off at a layby almost exactly in between Tyndrum and Bridge of Orchy. If you’re heading north then it’s a case of following the A82 all the way up past Loch Lomond and through Tyndrum.
After Tyndrum, the layby is right at the start of the very long straight. You can see the exact location below. If you’re coming from the north then again it’s a case of following the A82 right to the southern tip of Glen Coe.
On this hike the peaks themselves aren’t overly challenging, the toughest part was the sheer distance. You’re walking for over 4 miles until you actually start climbing and this section on the return feels like it goes on forever
This section could have been avoided with slightly better planning
There’s another tough section between Beinn Achaladair and Beinn Mhanach. We probably made this slightly more difficult that it should be by going straight off Achaladair towards Beinn Mhanach and crossing the grassy moor between the two. With a bit more thought and planning we could have missed the steep, rocky section and taken an easier route. Again, the hike up Beinn Mhanach from the west side is pathless and grassy.
Duration & Length
Duration: 9 – 12 hours
Length: 20 miles (32.2 km)
Our recorded route according to Viewranger
As previously mentioned, if you’re not used to particularly long hikes then I’d recommend you break this one into two hikes.
- Crianlarich Youth Hostel – 8.5 miles from starting point.
- Ben More Lodge – 9 miles from starting point.
- Bridge of Orchy Hotel – 3 miles from starting point.
- By The Way Hostel and Campsite – 3.8 miles from starting point.
Starting at the layby on the A82, follow the road that passes down through the hamlet of Auch and over the river Allt Kinglass. Instead of crossing the river again over the next bridge, follow the track to the right. You’re going to stay on this track for the next 4 miles or so.
The initial long walk in is over easy terrain apart from the occasional river
There are a few slightly precarious river crossings depending on how much rain there’s been. There was one that was quite a challenge but we still managed to form a kind of passage with some rocks. The water wasn’t too deep so if your boots are relatively high at the ankle then you will be able to walk through part of it.
After about 3.5 miles of walking along this track, you’ll come to some farm-like buildings (where it says Sithean Beag on the OS map) and soon after here the track forks. You want to take the left fork where it starts to wind uphill. Looking back down the Glen you get to truly appreciate the distance you’ve come, especially in conditions
This is what we had just traversed
The track begins to get steeper and we decided to follow it right up to the end. We were initially following the GPX somebody had uploaded online but started to deviate from it because it didn’t seem to be the most efficient route (there was lots of unnecessary traipsing through bogs and pathless terrain).
Once the track ends, however, there’s no choice for a while but to climb up the grassy slopes towards Garbh Meall. Luckily it’s not too boggy and we found plenty of firm ground meaning it wasn’t too exhausting. You can see from the Viewranger screenshot above that we headed almost directly northeast towards Garbh Mheall which then joins on to Meall Buidhe where there’s a path.
The terrain was very much like this heading up to the bealach
If you really wanted, you could easily head west first and bag Beinn Achaladair but we thought it would be a better use of our time to get Beinn a’ Chreachain out the way.
Once you get up to Meall Buidhe, there’s a clearly defined path heading east along the ridge up to the summit Beinn a’ Chreachain. On the day we chose the views were nothing short of stunning. We got panoramic views over Rannoch Moor and the mountains beyond – including Ben Nevis.
Views like this make it all worthwhile
There was even a touch of frost
From the summit of Beinn a’ Chreachain over to the summit of Beinn Achaladair it’s a simple case of following the ridge southwest. There’s a clear path along the ridge and up to the top of Beinn Achaladair. We took it easy along this part just to make the most of the epic views all around. If you’re not so lucky with the weather then it is quite exposed so you might find yourself battered by cold winds.
The path along the ridge is clear and quite straightforward
It is relatively easy going until you reach the last stretch where the path suddenly gets very steep with a few rocky sections to negotiate. It’s nothing too taxing and you’ll very quickly be up at the summit of Beinn Achaladair. It winds its way over some rocks and just before you reach the final cairn there’s a grassy path.
Once at the top there are actually two cairns a short distance apart. Logically, we thought the first one was the summit because it is a lot bigger but the map said the smaller one was a couple of metres higher. They’re not far apart though so you can easily reach both of them!
It’s not often you get conditions like this in November
At this point, we were cutting it fine in terms of daylight hours remaining so decided to try and make our summit of Beinn Mhanach quicker. As opposed to following the Beinn Achaladair ridge around to the top of Beinn a’ Chuirn and bagging Beinn Mhanach from there, we decided to cut directly southeast, down the rocky face and across the moorland.
This somewhat backfired and we spent ages trying to clamber down the rocky face as the sun slowly set in the distance. If you do decide to bag these 3 Munros together then I would recommend following the Achaladair ridge over to Beinn a’ Chuirn.
Once we got down, the walk was relatively easy over to the slopes of Beinn Mhanach which, from the western side, is a pathless and pretty boring slog up to the summit.
This is what it’s like up to the top of Beinn Mhanach
The hike up Beinn Mhanach was probably the most tedious part of the day, simply because it felt like it went on forever and you can’t actually see the top until you are there. The ascent is gradual and very grassy. Again though, the pain was worth it because the views as the sun was setting were unreal.
It was a race against the sun from here back to the car
We didn’t spend much time on the top of Beinn Mhanach because we still had a further 7 miles back to the car. From here, it was a case of retracing our steps down Mhanach and then heading due southwest briefly until we reconnected with the forestry track from the start.
Follow the track for the final 5 miles back to the A82. If you are doing this in winter (like us) then make sure you pack a headtorch because you will need it!
Generally, Beinn a’ Chreachain and Beinn Achaladair are tackled together as a two. This entails a loop starting at Achaladair Farm, going up Chreachain first and then following the ridge across to Achaladair.
Being such an uninspiring peak, it would feel a shame to tackle Beinn Mhanach as one solitary hike. That’s why we decided to combine it, just to get it out the way. The typical route for Beinn Mhanach is as described in this guide, only without including Beinn a’ Chreachain and Beinn Achaladair.
While we were cutting it fine in terms of daylight hours, I didn’t mind because we were equipped with head torches and nothing beats the views and effects on offer during a sunset! The orange glow of the hills and surrounding landscape is surreal and makes for a photographer’s dream!
As always, thanks a lot for reading and if you’ve got any questions or anything to add then drop a comment below. 🙂