Beinn Chabhair, Beinn a’ Chroin and An Caisteal

Nov 19, 2018 | Hikes, Munros, Scotland's Mountains

These Munros are often tackled separately with Beinn Chabhair being hiked as one and Beinn a’Chroin and An Caisteal both together. I decided to do all three in the one hike seeing as they are so close together. I also thought Chabhair looked like quite an uninspiring walk so decided to set off to try and get to the top for the sunrise. This is the first sunrise hike I’ve done in Scotland and certainly won’t be the last!

The summit of Chabhair offered some amazing views which made the slog up well worth the effort. You get an incredible vista of the rolling peaks around Loch Lomond, especially to the north/northeast.

An Caisteal and Beinn a’Chroin made for some much more enjoyable walking. Much of the route follows a ridge and again offers some fine views over Loch Lomond and on a clear day you’ll even catch a glimpse of Ben Nevis.

 

Contents


Munros Climbed


  1. Beinn Chabhair – 933 metres (3061 ft) – pronounced BAYN-HOER
  2. An Caisteal – 995 metres (3264 ft) – pronounced AN-CASHTLE
  3. Beinn a’Chroin – 942 metres (3091 ft) – pronounced BAYN-A-HROYN

Read this if you want to find out more about Scotland’s mountains!

Getting There


Because I chose to do the three together, my route and starting point were slightly different to the ones recommended in most Munro books or websites.

Heading north, stick to the A82 towards Crianlarich. About 5 miles before Crianlarich there’s a layby opposite Derrydaroch farm. Park up here if you’re planning on doing the three Munros. You can see the location on the map below.

If you want to do Beinn Chabhair on its own then park up in Inverarnan which is 3 miles south of Derrydaroch.

Likewise, if you’re planning on doing An Caisteal and Beinn a’Chroin then there’s a layby about 2.5 miles south of Crianlarich.

 

Difficulty


The route I chose is hard going and a huge chunk of it is pathless. Again, this is because I was determined to climb all three. If you do them individually then the route will be significantly easier with clearer paths.

From Derrydaroch farm there’s a clear track for the first 1.5 miles where it’s time to veer off and climb up the pathless hillside to the bealach. The rest of the walk up to the top of Beinn Chabhair is hard going with no path until the final stretch.

very mossy section of the hike

The slog between Beinn Chabhair and Bealach Buidhe is the toughest part

Coming down Beinn Chabhair is a steep walk down heading northeast towards the Bealach Buidhe. The walk to the bealach is very boggy at times and is a tiring slog. There’s a clear path from the bealach all the way to the final two summits and back down the ridge. The final tough section is as you take a left just before Sron Gharbh, the descent back to Derrydaroch is again pathless and boggy.

Duration & Length


Duration: 7 – 10 hours

Length: 11.3 miles (18.18 km)

This is my route as recorded on the Viewranger App

If you’re just doing Beinn Chabhair then it’ll be around 5 – 7 hours, An Caisteal and Beinn a’Chroin will be around 6 – 8 hours.

 

Where To Stay


Like most Munros in this area, there are plenty of accommodation options for you to choose from.

Budget:

Crianlarich Youth Hostel (4.5 miles from starting point)

 

Mid-range:

Ben More Lodge (3 miles from starting point)

Inverardran House B&B (2.5 miles from starting point)

 

Expensive:

The Crianlarich Hotel (1 mile from starting point)

 

Camping:

By The Way Hostel and Campsite (5.5 miles from starting point)

The Hike


From the layby, cross over the road and through the gate towards Derrydaroch Farm. you’ll cross over a bridge and directly ahead are the farmhouses. Continue past the farmhouses until you reach a fork in the track. Take the right fork. This again continues for a further few hundred metres where you’re met with another fork. This time you’re going to take the left fork taking you directly towards Beinn Chabhair.

Continue along the forestry track for about a mile until you reach a big iron gate. There’s a path around the gate and its soon after here I decided to start ascending the hillside.

dark mossy slopes

It’s getting a bit brighter

You can wait until a bit further along where the track ends if you so wish but sooner or later you’re going to have to start ascending towards Chabhair. I felt that the route I chose looked less steep.

This section wasn’t much fun (especially for me because it was pitch dark, I was trying to get up for the sunrise). It was very boggy and there isn’t really much of a path until you get up to Garbh Bhealach.

reaching the top of garbh bealach

Mossy climb up to Garbh Bealach

dawn from the bealach

The sun was starting to push through as I got to the Bealach

From here you head east and there’s quite a well-defined path up to the summit of Beinn Chabhair. It is winding and steep in some sections but shouldn’t pose too much of a challenge to get up to the summit cairn! There are plenty of false summits and humps to keep you guessing all the way to the top.

path on winding up beinn chabhair

Views from the top of Beinn Chabhair are stunning on a clear day. It’s especially beautiful to the south looking over Loch Long, and to the east at Lochs Doine and Voil.

sunrise on beinn chabhair

Sunrise from the summit was spectacular

Now because this isn’t a route with a defined path, the going gets quite tough soon after you descend the summit of Beinn Chabhair. It’s vitally important here that you follow your map/GPS closely.

Head briefly south along the Beinn Chabhair ridge before heading directly east towards the two remaining Munros. It’s up to you exactly what route you take down Beinn Chabhair – ideally try and find some terrain that’s not too steep.

misty climb up to the bealach

Those little white dots are sheep…in the middle of nowhere!

I found this part to be a real slog and it was extremely boggy. There were also dozens of sheep – it always amazes me how you can find them in even the remotest of locations!

Continue to zigzag your way northeast towards the Bealach Buidhe which is where you’ll rejoin the path. The main bummer about this part of the hike is that you’re descending over 1000 ft before the climb up to the bealach.

Once you make it to Bealach Buidhe there’s a clearly defined path, continue to the right along the path and towards the summit of Beinn a’ Chroin.

There is one remaining steep bit of climbing where you find yourself clambering up the buttress of Beinn a’ Chroin. There’s a small bit of scrambling but nothing too difficult.

scramble going up beinn a chroin

This is the toughest (and only) scramble of the hike

Once you reach the plateau it’s a simple case of following the winding path over to the summit. There are actually 3 cairns up here and I decided to walk to all of them just to be sure I had reached the top. I think technically the second small cairn is the highest point but most hikers head all the way to the end. You’re again rewarded with some stunning panoramic views.

view from the summit of Beinn a Chroin

Panoramic views from Beinn a’ Chroin

Now to reach the third peak of the day head back on the same path, carefully descending the buttress and onto the Bealach Buidhe. From here, it’s a short hike up the rocky hump to the summit of An Caisteal.

At this point, it had clouded over for me but the views from here are equally as impressive.

Descend down what’s known as the Twistin Hill, directly to the north of the summit. This is a relatively steady descent. For hikers doing just the two Munros, you will keep going along Sron Gharbh and back down to the car.

my shadow and the twistin hill

Looking down the aptly named Twistin Hill

Because I had started further west (to incorporate Beinn Chabhair), I had to head west slightly earlier. I chose the best looking part of the slope to veer directly off the Twistin Hill and head directly east towards Derrydaroch farm.

The first part is again pathless and quite a steep descent so watch your footing! I went pretty much straight down until I reached the Allt an Doran river. Follow this for a short distance and you’ll come on to a forestry track.

winding track back to the car

Follow this track back to the car!

This track links onto the one you start the day on and it’s around 1.5 miles back to the main road (and layby where your car is parked).

 

Alternative Routes


As previously mentioned, the route I’ve described above is one I decided to do just to bag the 3 mountains in the one hike. It’s not that common and there are a couple of more straightforward options which I’ll briefly talk about here.

The more familiar way is to tackle Beinn Chabhair on its own (due to its location). Hikers tend to park at Inverarnan and tackle the mountain from its west side (as opposed to the northwest which is what I did). This is another boggy approach and doesn’t incorporate any loop or horseshoe.

The other two mountains are An Caisteal and Beinn a’Chroin. These are normally taken on from the north and the conveniently named Twistin Hill. This ridge walk takes you over the top of An Caisteal and on to Beinn a’Chroin. As opposed to coming back the exact same way, you can keep going north at the summit and head down its grassy ridge.

 

Nearby Munros


The two closest hikes are directly to the east and not far away at all. The pairs are Cruach Ardrain & Beinn Tulaichean and Ben More & Stob Binnein, which can be tackled as a 4 if you are feeling adventurous!

 

To Conclude


If you’re a keen Munro bagger set on climbing as many mountains as possible then I would definitely recommend this route. If you’re just looking for a relaxed and fairly straightforward day out in the hills then I would recommend doing either Beinn Chabhair or An Caisteal and Beinn a’Chroin as separate hikes.

I got to the top of Beinn Chabhair just as the sun was rising and I was presented with some of the best views I’ve had to date. I would thoroughly recommend a sunrise hike if you know the weather is going to be clear!

 

 

10 Comments

  1. Thanks for sharing this amazing experience with us. I love the photos you took and the whole journey is documented with details and helpful tips.

    If I were to travel from aboard, how exactly do I get there? Which airport is the nearest? Can you also recommend some gears that might come in handy during the hike? Or a section to show us the gears you used during the trip.

    Again, love the post and thanks for sharing with us.

    Reply
    • Thanks a lot for your comment!

      If you’re visiting from abroad then you’ll most likely be flying in to either Glasgow or Edinburgh airport. Both are about a 1.5 hour drive from these mountains. I would highly recommend hiring a car because buses are infrequent and unreliable in the Highlands. To see more on gear you can check out this post. Thank you very much for your kind words!

      Reply
  2. Hey there! How are you doing lad? I’ve really enjoyed reading this blog post as it contains lots and lots of valuable information regarding mountains in Scotland. During the year 2014, I’ve visited Glasgow and Edinburgh. I also paid a short visit to Loch Lomond but I haven’t got any chance in seeing the mountains. The only thing I remember seeing is these massive green colored farms.

    Is is too cold to visit during winter? Thanks in advance for answering my question. Keep up the good work!!!

    Reply
    • Thanks very much for your comment!

      I’m glad you enjoyed the post! If you visited Loch Lomond then you will have definitely seen some of Scotland’s mountains, they surround the Loch. It’s definitely not too cold to visit in winter, it can get very cold but this is a problem easily solved. The main hindrance if you plan on hiking in the winter is the fact that there are very few daylight hours.

      Reply
  3. Hello and thank you for this wonderful article. It was a such lovely read. You really had a great pace there. I am a nature enthusiast and traveler. Next month I am traveling to UK and my main focus is going to be wildlife and nature.

    I already traveled once for 7 days and I visited most famous attractions all over UK. Now it is time to do some hiking, cycling, and running. I think Bein Chabhair is the perfect place for that activity and from what I saw and read here, I can’t wait to start my trip.

    Were there any wild animals that you ecnountered during your trip? You can not be too careful.

    Reply
    • Thank you for your kind words!

      Sounds like you had a great trip around the UK. Beinn Chabhair as well as many others would be a great place to get started if you want to try hiking. I would maybe recommend Ben Lomond if you’re not an experienced hiker, and you can build up from this.

      As for animals, I saw plenty of deer and highland cows! There aren’t really any dangerous wild animals in Scotland 🙂 

      Reply
  4. Motivation for me is what gets one started and determination is what makes one accomplish that which he started. I like the part where you said you chose the hard path and you new a huge chunk of it is pathless. Only few people have such a mindset. 

    I really like those pictures they are beautiful. I haven’t been to Scotland before neither have i hiked but i sure wanna have have an experience. What’s your suggestion for a first timer?

    You started well and ended pretty awesome. I say a hearty congratulations.

    Bravo

    Reply
    • Thanks very much for your comment!

      Mindset is everything and I often find that getting started on such a hike is the hardest part! If you’re a first timer in Scotland’s mountains then I would recommend Ben Lomond or if you’re further north, Ben Wyvis. Thanks a lot for your kind words!

      Reply
  5. Many thanks for the article, good stuff. I love hiking, and getting to know about new sceneries my team and I can explore is welcome news. You have pointed me in the right direction, and if your article is anything to go by, these Munros sceneries will provide a great deal of adventure to my team and I.

    I will get in touch with friends in Scotland to see whether we can schedule a hiking.

    Best regards

    Reply
    • Thanks a lot for your comment!

      You should absolutely schedule some hiking in Scotland, it’s an amazing place with incredible scenery. Have you been here before?

      Reply

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