Access: From A82 drive 9.1 miles down Glen Etive & park at Invercharnan just before bend/bridge, NN143484.
Route: An anti-clockwise direction is best for this walk because of the steep ascent SW from the bealach between the two mountains. If it is done in reverse, perhaps because of poor weather from the west, the awkward descent from the east top of Beinn Fhionnlaidh can be circumvented by going south to Meall nan Gobhar and contouring northwards to the bealach.
The walk might start with an ascent of the Corbett Beinn Maol Challuim. However, the cliffs between it and the bealach with Sgor na h-Ulaidh cannot be descended. Instead one has to continue N from the Corbett to the col with Bidean nam Bian and then contour NNE back to the col with Sgor na h-Ulaidh. I have done this and it is very straight forward.
Except for the views or the convenience of including Beinn Maol Challuim, an ascent via the col with Beinn Maol Challuim is a stupid way up Sgor na h-Ulaidh. The benefits of the much better view may be outweighted by some tricky sections on the ridge up, and time consuming terrain up to the bealach. Specifically there are crags to avoid at the start of the ridge, and a steep slippery mixture of grass and a number of short rocky strata steps higher up.
For an eastern approach to Sgor na h-Ulaidh, it is normal and certainly easier to ascend Coire Cearcaill to the col between the two tops of Sgor na h-Ulaidh, as in the GPS route link above, and this is the best way to include the Munro top Stob an Fhuarain.
There are two choices for descending from Sgor na h-Ulaidh to the bealach with Beinn Fhionnlaidh. Either go W along the ridge to Corr na Beinne and then S/SE to Bealach Caol Creran as I have done, or go down the SE ridge to the col with Meall a' Bhuiridh and then SW to the bealach. The latter choice seems to incur more boggy terrain than the former.
In good visibility an almost direct ascent is possible from Bealach Caol Creran towards Beinn Fhionnlaidh. This is the trickiest point of the walk, requiring scrambling and time for route finding. It is the fastest and most rewarding route, but the scrambling can be avoided. Contour round S as far as necessary towards Meall nan Gobhar, so that an ascent W to the ridge is easy – probably to Coire na Tullaich if you are happy ascending the 200' steep, exposed grass section north from the corrie at 600m back to the ridge at 660m. However, MunroMagic suggests going as far as the col with Meall nan Gobhar at NN10634924 and this route should be taken if there is no visibility.
2018: There has been considerable harvesting of the timber in Glen Etive Forest for which several new tracks were constructed and existing ones widened. The main change to note is that there is now a track going directly SW from the parking by the bridge at Invercharnan to join the pre-existing track and avoiding the previous detour through the farm. These changes are not yet recorded on the OS map but most can be seen in the satellite view.
Weather 31/1/06: Light, cool breeze on ridge. Clear skies except for temp inversion causing total cloud cover at 700m. –6°C at car at start, rising to 1°C at end. 23/9/10: 14°C at car, very windy, light showers am, some sun, cloud above tops.
Terrain: No snow, but frozen underfoot.
Rating: 5* views of Bidean, Glen Coe hills, Mamores and Ben Nevis from ridge up to Sgor na h-Ulaidh.
Mobile: No Orange at car, but good Orange at all 3 tops.
|Park at Invercharnan, just before bridge at bend.
(0.7 miles after lochan, 9.1 miles from A82.)
|Take track (not path) which starts at back right of parking
area. Follow it N up E bank of Allt Charnan to forest edge
|Follow track N over to other side of river and back
at a second ford by the river bend, avoiding Coire Cearcaill
|Ascend N to Bealach Fhionnghaill.
Go as far as fence
at true summit of col for best views and easier ascent.
|Follow ridge fence W, keeping S/left of the difficulties:
SW/NW to end of flat area
|W to end of next flat area
|W to end of next flat area
|Ridge fence W to T Stob an Fhuarain
(No Orange on 23/9/10.)
|SSW along fence to col
|SSW to M Sgor na h-Ulaidh
|350m W along ridge by fence; then 200m WSW along
ridge to Corr na Beinne after fence descends to N
|Descend ridge steeply S. (An alternative here is to follow
the fence via the SE ridge & Bealach nam Meirleach.)
Then descend SW to Bealach Caol Creran. (There are no
discernible paths down to, across, or up from this pass)
Ascend steep cliffs to S but, if necessary, contour south
below cliffs to first major grass gully just before
Coire na Tullaich (not the short one which leads to cliffs)
or to Coire na Tullaich itself. Ascend the gully or corrie,
then branch right to join ridge at top of cliffs
about half way up from the bealach.
|Finish ascent of ridge SSW to cairn at top of nose.
|Ridge W for 150m
|WNW to bealach above Coire Reidh
|225yds WNW to ridge bend
|275yds WSW to ridge bend
|325yds W to M Beinn Fhionnlaidh trig pt
|Return 325yds E to ridge bend
|275yds E to ridge bend
|225yds E back to col above Coire Reidh
|Follow faint path on compass bearing SSW direct to
Col with Meall nan Gobhar
|Descend path E on N bank of river to bridge over
Allt nan Gaoirean at forest edge. (Renewed in 2017)
|Ascend 250yds E up path to (former) fire break
|Path SSE down fire break for 300yds to track (cairn)
|Track SE to bend
|Track NE to (now overgrown) track fork
|Continue straight on back to car park at bridge