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Beinn a' Chreachain, Beinn Achaladair & Beinn Mhanach; map 377E; 20th Sept 2010

Route: 1800m = 5900'; 17.0 miles; 10 hrs.


Access: Drive 2.85 miles along the A82 from Bridge of Orchy to the turn-off for Achallader Farm (NN31134368). Previously one could park at the ruined castle by the farm, but this is no longer an option. Despite the large "P" by Achallader Farm on my 1:25000 map, parking was moved back in 2012 to NN312437, just 200m from the A82. Unfortunately, this has increased the walk by ⅔ mile in each direction along a rather dull road/path.
Route: i) I've not used the new car park, so I'm not sure about the new paths indicated for walkers to use around Achallader Farm. I've assumed the vehicle track is still acceptable.
ii) Beinn a' Chreachain and Beinn Achaladair form a great ridge walk as well as having unrivalled views in all directions. So the optional inclusion of the detour to Beinn Mhanach cannot really improve the walk unless you are really fit and don't mind the longer distance and increased ascent. However, the detour saves the long walk in to Beinn Mhanach with several potentially difficult fords when it is done on its own. The cost here is an additional 4¼ miles and 535m ascent.
iii) Although the walk described below is in the opposite direction, I much prefer walking in an anti-clockwise direction. This has several advantages, not least of which is having the prevailing wind behind on the ridge. Another is much easier route finding on Beinn a Chreachain, a third is contouring round the SE end of Beinn Achaladair at the right height (if including Beinn Mhanach), and a fourth is leaving the ford of Allt Coire Achaladair with its risk of wet feet until the end of the day. The descent through the Crannach forest to find the railway bridge at NN34934546 presents the only slight challenge in this direction.
iv) In cloud with a clockwise direction, I found the descent off Beinn a Chreachain towards Meall Buidhe to be problematic. The initial 200yds north merges very quickly and imperceptibly into the NW ridge and there is no clear west ridge shape to follow. I'd like to blame magnetic rocks for affecting my compass, but I doubt that's true!
v) There are not many safe access or escape routes on the NW side of the range. On the other hand, the SE slopes are generally fairly friendly.
vi) The Allt Coire Achaladair is usually forded at Achallader Farm where it is often shallow enough to avoid wet feet. However, when in spate, there is the option of using the bridge a little upstream at NN32374406. Also, for those taking the track on the NW side of the Water of Tulla, there is a convenient bridge at NN35304682.
vii) Contouring SW from the bealach between Beinn Achaladair and Beinn Mhanach over to the bealach between Beinn Achaladair and Beinn an Dothaidh is straight-forward in terms of terrain and there are traces of paths, but getting the height right to avoid extra climbing is easier said than done.
viii) The Allt Coire Achaladair needs to be crossed (E to W) on the descent of Coire Achaladair. This needs to be done before the stream becomes to wide, but I recall slipping on the stones where the path crosses the burn. So be careful there!
ix) For the path up Allt Coire Achaladair, go from the former car park by the tower up to house, then left round to the back of the barn and through the gate marked "To Hill". (This may all have changed with the new car park.)
Weather: Overcast with showers & a sunny interval; 14°C at car; cloud on all tops until 1500.

Time Description Ht.Asc.Dist.Grid Ref.
 — Parking near A82 off Achallader Farm road 170   00.0 milesNN31294378
0755 Track ENE to former P at Achallader Farm 180  150.7 milesNN32214430
0805 NE to ford Allt Coire Achaladair and stile. 175 0.95 milesNN32454461
0825 Track ENE to bridge over Water of Tulla, opp ruin 190   301.95 milesNN33844525
0835 Path E on S side of Water of Tulla to stile
by river at fence round forested area
205  452.25 milesNN34314539
0845 Path ENE along S bank to Allt na Crannaich 210  502.5 milesNN34514566
0855 Path ESE to railway bridge in Crannach Wood 2751152.75 milesNN34944545
0905 Path ENE by railway to forest edge 3301703.2 milesNN35534583
0925 SE towards Lochan a' Chreachain to gate and
stile in deer fence at highest pt before forest
4052453.45 milesNN36244567
0955 SE to stile in deer fence at highest pt of forest edge 5754153.9 milesNN36644547
  SSE below Meall Beag to Allt Coire an Lochain 6504904.15 milesNN36864515
1045 SE to X Coire Dubh (or to ridge at col) 9618004.75 milesNN37814492
  SW to bend in ridge 175m before summit 10559205.3 milesNN37324426
1105
-1220
S to M Beinn a Chreachain (No Orange)
(Much time lost here in cloud trying to find way.)
10819475.4 milesNN37394408
  WNW to first col 930 5.7 milesNN36944420
  220yds W beside bump (940m) to next col 924 5.85 milesNN36754422
  W to Meall Buidhe, NE top 9729936.0 milesNN36484426
  SW to Meall Buidhe, mid top 97310006.2 milesNN36224405
1245 SW to T Meall Buidhe, main top 97710106.43 milesNN35984384
1300 SW to bealach 813 6.9 milesNN35334344
  WSW to bend in ridge 97511707.2 milesNN34874325
1335 NW to Beinn Achaladair, E end ridge (Main cairn) 103612337.4 milesNN34624336
  SW to M Beinn Achaladair, mid ridge cairn.
(Unclear that this is really the top.)
103812357.5 milesNN34474324
  SW to ridge bend 1015 7.7 milesNN34274300
  SSW to col 955 8.05 milesNN34184243
1405
-1410
S to T Beinn Achaladair, S Top (No Orange) 100412858.3 milesNN34234205
  OPTION:
Either
continue ridge S to bealach
Or (3hrs) Detour E down ridge along boundary
 
755
895
   
NN34014056
NN34704185
1440 ESE along boundary to Lon na Cailliche 638 9.1 milesNN35454170
  SE along fence to fence corner 71013559.35 milesNN35724145
  E to right end of cliffs 82014659.7 milesNN36274135
1525
-1530
WSW to T Beinn a'Chuirn (No Orange) 923157010.05 milesNN36004092
1540 ENE to bealach 849 10.5 milesNN36584122
1555
-1600
E to M Beinn Mhanach (No Orange) 953167511.0milesNN37374114
1610 W back down ridge to fence bend by bealach 849 11.45 milesNN36584132
  WNW to fence corner 710 12.0 milesNN35724145
1630 NW by fence back to Lon na Cailliche 638 12.25 milesNN35474175
  If possible, find path to next bealach.
(Mostly fairly horizontal at about 750m, but not the
grid refs given here.) Contour SW below stones
700173512.9 milesNN34764100
  Contour SW into stones 725176013.15 milesNN34554070
  Contour SW over stones 750178513.33 milesNN34254055
1715 THEN: Cairn on path at Bealach with Coire Daingean 755179013.5 milesNN34014056
1750 Path N on E bank of Allt Coire Achaladair
to crossing at 500m
500 14.37 milesNN33364173
  N to path end (by map) on W bank of river 408 14.87 milesNN32884240
1840 V. wet peaty path N to Railway Bridge 235 15.8 milesNN32294366
1845 Track N to former P at Achallader Farm 180 16.2 milesNN32214430
 — Track WSW to parking near A82 170179516.9 milesNN31294378


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