Beinn Challum via the Northwest Spur Walking

An easily accessed Munro, Beinn Challum may look uninspiring from the Crianlarich side, but this is deceptive. There’s some impressive terrain hidden away on the north flank, while even the summit ridge has more character than you might think. It’s a big hill, but not a big day, which makes this a good winter target when light is limited. With an exciting flavour of mountaineering (but just a hint – no ropes required) the northwest spur has to be the most interesting winter way up the hill, but with its comparative remoteness it’s a route few people seem to know about. It'd be good in summer too of course. Go up this way, then descend by the more frequently trodden Munro bagger’s path to complete a full traverse of a surprisingly worthwhile mountain.

On the northwest spur of Beinn Challum  © Dan Bailey -
On the northwest spur of Beinn Challum
Fetching Map

Detailed description

NN3525829020 Head towards the farm but instead of crossing a bridge over the burn stay on its west bank, following a farm track uphill. Pass under the railway bridge and continue up into Gleann a' Chlachain. Having crossed the Allt a' Chaol Ghlinne the track climbs to a junction. Go right. Soon reach a second junction some way above the Allt Gleann a' Chlachain.

NN3577230543 Here stay left, taking the high road which first zigzags quite steeply up the hillside, before finally finding its direction and heading straight up-glen, more or less contouring the lower slopes of the Corbett Beinn Chaorach. Pass through a gate and continue on the track, with the bulk of Beinn Challum beginning to assert itself to your right and the Corbett Cam Chreag ahead. After about 20 minutes go through another gate into a fenced area of regenerating woodland. Carry on along the track for roughly 1km more.

NN3689932874 When you've reached a point more or less on a line between Beinn Chaorach and the Bealach Ghlas Leathaid, turn right off the track and head almost due east through the saplings, across boggy ground in the head of Gleann a' Chlachain. Follow a little burn uphill, then trend slightly left to reach a stile over the (electrified) woodland fence. Back on open ground carry on east to the Bealach Ghlas Leathaid.

NN3783333008 Here turn hard right (south). The northwest ridge rises ahead, broad and easy angled but scattered with interesting little rocky bits. Climb the crest, following the line of a dilapidated fence to reach the first band of rock. Pick your own line through the slabby outcrops and turfy grooves, where the difficulty and entertainment can be tweaked to suit your mood. It's always possible to find an easier way around the various little obstacles, so grade I is a pretty fair assessment of the route overall. Beyond the initial rocky section gentler ground leads to a final steepening. This needs a little care if you're new to winter climbing, though the exposure levels are not too stressful. It's short lived, and above this last step this things become much more laid back. With expanding views across the southern highlands, it's a climb of nearly 1km up genter slopes to the summit cairn on the edge of the mountain's steep north face.
Ben Lui from Beinn Challum  © Dan Bailey -
Ben Lui from Beinn Challum
© Dan Bailey -, Nov 2018

NN3866332236 Beinn Challum is a mountain of two distinct summits, and the sculpted ridge linking this northern top with its slightly lower southern satellite proves unexpectedly grand. It's not remotely hard, but in winter conditions and poor visibility a bit of attention is needed. On the approach to the southern top the path follows the crest of a funny little bouldery ridge, perhaps the result of subsidence.

NN3862231601 From the cairn on the southern top go south over wide open slopes with the full skyline of the Crianlarich hills arrayed ahead of you, to pick up a rough descent path south. The path begins to follow a line of old fence posts, soon turning west-southwest down to a complex area of bogs and knolls. Pass over a minor top, spot height 698m on Harvey maps, then cross the fence and make a beeline for Auchtertyre. The path tends to disappear and the terrain can prove a little frustrating, but height is lost steadily. Make for the rail bridge over the Allt Gleann a' Chlachain. Join a track under the bridge, heading south on the east bank of the burn down past the wigwams to Auchtertyre farm.

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Further Routes

by Dan Bailey UKH

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