Cruach Ardrain from Crianlarich Walking

A steep-sided summit radiating three enjoyably knobbly ridges, Cruach Ardrain is the most attractive thing on the sawtoothed skyline above Crianlarich, and arguably one of the great mountains of the Southern Highlands. While often climbed from the south with neighbouring Beinn Tualaichean to make a two-Munro day, the northern alternative has more topographical logic, providing a brilliant horseshoe circuit with plenty of steep and challenging ground.

Ben Lui from the northwest flank of Cruach Ardrain  © Dan Bailey -
Ben Lui from the northwest flank of Cruach Ardrain
Fetching Map

Detailed description

NN3890425127 From the FC car park at Inverardran follow the main forest track through a gate, ignoring the waymarked footpaths to each side, soon heading south through the woods going gently uphill to a track junction.Turn right here, climbing quickly to a second junction. Turn left, still heading uphill. After a few hundred metres look out for a cairned path on the right. This cuts directly uphill, almost due south, climbing steadily through dense woods on a series of forest breaks. The trail is in a very sorry state, beset with deep mud and prickly conifer saplings. Cross another forest track and continue in the same line on the nasty path, eventually emerging from the trees with relief.

NN3909423096 The path now cuts up rightwards, climbing steep grassy slopes onto the lowest northwest shoulder of Grey Height. Beyond a deer fence, follow the trail up the shoulder onto this minor summit overlooking Coire Ardrain.

NN3936122700 A long steady ascent up the broad ridge line – the path is obvious – leads up to the craggy top of Meall Damh. Continue weaving through knobbly outcrops and hollows into a little col below Cruach Ardrain's summit slopes.
Beinn Challum from Stob Coire Buidhe (Cruach Ardrain)  © Dan Bailey -
Beinn Challum from Stob Coire Buidhe (Cruach Ardrain)
© Dan Bailey -, Nov 2015

NN4018221358 Instead of tackling this climb head-on the best-used path first cuts right on a rising traverse across the mountain's steep west-southwest flank before cutting uphill more directly to a broad fore-summit. Cairns here can be misleading in poor visibility: the true summit is a short distance north-east, a slight rise marked by a larger cairn. With steep ground on three sides, the top of Cruach Ardrain has a satisfyingly mountainous feel.

NN4090321218 Descend via the northeast flank, on an eroded trail winding down very steeply between rock outcrops. This needs a little care at the best of times, and doubly so in winter conditions. From the complex, craggy bealach below, follow signs of footfall – the path now less well trodden than hitherto – climbing north through rocky hummocks and boggy hollows to the well-named summit of Stob Garbh (rough peak). This could almost be a separate Munro in its own right.
Even the nasty forestry north of Cruach Ardrain can have its moments  © Dan Bailey -
Even the nasty forestry north of Cruach Ardrain can have its moments
© Dan Bailey -, Nov 2015

NN4110922140 Descend northwest down the broad ridge to a col, then climb briefly north to the outlying top of Stob Coire Buidhe, a great viewpoint overlooking Strath Fillan. Carry on down the wide, grassy ridge for a further 1km to pass through a deer fence in a boggy hollow.

NN4041223925 Follow the fence leftwards downhill – steep rough grassy tussocks - to pick up a faint trail leading into the woods through an awkward area of clear-felled and new growth. Then go left onto a forest track to cross Allt Coire Ardrain, before rejoining the forest tracks of the approach.

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Further Routes

by Dan Bailey UKH

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