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Beinn an Lochain via the Northeast Ridge Walking

A craggy Corbett with a big feel, Beinn an Lochain stands alone. Dominating the pass of Rest and be Thankful, its steep east flank looms a full 600 metres above the road. Following the top of this huge rambling face, before skirting around the mountain's sheer northern cliffs, the Northeast Ridge provides a dramatic route of ascent. Steep and exposed in places, the ridge nearly counts as scrambling in summer, while in winter conditions it becomes borderline mountaineering. As a short day with maximum impact, this one is hard to beat.

The Northeast Ridge of Beinn an Lochain offers a lot of bang for your buck  © Dan Bailey - UKHillwalking.com
The Northeast Ridge of Beinn an Lochain offers a lot of bang for your buck
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Detailed description

NN2342108859 Heading northwest on a faint path, cross the burn and then a boggy area before trending up and right to skirt around crags at the foot of the Northeast Ridge. Above the edge of a forestry plantation, the path cuts hard left, climbing steeply onto the broad lower section of the ridge.

NN2317109091 Now clearer, the path takes the obvious line up the ridge. There's the occasional steepening and a few scattered rocky outcrops, but no difficulty, and the flat minor top at point 637m is soon reached. Above this broad shoulder, the ridge steepens into a craggy nose, which looks quite intimidating.

NN2243708663 Follow the easy ground to the foot of the steep section. Start straight up, heading towards the foot of broken crags. Instead of trying to take these direct (in winter conditions it would be a climb) the path now cuts right to make a rising traverse across a moderately steep slope, with crags both above and below. In snow or ice the potential runout is very nasty, and care is needed. Having outflanked the steeper ground, the ridge is soon regained above the crags. Turn left to reach a point overlooking Loch Restil.

NN2216808468 Looking mighty impressive, the rocky summit cone of Beinn an Lochain now dominates the view ahead. Follow the broad, easy ridge to the base of this steepening. The path now skirts left of the crags, making a fairly steep ascent before regaining the final narrow crest, which is followed in a fantastic airy position to the top of the hill. There are two separate little summits, and it's worth climbing both (I'm not actually clear which is higher).

NN2185807975 To descend it's possible to continue south to the lower south top, before making a beeline east down a slope of grass and scattered outcrops leading to Rest and be Thankful. However the Northeast Ridge is by far the best feature of the hill, so this is one of those rare occasions when the best descent is back the way you came. In winter conditions, this descent does need some care.

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