From Beinn Dorain in the south to Beinn a' Chreachain in the east, the Bridge of Orchy hills form an impressive arc of high ground, a huge earthwork guarding the southern rim of Rannoch Moor. If you're not going to traverse the lot in one go (a fairly big ask) then Beinn Achaladair and Beinn a' Chreachain make a great pair to start on, a scenic ridge romp above remote craggy corries, with vast views out over the waterlogged expanse of the Moor. The walk described here is spiced with a scrambly ascent of Achaladair's little known north ridge. It's not a route mentioned in many books, but particularly worthwhile under snow, when it just about merits being called a grade I winter climb. A long tough finish through the beautiful native pines and impenetrable sapling thickets of Crannach wood rounds off this classy Southern Highlands day.
Head back north(ish) along the cliff edge, then bear right onto the surprisingly narrow ridge between Coire Dubh Beag and Coire an Lochain. It's a lovely bit of mountain, but sadly over too soon.
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Distance: 11.86 miles (19 km)
Total ascent: 1,159m
Steepest Gradient: 61% (1 in 2)
Time: 8 hours (Walking)
New car park just off the A82 on the track to Achallader farm, NN313438
Fort William or Oban
Good track in the glen, then rougher and wetter up to the foot of Beinn Achaladair. In summer conditions the north ridge is a steep walk with scrappy scrambly bits. Up on the tops it's clear paths and largely easy going. Save some energy for the return through Crannach Wood, where the path has a bit of an exploratory feel at times.
In winter conditions the north ridge of Beinn Achaladair is a grade I climb (just about) with one or two harder options if you go looking for them. The corrie edges can be quite heavily corniced. The steep descent east off Beinn Achaladair needs care in winter, as does the narrow (and possibly corniced) northeast ridge of Beinn a' Chreachain.
Weather and Hill Conditions: mwis: West Highlands – Met Office: West Highlands
Train or Citylink bus from Glasgow to Bridge of Orchy
Most Munro guides pair Beinn Achaladair with Beinn a' Chreachain, but I've yet to see one describing Achaladair's north ridge.
OS Explorer 377 (1:25,000), Harvey/BMC Ben Nevis (1:40,000), OS Landranger 50 (1:50,000)
West Highland Way Sleeper bunkhouse, Bridge of Orchy station 07778 746600
Tyndrum (08452 255 121)
by Dan Bailey - UKHillwalking.com
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