Cruach Ardrain (1046m); Beinn Tulaichean (946m)
- Pronunciation: Krooerch Ardren; Bine Toolerchine
- Translation: High Stacked Heap; Hill of the Little Green Eminence
- Total distance: 17.2km
- Total time: 7hrs
- Total ascent: 1315m
- Weather: Beautifully clear and sunny all day. Generally light winds, with only a few periods of stronger gusts. Very cold.
- Start / end location: A82, just a mile south of Crianlarich towards Glasgow [Grid Ref: NN 367 238]
- Map: A map of route can be found here – it may take a few moments to load into a separate window.
From our overnight “camp” along the A85 we headed off in the ‘van at around 07:15 towards the south of Crianlarich. About 1 mile from Crianlarich we parked in a huge lay-by on the south bound A82 opposite Keilator Farm.
We couldn’t really have asked for better weather: the skies were clear (still before sunrise) and the moon was still waning brightly.
Our path started from the north end of the lay by with a stile to cross into a muddy farmers field, which after only 50m joined a farm track heading SW in the direction of Corrie Earb. The track firstly passed through a small tunnel under the main railway line before a bridge took us across the River Falloch. We continued to follow this track for about 1.6km until we had reached the obvious corner of the forestry plantation on our left hand side. At this point a small path led due east and downwards towards the River Falloch (only really a tributary at this stage). There is a small precarious bridge (that has seen better days), which carried us across the River Falloch for a second time. We were now on open hillside and beat our own path up the hillside to a low top on the NW ridge that leads to Cruach Ardrain. This top is called Grey Heights (685m).
Similar to yesterday, anything resembling a path was covered in ribbons of clear blue water ice – always a challenge best to avoid.
Once on the ridge at Grey Heights we were rewarded with a fantastic clear view back down into Crianlarich and beyond towards Bridge of Orchy in the north. The Munro, Ben Lui, to the west of Bridge of Orchy was the most impressive peak on the immediate horizon. It was very alpine in stature with its mantel of thick snow.
The walk continued up and along the NW ridge, heading for another top, Meall Dhamh, at 814m. A short descent from here took us to the bealach with Cruach Ardrain. At this point we stopped to put on our crampons. The snow was now wonderfully crisp and solid: the sort that scraped and creaked when we walked on it with our crampons. It was only the first few millimeters of our crampon points that actually adhered us to the snow.
The last few hundred metres from the bealach to the summit of Cruach Adrain were actually quite steep in places. So much so we were able to practice some basic front-point crampon techniques along with daggering with our ice axes. It didn’t half burn our calf muscles though!
The summit of Cruach Ardrain (1046m or 3,432’) has two tops, with the highest one standing behind the first one that we came to on the summit plateau. This true summit was reached by a short walk from the first top. The views from here were spectacular in every direction: especially towards Ben More and Stob Binnein (which we climbed yesterday: 25 Nov).
We re-traced our steps to the first top and from there descended SE along a very broad ridge to the wide bealach separating our second Munro of the day, Beinn Tulaichean. A straightforward low-angle climb up took us quickly to the summit of Beinn Tulaichean (946m or 3,104’). On the way up we met the only other two walkers of the day, who had ascended from the south.
The return leg was to descend to the bealach again and partly climb back up the slope of Cruach Ardrain. Thankfully after about 100m of vertical ascent we traversed left and arrived just above Stob Glas (815m) where we continued to traverse around a broad corrie to reach Meall Dhamh again (814m). Off came our crampons and we descended the broad ridge back down to Grey Heights, where a left turn (due west) took us back to the farm track, and a mile later we were back at the ‘van for coffee and biscuits. Another fabulous day on the hills.