Beinn Achaladair (1038m); Beinn a’ Chreachain (1081m)
- Pronunciation: Bine Achullader; Bine yuh Chrechen
- Translation: Mountain of the Farm by the Water; Mountain of the Bare Summit
- Total distance: 20.8km
- Total time: 6hrs 44mins
- Total ascent: 1314m
- Weather: Very bright, sunny and warm. Local visibility was good but medium to longer range visibility was poor due to haze.
- Start / end location: By Achallader Farm just off the A82, 1.5km to the south of the Blackmount. [OS Map Sheet 50 – Grid Ref: NN 322 442]
- Map: A map of route can be found here – it may take a few moments to load into a separate window. The map displays on most browsers, but not unfortunately Internet Explorer.
We parked at the small car-park that the farmer at Achallader Farm has kindly set aside for walkers venturing into the adjacent mountains, which meant that we didn’t have to try to find a nearby lay-by on the very busy A82.
The weather conditions bode well for our climb with clearing skies and negligible wind. Even given our early start we could tell that it was going to be a pleasant warm spring day: and we weren’t to be disappointed.
Our route began with us heading southward through the farmyard to access the open hillside beyond and following a track until it reached an old footbridge over the West Highland Railway line, which we duly crossed. From here we continued along a reasonably well defined, if a little boggy, path that followed the course of the Allt Coire Achaladair burn that flowed from Coire Achaladair high above our current position. The going was always easy as the gradient was reasonably modest throughout.
As we neared the head of the corrie it appeared to be split by a buttress that looked like it could be tackled on either side to reach the even higher Coire Daingean above. We chose to follow a course to the right of the buttress, but there appeared to be little difference in effort or difficulty compared to if had we chosen to climb to the left.
Once we got round the buttress and entered Coire Daingean we could clearly see that the rim of the corrie headwall formed the edge of the ridge that we were aiming for that connected Beinn Achaladair (our objective) with its southwestern neighbour, Beinn an Dòthaidh. When we reached this ridge we turned left, ENE, and then quickly north thereafter, to climb the long south ridge of Beinn Achaladair. As we climbed higher a few pairs of Wheatear birds entertained us as they bobbed and flitted around the rocks and boulders in search of early spring insects.
All along the high traverse of the Beinn Achaladair ridge we were mesmerised by the expanse of brilliant white exposed quartz veins alongside the huge drifts of mica-schist plates that littered the path. In the warm hazy sunshine both rock forms truly sparkled.
The next high point after we passed the little cairn at 1002m elevation was meant to be the summit of Beinn Achaladair at 1038m or 3,406ft. However, this true summit, without an obvious cairn to localise it, was overshadowed by its marginally smaller neighbour (smaller by only 2m) which was a clearly cairned summit just 250m further on along the ridge to the ENE. Upon reaching this cairned top we realised that we’d already passed over the summit and back-tracked the couple of hundred metres to take our obligatory summit photograph. Although the sun was shinning it was quite hazy and so we weren’t blessed with any good long-distance views: although we weren’t complaining as there was almost no wind and the temperature was nice and warm.
We continued along the superb high level route over Beinn Achaladair before dropping down quite steeply to the col then climbing up the other side to take in the Munro Top of Meall Buidhe en route to our way around the rim of Coire an Lochain and then finally ascending to the summit of Beinn a’ Chreachain at 1081m or 3,547ft.
From the summit we took the broad NE ridge to descend towards the Point marked 961m on the map. However, just before the path reached this point it levelled to a small col that was the location for us to leave the ridge and follow the easy grassy slope NW towards the north side of the very beautiful Lochan a’ Chreachain. However, before reaching the lochan we veered NW and skirted around the broad flank of the western ridge of Coire an Lochain and then dropped height as we proceeded towards the mixed woodland running along either side of the West Highland Railway line. This woodland looked as if was being managed as it was surrounded by high deer fencing to allow the young trees to grow. Just as with the parking further down the glen being provided by the local farmer, here too sturdy stiles had been thoughtfully provided at strategic locations along the fence-line.
When we reached the railway line we turned SW and followed the line for about 1.5km until a footbridge allowed us the cross the track. Once on the northern side of the railway track we made our way for a short distance to the banks of the Water of Tulla river, which we followed down stream to the point where a land-rover track running along the other side of the river crossed onto our side en route back to the starting point at the Achallader Farm. In the fields near the farm the sheep had just begun lambing: some of the ewes were still to deliver and were looking extremely “over-weight” whilst some had only just given birth – many only today given the fragility of the lambs.
Back at the car-park we were able to look back towards our latest conquests and reflect on a wonderful day’s climbing in beautiful spring sunshine.