Cruach Ardrain & Beinn Tulaichean North
on Nov 03, 2010
Region: United Kingdom
Route type: Other
Total climb: 3,392.39 ft
Distance: 24.20km, 15.04 miles. Like (54)
"G2 **** 14 Cruach Ardrain 87 1046m/3432ft (OS 51 or 56, NN 409212) Croo-ach Aardran, High Mound 15 Beinn Tulaichean 220 946m/3104ft (OS 56, NN 416196) Ben Toolichan, Knolly Mountain Munro info When viewed from Crianlarich, Cruach Ardrain is the most eye-catching mountain in the area, with a wedge-shaped summit that towers over the forests of Coire Ardrain (unnamed on OS 1:50,000 map). By contrast, Beinn Tulaichean is a sneaky little peak that achieves Munro status by hanging on to Cruach Ardrainâ€™s coat tails. In truth it is no more than the highpoint at the end of its big siblingâ€™s south-east ridge, but you have to admire its audacity â€“ the ascent from the intervening bealach is only 121m/397ft. What was Sir Hugh thinking of? Both Munros are usually bagged together, either from Crianlarich to the north (Route 14a) or from the Balquhidder road to the south (Route 14b). The former involves more ascent but is deservedly more popular. Route 14a description Cruach Ardrain and Beinn Tulaichean Northern Approach from Crianlarich Cruach Ardrain alone: NN 389251, 8ml/13km, 940m/3100ft Add-on return trip to Beinn Tulaichean: 2Â½ml/4km, 350m/1150ft The route begins at the Community Woodland car park, situated at the east entrance to Crianlarich, and climbs the west rim of Coire Ardrain. Forest blankets the lower slopes to a height of nearly 500m/1650ft, but forest roads that climb to the upper boundary make access straightforward as long as you follow our detailed directions. Take the forest road into the woods, go right at the first junction after c.1000m (NN 386243) and left at the second after a further 400m (NN 384240). Just over 100m beyond the second junction, youâ€™ll cross the horribly boggy former approach path from the A82. Around 700m beyond the second junction, branch right at a third (NN 389237) and keep to this forest road even when it seems to be heading too far west. From its end at NN 383232, a boggy path makes a short climb to a horizontal forest ride. Open hillside now lies less than a couple of hundred metres to the right. Once outside the forest fence, follow it up to its highest point, where the old path comes in from the left over a stile. N.B. The lowest section of the old path has been renovated, giving an alternative starting point at NN 382245, just south of Crianlarich on the A82 Loch Lomond road, where thereâ€™s a bridge over the West Highland Railway line. The new path joins the forest roads route between the first two junctions. There may be other ways up through the forest using rides and felled areas, but all are subject to re-afforestation and all have enormous quagmire potential. The forest roads give by far the least fraught approach. Once above the forest, a distinct path climbs a more well-defined, grassy ridge to the Grey Height and continues across a broad saddle to the rocky top of Meall Dhamh (Myowl Ghav, Deer Hill). The ridge then becomes entertainingly intricate, forcing the path to negotiate a number of rocky knolls on a 50m/150ft descent to the foot of Cruach Ardrainâ€™s short sharp north-west ridge. To find the least problematical way up this final obstacle, the path takes a diagonal line up the steep grass slopes to the right of the ridge crest, passing beneath the summit to reach the skyline still further right, on the easy south-east ridge, just below the roof-like summit dome. To reach the true (north-east) summit, cross a short dip beyond the first twin-cairned (south-west) top reached. Before you re-descend to Crianlarich, the return jaunt to Beinn Tulaichean will give you another tick on the list for minimal effort. The well-trodden highway along Cruach Ardrainâ€™s south-east ridge descends steeply to the intervening bealach before making the short ascent to Tulaicheanâ€™s knobbly summit. Other options For no extra mileage and negligible extra ascent, it is possible to make a complete round of Coire Ardrain by returning from Cruach Ardrain along the east rim over the craggy summit of Stob Garbh (Stop Garrav, Rough Peak), the Munroâ€™s subsidiary Top. Note, however, that routefinding is by no means as straightforward as on the ascent route and, if misfortune is your lot in life, you may find yourself faced at the end of the day with a frustrating bushwhack down through the encroaching forest. A direct continuation around the corrie rim from Cruach Ardrainâ€™s summit involves an intimidatingly steep initial descent of the north-east face to gain the bealach below Stob Garbh. The time-worn path down is now so eroded and loose that, in technical terms, itâ€™s not very nice at all. A slip could deposit you on the bealach a tad too quickly. To avoid this initial problem, begin the return along the east rim at the Ardrainâ€“Tulaichean bealach and cross easy grass slopes beneath Ardrainâ€™s eastern crags to reach the bealach below Stob Garbh. This solution has the additional merit of avoiding the climb back up Cruach Ardrain on return from Tulaichean. Once youâ€™ve reached the bealach below Stob Garbh, a path weaves its way up among rocky bluffs to the knobbly summit before heading glenwards along Coire Ardrainâ€™s east rim. A couple of minor rises punctuate a gentle grassy descent to the viewpoint of Creag na h-Iolaire (Craig na Hyillera, Eagleâ€™s Crag). Now for some more fun, courtesy of the forest that blankets the Creagâ€™s lower slopes. If youâ€™re feeling adventurous, you may be able to pick a route through the forest rides below. A direct descent is initially barred by the crags that give the eyrie its name. To avoid them, descend right then back left on steep grass. Once into the arboreal maze, good luck with keeping to your chosen line. If the prospect of a possible bushwhack back to the car park fails to enthuse you, you can opt for a more straightforward descent route. The easiest route down leaves the ridge at the gate in the upper forest perimeter fence, which is encountered at NN 404239, just beyond the last rise before Creag na h-Iolaire. From here, head north-west down the steepening hillside, eventually beside a deep-cut stream, to reach a forest road near NN 396247. This is the route shown on the route map. To reach this line from Creag na h-Iolaire, traverse right (north-east) across the hillside until you reach the stream. Once on the forest road, go left to rejoin the approach route at the first junction described previously. Needlepoint: Thanks to the path, the only real cause for confusion on ascent in cloud is Cruach Ardrainâ€™s summit dome. Remember that to reach the true summit, you must cross the short dip beyond the first twin-cairned top reached. A return via Stob Garbh is best left for a clear day. Chilly Willy: An entertaining winter route, but not one for beginners. The ascent remains straightforward as far as the foot of Cruach Ardrainâ€˜s north-west ridge but, under snow, the steep slopes leading up to the summit require care. "