Sunday, 12 October 2014

Beinn a' Chreachain & Beinn Achaladair

Walk Summary

Crossing point over Water of Tulla just beyond abandoned bridge,
Beinn Achaladair behind
After yesterday’s rest day, short walking day up Beinn Challuim the day before and another rest day the day before that, not only was I well rested but decidedly raring to go. During the preceding 9 days I had managed 7 days walking covering over 55 miles and more than 7000m of ascent. More than enough to establish my hill fitness and combined with recent rest gave me the confidence to tackle one of the longer walks from the trip plan.
The planned distance was 13.1 miles and the actual walking distance was 13.9 miles. The extra was more to do with the new car park nearer to the A82 entrance drive to Achallader Farm than any navigational errors. In fact as increasingly seems to be the case my actual routes walked are getting remarkably close to the routes planned. More a testament to the good weather enjoyed today but also down to getting to know my own pace and learning from previous mistakes.

Early Lesson
When planning on anquet mapping I use a pace of 1.75mph with the addition of 1 hour per 600m of ascent. This gave a planned duration of 9 hours 36 minutes against an actual time of 7 hours 57 minutes with an average pace of 1.76mph.
I have observed this sort of difference in pace before, suggesting I should maybe increase my planned pace to 2¼ mph.
But for now I am going to stick with 1.75mph until I have had a chance to compare with walking in winter conditions or in times of poor visibility when more time needs to be devoted to navigation. 

Taking this approach gives a good margin for safety especially as days become shorter.
In addition the improved pace suggests I have built up hill-fitness over the duration of the trip as well as the last three days giving my body a chance to recover.

Walk Statistics
Walk Date - 12 October 2014
Walkers - Steve Smith

Accommodation - By The Way Campsite and Hostel, Tyndrum
Start Point - Achallader Farm car park (GR - NN 31294 43773)
Start Time - 09:56
Finish Point 
Achallader Farm car park (GR - NN 31294 43773)
Finish Time - 17:53
Duration - 7hrs 57mins
Average pace - 1.76mph
Distance Walked - 13.97miles
Height Ascended - 1353.38metres

Other walks on this trip

30th Conic Hill & Gualann
01st Ptarmigan & Ben Lomond
03rd Meall Corranaich & Meall a' Choire Leith
04th Ben More & Stob Binnein
05th Not quite Meall Buide (Glen Lyon)
07th Cruach Ardrain & Beinn Tulaichean
08th Beinn Dorain & Beinn an Dothaidh hammerhead
10th Ben Challum [Beinn Challuim]
12th Beinn a' Chreachain & Beinn Achaladair
13th The Tyndrum Grandslam

Peaks visited
Munro (282)

Beinn a' Chreachain (30)
Beinn Achaladair (31)
Murdo (443)

Beinn a' Chreachain (40)
Beinn a'Chreachain - Meall Buidhe (41)
Beinn Achaladair (42)
Beinn Achaladair South Top (43)
Corbett (221)
Graham (224)
Marilyn (1218S - 1552E,W&S))

Beinn a' Chreachain (30S - 101E,W&S)
Beinn Achaladair (31S - 102E,W&S)
Hump (2168S - 2976E,W&S)

Beinn a' Chreachain (40S - 159E,W&S)
Beinn Achaladair (41S - 160E,W&S)
S: Scotland. 
E,W&S:England,Wales & Scotland

GPX can be downloaded from

Walk Description
Beinn a' Chreachain

Remains of Achallader Castle
near Achallader Farm
The first part of the walk is over easy ground with very little ascent for 3¾ miles following The Water of Tulla, from the new car park near Achallader Farm to the river crossing where the footbridge has now been washed away. Today that was not a problem, but after heavy rain or when the river is likely to be in full spate either a longer walk towards the crossing near Gorton would be necessary or more ingenious methods of keeping water out of your boots as well as maybe staying on your feet would have to be employed.
Follow path further past waterfalls
before looking for a crossing point
From here the ascent begins in earnest and after crossing under the West Highland Line I followed the path to the right and along the fence up the west side of Allt Coire an Lochain. The path was fairly well established and only reverting to mud on a couple of occasions. As the ascent continued it became obvious that at some point it would be necessary to cross the stream and as I looked across to the other side could not help wondering if I should have maybe crossed the stream lower down near the rail line, especially as I could see evidence of footpaths on the other bank.
3½ to this point.
Another ½hour ascent up NE ridge to
Beinn a'Chreachain summit
As it turned out I had no problem finding a crossing point after some reasonably high water falls. Not sure whether this was the best place to cross, suffice it to say the path on the other side did disappear and I ended up making my way to the bealach between the 894m spot height and the first summit of the day, top of Coire Dubh [Beinn a'Chreachain North Top]. It took me 3½ hours to cover 6 miles to the first summit which is actually an ex-Munro top followed by a further significant climb up the north east ridge and another ½ hour to reach the first Munro of the day.

Beinn Achaladair
Route to Beinn Achaladair
via Meall Buidhe
from descent down Beinn a' Chreachain
After photos, logging and celebrations? go back on yourself and look for path off to left down hill towards bealach at top of Coire a'Mhath-ghamhna. From here you can ascend to the 972m spot height and follow ridge to the next summit of the day. I chose to stay lower following path towards the west, I did however have to keep my eye on progress and leave the path to the right in order to avoid missing the summit of Meall Buidhe. It is only a Munro Top but is also a Murdo and therefore easily qualifies in my eyes as a summit worth visiting.
Decent climb ahead up Beinn Achaladair
from Bealach an Aoghlain
Prepare yourself now for a significant 200m descent to Bealach an Aoghlain then a bit of a minor scramble before more gentle ascent to complete the 220m total to the summit of Beinn Achaladair. well if you want more than one Marilyn in a work this amount of descent and reascent is part of the territory.
Watch out also for the two cairns on the summit area. The first and most distinctive at the 1036m spot height to the east is not the summit and neither is the west cairn further along. The summit is a rocky outcrop between the two, with a small pile of stones claiming to be a cairn marking the high point.
With the second and last Munro now bagged all that remains is to make a safe descent to Coire Daingean following the path from Beinn Achaladair. Again if you follow the path do not forget to visit Beinn Achaladair South Top as the path passes the summit of a Munro Top and Murdo below to the west.
Loch Tulla from Beinn Achaladair
From Coire Daingean it occurred to me that it would be possible to continue up to Beinn an Dothaidh without too much difficulty and then on to Beinn Dorain as a point to point walk, bagging four Munros in total, however for me it would need an earlier start and a summer day to make this feasible in daylight.
Into the evening sun towards
Loch Tulla along path diversion
From the bealach it is still 1 hour back to the van down what is quite a difficult path especially with tired legs. Thank goodness for the trek poles. There was an option to cross Allt Coire Achaladair higher up and stay on the difficult path. I decided to stay on the east side and although there was not a path, as long as you do not descend into the Coire too early descending up and down the feeder tributaries I found it easier going on the knees.
After rejoining the path on the west side of the stream it is a simple case of following it back towards Achallader Farm. The last part is quite boggy in a couple of places - but not too much of a problem. That is because the path is diverted to avoid the farm passing it to the south for the last leg back to the new car park.

More Photographs
Beinn Achaladair South Top towards days other 3 summits, (l-r) Beinn Achaladair, Meall Buidhe and Beinn a'Chreachain
Click on photograph to view slide-show

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