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Cruach Ardrain Walk

Length: 9 miles circular (6-7 hours)
Start: Car park at end of public road, Balquhidder Glen

Difficult. Very difficult in winter due to snow and ice on the steep NE face Cruach Ardrain. Navigation can be tricky in poor visibility especially after Cruach Ardrain summit. Height 3450 ft & 3100 ft plus Stob Garbh at 3150 ft.

This is a beautiful walk in good visibility with stunning views in all directions. The view to the east of Ben More and its twin peak Stobinian is probably the best view of these twins. The walk starts in Balquhidder Glen at Inverlochlarig farm, once the home of Rob Roy MacGregor.

Cruach Ardrain and Stob Garbh may also be tackled from the north, starting at the car park near the Benmore hotel and making the approach via 'Grey Height' and 'Meal Dhamh'.

This walk takes you over the 3000 foot mark 3 times and winter conditions may be seen here before the end of September and into mid May. The north-east face of Cruach Ardrain is a very steep scramble which even in summer conditions requires great care. In snow the same face requires winter climbing skills and equipment.

The Route

From the car park at the end of the public road in Balquhidder Glen (leave A84 at Kings House then 8 miles) walk west to Inverlochlarig farm turning south on the farm road for a few yards before crossing the stile (signposted) on the west side of the Inverlochlarig Burn.

Follow the track upstream beside the burn, crossing some wet bits before joining the hill road which is now followed for about 1.5 miles to its end. Continue to follow the burn over some very wet difficult ground past some ruined shielings and heading for the pronounced 'V' at the bealach. The Bealach is dotted with huge boulders. When the burn levels out, make sure you are on the west bank and at a convenient spot ( there is no obvious track and I chose GR NN420225 at a small tributary burn) turn west and head up toward the low point on the horizon ( Corrie Buidhe) to the north of Stob Garbh.

Care should be exercised here on the slippery rocks of the many small outcrops. The easiest route can be to turn toward Stob Garbh at the boggy stretch (where Crianlarich comes into view) at the depression between Stob Garbh and Stob Corrie Bhuidhe and avoiding the crags to the left, headed toward the small cliff to the left of the low point on the horizon. At the cliffs, veer right round the cliffs then directly toward Stob Garbh.

Stob Garbh may be by-passed by a tricky contour to the west side but the contour is steep and slippery and it is probably easier to go over Stob Garbh which is a Munro top at 3150 ft (GR-NN4112210).

At the summit of Stob Garbh, make sure you find a moment to look east for the magnificent view to Ben More and Stobinian, usually with the procession of small ants busy crossing the ridge joining the two.

Continue over Stob Garbh taking care on slippery rocks and beware of false tracks leading to vertical drops. The descent to the bealach at the foot of Cruach Ardrain is awkward in a couple of places where a short scramble may be required.

The very steep north-east face of Cruach Ardrain is now in front of you. This ascent is not technically demanding but care is required as the rock is often crumbly with short stretches of muddy or powdery rock and loose rocks. The steepest and most awkward part is near the top.

Emerging from the steep ascent the first summit is obvious and marked with a cairn (GR-NN409211). There are 2 summits very close together with a dip between. Again, take time out to admire the fabulous views in all directions, especially to Ben More & Stobinian to the east and to An Caisteal and Beinn a'Chroin to the west.

From the second summit of Cruach Ardrain follow the path SW for a very short way and watch for a track to the left heading SE and down through a dip to a very well defined ridge before a long easy ascent to Beinn Tulaichean (3100ft GRNN417196) where the panoramic view down Balquhidder Glen soon opens out over Lochs Doine and Voil and with Stuc a Chroin recognizeable away to the east.

Follow the track over the summit, heading SSE initially before veering to the SE. TAKE CARE here as the descent is liberally decorated with crags which only become evident at the last minute.

The path gradually becomes less well defined where walkers have all tried to find a 'good' way down - it does not exist! Whichever way you take there are small outcrops of rock to be negotiated or avoided and the ground is always soft or worse. Head generally SE, veering to ESE, descending all the time toward the hill road which will be visible in clear weather. The grassy lower slopes are extremely slippery when wet - you have been warned!

Once on the hill road re-trace your steps to the carpark.