Meall nan Tarmachan West Top - 690m
Beinn Chabhair - 933m

Sunday 2nd August 2009

Weather/Conditions: Sunny, warm day with some wind higher up. Clouded over for an hour or two but otherwise a nice afternoon.
Distance/Ascent/Time: 11.4km / 1000m / 5h 25m
Accompanying: Allan

This was my fourth walk with my cousin Allan, who I've walked with a little over the past two years. We did this walk in the afternoon and evening to catch the best of the weather, given that the morning was cloudy and Monday would see rain and gales across the country. Steve (who was driving) and I picked Allan up from outside Central Station, Glasgow, and drove out Great Western Road, bound north. Out choice of hill for the day wasn't defined yet, but there were a few contenders. The Arrochar Alps had been a possibility, as had the Tyndrum Munros, but I settled on Beinn Chabhair because it would be my last Munro in the Crianlarich Hills.

To Lochan Beinn Chabhair

After a stop at the Arrochar petrol station to stock up on food and drink, Steve dropped Allan and I off at Beinglas Farm, Inverarnan. I knew the path to Beinn Chabhair climbed steeply past the waterfall, but I didn't know where it started. We walked past the bar and restaurant and managed to pick up the path behind the buildings. Then it was a steep climb on a path often with the roar of the waterfalls rumbling around the next corner. The sun was out and it was warm. The hills around Inverarnan were an entire area I'd only seen from the car and it was nice to finally be able to see them from high up.

The path emerged out by the waterfalls, which were awfully impressive - very loud and powerful. It seemed strange at the time to think that such volumes of water could flow off the one hill, but when I saw the amount of bog on the higher slopes, my opinion changed. Heading up, the path crossed a stile and ran up by the waterfall, eventually emerging onto flatter ground. According to others I'd spoken to, the best part of our walk was done because they'd reckoned that the waterfalls were the most enjoyable part. Beinn Chabhair came into our view, still distant, but between us and it lay several kilometres of bog. I knew now why this hill received so much criticism. I don't mind bogs but they're clearly unpopular and they don't float my boat either after too many kilometres of them.

The views down Loch Lomond were beautiful, as always. It amazed me that there was so much ground so high up - it almost felt to me as if we were on a kind of plateau. Navigating through the bogs, we approached Lochan Beinn Chabhair and followed the river through the first broad corrie to the second, higher one, where the lochan sat. As we walked, some thicker cloud was heading our way, but it would pass given time.

NW Ridge and Summit

Now at Lochan Beinn Chabhair, the question was where to go next to reach the summit? It seemed that we'd be able to scramble through the crags to the top, but the path, although increasingly faint, led us up a gully to a shark fin of rock far west of the summit. Choosing this route of ascent would leave us with a long ridge walk to the summit, but it seemed as good a route as any. It was a short ascent to the ridge of about 150 vertical metres, where views opened out to the north across the Highlands. I diverted off to a top to see down to Lochan a' Chaisteil, which although I didn't know it at the time, was Meall nan Tarmachan's west top. I have a thing about climbing subsidiary summits, and this summit was a Corbett Top. Had I known, I might have gone for Meall nan Tarmachan too...

Allan and I headed up the ridge, and I think he was as glad to see the final summit ridge was I was. We'd been going a long time so we both wanted to be finished with this hill. A path wove around all the hummocks of the ridge, and we steadily climbed with the sun lowering to the east. We summited at 6.15pm, three hours after we'd started. A small cairn sat upon the highest point. It was a wonderful viewpoint, looking south down Loch Lomond with widespread views to the north and to the west, though with limited views east due to the Crianlarich Hills extending out in that direction.

We stayed on top for a long time, only phoning home for a lift at around 6.45pm. We gave Steve about two hours to be at Inverarnan, although we only left the top about 15 minutes later, giving ourselves a little less time to descend. When we did leave, we descended directly to Lochan Beinn Chabhair, which would allow us not only to descend quickly but might offer some scrambling opportunities past the rock outcrops.


We took half an hour to get to the loch and from there, it would be a long and boggy walk back to Inverarnan. In the end took 40 minutes to get to the last steep descent to Glen Falloch. The sun was going down too, and I would watch the shifting light on the hills as we moved. It would have been a nice night for a camp, but I'd had plenty of that this summer, and I was keen to get down anyway now that we'd had our walk.

As we were on the last descent to Inverarnan, we watched a silver car pull into Beinglas Farm followed by a phone call from Steve saying he'd arrived. We told him we weren't far and we'd only be a matter of minutes. We descended into Beinglas Farm where we met Steve outside the bar. I got a drink too and we stayed for ten minutes, finally leaving with some chips to take away.

We headed home from Inverarnan as the sun set across the mountains and the skies cleared for the evening. We drove down Loch Lomond-side in the twilight, and while it was a nice night, I'd done enough walking for the day and would be happy to get home. We'd had a good day on the hills - the weather was good and it was the seventh and final Munro of the Crianlarich Hills I still had to climb. Future plans may be to go back and climb the tops of the north west ridge and perhaps include Parlan Hill in a round trip. There's always something else to do in the mountains, and on Beinn Chabhair there's a lot more for me to go back for.

360° Panorama

Beinn Chabhair

Times (Time relative to 0.00)
(0.00) 3.15pm Beinglas Farm
(1.45) 5.00pm Lochan Beinn Chabhair
(2.00) 5.15pm Meall nan Tarmachan West Top
(3.00) 6.15pm Beinn Chabhair
(3.45) 7.00pm Beinn Chabhair (left)
(4.15) 7.30pm Lochan Beinn Chabhair
(5.25) 8.40pm Beinglas Farm
Written: 2009-08-05