Words & Photos Ronald Turnbull
Distance: 15.5km/10 miles
Time: 6-7 hours
Start/Finish: Track end of Beinglas camp site, off A82 immediately north of Loch Lomond (GR: NN 318187). There’s a very small pull-off just to the north, but most park at Inverarnan
Map: Ordnance Survey 1:50,000 Landranger sheet 56 (Loch Lomond)
or 50 (Glen Orchy & Loch Etive)
Tourist Information: Tyndrum TIC, 01838 400246
Public Transport: The Citylink coach from Glasgow to Fort William passes the walk start three or four times daily. Information from 0871 266 33 33, www.citylink.co.uk
Obscurity is just the way Beinn Chabhair likes it, relieved that the noisy chap Rob Roy Macgregor has fi nally stopped driving his cows to and fro across the slopes. It’s a Munro that doesn’t join up with any of the others (you could get onto An Caisteal but it’s a heck of a drop and a steep nasty slope the other side) and as a result, many people climb
it up the Munro-baggers’ path, turn around at the top, and head back down the Munro-baggers’ path, all the time planning the next tick off their list.
Few Scottish hills can be dismissed so lightly, and Chabhair isn’t one of them. High on its western ridge there’s a lochan that lies right underneath the sky, while over in the south there’s a ridge that looks rather rocky – so I set off
on a spring morning determined to get properly chummy with Chabhair.
The baggers’ path starts at Beinglas camp site, and to start with it’s rather good. There’s a glimpse across the Beinglas Falls, leaping out from the valley side to a rocky splashdown 20m below. Above, the path leads up a narrow hanging valley to the small Lochan Beinn Chabhair. Here at 500m altitude, the grass is walk-anywhere short, so I diverted over the bumpy Parlan Hill. Its altitude of 666m suggests the Great Beast from the Bible’s Book of Revelations. Disappointingly, it’s not beastly at all but a rather pleasant spot, one to lie around and linger. Rob Roy’s old drove road from Loch Katrine came over here somewhere.
Chabhair’s south-west spur would be spoilt by any path up it. The front is rocky; round to the left is grass; by going only so far round left I got a sporting mixture of the two. Above was one of those knolly ridges so hard to get up in low cloud: the ridgeline just seems to be nowhere and everywhere. Hard to get up, as well, under warm sun: the grassy hollows were just too tempting to lie down in. On my day of high cloud and cool breezes, the summit came far too soon.
The big baggers’ path led down the ridge beyond, so there was no need to navigate, and it provided a carefree viewing of the view towards Ben Lui. But then it was back to weaving among schisty hollows and craglets, and a sub-peak called Fhithich that looks impregnable, and is only conquered via a hidden grassy rake. The high pool is called Lochan a’ Chaisteil. Schisty cliffs drop into it, and it’s surrounded by bare, dry rock slabs for lying down on. On a really hot sunny day, you could comfortably swim here, alone under the ravenhaunted sky.
When it comes to the Munro party, Chabhair’s the chap in the corner with the yellow bow tie and hair out of his ears, who nobody really wants to talk to. But take the trouble and he’s got a wild sense of humour, a streak of adventure, and a whole lot of interesting stuff in his past thanks to Rob Roy Macgregor.
Cross bridge towards Beinglas camp site, then take path right, beside river and around camp site, to cross West Highland Way. Stile behind wigwams starts uphill path. The path keeps left of Beinglas Burn to outflow of Lochan Beinn Chabhair. Cross Parlan Hill, then go up over Creag Bhreac Mhor to Beinn Chabhair. Follow ridge down north, bending to the west. Skirt S of Meall nan Tarmachan and ascend Stob Creag an Fhithich from the south-west. Pass S of Lochan a’ Chaisteil and over Meall Mor nan Eag, then down W to crossing track. If you turn left you’ll rejoin the upward route but ideally turn right (as indicated on the map) down to the West Highland Way track above River Falloch. Turn left to Beinglas.Tweet