|Beinn Mhanach at the head of
||Location: Auch Gleann near Bridge of Orchy.
||Accommodation: The Bridge of Orchy Hotel has a
bunkhouse. Camping is allowed just across the bridge (ask at reception).
||Transport: Railway station at the Bridge of Orchy. The
A82 runs from Tyndrum past Auch and Bridge of Orchy on its way to Fort William.
||Trip Date: 13 June 1993
Beinn Mhanach ("monk hill", 954m) is the higher of the twin summits of
the hill at the head of Auch Gleann (sometimes glimpsed from trains on the West
Highland Railway as it sweeps across the glen on an impressive viaduct). Hidden
away by its more impressive neighbours, it provides a central viewpoint for
their lesser-seen slopes. It is slightly remote needing either a pleasant 7
kilometre walk along Auch Gleann or a more strenuous approach over saddles from
Bridge of Orchy or Achallader Farm. The last 2 routes almost demand detours to
bag Beinn Dorain, Beinn an Dòthaidh or
This route is a loop walk from Bridge of Orchy encircling Beinn Dorain
using the West Highland Way for part of the
Starting from the Bridge of Orchy Hotel, cross the A82 and head up to
the railway station. Just before the station, an underpass takes you off the
tarmac and onto the West Highland Way proper. This
is the Old Military Road providing quick and easy walking all the way to Auch
for 5 kilometres. Let your feet do the walking and your head can look around at
the pretty scenery passing you. At the halfway point there is a mountaineering
bothy just before a bridge takes you over the railway line.
The Allt Kinglass is crossed by a bridge above the Auch farmhouse and
the route immediately turns left (eastwards) along a right of way up a farm
track. Up ahead is the grand horseshoe of the railway line as it sweeps around
the glen and the first view of Beinn Mhanach. About a kilometre up the track
there is a good view south-east along Glen Coralan. Keep an eye on the fields
around here - when I passed there was a small herd of Highland cattle in a
field just before the railway viaduct.
Pass under the viaduct and continue up the glen. 1.5 kilometres gets you
to the first crossing of the stream just past a patch of trees on the other
side of the stream (the south-east slopes of Beinn Dorain). The track sticks to
the north side of the stream for the next kilometre before 3 more crossings as
the ruins of Ais-an t-Sidhean are reached. If the stream is in spate the
south-eastern shore is easily followed. Another 750 metres further on a fork is
reached and there is a choice of routes.
You can continue along the track until it reaches the watershed and then
march straight up a climb of 600m on steep grassy slopes up to the summit. I
found an alternative route by taking the left fork for 500 metres intending to
climb the south slopes up to the twin Top of Beinn a'Chuirn. However I did not
like the look of the crags under the summit so I took a track that contoured
back eastwards. When this vanished I continued along climbing gently until I
reached a gully that rose from just before the watershed. This left me with
300m of steep climbing to the col between the two summits. From the col the
summit was an easy 100m climb up broad slopes along a bit of a path.
In good weather the summit of Beinn Mhanach must have good views - I
cannot vouch for this since I climbed into low clouds. A circle of Munros
surrounds Beinn Mhanach with the further ones being across Loch Lyon.
The descent can be via the approach route, however it is better to vary
the return by exploring a couple of the hidden valleys near the hill. Return
down the broad stony slopes to the col with a detour possible beyond the col to
Beinn a'Chuirn. Head a little bit north until you have dropped enough to clear
the small crags under Beinn a'Chuirn and then take a NW course down the slopes.
In the next kilometre you should descend about 200m and then meet a fenceline.
Follow the fence down to a boggy col between Gleann Cailliche and Auch Gleann.
There is a well-established track that drops westwards from the col until it
meets the left fork of the farm track up the glen.
Abandon the farm track where it makes a sharp right turn to cross the
Allt Kinglass (near where the alternative route leaves it on the way up) and
drop down and west to cross the Allt Coire Ghabhalach. A narrow and sometimes
indistinct path on the south side of the stream is followed steeply at first
and then levels off a bit. The corrie opens up a bit after less than a
kilometre into a narrow, flat amphitheatre with the crags imprisoning Beinn an
Dòthaidh above your head to the north and the crags of Beinn Dorain to
the south. At the head of the corrie a final steepish section gets you to the
col between the two mountains where there is a large cairn.
A detour to either Beinn Dorain or Beinn an Dòthaidh (or both) is
possible from the col. A good path takes a quick 50m drop into the Coire an
Dòthaidh traversing left below some crags. This part of the path is
rocky and dry but as you descend further some quite boggy patches have to be
crossed. Beyond the bog the path becomes better established and forms a nice
walk along the south side of the Allt Coire an Dòthaidh down to the
Bridge of Orchy.