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Loch Awe

The Ben Lui Group

benlui.jpgWe are grateful to Iain R. White and and Irvine Butterfield for providing and giving permission to reproduce this material.

Beinn Laoigh (Ben Lui)  3708ft / 1130m
North West Top   3697ft / 1127m
Beinn a' Chlèibh   3008ft / 917m
Beinn Os   3374ft / 1028m
Beinn Dubhchraig   3204ft / 977

Black triangle = Munro, hill over 3,000 feet considered as a separate hill 

This group of hills, lying some five miles south-west of Tyndrum is dominated by Beinn Laoigh.  On its Cononish side, steep ribs rise to buttress twin peaks on the headwall of Coire Gaothaich.  This great scoop holds snow much longer than most others in the Southern Highlands and has long been popular for its winter ascents.

Beinn Laoigh

The eastern face of Beinn Laoigh can be seen from the bridge crossing the Fillan on the Crianlarich to Tyndrum road.  Nearby, the old schoolhouse at Dailrigh (now used as a barn) lies at the start of the Cononish track.  This leads to a sheep fank on the Allt an Rund.  Either of this burn's tributaries can be followed into the mouth of Coire Gaothaich, where there is a choice of routes.  On either hand, short spurs abutting the summit ridge climb to narrow rocky crests, each leading to a small conical top.  The summit, seen to the left, is marked by a large, untidy cairn.  The hanging coire is dominated by the steep couloir of Central Gully, which is a traditional and popular ascent route in winter for the competent mountaineer.

On the shorter approaches from Glen Lochy, the walker has to negotiate forestry plantations.  Start from a car-park opposite a railway bridge spanning the outfall of the Eas Daimh.  This is near its confluence with the River Lochy, which is fordable, but there are footbridges to the east and west.  That to the east, near the site of the old Glenlochy Crossing signal box (Grid Reference NN 255295), by a stand of mixed trees, was the traditional starting point for the ascent.  A newer structure to the west is difficult to see from the road, as it is almost hidden by a small mound.  A useful point of reference is a short section of the old road to the north of the present highway.  Nearby, a little to the east, a poor path crosses heathery ground in the direction of a hut, seen on the opposite side of the railway.

From both bridges follow the railway to a stile immediately east of the Eas Daimh bridge.  A path, following the left (north) bank of the burn, climbs past a footbridge below the Eas Morag waterfall.  Keep to the north bank of the burn, to a stile in the fence at the foot of Ciochan Beinn Laoigh, or cross the burn where it is joined by its largest tributary.  The tributary is then followed for a time, and then the path steepens in a firebreak to reach open ground in the Fionn Choirein.  At times of spate, cross the Eas Daimh by the Eas Morag footbridge and follow its western bank to a plank bridge on the tributary.  Above the forest fence (stile), a useful exit through the coire headwall is by a patch of rough scree, seen to the left of the broken face of Beinn a' Chlèibh.  Grassy tiers rise to a col, where, turning to the south-west, along the line of the coire's rim, a short climb leads to the cairns of Beinn a' Chlèibh.  The steeper climb to the north-east leads to the summit of Beinn Laoigh.

A more interesting approach to Beinn Laoigh is that along the Eas Daimh (stile in an angled section of the fence close to the burn).  Above the trees, craggy bluffs on Ciochan Beinn Laoigh can be turned on the right.  This steep, grassy nose rises to a ridge crest which narrows gradually to the cairned point of the northern summit, above Coire Gaothaich.  A short walk along the lip of this great scoop leads to the higher southern top.

Beinn a' Chlèibh

The easiest route to Beinn a' Chlèibh is by way of the Fionn Choirein as previously described.  The steep north-east slopes overlooking this coire are not really suitable for ascent or descent.  The mountain's long western ridge, immediately above Succoth Lodge, is a mass of trees, and nowadays the only route through them starts at the westerly river crossing to the railway hut.  From this point, follow the fence to the right until the first angle in it is reached.  Continue along a boggy firebreak, which runs straight up the hillside to a stile on the forest boundary. The roughened face of Creag na Cloiche Gile (on the left) is then avoided by continuing above the fence to the top of a broad shoulder, almost due west of Beinn a' Chlèibh's summit.  Two small cairns mark the top of the easy grass ridge, and on the approach to the mountain's level crown, several cairns are seen, the largest one, on a flat rock near the south-eastern edge of the plateau, would appear to be the highest point.  Other piles nearby are useful guides in mist, indicating the proximity of the broken eastern face.  The most southerly pile marks the turn onto the Stubby ridge dipping to the col at the head of Fionn Choirein.

Beinn Os

Beinn Os and its near neighbour, Beinn Dubhchraig, when not included in a greater traverse of the four peaks in the group, are usually climbed from Dailrigh.

An east-west traverse seems to be preferred as the prior ascent of Beinn Dubhchraig gives an easier start to the day.  The near-vertical slopes above the Allt Coire Laoigh preclude any sensible attack on Beinn Os from that quarter, though the climb between it and Beinn Laoigh provides reasonable access to the broad ridge linking the two.

The level summit ridge of Beinn Os runs roughly north to south, and has a cairn decorating its southern extremity.  The route to Beinn Dubhchraig goes north along the ridge, which dips, turns eastwards, and climbs across a small cairned top to a col.  Beyond this short saddle, the broad stony crest of Beinn Dubhchraig confronts the walker.  Seven hundred feet of tiresome plodding leads to the cairn, at the eastern end of an expansive back.

Beinn Dubhchraig

The most pleasant, and the shortest, route to Beinn Dubhchraig starts at Dailrigh.  The Cononish track should be followed to the railway, which can be used to bridge the river.  Beyond the railway bridge, a track leads to a footbridge over the Allt Coire Dubhchraig, which is crossed to its western bank.  The stream is then followed through scattered Scots pines to Coire Dubhchraig.  At the head of this heathery hollow either of two broad ridges lead to the summit.  A path, which runs a short distance to a fence on the crest above Creag Bhocan, affords a route to the upper slopes.  Added attractions are the fine views to be had of Beinn Laoigh's great coires.  In mist, the slight arc of this ridge may mislead those seeking the short neck between Beinn Os and Beinn Dubhchraig.  In such circumstances, either a south-westerly bearing, or the location of the tiny lochan on the higher slopes are the surest guides.

The traverse of all four hills is best attempted from Glen Cononish, as this more easily accommodates the short diversion to Beinn a' Chlèibh, Beinn Laoigh then being contoured to reach the bealach at the head of Coire Laoigh for the return across Beinn Os and Beinn Dubhchraig.

Irvine Butterfield

Routes in The High Mountains of Britain and Ireland are reproduced by kind permission of Irvine Butterfield. The Routes are provided from the PC CD-ROM The Munros through Windows by Iain R White which includes walks up every Munro and Top. Indeed it is the only publication to provide routes up every Munro and Top. Routes up the 3,000 foot hills in the British Isles furth of Scotland are also included.

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