Ever wondered why there are often a lot of cars parked near that white-washed B&B by the A9 just north of the Pass of Drumochter? Well most of the occupants are going up Geal-charn, one of the easier Munros to reach the top of and the first one for my son a couple of years ago. He got to the top easily enough but had to be persuaded the view of mountains was preferable to spotting trains down below.

The views from the top are world class; down Loch Ericht and across it to the magnificent peaks of Ben Alder and Aonach Beag with their twisting ridges, all set amid a vast area of empty, wild land. Further afield the Cairngorm range can be seen on a clear day as well as the Monadhliath and Creag Meagaidh ranges, truly a place to linger.

Some would include A’Mharconaich or the other Munros which lie next to the Pass of Drumochter but that would entail rather more exertion than this route.

Take a picnic and sit at the top to admire the view as well as looking out for wildlife – mountain hare frequent the slopes and I am reliably informed the relatively rare dotterel has been seen flying about these parts.

DISTANCE: 7 miles / .11.5km

HEIGHT CLIMBED: 1,615ft / 492m.

TIME:  3½ to 4½ hours.

MAP: OS Landranger 42.

PARK: At Balsporran Cottages, by the west side of the A9 about 2.5 miles north of the Pass of Drumochter. (Look for the big white house with “B-B” on the side but don’t drive right up to it, use a car park on the right before you reach it.)

THE ROUTE: Walk past the cottages and cross the main Inverness to Perth railway line at a gate, taking care. Follow the estate track on the other side, crossing a burn and ignoring a turning right. After crossing a second burn look for a more narrow track on the right and follow it uphill.

The built track ends and the route becomes boggier before bearing left to reach the north-east ridge of Geal-charn. As the going becomes stonier beware of a “false” summit about two-thirds of a mile from the actual one. It is, however, worth pausing here for the view of A’ Mharconaich and its prominent north ridge.

Even the real summit is confusing – the highest point is a stone shelter beyond a large cairn. After enjoying the views walk past the summit and bear left, then slightly right, to head south to a bealach below A’ Mharconaich. At a track go left and walk all the way back, below Geal-charn, to the start.


This is another great walk for those looking to walk their first Munro, or bag a relatively easy one! It is a little longer than the last one I posted (two Munros above the Glenshee Ski Centre) but good path work by the Outdoor Access Trust for Scotland has transformed the lower reaches of the route, making the going much easier. (There used to be a huge amount of boggy ground to negotiate which could put off the most determined of hillwalkers.)

This means pinewoods and birch woods higher up can be enjoyed to the full and at this time of year you may be lucky enough to hear the call of the cuckoo.

As you gain more open ground a wonderful burn is followed – the Allt Coire Dubhchraig. If you don’t linger along here to admire the pools, falls and layers of rock then you must have blinkers on. I have set off late and ended up having a long lunch here before continuing up to the top. The views are stupendous, with countless mountain tops to be seen.

A lot of people include Ben Oss but the fine weather on a recent visit meant it didn’t feel like the sort of day to be rushing up and down too many peaks so I lingered again – letting the sun begin to slip down before making my way back down.

DISTANCE:  9 miles / 14.5km.

HEIGHT CLIMBED: 2,640ft / 805m.

TIME:  5 to 6 hours.

MAP: OS Landranger 50.

PARK: Turn off the A82 at Dalrigh, a mile south of Tyndrum. There is a car park a few yards down the single track road, on the left.

THE ROUTE: Continue down the single-track road you drove in on, go through a gate and then over a bridge above the River Fillan before turning right, up a track which rises to follow a railway line.

Further on, cross another bridge, over the railway line, and immediately bear right, on a new path being built by the Outdoor Access Trust for Scotland. You reach a new wooden footbridge which is a vast improvement on the old, ramshackle crossing over the Allt Gleann Auchreoch. Go left on the other side, along a good path which used to be something of a bog festival.

It does become boggy for a short while before bearing right, into pinewoods. The path eventually leads out of the woodland, through more boggy sections and up the Allt Coire Dubhchraig. A series of rocky gorges, waterfalls and pools are passed before the top of a corrie is reached, next to a couple of lochans with views of Ben Oss and Ben Lui.

Turn left to go up the broad ridge to reach the summit of Beinn Dubhchraig – it is the second of two – with more views; down Loch Lomond to the Arrochar Alps and across to Ben More, above Crianlarich. Retrace your steps to the start.


Here’s the latest route for those starting to discover the joys of climbing Munros! Like the previous route up Meall Chuaich near Dalwhinnie this is a relatively easy walk and the way is obvious, meaning getting lost is difficult unless it is cloudy – and why would you want to go to the top of a mountain if there was no view?

This was the first Munro I took my daughter up. Although only six, she managed it easily (with the encouragement of a bag of sweets) and earned a bottle of J2O in the cafe at the bottom!

The A93 rises to the Cairnwell Pass, five miles north of the Spittal of Glenshee, on “Britain’s Highest Road”. Therefore, relatively little effort is needed with a start point of 2,133 ft. And although there is a lot of metal construction connected to the Glenshee Ski Centre, the walk offers great views over the Grampian mountains and beyond. You can add the summit of Carn a’ Gheoidh but if this is among your first forays up Munros you may want to leave that for another day.

Distance: 5.5 miles / 9km.

Height climbed: 1,390 ft / 425m.

Time: 2.5 to 4 hours.

Map: OS Landranger 43.

Park: At the Glenshee Ski Centre by the side of the A93.

The route: Go past the ski centre building and turn left, up a broad track. After reaching the top of a steep rise, go right and pass a round, green building which houses a cafe during the winter. The track continues round to the right past a number of ski lifts before bearing left, uphill and across the ski slopes. When the track forks (just before it drops down slightly) go left and follow it around a final ski lift then through a gap in a fence.

The route becomes boggy here as it passes a hut made of orange corrugated metal and reaches another fence marking the boundary of the ski area. Once past this fence Loch Vrotachan comes into view and you should turn left on reaching a track. Follow this along a broad ridge as it crosses the fence and reaches a col.

After the col the track turns right and becomes steep as it goes up to the top of The Cairnwell and its incongruous telecommunications mast at 3,061 ft.

The views are extensive. To the south lies the Spittal of Glenshee with Perthshire beyond, east is the bulk of Glas Maol and north are the high Grampians. To the west, across a wide corrie is Carn a’Gheoidh. (At this point you can cut the walk short by going down by the one chairlift which stays open in the summer, at the col near to the bottom of the steep section leading to the summit of The Cairnwell.)

Retrace your steps to where Loch Vrotachan first came into view but instead of going back down to the right continue straight on. The track veers round to the right and crosses more ski slopes. When it starts to go further right, along a man-made terrace, look for a small path up the scree to your left. This leads the short distance to the top of Carn Aosda. From the rocky 3,008ft summit which has a distinct lack of vegetation there is a good view down Glen Clunie towards Braemar. Retrace your steps for about 50 yards until you have passed a fence on your left. Turn left here and follow a track down in a straight line before turning right and zig-zagging down to the track you came up on. Go left and drop back down to the car park.


We are all allowed to travel around and re-explore the hills, mountains, glens, coast and lochs of Scotland – brilliant! But where to start, especially if going up hills is a relatively new thing. Well, the Munros are always popular but to get started on them you don’t want a perilous scramble along a knife edge ridge. Meall Chuaich is a great introduction to the mountains over 3,000ft/ Apart from some huffing and puffing on the south west slopes this is a walk for anyone of moderate fitness. Saying that, don’t think it is not worth doing. Just because climbing a particular mountain does not entail risking life and limb does not mean it shouldn’t be tackled.

This is a good mountain to start children off on Munros. If the steep bit is taken slowly with plenty of stops to admire the view, look for birds such as ptarmigan on the ground, or even the odd hare, they should manage to reach the top.

At the top the views are superb, encompassing Ben Alder, Creag Meagaidh, the Monadhliath and the Cairngorms in the foreground. Further afield you can pick out the distant summits of Perthshire, Lochaber and the more north western Highlands.

At the top the views are superb, encompassing Ben Alder, Creag Meagaidh, the Monadhliath and the Cairngorms in the foreground. Further afield you can pick out the distant summits of Perthshire, Lochaber and the more north western Highlands.

Even on a wet day it can be interesting; a few years ago I was fascinated at the array of lichen growing on the flat rocky summit, and grateful for the shelter of the large cairn at the top.

However, if you are going to introduce family

members to the enjoyment of hillwalking it is best to save this for a fine day, and enjoy the views.

DISTANCE: 9 miles / 14.5km.

HEIGHT CLIMBED: 2,000ft / 610m.

TIME: 4 to 5 hours.

MAP: OS Landranger 42.

PARK: On the A9, just over 2½ miles north of the Dalwhinnie junction, park in Layby 94, just south of Cuaich on the east side of the road.
THE ROUTE: Walk north along the A9 a short way and after about 102 yards go right up a track and through a gate. On the other side of the gate go straight ahead, up a track to reach an aqueduct used to create hydro-electric power.
Once by the aqueduct go left and follow it to a small power station where you bear left. Go left again at a fork in the track, just after a bridge.
Further along the track keep left after crossing another bridge. Go straight on when another track cuts diagonally across it as you get close to Loch Cuaich. Then, go right at a fork, along a slightly less distinct track.
After passing a locked bothy, cross two low wooden bridges then go left, up a steep path through heather onto the broad south west ridge of Meall Chuaich. This is the toughest bit, up unremittingly steep slopes. But take your time and stop to enjoy the views opening up behind.
Follow the very wide ridge, gradually bearing right until you are heading east, eventually reaching the large summit cairn. Enjoy the 360 degree views before retracing your steps to the start.

Sanna Bay, Ardnamurchan

Where’s the most out of the way place you’ve been on a walk? Ardnamurchan is pretty remote at the best of times and at the moment it might as well be in Patagonia for most of us, amid the travel restrictions. Still, it is always good to plan and this is one coastal walk to bookmark, hopefully, for the coming months.

White sandy beaches backed by dunes, rugged coastline and views to Hebridean islands – this has to be a perfect coastal walk. Take your time, and a picnic, then linger and enjoy. But do keep to the travel restrictions at this time – it is not worth the risk to go beyond your local authority area.

DISTANCE: 4½ miles / 7.25km.

HEIGHT CLIMBED: 600ft / 180m.

TIME: 3 to 4 hours.

MAP: OS Landranger 47.

PARK: About five miles from Kilchoan, just after a cattle grid as you enter Portuairk, there is a parking area on the right.

THE ROUTE: Continue down the single track road, enjoying great views over the bay to the islands of Canna, Rum, Muck, Eigg, and even Skye in the distance on a clear day. At the bottom of the hill go right at a junction in front of a little sandy inlet to pass some white cottages. Then, go left in front of the last cottage, following a sign for Sanna.

At a burn head a little way upstream to cross a wooden bridge then go downstream to follow another sign for Sanna, up a coastal path. Once through a small gate drop past an isolated cottage and head inland a short way to cross a burn via stones. On the other side go inland a little further before following a path going round to the left, ignoring a path going left again after a few yards.

At a junction turn right to go up a fairly steep, rocky path. This gradually bears left as you gain height and reaches a signpost, where you go straight on. The path bends further left to reach a stunning view of white sandy beaches and the Hebridean islands beyond. Drop down towards the beaches and at the bottom follow a bath going right – it is best to take this route if the tide is high. Go through a gate, turn left then reach a stile, on the other side of which are the beaches.

Follow the main beach along and round to the left before taking a path to the right, over dunes. To the south west you can now see Coll and Tiree. Follow another beach to a white house standing alone. Go up the side of a sizeable burn to cross an old wooden bridge then follow an indistinct path round to the left, behind the house. There are now views of Ardnamurchan Lighthouse as the path begins to bear right.

You continue right to pass a series of cairns from where there are great views, making a large loop which finishes back at the bridge near the white house. Re-cross the bridge and retrace your steps to the start.


ScotRail use a pic of the top of Ben A’an as a way of enticing folk to travel to the mountainous areas of Scotland, despite the fact that the nearest train station is more than 20 miles away. But you can see why; this is a proper pointed little mountain in miniature with views from the rocky summit down Loch Katrine to the Arrochar Alps in the east. Ben Venue is across the head of the loch and the huge bulk of Ben Ledi is to the east. South are the Campsies and to the north are the mountains above Crianlarich.

Take your time to enjoy this view, it is one of the best in Scotland.

Good path work means the way up is easy enough, even one very steep section is really a staircase of rock and enveloped in a gorge which means there is no feeling of exposure to height. I took my daughter up here when she was in P1 – one of the best Friday afternoons I have ever had.

Do remember to make sure you keep up with the latest coronavirus restrictions; if you are not allowed to travel, don’t – even a walk in beautiful countryside is not worth the risk.

DISTANCE: 3 miles / 5km.

HEIGHT CLIMBED: 1,250ft / 380m.

TIME: 2 to 2½ hours.

MAP: OS Landranger 57.

PARK: A couple of miles west of Brig o’Turk on the A821 there is a Forestry Commission car park for Ben A’an, on the left.

If travelling over the Duke’s Pass from Aberfoyle, the car park is on the right a few hundred yards after the turning for Loch Katrine.

THE ROUTE: Cross the road from the car park and go up a wide track on the other side. When the track bends left go straight on, up steeply on a newly built path.
The path veers left as it nears the tumbling waters of Allt Inneir then continues steeply until a gratefully-reached flat section, before you cross the burn via a wooden footbridge. 
The path then continues uphill a short way before levelling out as Ben A’an appears ahead. Don’t be daunted by its pointy appearance, the way up is a lot easier than it looks.
The path carries on across clear-felled ground then enters a band of birch woodland below the crags around the summit.
After a small clearing the path climbs steeply again, by a small burn which you cross, before levelling off and doubling back to reach the summit.
After spending time exploring the summit rocks most return the way they came and this is the easiest option. An alternative is to head to the north and west to reach the shore of Loch Katrine. This, however, is pretty rough terrain and can be very wet underfoot.