A Quick Day Out in the Arrochar Alps: Beinn an Lochain

Despite a slightly mixed forecast with a fairly decent chance of the summits being in cloud, we embarked on a quick trip to take in Beinn and Lochain, a steep and rugged Corbett – originally a Munro on Sir Hugh Munro’s original list – which made for a fun outing. The lingering cloud was clear of the summit and contributed to some dramatic views, but the rain started only a short distance from the car on our descent. Typical…

[August 2018]

Being relatively close to Ayrshire compared to other hills, those in the Arrochar Alps can be tackled in a day with relative ease, eliminating the need for a ridiculously early start and hours upon hours of driving to reach them.

With all of the Munros in the area done (apart from Beinn Bhuide, an outlying Munro north of Loch Fyne), we decided to tick off another Corbett, Beinn an Lochain. I have travelled to Lochgoilhead to visit the Scout outdoor centre many times and so was always presented with Beinn an Lochain in my view before the road to Lochgoilhead, so it had been on my radar for some time. Despite a slightly iffy MWIS forecast, which showed a risk of clouded summits, we decided to give the hill a go anyway as it had been a few weeks since my last outing.

We arrived at the large lay-by on the west side of the A83 around 0830, less than 2 hours from home. Sorting our kit and looking up to see the hill surrounded by cloud, we started our walk with some cautious optimism that the cloud would soon lift and we would be able to see from the summit.

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Lingering cloud from the lay-by

The going was pretty steep from the off, with a short boggy section between the lay-by and the bottom of the ridge to negotiate and then a fairly decent path from there. The steepness was less of an issue thanks to plenty of opportunities to stop and take photos of the stunning landscape, a rocky and rough one that (I think) is quite unique to the Arrochar Alps.

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Loch Restil and Ben Donich
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Glen Kinglas

The ascent was so far fairly uneventful other than the lovely views and the cloud kept the heat of the sun off us for the toughest part of our walk, which meant we were able to make good progress up the ridge towards the summit, stopping often to take plenty of photos as the clouds shifted and swirled around the surrounding tops. The lorries and buses below us on the A83 looked rather insignificant among these hills!

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Loch Restil and the A83
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Lower Glen Kinglas and Loch Fyne
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Beinn Ime and Beinn Luibhean

We gained height quickly and were soon only a short steep section away from the summit. The cloud was lifting and dropping with every passing moment, but thankfully the summit always seemed to remain cloud free and increased our optimism of some views from the top.

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Approaching the summit
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Arrochar Alps

Spurred on to try and catch some views before any thicker cloud arrived, we pressed on and reached the summit around 1050, roughly 2hrs and 15mins after setting off from the car. At 901m, this was a fairly tough hill with a gruelling ascent, but the effort was worth it for the fantastic views of the surrounding mountains in the Arrochar Alps.

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Sarah at the summit
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Arrochar Alps and Glen Croe
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Glen Croe and the Cobbler

After enjoying a well-earned rest at the summit along with some snacks and water, it was time to head off back to the car.

Rather than immediately retracing our steps, we continued south away from the summit down a slightly less steep ridge before curving north to contour underneath the summit, before joining our original ascent route just above 800m. This misses out a short tricky section of the ascent which might prove slightly more difficult on the descent.

The views back towards the summit were fantastic and the cloud seemed to be lifting, brightening up the surrounding mountains and once again changing the light, shapes and shadows of the hills around us.

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Looking back towards the summit

Although steep, the descent was made with no real difficulties (other than tiring legs), and we made steady progress back towards the car.

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Steep descent

We soon reached the top of the boggy section and lo and behold, the rain seemed to appear out of nowhere despite the lifting clouds. Thankfully, we were only a few minutes and a short hop across the boggy section to reach the car, where we dived in and tried to escape getting any wetter. Nothing is ever simple, though, and the 10 minute burst of rain was enough to have everything soaked. Typical! We reached the car around 1230, 1hr and 40mins after leaving the summit, giving us a total journey time of around 4hrs.

Despite the annoyance of the shower, the short day was very enjoyable and Beinn and Lochain was a rugged, steep hill with fantastic views – well worth the effort.

 

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