A Winter Outing on Arran: The ‘3 Beinns’ Loop

With a wee break in the weather approaching and a dusting of snow fairly early on in the winter season, I was keen to get a trip to the hills in as it had been a few months since my last outing. I was on my own, so opted for a familiar route that I had done a couple of times before (although not for a few years), but one that I knew would be an enjoyable day with great views – the ‘3 Beinns’ loop on Arran: Beinn a’Chliabhain, Beinn Tarsuinn and Beinn Nuis.

[November 2019]

As always, a visit to Arran started the usual early ferry journey, something I’ve become rather used to. Thankfully the ferry wasn’t hugely busy and I enjoyed a pleasant sailing to Brodick. Stepping off the ferry, I could tell it was going to be a good day – the weather was pretty much perfect and there were no clouds. Being November it was relatively chilly, but this was a perfect temperature to enjoy a brisk walk towards Glen Rosa via Brodick golf course.

A braw morning

After reaching the bottom of the String road, I turned off and began to follow the single track road into Glen Rosa, starting off on Tarmac and eventually turning into a Land Rover track a kilometre or so later. There were great views of Goatfell and the surrounding foothills – a pleasant morning indeed!

Snow-capped Goatfell

Following the main track up the Glen as far as the bridge over the Garbh Allt, I turned off to follow a path west uphill through a fenced area of woodland and heather, winding my way up the stone steps.

Glen Rosa

I was now gaining height quickly and was soon around 200m above sea level, where I turned north to follow a feint and boggy path towards Cnoc Breac and eventually Beinn a’Chliabhain. The going might have been a little damp, but the spongy ground was pretty easy to walk on and didn’t hamper progress at all. The higher I climbed, the better the views became of the surrounding hills, with Beinn Nuis looking particularly rocky and rugged.

Beinn Nuis

Around 100 vertical metres from the summit of Beinn a’Chliabhain, the terrain started to steepen considerably. There were a couple of sections of boulder-hopping before the summit, but nothing too troubling. The views of upper Glen Rosa and on to Cir Mhor were absolutely spectacular.

Cir Mhor and upper Glen Rosa

I stopped for a few minutes on Beinn a’Chliabhain for a quick bite to eat and a drink, before heading off once more for Beinn Tarsuinn, the highest point on the route and one of Arran’s 4 Corbetts. As I was now on the northern side of Beinn a’Chliabhain there was a wee bit of snow, so extra care was taken whilst descending to the wide ridge connecting it to Beinn Tarsuinn.

A’Chir, Caisteal Abhail and Cir Mhor

The curved rocky cliffs of Beinn Tarsuinn were a stunning background to the broad ridge as I made my way towards the bottom of the ridge to the summit. The views north towards the A’Chir ridge were absolutely breathtaking – one for another day though!

Beinn Tarsiunn
The infamous A’Chir Ridge

After reaching the bottom of the ridge connecting A’Chir with Beinn Tarsuinn, there was a short distance with no snow or ice that was easy enough to navigate, including a rather interesting rock formation that I’d forgotten about since my last visit to this mountain.

Interesting rock formation

Upon reaching the thicker snow and ice, I decided crampons and an axe would be a safer bet here to avoid any unwanted mishaps. The snow wasn’t particularly hard-packed, but having the winter gear on is definitely a confidence booster. I stopped often to admire the rocky pinnacles of the A’Chir ridge behind me.

A’Chir ridge

I reached the summit of Beinn Tarsuinn with little difficulty and took a few quick photos before continuing on my way towards Beinn Nuis, the last summit of the day. The ‘Old Man’ of Tarsuinn is passed along the ridge and is a worthwhile stop for some great views and a brilliant looking rock formation.

The ‘old man’ of Tarsuinn

Once again the views were fantastic behind me back along the ridge towards Beinn Tarsuinn and the conditions were still excellent, with no real wind to speak of and the clouds staying well above the summits.

Snow-capped ridge
A great ridge walk

I reached the summit of Beinn Nuis and stopped once more for a quick snack and drink break before continuing on my way down the steep – but very well constructed – path into Coire a’Bhradain. Other than some boggy ground lower down in the coire, the only other ‘difficulty’ was crossing the Garbh Allt again which thankfully was very low and provided no real challenge. After the crossing it was another boggy section for a short distance before reaching the top of the steep stone staircase down the side of the Garbh Allt and back into Glen Rosa.

My last stop of the walk was at the bridge across the Garbh Allt, where I enjoyed an obligatory seat and took a couple of photos. From here, it was an easy few miles back along the track and then to the Ferry in Brodick.

Cir Mhor

Of course, no hill walking trip to Arran is complete without a stop-off at the chip shop (provided time allows!) for a snack with a view!

A well deserved treat with a view

The walk of around 14 miles and about 1000m of ascent had taken me almost exactly 6 hours, so I was pretty pleased with the progress I’d made. Here’s hoping the weather allows for some more trips this winter!

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