Route: Beinn an Lochain (Corbett)
Distance: 6.8km (4.25miles)
Time: 3 –3 ½ hrs walking; allow 1-2 hrs exploration
Terrain: Narrow path on ridge; pathless off ridge. Very steep, exposed and uneven sections.
Map/s: OS Landranger 56 (1:50 000) OS Explorer 39 (1:25000)
Start/Finish/Parking: A83 layby (on west side) near Easan Dubh Fall
Grid reference: NN 234 088
Public Transport: NA
Beinn an Lochain, 'Mountain of the Little Loch'.
For those regularly travelling the A83 between western Argyll and Loch Lomond – when not side-tracked by the saga of landslides and roadworks at the Rest and be thankful - the imposing Beinn an Lochain is hard to miss.
Its sheer sides loom over Loch Restil and its craggy face (the Old Man’s Face) is clearly seen when looking up from Glen Kinglas. Imposing it certainly is and its steep sides may seem quite daunting. Once classified as a Munro accurate measurement later showed this hill to fall some 14m short but it makes for a grand day out as a Corbett and in its own right. The views are spectacular,and the steep airy ascent and descent of the northeast ridge is exhilarating with some very light scrambling and a wee bit of exposure. This is a hill to save for dry, clear weather to really appreciate both the views and the interesting summit area, which is worthy of exploration. Whether you are an early bird or night owl this hill makes for a great morning or afternoon out.
1. Leaving the layby drop northwest down to the Easan Dubh to cross just south of the falls. A slightly boggy path now rises ahead leading you to the north nose of the ridge where it veers left and south.
2. This first small steep section takes you onto the ridge, which snakes its way in a south-westerly direction all the way to the summit. The next 250m offers brief respite with glimpses of the way ahead.
3. Now a series of steeper sections and zigzags lead you towards the 637m top over the next 850m. It takes up to 1½ hours from the bottom to reach this point depending on how many photo stops and breathers you take! The views over towards the cliffs offer some lovely rocky outlines to capture your imagination.
4. The section ahead now looks tricky and is steep. However, after dropping down slightly, the path skirts upwards via the north side avoiding any difficulties before veering back southwards on to a leveller section of the ridge. The steep section is easier without sticks in your hands in a couple of places.
5. The next 450m climbs steadily before steepening again just before a small lochan, off to your left. Note the lochan (not marked on the OS Map, grid ref NN 220080) as you will be coming back past this on your return.
6. The path narrows with some feeling of exposure for the last 200m with close views of the rocky face just to your right. You arrive at the summit quite suddenly!
7. Enjoy the panorama – views towards the rest of the Arrochar Alps, Loch Fyne, Ben Donich, The Brack, Binnein an Fhidhleir and beyond are stunning.
8. I now highly recommend exploring the top starting with dropping – carefully – down the north ridge slightly to get a good view of the Old Man’s Face. It is best to descend to the southwest onto the col between the summit tops then veer northwards, dropping just 20m or so in height, to get a good view of the cliffs and ridge you have just climbed. There is an interesting dint in the hillside caused by ancient slips which makes a good vantage point (which holds snow in winter like a giant bowl).
9. Returning to the summit col you can now visit the south top before descending the south ridge on a small path towards a lochan. Leaving the path you can summit the small top at 834m (grid ref NN217074). En route - if you feel inclined to explore further - there are tiny lochans where the land has slipped since the last ice age leaving pockets of water on the western slopes. The views from this southern top towards Ben Donich and down Glen Croe are lovely.
10. Return northwards for 250m passing the lochan and - before the path steepens - look out for a faint path leading right that follows a flatter area on the east side of the summit tops. This lovely little route skirts directly under the summits with the steep ground sweeping off below. After contouring round for 400m you will reach the lochan at NN220080 that you passed on your ascent. Just beyond you can rejoin the main path to return back down the way you came. Take care going down and enjoy the views north.
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Safety in the Outdoors
The described route and accompanying information are there to be used as a guide and do not replace the use of map and compass and the skills required to use them. Whilst every effort is made to ensure the route is accurate please be aware that track and path closures can happen at any time. All walks are undertaken at your own risk. Please continue to adhere to current guidelines as set out by the government, exercise responsibly and use appropriate clothing and equipment for your chosen outdoor activity. Inform a contact about your route/whereabouts and don’t forget your phone, snacks, drink, any medication/first aid supplies you may need and to check weather conditions. Most walks are dog friendly but please keep your dog under close control, especially around livestock and wildlife. Please follow the Scottish Outdoor Access Code.