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Walk 1606 - Ben Cruachan and Meall Cuanail

  

County/Area   Argyll and Bute
AuthorRob Kay
Length8.0 miles / 13 km
Ascent4600 feet / 1394 metres
Gradehard
StartOS grid reference NN079267
Lat 56.3934559765056 + Long -5.11630822383119
Postcode PA33 1AN (approx. location only)

Photo from the walk -  Photo from the walk -  Photo from the walk -  Photo from the walk -  Photo from the walk -  Photo from the walk -  
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Ben Cruachan (1126 metres) has theirresistable attraction forthe serious hillwalker of providing a readily accessible, but long and challengingridge with several prominent summits, including the two Munros Ben Cruachan and Meall Cuanail.It isin asuperb scenic location overlooking Oban and the Argyll coast and should be on every walkers "must-do" list.

Ben Cruachanalso provides the spectacular location forthe world's first underground reversible pumped storage hydro scheme. Cruachan power station was constructed between 1959 and 1965. Itgenerates up to 440 megawatts of electricity andis housed in a huge man-made cave built into the mountain. Wateris pumped from nearby Loch Awe, 360 m uphillto Cruachan Reservoir and then released as needed during peak periods.The Power Station isa five star visitor attraction, and itsvisitor centre welcomes over sixty thousand visitors each year.So well is it constructed, that very little is evident from the surface.

Our party of six ascended in fine spirits one June dayfrom the Falls of Cruachanrailwaystation - a request stop on the Oban line. Going through the tunnel, follow the path beside for Hydropower station. We immediately lost the path in the thick new growth of fern and rather foolishly struggled on through wild woodland and high bracken until we regainedthe way muchhigher up in the heather. The secret of success is not to continue up the concrete steps that go around to the left of the power station and then just bluff it out through the dense woodland, but to break left on a fairly inconspicuous path at the corner about half way around. So we were a rather sweaty and tired party as we slogged up to the dam and reservoir.

Ben Cruachan is a long rocky ridge running mainly Eat-West.The two Munros, Ben Cruachan and Stob Diamh form the main part of the ridge, with several subsidiary prominences on both sides.The most popular ascent involves a circuit of Coire Cruachan, and this can be taken either way around.

We chose the anti-clockwise routevia Meall Cuanail and half way up the exposed slope we were hit by a sudden and very cold squally hailshower. Temperatures plummeted and soon we were wrapped up in full winter gear, fleeces, waterproofs, mittens, the lot! Another reminder, if one were needed, that Scottish hills, even in Summer,arenever to be underestimated or attempted without due assessment of the weather and conditions.

The ridge climb itself is mostly straightforward scrambling up and down, with onevertical "bad step" descent of perhaps 4 metres down a narrow crack fairly close to the main summit, very exposed to the steep slabs below. This obstacle would probably put off parties with no climbing expertise, and could be quite tricky in snow or poor weather. A rope might be advisableto aidthe inexperienced.

Our party completed the traverse inthe guidebook time of seven hours, and we incorporated all the minor summits including the Corbett of Beinn a Bhuiridh. The weather threw all four seasons at us, and by the time we finally reached the road again, I felt it was one of the most rewarding days out to be experienced anywhere in Britain.

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OS Map showing start

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Suggested Maps

It is recommended you take a map with you when following a walk route. The preferred scale is 1:25000 used by the Explorer series.

OS Explorer1:25,000Sheet 377
OS Landranger1:50,000Sheet 50

Note : If two maps are listed at the same scale then either (a) both are required for full coverage of the route or (b) the route is covered on both maps.

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