Loch Eil towards Glenfinnan

Back to the hills!

As the summer season tails off, it is time to rest the arms and exercise the leg. Time to head back into the mountains and explore ready for next year. This is when I hope to be offering more guided family mountain walking adventures.

Stunning location for a family mountain walking experience

For this reason we set off  to explore one of the most northern hills on the West Highland Peninsulas. Stob Coire a’Chearcaill is an easily accessible mountain giving a real sense of scale to this Scottish Highland region. The Munroe’s around Ben Nevis are clearly visible as are the very overlooked Corbett’s on Ardgour, Sunart and Morvern. You can download the GPX file for this walk at the bottom of the page.

Highlights

Easily accessible, straightforward navigation, relatively easy walking terrain, great family day in the mountains.

Downsides

‘Out and back’ route, almost half of it on hard track.

Route description

Park on the A861 on the south shores of Loch Eil at Blaich (NN 048 771) by a small woodland. Here you will not be obstructing the entrances to houses or worksites.

Walk over the cattle grid and up the tarmac drive towards some trees and an old stone barn. This is where the track turns into a hard-packed gravel ‘road’.

Family mountain walking on a track
A hard packed track leads up the first 470m of ascent and onto the hill proper. The zig-zag path can be seen above the woodland.

This track guides you through a deer gate and then up a series of zig-zags onto the ridge at an altitude of around 470 meters.

Overlooking Loch Eil
Overlooking Loch Eil from the head of the track (470m)

From here there are a few cairns to follow in a west-south-westwards direction across two unmanned peaks (609m and 700m). Here it turns southwards and makes the final ascent (roughly 1:8) on easy terrain to the summit at 770m. There are no footpaths throughout this section save the occasional trace of footfall. The walking is easy and therefore suitable for a family mountain walking experience as long as everyone has suitable mountain boots with ankle support.

Summit of Stob Coiree a'Chearcail
Looking across to the summit from the cairn an an unnamed peak (700m)

The view across to the summit remained me of my time guiding and lecturing on Pen y Fan and Corn Dhu in the Brecon Beacons. Certainly the relative ease of terrain was comparable and the height only 100 meters less (but starting at sea level not 440 meters). It also had the bonus of no footpaths and very few visitors giving it a much more wilderness feel.

A trig point and summit cairn / wind shelter await you before you make the return. This is via the same route and we were blessed with a rainbow throughout. We even saw our own shadows after several weeks of very strong winds and overcast skies! Truly a fitting end to a great family mountain walking adventure.

Human shadow on rough grass
Seeing our own shadows for the first time in several weeks.

 

Rainbow over Loch Eil
Following the cairns will  lead you back to the top of the track. The rainbow is less predictable!

Alternative (longer) route

It would be possible to park at Stronchreggan and head up Meall an t-Slamain (467m). From here head westwards to join the above route at the top of the track. From the summit of Stob Coire a’Chearcaill head south-westwards along a broad ridge to an unmanned peak (558m). Finally descend to Meal Ruadh (325m) before rejoining the road and your car at Stronchreggan.

GPX Download

If you’d like to download the GPX file to use on your own device, please click this link to have the one from our family mountain walking day.

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