Ben Cruachanbenmore1

Ben Cruachan is the closest munro to Oban and it is well worth the effort to climb because on a clear day, which because of it’s proximity to the coast is more likely than some of the inland hills, it has great views looking west over Oban and out to Mull beyond. The group of hills actually consists of 4 munros of which 2 , Ben Cruachan ( meaning Conical hill ) and Stob Diamb ( peak of the stag ) will be ticked off as part of this route.

Ben Cruachan is also an unusual hill because it is used for hydro-electric power production, nothing unusual there but the turbines are located in a man-made cavern several hundred metres under the mountainside. There is a visitor centre on the lochside which offers the chance to visit the power station which is an excellent trip.

The route starts at the roadside opposite the visitor centre, there is space here for several cars off the road but be careful not to block access to the power station or for the rail line which passes just above the road. After parking the car head west along the road for a couple of hundred metres before heading up alongside a group of portakabins to a gate over the railway. Once across the tracks head uphill through the old woods alongside the burn, the path rapidly gains height and eventually pops out of the trees to offer good views out over Loch Awe. Eventually the reservoir dam appears and a metal ladder on the left hand side offers access onto the top.

Turn left along the dam and follow the road that runs along the west side of the reservoir for a short time. There is no distinct path off the road towards Meall Cuanail our first peak of the day so at some time bear off the road to the west and head for the ridge leading towards the peak. Once the ridge itself is reached there is a faint path leading upwards. Before long the rocky summit of Meall Cuanail is reached, time for a stop to admire the view. Leaving the summit continue to head north and scramble down to the col. The path continues to climb up the other side for a stiff climb up to the summit of Ben Cruachan itself. Once at the summit take some time to enjoy the views out over Loch Etive looking west towards Mull. The view is better if you take the short detour over to Stob Dearg or the Taynuilt peak as there is then nothing to obstruct the vista.

From the summit head east along the ridge which offers good scrambling towards Stob Diamb. The ridge is over a mile in length and requires the use of hands and feet as well as a good head for heights. The ridge has a slight kink in it at Drochaid Ghias and leads eventually to the second munro of the day Stob Diamb.

The ridge turns here through ninety degrees and along for the final scramble of the day before a short climb to the final summit of the day. Turn around here and look back along the ridge you have just traversed. The path leaves the summit to the south down, first to the col Lairig Torran and then down to the dam. Where the path meets the road about 200m before the dam there is a tunnel heading into the hillside. Look closely and you may be able to see the speck of light at the other end. These tunnels, there are several more, where built for the hydro scheme to increase the catchment area for the reservoir and so increase the amount of electricity the station can produce.

Onto the dam and along to the metal ladder and retrace your steps down through the trees back to your car.

Distance 8.5 miles
Height gain over 5000 ft
Time required 7 – 9 hours