A couple of wrong turns at the start and near the end after Achaldair summit (due to lack of attention) put some added time onto this spectacular day out on a couple of brilliant brutes of mountains. Highlight was a beautiful 5.30pm late afternoon sun with views especially over to the west and the sea just a few hundred yards beyond Achaladair summit.
Set off late around 10am but followed the "to the hill" path for around 25 mins before realising this was the way up Achaladair and the anti-clockwise route - not the way the route plan recommends. So retrace steps, back to the car park just off the main road a couple of miles on from Bridge of Orchy, and follow the track as described on WH route.
Had seen a group follow that sign but then saw a couple check the sign out and ignore it to take the track. If you're doing this clockwise (a'Chreachain first, Achaladair second) this is the way to go.
The track goes past a plantation on the left before reaching a farm steading and a ruined building on the right. The track bears left and follows the side of a wall through a field and a couple of gates.
The track continues through fields roughly following the path of the Water of Tulla and in the direction of woodland - the Black Wood of Rannoch. A shallow river crossing and continue to follow the main river bank until you cross a bridge to the north side of the river. The track continues to follow the Water of Tulla and you're looking for what's marked on the maps as a footbridge (opposite Dun Aigheannach).
There was no sign of a footbridge but another walker could be seen down to the right on the opposite river bank enjoying the sunshine and something to eat. Backtracking slightly, a pole and pile of stone on a bend in the track indicated the way down to the river bank and where the footbridge used to be - replaced now by a couple of sketchy looking girders spanning a fairly high drop over the water. Although they felt sturdy, they were at a bit of an angle and didn't look the safest.
Moving along the river bank, the guy on the other side shouted over that he had crossed at that point but wouldn't recommend it. So moving further along the river bank tracking opposite the tree line until almost exactly at the point where the track looks to head up the hillside, it was safe enough to cross using rocks to get over a small tributary and then the main Water of Tulla.
Boggy ground then pretty much all the way up the railway line and the low underpass to take you beneath the West Highland Line. A second larger tunnel to the left is for the Allt Coire an Lochain.
Following the bank of the Allt Coire an Lochain on the left and the deer fence on the right provides a clear path to follow. The cascading waterfalls are really beautiful. Soon the point comes to bear left up the pathless slopes to a'Chreachain ridge. There's no path to follow at all but using the large boulders as a guide helps get on to the upper reaches of the slope, looking down at Coire and Lochain itself down to the right in the headwall of the mountain. A path becomes evident and you stay on it until the summit itself, which bears round slightly to the right.
It's a rocky steep descent off a'Chreachain with the path to Achaladair pretty clear ahead. It's then a pretty steep ascent up the first section to Achaladair summit. It reminded me a bit of the haul up Stuc a Chroin to be honest - zigzags, a couple of points where hands on rock helps. The steep section soon lessens off and it's a straightforward pull to the summit cairn. Stunning views, even on a day when mist and cloud kept drifting over. It feels exposed but dramatic rather than anything risky.
The path of descent is a fair bit on from the summit. After a level / flat walk make sure you make the slight ascent of a top - the path actually bears round to the west side and then down to the top of the bealach where the boggy descent down the Coire Daingean and into the Coire Achaladair. It's a straightforward trek back to the car park.
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