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The Golden Hill; Beinn Chuirn

The Golden Hill; Beinn Chuirn

Postby WeeHills » Sat Oct 09, 2021 11:26 am

Route description: Beinn Chuirn, Dalrigh

Corbetts included on this walk: Beinn Chuirn

Date walked: 06/10/2021

Time taken: 6 hours

Distance: 17 km

Ascent: 806m

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Beinn Chuirn, or 'the one with the gold mine' as I've taken to calling it, being unable to get my tongue round the correct pronunciation, is a fine looking hill. One I've walked past a number of times previously and vaguely thought, 'one day I should go up there', then promptly forgotten about. This week though I have taken a notion that I must correct this omission. It is lodged in my head and nowhere else will suffice. No idea why, I just take these random notions. With the forecast looking most promising in the morning it's an early start and Mr Hills waves me off with a cheerful 'if you find a nugget I'm on halfers'. In his dreams.

Arriving at Dalrigh the car reckons it is four degrees outside. I don't put much faith in my car's ability to accurately gauge the temperature but this seems about right. No frost yet but a cool nip to the air. The sun is shining and the breeze gentle as I stride along the well compacted track through Glen Cononish towards the farm, the mine and the hills. The autumnal turn the weather has now taken makes for extremely pleasant walking. All the hills around me are cloud free, the vista splendid. I have plenty of time to admire my target, the deep cleft of the Eas Anie looking dark and foreboding in the bright morning light, and, of course, its more illustrious neighbour Ben Lui as they gradually get closer.

There's gold in that thar hill. Beinn Chuirn on the approach to Cononish Farm.

Oss and Lui

Shortly after passing Cononish Farm a sign points towards the Eas Anie Falls. Here I part ways with the Walkhighlands route and head diagonally across a field, emerging through a gate then following the fence that restricts access to the mine workings towards the tumbling water. A bit of a wade through long grass ensues until the slope begins to steepen and I aim for a rocky outcrop from which to enjoy the views and have a nosy at the comings and goings of the gold-miners while taking on coffee and sustenance before attempting the steep slope up the south side of the burn.

Waterfall you say? Don't mind if I do.

Towards Eas Anie.

It is a fine spot looking back down the valley and over the mine to Meall Odhar. The falls are lovely but it is the gold workings that grab my attention. I've always been rather partial to a bit of heavy industry set against stunning scenery. It makes me feel rooted to the landscape, knowing that our time is adding its mark as countless generations of ancestors have done over thousands of years. Not everyone's cup of tea admittedly but I like it. In truth I could happily sit here all day and it is an effort to haul myself away.

Eas Anie Falls

Cononish Gold Mine, Meall Odhar glowing in the October sun beyond.

Eventually I make a move and begin to pick my way up the steep slope. At times traversing around crags, at others scrambling over them. At one point it feels a little hairy and I question my wisdom, but finally the gradient eases and I stop to consider the route ahead. In such clear weather it is easy enough to see the way forward so I amble my way upwards, crossing the Eas Anie above the falls then making my own path, aiming for this or that rocky outcrop, plodding and pausing, pausing and plodding.

Looking back down Glen Cononish

Crossing Eas Anie above the falls

Progress is steady and as height is gained the views open up. The Crianlarich Hills emerge one by one, the Bridge of Orchy munros are bathed in sunshine, the Arrochar Alps put in an appearance over the bealach between Bens Lui and Oss. Slowly the top comes closer and I pick up a path around the Coire na Saobhaidhe, its steep sides plunging down to my right. I give the edge a very wide berth while pausing once more to admire the views now showing to the north, a little cloud wisping around the Black Mount.

Crianlarich Hills

Eastward over Glen Lochy

Approaching Coire na Saobhaidhe

Clouds wisp around the Black Mount

The sheer drop down into the corrie is dramatic but I keep well back from it as I am, fundamentally, a coward. It is now just a short distance to the summit and before long the cairn appears and as I reach it views west to Loch Awe and the Cruachan range lie before me. The sun is still shining and the wind neither strong nor cold enough to have me seeking shelter. I enjoy a fine picnic right at the top, admiring the 360 degree vistas. It is a wonderful view point on a glorious October day and I idly speculate about what fine times others must be having on other hills. A golden day to be in the Southern Highlands.

Steep drops best avoided

Summit cairn looking west towards Cruachan

Summit views east

A little cloudier to the north

Arrochar Hills between Bens Oss and Lui to the south

After a relaxing meal and a leisurely coffee or two I bimble my way over to a second, smaller cairn featuring perhaps finer still views down to Loch Awe. Pausing a few minutes longer here I consider my way down. I have no particular route in mind, just aim vaguely in the direction of Ben Lui secure in the knowledge that sooner or later the track back to Dalrigh will appear. It is nice not to have to worry about route finding, or the steep drops on the side I came up. I can just saunter downwards, admiring the magnificent monster of a mountain that is Mr Lui as I go.

Second cairn

With perhaps finer views to Loch Awe and Ben Cruachan than found at the summit

Time to head down, aiming vaguely for the eastern foot of Ben Lui

At first I descend on grassy slopes, wending my way between rocks until the slope flattens. Now I find myself crossing a wonderfully watery landscape, splattered with peaty pools. The ground is all short heather and spongy moss as I amble around boggy bits. It is an absolutely delightful section of the hill which I enjoy immensely. Once across the track back towards Cononish Farm and the car emerges, the Allt Coire Laoigh sparkling silvery in the sun beyond. The slope steepens again, however it is a nice, soft grassy descent and there are no difficulties as I zig zag my way down. Just before the bottom I stop once more for coffee, with Ben Lui towering above me, looking particularly splendid from this vantage point.

Flat and wonderfully watery landscape on the descent

Allt Coire Laoigh sparkling in the sun below Benn Oss

The magnificent Mr Ben Lui

Fully caffeinated for the walk out I rejoin the well made track and dodge endless cowpats all the way back to Cononish Farm. Fortunately I don't have to dodge any of their depositors. I do not like cows. Strangely I don't meet a single other person today either, which surprises me a little even though it is mid-week given the glorious, dare I say, golden weather. Less surprisingly I haven't found any nuggets of precious metal along the way, the only actual gold to be seen is that adorning my fingers. Oh well.

Back at Cononish, glancing up at where I've been, no blasting to intrude on the silence today

A final look at Beinn Chuirn, Coire na Saobhaidhe looking fine from this angle

And at Ben Lui, because who doesn't like a bit more Ben Lui?

The gushing waters of the River Cononish alongside the mine track

The walk out is a pleasant warm down accompanied by the gushing waters of the River Cononish. Back past the farm and the dire warning signs around the mine. A teeny, nosy part of me is a little disappointed that there was no blasting today. Then it's onward along the track, under the railway, back to the car and a pleasingly quiet now most tourists have departed A82 back home.

A cracking hill in fine weather, Beinn Chuirn gets a gold star from me.
Posts: 76
Joined: Jan 7, 2021

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