With the forecast looking good and looking for somewhere close at hand, decided to finally tackle Beinn Mhanach. After my recent experience on Beinn Dearg (Blair Athol) I also decided to try the bike on the long path up Auch Gleann to the foot of the mountain.
After a smooth journey up the A82 found no other cars parked up at the roadside which is quite tight on the verge of this very busy road. Pulled in as best I could and got the gear and bike ready. The weather was fine, calm with broken cloud and a fair amount of Sunshine. This helped a great deal as it allowed me to reduce the amount of clothing I was going to take and kept the weight of my rucksack down.
The path starts with a slope down to the main farm/estate buildings, crosses the West Highland Way and then starts to follow the line of Allt Kinglass further into the valley. Not being a regular cyclist it was pleasing to make quick progress on the easy going path without too much hard work.
After passing under the viaduct of the West Highland Railway, Beinn Mhanach comes into view with it’s characteristic double top and grassy steep slopes. The path continues up the valley with a few scattered trees and only sheep for company. Very little in the way of other wildlife to be seen or heard on the way up the track. A few corvids, meadow pipits and my first Common Sandpiper of the year flying upstream the only birds to be seen.
With the recent dry spell the Allt Kinglass was low and upon arrival at the first crossing point it was an easy task to cross over on the bike without getting my feet wet. This was the case at the subsequent crossing points also, only once did I nearly come unstuck. Arriving at the small farm steading, Ais-an t-Sidhean, had a quick break for a drink before continuing up the path. Here a few Swallows zooming around added some noise to the otherwise quite journey so far.
At this point the track starts to climb a bit more as it twists and turns so decided to dismount and push the bike for the last bit. An hour after leaving the car behind came up to small tree at the side of the track which looked like as good a point as any to lock the bike and take to the slopes. This was a wee bit sooner than the watershed mentioned in the guides, but the grassy slopes all looked much the same and after being on the bike for a while I was keen to get back on my feet.
Although very steep, the grass was dry underfoot and height was quickly gained giving a view over to Loch Lyon as well as some of the other hills around including Creag Mhor and Ben Challum. With hazy sunshine and being sheltered from the breeze it was hot work zigzagging ever upwards looking for the best route. After about 300m ascent the gradient lessens and the hill opens out a bit. In the distance the familiar call of two Ravens was the only distraction on the ascent, however they remained out of sight. Here there are a couple of water courses running down from the Beleach between the two tops, a good idea to cross over and follow one of the ridges which offer good ground to continue the climb.
At this point there were a couple of small snow fields in the gorges cut out by the water that had survived the sun and warmer temperature. The ground underfoot also became a bit wetter approaching the plateau and the remains of a fence provided another obstacle on this last part of the climb.
By now though the views were becoming better and better as a fine reward for the effort. There was a great view looking back to Auch Gleann with the cars on the A82 looking faint in the distance. Ben Lui was also clearly visible and finally as the plateau was reached the iconic shape of Ben Nevis showed clearly looking due North. Here also the first signs of a faint path could be followed for the last 15 minutes climb up to the disappointingly small cairn at the summit of Beinn Mhanach. It had taken around 2 hours to complete the climb to the summit since leaving the track down below.
Whilst the summit itself was fairly uninteresting, this was made up for by the views to be had all around. Great views of the neighbouring 4 Munros with Beinn a’ Chreachin looking particularly impressive. Ben Starav could be clearly seen looking West, with Loch Ericht and Ben Alder showing very well when looking North East over the expanse of Rannoch Moor. Good views along Loch Lyon towards Ben Lawers and Cairn Mairg mountains.
With the pleasant temperature and light winds made the most of the fine views all around, had a bite to eat, enjoyed the Sunshine and the peace and quiet. Absolutely nothing in the way of wildlife on the summit, not a bird to be seen or heard!
After enjoying the surroundings retraced the route back down the hill towards the track and my waiting bike. Steep but easy going down the slopes reaching the track in a little over 45 minutes, as the track was reached encountered a spot or two of rain as a light shower skirted along the hillside, however once back on the bike was soon back into broken sunshine again.
An easy, but bumpy journey back down the glen heading for Auch Farm managed to negotiate the river crossings without getting wet and dismounted just after the farm buildings to walk back up to the car. Here a couple of noisy Mistle Thrush added to the meagre tally of wildlife sightings.
All in all it had taken just over five hours to complete the walk but this included a lazy 45 minutes on the summit enjoying the views. Completed the day off with a quick pint in the Tyndrum Inn on the way back!
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Warning Please note that hillwalking when there is snow lying requires an ice-axe, crampons and the knowledge, experience and skill to use them correctly. Summer routes may not be viable or appropriate in winter. See winter information on our skills and safety pages for more information.