Heather’s Treks: Beinn Mhic Mhonaidh – Mountain of the Son of the Moor
Heather Thomas-Smith runs Heathery Heights, an outdoor adventure and discovery company based in Lochgilphead, offering guided walking adventures, outdoor activities, training and experiences. She has travelled and trekked throughout the world, walked across Scotland numerous times, climbed many of its peaks and now lives in Argyll amongst the scenery she loves.
Argyll has some cracking Munros and Corbetts, among some of the best scenery in the UK.
The rich tapestry of colours throughout the year are softened with lush vegetation – an unkempt array of heather, mosses, lichens, ferns, grasses, forestry and woodlands - kept green most summers by typical west coast weather.
Even many of the higher hills have plenty of life clinging to them and hill walkers are well aware this often means a tad of bog trotting will be the order of the day.
Beinn Mhic Mhonaidh’s summit is grassy moorland with only a smattering of exposed rocks and scree, but this belies its much rockier and rugged western aspect. The ascent does not seem too exciting, but its placement makes it well worth the effort. Sandwiched between Glen Strae and Glen Orchy, the open vista from its summit is quite superb. This is a hill to save for a dry, clear day.
Leaving the Eas Urchaidh (Orchy Falls) car park, cross the bridge west over the magnificent gorge. Continue up the newly surfaced track for 0.5km. Ignore the new road veering right and follow the old forestry track veering left, signposted ‘Mountain Access’.
The forestry track now undulates north and then west for a further 1.5km on the south side of the Allt Broighleachan, before reaching a small junction with your route heading right over the bridge towards the mountain access. Ahead leads to the Caledonian Forest reserve.
Over the bridge, a further signpost indicates you go left to continue to the mountain access. Right goes to the Bridge of Orchy.
The grassier track now wends its way west for nearly 3km, crossing the occasional ford - not always passable in spate - with glimpses of the higher hills and Caledonian Pine Forest to your left. Eventually you reach the forest’s edge where you can exit through a gate on to the open hillside. Turn right, north), and cross the Allt Chailleach. On the other side, a faint path wends its way northwards up the hill’s steepening slopes. The ground can be boggy but is pleasant enough walking.
If the path vanishes just head north, keeping the steeper ground to your left, until you near an obvious stream which you can keep to your left until quite near the ridgeline itself.
Cross either the head of the stream or just before to reach the undulating ridge above and veer west to the summit. It is worth meandering around to the northeast and southwest of the ridge just for the views.
On a still, sunny day you could sit up here for hours, midges permitting.
Return the same way you came, taking care on the quite steep descent.
You can also tackle the hill on a slightly longer 18km route from Glen Strae from the top corner of the B8077 or, if you are able to make a linear day of it, you could go from glen to glen.