Hill: Beinn Bharrain
Date: Saturday 2nd May 2015
Company: Just myself
Distance: 9.6km, Ascent: 775m
Time: 4Hrs


I set out yesterday morning to ascend Beinn Bharrain, Arran's only Graham. I parked in a small parking area opposite the Pirnmill Village Store and Post Office.

Click here to see a map of the route undertaken

From the parking area, I set off walking along the track with the sign advising, "Footpath".

Pirnmill Village Store and Post Office:


After several hundred metres, I left the main track to follow another Footpath sign heading into a wooded area.

Track through forest:


The track winding its way through the forest eventually led out onto open countryside. The path seemed to disappear a short distance beyond the wood. I therefore made my way through the short heather and grass towards Beinn Bharrain.

Looking across Kilbrannan Sound to Kintyre:


As I progressed towards the hill, I crossed an excellent new vehicle track which leads to a new Hydro scheme. This vehicle track looked like it was heading down to Pirnmill. I therefore decided that I would follow this vehicle track on my descent.

Allt Gobhlach Hydro scheme:


As I progressed towards Beinn Bharrain, I could see two ridges leading up towards the summit. One of the ridges looked a straight-forward walk, the other ridge looked like it would involve some hands-on. I decided to head for the ridge with the scrambling, although I was a bit hesitant due to the forecasted 50mph winds. It was already fairly windy down in the glen.

Beinn Bharrain:


Looking back towards hydro scheme track:


As I made my way across to the base of the scrambly ridge, I managed to step into bog up to my knees resulting in my boots filling with water. On reaching the base of the ridge, I made my way up a series of granite slabs and then over and around numerous granite blocks.

Ascending Mullach Buidhe:


Looking down the ridge:


It didn't take long to reach the first rock tower. From a distance it looked tough. It was however very easy with two ramps leading up to just below its top.

The first rock tower:


Ramp leading up the rock tower:


On reaching the top of the tower, I was blasted by the wind. As I progressed along the next section of ridge between the first and second rock tower, I was getting blown about so much that I felt there was a risk of me being blown off the ridge. I decided not to progress further along the ridge as it was too dangerous in such windy conditions.

I therefore had two options, reverse my ascent back down to the base of the hill and go up the non-scrambly ridge instead or continue along the current ridge skirting just below the crags. I decided to attempt skirting below the crags to avoid having to lose height.

The ridge beyond the rock tower:


The second rock tower:


Skirting below the ridge:


After a couple of hundred metres of skirting below the ridgeline, I made my way back up onto the ridge via a steep grassy ramp. The wind was however still too strong and there was more narrow scrambling ahead so I went back down the ramp and skirted below the next rock tower too.

Skirting below the ridge:


I then again made my way back onto the ridge via a steep grass slope. With all the scrambling now behind me, and mostly avoided, I progressed on up to the summit.

The bypass worked but I wouldn't recommend it as a route! It was disappointing to bypass much of the scrambling which looked like it would be fairly straight-forward on a non-windy day.

Bypassing the crags due to the strong winds:


Back onto the ridge beyond the final tower:


Looking across to Caisteal na h Iolaire:


The wind was very strong at the summit, so much so that I was getting blown about.

Final ascent towards the summit of Beinn Bharrain:


Looking back along ridge:


After visiting the cairn and trig point, I continued on towards Caisteal na h Iolaire, the 711m top.

Summit of Beinn Bharrain:


The scrambly ridge:


Heading for Caisteal na h Iolaire (717m top):


Arran Corbetts:


No difficulties were encountered during the ascent and descent of Caisteal na h Iolaire. This route to the summit is much easier than the scrambly ridge.

About to ascend Caisteal na h Iolaire:


Looking back to Mullach Buidhe of Beinn Bharrain:


Ascending Caisteal na h Iolaire:


A short distance below the summit of Caisteal na h Iolaire, I met two other walkers who had seen me skirting below the crags on the opposite ridge.

At the summit of Caisteal na h Iolaire:


From the summit of Caisteal na h Iolaire, I made my way down the easy ridge following a good path much of the way. The path disappears lower down.

Looking across to the ascent ridge:


I then made my way across featureless terrain to reach the small Hydro scheme and track which I followed down to Pirnmill.

Descent via Hydro scheme track:


The Hydro scheme track eventually led to a gate and then through two fields before coming out just a few hundred metres away from the parking area. If ascending Beinn Bharrain again, I would make use of the Hydro scheme track both in ascent and descent.

As I write this up, the weather on Arran this morning is appalling. Flooded roads, ferries cancelled and even stronger winds than yesterday. Definitely a day to stay indoors.