Hills: Meall Cuanail, Ben Cruachan and Taynuilt Peak
Date: Saturday 19th September 2015
Company: Just myself
Distance: 13.4km, Ascent: 1400m
Time: 6Hrs 50Mins

With an MWIS forecast suggesting 90% cloud-free Munros today, I decided to re-ascend Ben Cruachan. On my only previous ascent of this hill, back in June 2000, I got no views from the summit. On arriving at the Pass of Brander, I had expected to park at the Cruachan Visitor Centre. This visitor centre no longer appears to be walker-friendly in that the gate was locked with a sign advising that the gate is locked every day at 4.45. Instead I parked on the roadside verge.

Click here to see a map of the route undertaken

From the roadside verge, I ascended some steps and then went through an underpass leading to the Falls of Cruachan railway station. Beyond the station, I followed a track leading up through the forest and on towards the Cruachan Dam. This track may be fine in winter, spring and summer but at this time of year it was difficult to avoid brushing against lots of high bracken. During the ascent, I clambered over a high leaning stile. On the way back, I crawled through the dog-flap.

Looking back during ascent through forest:

Thus far there were no views as the ascent had been in low cloud. I was really hoping to get above the cloud to be treated to a blanket of inversion. No such luck today.

Cruachan Dam:

On reaching the dam road, I followed it to the base of the dam. I then ascended a series of grass steps leading to a metal ladder providing access onto the dam.

Standing below Cruachan Dam:

Grass steps leading to the dam ladder:

Up the ladder onto the dam:

While standing on the dam, I caught a fleeting glimpse of Loch Awe. There was also blue sky .

Cruachan Reservoir from the dam:

A fleeting glimpse of Loch Awe:

From the dam, I made my way along a vehicle track which runs alongside the Cruachan Reservoir.

Cruachan Reservoir and Dam:

On the track alongside the Cruachan Reservoir:

Looking back towards the Cruachan Dam:

I was hoping the weather would continue to improve, as per the 90% cloud-free Munro forecast, however after circa 30 minutes of sunshine it was into the cloud for the next three hours.

The ascent up through Coire Dearg was fairly pleasant. I met the same group of walkers several times during the ascent, as we stopped at different points during the ascent and kept catching each other up.

Following the track ascending Coire Dearg:

On reaching the col between Meall Cuanail and Ben Cruachan, I decided to ascend Meall Cuanail first. I had not ascended this Munro Top previously.

Meall Cuanail:

Looking across to Ben Cruachan track from Meall Cuanail:

It didn't take long to reach the summit; disappointing to get no views.

Meall Cuanail summit cairn:

Next I returned to the col before making my way up Ben Cruachan. As I made my way up Ben Cruachan, any hopes of views started to fade as the cloud was far too thick .

Ascending Ben Cruachan:

I spent around five minutes at the summit before making my way out to Taynuilt Peak. Had the weather been better, I would have also undertaken the Cruachan Horseshoe.

At the summit of Ben Cruachan:

I wasn't quite sure what to expect en-route to Taynuilt Peak; I hadn't done any homework for this one. The ridge looked fairly narrow on the map.

Heading out to Taynuilt Peak:

As I progressed along the ridge, I passed numerous steep drops. These looked bottomless in the mist.

One of numerous deep clefts:

Sticking to the ridgeline, I had to scramble down a rocky section en-route to the col between Ben Cruachan and Taynuilt Peak. Beyond  the col, the ascent of Taynuilt Peak was straight-forward.

Looking back at the down scramble:

There are lots of stones and boulders on Taynuilt Peak. 

Ascending Taynuilt Peak:

Again it was really disappointing to get no views from Taynuilt Peak. By now I was really not happy with MWIS for their very inaccurate forecast. 

At the summit of Taynuilt Peak:

From Taynuilt Peak, I returned along the ridge back to Ben Cruachan before descending to the col between Meall Cuanail and Ben Cruachan. From the col, I returned to the car via my inbound route.

Cruachan Reservoir during descent:

Looking back to the Cruachan Dam:

Loch Awe during descent:

I will definitely come back to ascend Ben Cruachan again. Hopefully it will be third time lucky with the weather.