Ben Nevis and Glen Coe: A sample route

It's Christmas and we are kind so enjoy this sample route from our upcoming guidebook to Ben Nevis and Glen Coe. Cheers and happy hillwalks!

It's Christmas and we are kind so enjoy this sample route from our upcoming guidebook to Ben Nevis and Glen Coe. Cheers and happy hillwalks!

The Thunderbolt: Beinn a’ Bheithir

ROUTE 47 from the guidebook to Walking Ben Nevis and Glen Coe by Ronald Turnbull

Start/FinishBallachulish (NN 083 584)
Distance15.5km/9½ miles
Total ascent1300m/4400ft
Time7–7½hr
TerrainRidge paths, but a rough descent
Max altitudeSgorr Dhearg 1024m

Beinn a’ Bheithir means Hill of the Thunderbolt – and it’s certainly a cracker. This is classic ridgewalking, pleasantly narrow in parts, but without scrambling. (If you want scrambling, Sgorr Bhan’s northeast ridge is Grade 1.) There’s an easy descent from between the two Munro summits, but this route completes the horseshoe beyond Sgorr Dhonuill, with a steep descent into Coire Dearg.

Try a sample route from our guidebook to Ben Nevis and Glen Coe

Start at the information centre and car park at the east end of Ballachulish village (East Laroch) below a slate quarry face.

Leave the car park by its entrance, and take the village street opposite (southwest) past a useful Co-op shop. After 500 metres the street crosses River Laroch, with a footbridge alongside. Turn left, following an SRWS signpost with its writing on the back, to pass a primary school. Just after it, a gate on the right leads onto open hill.

Go straight up quite steep grass, to a low fence crossing at 250m. Not far above (depending on where you crossed the fence) a small path runs across to the right, onto the northern spur of Sgorr Bhan. The path turns left up this. It is fairly eroded, often down to bare rock (grey schist).

Try a sample route from our guidebook to Ben Nevis and Glen Coe

Beinn a’ Bheithir, the Hill of the Thunderbolt. The Munros are Sgorr Dhearg (back left) and Sgorr Dhonuill (right)

After the levelling of Beinn Bhan, the ridge steepens, with one path taking to the right flank – but following the crest is good. The rock changes to quartzite, whence ‘Sgorr Bhan’ (white peak). A sharp elegant ridge leads to Sgorr Bhan, and then to the first Munro, Sgorr Dhearg.

In mist you might be tempted onto a sharp, pathed, ridge running north – but the correct path turns left, southwest, down a broader slope to the 757m col. Here a popular descent route runs down north into the forest. The ridge path continues ahead, quite steeply at first. After a knoll at 950m, where the side ridge to Point 782m (the Dragon’s Tooth) branches off, a narrower and slightly rocky ridge leads up to Sgorr Dhonuill.

Try a sample route from our guidebook to Ben Nevis and Glen Coe

Sgorr Dhonuill from the slopes of Sgorr Dhearg

Descend a wide ridge west, with drops on the right and views of islands ahead (Lismore, Mull, Jura). At the ridge base (NN 031 554), a gully down right has a cairn at its head. Easier is to continue 100 metres over the next slight rise to the next dip. Turn right to confront the drop into Coire Dearg (NN 030 555), then slant down left, passing along the base of a small crag, to the top of a wide scree slope. Directly below is a gully cleft. Pass straight down the scree to just above the cleft (NN 0310 5573 – a lone Sitka spruce grows in the scree). Now slant down left, still on scree, for 100 metres to a clump of Sitka spruce. Descend directly to the grassy corrie floor. Keep directly downhill, through fence remains, and pick up a rebuilt path that starts at a boulder (NN 0327 5609). It runs into forest to left of a stream, and follows it to the corner of a forest road.

Turn right (blue marker arrow), and follow the main track gently downhill. Above South Ballachulish keep ahead with a waymark for St John’s Church. From St John’s Church, follow the pavement of the A82 to the edge of Ballachulish village. Move right, onto the old main road running parallel. Before the junction on the outward route (near the Co-op), turn left into a street that bends right then offers a short path between trees into the car park.

Fancy another walk in the Ben Nevis and Glen Coe area?

You can either purchase the individual routes, the ebook or the printed book through the Cicerone website.

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