#310 – Beinn Ghlas & Ben Lawers

On Beinn Ghlas with Ben Lawers behind

For the best viewing experience, left-click the images and maps to zoom in to a new window, then exit that window to go back – go on, it really does work!

The Scottish Highlands with Ben Lawers and the Southern Highlands in the centre of the map

The August 2021 Scottish trip had gone to plan – by sticking to the Southern Highlands and the Cairngorms we had mostly avoided the dreaded Highland midge, and had enjoyed some good hill days in great weather conditions (see posts #306, #307 and #308)   We were due to head south at the end of the month to welcome a new grandchild and to get our second Covid vaccinations, but there was still time for an extra couple of hill days.  Ben Lawers would do nicely!

Ben Lawers and the surrounding mountains, including our route

We had been in the Ben Lawers area in October in the previous year, but the weather hadn’t been kind and Meall nan Tarmachan had been a good consolation prize (see post #292).  What’s more, Chris was starting to get the taste for bigger hills and longer days, so a trip up Beinn Ghlas and Ben Lawers fitted the bill nicely.

The route – outbound over Beinn Ghlas, return via Upper Coire Odhar

The two hills make a great day out if done together.  The path leaves the car park and heads through a conservation project, where deer and sheep have been fenced out, allowing the native woodland to regenerate.  Beyond the trees, the route gets much steeper and suddenly becomes real mountain walking.

Setting out on a misty, moisty morning
Outside the fenced conservation area, with the start of the broad ridge leading to Beinn Ghlas
Looking back to Coire Odhar with the trees of the fenced area just visible in the mist
The start of the height gain ….
…. but still being chased by the mist

The start didn’t bode well.  Our ascent through the conservation area was a misty, moisty walk that brought back memories of Meall nan Tarmachan the year before, but as we left the trees behind the mist started to lift.  From there, it was a constant companion, drifting in and out as we gained height – it did give us constantly changing views though.

The start of the final section of ascent on Beinn Ghlas
The view back to Meall nan Tarmachan, just left of centre (see post #292)
Meall Corranaich – near, but we decided not to bother
Nearly there on our first summit – Beinn Ghlas summit ahead, just in the mist
Meall nan Tarmachan with the mist cleared from the summit
Closer view of Meall nan Tarmachan, with the small pointy summit of Meall Garbh more obvious
The final section to the summit of Beinn Ghlas

The constantly changing views included a distant Meall nan Tarmachan, and it’s true to say that we saw more of the hill from the slopes of Beinn Ghlas than we had when actually hiking up it ten months earlier.  Longer views included the mountains over by Crianlarich to the west, while nearby we had Meall Corranaich as a companion.   This was a contender for a third top, which could be collected more easily from our return route, with an additional 600 metres horizontal distance and 180 metres of ascent.  (Spoiler alert – we didn’t!)

The view west from Beinn Ghlas ….
…. with Ben Lawers ahead of us to the northeast
Looking back to Beinn Ghlas ….
…. and looking ahead again to Ben Lawers

From the summit of Beinn Ghlas, we had our first real view of Ben Lawers, the star of the show.  The height gain from the upper edge of the conservation area to the summit of Beinn Ghlas was almost 500 metres, on top of the initial 200 metres through the woodland from the car park.  Beinn Ghlas is 1103 metres (3619 ft) in altitude, but we had to lose 100 metres down to a col before getting to grips with the 1214 metre (3983 ft) summit of Ben Lawers.

Almost at the summit
The last few metres, showing the survey triangulation column
The view to the east, out to Loch Tay
The summit cairn at 1214 metres altitude

The final 200 metres of ascent from the col below Ben Lawers wasn’t a big deal, just a steady plod being required.  No mistaking the summit in this case, with a rather tatty survey triangulation column and a much more attractive summit cairn.  Lawers is the tenth highest mountain in Scotland, but the fact that it misses being a 4000 ft mountain by just 27 ft does nothing to diminish its popularity.

The return route ….
…. heading down to the col, with our return route to the right and Beinn Ghlas above

Having taken in the views, it was time to turn round and head back.  We had a variation return route that avoided crossing Beinn Ghlas a second time by going round the mountain on its northern slopes.  It was this route that gave the best approach to Meall Corranaich, but the day was drawing on and we decided that our two summits were enough for the day – it was time to head for home.

Time to head for home

Text and images © Paul Shorrock

About Paul Shorrock

I've been mucking about in the mountains for longer than I care to mention. I started out by walking my local hills, then went on to rock climbing, mountaineering and skiing. Still doing it, and still getting a buzz. I'm now sharing the fun, through my guided walking business (Hillcraft Guided Walking) and by writing routes for other publishers, mainly Walking World and Discovery Walking Guides. Just to make sure I keep really busy, I am also currently a member of my local mountain rescue team.
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1 Response to #310 – Beinn Ghlas & Ben Lawers

  1. Looks a nice path back – we wanted to take it but ended up not doing… We basically had to do Lawers and Ghlas twice due to the weather. It was horribly misty (it was for all our Lawers group walks to do all the Munros and tops). We did Ghlas and Lawers and then descended down the back for An Stuc and the Munro Top. We then had to reascend the back of Lawers and, just as we started our descent from the summit, Ghlas came out. As it’s a nice hill and we had done it but not seen it, we abandoned the idea of taking the path around the back and went back over that as well!

    Liked by 1 person

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