Beinn Mhor (Cowal): Hot sun, great chat and a surprisingly steep climb
On a recent short break near Dunoon, staying at the new self-catering Bernice Farmhouse, Argyll, I chose Beinn Mhor for a walk with my friend Becca. The mountain seemed like a good choice because it was close to the accommodation and offered an ascent to the highest hill in the area west of Loch Eck. It also promised wide views, especially as the weather forecast was for sunshine.
The start is at Stoneyfield in Glen Massan. To find this, you simply drive to the end of the public road along the glen. Follow the A815 north of Dunoon on to an unnamed road. It is signposted Glen Massan.
The walk is 8 miles/13km in total and on forest tracks and open moorland. The total ascent is 720m to reach the summit of Beinn Mhor at 741m. That makes the mountain one of the collection of hills called the Grahams.
Allow about 5 hours for the walk.
Top tip: Take advantage of a 20% discount at Bernice farmhouse and cottage with this special code: FIONAOUTDOORS20. Use it at the booking stage.
The walk starts along a private road and heads towards forestry. When you reach a house and a barn, as well as a group of old walls, you turn right on to a track heading uphill.
From here, the track climbs in a zig-zag through an area of felled forestry and eventually into a spruce plantation. It was steeper than I expected and the hot sun made us slow to an easier pace. Well, we might have gone faster if we had not wanted to chat but what is the point of a lovely walk when you can’t breathe and talk to a friend?
The trees provided much-needed shade and several small streams offered cooling water for Wispa the Wonder Whippet. You will spot a series of faded Walkers Welcome signsposts at points along the path.
Again, the path is steep but there is always the promise higher up of reaching the brow of the hill and a hoped-for flatter section of hillside. At the edge of the forest we were delighted to have a wider view of hillside and an undulating wide ridge towards the summit.
There is a choice: To cross directly from the forest boundary to the summit (this can be done by taking a bearing from a map) or following a faint ATV track up on to the wide ridge and then staying high to finally reach the summit.
We chose the second option because I guessed we would have good views from the ridge. We did! On such a clear and sunny day we could see far and wide, taking in hills, mountains and lochs.
By now we could see the trig point on the summit and it was easy to see the way to the 741m top. Turing 360-degrees the panorama took in many iconic mountains, including the Arrochar Alps, Ben Lomond, Ben Lui, and Ben Cruachan.
We stopped for a while to enjoy the views although it was impressively windy.
The return route was the same as the outwards route and Becca and I made good time on the descent. If you have half a day to spare for a walk, I highly recommend Beinn Mhor (Cowal). See Walk Highlands for detailed route directions.