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Corbett bagging: Beinn a’ Bha’ach Àrd

Written by Fiona

December 29 2021

A Boxing Day walk with friends proved to be very enjoyable, especially as the strong winds on Christmas Day had dissipated a little by the time we reached the summit of Beinn a’ Bha’ach Àrd.

In addition, we were grateful for the snowy footsteps of a friend, Jamie, who had walked the route earlier in the day. She offered us a good route and also saved us from making inevitably slower progress due to having to create our own steps in sometimes deep snow.

There is an option to walk a horseshoe that includes the 862m summit of Beinn Bha’ach Àrd (862m) or hike an out-and-back route. On the day, two of us opted for the horseshoe, while three of us completed the return route. If you have the time and energy, the horseshoe is a more satisfying route although it includes more total ascent.

The route starts at a small car park at Inchmore, just before the Glen Strathfarrar estate gate at Milton Cottage, near Struy.

Glen Strathfarrar estate access

The road up Glen Strathfarrar is private and vehicular access is strictly controlled at the locked gate at Milton Cottage near Struy and a maximum of 25 cars are allowed in each day. In the summer months, the gate is open from 9am to between 6pm and 8pm, depending on the month. They are closed on Tuesdays and until 1.30pm on Wednesdays.

In the winter, access is arranged in advance through Mountaineering Scotland. See Strathfarrar access for further details.

Walkers and cyclists are unrestricted.

The track through the glen.
Hair ice.
Starting the climb.

Corbett walk: Beinn a’ Bha’ach Àrd

Depending on your chosen direction, clockwise or anti-clockwise, there is a a long stretch of estate road to walk for this mountain. Our group of five chose to walk clockwise, which meant the track came first. It’s not at all unpleasant and offers views that gradually widen to give great scenic vistas.

As we walked, we chatted and this section seemed to pass by very quickly. Close to a dam, the track turns north and starts to climb. Soon, due to snow, we were walking uphill and following the footsteps of a friend who had walked the route earlier in the day.

I can’t tell you if there are many trods on this route but I suspect there is a decent path to follow because these are popular mountains.

The route is variously undulating and sometimes steep. We were brilliantly sheltered from the wind until much higher up and I had to remove clothing layers to stop myself over-heating.

Neil near the summit. Credit: Claire Hopkins
Summit joy. Credit: Claire Hopkins

Perhaps because I was walking as part of a chatty group, the summit seemed to arrive quite quickly. It was very windy at the top and we hunkered down behind a pile of windswept snow to enjoy the views, leftover Christmas food and hot drinks.

Standing near the summit trig offer a brilliant vista, taking in the Beauly and Moray firths and across to the glens of Affric, Strathfarrar and Strathconon, plus many surrounding mountains. Brilliantly, we could see the tree-covered hill close to our home on the Black Isle, too.

Christmas gift: My new Rab gaiters.

The return route: Two choices

While Neil and Claire chose to continue the route clockwise, taking in a couple of other lower summits, Hubby G, Karen and I walked back the way we had come. It seemed easier to retrace our snowy steps and we were conscious of the time. (We had neighbours due to visit for mulled wine in early evening.)

Neil and Claire certainly enjoyed their circuit route and in summer weather I would highly recommend you complete the horseshoe.

As usual, the walk back along the glen road seemed much longer than on the way in. It wasn’t really that far and it wasn’t strenuous but it did seem further!

Route details: Beinn a’ Bha’ach Àrd

Distance: 12km

Elevation gain: 923m

Summit: 862m.

The out-and-back route comprises a Land Rover track for around half of the route. The rest of the route takes you northwards over rugged hillside.

See OS Maps and Strava.

Corbetts bagged: 69

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