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Isle of arran Corbetts: Cir Mhòr and Beinn Tarsuinn

Written by Fiona

June 11 2024

Day 2 on a recent trip to Arran brought another sunny day and the chance to bag my final Corbetts on the island. I walked via Glen Rosa and then completed an anti-clockwise circuit of two summits, Cir Mhòr and Beinn Tarsuinn.

Walk Highlands details a clockwise route, but I preferred the anti-clockwise direction because it left a wet and boggy section until later on.

Cir Mhòr ahead in the distaance.

Ascent of Cir Mhòr

Whichever direction you choose, the route starts near Glen Rosa campsite on a singletrack road that leaves the main A841 coastal road just north of Brodick. There are two small areas either side of the road for parking. 

The road turns to track as you head through a gate and further into the glen. Glenrosa Water runs close by and there are stunning views of the mountains ahead, including Goatfell and the triangle shape of Cìr Mhòr.

I crossed a footbridge and continued along a well-trodden path. If you are heading to Tarsuinn first, this is where you turn left to walk uphill.

My path climbed still gently through the glen, travelling ever closer to what looked like a very steep approach to a bealach between Cir Mhòr and Beinn Tarsuinn.

This steep incline is made easier thanks to a path, which winds uphill from around 150m elevation to closer to 600m.

There is no let-up unless you stop to take in the fabulous views, which I did! To the right, I could see the great rocky triangle of Cìr Mhòr rising up, even more steeply.

But, again, a zig-zagging path made easier work of the climb than I had at first imagined. Still, it’s a stiff ascent and a group of people sitting at the top seemed so far away.

I was grateful for a cooling breeze on the hot day and kept pushing upwards until I reached the large boulders that form the summit. It’s an airy top and once I’d touched the peak, I quickly descended to find a less vertiginous spot for something to eat.

The panorama is magnificent in all directions, including Caisteal Abhail to the north, which I walked the day before, and the coast.  

Cir Mhòr to Beinn Tarsuinn

The route to reach Tarsuinn, heads down off Cir Mhòr the way I had come. The descent was much quicker than the ascent and I was soon at 600m elevation on the bealach again. 

From here, I headed south-west on a well-defined path and then began to contour around the back of a high and rocky ridge. It is possible if you have lots of scrambling experience to head along the ridge, but I was walking solo and I have very little head for heights, so the rear route suited me.

The vastness of the western side of A’Chir was sobering and cooling. While Arran is a popular tourist island and the Corbetts are among some of the busiest I have walked yet, the path was quiet.

I met only one couple and a solo man, who were walking in the opposite direction to me. The path climbed again to regain the height the ridge and I needed to find my way upwards through a jumble of rocks and boulders.

I tended to take a right-hand route at all junctions. My aim was to avoid finding myself up on the ridge, so I aimed to approach Beinn Tarsuinn from the north. I confess, it was a little nerve-racking because I wasn’t entirely sure I was following the same route as other people but I consoled myself with the thought that I could always retreat and try again if I came to a section that seemed too tricky.

In the end, however, all went well and I suddenly popped out on to a wide ridge.

Three people were standing where I imagined the summit of Beinn Tarsuinn to be, although it turned out there is a twin summit. To be sure I’d reached the top, I walked to two summit areas that each looked higher than the other.

The views off the south-eastern side of the ridge, which drops sharply away, were breath-taking. I would not recommend doing this walk unless you can enjoy brilliant visibility.

An obvious trod can be followed along the ridge, passing some interesting looking rock formations.  One takes the form of a human profile looking out to the coat and Brodick and is known as the Old Man of Tarsuinn. 

I met a man from Arran Mountain Rescue hiking in the opposite direction. He wasn’t on a call out, rather he was enjoying a sunny day in his local mountains. 

The path continues to another high point, Beinn Nuis. Just before the top there is a chance to make a short detour west to find the ruins of a B-24D Liberator that crashed into the hillside in 1943 resulting in the death of all 10 personnel onboard.

I was thrilled to suddenly spot a soaring bird of prey high above me. I am sure it was a golden eagle because of its size. 

Descent route from Beinn Tarsuiin and Beinn Nuis

Nuis at 792m elevation, the route descends steeply at first down and round rocks and boulders. I then headed  south-easterly towards lower moorland. I met a couple as they ascended. The mum and son were spending the day together to film footage of the young man playing his bagpipes in the mountains. This seemed like great fun although I would not have wanted to wear a kilt on such a hot day.

The pair – and another man further on – warned me of “a lot of wet, boggy ground”. 

To start with I scoffed at their warnings. The path was a bit wet and boggy but nothing compared to many other Corbetts I have hiked.

However, as I walked on and alongside Garbh Allt,  I could not avoid the wet. I ended up with sodden footwear but this only confirmed that I was right to complete the circuit anti-clockwise. 

I don’t mind wet feet at the end of a long walk, rather than at the start. There were a couple of gates in high fences to pass through and then a descent of a steep gorge. The fences have been installed to allow native woodland to grow in this area.

The burn in Garbh Allt tumbled though the glen and I enjoyed the noise of rushing water. I could finally see the wooden bridge below me in the glen, which is where I also rejoined the well-made path back through the glen.

I walked out of the glen along the path to return to my van, again rejoicing at the warm and sunny day.

The view up at Beinn Tarsuinn ridge.

Route details:  Cir Mhòr and Beinn Tarsuinn

Distance: 18.5k

Total ascent: 1300m

My route: Strava and OS Maps 

Corbetts bagged: 152 & 153.

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