Beinn Bheoil, Ben Alder and Leachas ridges from Carn Dearg

Ben Alder via the Long Leachas

Rock-scrambling route up Ben Alder and Beinn Bheoil via the Long Leachas ridge

Heading up Ben Alder via the Long Leachas ridge is possibly the finest way to appreciate this wonderful mountain. The rock-scrambling is straightforward, quite easy and not particularly exposed. Add in Beinn Bheoil on the return to Culra to complete a great Munro-bagging circular route.

Route outline


Ben Alder, 

Beinn Bheoil

Walk ascent 1075m (3520ft)
         distance 17km (11m)
         time 6:00hr
Bike ascent 400m (1310ft)
         distance 31km (19m)
         time 1:30hr
Start/finish Dalwhinne
Grid Ref : NN663846
easy hard
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ok fab

Probably the finest way to explore Ben Alder and the neighbouring Munros is to be based by Culra Bothy for a couple of nights, taking in Ben Alder on one day and the Geal-Charn group on the other. For Ben Alder, this gives the opportunity the tackle this huge mountain heading up the Long or Short Leachas ridges. The route described here is for the Long Leachas ridge, the Short Leachas is a slight detour. The Long Leachas is, as its name suggests, longer than the Short Leachas, but the rock-scrambling is slightly easier.

Route map

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Route description

1. Getting to Dalwhinnie

Ben Alder from the Allt a'Chaoil-reidhe

Ben Alder from the Allt a'Chaoil-reidhe

By car, Dalwhinnie is just off the A9, half way between Perth and Inverness. Alternatively arrive by train, all the way from Euston if you need !

In Dalwhinnie, head up the road to towards the railway station, turning left just before it and continue along 'Alder Road' past some houses to the railway crossing. There's a turning circle here and you can usually park just before it. It can get a little conjested here, alternative parking is available near the petrol station and the south side of Loch Ericht dam.

2. Culra Bothy

Looking up the Loch Leachas from near Culra

Looking up the Loch Leachas from near Culra

From Dalwhinnie, cycle from the crossing down the lochside on the fine estate track that hugs the western shore of Loch Ericht. Just before meeting the third gate-house, turn right uphill and continue to the highest point on the track and Culra Bothy can be seen ahead in the far distance. There are some wonderful spots to wild-camp by the Allt a'Chaoil-reidhe

For more details on the route to Culra Bothy, see the Ben Alder 6 Munros page.

3. Ben Alder via the Long Leachas

Scrambling on the Long Leachas ridge

Scrambling on the Long Leachas ridge

From Culra Bothy, head back along the track to the bridge over the Allt a'Chaoil-reidhe, cross the river and join the path on the path on south side of the Allt a'Chaoil-reidhe. Follow this for around 3km to where the path takes a sharp change in direction from south-west to south.

Leave the path here and head south-west over heathery ground and cross the Allt a'Bhealaich Bheithe where convienient (this may be difficult to do in spate).Now heading westwards, cross more heathery ground to reach the base of the Long Leachas ridge .

Keeping to the crest, head uphill directly up the ridge, there is a path of sorts for most of the way.There are some sections of rock-scrambling, but there's nothing considered difficult or particularly exposed.

The northern shoulder of Ben Alder is reached and some boulderfield and a minor summit are crossed.Keep the coire tightly on your left (east) so as to get some good photo opportunity detours on the way !

On Ben Alder's summit there is a trig point, but not much shelter. Shelter can be found in the remains of a ruined building just to the north of the summit.

With Ben Alder being the highest mountain in the area, there's a fantastic panorama to take in from its summit.

4. Beinn Bheoil

Loch a'Bhealaich Bheithe and Beinn Bheoil from the top of Bealach Breabag

Loch a'Bhealaich Bheithe and Beinn Bheoil from the top of Bealach Breabag

Just south of Ben Alder's summit Lochan a'Garbh Choire (reputedly the highest lochan in the land) - in summer it's pretty straightforward to head directly to the continuing ridge by going around the east side of the lochan. In winter, or if there has been much rain, probably more prudent to head around the longer west side of the lochan.

Beyond the lochan, continue following a path on Ben Alder's crest above and around Garbh Choire. Over a rise, then begin to drop and the path disappears. There are some rocky outcrops and small burns to negotiate on the descent, but it should be fairly straightforward to reach Bealach Breabag .

Crossing the bealach, you should be able to pick up a fairly faint path heading uphill ahead. This path climbs up Sron Coire na h-Iolaire, but doesn't aim for the summit - the short detour to this is worth the effort for the views down Loch Ericht !

Back on the path, it twists down to a bealach before one last gentle climb up a grassy crest to reach the bouldery summit of Beinn Bheoil

5. Return to Culra and Dalwhinnie

View down Loch Ericht from Beinn Bheoil

View down Loch Ericht from Beinn Bheoil

Leaving Beinn Bheoil's small summit cairn behind, aim north-east for around 300m along the wide crest. As the crest begins to narrow, turn slightly more northwards and drop to a broad flat area.

Follow the top of this flat area north-east, then north, to drop down to another flat area. Don't cross this flat area (which is the way you'd think to go), instead turn north-west and bound down over heathery ground (if you're lucky, a very faint path can be found) and join the well-maintained path a return back to Culra .

Route profile »

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Information on maps and GPX files is on this page.

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Alternative and nearby routes »

Geal-Charn via the Lancet Edge

There are four Munros in the group of peaks north of Culra Bothy, Carn Dearg, Geal-Charn, Aonach Beag and Beinn Eibhinn, all forming a linear ridge route. One of the most interesting routes up takes in the Lancet Edge, a narrow ridge heading up Geal-Charn.

Peaks : 4 Munros

Ascent : 1330m (4360ft)
Distance : 44km (27m)
Time : 6:30hr

Ben Alder Forest Munros

One of the finest ways to reach Ben Alder is a cycle down Loch Ericht followed by a circular route from Culra Bothy. Lots to encounter - high plateaus, lochans, ridges, fantastic views - all while bagging 6 Munros !

Peaks : 6 Munros

Ascent : 2400m (7870ft)
Distance : 56km (35m)
Time : 11:5hr

The Fara circuit

Longer and much more enjoyable than a direct route up from Loch Ericht, a delightful circuit on estate tracks and grass covered slopes leads to The Fara's large summit cairn from where vast vistas can be savoured.

Peaks : 1 Corbett

Ascent : 550m (1800ft)
Distance : 11km (7m)
Time : 3:40hr

Ardverikie and Loch Laggan Munros

Lying between Laggan and Alder, the Ardverikie Forest is a wild area containing three Munro peaks, Beinn a'Chlachair, Geal Charn and Creag Pitridh.

Peaks : 3 Munros

Ascent : 1350m (4430ft)
Distance : 26km (16m)
Time : 7hr


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