Cranstackie and Beinn Spionnaidh from Carbreck

Hillwalking route up Cranstackie and Beinn Spionnaidh from Carbreck

From the roadside a few miles south of Durness a fine track leads to the base of the twins of Cranstackie and Beinn Spionnaidh. Thereafter, grassy slopes rise up to the bouldery summit crests of these mountains.

Route outline

  Map base ©OpenStreetMap


Beinn Spionnaidh

Ascent 1050m (3440ft)
Distance 13km (8m)
Time 5:00hr
Start/finish Carbreck
Grid Ref : NC391553
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One of two direct routes heading up Cranstackie and Beinn Spionnaidh, this one approaches from Carbreck a few miles south of Durness. With a fine track to follow to the base of the mountains, this is the more popular of the two routes, but possibly not the more scenic. Beyond the track, grassy hillsides lead up to quartzite boulderfield covered crests, making for tricky navigation in mist. However, you'll be in no doubt when reaching the summits as both are well indicated - a trig point on Beinn Spionnaidh and a well defined cairn on Cranstackie both perched above significant drops.

Route map

Route description

1. Getting to Carbreck

Farm buildings at Rhigolter

Around 12km south of Durness and approximately halfway between Rhiconich and Durness, a house (marked Carbreck on the OS map) sits in open moorland on the A838 and looks directly over Cranstackie and Beinn Spionnaidh. Opposite the house, a private track heads down to the River Dionard.

In the past here didn't seem to be any objection to parking in front of the shed just north of the house, but there is now a parking area for a few cars near the top of the track.

2. Beinn Spionnaidh

Beinn Spionnaidh's summit trig point

From Carbreck, head down the track towards Rhigolter and cross the River Dionard via a bridge . Further on, pass the buildings at Rhigolter then a house and outbuildings to reach a gate. Through the gate, the track becomes rougher as it continues for another 500m or so to its end by another smaller shed .

Now on open hillside, head uphill over ferns and grass tussocks aiming south-east following the northern bank of the Allt Chalbhach Coire. Once into Calbhach Coire, cross the burn onto its southern side. The ground steepens as a clamber up grassy ground is made while aiming for the wet, grassy bealach above.

From the bealach climb initially north-east, then north-north-east on pleasant grassy ground. Beinn Spionnaidh's boulderfield is reached at around c700m , from where continue with care over this to reach the south-western end of the bouldery summit plateau.

Beinn Spionnaidh's summit is now around 500m away in a north-east direction . The summit indicator consists of a trig point encircled by a stone shelter overlooking drops to the north.

3. Cranstackie

Path up Cranstackie from the bealach

Retrace your steps along Beinn Spionnaidh's quartzite bouldery crest and descend down its south-western shoulder to return to the bealach above Calbhach Coire.

Cross the soggy bealach, then pick a faint path heading up Cranstackie's north-eastern shoulder. This grass-covered shoulder narrows, then broadens higher up. A bit further up , grass is replaced by more boulderfield and the path disappears for the final pull up to Cranstackie's summit .

Cranstackie's top is marked with a cairn perched above a short precipitous drop to the north-west. Stunning views in all directions !

4. Return

Returning along Cranstackie, Beinn Spionnaidh ahead

Return to the bealach above Calbhach Coire and retrace your route back to Carbreck.

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