Beinn Udlamain

West of Drumochter Munros

Beinn Udlamain and the Munros west of Drumochter

Bags of character and great views, this is a fine high-level route on which to quickly bag the 4 Munros west of the Pass of Drumochter, possibly adding in the Corbett peak of the Sow of Atholl for good measure.

Route outline


Beinn Udlamain, 


A' Mharconaich, 

Sgairneach Mhor


Sow of Atholl

Ascent 1300m (4260ft)
Distance 24km (15m)
Time 8:10hr
Start/finish Balsporran Cottages
Grid Ref : NN627792
easy hard
easy hard
easy hard
ok fab

Terrain is fairly easy underfoot, with most of the route on paths and following fence-posts. On the wide summits of A' Mharconaich and Sgairneach Mhor, navigation can be testing if mist or white-out conditions persist. On fine days all summits afford good views, paticularly over Loch Ericht to the Ben Alder group and beyond.

Route map

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Route description

1. Getting to Drumochter and Balsporran Cottages

Geal-charn above Balsporran Cottages

Geal-charn above Balsporran Cottages

These hills are best accessed from Balsporran Cottages, by the A9, 4km south of Dalwhinnie, where there is ample parking. The hill-route finishes in Drumochter Pass, around 4km south of Balsporran Cottages, therefore having a bike left at the end point or organising transport will avoid an unpleasant walk on the cycle route which hugs the A9 all the way back !

2. Geal-charn

Heading up Geal-charn

Heading up Geal-charn

From Balsporran Cottages cross over the the railway line using the level-crossing , then begin to follow a track uphill.

Cross a burn via stepping stones, then another using a wooden bridge and just bit further on, the track splits into two - take right fork. The track unfortunately doesn't last and suddenly you'll be jumping around trying to avoid the wet marshy ground. Follow the wet and peat-boggy path uphill.

Things do improve further up. On approaching c840m, the ground levels out and becomes more stone and gravel covered. There used to be a group of cairns looking down on the A9, but these are now mostly gone.

Continue west-south-west and reach Geal-charn's top with its two cairns, the second being on the summit . Excellent views down Loch Ericht.

3. A' Mharconaich

Heading to A'Mharconaich

Heading to A'Mharconaich

Leave the Geal-charn's cairn and head south-west over stone and boulders following a faint path downhill. Further down, the path becomes more obvious, turns south and at the bealach between Geal-charn and A' Mharconaich, joins up with a track coming directly up from Balsporran.

Cross the bealach, then take a minor path that starts to climb off to left (south-east, there is sometimes a cairn marking the start point of this). This path gradually disappears into the undergrowth, but continue uphill over grass and occasional burn to A' Mharconaich's wind-swept crest.

A path on the crest is picked up heading north-east and meets two small cairns, the first of which is the summit , the second is a small shelter out of westerly winds.

4. Beinn Udlamain

On Sgairneach Mhor's summit plateau

On Sgairneach Mhor's summit plateau

On A' Mharconaich about-turn, follow the crest south-west.

The worn path meets up with fence-posts, which are followed down to a small bealach above Fraoch-choire.

Uphill next and mainly on grass, continue following the posts to the summit of Beinn Udlamain .

A huge untidy cairn made of boulders and old iron fence posts sits on the top. Beinn Udlamain is a broad hill, therefore you'll have to walk a short distance from the summit to get the best views.

5. Sgairneach Mhor

Looking south from Sgairneach Mhor

Looking south from Sgairneach Mhor

Leaving Beinn Udlamain's summit behind, continue following fence posts south, initially on grass, then stones and boulders. Going downhill, the boulders ease and heather is underfoot.

At around c900m , begin to turn slightly left (south-east) and start to pick up a faint path to cross the bealach between Beinn Udlamain and Sgairneach Mhor.

This path continues up to a small upright cairn (NN589732) on the north-western end of Sgairneach Mhor's western arm.

From this cairn, aim south-east over grassy ground, to join with the crest of Sgairneach Mhor's south-west shoulder and continue east-north-east to the trig point sheltered by cairn on the summit .

6. Sow of Atholl and return

Bridge over the Allt Coire Dhomhain

Bridge over the Allt Coire Dhomhain

From Sgairneach Mhor's trig point, start to head east, downhill on a path. The path keeps to the crest of Sgairneach Mhor's eastern shoulder and further on contours around a bump (marked 758 on OS maps) before dropping to a bealach before the Sow of Atholl. From the bealach head directly uphill, north-east over heather. It's only a climb of just over 150m to the Sow of Atholl's summit .

Drop northwards down heathery clad steep slopes to the Allt Coire Dhomhain and cross it using a bridge (at NN620750 and not currently marked on OS maps). Now on a track above the northern side of the Allt Coire Dhomhain, follow it eastwards towards the A9.

When the track meets up with the railway-line, follow it southwards for 300m to go under the railway . Pick up the cycle track and if you've not left a bike or other transport, follow the track back to Balsporran Cottages.

Route profile »

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Alternative and nearby routes »

Beinn Mholach from Dalnaspidal

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Meall na Leithreach from Dalnaspidal

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Time : 3:10hr


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