Approaching Toll a' Choin

Maoile Lunndaidh from Strathfarrar

Hillwalking route to Maoile Lunndaidh from Glen Strathfarrar

A lovely walk along fine paths above the shores of Loch Monar leads to the southern base of Maoile Lunndaidh from where an old stalkers path travels uphill into Toll a' Choin below the summit crest. A detour to An Sithean doesn't add much distance, just a tad over 300m of ascent.



Route outline


Munros

Maoile Lunndaidh

Corbetts

An Sithean

Ascent 1350m (4420ft)
Distance 25km (16m)
Time 8:15hr
Start/finish Orrin Dam on Loch Monar
Grid Ref : NH204394
Terrain
easy hard
Nav
easy hard
Effort
easy hard
Scenery
ok fab


This long route from the western end of Glen Strathfarrar follows excellent stalkers paths above the shore of Loch Monar and much the way up Maoile Lunndaidh, with only the last 2km up to the summit on pathless terrain. A detour to the nearby Corbett peak of An Sithean doesn't add much distance, just a tad over 300m of ascent, but terrain is rough with much of the stalkers paths being overgrown.



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Route description


1. Getting to Glen Strathfarrar

Works by Orrin Dam, Maoile Lunndaidh in distance

Works by Orrin Dam, Maoile Lunndaidh in distance

The A831 heads from Beauly south-west to Cannich. Around 15km down this road is Struy and just before the bridge at the entrance to this village, a sign points to Strathfarrar. There is a short drive to the gate barring access to the glen. There is a parking area for people prefering to leave the car and walk or cycle up the glen.

Beyond the gate, there are no access restrictions to walkers and cyclists, but vehicle access is restricted. From Spring to Autumn, the restrictions depend on the day of the week. In winter access can be gained by Mountaineering Scotland members by prior booking. More information is available on the Mountaineering Scotland website. If driving along the glen, note the speed limit is 30mph !

It's 14km from the gate to Monar Dam, just before which there is a parking area. Note that the estate may change or restrict where to park and as I understand it, it is no longer permitted to drive over Monar Dam.


2. Along Loch Monar

Beyond Creag Dubh above Loch Monar

Beyond Creag Dubh above Loch Monar

Leave the parking area and hike uphill towards the northern side of Monar Dam. The tarmac road turns northwards and heads into some woodland as it becomes more of an estate track. This track drops down to the buildings by Monar Lodge , where some signs direct walkers through a deer-fence and uphill on a mucky path for a bit. Fair chance of being greeted by some stag ponies here !

Through the other side of the fenced-off area, and now on a decent path, a little height is lost before turning north-west and heading into an interesting gap between Creag Dhubh and Creag a' Chaobh.

Out of the gap, Moaile Lunndaidh and An Sithean come into view. The path drops down to a little wooded enclave and crosses a burn via a wooden bridge. This is repeated just around the corner , thereafter the path settles into a fairly direct line above the shore of Loch Monar.

About 1.5km onwards, the path crosses another burn, beyond which a stalkers path can be seen heading uphill . This is the beginning of a detour route up the Corbett An Sithean (see below for more details). For Maoile Lunndaidh, keep on the path above the shore of Loch Monar.

Following the shore of Loch Monar, the path turns north-west by an inlet and drops to some old sheilings .


3. Maoile Lunndaidh

Maoile Lunndaidh from Creag Toll a' Choin

Maoile Lunndaidh from Creag Toll a' Choin

Following the path now on the east bank of a burn, head up to where three burns converge. Ideally cross here, but if this is not possible due to river levels, there is a bridge around 200m upstream .

A path then aims west above the Allt a' Chreagain Bhuidhe for around 1km, before turning more northwards and climbing uphill. After briefly dropping a little, the path crosses the Allt Toll a' Choin , then climbs some more, before doing some twists and turns and disappearing as it enters Toll a' Choin .

Now on pathless ground, terrain is easy underfoot while aiming north-east for Maoile Lunndaidh's south-eastern shoulder. Heather thickens higher up, but once on the shoulder's crest , a faint path can be found to follow uphill.

The crest widens and grass on Maoile Lunndaidh's plateau is gained - the summit is close, though a compass bearing may be needed for a direct line to the cairn .


4. Creag Toll a'Choin and return

Heading back down the stalkers path to Loch Monar

Heading back down the stalkers path to Loch Monar

The most obvious choice for return is to about-turn and retrace your steps downhill and back along the path above Loch Monar.

There has been a bit of debate recently about the true summit on this hill - Maoile Lunndaidh or Creag Toll a'Choin, 1km to the south-west. With this in mind, anytime we were out with a guided group, we would always offer to hike from Maoile Lunndaidh out to Creag Toll a'Choin which is on a delightful grass-covered plateau. If you find yourself doing this, it might be worth descending directly from Creag Toll a'Choin's little cairn south-east down steep slopes to re-join the stalker's path above the Allt Toll a' Choin .


5. Detour to An Sithean

Maoile Lunndaidh from An Sithean

Maoile Lunndaidh from An Sithean

An Sithean is hiked around on the above route. Adding this Corbett in to the route pushes the distance up by a mere 1km with an additional ascent of just over 300m, therefore perhaps adding an extra hour onto the route.

I'm not sure if I'd prefer to climb An Sithean before or after bagging Maoile Lunndaidh, but there are a few points worth noting. There is a decent stalker's path up from Loch Monar up part of An Sithean's southern slope , thereafter pathless all the way to the summit. North-west of An Sithean's summit, there is a stalker's path to descend to the Torran Ceann Liath pass below Maoile Lunndaidh, however this path is overgrown by thick heather and easily lost (probably therefore better to descend rather than climb up).





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