Monarch of the Glen

By James Carron

Anyone who has watched the BBC's Sunday evening drama Monarch of the Glen will have had a sneak preview of the beautiful countryside around Loch Laggan. Much of the series was shot in this part of the world, the lodge at Ardverikie on the wooded shores of the loch being one of the main locations.

The estate is also the setting for this challenging day walk which takes in three Munros occupying the high ground between Loch Laggan and Loch Ericht. Be prepared for a fairly long walk in, but this helps create a real feeling of remoteness when you reach the shores of Lochan na h-Earba which runs parallel with Laggan. A stalker's path lifts you up to the col above and from here it's a straightforward ascent on to the craggy summit of Creag Pitridh, offering a clear view north to Ardverikie. Continue on to neighbouring Geal Charn and a new panorama opens up, this time south over Loch Ericht to Dalnaspidal Forest and the Grampians. You can call it a day at that, with two in the bag, or cross the col to climb Beinn a Chlachair, the highest of the trio, which boasts a magnificent rocky coire beneath the summit.

Set off from the car park, cross the concrete bridge over the River Spean and follow the track up towards the farm steading at Luiblea. At the first junction you reach, bear left away from the property and the track rises gently along a low embankment above the Abhainn Ghuilbinn. It climbs more steeply to a gate and another junction.

Turn right here and the track continues to climb, skirting round the south west flank of Binnein Shuas, the craggy peak up to your left to reach a three-way junction above a small lochan. Go left here and the track runs fairly level, before dropping down to a wide wooden bridge over the Allt Coire Pitridh at the south west end of Lochan na h-Earba. Follow the track along above the loch until it turns sharp left and a path branches off on the right.

An obvious stalker's path rises over the hillside, past the remains of some old sheilings, following the Allt Coire Pitridh upstream. As with many stalker's paths, the route is quite well graded, but it can still be a hard slog up here, particularly if the summer sun is beating down on you. As the path nears the col, it reaches a junction.

Branch off to the left here on a path which heads north, skirting into the col between Creag Pitridh on the left and Geal Charn on the right. It's up to you which of the two peaks you want to do first. For Geal Charn, head up to the left, a fairly obvious path rising up the south flank to reach the summit. Retrace your steps to the col and then head over a low dip before climbing up on to Creag Pitridh. It's a shorter ascent than its neighbour, but the final haul is a bit steeper as the path negotiates a route up through the crags to the summit where you'll be rewarded with fine views north over Loch na h-Earba towards Loch Laggan. From here, retrace your steps to the stalker's path junction.

Follow the stalker's path south up the north east flank of Beinn a'Chlachair. The way wends its way through rocks before flattening out and climbing more gently up towards the summit. As you get nearer, the path skirts round the back of crags dropping into breathtaking Coire Mor Chlachair on the right. The top is marked by a large stone cairn and there are panoramic views - north over Glen Spean and south over An Lairig towards Ben Alder and Loch Ericht.

Head west away from the summit and then descend north west over the broad slope of the hill. It is fairly steep and trekking poles come into their element here, taking some of the pressure off weary knees. Underfoot is a carpet of heather and grass and it can be wet in places, particularly lower down where the slope flattens off before rising gently to reach a track. Follow this north for a mile to reach the three-way junction above the small lochan. Turn left here and retrace your steps back to the start.


Distance 14 miles/22kms
Map OS Landranger 1:50,000 sheet 42
Start/parking Large layby on A86 at track junction to Luiblea (grid ref NN 433830)
Grading Challenging upland walk with track and path for the majority of the route. Suitable for fit walkers. Choose a good clear summer day and make sure you go prepared with waterproofs, food and drink.