M31 | 1126 m. | 3694 ft.
Translation: Stacky hill
Pronuncation: byn kroo-achan

Stob Diamh and Ben Cruachan were the hills of 11 May 2004. The BBC weatherforecast had predicted some morning clouds and clear skies for the second part of the day. So, we parked our car in the lay-by close to the railway station below the Falls of Cruachan in morning mist. The effect of the Ring of Steall done the day before were still giving my muscles a hard time. On the path that leads up the eastern bank of the burn we climbed steeply through trees close to the gorge of the Falls. This path is steep indeed and not to be recommended as an easy start for the day.

After about 300m the path levelled off, left the wooded area and then the Cruachan Dam came into view. We reached the Cruachan Dam access road and walked on the tarmac to the dam where we followed the path along the eastern side of the reservoir. We soon reached the spot where the path branches off to the east and up the hillside. At around 500m the clouds engulfed us. Soon afterwards we stopped for a snack close  to some rocks. Then, up the path we went, heading as good as we possibly could in the fog and clouds for the ridge leading up to Stob Garbh.

At about 800m the cloud cover started shifting and we had some glimpses of the peaks – Beinn a’Bhùiridh being the first, then the ridge to Stob Garbh and finally Ben Cruachan to the west. Soon afterwards we cleared the clouds for good and walked up to Stob Garbh and then to Stob Diamh above a sea of white clouds. Marvellous, it almost looked like a temperature inversion in winter. At the summit of Stob Diamh Frank and I ate half of our sandwiches and enjoyed the prospect of a long ridge-walk in the sunshine.

Enthusiasm soon drove us on over Drochaid Ghlas and some interesting views of Coire Caorach opened up at the top of this intermediate top. In due time we reached the slightly awkward slabs before the final rise over bouldery terrain to the second munro, Ben Cruachan. There we met two English hikers who had come up the way of our descent route and we chatted for a few minutes before Frank and I headed down the bouldery south ridge of Ben Cruachan to the bealach before Meall Cuanail from where we descended the well-worn and obvious path to the reservoir.

Once on the landrover track it was but a stroll to the dam. There we took in the view of the ridge surrounding the Cruachan reservoir and enjoyed the cool wind blowing over the water. It had been a hot day! Then the path of ascent was rejoined and we got back to our car in glorious sunshine. A very satisfying walk in a splendid mountain setting with skies and views opening up more and more as the day wore on. Repetitas placet!

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Description Ben Cruachan is not a single peak but a magnificent mountain range of several peaks above the Pass of Brander between Loch Awe and Loch Etive. The main spine of the mountain runs from east to west, with several ridges branching off to north and south enclosing fine corries. The two southern ridges enclose a big grassy corrie in which lies the reservoir of the Ben Cruachan hydro-electric scheme. The name Ben Cruachan refers to the highest peak, which is best climbed from the Cruachan Reservoir. To reach it either start from the power station in the Pass of Brander and climb steeply up the path beside the stream flowing from the reservoir, or go up the access road which starts just south-west of Lochawe village. From the dam climb north-west up grassy slopes to reach the broad ridge of Meall Cuanail and climb it to the summit of that Top. Descend steeply for a short distance to the col leading to Ben Cruachan. (An alternative route goes to the head of the reservoir and then westwards on a steep path up Coire Dearg to the col). Climb to the summit of Ben Cruachan by the steep and rocky south ridge.The great attraction of Ben Cruachan is to traverse three or four of its peaks in one day. To do this having reached the summit, go east along the main ridge over Drochaid Ghlas to reach Stob Diamh, turn south along the ridge to Stob Garbh and 1 kilometre beyond there descend westwards down easy grassy slopes to return to the Cruachan Reservoir.