A' Mharconaich

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A' Mharconaich
Inverness-shire, Perthshire
A Mharconaich from the south.jpg
A' Mharconaich from the south
Range: Drumochter Hills
Summit: 3,199 feet NN604762
56°51’22"N, 4°17’28"W

A' Mharconaich is a mountain of the Drumochter Hills on the border of Inverness-shire with Perthshire, which reaches a height of 3,199 feet at its summit, and so it qualifies as a Munro.

The hill is just within the Cairngorms National Park although it is not part of the Cairngorms mountains.

Its name means "The Horse Place".


A' Mharconaich is a Munro of 3,199 feet. It is well seen by travellers on the A9 to which it shows it more steeper and rugged eastern flanks with a high corrie located just beneath the summit. The name of the mountain, "The horse place", dates from a time when horses were a valuable element of the economy of the region and would be gathered on slopes such as these.[1] The county boundary between Perthshire and Inverness-shire runs over the summit and is marked by old rusting fence posts.


Looking west from the summit
Looking down onto the Pass of Drumochter from the Boar of Badenoch

A' Mharconaich has a south-west to north-east orientated summit ridge, just under a mile long with high points at each end. The north-eastern summit is regarded as the highest point and this has been confirmed by an Abney Level survey which found the south-west top, named Bruach nan Iomairean, to be a few yards lower.[2]

The 1974 edition of Munro's Tables moved the summit to the south-west top, possibly in error, but the location reverted to the original summit in 1981.[3] A' Mharconaich throws out two fine steep ridges on either side of the eastern corrie. The north-eastern ridge descends initially as a steep buttress before easing and continuing for two miles to reach the A9 at Balsporran Cottages.

The less-well-defined eastern ridge descends steeply from Bruach nan Iomairean to a col with a height of approximately 2,149 feet which links to the hill the Boar of Badenoch also known as An Torc. The line of old fence posts can be followed the whole way.

The Boar reaches a height of 2,425 feet and is a "Graham Top". It is a fine viewpoint down into the Pass of Drumochter.[4]

To the SW A' Mharconaich links to the adjacent Munro of Beinn Udlamain, again following the fence posts for 2½ miles across undulating ground with little loss of height. This area is often teeming with deer being part of the Dalnaspidal deer forest.[5]

A mile and a half to the north is another Munro, Geal-chàrn which is reached by descending to a height of 2,425 feet and traversing around the head of Coire Fhar.

Drainage from A' Mharconaich reaches the east coast, but is divided by the Pass of Drumochter, either going north to join the River Spey or south to meet the River Tay.[6]

Ascents and view

There are two starting points for the direct ascent of A' Mharconaich and several permutations if it is being climbed in conjunction with other hills as it usually is. One route starts on the A9 at the top of the Pass of Drumochter at grid reference NN632755 and goes up Coire Dhomhain for a mile and then ascending north-west to the col between A' Mharconaich and the Boar of Badenoch from where the line of fence posts is followed steeply to the summit ridge. This starting point can be used for a complete circuit of Coire Dhomhain taking in the other two Munros of Sgairneach Mhòr and Beinn Udlamain.

An alternative start is at Balsporran cottages (NN627791), and offers a direct ascent up the north-eastern ridge or a longer walk which takes in the adjoining Munro of Geal-chàrn. The summit is marked by a substantial collection of stones which has been shaped in to a wind shelter rather than the usual cairn. The view includes Loch Ericht and Loch Pattack to the north-west and the Ben Alder massif.[7]


  1. "The Magic of the Munros", Irvine Butterfield, ISBN 0-7153-2168-4 Page 76
  2. Database of British and Irish Hills..
  3. Database of British and Irish Hills; The Munros and Tops 1891-1997. Gives details of temporary summit re-location in 1974.
  4. "The High Mountains of Britain and Ireland, Vol 1", Irvine Butterfield, ISBN 0-906371-30-9 Page 114 Gives mountain topography and some route information.
  5. "Hamish's Mountain Walk", Hamish Brown, ISBN 1-898573-08-5 Page 155 Says the col to Beinn Udlamain is often full of deer.
  6. "The Munros, Scotland's Highest Mountains", Cameron McNeish, ISBN 1-84204-082-0 Page 94
  7. "The Munros (SMC Guide)", Donald Bennett (editor) et al., ISBN 0-907521-13-4 Page 90 Gives mountain description and routes.