Cruach Ardrain

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Cruach Ardrain
Cruach Ardrain from high on An Caisteal.jpg
Cruach Ardrain seen across Coire Earb from An Caisteal
Range: Crianlarich Hills
Summit: 3,432 feet NN409212
56°21’23"N, 4°34’36"W

Cruach Ardrain is a mountain amongst the Crianlarich Hills of Perthshire. It reaches a height of 3,432 feet at its summit, and so it qualifies as a Munro. It is to be found three miles south-east of Crianlarich.

Its name is Gaelic but its meaning is vague and has various translations into English. One popular version is “The High Heap”[1] however Cruach more usually means a stack, giving an alternative translation of “Stack of the High Part”.[2]

Cruach Ardrain Y-shaped, and is clearly delineated to the west by the upper valley of the River Falloch (Coire Earb) and to the east by the Benmore and Inverlochlarig glens and is one of the more distinctive of the group of mountains that stand in Glen Falloch. It has a fine pointed outline and is a well seen from the village of Crianlarich with which it is closely associated. A popular horseshoe ridge walk taking in the mountain starts and finishes in the village.


Cruach Ardrain from Glen Falloch

Cruach Ardrain’s Y shape is formed by three ridges which go north, north-west and south. The southern ridge links to the adjoining Munro of Beinn Tulaichean which lies a mile or so away across a high col at 2,707 feet.[3] Cruach Ardrain and Beinn Tulaichean are often climbed together in the same walk. A spur goes south-west off the south ridge to the subsidiary top of Stob Glas (2,674 feet) before continuing to link with another Munro, Beinn a' Chroin, however care is needed as Stob Glas is steep and rocky. The north and north-east ridges encircle the extensive Coire Ardrain which is rocky at its head and forested on its lower slopes.

The head of Coire Ardrain contains Y Gully, a scrambler's route which leads directly to the summit and gives a fine ice climb (Grade 1) in winter. Y Gully made the mountain popular with the early pioneers who enjoyed a challenging route to any summit.[4] Another well known ice climb on the mountain is Hollow Gully which is located on the rocky spur of Stob Glas (2,690 feet) which lies half a mile south-south-west of the main summit.

Stob Garbh at NN411221 is a subsidiary summit which qualifies as a "Munro top", reaching 3,146 feet above sea level, just over half a mile away on the northern ridge. The name Stob Garbh means "Rough Peak" and it lives up to its name by being rocky and needs care when being traversed. It can be by-passed on the west side but the path is steep and slippery and it is best to stick to the path over the crest. The original 1891 edition of Munro's Tables lists another Top at an intermediate point on the ridge, Stob Garbh South East Top at 3,035 feet.[3][5] This Top was deleted in the 1921 edition.

The north-west ridge has two intermediate summits; Meall Dhamh (2,671 feet) and Grey Heights (2,251 feet), before dropping steeply to Glen Falloch through a conifer plantation.

Naismith’s rule

In May 1892, the mountaineer William W Naismith devised Naismith's rule while walking over Cruach Ardrain on the way to the neighbouring mountain of Ben More. The rule is a simple formula for estimating walking time taking into account not just distance but also height to be ascended.[6]

Summit and ascents

The summit of Cruach Ardrain has two high points of similar same height, roughly 250 yards apart. Current Ordnance survey maps give a spot height of 1,046 m for the north-east top but no height for the south-west top. Older imperial maps show a 3,428-foot spot height (1,045 m) for the south-west top but no height for the north-east top. Sir Hugh Munro chose the north-east Top for the 1891 list with the comment “The Westerly top is given on the 6in OS as 3,429; the easterly, -77, the first two figures being obliterated. The height is probably therefore 3,477 as above, as it is only slightly higher than the westerly top”. The 1901 edition of the 6 inch (1:10,560) map showed that the “-77” height was in fact 3,377 feet and therefore merely a point on the ridge. Accordingly, the Munro summit was moved to the SW top in the 1921 edition of Munro's Tables, which was reversed in 1981 when the 1,046m spot height appeared on the 1976 1:25,000 map.[5] The two high points are separated by a shallow depression and the current summit having a large cairn.

The most popular ascent of Cruach Ardrain starts at Crianlarich and uses the north and north-west ridges as routes of ascent and descent. The north ridge is often recommended for ascent as it gives an exhilarating scramble over the “Top” of Stob Garbh, leaving the north-west ridge for descent. The plantations at the foot of the north-west ridge can be awkward to navigate but breaks in the forest do exist. A southern approach on mostly grassy slopes is possible from the roadhead before Inverlochlarig at NN445184.


  1. "The High Mountains of Britain and Ireland" Pages 318 Gives translation as “The High Heap“.
  2. "The Munros" Pages 14 Gives translation as “Stack of the High Part“.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Database of British and Irish Hills. Retrieved 17 Feb 2012.
  4. "The Magic of the Munros" Page 18 Gives details of Y Gully.
  5. 5.0 5.1 The Munros and Tops 1891-1997. Spreadsheet giving details of changes in successive editions of Munro's Tables.
  6. Details on Naismith.
Munros in SMC Area SMC Section 1 - Loch Lomond to Loch Tay

An CaistealBeinn a' ChleibhBeinn a' ChroinBeinn BhuidheBeinn ChabhairBeinn DubhchraigBeinn ÌmeBeinn NarnainBeinn TulaicheanBen ChonzieBen LomondBen LuiBen MoreBen OssBen VaneBen Vorlich, Dunb.Ben Vorlich, Perth.Cruach ArdrainStob BinneinStuc a' Chroin