Beinn Ruadh & Loch Eck Walks
“A choice of walks best accessed starting at the car-park at Inverchapel, approximately 8 miles north of Dunoon and 1 mile north of Benmore Botanic Garden, on the main A815 road. Buses for Strachur and Inveraray (routes 486 & 484) pass this spot”. Recommended by: Philip Norris of Lyall Cliff Self Catering in Dunoon
The car-park itself has a good information board with maps, and other walks also start here, notably towards Puck’s Glen on the track.
The hills around Loch Eck are particularly attractive and rewarding for hill walking.
For the Beinn Ruadh hill-walk, cross the footbridge in front of the car-park and then turn right, onto the viewpoint path. Turn left after about 350 yards as the path becomes steeper, with steps, through light woodland. After about 600 yards (at the next junction) turn slightly left(uphill) and continue for about 120 yards, before turning right off the path just before a gate & fence.
From this point on this is a rough cross-country hill-walk, and the next part is very steep and rough, but wonderfully scenic, with mesmerising views over Loch Eck.(See photo). Continue directly up the mountain’s south-western flank until a broad lumpy ridge is reached, at app 450m. Take care at this stage not to stray to the north,(left) where the going is very rough indeed with rocky outcrops.
Once on the ridge, bear left and take up a NNE walking direction, heading for the first summit (620m). It is well worth continuing to the main summit from here, despite the need temporarily to lose some height. The views from this traverse and the main summit(664m)are stunning, with the other Loch Eck hills, -Clach Bheinn, Ben Mhor, and Beinn Bheula all featuring, as well as more distant but excellent views to Ben Cruachan (in the northwest), and the ‘Arrochar Alps’ (to the northeast). Once high up, the going is generally very pleasant, – easier than on the lower part of the mountain.
From the main summit an extension to Sligrachan Hill (550m) is also very pleasant, but an extra 90 minutes should be allowed for this. Halfway there is a secluded small lochan which is breathtakingly beautiful.
The descent should be made by retracing one’s route. A good four and a half hours walking time are required for the Beinn Ruadh walk to both summits. Walkers should bear in mind that at least half of the ascent is quite exacting, rough, and steep.
Inverchapel car-park is also a good starting point for the excellent eastern Loch Eck Walk to Whistlefield.
After crossing the footbridge opposite the car-park, carry straight on, following the main, well-built path northwards. After about 20 minutes it climbs steadily in ’hairpins’ to reach a higher altitude (app 180m) which remains the height for much of the walk. Before long the path becomes a forestry track, and after the woodland begins, the views of Loch Eck become more intermittent, but still highly attractive.
Beware of mud on some of this section if the weather has been wet! In due course, after about 2 hours, Whistlefield is reached. Just before this, keep left, and when joining the minor road from Ardentinny, also turn left, to find Whistlefield Inn about 400yards down the hill on your left. (See photo on L Eck Path)
Path above Loch Eck
Clach Bheinn from Beinn Ruadh
On Beinn Ruadh
Heading up from Inverchapel in winter