East of Glen Etive

East of Glen Etive

Hillwalking route up Ben Starav and neighbouring Munros east of Loch Etive

Ben Starav is the dominant peak in a range of peaks east of Loch Etive. Following crests, this circular route takes in all five Munros.

Route outline


Ben Starav, 

Beinn nan Aighenan, 

Glas Bheinn Mhor, 

Stob Coir' an Albannaich, 

Meall nan Eun

Ascent 2560m (8390ft)
Distance 25km (16m)
Time 10:30hr
Start/finish Nr head of Loch Etive
Grid Ref : NN137469
easy hard
easy hard
easy hard
ok fab

With sea-level start and an ascent of just under 1100m, there is a hard, demanding slog to reach the summit of Ben Starav when approached from Loch Etive. Once this summit is reached, that's the hard hiking done, as the cols between the remaining summits are all above 700m.

Route finding in general is fairly obvious following ridges that have worn paths along their crests. The detour to Beinn nan Aighenan and the traverse of Meall Tarsuinn have the faintest paths whereas finding the switchback on the descent of Stob Coir' an Albannaich and the route down Meall nan Eun are the trickiest bits to navigate.

Route map

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Route description

1. Getting to Coileitir

Road down Glen Etive

On the A82 that travels from Tyndrum to Fort William, east of Glencoe and just west of the access for the Kingshouse Hotel, there is a junction signposted "Glen Etive". From this junction a narrow, single track road heads southwards down the glen.

The River Etive through glen is a favourite with canoists, so can be busy when wet ! The area is now also famed for Skyfall and sadly infamous for 'dirty camping'.

Head down the narrow road through the glen for 16km to where there is a small hut that looks like a bus-stop shelter and a track heading down off left, barred by a chain. There is some roadside parking here, though rather limited.

2. Ben Starav

Crossing the Allt Mhearan

Head down the track and cross the bridge over the River Etive. There's a juction immediately after the bridge, the track heading left is the return route.

Head right towards the building of Coileitir , which is now enclosed by a high deer fence. The path follows the edge of the fence and comes around the opposite side.

Beyond this the path splits, keep to the right, cross some wet ground and head on the path towards the River Etive. The path reaches the Allt Mhearan, where there are two bridges a few metres upstream to cross.

Now on the south side of the burn, follow the wet path to the lower slopes of Ben Starav's northern shoulder, where the path splits .

One path heads due south to follow the Allt nam Meirleach into the coire, the other strikes directly uphill. Take the uphill path which continues unrelentingly steady incline.

There are some bits of easy scrambling here and there and one or two short sections of boulderfield to cross, but generally just keep to the path all the way to Beinn Starav's summit . The views are wonderful, particularly looking over Beinn Sgulaird to the Hebrides.

Heading up Ben Starav from Coileitir

3. Beinn nan Aighenan

Descending Ben Starav to Bealachan Lochain Ghaineamhaich

From Ben Starav's summit, head south-east over a flattish area , then turn north-east. Ahead is the eastern top of Ben Starav , but infront of you will be the narrow ridge to get there.

Aim straight for the top, any slight difficulties on the ridge can be bypassed on the south side, but it's more fun to stick to the crest.

From this eastern top, head east-south-east and start to drop on a path over loose bouldery ground with sharp drops on your left (north). There is an impressive line of quartzite cutting through the crags.

As Bealachan Lochain Ghaineamhaich is approached, the ground underfoot becomes easier and grass covered. At this bealach a decision needs made - detour for Beinn nan Aighenan or continue to Glas Bheinn Mhor !

Assuming you're intending to hike up Beinn nan Aighenan, look for a path contouring off right - follow this over grass and below a few rocky outcrops on your left towards the col below Beinn nan Aighenan, where the ground becomes more rough with lose stones and some rocky slabs.

Head uphill on an obvious path that zig-zags as it climbs trying to avoid a few slight difficulties. You''ll pass a small lochan (ok, just really a big puddle), indicating Beinn nan Aighenan's summit is not far. Good views from the small summit cairn , with a particularly fine outlook to Ben Cruachan northern aspect.

Heading up Beinn nan Aighenan

4. Glas Bheinn Mhor

Between Meall nan Tri Tighearan and Glas Bheinn Mhor

Return on the path to the bealach between Beinn nan Aighenan and the main ridge towards the col . Head back up the path for a bit, then come off the path and head directly up the grass-covered slope ahead.

A fairly steep ascent with a few rocky section reaches the ridge west of the minor summit of Meall nan Tri Tighearnan, from where a path is picked up and followed eastwards.

The path travels uphill to Meall nan Tri Tighearnan , followed by a drop of around 70m to reach the base of the final climb up Glas Bheinn Mor. There's a climb of around 200m following the path all the way to the dome summit of Glas Bheinn Mor , where a small cairn rests.

5. Stob Coir' an Albannaich

Descending Glas Bheinn Mhor with Stob Coir' an Albannaich ahead

Leave Glas Bheinn Mhor's summit and head east, losing around around 100m of height. As ground levels out, the path gradually turns north-east, then starts to drop once more.

Although the path is fairly obvious, there is some rough terrain to be encountered as the bealach between Glas Bheinn Mhor and Stob Coir' an Albannaich is reached. At the bealach there are a couple of cairns and a path crossing the col.

Cross the bealach and strike directly uphill on a rough path zig-zagging up steep loose ground. After climbing around 100m, the gradient easies, a small cairn is met and the path disappears.

Stob Coir' an Albannaich's summit can been seen ahead, simply - make a bee-line for it. Some wet grassy ground is crossed on route, before the gently rising slopes of Stob Coir' an Albannaich's southern face are hiked up. There's a cairn perched on a small rocky terrace on Stob Coir' an Albannaich's summit , from where superb views in all directions can be taken in on clear days .

6. Meall nan Eun

South of Stob Coir' an Albannaich's summit

In mist and/or snowy conditions, the continuation from Stob Coir' an Albannaich's summit can be confusing !

Head east from Stob Coir' an Albannaich's summit for 500m, dropping around 150m of height. The top of a grassy gully on your left (north) is reached (usually marked by a small cairn) . Begin to head down this gully on a faint path. The path follows a grassy break at a slant between lines of rock and the ground can be wet and loose.

Gradually height is lost and the bealach between Stob Coir' an Albannaich and the minor summit of Meall Tarsuinn with some small lochans is reached.

A fairly obvious path crosses this bealach and continues over Meall Tarsuinn .

Beyond Meall Tarsuinn, the path again drops over grass and some rough terrain to reach one last bealach before the last significant rise on the route.

A gently rising grassy slope is hiked up to reach a wide crest west of Meall nan Eun's summit, from where a fairly level walk eastwards tracing a faint path bags the small cairn on the top . The views from Meall nan Eun's rather uninspiring bulk are surprisingly rather fine !

Meall nan Eun from Meall Tarsuinn

7. Return to Glen Etive

At the Lairig Dhochard below Meall nan Eun

Although Meall nan Eun appears quite characterless when compared to the other surrounding peaks, it has some surprises waiting !

From Meall nan Eun's summit cairn, about-turn and follow the path north-west along the hill's grassy crest.

After around 1km, the ground starts to drop quite sharply and, unexpectedly, rocky sections begin to block progress. Aim northwards, carefully picking a route down to the Lairig Dhochard with its old wall crossing the bealach.

Turn north-west again, pick up a fairly substantial burn and follow it down. A path gradually forms, which is followed through wet ground and thigh deep grass downhill. The path becomes a track, heads through a wall and eventually reaches the bridge over the Allt Ceitlein.

Aim back along the track tracing the east bank of the River Etive to arrive back at the bridge near Coileitir and return to the roadside.

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