Hillwalking Camping

Summit camping on Beinn Trilleachan


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With just three weeks to go before our West Highland Way trip, we still hadn’t been camping together so Glen Etive was decided as our destination for the weekend and Beinn Trilleachan as the mountain of choice to camp on top. We needed a practice run as Dyan had never been wild camping before and I hadn’t been since I was Stargazing on Sgurr na Stri in Skye six months ago. I remember seeing photos of Beinn Trilleachan a few years ago and always vowed to camp on top as the views of Glen Etive around it and Loch Etive below looked great so this was the perfect time to try it out.

We didn’t start until 4pm, probably one of my latest starts in six years of hillwalking but we didn’t need to as it was only a three or four hour climb to the summit and with summer well and truly on the way, the nights are thankfully getting a lot lighter now. The weather was forecast to be clear and sunny and it couldn’t have been better in that respect, it the the wind that was worrying us though and it proved a real challenge to walk in with such heavy weights on our backs for a change.

A hard slog following this treeline up at the beginning of the ascent.

Braving the wind to take in all the beauty.

The views of Ben Starav, Glen Etive and beyond opening up.

Strangely enough, when we finally got on top of the ridge and reached the summit of Meall nan Gobhar and beyond, the wind actually calmed down which was a welcome surprise. It would slowly linger around as a quiet breeze though, then out of nowhere a hugely powerful gust would almost blow us off our feet. It made standing on the edges of cliffs and gullies that bit more exciting!

Beinn Trilleachan is famed for it’s slabs and rocky nature higher up near the summit and it was definitely an interesting place to walk because of this. With the grassy slopes now behind us, we were constantly pointing out curious rock formations and lines in the slabs which seemed to stretch out ahead of us endlessly. Not long later we had reached the summit and were basking in the views of Loch Etive below us as the sun started to set.

Strange lines in the slabs en route to the summit.

Beinn Trilleachan summit cairn overlooking Loch Etive and Ben Cruachan in the distance.

After running around on the summit for around 10 minutes trying to find a place to camp away from the now gale force wind, we finally settled on a nice spot a short walk to the west of the summit. The great views of the sunset above the Munro of Beinn Sgulaird made this another absolutely stunning place to camp and I thought how lucky Dyan was to experience this for her first wild camp. Mine was almost exactly a year ago to the day, up my local Ochil Hills in Stirling which paled quite drastically in comparison to this.

After quickly setting up the tents – which was still a bit tricky due to the wind which was almost impossible to escape completely – we sat down for a wee dram and watched the sun as it slowly crept behind Beinn Sgulaird. We were both ecstatic at being out in such beautiful conditions and even realised that we hadn’t seen a single person since we started walking. We had the mountain to ourselves!

The perfect spot to watch the sun as it set behind Beinn Sgulaird.

A wee dram to warm us up as the sun went down.

Beinn Sgulaird summit as the last of the sun disappears.

We didn’t want this light show to end.

The next morning was another windy one but the sun was out and sky was blue so we couldn’t have asked for much more. Instead of heading back down the same way we ascended the previous day, we decided to go straight down the gully which passes the Trilleachan Slabs. If we weren’t already awake from the brutal winds, decending roughly 700 metres in 1km down this gully was sure to make us take notice. It was quite a slog and I was so glad the weather was clear and dry as this part of the day would have been hellish in the rain. The path was quite rocky in places and with the weight on our backs, it caused us to slip a few times but it wasn’t enough to spoil the great weather and views all around us as we descended closer and closer to Loch Etive.

The steep descent down to Loch Etive begins.

Looking back up where we descended from.

The impressive and steep Trilleachan Slabs. There was no-one to be seen on them this day.

As we reached the loch for the final mile or two walk back to the car, we both decided we had had enough exercise for one weekend and wouldn’t bother with any more hills on the way home. It was around 10am and the weather was beautiful so we would just take our time on the road back and enjoy Scotland at it’s best. Stopping to have breakfast by Loch Etive first, then some more time exploring the rest of the glen before hitting the road with many more stops on the way.

Emerging from the small forest above Loch Etive.

Not a bad view to end the day with.

Loch Tulla is always on the list of stopping places for me.

Beinn Trilleachan is the unsung hero of Glen Etive in my eyes now. I haven’t heard many people mention it but it sits in a perfect spot that offers superb views no matter which direction you look and the hill itself is a great climb with real character on top. I can’t think of much more you would want so definitely recommend it. It has given us great memories and also a valuable piece of training before our West Highland Way trip later this month.

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  • Reply
    Big Bad Bill
    3rd May 2017 at 9:45 pm

    Another fantastic report and excellent pics Highland Wanderer. Well done to Dyan on her first venture of wild camping.?

    • Reply
      16th May 2017 at 7:36 pm

      Thanks Bill, it was quite an adventure. We are definitely prepared for the West Highland Way now!

  • Reply
    David Guenot
    3rd May 2017 at 9:58 pm

    Great post and stunning pics !!

    • Reply
      16th May 2017 at 7:37 pm

      Cheers David, glad you enjoyed it!

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