FATMAP difficulty grade
On this loop, you will take in two Munros, Stob Garbh (980m) and Ben Cruachan (1126m).
Once you’re up, you stay up, so this is a route for fairer weather.
This is an absolute beauty for the technical runner, with non-stop rocks, boulders, and scree littering the trail. Parking is best found on the side of the A85 near the train station—there is a wide verge.
The route starts by passing under the railway line before immediately kicking steeply up on singletrack; there’s no easing in on this one! The track is easy to follow up the side of the river which flows out of Cruachan Reservoir.
Once out of the woods, circumnavigate the dam on the road before re-joining a singletrack path on the eastern edge of the reservoir.
This section can be quite damp, but it’s shorted-lived as you’re soon gaining elevation on your way to Stob Garbh then Stob Diamh.
The track on the ascent can be difficult to follow in places, but if you head for the ridge at the top, you can’t really go wrong.
Once on the ridge, there is an excellent path that’s a lot of fun to run. Follow the ridge track over Stob Garbh, then onto Stob Diamh, before dropping down in a westerly direction, but staying on the ridge.
You’ll pass over Drochard Ghlas before pushing on for the main summit of Ben Cruchan, which looms large.
There are a couple of easy scrambling sections coming off Drochard Ghlas and on the way up to Ben Cruchan, but these can be navigated around if required. The descent off Ben Cruchan is tough going on very rocky terrain with a scree section as you approach the saddle between the Cruchan and Meall Cuanail.
At the saddle, you have two options: continue up to Meall Cuanail (as per the plotted route), or drop down the path, which will be on your left, heading directly towards the reservoir.
If you dropped down the path to the reservoir, follow the fireroad to meet back up with the plotted route.
If you summited Meall Cuanail, then you need to cut your own line down the mountain, as there is no path or track to follow on this section.
It’s relatively quick going, and you can take a bearing off the dam to keep yourself heading in the right direction. Once back at the dam, you can retrace your steps on the same path you took on the way out or descend on the other side of the river (route plotted).
The path to the west of the river is less well trod and therefore slower going, but it does make the route into a nice loop rather than a tennis racket shape.
Whichever you choose, you can’t really go wrong!