Arran’s A’ Chir – The Coward’s Route

14 10 2011

Most people think you need to be at least a scrambler to get onto A’ Chir and, to do the full traverse, a rock climber… not so… here I will introduce another “Coward’s route” for those who aren’t aware of it.


A Chir & Cir Mhor

After utilising the excellent Arran bus services from our holiday let in Corrie down to the A841/B880 (String Road) junction just before Brodick, we set off up the String Road for about 100 yards and then turned off right onto the minor road for Glen Rosa. After less than a mile the last house is passed and this becomes a rough vehicle track with pleasant views of Ben Nuis ahead (if you’re lucky enough to have clear weather).

After about another mile and a half you reach the bend in the glen (where a route takes off for Ben Nuis and Tarsuinn just over the bridge crossing the Garbh Allt). We continued north up Glen Rosa along a very pleasant narrow track keeping with the river and passing lots of pretty waterfalls for another 2.5 miles or so until we reached the tongue coming down from ‘The Saddle’.


Glen Rosa River


Glen Rosa in Autumn

Here the path splits and we took the left fork which soon heads up a good path into Coire Buidhe between A’ Chir and Cir Mhor.

As soon as we reached the very squelchy corrie, we headed across the bog to the nearest spur of A’Chir which rises south to a shoulder. The route up here is fairly steep and the turf has a bit of a tendency to peel off underfoot when wet but it isn’t in the least intimidating.


Easy route up grass or ridge on left, climbers’ route on right!
A Chir-easy route!


A Chir – Climbers Ridge

It’s only a short climb to the shoulder though where there are excellent views across the deep void of Coire Daingean to Beinn Tarsuinn and Beinn a’ Chliabhain.

We then headed west on a short ridge past a huge block and soon were contouring upwards across a steepening grass slope to the summit tor. We turned right to attempt to tackle the summit tor from the south but we found the rock was wet and quite greasy for Arran (it’s normally very grippy everywhere). It was a case of entering a gap in the tor and wedging yourself up it about 5 feet to get your feet onto a block on the right and then climb up onto the block above. Would be a simple enough move in dry conditions – Richard got up it, I decided not to as I didn’t like it being so greasy. As you’re literally inside the tor at this point though there’s no exposure.

While Richard went on up to the top of the tor, I had a look round the other 3 sides (one side is a drop down a largish crag). The far end had kind of big steps down it but I didn’t really fancy them (although they were probably fine). I eventually found a slimy, mossy ramp up the west side of the tor which headed off up to the top. I decided to try it. Unfortunately there was a bulge near the start just above the ledge which really prevents you from walking past it up the ramp, so I knelt down and went past that bit on all fours. I was going to stand up but, after looking down the very steep mountainside below me (the west side of A’ Chir is extremely steep and has lots of sheer crag) I decided against it and continued up the ledge on my hands and knees. When I looked up there was a very amused Richard stood above me asking what the hell I was doing and why didn’t I just walk up?

At the top of the ramp I had very slimy knees but what the hell – I got there. We both went back down the ramp – standing up this time as, before we got to the bulge, Richard decided we could climb off the side of the ramp onto the path contouring round the summit tor (anyway, I sent him down in front 😉 – I sat down to climb off the ramp and therefore felt safe enough. The contour path is a good but quite narrow path but feels perfectly safe so you can go and look at the climbers’ ridge.

We then mooched around the summit a bit and I took a photo along the scrambler’s ridge normally used in ascent

– the ridge-top looks okay but Richard couldn’t find a way up onto it last time we visited Arran, despite looking around for 20 minutes or so. It is a very steep start up some more or less vertical slabs from what we could see.

All that was necessary then was to reverse our ascent route. Instead of going down from the shoulder on the breaking-away turf, we decided to turn straight down the steep grass before the huge rock on the side ridge. It was a very steep but perfectly safe descent back down to the corrie.

We did Cir Mhor on a separate trip when we traversed from Ben Nuis to Casteal Abhail but, as I don’t propose to write up that particular route and Cir Mhor is my favourite Arran mountain I will still put its picture in here.


Cir Mhor from Glen Rosa

You can easily get to Cir Mhor from a short and very easy path up the corrie wall which takes you to the foot of its easy but quite steep SW ridge.

There is also a route up the west face of A’ Chir for those who don’t mind extremely steep scree (which I do). Nearly half way along the western bypass path below the mountain there is a steep scree run goes straight up to the summit (shown between the 2 arrows in the photo below). Cir Mhor is lined up behind A’ Chir so the summit on the photo is actually Cir Mhor with A’ Chir’s summit fading in below it.


Photo has a thin black line to delineate A’Chir’s summit
A Chir (Cir Mhor directly behind)

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13 responses

12 01 2013
fedupofuserids

Can vaguely remember seeing this one on your ex-forum Carol. Handy info on A’ Chir but I’ll probably opt for the ‘wimps’ path to speed up the traverse of the ridge from Beinn Tarsuinn to Cir Mhor. Nice to know the rocks pretty grippy 🙂

Cheers Simon

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12 01 2013
mountaincoward

You must have missed it on here originally – of course, this is by far the best place to visit to read about it 😉

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12 01 2013
fedupofuserids

I missed email notifications for a while – I think my spam filter may have been intercepting them for a while. Will defo have a look at A’Chir but I’m more interested in the Corbetts! Humps & Graham tops of Corbetts will have to wait for another life time (or another Arran visit 😉 )
Thanks for the advice, useful as always 🙂

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28 06 2012
tomyboy73

Hi, long time no speak, loved this, read it before i went to arran a few weeks ago, was very handy as I hadn’t planned to go up A`Chir till i read this ! Did the three beinns walk route (on wh) and had a good look. Will be going back to do Chir Mor sometime soon hopefully follow your route up A Chir, not on my hands and knees though, lol

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1 07 2012
mountaincoward

Hiya, nice to hear from you again! I’m jealous of your Arran trip as I can’t go anywhere until my latest broken bones heal as I can’t drive just now. I did just manage a short trip to the Lakes as someone gave me a lift from Carnforth station.

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22 11 2011
Dan (aka icemandan)

Did the Arran ridge many years ago when young and reckless. My abiding memory of A Chir was finding a direction arrow painted on the rock which appeared to point straight off the side of a cliff. That was too much for us and we did a (probably much more dangerous) improvised escape down a gulley. Even though it was midsummer, we ended up squelching down Glen Sannox in the dark.

Must go back there.

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22 11 2011
mountaincoward

LOL to the arrow! If you do go back, make sure you send some photos of the bits I could never do 😉
Carol.

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18 10 2011
Tango

Hello Carol, I browse WH site sometimes, just to see what is going in the walking world…& I see you are off to Wales..should be a laugh i would have loved to go on that, but not a member of WH anymore, just too busy with life etc.. & also im still stuck out here on them dates… Oman is as safe as houses at the moment..we have no problems there when we go..Hopefully going at the end of November, for some via ferrita….not spelt correctly…looking forward to that.. sounds like a good job you have there….!!!!.. Well you have a good weekend & enjoy.. Terry..

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19 10 2011
mountaincoward

I’m hoping for some decent weather in Wales. If it’s a good forecast, I may go a day earlier – if it’s cr*p, I’ll be sticking to the original dates. Alan (mountainstar) has me down as a walk leader for Snowdon on the Saturday. I was going to do the western routes but apparently now I’m doing the PYG track. I’ve said it would be boring to then take everyone down the Miners’ Track so am hoping to do a 2-car shuffle and take folks down across Bwlch Main (my fave bit) and then down the south side to near Llyn Gwynant.

Via Ferrata would terrify me I think. But you never know, since I’ve been going to the indoor climbing wall, perhaps it wouldn’t now? I keep meaning to try the one in the Lakes (Honister)…
Carol.

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18 10 2011
bob

Hi Carol.
Arran Granite can be funny rock to scramble over.If its dry and sunny it feels safe and inviting.If its cold or wet in any way it does feel dark,unsafe and slightly threatening.Never noticed that when I was younger though.Probably due to its smooth rounded texture and large, not human sized scale. of boulders.
Nothing else quite like it though is there? We are so lucky all this great scenery is right on our doorstep.
Ps. Nothing wrong with knees ,elbows and bum shuffling.I,ve used them all on Arran at one time or another.

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19 10 2011
mountaincoward

The trouble with bum-shuffling on Arran, it tends to scrape the seat out of your pants – as happened to me one year! LOL

But I think you’re right with why it can feel threatening scrambling on places like Arran – our local gritstone is the same. It’s very grippy (even in the wet) but extremely rounded so none of the holds feel positive. Also, like you say, the ‘steps’ are always gigantic.

But Arran has to be just about my favourite bit of Scotland 🙂
Carol.

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17 10 2011
Tango

Do you do any work Carol?? it just seems you spend half your life climbing mountains!!. which isnt a bad thing!.. You seem to doing alot better than myself stuck out here in the desert…ive managed Oman a few times.. im back in Britain for a week next month!!! Walking Cold Fell then the next day Sca Fell Pike.. Aly hasnt done that 1 yet!! looking forward to those days out in the camper van!!! By the way some lovely photos again…How long did you spend on Arran?? Terry…

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17 10 2011
mountaincoward

Hi Terry,
that was actually an archival report from my ex-forum so was a couple of years ago. I’ve spent 2 separate weeks on Arran – both great – it’s a superb place.

But workwise, I get a week off every month due to my shift pattern so that gives me lots of time to visit the hills 🙂

Is Oman still one of the safe Middle Eastern areas since all this year’s unrest?
Carol.

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