Coire Ardair, Glen Spean Date Completed Tuesday 22nd March 2011
Start Point (OS Grid Ref) NN 48267 87268 Total Distance 8.03 miles / 12.9 km
Walking Time 2 hr 55 min Total Height Climbed 1,345 ft / 410 m
Total Time 4 hr 45 min Moving Average Speed 2.7 mph / 4.4 kph
OS Maps Explorer 401 1:25,000 Landranger 34 or 42 1:50,000
Weather Conditions Sunny spells, 10°C

Summits Height Status Download the GPS data file of this walk

Coire Ardair from the approachThe third day of our Winter / Spring holiday dawned bright and sunny and we felt like a good long walk. Unfortunately there had been some very heavy snow the week before and now the weather had warmed significantly, causing the lying snow to become very unstable and subject to collapse. As a result the SAIS were giving orange avalanche warnings on all high level routes in the area.

Over our bacon and eggs we decided on the walk up to the Coire Ardair on Creag Meagaidh, which we had read is one of the most impressive corries in Britain, but doesn't go high enough to warrant avalanche problems, perfect for our day out.

Soon we were all packed and ready. The drive to the car park at Aberader on the A86 was straight forward from Stronaba where we were staying and we donned our boots in the morning sunshine and set off in T-shirts with fleeces in rucksack (just in case). ( NN 48267 87268 )

The path starts as the 'all abilities' Creag Meagaidh Nature Reserve walk. From the car park we took the track NW to reach some buildings, the path passes to the right of the buildings, here you follow the right hand fork and the gradient increases.

The melt water coming off the hills was quite impressive and there were still some very large, deep snow-drifts to negotiate but as this path is now excellent (having previously been old railway sleepers) there were no real problems. The path heads up through fine young birch woodland following the river. Walking along in the warm sunshine listening to the song of the many birds who inhabit this woodland with the impressive cliffs of the corrie coming ever closer it was a joy and required many photo stops on route.

The first glimpse of Coire Ardair from the path

After the descent to the burn, the Alt Corrie Ardair and a bit more snow trudging; the path gains height again and almost unexpectedly the whole corrie opens up and the Lochan a' Choire comes into view, the lochan is at 630 metres ( NN 43948 88318, 2 hr actual time ).

The cliffs of Lochan a' Choire

The cliffs of the corrie at 400 metres high were still well corniced and sported a number of huge icicles in the gullies. We found a large boulder as a perfect spot for lunch in this huge ampitheatre and enjoyed ham sandwiches and coffee in the sunshine. We attempted to walk around the corrie on the path which leads to the 'window' but there were more large snow drifts and we decided against further investigation, so we walked down to the shore of the lochan before starting the descent.

We descended on the outward path; the meltwater coming down the burn had increased further and we were glad we did not have a pathless descent ahead of us. We stopped to watch a golden eagle soaring high above us, then continued down through the birch forest and back to the car.

Once back at the car we met a couple of OAPs...on a BMW motorbike who were contemplating their next Munro ascent, but were waiting for the snows to go before their next adventure. After the drive back to the cottage at Stronaba we relaxed in the garden with a cold beer, then enjoyed hot showers followed by pies for dinner.

That night the skies remained clear and as we had brought the telescope with us we spent some time star-gazing. The great gas clouds of the Orion Nebula and the Andromeda Galaxy showed up brilliantly in the dark skies, unlike the artifically lit town skies we are used to at home. Even the Milky Way was clearly visible, it was a fantastic end to a fantastic day.