- Distance – 15.6 Km
- Ascent – 1440 m
- Height – 1078 and 997 m
- My Time – 11 hours
- Season completed – Autumn
- Difficulty – 6 / 10
- Weather – Glorious autumnal sunshine and a cloud inversion that followed me up the hill – bliss
- Just want to see the photos to get a feel for the hike – click here
- Route Map
First thing I can say about Ben Starav and Glas Bheinn Mhòr, is that they are absolutely brilliant hills to climb. The location, the scenery, the length of the route, everything is just magnificent!
Just look at that view! This was taken somewhere close to the summit of Glas Bheinn Mhòr. So many hills, so many future walks to see.
I was truly blessed with great weather which made it even better.
Get there early, first recommendation. There isn’t much in the way of parking, a couple of lay-bys and the like where a couple of cars could fit. There are some other areas further from the start, but no one wants to hike along a road if it can be avoided.
So you should find somewhere at – OS Grid Ref: NN 13662 46854 or couple of more spaces at – OS Grid Ref: NN 13519 46745.
When I was there (Sep 2021), their were various construction vehicles using the area which meant even less parking. But I was early 😎
Park in either of those places and you are right next to the starting point. You’ll see a track heading down which crosses the river Etive. You can follow this path and curve around heading in a SW direction along the river bank on it’s south side.
At this point there was a load of construction taking place, but the workers were not really out and about by the time of the morning I was there. Should they still be there, of course be mindful of them.
Follow the path and cross over the burn/river which is a merger of all the streams from the coire’s above. Once you reach 150 to 180 m you will deviate of the track. This may vary as it will depend on what works are still being carried out as some bits are marked off for safety. Anyway just keep going up the ridge – nothing complicated yet.
As I started gaining height I could see the glen slowly fill up with cloud. You could see it flowing in through the top end of Glen Etive. As I was getting higher the clouds were getting ever closer and ever higher.
At around the 400-450m point the clouds caught up with me, which was yet another wonderful thing. As the sun wasn’t very high, and I was pretty much level with the clouds I turned around and saw myself inside a broken spector! It was gone almost as fast as it appeared, but with the clouds settling in at around the same height – I was treated to it another couple of times as I walked!
You can see the wonderful greenery and white rocks, surrounded by the clouds that are now completely filling the whole of the glen. From this point on the clouds didn’t get any higher. Sheer beauty!
So onwards an upwards.
Always a tricky part somewhere – and this route has one part in particular that some people may not be to comfortable with. Keep on following the ridge until around 950 m. You can clearly see Ben Starav and Glas Bheinn Mhor from here.
The way ahead looks rather rocky with a sheer drop on one side. You should be able to see that the path is very clear which is great. At least it is until you reach the very rocky section as seen in the photo. Once you reach around the 950 m mark, you will be at the start of a rather large amount of boulders, see below with what it looks like ->
It looks worse that it is, although at the start you do have to get over some sizeable rocks which isn’t the easiest, but there is enough room and space to find a way that works for yourself. It may just be a bit slow going at times.
In the end, it’s a bit of a hassle, but that’s all – I’m not a fan of large boulder fields… Then again who is?
Once over the boulder field the summit awaits and on a fine day, it is well worth the hike. You can see as far as Ben More on the isle of Mull to the West and you can see dozens of other hills all the way around, overall great vista.
Check out these shots, looking approximately north and south from Ben Starav.
After the summit it flattens out quite a bit and if the weather is right then it would make a great camping spot! As you can see in the next photo, there were a couple of campers who arrived the previous night, had the pleasure of the sun going down on an inversion and also waking up to one!!! Lucky folk, enough to make you jealous 😀 Of course if your plan is to camp on a summit, do check the weather. The day I was up, the country was in the middle of a very settled spell of weather with a great big high pressure not going anywhere fast. So although the weather can change really rapidly in the hills – sometimes you just know it will be fine.
Once you’ve crossed the plateau you hit Stob Coire Dheirg. Now you have a choice! To go down the ridge which includes some narrow crossing of boulders on what could be an exposed point when it’s windy (it wasn’t when I was there), or you can drop down a little on the south side and avoid the ridge.
I choose to drop down, but at the same time the couple that were camping had packed up and were not to far behind and I could see that they took the ridge option.
Both routes will get you to the mid point between the two munros (Ben Starav and Glas bheinn Mhòr), at which point the more fit of you may want to consider a 3rd munro.
Beinn Nan Aighenan
The extra munro, if you’re fit and don’t mind the extra challenge isn’t to far out of the way and at a height of 950 meters will add an extra 5 km onto your day, plus you drop from around 770 m down to 610 m, up to the summit at 950 m and back again. So for me I’m saving this one for another time. Decided to just enjoy the weather and the day without rushing to bag another munro.
Everything from this point on until the summit is easy going. The path is clear, and the hills are round so take it easy and enjoy. You can see from the photos that the ground is a little bit gravelly with various small rocks along the path. In the below shot you can see Glas Bheinn Mhòr in the distance, it’s right behind the hill Meall nan Trí Tighearnan. So you do have to go up and down in order to get to Glas Bheinn Mhòr. It will take you up to 892 m, and down to 822 m, before heading all the way up to 997 m.
Once there, again the number of hills that you can see is brilliant. Ben Nevis and Ben Cruachan are two of the more common ones that you’d be able to spot from here.
Even better is the view of where you’ve just come from. The view of Ben Starav is quite something. You can see the various arête’s that come out from the summit, almost like a starfish.
The way down
Continue heading east along the path, after around 1 km the path gets a little bit steep but it zigzags only for a wee bit. By this stage in the day the legs may be a little tired, mine were. But I was about to be treated to one of the benefits on hiking in Scotland. As you head down the stream gets a little bit bigger and the water has made some rather nice pools. The water is chilled and also very refreshing. Walking down from the top, you’ll know for sure that there isn’t anything dead a little higher up, so it’s fine to drink.
Topped up my bottle and it’s amazing how fresh and different it tastes to your average water. Anyway now that I’d filled my bottle, I took my shoes and socks off. Sat down on the edge of the pool, relaxed in the autumn sunshine looking out to Glen Etive.
Chilled out for a wee while, let my legs rest and soaked up some relaxation 😎
The route down does seem to go on for too long and you can see the very good track on the other side, but it’s on the other side…
Anyway you carry on down, going through some boggy portions at times, and round about the 100 m mark I ended up having to push my way through head high bracken and then there was a small portion of trees. Make sure you check for ticks afterwards!
Work you way along a deer fence and you eventually reach a track that will take you to the bridge and back to the car park.
Seeing as you’re in the area, if the sun is still up make your way down to the end of the road. It’s a dead end, but it has a car park and you’ll get some stunning views of Loch Etive.