A guide to walking Ben Lui and its neighbour Beinn a’Chleibh

Picture: Ben Lui, TSPL
Picture: Ben Lui, TSPL
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The Queen of the Scottish Mountains - quite a moniker to live up to. But whichever angle you view her from, Ben Lui is a beauty.

There are two main routes to the regal munro’s crown; one from Dalrigh just off the A82 which involves some scrambling, or a simpler but equally rewarding walk from Glen Lochay.

Picture: Ben Lui, TSPL

Picture: Ben Lui, TSPL

A stroll from Glen Lochay incorporating Ben Lui’s westerly neighbour, Ben a’Chleibh, makes for a glorious day in the Southern Highlands.

The start of a walk up Ben Lui is akin to an obstacle course, with rivers and burns to traverse and muddy forest paths to manoeuvre.

Start your assault on the two munros from the Glen Lochy car park off the A85, and briefly follow the River Lochay southwest.

Where possible cross the river and avoid getting your boots sodden before your walk has truly started. There is usually a broken-up bridge of boulders adjacent to a tunnel underneath the railway line. Do not attempt the crossing if the river is in spate.

Once safely across, crouch and pass under the trainline through the aforementioned tunnel and follow a path alongside a burn.

After a few hundred metres cross the burn and head south southeast. There should be a slackline attached to a couple of trees which can assist.

From here you can follow a faint path through a scarred field of deforested trees until you reach a sizeable track.

Follow said track east until you cross a bridge and then head right up a path through a forest which makes up Ben Lui’s skirt.

On a warm day this makes for sweaty, muddy work, with planks of wobbly and slippery wood often the only way of crossing puddles of mud. However once through the mass of trees, walkers will come to a gate and views of Ben Lui and Ben a’Chleibh will surrender themselves.

From here walkers have a choice, head southeast towards the bealach between the two peaks or east up the west flank of Ben Lui.

If heading east follow a faint track, which at times disappears altogether up the steep and unrelenting slopes of the Queen. Once the ridge is reached turn southeast.

Views ahead and behind, particularly towards the second munro of the day, steadily improve with each step , until you finally reach the summit.

Ben Lui’s crown is made up of two points, a northwest summit marked by a small cairn and the true southeast summit which stands at 1,130 metres.

If accompanied on your walk there’s a great photo opportunity from the northwest summit to the second summit, where you can proudly pose atop possibly the finest Munro in the Southern Highlands.

Once you’re done striking a pose and marvelling at Ben Lui and her neighbouring subjects, descend southwest to the bealach between Ben Lui and Ben a’Chleibh. Littered with boulders and blessed with a path that was previously lacking - this descent is straightforward.

You won’t have to toil too much on the ascent either - follow the winding path to your second Munro of the day, appreciate the views of the fine Ben Cruachan to the west before turning 180 degrees to the east and admiring the previously tamed Ben Lui.

Return to the bealach and follow a well-marked path back to the gate which marks the beginning of the forest path.

Turn round for one last close-up of the peaks and then traipse through the forest for a reverse of the earlier completed obstacle course.

If the weather is hot and the area is free of midges (admittedly unlikely), consider prematurely kicking off your boots and casually wading through River Lochay for a cool down.

Enjoy a final view of Ben Lui in all her magisterial beauty before heading home, tired but elated following your date with the Queen of the Scottish Highlands.

• READ MORE: Everything you need to know about walking in Glencoe