A circular route around the summit of the popular Pitlochry peak of Ben Vrackie. The hill is most often ascended and descended by the same route, however, the ridge to Killiecrankie can be used for an alternative descent without having to walk all the way back from Killiecrankie.
Distance: 11 km / 6.8 miles
Ascent: 800 m / 2600 feet
Start/finish: Pitlochry (Moulin)
Facilities: Two car parks, refreshments at the Moulin Hotel or in Pitlochry, buses and trains to Pitlochry.
Start from the upper Ben Vrackie car park (grid ref NN 944 597) which is signposted from the Moulin Hotel just outside Pitlochry. The lower car park can be used if the upper one is full.
The ascent route uses the signed “manufactured path” from the car park to the summit. The path initially takes you through woodland alongside a burn with signposted junctions before reaching the open hillside. Note the yellow “Be Prepared” notice at this point.
The path now crosses heather moorland, gradually gaining height to reach its junction with the “Bealach Path” which will be our return route. Follow the Ben Vrackie path, gaining further height before a short descent to Loch a’Choire. After crossing the dam the hard work begins as the path now starts to steepen for the ascent proper. Although steep, height is quickly gained and the path gives good underfoot conditions. If you find it hard going, just take your time and you will get there. When the path curves left you are just about at the summit. Before heading for the summit though you might wish to make a detour to visit the cairn on the top across to the your right.
Take in the views from the 841m corbett summit. On a clear day you can see right across Rannoch Moor to the Glencoe area. To your north west you will see the top of Meall an Daimh and the ridge leading to it. This will be our route of descent. First though, you may wish to make another detour to visit the third summit cairn to your north east.
In misty weather some map and compass work may be required to reach the ridge otherwise it is easy enough to reach from the summit although you may wish to avoid some wet ground. Once on the ridge there is a feint grassy path along its crest. Keep to this path until you reach the lowest point before the final ascent to Meall an Daimh. At this point, strike off left (south west) down the rough heather slope. Pick the easiest line using animal tracks to assist but ensuring you keep to the right of Creag Oisinnidh (the hummocky bit in front of you). Aim for some boulders at the bottom of a grassy rake on the right hand side of the hummock. From the boulders you will then be able to pick up a rough quad bike track which will make for easier walking across the moorland to join an obvious landrover track.
Go left on the landrover track in a south east direction and start to gain some height. Ignore the first path that goes off to your left as this will take you back to the dam. Looking ahead of you, you will see that you have a choice of following the zig zag landrover track up hill to the bealach or taking a more direct line. The zig zag route will be easier. At a path junction with a signpost follow the Bealach walk for Pitlochry to reach the summit of the Bealach na Sermoin.
If you still have some energy left you may wish to make a detour up the path on your left to visit the 633m top of Meall na h-Aodainn Mòire. Otherwise continue straight on as the path now descends the other side of the bealach and meets with your outward path to Ben Vrackie.
Turn right away from the hills and follow your outward route downhill back to the car park.
View / download this route from Ordnance Survey.
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