The A Chir Ridge Traverse


The A Chir traverse is a short section of ridge on the Isle of Arran. The whole ridge runs from Beinn Nuis in the South to A Chir in the North and lies to the west of Glen Rosa. The A Chir traverse is 1.5km long and is graded Moderate which is a rock climbing grade, however a confident (and competent) scrambler should be able to negotiate the ridge without incident.

The difficulties on the ridge itself cannot be avoided unless you abseil instead (or avoid the entire ridge). To compare the ridge to the Cuillin would probably be misleading but there is a certain Skye-ish quality to the situations experienced on the ridge. The technicalities are more difficult that the Aonach Eagach traverse (which is graded Easy).

The ridge/route notionally begins in Glen Rosa at the footbridge (Ref: ) where the main path forks westwards up Allt Garbh (983 386). You can either folow the path to Beinn Nuis and Beinn Tarsuinn or make your way North sooner and go more easily over the shoulder of Beinn a Chliabhain to arrive at Bealach an Fhir Bhogha (Ref:963 415 ). The ridge then runs northwards with the difficulties centered around Le Mauvais Pas and then eases as it reaches the col before Cir Mhor.

If you wish the route can be either reversed (although the crux moves are then graded Very Difficult - this is offset by the fact that they're close to the ground) or you can extent it by traversing Cir Mhor, North Goatfell etc as you wish.

The Route

The route is described from South to North as this is the easiest traverse.

Get to Bealach an Fhir Bhogha however you fancy.
Part 1
The first section of ridge sports a motorway across the rocks above Pagoda Ridge at the start of A Chir if you can find it. If not scramble across the rocks on the western side until you do. There's a couple of fairly defined paths... if you lose a path try heading upwards.
The Major Difficulties

Just after Le Mauvais Pas (~250-300m) there is a short flat grassy area. This is followed by some easy scrambling ending in a big drop on all sides. You've gone too far! Go back to the flat area.

  • On the east (Glen Rosa) side there is a vertical descent on good big (polished) holds which leads to a downward sloping rock groove/trench (V shaped). Descend (facing the rock) to the groove then walk down the groove until it narrows.
  • The next moves are awkward to descend (but harder to ascend)...
    On the outside of the groove you should be able to see another smaller ledge a bit further down. This will be easier to walk on for a few metres as the wall begins to lean out over the groove. This soon narrows even more and you will find yourself naturally astride the polished rock (almost sitting and sliding).
  • Here you need to hold the polished rib (which you are astride) with both hands and somehow swing your left leg over so you are facing the rock again. Lower yourself gently to a ledge and swing the other leg over before being able to drop to the ground.
  • A short flat section leads to a blocky scramble up to some flat gently sloping slabs (ideal picnic spot) looking down over the difficulties you just overcame. This is an ideal spot to watch people going the other way!

To reverse the slidy-swingy moves to gain the groove/trench (going North-South) you should step up onto the small ledge and traverse leftwards for a few feet. With both hands on the polished rib a good effort should alloow you to swing your right leg up into the groove just above a constriction. You can then oush yourself into the wider part ot the groove. It is entertaining to watch people try to "swim" into the groove!

The ridge continues easily northwards to the col just west of Cir Mhor (Ref:968428) )

For more information on the island in general please see our Isle of Arran pages.