Sunday 2 October 2016

Beinn Dorain and Beinn an Dothaidh

The weather forecast was just perfect again - a day that couldn't be wasted. So despite the early morning frostiness, we got an early start.

Jim and Rafe - Railway subway, Bridge of Orchy

We parked up at The Bridge of Orchy Hotel, crossed the main road, through the station and under the railway line, past a couple of houses and within a few minutes were on the hill! (It's always such a relief to get through the initial populated bits without making any mistakes, either looking like you're casing the area or having to ask for directions)

Rafe and Jim - heading towards Coire an Dothaidh (Beinn an Dothaidh and Beinn Dorain)

We were in the deep shadow of the hills we were climbing today - Beinn Dorain and Beinn an Dothaidh cast a dark chill over us as we started our ascent. But to be quite honest, we were pleased to have solid, if rather icy, ground beneath our feet, rather than the mud we would have been negotiating on a warmer day.

Views back to Meall a'Bhuiridh and Creise from ascent into Coire an Dothaidh

The path was rough, rocky and eroded, but obvious. The ascent gentle at first, soon steepened as we moved up into Coire an Dothaidh.

The views opened up behind us - the sun catching the hills to the west - and in the north west, the hills from our walk yesterday - Meall a'Bhuiridh and Creise.

Rafe and Jim - Coire an Dothaidh

There wasn't a cloud in the sky - the hills crisp against the blue. We were in for a glorious hill day...

Looking back (west) from ascent into Coire an Dothaidh

Jim and Rafe - ascent to bealach from Coire an Dothaidh

As we neared the bealach between our two hills, the sun transfixed us, sudden warmth and light, winter into summer, gloom into shimmering colour.

Time for a first lunch! - we found a spot beside a great fallen rock for a drink and a bite. We had great views back down into the coire and across to the west.

Views west from bealach between Beinn Dorain and Beinn an Dothaidh

It wasn't long before we made the bealach. New views from beside the tiny unnamed (on our OS map) lochan - into the east towards the Glen Lochy hills.

Lochan in bealach between Beinn Dorain and Beinn an Dothaidh - Views east toward Gen Lyon Munros

A bit of a T shaped walk today, we had already decided to take Beinn Dorain first (not really sure why!) so we took a right and headed up the rough path through tussock and rock, the sunshine in our faces as we went.

Looking back to bealach and Beinn an Dothaidh from ascent of Beinn Dorain

Man leg! - Jim - ascent of Beinn Dorain

A bit of a steeper pull led us onto the undulating ridge  - the views tremendous all around - we continued south trying to take it all in.

The photo's say it all!

Jim - Ascent of Beinn Dorain

Jim - Ascent of Beinn Dorain

Ben Nevis from ascent of Beinn Dorain

Jim - Ascent of Beinn Dorain

We passed another small lochan, just before the steeper pull up onto Am Fiaclach - looked like it might be a good place for a second lunch on our return...

Jim - lochan (NN322394) and views to the west from ascent of Beinn Dorain

Loch Lyon from ascent of Ben Dorain (Am Fiaclach)

The large cairn marking Carn Sasunnaich was soon in our sights ahead along the ridge - not surprising that many a walker (and not just Englishmen, I'm sure) could mistake it for the summit of Beinn Dorain in poor visability.

No problems today though, the summit was 500m or so further south along the ridge, beyond a shallow bealach.

Carn Sasunnaich (1066m) with views over Creise to Ben Nevis

More photographs were taken...

Views from Carn Sasunnaich to Beinn Dorain summit

Before we continued along the sunlit ridge...

Rafe and Jim - nearing Ben Dorain summit

To Beinn Dorain (Munro 64, 1076m)

Ben Dorain summit (Munro 64, 1076m) - Views back to Carn Sasunnaich with Ben Nevis in the distance

A great place to be on such a clear day - the hills stretched around us, to every horizon.

South from Ben Dorain summit

There were a couple of Summit Hoggers, sitting by the cairn. I made every effort not to get them in my pictures and was pretty successful, but they did manage to get into my summit 360 video! Won't be using that one then.

Rafe and Jim - heading back (north) from Beinn Dorain to Carn Sasunnaich

We soon headed off, north along the way we had come back towards the bealach and Beinn an Dothaidh, our second Munro objective of the day.

North east from Beinn Dorain

Rafe and Jim - back at Carn Sasunnaich - views north west

Meall a'Bhuiridh, Creise and Ben Nevis from Am Fiaclach

Jim and Rafe - Am Fiaclach

That little lochan was definitely an excellent lunch spot - and a plodge break for Rafie.

Rafe - lochan and lunch (NN322394) - descent from Beinn Dorain

Jim - descent from Ben Dorain - views to Coire an Dothaidh and Beinn an Dothaidh South Top

Once back in the bealach, we continued north (ish) on the rough path which skirted the crags of Beinn an Dathaidh's South Top and then headed north east into Coire Reidh - more or less a beeline for the Munro summit.

Jim and Rafe - starting the ascent or Beinn an Dothaidh 

Looking back (south) to bealach and Beinn Dorain from ascent of Beinn an Dothaidh

The path started off clear and obvious through the golden grass and rocks - but as we ascended into the shallow coire the path disappeared into vegetation and bog. Occasionally we could see that we were passing where others had gone before, but mostly we just picked our way around the coire, keeping above the worst of the bog - with the high ground of Beinn an Dothaidh above us.

Beinn an Dothaidh across Coire Reidh

This sloggy bit was soon over though, and we hit the summit ridge (!) just to the west of the Munro - with new views to the north over Loch Tulla and Rannoch Moor.

Jim - Beinn an Dothaidh summit (Munro 129, 1004m)

In short order, we were at the summit - Beinn an Dothaidh (Munro 129, 1004m) - breathtaking.

Views north from Beinn an Dothaidh summit

Rafe - Beinn Dorain from Beinn an Dothaidh summit

We really didn't want to go down yet! and Beinn an Dothaidh was more than just its pointy summit - the escarpment stretched west then south away from us, dropping away spectacularly to the River Orchy with the mountains beyond.

Looking back over Coire Reidh to bealach and Beinn Dorain - Views to a distant Ben Cruachan

So we undulated along the summit plateau, along the edge of that escarpment, across the West Top and around to the edge towards the South Top - the views just went on and on...

Beinn an Dothaidh West Top (1000m) - Loch Tulla

Jim and Rafe - Western escarpment of Beinn an Dothaidh between West Top and South Top

Over Rannoch Moor to Glen Coe and Ben Nevis from Beinn an Dothaidh

Looking back (north east) to Beinn an Dothaidh West Top and summit

Beinn Dorain from near Beinn an Dothaidh South Top

Rafe and Jim take in The West from near Beinn an Dothaidh South Top

It really was a stunning day!

Beinn an Dothaidh South Top (989m) - views over Loch Tulla

Eventually though, we picked a pathless route off the South Top, dropping quickly back to the main hill path just south of the bealach.

Jim and Rafe - descent from Beinn an Dothaidh South Top - views south over Coire an Ghabhalach to Lawers Range

Descent into bealach from Beinn an Dothaidh - views to Beinn Dorain

Coire an Dothaidh was a little different now. Gone was the frost and we were bathed in late afternoon sunshine - it was hot.

Time for a third lunch - we sat out of the wind, enjoying a final sarnie, and revelling in our day.

Jim and Rafe - descent into bealach from Beinn an Dothaidh - views west to Bridge of Orchy

Looking back to bealach from Coire an Dothaidh

The path was somewhat rough on slightly sore feet and tired legs - but it wasn't a long walk out...

Descent in Coire an Dothaidh

Soon we were back at the car - dropped off our bags and took Rafe down to the river by the Bridge of Orchy Hotel for a swim - we sat in the sun and watched him splash about. It was just about perfect!

Looking back to Beinn an Dothaidh and Beinn Dorain

Rafie resting near the River Orchy

On the drive back to the campsite, we stopped at the viewpoint above Loch Tulla on the climb up to Rannoch Moor for a look back to Beinn an Dothaidh - a final photograph.

We were up there!

Beinn an Dothaidh from the north

Route:  Car park by Bridge of Orchy Hotel (NN297396), E across A82 and up lane diagonally opposite to train station, E through underpass at station, and diagonally left up rough track and along S bank of Allt Coire an Dothaidh into Coire Dothaidh to bealach (sh 744m, NN325398), S along rough path ascending Beinn Dorain north ridge (stick to path along ridge line), Am Fiaclach, continue S to Carn Sasunnaich (Beinn Dorain North Top, 1066m), continue S to Beinn Dorain (Munro 64, 1076m), return N to bealach (sh 744m), rough and boggy path initially NE then N across Coire Reidh to bealach between Beinn an Dothaidh West Top and Beinn an Dothaidh, E to Beinn an Dothaidh (Munro 129, 1004m), return W to bealach, W to Beinn an Dothaidh West Top (1000m), approx S along edge of escarpment (intermittent rough path) to Beinn an Dothaidh South Top (989m) and to end of massif, continue S descending on pathless hillside to pick up path above bealach at NN326400 (approx), return to bealach (sh 744m), return W into Coire an Dothaidh to start.

Statistics:  Distance: 14km  Ascent: 1110m  Time: 7 hours

Map: OS Explorer 377 Loch Etive & Glen Orchy

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