Above Orchy

Munros above Bridge of Orchy, 6-8 April 2019

A blog post from one of our mountain adventures in the Scottish hills and mountains. Three days of guided hiking over the Munros above Bridge of Orchy John King, photos by John King, David Uren, Julia Gow and Brian O'Neill was leading.

Munros above Bridge of Orchy



Day 1 - BEINN DORAIN & BEINN AN DOTHAIDH

These are a nice pair of hills that rise straight above the road at Bridge of Orchy. The summits were clear when I met David and Steven and we set off from Bridge of Orchy Station on Saturday morning. There was still a decent covering of snow on the tops and a few flakes of snow were falling even at low levels. It wasn't quite cold enough to freeze the boggy path up towards the hill but despite the rough going we made good progress uphill. We reached the bealach between our two Munros in about an hour and a half and were greeted by a view down to the remote western end of Loch Lyon.

It's quite a gradual pull up the ridge from here to the summit of Beinn Dorain, the day's high point. Unfortunately we climbed up into the cloud, but there was plenty of snow and ice underfoot, which made for interesting going. By the time we reached the final slopes to the summit the snow was falling more heavily, and, blown in on a fresh easterly wind, we had to get the snow goggles on. It was quite easy to find some shelter at the summit though so we ducked down for a quick snack.

We ploughed back down to the bealach, even spotting a couple of ptarmigan and getting the chance for a quick bumslide, then made our way up onto Beinn an Dothaidh. As per the forecast, the temperature had now gone up but there was only to be a 10% chance of rain. We had definitely found that 10%, as it rained steadily on us for the rest of the day! It was still fun though picking our way to the summit and back again, trying not to fall through melting snow-bridges over the streams. We mostly managed this, and once back at the bealach we made good progress off the hill back to the station. We were down in good time to enjoy tea in the Green Welly in Tyndrum and get a good rest before the big day of the weekend on Sunday.


Day 2 - BEINN A' CHREACHAIN & BEINN ACHALADAIR

Sunday was forecast to be dry with similar wind speeds to Saturday. With the wind forecast to be easterly, we climbed the hills as part of a clockwise circuit to keep the winds at our back along the tops. We met at the elusive Achallader Farm on Sunday morning. There were eight of us for the walk and it was nice to enjoy a sociable chat as we made our way along the track towards the hills. We quickly reached the place where there used to be a bridge over the Water of Tulla. Today it was a ford, so we took the boots and socks off and waded across. It wasn't the easiest crossing but once across we were in good position to start our ascent to Beinn a' Chreachain, the day's first Munro.

It's quite a gradual pull up the ridge from here to the summit of Beinn Dorain, the day's high point. Unfortunately we climbed up into the cloud, but there was plenty of snow and ice underfoot, which made for interesting going. By the time we reached the final slopes to the summit the snow was falling more heavily, and, blown in on a fresh easterly wind, we had to get the snow goggles on. It was quite easy to find some shelter at the summit though so we ducked down for a quick snack. It is a steep walk up on trackless ground to gain the ridge and we stopped along the way to have lunch before we became exposed to the wind. The cloud was down to around 650m so we didn't have a view, but the walk up the final narrowing ridge of Beinn a' Chreachain is always pretty good. There was some snow, but it was soft due to the warm temperatures and there was no need for ice axe or crampons. Winter boots were helpful though.

It was a good navigation exercise from the summit to work our way out west to Beinn Achaladair, with plenty of time hand-railing the edge of the steep face that drops down to Rannoch Moor. Today we could only imagine the amazing vista over the moor to the peaks of Glen Coe and Lochaber. It was a pleasant walk though, with good walking conditions on snow-free ground over the subsidiary top of Meall Buidhe. The wind was also much lighter than forecast so it wasn't particularly cold either. The final steep climb to our second Munro was fun, picking our way up through broken, rocky terrain with some patches of snow, which made for tough trail breaking in one or two places.

Once at the summit the easy walking was resumed as we descended over Beinn Achaladair's South Top and down into Coire Deangean. Eventually we dropped out of the cloud and it was nice to see some views once again. We had a few stream crossings and a bit of bog to deal with, but the route took us down over the railway at a bridge and straight back to the cars. It was a big day at 9 hours but rewarding with the day's two Munros successfully visited!


Day 3 - BEINN MHANACH

The forecast for Monday had been looking good for quite a few days ahead of time. When I met our group of five for Monday by the West Highland Way the skies were already clear and the view of Beinn Dorain down the glen, catching the early morning sun was just brilliant. We were in the shade though, and it was pretty chilly so we set-off down the track well layered up. We soon reached Glen Auch and emerged into the sun where it was time to swap the layers for sun block and sunglasses.

It's quite a gradual pull up the ridge from here to the summit of Beinn Dorain, the day's high point. Unfortunately we climbed up into the cloud, but there was plenty of snow and ice underfoot, which made for interesting going. By the time we reached the final slopes to the summit the snow was falling more heavily, and, blown in on a fresh easterly wind, we had to get the snow goggles on. It was quite easy to find some shelter at the summit though so we ducked down for a quick snack. Beinn Mhanach is located quite far back from the road so we had a decent walk up the track to reach the hill. It was a nice walk though and all the river crossings were a breeze with low water levels. The hills were all looking pretty alpine with a bit of snow on top and clear against a blue sky. We made our way onto the hill by the Allt a' Chuirn, which makes for a steep pull up to the bealach between the hill's two summits, but once at the bealach it is an easy walk up the final 100m to the summit. On Monday the bealach was a bit of a suntrap, sheltered from the wind, so we left rucksacks there and made our way to the top. After the obligatory summit team photo, we made our way back down for lunch.

After lunch all that remained was to go back down to the track and walk out. To vary the descent we headed off northwest to the head of Gleann Cailliche which was a much more gradual route into some remote feeling countryside. Despite a bit of haze, the views of Beinn Achaladair and Beinn a' Chreachain were great from here and it was good to have the chance to see where we had been walking yesterday. From the head of the glen a short bit of trackless ground led to the top of the tracks back to Glen Auch and we had a pleasant walk back to the West Highland Way in just t-shirts. It felt like spring has arrived!

Photos by John King, David Uren, Julia Gow and Brian O'Neil.



Share this page



« next    |    previous »


Contact us

Steven Fallon
31 Argyle Place
Edinburgh EH9 1JT

Office hours 9-5 Mon-Fri

0131 466 8152

info@stevenfallon.co.uk
© 2019 Steven Fallon