Beinn Dorain - 1076m
Beinn an Dothaidh - 1004m

Sunday 2nd November 2008

Weather/Conditions: Very beautiful day. Blue skies, sun out and clear air. Snow down to 700m - lots of verglas below 800m but snow conditions got better with altitude.
Accompanying: Solo

This has GOT to be one of the best walks I've ever done. Ever. The views, the snow and even my own physical condition turned this into a brilliant day. Beinn Dorain is especially a brilliant view point, and a lot of pictures were taken, including some pans, five of which are here at the bottom of the page. Concerning the photography, I'm using an old Canon Powershot S30, but hopefully by 2009 I'll be using an EOS 400D. :) The images would certain be a lot better but my current camera doesn't bother me too much.

Dads Images from Nov 2nd

Beinn Dorain

After getting up and leaving home before dawn, I began by the Bridge of Orchy Hotel at 9.50am. Dad shot off up to Rannoch Moor to do photography while I headed up by some houses looking for a starting point to the walk. I found the railway line, although wasn't too sure where the actual trail was. I asked around a little, and I was told it starts from the underpass at the train station. I headed under the tracks, through the gate and across the road where an obvious track was worn into the peat and heather.

Once I was going, it turned out easier than I'd expected. The gradient was light enough and the ground was only a little boggy. I passed several groups on the way up and behind me, views of the Black Mount were spectacular, while still opening out. The mountains were snow covered above 700m and all sat in front of a brilliant blue sky. Unless the weather changed dramatically, quickly, I knew I was in for a special day.

Taking a brisk pace, I continued easily up to the bealach, passing three walkers who I'd see later on. Coire an Dothaidh looked brilliant and iced waterfalls spilled down the cliffs around about. Higher up, the path itself turned into a sheet of ice and some caution was needed. It was all easy enough though and after a small steep section, the gradient flattened out where I watched a walker crest the ridge 100m or so ahead. Whoever it was, was now in brilliant sunlight and I raced up the last section to the bealach. I knew what was about to come, and was eager to see. Very suddenly, a beautiful scene was laid out in front. The views to the east weren't as expansive as I'd imagined but that didn't detract from anything. The lochan at the bealach was frozen over and the general conditions were great. I was most definitely in for a very, very good day.

The girl who I met there wasn't very talkative at all so I continued on up Beinn Dorain. I wasn't too sure where to head in this jumble of humps, so went in a general direction. As it would turn out I took the seemingly most difficult route and contoured around the east side of the hill into an area of rock slabs and verglas. I could negotiate it all okay, but the trekking poles went away and the ice axe came out. A quick piss was also in order but I started walking with the axe which made a huge difference in balance and security. Once out of this section I walked onto an easier, snow covered slope. The views were brilliant, and the walking was easy. I was wearing shorts and boots with just a fleece, but I was warm enough - there was almost no wind. On the higher reaches there was a bit of a breeze but otherwise almost nothing.

I ended up on the cairned top just before the summit. The OS 1:25000 maps curiously give the name 'Carn Sasunnaich'. The 1:50000 doesn't give any mention but a 'Carn' in this area of Scotland seems odd in a place of Beinns and Stobs. However I'm not too sure. From this point it was a short walk - much shorter than I'd thought it'd be to the summit of Dorain.

I arrived there soon after and stopped for a long time. A full 360 degree pan was in order and I sat eating, taking other pictures as well as listening to the wind - or lack of. The A82 was below, and the hillside fell in one massive and beautifully angled 3000 foot swoop to the road below. ("Drop a orange on Beinn Dorain and you'll kill someone in Bridge of Orchy"!) Oddly enough, I thought, I really couldn't hear any traffic and when the wind ceased to blow, I really couldn't hear anything at all. It was a very peaceful place.

Beinn an Dothaidh

I left the summit and passed the three walkers I'd seen earlier on. I realised that the rocks were dripping with water and that the sun was giving off a fair amount of heat. The south (sun exposed) face of Beinn an Dothaidh was largely snowless. I headed down Beinn Dorain back to the bealach by a far easier route, which was mainly grassy slopes. It helps to follow a path. I lost this path though and ended up on a slightly steeper section. The ice axe came in handy there and before long I dropped down to the bealach. Here I took off a fleece, put the ice axe away and trekking poles came out. I was walking in boots, shorts and t-shirt on snow clad mountains in November. It seemed crazy but I felt absolutely fine.

The initial ascent up Beinn an Dothaidh felt like a summer walk: there was no snow here and beneath the sun, I was pretty warm. There wasn't much ice around either, but as I climbed higher, I walked onto snowfields and held an easy going pace up the hillside. Above, some groups were heading for a rockier bump which turned out to be the east top. I wasn't sure where the real summit was and wound up between the main and east summits. The others I'd seen from below were sitting on the east top but I headed straight to the true summit. There sat a fair sized cairn and I continued to take photos. I was planning on taking a summit panorama but got half way around (hence the east view of the Beinn an Dothaidh summit pan below) when the camera shut off. The battery had gone but I managed to take some more with what life was left in it.

Beinn an Dothaidh west top and descent

From the summit, I headed over to the west top. The walk was easy, and the views were simply as good as ever. I was loving it, although regretfully had to go down soon. It was an enjoyable walk over snow, and the drops down the north side of the mountain were impressive. There was more view-appreciation from that top, more photo taking, but I left pretty quickly.

It was a quick descent over snow and then down the grassy hillside where I met up with the path. The descent didn't take long and I was at the bealach once more. From there I left to go down to Bridge of Orchy. The path down was thick with ice, care was needed and once I'd got down a considerable distance I detoured to the river to drink some water. (I'd forgotten water although never actually realised until then...) Once the thirst was gone, I joined up with the boggy path and it was an easy jaunt down Bridge of Orchy. I slipped at a point, probably due to excessive speed, which resulted in a couple of cuts. I reached the train station and walked down the road. Dad was sitting in the hotel car park and we went to the hotel for lunch.

I only had some chips, I wasn't feeling very hungry, but I threw down a couple of pints of Diet Coke. (As if that quenches thirst.) There seemed to be more French and Polish at this place than Scottish, which was a small observation made.

We returned home to Glasgow via. Loch Lubnaig on a very beautiful evening, even if I slept most of the way. It was such a brilliant hillwalk, such a great day. The route was quite long, but I felt great once I was off. Once the summers back I'll have a go at some longer routes but walks like this are excellent in themselves. Winter in Scotland is great and this has to be one of my best trips yet. Beinn Airigh Charr, (17th April 2008) or Beinn Narnain and the Cobbler (26th August 2007) may exceed it, but this walk's definitely up there with the best of them.


Etive Hills and Black Mount from Coire an Dothaidh

Beinn Dorain 360°

Beinn Achaladair from Beinn an Dothaidh

Beinn an Dothaidh 180°

West from Beinn an Dothaidh

Times (Time relative to 0.00)
(0.00) 9.50am Bridge of Orchy
(1.50) 11.40am Beinn Dorain
(3.30) 1.20pm Beinn an Dothaidh
(5.00) 2.50pm Bridge of Orchy
Written: 2008-11-06