Bridge of Orchy Munros

Day 1 Beinn Dorain and Beinn Mhanach

Day 2 Beinn a’ Chreachain, Beinn Achaladair and Beinn a’ Dothaidh

Day 1

Beinn Dorain and Beinn Mhanach

Sunday 17 June 2012

16.5 km/1597 m/08:00 hrs

Munros: Beinn Dorain + Beinn Mhanach (Nos. 231 + 232)

On my walk around the Blackwater Reservoir two months ago, I had been quite impressed by the Bridge of Orchy Munros when I saw them from across Loch Laidon, and since then I had been looking forward to visit these hills. As it is a long drive down from Inverness, and I knew I wouldn’t be able to do all of them in one day, I wanted to climb them over two days with a high camp in between.

After looking at different routes, I decided to follow the one described by Steven Fallon, but with a slight variation. Instead of climbing straight up Beinn a’ Chreachain from Beinn Mhanach, I was going up to the bealach between Beinn Achaladair and Meall Buidhe and camp there.

I parked in the large carpark beside the Bridge of Orchy Hotel, and the minute I got out of the car, I had my first encounter with midges for this year. I quickly put gaiters on, adjusted my rucksack and started walking – I thought that higher up it would be windy enough to keep them at bay. After crossing the A82 and using the railway underpass, I followed the path up along the Allt Coire an Dothaidh.

Unfortunately, it was very warm and there was no wind at all, and soon the midges were all over me. I had to stop, get some Smidge out of my rucksack and apply it to my face and hands. From now on I had lots of dead midges sticking to my face, but better that than being bitten by them!

Looking back to the Etive Munros.

Soon I reached the bealach between Beinn an Dothaidh and Beinn Dorain.

As I climbed up the path to Beinn Dorain, I could see the route down Beinn an Dothaidh that I would be using tomorrow.

Coire a’ Ghabhalach.

Loch Tulla and the Etive Munros.

Approaching the summit ridge, Am Fiaclach.

View back to Beinn an Dothaidh.

Although I had been following the obvious path, which – according to the map – goes along the crest of the ridge, I suddenly found myself on a sort of bypass path on the western flank of the hill. This didn’t bother me too much, because from here I had great views down to Bridge of Orchy and Loch Tulla.

But when I thought I must be near the summit, I left the bypass and climbed up to the ridge, where I found the path I had intended to use in the first place.

Just when I reached the summit of Beinn Dorain, clouds started swirling around and I had to wait a few minutes to get some views.

Looking back along the ridge to the large cairn “Carn Sasunnaich”, that could easily be mistaken for the true summit, especially in mist.

After chatting a bit with a group of walkers who had arrived at the summit a few minutes after me, I walked back to Carn Sasunnaich. From there, I headed E towards Meall Garbh.

The viaduct across the Allt Kinglass (zoomed).

The route ahead: Across the Allt Coire a’ Ghabhalaich, contouring around the foot of Beinn Achaladair’s S ridge (centre), following the Allt an Lòin and ascending to the bealach between Beinn a’ Chuirn and Beinn Mhanach (on the far right).

Lochans in Coire Lochain.

The next part of the walk was a bit dull, it started to drizzle and although I was beginning to feel hungry, I couldn’t stop for a proper break because of the midges. Only when I started the ascent up to the bealach between Beinn a’ Chuirn and Beinn Mhanach, it stopped raining and there was a little breeze. I stopped for a quick bite to eat, then continued up the boggy hillside.

From the bealach I could follow a faint path to the summit of Beinn Mhanach.

On the way up, I met a fellow backpacker, Paul, who was walking a similar route to mine, but in the opposite direction. He told me he had lost his iPhone somewhere during the day, and was a bit worried because he was supposed to call his daughter in the evening to let her know that everything was ok.

He thought the phone might have fallen out of his pocket during his lunch break on the Bealach an Aoghlain, which was my planned camp site for the night. While he made his way back up to the bealach to look for his phone, I continued towards the summit of Beinn Mhanach.

Not the most exciting of hills… but a nice view down to Loch Lyon.

The route towards Bealach an Aoghlain.

Interesting boghole/stream combination on the way.

One of the contributary streams of the Allt Cailliche, with Beinn a’ Chreachain in the background.

When I arrived on the bealach, Paul had already pitched his tent. I walked a bit further to look down the other side, and in spite of the dark clouds I found the views across Rannoch Moor quite breathtaking.

I put up my tent a bit closer to the edge, then went to pay Paul a little visit. He had not found his phone, so I lent him my mobile to phone his daughter.

We had an interesting conversation about gear and especially food for backpacking trips. I was surprised that Paul’s rucksack was lighter than mine, although he was walking for several days, not just two like me. He had some good suggestions about what food to take, some of which I might try in the future.

Talking about food made me hungry again and I soon retreated to my tent to have dinner and an early night.

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Day 2

Beinn a’ Chreachain, Beinn Achaladair and Beinn a’ Dothaidh

Monday 18 June 2012

15.1 km/850 m/07:45 hrs

Munros: Beinn a’ Chreachain, Beinn Achaladair + Beinn a’ Dothaidh (Nos. 233 – 235)

When I woke up at 04:40, I looked out of the door and what I saw, looked much more promising than the evening before…

I couldn’t sleep any longer, so I had breakfast, got dressed and was ready to go before 06:00 (that must be a personal record 😆 ).

The Black Mount Munros.

Ben Nevis (zoomed).

Camp site in the early morning sun.

Beinn Achaladair from the ascent to Meall Buidhe.

Etive and Black Mount hills.

Beinn Mhanach from the summit of Meall Buidhe – not quite as boring from this side!

Beinn Achaladair.

The ascent to Beinn a’ Chreachain.

Lochan a’ Chreachain.

The winding N ridge.

Lochan in Coire Dubh Beag.

Beinn a’ Chreachain summit.

View to Loch Lyon – the sun was that warm already, it made the grass steam!

Beinn Achaladair from the summit. I had a good look around the summit cairn for Paul’s phone, because this was another place where he reckoned he might have lost it, but unfortunately I couldn’t find it.

Cloud bubbling up over Rannoch Moor.

The hills along Gleann Achadh-innis Chailein, with Ben Lui in the distance (right of centre).

Rannoch Moor, with Beinn a’ Chrùlaiste and the Kingshouse Hotel in the centre (zoomed).

Loch Bà, looking like a mirror.

I spent a long time walking along the broad ridge back to my tent, because I could hardly take my eyes off the scenery around me. I had never been up a Munro so early in the day, and was fascinated by the swirling clouds that were changing every few moments, and the warmth and the special light of the early morning sun. I could have easily sat there all day, just looking across Rannoch Moor 🙂

When I eventually arrived back at the bealach, Paul had already gone. In the meantime the flysheet of my tent had dried in the sun, and I quickly packed everything up.

I climbed up the steep E ridge of Beinn Achaladair, from which I had a good view back to the bealach and Meall Buidhe.

The ridge is very rocky, but there is a path winding through the crags.

About halfway up the steep path I had a second breakfast, sitting on a rock slab and enjoying the sun and the views (and a slight breeze, so no midges today!). I can hardly remember when I was last able to do this, certainly not during the “summers” of 2010 and 2011…

Gleann Cailliche and Loch Lyon.

Crags near the summit of Beinn Achaladair.

Ben Nevis (zoomed).

Loch Tulla and the Etive Munros.

Creise and Meall a’ Bhùiridh.

Beinn nan Aighenan, Ben Starav, Glas Bheinn Mhòr, Stob Coir an Albannaich and Meall nan Eun.

On the ridge of Beinn Achaladair, looking across to Beinn an Dothaidh.

Coire Achaladair.

The long S ridge of Beinn Achaladair.

A group of walkers on Beinn an Dothaidh.

Bealach above Coire Daingean.

From the bealach it was a long slog to the 993 m top, somehow it seemed much steeper than it had looked from the distance…

Looking back to Beinn Achaladair.

Looking down to the bealach between Beinn an Dothaidh and Beinn Dorain.

But eventually I arrived at the top, from here it is only a short walk along the ridge to the true summit.

Beinn Achaladair.

View back to the 993 m top.

Beinn an Dothaidh summit.

From the summit, I walked across to the W top, where I got an even better view  to the Etive hills.

Looking back to the summit.

I descended in the general direction of Coire Reidh, looking for the start of the path I had seen yesterday on my ascent to Beinn Dorain. Further down I could make out a cairn and headed towards it, and it turned out to mark the start of the path.

Path leading to the bealach.

The bealach between Beinn an Dothaidh and Beinn Dorain.

The walk down to Bridge of Orchy.

Stob Ghabhar and Stob a’ Choire Odhair.

Last look back into Coire an Dothaidh.

This was a very successful and enjoyable 2-day trip, especially the second day was absolutely fantastic and one of the best days ever in the hills 🙂

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