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Beinn Dorain and Beinn an Dothaidh- New Boots on Old Hills

Beinn Dorain and Beinn an Dothaidh- New Boots on Old Hills


Postby jester » Sun Oct 11, 2020 9:57 am

Route description: Beinn Dorain and Beinn an Dothaidh, Bridge of Orchy

Munros included on this walk: Beinn an Dothaidh, Beinn Dorain

Date walked: 14/10/2020

Time taken: 8 hours

Distance: 13 km

Ascent: 1243m

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Beinn Dorain and Beinn an Dothaidh have always been problematic for me. I’ve attempted them a few times and have been bested by them on more than one occasion. My last visit to Beinn Dorain was way back in 2013 when high winds saw me retire to instead walk a section of the West Highland Way, while Beinn an Dothaidh rudely repelled me from it’s lower slopes in November 2019 when the sole of my boot decided to part company with the upper. Since then I’ve experienced a “Spinal Tap drummer” relationship with my footwear, having struggled to find something to fit the bill. I spent the early part of the year walking locally (due to lockdown) experimenting with a pair of Scarpa SL Active which left my feet in tatters after each walk. Eventually I gave up on those and moved to a pair of Scarpa Manta which have been slightly more forgiving on my feet. In between, my Zamberlan summer boots also decided to split on me after 7 years.

There’s a novel by Stephen King called 11/22/63 in which the protagonist finds a hole in time which allows him to travel back time to before the assassination of President Kennedy, where he attempts to prevent Oswald carrying out the deed. The closer he gets to the time, the more time fights back and tries to prevent his progress. I sometimes feel like that is what happens to me as every time I try and get back into the swing of things something happens to set me back. Soles falling off boots. Lockdown. Backpain. Sciatica. So with the threat of another lockdown looming I took the chance to hit the hills with another new pair of boots, and decided at the last minute to head for the familiar ground of Bridge of Orchy.

A lot has changed since I was last on the West Highland Line. Outwardly the Class 156 trains look the same but inside they have had a bit of a makeover, and you can now plug your phone in, rendering by large emergency battery pack surplus to requirements for day walks. Covid-19 has saw the demise (for now) of the drinks trolley and the requirement to wear a face covering for the journey means it goes on the kit list along with hand sanitiser. Bridge of Orchy Station is also affected, with the bunk house devoid of life, although there’s little other change other than the addition of shiny new departure boards.

Image
Coire an Dothaidh

The path up towards Coire an Dothaidh was just as boggy and eroded as it was on my last visit, and when I got home I found that the badly deteriorated section I had photographed on this visit was in my photo album from last time, looking just as pitiful. Lockdown may have provided a few months respite from trampling feet but it appears to be business as usual again. As on all my previous visits here a blanket of cloud hung menacingly at the head of the corrie and I was struck with a sense of deja-vu as familiar waterfalls and rocky outcrops revealed themselves as I ascended.

Image
Allt Coire an Dothaidh

Lockdown and injury has saw me gain, ahem, a little weight, and I wheezed and puffed my way up the corrie. I really was struggling and although I was making reasonably good progress, mentally I felt done in and I really started to doubt my ability to breach the corrie wall, never mind ascend Beinn Dorain. I caught sight of a walker further up and the fact I was catching up spurred me on slightly, and old rhythms started to come back into play, but it was a still a relief when I flopped down on the bealach cairn for the first break of the day. There was a slight nipping at my heels from boots which had previously seen nothing more demanding than ascent of my stairs at home, but I thought I would soldier on for now, and with my flask tucked away again I shouldered my rucksack and began to pick my way up the wet and slabby ridge to Beinn Dorain. Mentally I calculated the timings to the top, and was doing pretty well before having to take a seat on a rather wet boulder to apply plasters to my blisters, buffeted by wind and drizzled on by incessant rain. Despite the lack of visibility, or perhaps because of it, I again picked out features which were strangely familiar, a small lochan, a hint of a slope rising ahead; and all too soon the first of two cairns, the summit being the farther away one. As is always the case.

Image
Beinn Dorain summit

I’ve always imagined that the view from this summit must be spectacular, and as I gazed into the gloom, the sun teasing me just above the cloud, I continued to imagine, as I could not see more than 30 metres. The only thing that was clear was that it wasn’t going to clear so I descended and at one point, just above the wee lochan, the mist briefly parted and a braced myself against a buffeting 45mph wind to snap a few pictures of the sun dancing on the lower slopes of Beinn Toaig beyond Loch Tulla, before being enveloped in murky grey again. Back at the bealach I could see I had plenty of time before the return train, and so headed up on the path to take on the sludgefest that is Beinn an Doathaidh. The path, such as it is, is a morass of rock and black muck which for much of the way doubled neatly as a water course, and at more than one point you could easily lose the path, which is what I did on my first visit here around 25 years ago, and as I made my way confidently upwards I couldn’t help remember my younger self, wandering around at the top of the corrie, peering into the murk and finding nothing but empty air. This hill is monotonous in it’s lack of features and I took to pace counting to tick off distance before finally breaking free of the grey to see a cairn which I made a bee-line for, throwing down my gear to snatch a few photos as Loch Lyon briefly appeared and disappeared below me.

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Beinn an Dothaidh (actual summit)

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Loch Lyon
Dropping back down through was as tricky as ascending and I was quite relieved when I heard the roar of the Allt Coire a’ Ghathaladh because I knew the worst was behind me. A leisurely ramble down the Coire an Dothaid, taking in a few pools and waterfalls saw me arrive back at the railway station, with just enough time to spare to nip to the Bridge of Orchy Hotel and grab a beer for the train, although I wished I hadn’t bothered when I was stung for almost £7 for it! It felt strangely symbolic to break in my new winter boots on my first Munro outing of the year on the same hill as my old ones died on me. It felt like a small victory. Beinn an Dothaid still had a sting in the tail though, as on downloading my GPX file I noticed that I had made the rookie mistake of tagging the wrong cairn! I’m sure I’ll be back to remedy that though…
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jester
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Posts: 486
Munros:117   Corbetts:13
Grahams:7   Donalds:3
Sub 2000:9   
Joined: Mar 1, 2008

Re: Beinn Dorain and Beinn an Dothaidh- New Boots on Old Hil

Postby ctva » Mon Oct 12, 2020 9:04 am

Enjoyed reading your time travel report and pics as I was up there yesterday on the 11/10/20 with a bit more vis. :?
ctva
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Munros:53   Corbetts:8
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Re: Beinn Dorain and Beinn an Dothaidh- New Boots on Old Hil

Postby jester » Mon Oct 12, 2020 12:28 pm

ctva wrote:Enjoyed reading your time travel report and pics as I was up there yesterday on the 11/10/20 with a bit more vis. :?

IfI'm passing these hills to do something else they are usually clear, but whenever I plan to visit they are obscured by cloud. How do they know? :lol: :lol: :lol:
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jester
Munro compleatist
 
Posts: 486
Munros:117   Corbetts:13
Grahams:7   Donalds:3
Sub 2000:9   
Joined: Mar 1, 2008

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