I remember in March or April going on a Highland bus tour which took us from Glasgow to Fort William via the Great Glen. Along the way we saw many exciting views, most impressive of all was the incence-cone shape of the majestic Beinn Dorain. Wow! What a sight! The sight of this beauty really stuck in my mind.
Months later I began walking with my lady and her workmates in the lovely Arrochar Alps. This was fantastic and got my appetite for walking well and truly whetted. When will I venture to Dorain? Well last week I heard that it was on the agenda and I thought I must go, come rain or shine!!!
It rained on the Saturday we planned to use as an opportunity to get this hill bagged. Despite my leaky boots (new boots are on my to-do list for this week) I just had to come along. So off we went in our hired car. We left our rendezvous point in Glasgow city centre and headed off in the miserable rain. Many four-lettered words were used to describe our lack of optimism for some decent weather.
On the way we decided to have a little toilet break at the Green Welly Stop in Tyndrum. This place famously boasts a Loo of the Year award... and quite rightly so! The lavvies were nice and clean and I felt gratefully compelled to drop some coinage into the collection box. I then saw Donald tucking into a tasty looking roll from across the carpark, so I went on search of a second breakfast. This place is like a massive garden centre for walkers! I got myself a nice roll and square sausage which hit the spot. I was now ready to get my overtrousers, gaiters and leaky boots on. Bring on the giant conical mountain. As a Glaswegian, I couldn't resist imagining this mountain on top of Wellington's napper outside the GOMA!
We parked at Bridge of Orchy train station. Donald had been there twice before and is always our navigator. To say we'd be lost without him is an understatement! After opening a reluctant gate which at most lets itself become barey ajar, we headed up the muddy pathway towards the bealach in the drizzle. Within about 20 minutes my boots were already soggy. This is about the only thing that took away from my pleasure that day. The walk up involved a lot of ford crossing and trying to dislodge ourselves from the gripping mud. The plan was to get up Dorain, return to the bealach and then finish on Beinn an Dothaidh.
The bogs were quite tricky at times so we were chuffed when we were out of them and onto the loose rocky path. The final approach to the bealach is really steep and loomks a lot more dramatic than it is to get up it. We stopped there to take a few photos and watch the sheep hop about effortlessy on the difficult terrain. Show offs! The cairn at the bealach overlooks the lochan and was a good spot to get serious with some sandwiches. Then a mild scramble took us up towards the false summit. I had been warned that the cairn there confuses a lot of people into thinking they have already reached the top which is a good 10-15 minutes farther along. Between the false and true summits there was a flock of grouse, about 20 of them just waddling about. They didn't let us get too close, but showed no sense of urgency in moving off the path.
I felt great once we reached the top There wasn't any visibility to catch the views though. It was quite a miserable day weatherwise - we only saw about 10 other people on the hill. The top was freezing so we headed back down after about 10 minutes at the cairn. The way back to the bealach seemed to take forever. My hand were freezing and my legs were tired. We stopped there for our last real rest before making our way back down. Beinn an Dothaidh can forget it! We voted 3-1 (I was one of the three) against completing the mission. It was about to get dark anyway (excuses).
The steep rocky path was really tough to get down in one piece! I kept on thinking about how rubbish it would be to have to hoddle all the way back with a twisted ankle! But the loose rocks were nothing compared with the bogs!! They had been made even more sticky by the rain and we got stuck a couple of times. Squelchy noises aplenty! This seemed to take forever too!
It was a good day though. I think soggy boots made it difficult for me. This would be an excellent day out with better visibility because the view from the summit just wasn't there! But we had a good time and got ourselves some cuppas and a pint in front of some (slightly damp) burning logs in the Bridge of Orchy Hotel.
I've finally added the pics. I can't be bothered faffing about to get them in right order, but these'll give you an idea of the fogginess of what was a lovely day!
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Warning Please note that hillwalking when there is snow lying requires an ice-axe, crampons and the knowledge, experience and skill to use them correctly. Summer routes may not be viable or appropriate in winter. See winter information on our skills and safety pages for more information.