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'Orrid Orchy Overnighter - But I Leave Victorious

'Orrid Orchy Overnighter - But I Leave Victorious


Postby Jambo235 » Mon Oct 01, 2012 7:52 pm

Munros included on this walk: Beinn a'Chreachain, Beinn Achaladair, Beinn an Dothaidh, Beinn Dorain, Beinn Mhanach

Date walked: 29/09/2012

Time taken: 12.5 hours

Distance: 37 km

Ascent: 2400m

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A combination of my last trip being Ben Alder in August (it seemed like years ago) and having just started reading Hamish Brown’s book ‘Hamish’s Mountain Walk’ detailing the first ever continuous assent of all the munros (it’s hooked already and I can highly recommend the £0.01 cost on Amazon) meant I’d been itching to get out on the hills for a while. The previous weekend was spent with my American girlfriend walking around doing the standard tourist things in Edinburgh for her birthday. We’d only been ‘officially’ together for a week so if I’d have been a smarter man I could have delayed the ‘boyfriend/girlfriend’ tag for a bit, saved having to buy a birthday present and justified missing half her birthday to go out on the hills! But sadly I was walking up Arthur’s Seat in the glorious weather whilst my mind was further west. The forecast for this past weekend wasn’t anywhere near as good: I described it as ‘walkable but character building’ to the friends I tried to invite but they were all far to committed to their degrees and passed up a weekend away to do some study, meaning I was going solo.

My plans were almost scuppered immediately when my St Andrews to Dundee bus was 20 minutes late and I made the citylink connection with literally only seconds to spare. Thankfully the remaining bus journey went without a hitch and at 19:00 I arrived in Bridge of Orchy. It was going to be a couple of hours walk in the dark to reach my planned campsite but I knew that as I was walking on Land Rover tracks it shouldn’t be too difficult. Plus, having spent a bit of time in the reserve forces I’d done my fair share of night navigation. I set out south along the West Highland Way and enjoyed the last rays of sun disappearing over the Cruachan, Starav and Etive hills.

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Sunset from the West Highland Way

By the time I had reached Auch the sun was long gone but a full moon was saving the batteries on my head torch. The turning up the Allt Kinglass was obvious even in the dark and I soon reached the first of many fords, the Allt Coralan, which was barely knee deep and easy to skip through (a combination of high military boots and long water proof trousers kept my feet dry). Soon the moon disappeared behind the Corbett Beinn a’ Chaisteil and things got a bit more eerie, still light enough not to merit a headtorch though. I continued right up the valley, a bit bemused at the endless switching of sides over the river, then took the left hand turn not long after the farm sheds named Ais-an t-Sithean and headed up the Allt an Loin to the end of the track at 352411. I reached the camp site after two and a half hours as I’d walked pretty fast, occasionally my walking poles had scrapped a rock and sent a spark flying through the darkness, so it could be said I walked so fast ‘I was burning up the ground behind me’!

I set up the tent I’d borrowed, noting that the outer sheet didn’t seem to be the right size. Then almost as soon as I crawled into my sleeping bag the storm hit. The wind continually threatened to tear away the parachute like outer layer and every time it lifted slightly the rain pierced through the non-waterproof inner layer. Every half an hour I was back outside moving rocks onto the sheet and re pegging the tent down and at one point, around 03:00, I had to lay like a starfish to simply hold the tent down in the wind. This was my first ever wild camp (not including a couple of cosy Duke of Edinburgh trips) and as I was on my own it was seriously grim! I gave in at 04:30, got changed, had breakfast and took down my tent. Which in the pitch black, pouring rain and ferocious winds was a bit of an ordeal! As tempting as it was to find a sheltered spot, just curl up and try to get some sleep it was far too cold to risk it so I set off for the first munro, Beinn Mhanach, at night.

It was straight forward to skirt around Beinn a’ Chuirn, reach the saddle point and head up the rounded slopes of Beinn Mhanach. Seeing the trip point loom out of the mist and silhouetted against the black sky was a definite moral boost, although on reaching the summit I didn’t have phone signal, and this was the first point I’d planned to text my flatmate to say, “I’m still alive. Don’t call mountain rescue yet.” Thankfully I hit a random patch of signal descending the hill and got my text away then. I followed the remaining sections of fence to the Lon na Cailliche and contoured around to Coire a’Mhath-ghamhna next to Beinn a’Chreachain. A sunrise over Loch Lyon and a packet of Jaffa Cakes boosted the mood no end.

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Loch Lyon sunrise

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Looking back to Beinn Mhanach

The walk up to the ridge in the coire was a bit boggy and very soft underfoot which made the assent really difficult with such a heavy bag. I gladly ditched it once I reached the ridge though and enjoyed the light walk up Beinn a’Chreachain. The views over Rannoch Moor were excellent although sadly the clouds blocked it for most of the time but periodically let their defences down and allowed a peak. The wind on the summit almost reduced me to crawl to the cairn so I quickly turned around and headed back down. In my haste following the unmarked path from the cairn, and a bit muddled by the wind and cloud, I never noticed the turning left (west) back the way I came and followed the path down the NE ridge. I realised my mistake soon enough and angrily walked back up to the right path.

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Back up the wrong ridge!

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View down the right route

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Rannoch Moor

Once I’d collected my bag I followed the obvious, yet unmapped, path just south of the main ridge to Meall Buidhe. It was very slippy after all the overnight rain, and contouring along a steep slope was havoc for my ankles, so I walked back up to the ridge and accepted the battering from the wind. I continued to Bealach an Aoghlain and found a sheltered spot to have a bit of food. Another packet of Jaffa Cakes, a few pieces of Haribo, a bacon roll and a jam sandwich later I set up the climb to Beinn Achaladair which was probably my favourite munro of the day. A few rocky sections along the path were turned into an airy scramble when recounting the day to my flatmate and the long sweeping south ridge was a pleasant descent.

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Beinn Achaladair looming in the mist

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A scramble to rival the AE and Skye...

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View from the assent up Beinn Achaladair

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Beinn an Dothaidh from the nice descent from Beinn Achaladair

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Loch Lyon

The wind was really whipping over the saddle before the climb to Beinn an Dothaidh so I asended up the comparatively sheltered southern slopes. At my fourth summit of the day, and it had only just turned noon, I felt pretty good – a feeling that only improved when I saw Bridge of Orchy down below and the simple path up Beinn Dorain. I stopped in a sheltered spot near the cairned bealach to finish of my food (this time another packet of Jaffa Cakes, the rest of my Haribo, sultanas, a chilli con carne roll and another bacon roll) and ditched my bag for the climb up Beinn Dorain. Two groups walked past me here and after a lonely night walk in, a horrific night and a long day already it was nice to see some life again!

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Glen Orchy

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View back up Beinn an Dothaidh

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View along the ridge: Beinn an Dothaidh immediate front, Beinn Achaladair poking up behind it and Beinn a'Chreachain to the right

I underestimated how long it would take to do Beinn Dorain but I was a happy man at the summit, not even the mist covering the views could ruin my mood. There was a smile on my face for the first time in a while when I reached the bealach, recovered my bag and started heading down to Bridge of Orchy. I must add that this final descent was the worst bit of the walk though! On tired legs, sore feet and shot knees with a heavy bag on my back the lose rock and boggy sections of the path were a nightmare. It took an age with frequent stops to make it back to Bridge of Orchy although the views out to the Starav and Glen Etive hills were great which made things slightly better.

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Final summit!

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Descending to Bridge of Orchy

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Looking back up to the bealach

And at 15:30 I was sitting in the hotel with a pint in one hand and the other firmly patting my back in self appreciation: the picture of a happy man. Not as happy as I was two hours later with five empty bottled in front of me and a good laugh with a few fellow walkers. At 18:00 my bus arrived and not even some loud American tourists in Crianlarich or some already rather drunk partiers from Crieff heading to Dundee disturbed my sleep.

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One for every munro

(Warning: this bit may contain a bit of self adulation) Whilst I’m aware there are reports on here that have more technical, demanding and longer routes, many with more than five munros, I’m actually really proud of myself and what I managed. In July this summer I had only done 5 munros so to have done my first night walk in, my first wild camp (on my own too), navigated my first munro at night, walked a fair distance with a rather heavy bag and collected my 18th summit on Dorain I consider quite an achievement. Sure there are greater headlines out there, but I really left my comfort zone, hit a steep learning curve and thoroughly enjoyed the challenge. I guess it’s important to keep pushing yourself so I fancy riding a uni cycle up Ben Lomond as my next trip... or perhaps not.
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Last edited by Jambo235 on Tue Oct 02, 2012 4:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: 'Orrid Orchy Overnighter - But I Leave Victorious

Postby ikt68 » Mon Oct 01, 2012 8:21 pm

Great report - enjoyed reading it!!
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Re: 'Orrid Orchy Overnighter - But I Leave Victorious

Postby rockhopper » Mon Oct 01, 2012 10:06 pm

Well done - that's a big route esp given the conditions and your heavy pack :thumbup: Certainly no need to apologise ! a great set of hills in which to start you on wild camping - cheers :)
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Re: 'Orrid Orchy Overnighter - But I Leave Victorious

Postby peter tindal » Tue Oct 02, 2012 8:46 am

Nice report and a good read. Now you have done a wild camp, night nav and starting to build on your tally, the GF will become a second priority!!! Only kidding, there is room for both a gf and hills in anyones life. :clap:

Good to see the TA training is paying off :D

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Re: 'Orrid Orchy Overnighter - But I Leave Victorious

Postby Jambo235 » Tue Oct 02, 2012 9:02 am

Cheers guys, thanks for the kind words. I couldn't help but think as I was laying there in a sodden tent that whilst this is absolutely gash it'll give me a good story at the end of it! The TA training did help a bit with the night nav, although I'd have been less scared and felt less vulnerable if I had an SA80, three full magazines and a platoon in front of me!

As for the American girlfriend, she was impressed enough for me to get a massage whilst watching Match of the Day!
peter tindal wrote:There is room for both a gf and hills in anyones life.

Too right, she's fairly fit too and quite likes hiking, although it's definitely the American version of hiking as I had to tell her that Arthur's Seat was not a hike but merely a stroll up a nipple in the landscape, but I'm sure I'll get her to the top of some of the easier ones: Ben Lomond, Schiehallion, Cairngorm etc.
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Re: 'Orrid Orchy Overnighter - But I Leave Victorious

Postby Graeme D » Tue Oct 02, 2012 9:46 am

Jambo235 wrote:As for the American girlfriend, she was impressed enough for me to get a massage whilst watching Match of the Day!


You've quickly got this walking/wild camping thing down to a fine art, haven't you??? :lol: :lol: :lol: :clap: :clap: :clap:

Epic walking and reporting Jambo, especially with the time travel element thrown in too. Date walked??? :? :? :? :shock: :shock:

Welcome to the world of wild camping and walks in under cover of darkness. There's nothing else quite like it if you're in the right frame of mind. 8) Interesting to read your comment about the crossing of the Allt Coralan. I had considered doing Beinn a' Chasteil, Beinn nam Fuaran and Beinn Mhanach last Saturday but with all the recent rain I was concerned about this as I had a rather hair raising experience crossing this in spate a couple of years back, so did the two Corbetts across the A82 in Glen Orchy.
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Re: 'Orrid Orchy Overnighter - But I Leave Victorious

Postby peter tindal » Tue Oct 02, 2012 1:05 pm

Jambo wrote: The TA training did help a bit with the night nav, although I'd have been less scared and felt less vulnerable if I had an SA80, three full magazines and a platoon in front of me!

Must be the cut backs, when I was in we used to get four magazines!! :shock:

Jambo wrote: but I'm sure I'll get her to the top of some of the easier ones: Ben Lomond, Schiehallion, Cairngorm etc.

Strange that, my other half has done 5 munro's and you listed two of them! :D

My nexy outing will be an overnight trip to the CNP during the October holidays! Last walk before getting married at the Ptarmigan :wink:
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Re: 'Orrid Orchy Overnighter - But I Leave Victorious

Postby Jambo235 » Tue Oct 02, 2012 4:33 pm

Graeme D wrote: You've quickly got this walking/wild camping thing down to a fine art, haven't you?

Epic walking and reporting Jambo, especially with the time travel element thrown in too. Date walked?

Interesting to read your comment about the crossing of the Allt Coralan. I had considered doing Beinn a' Chasteil, Beinn nam Fuaran and Beinn Mhanach last Saturday but with all the recent rain I was concerned about this as I had a rather hair raising experience crossing this in spate a couple of years back, so did the two Corbetts across the A82 in Glen Orchy.


Not only that Graeme, but I beat her at a game of crazy golf a few weeks back and the deal was the loser did the victors laundry. I felt that, after returning drenched from the walk, it would be a good time to call in the bet and I got the dirty washing done yesterday :lol:

As for the time travel: it is possible that did this on 6/10/12 as that night seemed much more like six days than six hours.

Yeah, despite the storms that week the Allt Coralan was fine. "Barely knee deep" was as extreme as it got and there are railway sleepers laid down underfoot obviously to drive over so it's really easy to cross, were they there when you last visited? I had considered doing the walk in from Tyndrum along Beinn Odhar, Beinn a' Chaisteil and Beinn nan Fuaran but it'd have been in the dark and followed by a long walk the following day so I decided that would be biting off more than I could chew.

peter tindal wrote: Must be the cut backs, when I was in we used to get four magazines!! :shock:

My nexy outing will be an overnight trip to the CNP during the October holidays! Last walk before getting married at the Ptarmigan :wink:


I'm no longer in the TA either, I switched to the RAF Reserves about a year ago. Even then I had my fair share of shouting 'BANG!' to save blank rounds and I wouldn't be surprised if they now issue a rifle to every second person and ammunition to the man in between! :?

Where are you planning on walking around the Cairngorms? And congratulations on your soon to be marriage! :clap:
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Re: 'Orrid Orchy Overnighter - But I Leave Victorious

Postby Graeme D » Tue Oct 02, 2012 8:22 pm

Jambo235 wrote:Not only that Graeme, but I beat her at a game of crazy golf a few weeks back and the deal was the loser did the victors laundry. I felt that, after returning drenched from the walk, it would be a good time to call in the bet and I got the dirty washing done yesterday

As for the time travel: it is possible that did this on 6/10/12 as that night seemed much more like six days than six hours.

Yeah, despite the storms that week the Allt Coralan was fine. "Barely knee deep" was as extreme as it got and there are railway sleepers laid down underfoot obviously to drive over so it's really easy to cross, were they there when you last visited? I had considered doing the walk in from Tyndrum along Beinn Odhar, Beinn a' Chaisteil and Beinn nan Fuaran but it'd have been in the dark and followed by a long walk the following day so I decided that would be biting off more than I could chew.


You old dog jambo!

As for the railway sleepers in the Allt Coralan, I suspect they were there that day but I doubt they would have been visible due to the volume of raging water. It was the third day of a planned four day walk and I was cutting my losses and heading for the exit door ASAP. Link to report below:

http://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/Forum/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=5707
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Re: 'Orrid Orchy Overnighter - But I Leave Victorious

Postby JonAksel » Tue Oct 02, 2012 8:35 pm

Very inspiring report. Where was your camp? Brilliant way to do all five.
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Re: 'Orrid Orchy Overnighter - But I Leave Victorious

Postby peter tindal » Wed Oct 03, 2012 10:45 am

Jambo, they have found a better way of reducing cost in the army, they have cut the people that shouted bang!!! :(
I was never TA, just a regular! :lol:

I will be in the CNP on Monday 15 overnight someplace, maybe the new HMH. I have only a few left to do in the park.

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Re: 'Orrid Orchy Overnighter - But I Leave Victorious

Postby Jambo235 » Wed Oct 03, 2012 3:31 pm

Graeme D wrote:You old dog jambo!

As for the railway sleepers in the Allt Coralan, I suspect they were there that day but I doubt they would have been visible due to the volume of raging water. It was the third day of a planned four day walk and I was cutting my losses and heading for the exit door ASAP. Link to report below:

http://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/Forum/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=5707


Haha, I read your report sand I'll concede that you probably had a tougher time than me. We both got drenched, but I never had to divert my route due to rivers. Having said that though, I certainly didn't get a lie in and a cup of tea at 8am!

JonAksel wrote:Very inspiring report. Where was your camp? Brilliant way to do all five.


Cheers JonAksel. Of all the things I imagined my report would do 'inspire' was not one of them! My camp was almost at the top of the valley to the west of Beinn a’ Chuirn (OS 352411). You're right about the five, it gave an idea of how detached Beinn Mhanach is and also the ridge along the other four was quite good to do in one go.

peter tindal wrote:I was never TA, just a regular! I will be in the CNP on Monday 15 overnight someplace, maybe the new HMH. I have only a few left to do in the park.


Well I'm sorry for having tarred you with the same brush :wink: But some of us can't afford to be entirely fanatical and need a straight-and-narrow job alongside the military! I suppose the HMH would allow you to do Beinn Mheadhoin and the views south down the glen (Derry I think?) from the top were great so I imagine the walk in could be nice. I suppose if you were wanting to do Monadh Mor and Beinn Bhrotan you could stay in Corrour bothy or wild camp nearby after a walk in from Glen Feshie or Lin of Dee?
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Re: 'Orrid Orchy Overnighter - But I Leave Victorious

Postby basscadet » Wed Oct 03, 2012 3:53 pm

Oh I cant believe I almost missed thisreport, what a good read! Well done :D
You'll be needing a tent you can rely upon better.. Its nae fun if you cant trust your tent to hold up for the night :( if you need one, just say because I have a spare I havent used for a couple of years :wink:
I did almost the exact same hills from Glen Lyon just a couple of months ago and had a great time.. Same stormy weather in the end though, and the rivers fill up fast in that neck of the woods I can tell you! :lol:
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Re: 'Orrid Orchy Overnighter - But I Leave Victorious

Postby Jambo235 » Mon Oct 08, 2012 1:31 pm

basscadet wrote:Oh I cant believe I almost missed thisreport, what a good read! Well done :D
You'll be needing a tent you can rely upon better.. Its nae fun if you cant trust your tent to hold up for the night :( if you need one, just say because I have a spare I havent used for a couple of years :wink:
I did almost the exact same hills from Glen Lyon just a couple of months ago and had a great time.. Same stormy weather in the end though, and the rivers fill up fast in that neck of the woods I can tell you! :lol:


Cheers Basscadet! I couldn't agree more about the tent, I actually signed this one out of the military store but I'm considering getting my own. Thanks also for the idea of your tent, do you mean to borrow or buy? As for the stormy weather, if the river-filling rumours are true, I'm glad I got all of my crossings done before the rain came Friday night.
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