Camping on the Orchy 5
by shish » Wed Aug 13, 2014 7:14 pm
Munros included on this walk: Beinn a' Chreachain, Beinn Achaladair, Beinn an Dòthaidh, Beinn Dòrain, Beinn Mhanach
Date walked: 03/08/2014
Time taken: 45 hours
Distance: 40 km
Ascent: 2827m3 people think this report is great. Register or Login free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).
After 2 breakfasts and a journey we headed into the Real Food Café for some proper tea. It was way too early and a bit like an eastbound international flight when all the meals concertina on each other and you get uncomfortably full, but necessary to preload with a proper meal before all those snacky meals we’d be having later.
We set off around 6pm planning to have a base camp between Beinn Achaladair and Beinn an Dothaidh in Coire Daingean.
The first bit of path across the bog had a long leafed sundew growing there right in the middle. I saw a piccy of one on someone’s report fairly recently and so I knew straight away. Thanks to that person – I can’t remember who it was now.
The rain was on and off but nothing too bad.
There was a lot of water in the burns though and we couldn’t get across the ford so went straight up to the right of the bigger burns.
A big fat green caterpillar turned out to be an Empire Moth caterpillar (I think).
As we approached the beallach the rain decided it was definitely on, so we pitched the tents asap finding a couple of perfect mossy hummocks for the site. The tents got soaked inside and out and we had to mop them out. Mrs Santa’s e-cloth was amazing at mopping a lot of water even when it was soaked already.
We kept getting woken in the night by blustery squalls trying to flatten the tent, but it was good and held well. All the burns were making a huge roaring noise all night. No thunder though.
We weren’t in a hurry to get going in the morning because the MWIS said it would get dry a few hours after sunrise, so when we did finally set off we thought it would clear any moment.
We took the stalkers’ path around the east of Beinn Achaladair until it met the fence, and we followed the fence line down to the beallach and round to the NE slopes of Beinn a’ Chuirn, which we bypassed on our way to Beinn Mhanach. It was fairly heavy going and even though we expected the rain to stop and the clouds to clear any minute, they just weren’t listening. I didn’t take any pictures because of the non-existent view. We returned to the beallach the same way and carried on along the fence, contouring round Beinn Achaladair to reach Beallach an Aoghlain between Achaladair and Meall Buidhe. It was a nice walk along the proper path at the top but it would have been way nicer with a view. We were so optimistic that the view would appear at each summit, but Beinn a’ Chreachain was engulfed too. We went the wrong way off Beinn a’ Chreachain for a short time until we realised there shouldn’t be a cliff at our left. Finally the rain stopped and the clouds started to break up and at quarter to four we finally got our view from the summit of Beinn Achaladair, where I could wave to my friend Sally who was up Ben Nevis with some teenage relatives. It’s amazing how your spirits lift when there’s a view and the water stops trickling down your back and legs!
I had total boot failure with soaking feet and once we got back to the tent they got very cold. After eating tea we separated into our tents pretty early and my feet soon warmed up inside my sleeping bag. I think we were asleep by 8pm. Actually Rudolf, being the brave pioneer that he is, had a foray up the slopes of Beinn an Dothaidh to check out tomorrow’s route while Mrs Santa and I flopped.
I woke for the necessary at 10.30ish and this is what I saw. Makes it all worthwhile!
Later the stars were fantastic.
On Tuesday we had a ferry to catch so we had to be away from the car park by 3pm. We calculated we’d better get away by 8am to give us plenty time for faffing along the route (it can happen!) So we followed Rudolf’s route up a bit of the SE ridge of Beinn an Dothaidh ‘til we got above the craggy bit to the south of the summit and contoured round ‘til we met the path to Beinn Dorain down into the beallach and back up past the wee loch and took the bypass path to the real summit.
The clouds were back down so no view again today.
We went back along the ridge path, passing the massive cairn at Carn Sasunnaich. In a cloud, you can see why people might think they’ve got to the proper summit.
Back down and up to Beinn an Dothaidh through the gently sloping grassy Coire Reidh, the clouds lifting all the time.
We ran all down the steep grassy slope back to pack up the tents and head down to the car. The burns had gone down a lot and were quite passable again.
Down in the meadow at the bottom of Allt Coire Achaladair there’d been a hatching of (we think) Scotch Argus butterflies and there were loads flying around. They were velvety brown with rich orangey red spots along all 4 wings – beautiful - I’ve never seen one of those before. And there was bogwood, I think. How can you tell it’s bogwood and not just a bit of wood from the trees by the burn nearby, that’s got embedded in the bog?
We were back to the car and caught the ferry with plenty time to spare.
by Rudolph » Wed Aug 13, 2014 10:26 pm
I've never bailed out a tent before - the hazards of a tent that pitches inner first!
I like the way you make it sound as if the bypass path on Beinn Dorain was taken deliberately rather than cos' I missed the turn off for the real path.
More seriously for others, bypassing Dothaidh is easy from the Achaladair end. Go up the ridge to about 900m (or when the gully on your left turns into a shallow re-entrant) then head across above the cliffs to a lovely descending traverse. I wouldn't want to try and find it going the other way in mist.
by shish » Thu Aug 14, 2014 11:12 pm
by Johnny Corbett » Fri Aug 15, 2014 9:34 am
by scottishkennyg » Fri Aug 15, 2014 7:44 pm
by Alteknacker » Mon Aug 18, 2014 12:03 am
The hills always win out!
by spiderwebb » Mon Aug 18, 2014 7:25 am
Walkhighlands community forum is advert free
Can you help support Walkhighlands and the online community by donating by direct debit?