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Gorton Bothy, Echo Beach and the Wall of Rannoch Munros

Gorton Bothy, Echo Beach and the Wall of Rannoch Munros


Postby Graeme D » Tue Jan 06, 2015 9:23 pm

Munros included on this walk: Beinn a'Chreachain, Beinn Achaladair

Date walked: 29/12/2014

Time taken: 8.4 hours

Distance: 24.3 km

Ascent: 1420m

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Sunday 28th - Monday 29th December 2014

Total time from leaving car to returning to car - 20.5 hours
Car to Gorton Bothy - approx. 1.5 hours
Time spent in bothy - approx. 10.5 hours
Time spent on hills - 8.5 hours


On my tour of Scottish bothies, I had never yet frequented Gorton, although I had heard plenty of stories about it, what with it being a regular warm-up venue for many forum old timers ahead of WH meets. I had cleared a space in the festive diary for a walk on either the Sunday or Monday between Christmas and New Year but really fancied making it a bothy overnighter. There aren't many better ways to unwind and destress! Gorton bothy and the Munros of Beinn a'Chreachain and Beinn Achaladair were identified as the targets. Mountainstar thought he might also be able to swing by the bothy on his way up to the Chlachaig for New Year but the dates didn't quite work out so it was just me on my Jack Jones.

I dropped Ailsa off with my parents on my way up and stopped off at the Good Food Café in Tyndrum for a dinner of some scampi and chips and a mug of tea. I half expected to see Bod and Val, Al and Alison, Paul and Helen, Nathan, some familiar face, but it was not to be.

When I was dropping Ailsa off with my parents I received a text message from kevsbald that his wife had just given birth that afternoon to a wee girl and they were now proud parents to young Martha. As I texted back my congratulations I recalled that Martha was a name that I had been quite fond of as an option had we ever had another girl and that was all it took for the song Echo Beach by Martha and the Muffins to start playing on a loop in my head. My various attempts to dislodge it by the playing of various CDs on the way up the road failed and it followed me all the way to Gorton Bothy and onto the hills the following day!

I parked in the large parking area a short distance along the Achallader Farm road and got myself organised. I was the only car there so it looked like I would have exclusive use of the bothy facilities tonight! I was up and running at about 8.40pm heading past the farm, my bag of coal (in a strong plastic bag) carefully hooked over and strapped up on the back of my pack. It swung about a little but otherwise did not cause any great discomfort or added inconvenience.

I soon reached the Allt Coire Achaladair which I knew could potentially make for a tricky crossing, especially in the dark and in icy conditions. A half moon was out and I hadn't needed the head torch on but I switched it on for the river crossing. I quickly switched it back off again as it didn't actually help matters at all but simply added glare. The moonlight was far more conducive for seeing by.

Just as I took my last few steps towards the Allt, I felt a few heavy thuds on the ground by my feet and looked down to see a few lumps of coal falling from the bag. There had obviously been enough swing in the bag for it to be catching against my ice axe and this had slowly torn a gash in the bag. I gathered up the coal and popped it all back into the shredded bag. There was no way it could now be carried on my pack - it was going t have to be gathered up and carried by hand.

It took a good 15 minutes or so to get myself, my pack and the bag of coal across. I eventually found a stretch that had a gravel bar in the middle and managed to get everything over in two crossings with some careful foot placement.

Fortunately the necessary crossing of the Water of Tulla a bit further on near Barravourich was made considerably more straightforward ny the presence of a bridge!

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Crossing the bridge over the Water of Tulla at Barravourich

From there it was a very straightforward walk in to Gorton which was in darkness and bitterly cold when I got in (it had read -5.5 on the car guage when I had set off so goodness know what it was now). I got the place looking homely by lighting a few candles, cracked open a can of lager and set about seeing to the fire. The grate was full of ash and it was only when I started to scoop it out into the bucket that I realised it was wet. It had obviously been doused by the previous user and now it was a thick black sludge. I got most of it out and surprisingly had a roaring fire going in no time.

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Well settled in the bothy

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Seasonal greetings from previous residents

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Toasty but not quite up to Duinish levels

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Looking in from outside

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Has Caberfeidh been here before?

I spent a couple of hours sitting by the fire which was by now giving off quite some heat, drinking my three cans of lager and my couple of drams of Balvennie, before calling it a night at around 12.30 and crawling into my sleeping bag. I slept well until about 5am when the cold woke me and I saw that the fire was kaput. No more wood or coal left so I had to tough it out for another couple of hours of fitful tossing and turning before getting up for porridge and coffee.

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Gorton in the morning

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Looking east along the Water of Tulla from the bothy

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Looking up towards Beinn a'Chreachain

It was bitterly cold and I couldn't sit still as I had breakfast and got my stuff repacked. With a considerably lighter pack I was off at 8.40 heading for (I hoped) the bridge a short distance east of the bothy. I was soon relieved to see that the bridge shown on my OS sheet was actually still in place although I wouldn't like to hang about too long on the structure. 'Tis a tad saggy to say the least!

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Approaching the bridge - a couple of locals on the hillside

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The shoogly bridge

Once safely over I passed under the pylons and negotiated the railway line which I have to say felt considerably less dangerous than the bridge. Then it was the long haul up the broad, winding north east ridge of Chreachain, accompanied by stunning views in all directions.

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Under the pylons

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Over the railway

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Dun Laoghan

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Sky brightening over the north east ridge of Creachain

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Achaladair peering through the cloud

The initial ascent up the broad sweeping north east ridge of Chreachain was dominated by views north across Rannoch Moor, covered this morning by a huge cloud inversion, and west towards the Black Mount and the Munros at the western edge of the Moor.

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Stob Ghabhar

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Inversion over Gorton

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Clach Leathad and Meall a'Bhuiridh

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Zoomed in on all of the Black Mount Munros

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Zoomed right in on Clach Leathad and Meall a'Bhuiridh

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Rannoch Moor clearing through the inversion

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Yet another zoom on the Black Mount Munros

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North across Rannoch Moor towards Nevis

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Stob Dearg (Buachaille Etive Mor)

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Dun Laoghan poking through the inversion

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When the Black Mount hills look this good........

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Inversion rolling back

As I gained height the views opened up over the Coire Dubh Mor into Gleann Meurain and the hills around Loch Lyon. My mind was cast back to the summer of 2010 and the day when, after a night of torrential rain and wind had battered my tent by the Loch Lyon dam, I had to make a rather hasty and at times frantic retreat from Loch Lyon and her feeder rivers and burns and battle my way back to Tyndrum. My route that day had at one point taken me into Gleann Meurain and as I looked down now I was amazed to see just how far off my intended the route the flash floods and torrential river courses had pushed me.

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East across Gleann Meurain towards the Glen Lyon hills and someone jetting off for New Year

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Chreachain casting a shadow over Rannoch Moor

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Across the wilderness towards Glencoe, the Mamores, the Nevis range e.t.c.

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First sighting of the summit of Creachain

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Beinn Heasgairneach across Loch Lyon

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Creachain, Meall Buidhe and Achaladair

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Ice field below the final push for the summit of Creachain

Eventually the wonderful sight of Lochan a'Chreachain came into view, nestled away in Coire an Lochain on the northern face of the mountain. The frozen surface of the loch looked like a piece of abstract art or patchwork quilt with various different colours and bandings across it.

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First sighting of Lochan a'Chreachain

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Cruachan rising in the distance

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Final ridge to the summit

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Beinn Heasgairneach with the distant Crianlarich Munros to the right and the Loch Earn Munros just peeking up to the left

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Distant Lawers range with the distinctive profile of An Stuc obvious just left of centre

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Edge of the crags high above the lochan

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Summit cairn in sight

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Glen Lyon hills across Gleann Meurain - scene of my desperate retreat from Loch Lyon in July 2010

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Back down the broad, winding ascent ridge

With the summit won, and my 166th Munro under my belt, I settled down on a nice little flat rock at the base of the cairn and had lunch. There was barely a breath, and not a soul to be seen or heard anywhere. I spent a good half hour or so there just taking in the panorama of mountainous terrain all around me as far as the eye could see.

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South west from the summit - Beinn Dorain prominent right of centre

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Beinn Heasgairneach and the Crianlarich Munros in the distance

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The onward route towards Achaladair

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Beinn Mhanach in the middle ground

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An eye watering array of Shuggies and Ronnies

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Playing name the mountain across Rannoch Moor

Then it was down onto the long flat ridge of Meall Buidhe which led me down to the bealach due east of Achaladair, where I met the first people I had seen since leaving the car last night, heading in the opposite direction to me. They expressed surprise that I was the first person they had seen all day too, despite the fact that the car park had quite a few vehicles parked up in it.

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Descending towards Meall Buidhe

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Cloud boiling up over Beinn Dorain

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Cornices on Meall Buidhe

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Spindrift on the Meall Buidhe plateau

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Still a way to go to Achaladair

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Beinn Achaladair and Loch Tulla from Meall Buidhe

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And zoomed

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Moon over Beinn a'Chreachain

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Descending to the 813m bealach

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The northern corrie of Achaladair

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The east face of Achaladair

The ascent up the eastern face of Achaladair was technically the most challenging part of the route. Any path through the crags pretty much vanished under the snow cover so it was a case of route finding on the hoof. A few times I had to get all hands on or backtrack to find a less dangerous route.

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Back towards Creachain from the final pull up to the summit of Achaladair

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Zoomed along Loch Lyon towards the dam

As I approached the summit of Achaladair I spotted a veritable rush hour at the summit with one person and a dog just leaving the summit and another just arriving. I chatted a while with the guy at the summit who was seting up some pretty heavy duty photographic equipment including a tripod. He was heading towards Chreachain where he hoped to get some sunset shots before descending down to Crannoch Wood and back along the Gorton track to the car park. I waited until he had vacated the vicinity before getting my little Canon point and shoot number out and taking my shots, which don't look too shoddy themselves in my humble opinion.

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The airy summit of Beinn Achaladair

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Summit selfie

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Clouds rolling in across the summit ridge

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The start of the road home

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Achaladair to Chreachain

The guy had told me that it had been a bit blowy on the ridge between Achaladair and the head of Coire Daingean and he certainly hadn't exaggerated. A bit of an understatement in fact. The clouds rolled in and the wind got up to howler level - as fierce as anything I've experienced in winter walking. The goggles were finally pressed into service but once the safety of the coire and the descent down to the farm was reached, the wind dropped away to next to nothing again.

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On the narrowing descent ridge above Coire nan Clach

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Descending through Coire Achaladair

I followed the guy and the dog down through the coire, stopping only lower down to take a last couple of shots and quickly call my parents and text Debbie with an update before wearily making my way through the gathering darkness to the car park.

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The western slopes of Achaladair

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One last look

All in all this has to rank as one of my best winter walking days - certainly up there with Cruachan and Stob Diamh in 2010 and the Coire Lair circuit in 2013.


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Graeme D
 
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Re: Gorton Bothy, Echo Beach and the Wall of Rannoch Munros

Postby Gordie12 » Tue Jan 06, 2015 9:50 pm

That looked brilliant Graeme.
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Re: Gorton Bothy, Echo Beach and the Wall of Rannoch Munros

Postby Graeme D » Tue Jan 06, 2015 10:04 pm

Gordie12 wrote:That looked brilliant Graeme.


It sure was Gordie! 8)
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Re: Gorton Bothy, Echo Beach and the Wall of Rannoch Munros

Postby gammy leg walker » Tue Jan 06, 2015 10:15 pm

Your Tennants will get warm next to that fire.

Cracking TR Mr Dewar
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Re: Gorton Bothy, Echo Beach and the Wall of Rannoch Munros

Postby spiderwebb » Tue Jan 06, 2015 11:06 pm

Brilliant pics Graeme, this is the best of winter walking. Had to look these up as I recalled the names but couldn't place them. Great report :D
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Re: Gorton Bothy, Echo Beach and the Wall of Rannoch Munros

Postby Graeme D » Tue Jan 06, 2015 11:10 pm

gammy leg walker wrote:Your Tennants will get warm next to that fire.

Cracking TR Mr Dewar


It wisnae there long enough to get warm Willie!
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Re: Gorton Bothy, Echo Beach and the Wall of Rannoch Munros

Postby scottishkennyg » Tue Jan 06, 2015 11:13 pm

Cracking outing there with superb conditions reflected in some bonnie images. :clap:
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Re: Gorton Bothy, Echo Beach and the Wall of Rannoch Munros

Postby Beaner001 » Tue Jan 06, 2015 11:39 pm

A super wee adventure there Graeme, really enjoyed reading that :clap:
Cheers
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Re: Gorton Bothy, Echo Beach and the Wall of Rannoch Munros

Postby Collaciotach » Wed Jan 07, 2015 12:05 am

Grand stuff :clap: :clap:

Duinish ? ..... spent a night in a bothy top of Loch Garry many years ago , same place ?

Only problem is .... Echo Beach ,far a way in time is now doing a loop in MY head :wink:
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Re: Gorton Bothy, Echo Beach and the Wall of Rannoch Munros

Postby Alteknacker » Wed Jan 07, 2015 12:11 am

Can't improve on ScottishKenny's summary - great all round.
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Re: Gorton Bothy, Echo Beach and the Wall of Rannoch Munros

Postby davetherave » Wed Jan 07, 2015 1:51 am

Very enjoyable report, with what looks like fine pictures to complement.
Only viewing on my Phone, will check them out on the PC at home later.

Cheers
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Re: Gorton Bothy, Echo Beach and the Wall of Rannoch Munros

Postby kevsbald » Wed Jan 07, 2015 7:48 am

Walk of the Month. Brilliant. You were blessed.
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Re: Gorton Bothy, Echo Beach and the Wall of Rannoch Munros

Postby Bubba Ribeye » Wed Jan 07, 2015 8:35 am

:D Excellent report. Full of detail for future reference. Bothy looked well cosy! I'll be having a 'steakfest' there sometime in the near future hopefully.
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Re: Gorton Bothy, Echo Beach and the Wall of Rannoch Munros

Postby The Rodmiester » Wed Jan 07, 2015 9:14 am

Great stuff there Graeme, lookeed bloody cold, but plenty of BLUE sky ! WOW, bet that re-charged your batteries :) Fabulous report and photographs :D
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Re: Gorton Bothy, Echo Beach and the Wall of Rannoch Munros

Postby Mountainlove » Wed Jan 07, 2015 1:25 pm

Fantastic report and lovely early morning pictures of the invasion. Really enjoyed reading it!! :clap: :clap:
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