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Voyages of the Graham Bagger: Beinn Dhorain

Voyages of the Graham Bagger: Beinn Dhorain


Postby BlackPanther » Tue May 26, 2015 1:31 pm

Fionas included on this walk: Beinn Dhorain

Date walked: 02/05/2015

Time taken: 3 hours

Distance: 10 km

Ascent: 560m

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Last week was a crazy time spent all over the place :shock: I had simply no chance to sit down and filter through photos, let alone write anything! Hopefully, I'll catch up with my huge backlog now - 8 TR's pending!

Weather in May 2015 didn't spoil us :( We still managed a good chunk of hills, mostly Grahams, but also a few Munros and one Corbett. Here comes the first of my stories: one of the lower (but not necessarily lesser) Scottish mountains in the far north.

Having bought the new SMC Guide to Grahams and Donalds we felt inspired to bag a few of these small beauties, especially in areas where higher mountains are hard to find, like the eastern side of Sutherland. This part of the Highlands in dominated by Grahams and Subs. The nearest Corbett is Ben Loyal, and the nearest Munro - the lonely Ben Klibreck.
Beinn Dhorain, the one we picked for bank holiday weekend (Saturday, the 2nd of May), wouldn't raise many eyebrows and very few people bother to visit this God forsaken little lump of heather :lol: which is a shame, as BD is an excellent viewpoint and offers an easy half day's walk. The route is mostly pathless and some wet ground has to be negotiated, but I didn't expect a yellow-brick-road on an unfrequented Graham.
Weather on Saturday was very changeable: lots of clouds passing over Scotland, showers, gusty winds and surprisingly cold :? After the excellent week of near-summer walking in April, it was hard to return to hats, gloves and thick jackets.
We drove up north past Brora to a tiny village called Lothbeg, where a single track branches left and uphill into Glen Loth. In winter conditions this road would very likely be closed, as it is not gritted (according to a warning sign at the junction) and even without snow it's only just about wide enough :lol:
Our route:

Track_BEINN DHORAIN 02-05-15.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts


There are a few approaches for Beinn Dhorain. If you are on a way to somewhere else and just want a 2 hrs nip-up to the summit, it is possible to start from the highest point on the road, from a large layby (936158), but we wanted to squeeze a bit more out of the day. Subsequently, we followed SMC Guide instructions - the book suggests a circular walk, starting from a gate about 3 km south from the highest point on the road. It says something about a grassy verge to park next to the gate, but the "parking space" looked dubious, so we drove about 500m further up the road and found a better spot - a large passing place with enough even grass to park without blocking anything:
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The step side of our target Graham dominated the view from here:
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Walking began on a tarmac road, we headed back to the gate:
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I was disappointed when we arrived at the gate and discovered, there was no stile anywhere and the gate itself was padlocked :( We had to tackle it heads on, thankfully there was no barb wire anywhere and the gate was easy to scramble over :D
Once on the other side, we followed a vt track. Current 1-25k map doesn't show it, but the track divides at 933130 and the right hand branch, if a bit wet, can be followed almost to the first top, Druim Dearg, where it disappears.
As soon as we started gaining height, we were hit by the cold wind and had to wrap up for a very wintry experience :lol: Hard to believe that we went from summer conditions to freezing off backsides in about two weeks...
The summit was still clearly visible from this point:
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Sheepfolds and a ruined house across the glen are the only remnants of people's presence in this area. The glen had been cleared by the infamous Duke of Sutherland and the last inhabitants left in 1819.
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The way up, a bit rough:
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Across the glen, Beinn Mhealaich, 592m, must be a Sub'200 Marylin, could be added to the walk to make it a longer traverse:
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Once the track petered out, it was easy enough to pick the way across the grassy shoulder:
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From the boggy top of Druim Dearg we still had another 200m of ascent to the summit of the Graham:
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To the west, Meallan Liath Beag and the wind turbines peeking out from behind. I once told Kevin, that we should be able to spot at least one wind farm from any Scottish mountain. Since then, we play "turbine spotting" every time we are near a hill summit and so far, I'm winning :lol: :lol:
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Zoom to the wind farm and the snowy hills far beyond, which must be Ben More Assynt group:
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We crossed a shallow col between Druim Dearg and the main bulk of Beinn Dhorain and began the final push to the summit. It would all feel rosy but for the frrrrrezzzzing wind... Oops, did I lose my glove somewhere?
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To the south, the North Sea :lol: a bit tilted today...
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The climb didn't take long, we hopped over a few puddles near the top and soon arrived on the flattish summit area. The small cairn indicating the highest point was to our left. I run first to celebrate my 31st Graham :lol:
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On the northern horizon, the sky looked very scary :shock: Apocalypse coming soon???
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Looking east across the flat summit area towards Beinn Mhealaich and the sea beyond:
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Beinn Dhorain turned out to be a very good viewpoint, just a shame it was so cold and windy and we couldn't stay here long enough to appreciate this enchanting landscape to the full.
Morven, was of course the most prominent peak in sight:
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Scaraben and Maiden Pap:
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Facing the darkness :shock: :shock: :shock:
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Beinn Griam Mor and Beg:
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Ben Klibreck, methinks:
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Ben Loyal, hard to mistake this one for anything :D
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The full western pano:
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It was too windy to sit by the tiny summit cairn, but we spotted a large stone shelter on the northern top, Ben Uarie. Hoping for a better place to hide from the cold breeze, we quickly traversed to the lower top (not lower by much - only 5m). Sadly, when we arrived, we discovered the shelter was filled with snow and the wind was so strong that hiding behind the stony wall didn't make any difference. Our hands were getting numb and we both had summer trousers on (who would expect such cold conditions in May :lol: ), so imagine that our ***certain bodyparts*** were freezing off, too :wink:
We stayed only long enough for a few photos.
Beinn Dhorain from Ben Uarie:
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The windfarm again:
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Freezing Panther:
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Blue sky above the sea:
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The descent route took us down to the col between the two summits and down quite steeply, on heather and snow patches:
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Round sheepfold? We saw quite a few of these structures in the glen:
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We followed a tiny stream back to the glen, some wet ground on the way, but nothing too squelchy. The cliffs of Ben Uarie looked imposing from below:
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We reached the fence separating us from the tarmac road. I remember other people's reports mentioning something about a stile further down, but we couldn't see it so decided to get across the fence where we were standing, rather than trudge alongside it looking for a stile. Kevin quickly noticed, that in one place, the horizontal metal wires were loose enough to squeeze between them. We had to take rucksacks off, but had no problem to get to the other side. It pays off to be skinny :wink:
Beinn Dhorain and the fence:
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What was left now, a lovely, easy stroll along a quiet road back to the car... and downhill, too!
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Walking on sunshine:
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There are a few archaeological objects to spot in Glen Loth, like this standing stone:
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Across Loth Burn, sad remnants of what once was a broch, Carn Bran:
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We returned to the starting point in just over 3 hours. A lovely wee Graham, when done as a full circuit, really entertaining. Shame about the cold, windy weather which prevented us from enjoying a long picnic on the summit, but it was still a pleasure :D Highly recommended as a "quickie", but may be hard to get to in winter time due to the narrow road with no gritting. But for every Graham Bagger - a real treat :D

More Graham explorations to come soon :D

The title was inspired by CS Lewis and his book "The Voyage of the Dawn Treader".
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BlackPanther
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Re: Voyages of the Graham Bagger: Beinn Dhorain

Postby Mal Grey » Tue May 26, 2015 4:24 pm

Always nice to see a report on a hill I've never heard of!
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Re: Voyages of the Graham Bagger: Beinn Dhorain

Postby Gordie12 » Tue May 26, 2015 9:26 pm

A part of the country I've only ever driven through so good to read a report on a hill I've also never heard of (and there were sea views - something I want more of this year).
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Re: Voyages of the Graham Bagger: Beinn Dhorain

Postby BlackPanther » Wed May 27, 2015 2:47 pm

Cheers guys, not a hugely popular hill but worth a visit if you happen to be in the area. Morven & Scaraben are also said to be fantastic walks (we hope to get to them soon). Plenty of archaeology here, brochs and clearance villages included. Some time ago, we explored ruined castles along the north-east coast, Caithness Castle Trail. Not many tourists ever get that far north :D
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Re: Voyages of the Graham Bagger: Beinn Dhorain

Postby malky_c » Wed May 27, 2015 3:26 pm

Nice little hill - would happily go up it again :) . You made more of a circuit of it than I did - worth the effort I think.

I first noticed round sheepfolds in the Southern Uplands last year, and I thought they were particular to that area. Since then I've spotted quite a few scattered around the Highlands as well - I'm obviously not observant enough :oops:
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Re: Voyages of the Graham Bagger: Beinn Dhorain

Postby BlackPanther » Thu May 28, 2015 11:15 am

malky_c wrote:I first noticed round sheepfolds in the Southern Uplands last year, and I thought they were particular to that area. Since then I've spotted quite a few scattered around the Highlands as well - I'm obviously not observant enough :oops:



Malky, when I first noticed the round shepfold, I thought it was an ancient broch :lol: :lol:
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Re: Voyages of the Graham Bagger: Beinn Dhorain

Postby basscadet » Fri May 29, 2015 8:29 am

My English teacher lived in Loth.. I'm surprised the road is still open, the last time I was there must be 20 years ago now, and it was pretty grassy and broken up then :shock:
There is some plane wreck up the glen as well - another wartime relic.. :?

Enjoyed reading your report, and looking forward to seeing the photaes later (canny see them at work) :D
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Re: Voyages of the Graham Bagger: Beinn Dhorain

Postby BlackPanther » Fri May 29, 2015 11:01 am

basscadet wrote:My English teacher lived in Loth.. I'm surprised the road is still open, the last time I was there must be 20 years ago now, and it was pretty grassy and broken up then :shock:
There is some plane wreck up the glen as well - another wartime relic.. :?

Enjoyed reading your report, and looking forward to seeing the photaes later (canny see them at work) :D


I think the road must have been repaired recently - it's decent tarmac as far as we went, and we saw 3 other cars passing by as we walked back along the road, so it is regularly used, at least in summer.

Incidentally, I watched a good docu program yesterday, about the Short Sunderland Mk. III crash in 1942, where Prince George, the Duke of Kent was killed. That plane came down at Eagle's Rock not far from Dunbeath. But the one you mentioned must be the Liberator on Beinn Mhealaich:
http://www.aircrashsites-scotland.co.uk/liberator_b-24d_helmsdale.htm
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Re: Voyages of the Graham Bagger: Beinn Dhorain

Postby Fife Flyer » Fri May 29, 2015 7:11 pm

Another good one BP :clap:
When are you venturing back onto the higher terrain? I presume it is the travelling and the time spent on the road has to be factored in :(
Got 8 in the Gorms, then I will be clocking up the car miles :roll:
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Re: Voyages of the Graham Bagger: Beinn Dhorain

Postby BlackPanther » Fri May 29, 2015 7:25 pm

Fife Flyer wrote:Another good one BP :clap:
When are you venturing back onto the higher terrain? I presume it is the travelling and the time spent on the road has to be factored in :(
Got 8 in the Gorms, then I will be clocking up the car miles :roll:


Just posted one TR on Munros (should still be on the 1st page :wink: ) and another "high" one to write about Loch Tay... Everything depends on weather, of course, I'd love to bag more M's in June & July. My annual target for 2015 is 182, so still 12 to climb before I can rest my head :lol: :lol:

I don't see anything wrong with a few lower hills for a change, enjoyed my Grahams and Corbetts :D
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Re: Voyages of the Graham Bagger: Beinn Dhorain

Postby dogplodder » Sat May 30, 2015 10:58 am

Another good one BP - and I like the title! :wink:
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Re: Voyages of the Graham Bagger: Beinn Dhorain

Postby Davidm06 » Mon Feb 14, 2022 8:37 pm

Another really useful report that we used on Friday. How a bit of snow can make an ordinary hill quite wonderful! One thing of note, there is a new deer fence to cross twice going up and twice going down but as it has been really well made, there are special gates for walkers on this route up and solid stiles on the way down. We were concerned it maybe problematic but there was no problem at all!

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Re: Voyages of the Graham Bagger: Beinn Dhorain

Postby BlackPanther » Tue Feb 15, 2022 3:43 pm

Davidm06 wrote:Another really useful report that we used on Friday. How a bit of snow can make an ordinary hill quite wonderful! One thing of note, there is a new deer fence to cross twice going up and twice going down but as it has been really well made, there are special gates for walkers on this route up and solid stiles on the way down. We were concerned it maybe problematic but there was no problem at all!


Thanks for the update! This Graham doesn't have an official WH route so all info is useful for hill baggers - especially for less popular mountains. Good to know that the estate owners actually take walkers under consideration, adding gates and stiles!

You were lucky to catch a day with snow on Graham level - it is all but gone now... We were out on Sunday on two 500m Subs and encountered hardly any snow - a few patches on northern slopes. The higher ground is still white but if weather stays warm as it has been recently, no chance of winter conditions even on Munros!
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