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Orchy and Etive

Orchy and Etive

Postby weaselmaster » Wed Dec 28, 2016 10:19 pm

Grahams included on this walk: Beinn Donachain, Beinn Suidhe, Meall Tairbh

Sub 2000' hills included on this walk: Beinn a'Chuirn (Argyll)

Date walked: 28/12/2016

Time taken: 11.75 hours

Distance: 37 km

Ascent: 1944m

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Weird, going out on a Tuesday/Wednesday - my sense of time truly upended this week. The weather had chosen to settle down after recent storms - I had no idea how much snow would be left underfoot, so working out suitable routes/distances was a challenge. I had intended to head down to Moffat and do some of the Ettrick hills but finding out the campsite at Beattock was closed (i think) detered that plan. So an alternative was chosen - a couple of Grahams in Glen Etive, with a Marilyn added on camping at the bridge at Inveroran. Yr.no told me we were to have no rain, sunshine and gentle breeze - the evidence of rain as we drove up and significant blusters when we got out the car suggested the Norweigians were maybe a little over-optimistic. But the rain did settle after mid-morning and we had a fine walk to Meall Tairbh.

suidhtairb.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts

At another time of the year, with longer days I'd have tagged on Beinn Suidhe, a Graham I did a couple of years ago when out doing Tops on Stob Gobhar. Any route I charted came in at over 20km which put me off. So it was slated for the Wednesday. The route up Meall Tairbh starts from the bridge at Inveroran and gently ascends the long back of the hill. After all the recent rain the going was a bit boggy, but not too bad. Across to our right the snow topped mountains of Stob Gobhar range looked inviting. A number of false tops led to the summit cairn. From here we could see our next target, Beinn a'Chuirn sitting before the long back of Beinn Suidhe. We descended steeply and sat by the edge of one of the lochans to have lunch. The sun was shining, we were sheltered from the wind and enjoyed the lapping of the little lochan waves.

Meall Tairbh
ImageDSC02335 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC02337 by Al, on Flickr

Stop Gobhar & friends
ImageDSC02338 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC02340 by Al, on Flickr

Summit Meall Tairbh
ImageDSC02341 by Al, on Flickr

Meall Tairbh from the lochan
ImageDSC02344 by Al, on Flickr

From our resting spot we continued on to Beinn a'Chuirn which presented a steep craggy wall to us. We chose a grassy gap, not plastered in snow and made our ascent. It was 2pm. I looked over at Beinn Suidhe, then at the map. It wasn't far - maybe 3km to the summit, and there was only around 250m re-ascent - plus we would be walking on track on the way back, so darkness falling needn't be problematic. Could we just add it on? I put this to Allison who jumped at the chance to add more kilometres to the day :wink: As easy descent into Fionn Lairig was followed by an equally easy ascent up the flank of Beinn Suidhe, avoiding the snow where possible. We continued along the crest to the summit. Then there was a choice to make. We could head down to NE and join the track there - but this looked steep and snowy and we didn't have axes. Or we could head down NW into Coire Fearna where there was no snow and a much gentler descent line. Choice made, we dropped down towards Loch Dochard and joined the track.

Beinn Mhic Monaidh
ImageDSC02346 by Al, on Flickr

Beinn a'Chuirn
ImageDSC02347 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC02349 by Al, on Flickr

Summit Chuirn
ImageDSC02350 by Al, on Flickr

Bienn Suidhe - not far away
ImageDSC02351 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC02353 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC02354 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC02357 by Al, on Flickr

Track, Loch Dochard
ImageDSC02359 by Al, on Flickr

From here it was plain sailing. The nautical metaphor is appropriate as in places the "track" was definately aquatic :lol: The good surface gives way to a much less defined track after the Abhainn Shirra and became a swamp in places following the river. The peat ground is steadily being undercut by the river so the path won't continue as it is for much longer. Onto better track as we got to the Clashgour Hut - a couple of tents pitched outside and lights on within. Deep gloaming provided the light for us returning to Victoria Bridge. We drove along to the bridge and pitched in the dark - the ground burned in numerous circles from fire pits of previous WHWers, but firm and dry. A peaceful night, lulled by the river beside us, broken only by a brief set of whoops from passing cyclists.

ImageDSC02360 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC02361 by Al, on Flickr

Beinn Suidhe
ImageDSC02363 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC02364 by Al, on Flickr

donachaa.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts

Wednesday dawned dry but claggy. I wasn't sure what we would do - Beinn Donachain seemed a reasonable choice. I'd elected to do this one from Glen Strae rather than the closer option of Glen Orchy, as that route up seemed blighted by plantations. We drove to Stronmilchan and parked at the start of the road to Duiletter Farm, meeting a friendly farmer on quad bike who told us they'd be doing a bit of deer culling so not to worry if we heard rifles. We set off up the track, past the rather strange "conservation area" where shooting ducks is carried out and past a couple of herds of hieland coos who seemed moderately interested in us. Into the plantation, cross the river on a bridge and on forest tracks to the gate at the Allt Lochain Uaine. We were only at 200m by this time, so a steady slog up the hillside ensued. We entered clag at around 450m and so it remained. Getting to the Simm at 644m first, we continued in the mist to eventually find the summit of Donachain around a kilometre further on. It was cold in the clag, the wind had found us and several layers were required.

ImageDSC02366 by Al, on Flickr

Mhic Monaidh and Donachain (L)
ImageDSC02369 by Al, on Flickr

Nice plunge pool
ImageDSC02370 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC02372 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC02373 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC02374 by Al, on Flickr

After lunch we had a descent option - either drop down NW and return along the track, or follow the spine of the hill and exit via the farm. As the former option included a river crossing, Allison was keen to opt for the latter. This was a bit disorientating in clag, but we eventually got down to Sgiath Gorm and thence dropped easily down to the farm and lodge at Duiletter. A fine stone bridge then back onto track and thence to the car. Good views down Loch Awe on the descent.

Loch Awe
ImageDSC02375 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC02376 by Al, on Flickr
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Hill Bagger
Posts: 1958
Munros:237   Corbetts:67
Grahams:78   Donalds:89
Sub 2000:383   Hewitts:31
Wainwrights:15   Islands:28
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Location: Greenock

Re: Orchy and Etive

Postby rockhopper » Thu Dec 29, 2016 11:31 am

Nice trip - better weather than you most recent wander 8) - cheers :)
User avatar
Posts: 6726
Munros:282   Corbetts:219
Grahams:65   Donalds:89
Sub 2000:9   Hewitts:2
Wainwrights:3   Islands:19
Joined: Jun 1, 2009
Location: Glasgow

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