walkhighlands

Share your personal walking route experiences in Scotland, and comment on other peoples' reports.
Warning Please note that hillwalking when there is snow lying requires an ice-axe, crampons and the knowledge, experience and skill to use them correctly. Summer routes may not be viable or appropriate in winter. See winter information on our skills and safety pages for more information.

A wild and lonely start to the Grahams

A wild and lonely start to the Grahams


Postby thepigguy » Wed Nov 27, 2019 6:14 pm

Grahams included on this walk: Beinn Dhorain

Sub 2000' hills included on this walk: Meall Dola

Date walked: 26/09/2019

Time taken: 2.5 hours

Distance: 4.5 km

Ascent: 387m

5 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).


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


"Can you pick Pat up from Skye on Saturday?"
"No problem."
"When are you leaving?"
"Wednesday evening."
"You're going walking aren't you?"
"Maybe."

That's how I found myself scrambling up the side of my first Graham, Beinn Dhorain in Sutherland, on a damp, cloudy, chilly Thursday morning in Glen Loth.

Living in one of Orkney's outer isles I get little chance to climb new hills so pretty much anything baggable is a treat (although not everything, more on that later). Plan A had involved the morning boat from Stromness to Scrabster and straight to Dunbeath to spend the day taking in Morvern and Maiden Pap. Sadly the weather was not playing ball. I dawdled over breakfast in Thurso, hoping the cloud and drizzle would clear, but eventually decided on something shorter and, hopefully, sweeter.

I headed to Helmsdale and then up the Strath of Kildonan, turning up towards Glen Loth by what's apparently one of the least used railway stations in the UK.

BD1.jpg
Warning signs by Kildonan station

BD2.jpg
Picturesque, but damp in Glen Loth


Driving up Glen Loth slowly and carefully I realised that even the SMC recommended circuit might not be much fun, so decided to take the shortest route to the top. By the time I reached the high point in the road I couldn't see more than 10 metres, so carried on a few hundred metres to a parking place near the large stalkers' stile/staircase.

BD3.jpg
Cloudy Glen Loth from the parking place

As I headed along the road to the stile, the cloud started to lift and I could pick out several steep, but perfectly reasonable routes up the hill, moving diagonally right up past the crags.

BD5.jpg
Up into the cloud

Clouds swirled in and out, occasionally allowing grand views down the Glen and across to the Strath of Kildonan, as I moved steadily up the steep slope, the ground proving to be a mixture of short heather, moss and grass - all of it very wet.

BD7JPG.jpg
View back down as the cloud cleared temporarily

BD8.jpg
But mostly this was the view on the way up

BD9.jpg
Few birds about, but plenty of caterpillars and this wee fella.

After about 45 minutes (a regular hill-walker would do it much quicker) the slope levelled out and I came to the first cairn and a round, sandstone shelter(?) that seems to have been made relatively recently (any ideas?). The cloud had broken up enough for occasional glimpses of the Sutherland landscape to the south (windmills mainly) and for a lengthy teabreak to be enjoyable.

BD10.jpg
Cairns and shelter-type things on the way up to the top of Beinn Dhorain.


After that it was a simple stroll up to the summit of Beinn Dhorain where the weather started to clear and there were glimpses of blue sky even on the way over to Ben Uarie, but hopes of delightful views over to the west were wrecked as the rain swept in just as I reached the top.

BD12.jpg
Summit of Beinn Dhorain with Ben Uarie in the distance.

BD14JPG.jpg
Blue sky for the first time on the way up Ben Uarie.

BD15.jpg
It didn't last. Ben Uarie in the rain.

Beating a hasty retreat I sort of retraced my steps to the bealach before heading down towards the road. After such a wet spell the whole way down was absolutely sodden and I was more than grateful for gaiters and an extra layer of wax on my boots. I was left wondering if I shouldn't have headed off Ben Uarie east towards the high point of the road.

BD16JPG.jpg
The route down.

BD17.jpg
Looking back at Ben Uarie

Once near the bottom, it was a case of following the deer fence until finding a section low enough to climb over (shorter folk might want to head all the way to the stile).

Two-and-a-half hours of great fun followed by a late lunch in Glen Loth as the sun finally came out - brilliant.

BD18.jpg
Beautiful, lonely Glen Loth.

BD19.jpg
Looking back down the glen to Beinn Dhorain


Meall Dola postscript

It's always a bit hard to admit a failure, but I'm making no excuses for baling out on sub-2000 Meall Dola. It was grim.

After climbing Beinn Dhorain, I ambled away from Glen Loth and headed towards where I was staying the night near Lairg. Having plenty of time, I thought Meall Dola would take maybe and hour-and-a-half. It probably should have.
MD2.jpg
Promising start


I parked up near the end of the track in decent weather in pleasant countryside with plenty of long-distance views of grander (but probably more climbable) hills. I set off on the track marked on the OS map which was just fine for a while, getting more vague, but pretty simple to follow after a while, but after about a mile it started to get tricky, very wet, very boggy and with deep ruts filled with water and disguised by long grass.
MD3.jpg
Track is ok so far.

MD5.jpg
There's a track in there somewhere - and it's full of water


As Meall Dola itself came into view I spotted a huge pool of water covering where the track should have been a few hundred metres ahead. That's when I put my foot in a hole (full of water, of course) and went flying, ending up on my back with water seeping in to several places I'd have prefered it not to.

At this point I said a rude word.

Then I said several more.

And it started raining.

I gave up and headed back.

MD4.jpg
That could be Meall Dola, but honestly I don't care any more.
thepigguy
Mountaineer
 
Posts: 31
Munros:3   Corbetts:1
Grahams:2   Donalds:6
Sub 2000:31   Hewitts:2
Islands:18
Joined: Jul 7, 2017
Location: Westray, Orkney

Re: A wild and lonely start to the Grahams

Postby Sgurr » Wed Nov 27, 2019 9:07 pm

Your mystery cairn has the same feel to it as the mystery art work I found on the ridge of Ben Mor Coigach in 2007. Apparently it hasn't been there for some time, so either removed by its creator or someone who took objection to it. Suspect yours is an "art work" rather than anything more useful, but who knows, it could be a shooting butt for a prone shooter.

Image
User avatar
Sgurr
Munro compleatist
 
Posts: 4074
Munros:282   Corbetts:222
Grahams:219   Donalds:89
Sub 2000:569   Hewitts:139
Wainwrights:160   Islands:58
Joined: Nov 15, 2010
Location: Fife

Re: A wild and lonely start to the Grahams

Postby gld73 » Thu Nov 28, 2019 12:07 am

I did the boggy lump of Meall Dola a few weeks ago in wet conditions (didn't know it had been on anyone else's radar!!) - the key to success was wearing wellies :lol:

https://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/Forum/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=93450
gld73
 
Posts: 358
Munros:114   Corbetts:43
Grahams:29   Donalds:2
Sub 2000:38   Hewitts:30
Wainwrights:35   Islands:13
Joined: Aug 11, 2015
Location: Inverness

Re: A wild and lonely start to the Grahams

Postby gaffr » Thu Nov 28, 2019 10:07 am

Hello....Would appear to be much safer to approach from West to reach the start of this hill. :) The turn-off from the A9 was missed by us when coming up from the South when trying to leave the 'racetrack', having turned around you then have to a risky turn right on a bend, for an even more hazardous turn to the wee road that gets you into Glenloth at Lothbeg….glad to get onto the quiet road to reach the start for Beinn Dhorain.
In dry summer weather this year when we went to this hill....don't recall any stone circle windbreak thing for short folks. I'm sure that we would have seen this on what is a very flat summit area on this fine wee hill.
Morven is also a very fine hill to reach and much more rewarding than many of the bigger hills. :)
User avatar
gaffr
Munro compleatist
 
Posts: 1794
Munros:281   Corbetts:203
Grahams:33   Donalds:14
Sub 2000:11   Hewitts:25
Wainwrights:11   
Joined: Oct 25, 2009
Location: Highland.

Re: A wild and lonely start to the Grahams

Postby thepigguy » Wed Dec 11, 2019 1:39 pm

[quote="Sgurr"]Your mystery cairn has the same feel to it as the mystery art work I found on the ridge of Ben Mor Coigach in 2007. Apparently it hasn't been there for some time, so either removed by its creator or someone who took objection to it. Suspect yours is an "art work" rather than anything more useful, but who knows, it could be a shooting butt for a prone shooter.


I had a feeling it might be a shooting butt - tough job because, as far as I could see, any sandstone was some way lower down the hill.
thepigguy
Mountaineer
 
Posts: 31
Munros:3   Corbetts:1
Grahams:2   Donalds:6
Sub 2000:31   Hewitts:2
Islands:18
Joined: Jul 7, 2017
Location: Westray, Orkney

Re: A wild and lonely start to the Grahams

Postby thepigguy » Wed Dec 11, 2019 1:41 pm

gaffr wrote:Hello....Would appear to be much safer to approach from West to reach the start of this hill. :) The turn-off from the A9 was missed by us when coming up from the South when trying to leave the 'racetrack', having turned around you then have to a risky turn right on a bend, for an even more hazardous turn to the wee road that gets you into Glenloth at Lothbeg….glad to get onto the quiet road to reach the start for Beinn Dhorain.
In dry summer weather this year when we went to this hill....don't recall any stone circle windbreak thing for short folks. I'm sure that we would have seen this on what is a very flat summit area on this fine wee hill.
Morven is also a very fine hill to reach and much more rewarding than many of the bigger hills. :)



The road up from Helmsdale is much the better way to get there - the only realistic way coming from the north. It's also a decent alternative route to the north coast if you're not in a hurry.
thepigguy
Mountaineer
 
Posts: 31
Munros:3   Corbetts:1
Grahams:2   Donalds:6
Sub 2000:31   Hewitts:2
Islands:18
Joined: Jul 7, 2017
Location: Westray, Orkney

Re: A wild and lonely start to the Grahams

Postby thepigguy » Wed Dec 11, 2019 1:44 pm

gld73 wrote:I did the boggy lump of Meall Dola a few weeks ago in wet conditions (didn't know it had been on anyone else's radar!!) - the key to success was wearing wellies :lol:

https://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/Forum/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=93450


I notice some folk on WH going walking in wellies. Sadly they give my feet a real hammering - I even try to avoid wearing them around our croft - so I reckon I'l wait until they build a windfarm on Meall Dola with some bulldozed tracks :wink: .
thepigguy
Mountaineer
 
Posts: 31
Munros:3   Corbetts:1
Grahams:2   Donalds:6
Sub 2000:31   Hewitts:2
Islands:18
Joined: Jul 7, 2017
Location: Westray, Orkney

5 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).



Walkhighlands community forum is advert free

We need help to keep the site online.
Can you help support Walkhighlands and the online community by setting up a monthly donation by direct debit?



Return to Walk reports - Scotland

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Benaden887, The Rodmiester and 26 guests