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Five blue blobs and two new friends at Bridge of Orchy

Five blue blobs and two new friends at Bridge of Orchy


Postby Jaxter » Sun May 08, 2016 5:03 pm

Route description: Beinn Dorain and Beinn an Dothaidh, Bridge of Orchy

Munros included on this walk: Beinn a'Chreachain, Beinn Achaladair, Beinn an Dothaidh, Beinn Dorain, Beinn Mhanach

Date walked: 05/05/2016

Time taken: 9.5 hours

Distance: 28 km

Ascent: 2560m

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The Election Day meant schools were closed which was a perfect opportunity for a day in the hills as I'd also managed to clear my evening :thumbup: Even More surprisingly, the weather looked to be playing ball and the forecast for Bridge of Orchy was very good visibility :D although it was to be 40-60 mph winds... :shock: but the promise of views was too much to resist :lol:

The alarm went off and I was beginning to wonder if this was a good idea...but I dragged myself out of bed and into the car and off I went. It was raining as I left Glasgow and driving along Loch Lomond the tops were well and truly in the clag.... Not a promising start :( However, arriving at Bridge of Orchy things were better. Although other hills were shrouded, the Orchy hills visible to me were clear.

Booting up quickly, I finished my tea and set off under the underpass, through the gate and taking the path to the left of the phone mast, I set off up towards the bealach.

The way ahead is clear!
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Initially the path was very good and I was wondering if the boggy reports were exaggerated....then I turned a corner and there it was.... :shock: fortunately there were routes around the sloppiest bits and I was able to continue with dry feet.

Looking back to Bridge of Orchy
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Wee lamb friends
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As I got closer to the bealach, the path became rockier and steeper and more difficult. I could also feel the wind picking up so stopped to don my hat. Looking back, the peaks were beginning to clear but the clouds looked angry.

Finally reaching the bealach, I could see ahead to Beinn Mhanach and to the right, I could see my route up Dorain. It was very windy here so headed straight off up.

Looking over the bealach - Beinn Heasgarnich dead ahead
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Bridge of Orchy and the hills behind still hiding
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The path was rocky but clear and although there were patches of snow, there was nothing problematic in any way. Part way up I bumped into a very energetic man running down with a dog. We exchanged only a quick greeting and I continued. Finally reaching the Sassenachs cairn, I could see ahead to the true summit. Glad that visibility was clear, I continued towards it, negotiating a few rocky steps and some slightly icy snow.

Being blown around on summit number 1
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Ben Lui, head in the clouds as per usual :lol:
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Beinn Mhanach (left) Creag Mhor & Beinn Heasgarnich (right)
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The views from here were fabulous - you really do feel right on the edge. The hills were becoming clearer too, and now I could see the rest of my walk - Beinn Achaladair and Beinn a'Chreachain were now in view as well. It was incredibly windy but I didn't think it was unsafe so long as I was careful, so I snapped a few pictures and headed off back towards the first summit. At this point my route directed me down the ridge eastwards where there was a clear path for a while.

Heading down the ridge - Beinn a' Chuirn with Beinn Mhanach behind, then on the left Beinn an Dothaidh, Beinn Achaladair and Beinn a' Chreachain. My entire route...it looked a long way
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Knowing that I had to drop down and cross the river, I was looking for the earliest possible descent in order to cross the river as high as I could (not very good with river crossings :shock: :lol: ) so when I saw a steep snow covered slope I thought it could be the answer. After a few testing footsteps I decided that it was ok, but got the ice axe out just in case as it was very steep. I was half tempted to bum slide but decided against it. Realising that the snow was easier than the terrain beneath, I managed to stick to snow most of the way to the river.

The steep bit I had just come down - photo doesn't quite do it justice :shock: :lol:
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More snow to ease descent
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Although slightly nervy, the river crossings were actually not too bad and I escaped without getting my feet wet, or my bin bags out! I was glad I managed to cross before they converged as I would have had more difficulty there. Knowing that I had a long day ahead of me and not wanting to run out of water, I had a long cool drink from the river before continuing.

Now I had to traverse all the way around to Beinn Mhanach which looked a long way away. Initially the ground was fairly flat and not too boggy, but as I stayed higher and the ground dropped away, the terrain got steeper and walking was uncomfortable as my ankles were tilted sideways.

Beinn a’Chuirn looked impressive ahead of me, but the instructions suggested going round it as the ascent would be easier that way.
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As I came around the corner of Beinn Achaladair, I could see the track I was to join but elected to keep my higher ground and join it further up towards the bealach. Eventually I met it at another river crossing and again I enjoyed a long drink.

Coming around the corner and getting a glimpse of Beinn a' Chreachain
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I followed the track a short way before it became boggy and grassy. Eventually I got bored of getting wet feet on a “path” and decided to cut straight uphill. I started regretting this as it was totally pathless bog and my legs were feeling pretty tired at this point :lol: However, I came across some fenceposts and after a quick map check I realised they would take me all the way to the bealach – exactly where I wanted to be :D

Looking ahead to Beinn a' Chreachain and slightly dismayed at the size of the drop before it :shock:
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Glad to be following something that wasn’t a bog, the going seemed easier now, although there was still a lot of bog, streams and marsh to cut across. Whilst crossing one such section I stupidly put my foot on the most solid thing I could see – a wet fencepost – with the predictable result of face-planting into the bog :wtf: :-| Annoyed, I picked myself up, and topped up my energy levels with a macaroon.

Continuing, I finally found myself at the bealach and could see the path to Beinn Mhanach ahead. Glad to be on a path, I made quick work of this and found myself at the top at last – it felt like a long time since Beinn Dorain; after all the exertion so far it was hard to believe that this was only summit number two :lol: There was a long way to go…. :crazy:

In front of Beinn a' Chreachain with the weather threatening to close in
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Meall Buidhe in the distance
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Unfortunately it started to spot with rain at this point and this, mixed with the wind, made the summit of Beinn Mhanach an extremely unpleasant place to be. A quick couple of photos and it was time to head off. Once off the top it was a little less brutal, and the rain quickly gave up so I stopped to check the map and instructions. Unfortunately I also had to refold my map at this point which was a slightly tricky operation in the conditions... :?

Beinn Dorain (right) Beinn nam Fuaran (left) and the Gleann Achadh-innis Chailein (try saying that after a few drinks :lol: )
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From the bealach I struck off on a bearing North-west towards the Allt Cailliche….another river requiring crossing…. :shock:

Initially there was a good bit of snow and this in some ways made the descent a little easier (except for the giant drop I nearly fell over, but enough of that… :shock: ) Unfortunately it was in one of these snowy patches that a casualty occurred – while lunging for firmer ground my pole got stuck and my momentum snapped the end off… I did a quick DIY fix using mud as glue which I hoped would see me through the day (duct-tape would come out at home :lol: ) and continued. The last section down to the river was very steep and slippery and I was glad of my pole fix!

Reaching the river I managed to cross without disaster, had another drink and continued. The map and instructions seemed to differ here – one suggested heading up Meall Buidhe to the ridge, the other a straight up assault on Beinn a’ Chreachain. I decided to head diagonally up across Garbh Meall before heading straight up to the summit…the more direct approach :lol:

Looking back up Beinn Mhanach, before the off...
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...and up to Beinn a' Chreachain, my next target :shock:
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It wasn’t exactly easy going, but not as bad as I had expected, and just as I was heading to cross the burn before the final ascent, I bumped into the guy I’d first met coming down Beinn Dorain as I was going up – he was on his way to Beinn Mhanach, his 5th and final summit of the day. We had a bit of a natter before going our separate ways.

An excuse for a breather - my route so far
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The final pull up Beinn a’ Chreachain was long. It was steep and grassy for the main part before becoming rocky in places. But finally I was there. The views were incredible and it was totally worth the effort. The other good thing was knowing that I was now on the ridge – the going would be easier from now on…. :roll:

Looking back - foreground left Beinn Mhanach and right Beinn Dorain, behind right the majestic Ben Lui, my nemesis, clear at last
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Black Mount hills and Nevis - clear!!!
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Nevis, zoomed
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Looking East-ish
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Camera-in-the-wind issues on summit number 3
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Rannoch Moor
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It was just after 1pm – lunchtime, so I found shelter behind the cairn and added more clothes before tucking into my egg salad sandwich – never has an egg sandwich tasted so good :lol: In one of my less clever moments, I managed to squash the end of my platypus, squirting some of my precious water all over my knee and my camera… drying everything off, I packed everything back in and decided it was probably time to get moving again before I did anything else stupid :wtf:

My route ahead along the ridge
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Nevis and the Mamores again
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Coming out of the shelter of the cairn, I was hit by the full force of the wind again – it was still ferocious, so got moving quickly. I made my way over the rocky ground down towards the bealach, eventually picking up the path.
I cut up from the path as it was bypassing Meall Buidhe, and I was just crying out for a bit of extra ascent…. :lol: or I just wanted to enjoy the views, which were just stunning. Ben Nevis – clear for one of it’s 2 days a year – and the Mamores were looking wonderful and I was so happy to be out on the hills on such a special day :D

Ahead to Beinn Achaladair
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Black Mount, Rannoch Moor and Nevis hills
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Another one
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Now on the ridge, it was easy to follow along the top of Meall Buidhe, and then on the descent to the slightly sloppy bealach before Beinn Achaladair, which was looking mighty impressive ahead. As I started the descent I could see two people ahead of me – presumably come up from Achallader Farm. The sun was shining and it was warm despite the wind, so I took my time to enjoy it 8)

Beinn Achaladair :shock:
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Finally across the bealach, I could see the path up the steep rocky prow of Beinn Achaladair. Reaching a snowy patch, I could see the two people I had seen from afar stopped just below. Worried that there was some difficulty, I approached, only to be greeted by a very friendly couple who recognised me from WH. They turned out to be Martin and Denise who were out enjoying the good weather. We had a bit of a blether – always nice to meet fellow Walk Highlanders on the hills – before I became guinea pig on the snow patch; fortunately the snow was soft and there was no need for the winter hardware to come out :D

After saying cheerio to Martin and Denise (it was lovely to meet you guys!) I continued on my way, conscious that I still had a fair way to go. Once up the steep bit, it was a simple stroll to the summit. After hearing reports of several cairns on this summit, I decided it was safest to visit them all, just to be sure :lol: The views were still magnificent but the wind was cold and there was no shelter on this summit, so I had to stop to put my gloves on (and a few photos) before heading for the last target of the day – Beinn an Dothaidh.

Summit number 4 :D
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Black Mount (left) and Nevis range (right)
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Loch Tulla and the Black Mount hills
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On my way off the summit, I bumped into several more people, this time up from Cumbria (I think!) for a few days – makes my trip from Glasgow feel like just down the road…. :lol: After another excuse to stop for a chat, I continued along the ridge.

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Although Dotty wasn’t far away in distance, the ridge zig-zags all the way around the Coire Daingean (and looking down the crags, you definitely wouldn’t want to take the direct route….)

Dotty ahead - impressive looking mountain :D
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The walk wasn’t difficult and there was a path the whole way to the bealach, so it was a very enjoyable walk. I was soaking in the views and having a wonderful time – part of me sad that I was heading up the final summit (but my legs relieved that it would be over soon :lol: )

I started up the final ascent on a faint path which soon disappeared (or maybe I lost it, whatever), so I found myself slogging up a steep tussocky grassy slope which was pretty tough on the legs which had already had quite a battering today… :?

Taking my time, I could see Martin and Denise reach the bealach below, ready for their descent. I had a bit more climbing to do first, so off I went. Seeing a bit of snow above me, I hoped that I was nearly there – fortunately I was, and I crawled over the top and found a cairn.

Looking across to Beinn Dorain - felt like a long time since I was there :lol:
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I could see the summit cairn a little further along the delightfully curving ridge and headed towards it.
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Summit number 5 – the last of a wonderful day - posing in front of Beinn Dorain
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I think this is Creag Mhor & Beinn Heasgarnich
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Again very windy, I added clothes and enjoyed the views. Looking over to the other end of the ridge and a cairn, I could tell from the map that I was on the summit, but never one to shy away from unnecessary ascent, I decided it looked lonely and that I would pay it a visit :D It was definitely worth it for a slightly different set of views.

Back along the ridge to the actual summit
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North - Black Mount on the left
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Black Mount again
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Feeling pretty tired, it was time to head down. I decided to head straight down along the top of the crags to the bealach and there was even a path some of the way. As I got lower, it got boggier and warmer and marginally less windy. I could see a large group of people heading up Coire Reidh towards the summit – it was a busy day on these hills 8)

Guardian sheep
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Reaching the bealach I was able to see the same views as this morning, but now bathed in sunlight 8) Scotland really is a beautiful place and I never want to leave.

View from the bealach back to BoO
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West from the bealach
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Wanting to enjoy the views for longer, but also conscious that I was shattered and had to drive all the way home, I headed down the bealach path, shedding clothes as I went. After the initial steep rocky descent where I slipped and fell on my backside (leaving the remainder of my dignity here) this was an easy walk out and I was able to enjoy the possible beginnings of summer (it’ll snow next week now I've said that :lol: ), the views down into Bridge of Orchy and back up to the crags of Dotty.

Impressive crags on Dotty
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Down to the glen
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Back up from the bottom of the path
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Reaching the car, I was attacked by some midges – yes midges – so out came the Avon Skin-so-Soft, making me smell a whole load better… :roll: Turning my phone on, I had a message from Jamie saying that he had given up on the West Highland Way when he realised I was parked at Bridge of Orchy; he had spent the day burning things and would I please pick him up from next to the bridge… :lol: So I did, and we even made it to the Polling Station in time to vote :clap: What a day :D
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Jaxter
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Re: Five blue blobs and two new friends at Bridge of Orchy

Postby PerthAlly » Sun May 08, 2016 5:32 pm

Good grief Jaxter. I've sore knees even reading your report :lol:

I had planned Beinn Mhanach today, but got pickled last night. Hope to manage it Thurs afternoon as it's an easy day out from Perth.

Smashing photos :clap:
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Re: Five blue blobs and two new friends at Bridge of Orchy

Postby dogplodder » Sun May 08, 2016 5:57 pm

Wow you've been busy lately! Some lovely clear photos there - the hills at their best! :D
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Re: Five blue blobs and two new friends at Bridge of Orchy

Postby Borderhugh » Sun May 08, 2016 6:34 pm

Well done Surrey Girl! :clap:

Glad you got all the views! Great to the see the lie of the land in clarity following my clagged trudge around these 5 last June. Not one of MWIS's finest days!
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Re: Five blue blobs and two new friends at Bridge of Orchy

Postby jamesb63 » Sun May 08, 2016 6:40 pm

Very nice report Jax :clap: :clap: it is a nice part of the country ,I cant remember
how many times ive been in these hills :D
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Re: Five blue blobs and two new friends at Bridge of Orchy

Postby martin.h » Mon May 09, 2016 1:34 pm

Hi Jackie, it was good to meet you and wow, what a day you had, watching you scurry up that hillside reminded me of those sci fi movies when a starship is about to hit light speed, well done for doing five, we were feeling it a bit after two!!!!
We were on Chno Dearg and Stob Coire Sgriodain the day after, a total contrast, blue skies, no wind and it was WARM :D :clap: :lol:
Cheers.
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Re: Five blue blobs and two new friends at Bridge of Orchy

Postby jacob » Mon May 09, 2016 7:57 pm

Lovely shots, specially the one of Beinn Dorain. Just off-symetry. Tickles the brain.
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Re: Five blue blobs and two new friends at Bridge of Orchy

Postby Alteknacker » Mon May 09, 2016 9:32 pm

That's a goodly walk to cover in a day, and especially in that time - pretty well Naismith pace! Well done. :clap: :clap:

For some reason I've always thought these hills looked a bit bland, but your pics of Achacaladir and Dothaidh make them look very attractive.

BTW how do you pronounce "Dotty"? Naw-ee :D
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Re: Five blue blobs and two new friends at Bridge of Orchy

Postby rockhopper » Mon May 09, 2016 10:10 pm

an excellent way to use a free day - well done :thumbup: I see you're practising your posing - trying to "out-dooter" dooterbang :wink: ? - cheers :)
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Re: Five blue blobs and two new friends at Bridge of Orchy

Postby Jaxter » Mon May 09, 2016 10:19 pm

PerthAlly wrote:Good grief Jaxter. I've sore knees even reading your report :lol:

I had planned Beinn Mhanach today, but got pickled last night. Hope to manage it Thurs afternoon as it's an easy day out from Perth.

Smashing photos :clap:

I had sore everything the next day :shock: :lol: :lol: Enjoy - Mhanach is a lovely isolated hill :D


dogplodder wrote:Wow you've been busy lately! Some lovely clear photos there - the hills at their best! :D

Thanks - yes it was a wonderful day :D


Borderhugh wrote:Well done Surrey Girl! :clap:

Glad you got all the views! Great to the see the lie of the land in clarity following my clagged trudge around these 5 last June. Not one of MWIS's finest days!

:evil:
Definitely worth a clear day :wink:


jamesb63 wrote:Very nice report Jax :clap: :clap: it is a nice part of the country ,I cant remember
how many times ive been in these hills :D

Thanks - aye they're great aren't they!! Corbetts look good too :D


martin.h wrote:Hi Jackie, it was good to meet you and wow, what a day you had, watching you scurry up that hillside reminded me of those sci fi movies when a starship is about to hit light speed, well done for doing five, we were feeling it a bit after two!!!!
We were on Chno Dearg and Stob Coire Sgriodain the day after, a total contrast, blue skies, no wind and it was WARM :D :clap: :lol:
Cheers.

Oooft I was feeling it on that last ascent, a real killer!! Glad I looked better than I felt :lol:


jacob wrote:Lovely shots, specially the one of Beinn Dorain. Just off-symetry. Tickles the brain.

Thanks - that was totally deliberate.... :roll: :roll: :lol:


Alteknacker wrote:That's a goodly walk to cover in a day, and especially in that time - pretty well Naismith pace! Well done. :clap: :clap:

For some reason I've always thought these hills looked a bit bland, but your pics of Achacaladir and Dothaidh make them look very attractive.

BTW how do you pronounce "Dotty"? Naw-ee :D

Thanks - they do look a bit like grassy lumps from the road don't they, but they were wonderful to be in :D


rockhopper wrote:an excellent way to use a free day - well done :thumbup: I see you're practising your posing - trying to "out-dooter" dooterbang :wink: ? - cheers :)

Cheers - ah well I like a bit of healthy competition :lol: So long as I win :twisted:
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