Blue Skies in Bridge of Orchy: Beinn Dorain & Beinn an Dothaidh

With some great weather coming up and a couple of good trips already this year, I wanted to keep up the momentum and get some more hills under my belt. With only a day to play with, we decided on Beinn Dorain and Beinn an Dothaidh from Bridge of Orchy, my 40th and 41st Munros.

[June 2019]

The drive north from Ayrshire to the highlands is always one I enjoy, especially when faced with clear blue skies and plenty of sunshine. With an obligatory toilet pitstop at the Green Welly in Tyndrum, we arrived in Bridge of Orchy around 0815 and were ready to set off not long after. It might only have been reasonably early in the morning, but we were already starting to get an idea of the kind of heat we would be in for later in the day. We were far from complaining though as it’s not often we’ve enjoyed a completely cloudless sky.

Bridge of Orchy

Thankfully the early stages of our day weren’t too difficult and involved following the well-walked path gently uphill towards Coire an Dothaidh.

A beautiful start to the day
The Black Mount Munros

Just over 2 kilometres into our walk, the terrain began to steepen significantly. The temperature was also beginning to climb and made the ascent up to the bealach between Beinn Dorain and Beinn an Dothaidh that little bit tougher. Thankfully we were able to stop often and enjoy the views opening up behind us with every metre we ascended.

The Cruachan Munros

We stopped just shy of the bealach whilst there were still some shady areas left and enjoyed a quick bite to eat and a wee rest before the final few metres of steep terrain to reach the bealach.

From here it was another couple of kilometres to the summit of Beinn Dorain and, although steep in places, what lay ahead definitely looked a little less painful than what we had just endured.

Into the wild from the bealach

We slowly trudged our way towards the summit of Beinn Dorain, definitely in no real hurry to get out of this amazing weather with panoramic views to match.

Loch Tulla and beyond

The final obstacle before the last push to the summit was Carn Sasunnaich (The Englishman’s cairn), which is often mistaken for the true summit of Beinn Dorain in cloudy weather. There were certainly no navigational mistakes going to be made by us today with this glorious weather, that’s for sure!

Nearing the summit

It took us around an hour to reach the summit from the bealach and considering the now pretty relentless heat, we were quite pleased with this progress. We could see for miles from the summit, from the Crianlarich Munros to Glen Lyon to Ben Nevis and its neighbours. We took a few minutes to soak up the extensive views and get rehydrated before retracing our steps to the bealach.

Wonderful panoramic views
A distant Loch Lyon
Carn Sasunnaich
The Black Mount

It took us a little less than an hour to reach the bealach again and we were really starting to feel the effects of the intense heat. It had been a while since it was this warm!

From the bealach it was a little less effort and ascent to reach the summit of Beinn an Dothaidh, although this time we were walking up a south facing slope and were getting absolutely battered by the sun. Although P20 is great for making sure you don’t get burned, it doesn’t keep the heat out.

We were taking more and more little breaks, but still slowly making our way to our second summit of the day, which we reached after around 45 minutes of effort from the Bealach. It felt like much longer, but some of the tiredness disappeared when we were met with the fantastic views north towards the completely cloud free Nevis range. What a day indeed!

Ben Nevis and its neighbours
Beinn Achaladair

From the summit of Beinn an Dothaidh we made our way west for a short distance for some more excellent views out over Loch Tulla and beyond towards the Black Mount and Ben Starav and from here it was a gentle descent back to the bealach, still being battered by the sun.

An awesome vista

We’d definitely had enough of exercise for the day by the time we reached the bealach, but there was still the small matter of the steep descent and a couple of kilometres to go to reach the car, so we put our heads down and got on with the final stage of our day.

We were extremely relieved to reach the car a little before 1600, meaning it had taken us roughly 7.5 hours to complete the day’s walk. Bearing in mind the heat and the extended breaks in shaded areas on the way up and down from the bealach, we were happy enough with this.

After a quick change and a snack we headed to the Bridge of Orchy hotel for a very well deserved soda and lime which was absolutely excellent. There was then the small matter of the stunning drive south to get home – what a great problem to have!

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