Saturday, 20 August 2016

Hike 'a' Bike Up Beinn Dorain


A couple of weeks holiday from work & I fancied a wee road trip up north. Enjoying climbing bikeable munros I was wondering which one to do next, It didn't take long for me to decide as every time I travel up north along the A82 there's one munro in particular that always sticks out like a sore thumb. Travelling north from Tyndrum this particular munro has the appearance of a volcano with it's conical shape & I always say to myself that I'm going to climb that one day & that munro is Beinn Dorain.

Doing a bit of research on it, it seemed a good munro to do & not only that there was also a second munro that could be done on the same ascent path & that munro is called Beinn an Dothaidh.

Earlier in the week my friend Greig invited me to spend a day down in Dumfries at the 7Stanes mountain bike venue of the Forest of AE trail centre, so I returned the favour & Greig came with me to bag these munros, unfortunately Greig messaged me the night before we were due to leave saying his bike brakes were iffy & needed checked out so we decided to leave a little later in the day so that we could pop into a bike shop in the town of Callander so he could get them checked & as we left later we decided just to concentrate on the climb up Beinn Dorain & forget about Beinn an Dothaidh on this trip.

Arriving at our start point here at the Bridge of Orchy we parked up the van behind the hotel & readied ourselves for the climb to the summit of Beinn Dorain.
Ready to rock & roll we set off over the bridge which spans the river Orchy & were soon on our way.

Right from the off it was a relentless steep climb upwards following the path up towards the bealach (a bealach is a mountain pass often like a narrow bridge linking between two mountains) the path varied from boggy sodden wet ground to a rough rocky track with some parts gouged deep into the ground with all the snow melt & heavy rain running down off the mountain, already it was hard going & at this early stage of the climb there was no option other than to carry the bikes over the shoulders, it was hard graft & as we were in a gully the heat was intense & required frequent hydration stops.

Since it was such a steep climb every time we stopped for a drink & quick breather it was great to see the stunning mountainous views getting better & better with every stop.

The heat was unbelievable & Greig was fair keen to go for a cool down in the Allt Coire an Dothaidh burn which runs off the Beinn an Dothaidh munro but he resisted the temptation & battled onwards & upwards.
While we were climbing we spotted what looked like someone resting up against a boulder but it turned out to be a shadow from another rock !

 The climb just got steeper & steeper but now at least with the altitude there was a slightly cool breeze which was more than welcome.
While we were having a breather at this point two RAF Tornado fighter / bomber planes roared past without any warning, I was gutted that I never had the camera to hand as they were flying lower than where we were standing & we could look down onto the cockpits, it was an impressive sight to see as they were banking over rounding the contours of the mountain.

Next to the track was this boulder which was just like a natural armchair with seat & arm rests with the best panoramic view in the house.

As we trekked closer to the bealach there were some huge boulders which had rolled down off the steeper slopes, some of them were huge as big as a van & bigger, they would take a bit of stopping once they got going.

Huffing & puffing concentrating on each step upwards we could hear someone roaring like a mad man, it turned out to be a shepherd shouting instructions at his sheepdog herding his sheep down off the mountain, it took ages to even find the shepherd in the huge vastness of the landscape & when we did spot him he was just a mere dot far in the distance.

From here it was a real hard slog as the track got very very  steep & the rocks were on average football sized making sure footing difficult as they were really loose & easily dislodged when weight was put onto them.

Almost up onto the bealach & one more rest after that last steep loose section we just climbed before the last push to the top of the bealach.
Finally we reached a small cairn marking the summit of the bealach & from here we followed the path to the right heading up onto Beinn Dorain.

The views just got better & better the higher we went with the Glencoe mountain range looking dramatic as it always does.
Looking back the way down to the bealach you can see the track heading up to the right & the summit to the far right is Beinn an Dothaidh, I was pretty gutted to have the time against us as I felt after all the effort just getting this close it was so near but yet so far, I'll just have to bag this one another day.

The track at some points was hard to make out over some big rocks & small climbs etc where people had taken different routes up & over the obstacles which they found the easiest for them to progress.

The views along to my left are Glen Lyon & you can just make out in the far distance Loch Lyon.

A huge precarious boulder sitting on the smooth rocky slope of the mountain, if this decides it wants to plummet downwards nothings going to stop it !

Nearing the top of Beinn Dorain & with like many of Scotlands munros the heart is lifted thinking that what you can see in front of you is the top but turns out to be a false summit.

The first glimpse of the highest mountain in the country Ben Nevis & from this angle we could see the north face of this massive bulk of a munro.

It was nice to ride the bike along a short plateau but only for a short distance before tackling yet another killer of a steep climb with the bike back over the shoulders.
Beinn an Dothaidh behind us, Scotland's 129th highest munro at 1004 metres - (3294 feet)

Looking along to my right is Glen Orchy.
Just this climb to go & the summit of Beinn Dorain is there waiting on me...

...or so I thought !
While I had my head down with bike over my shoulders I must of veered off along an alternative path ! Greig at this point was not in sight I was maybe 10-15 minutes ahead of him, I did quickly think to myself that the path I was on was odd in the fact that I'd started heading downwards along the edge of the munro but thought to myself that it's a clear enough path & this must be the way to the summit, so I continued along this path.

All seemed good & well but I was questioning myself as this path was no where near as wide & clear cut as the track we'd being following.

Awesome views looking down to Bridge of Orchy where my van was parked.

This track soon became obvious that I'd veered off onto a sheep track & at some points was lethally dangerous as there were huge rocks to my left & near vertical drops down to my right for hundreds of feet, there was no way I could push my bike along these sections & I had no alternative other than to carry my bike over my shoulders where my front wheel & handlebars were continuously knocking into the rocks on my left, I was really concerned that I could easily lose my balance along this edge & fall, but bravado pushed me onwards & upwards.

And the summit of Beinn Dorain was reached & another munro was bagged by bike :-)

'Ben Dorain'
Scotland's 64th highest munro at 1076 metres - (3530 feet)

 A couple of minutes later Greig came into view laughing & shaking his head as he followed the correct track up to the summit & could see me scrambling along the mountain edge thinking how much of a numpty I was !
Some memorial stones on the cairn at the munro summit.

Amazing mountain top 360 degree views making this steep climb all worth the while.

Glen Lyon & Loch Lyon.

Looking down along the glen towards Tyndrum with the A82 road cutting through between the mountains, you can't quite make it out on the pictures above but we could see Loch Lomond from here.
To the right of the above picture is Glen Orchy & you can just make out Loch Awe right of centre along the mountain ridge in the distance.

Loch Tulla down below with Rannoch Moor & Glencoe just behind, I camped next to Loch Tulla in 2012 when my daughter & I cycled the West Highland Way which in itself was an amazing experience that I'd like to do again.

Greig doing his famous video diary.

Finally after all the hard work getting up here we took all our photos & had a good half hour enjoying the stunning views & now it was time for the best reward high tailing it back down again off the mountain. 

It wasn't too bad from the top but there were some sketchy areas where the grass had grown over some good sized rocks & boulders so you were always looking a good ten feet in front of you trying to pick the best route down.

An easier ride along the short plateau & another look at Ben Nevis through the distant blue haze.

Stopping & having a blether with an older woman we met at various times of the climb who was from Glasgow, she told us that she got the bus to Bridge of Orchy to climb Beinn Dorain & she was telling us that she gets the bus to various locations to climb munros for which I really admired her spirit doing this sort of thing at her age !
 But now the real fun began once down off Ben Dorain & onto the bealach path down to Bridge of Orchy it was a fast rough ride negotiating all the rocks, boulders & boggy sections we encountered on the way up, a few scary moments when the front wheel would wash out or lock up on the loose stones or the rear derailleur would smash against protruding rocks but it was an amazing fast techy blast that I was having too good a time to stop & take photos.

Back down off the mountain track waiting on Greig on the West Highland Way path we both had a grin from ear to ear both buzzing at our adventure climbing this beautiful munro & more so making it back down in one piece.
Following the WHW path down through the underpass for the railway station.

And finally back over the Bridge of Orchy which the place takes it's name with the river Orchy flowing under it...
...and Greig finally got to cool off in the cold refreshing river Orchy.

Stopping off for a quick couple of pictures on the way back home & you can see how this conical & volcanic shaped munro was so appealing for me to climb.

So that's that another munro bagged by bike & another great day out on the bike with great company, hope you enjoyed the climb until next time cheers for now.