Beinn Dorain and Beinn an Dothaidh: Bridge of Orchy Munros

Oct 26, 2018 | Hikes, Munros, Scotland's Mountains

Beinn Dorain’s conical peak is one of the first that you see as you are driving into Glencoe from the south. While not one of Glencoe’s most exciting hikes (you tend to go up and come down the same route) the mountains still have character and the views of Rannoch Moor on a clear day are spectacular.

Dorain is perhaps most famous for being a part of Duncan Ban Macintyre’s Gaelic poem, ‘In Praise of Ben Doran’.

If you’re feeling adventurous then you could combine these two with the neighbouring Beinn Mhanach, Beinn a’Chreachain and Beinn Achaladair but that will make for a very long day out in the hills!

Contents


Munros Climbed


  1. Beinn Dorain – 1076 metres (3530 ft) – pronounced BAYN-DORIN
  2. Beinn an Dothaidh – 1004 metres (3294 ft) – BAY-AN-DORICH

Here you can read more about Scotland’s mountains and classifications.

Getting There


You’ll park up in the hamlet of Bridge of Orchy which is on the south side of Glencoe. It’s about a 90-minute drive from Glasgow. Coming from the south, follow the A82 past Loch Lomond and through the touristy Tyndrum. Bridge of Orchy is 6.5 miles beyond Tyndrum.

From the north, follow the A82 all the way through Glencoe’s spectacular scenery until you reach Bridge of Orchy. It’s 40 miles (64 km) beyond Fort William.

The car park is right next to the Bridge of Orchy hotel and can’t be missed!

Difficulty


If you’re doing both Munros (which most people do because they’re so easily linked) then you’re in for quite a long walk but it’s still relatively straightforward. There is a rough path all the way up the mountainside and connecting both summits.

There are a couple of rocky and steep sections, especially up Beinn an Dothaidh but it’s a relatively steady hike overall with a few tricky parts. These peaks will be a lot harder to navigate in with low visibility but if you stick to the path then there shouldn’t be any problems.

rock faces on beinn dorain ridge
The view to your right as you approach the bealach between both Munros
We passed dozens of hikers going up and down so chances are you won’t be alone unless you choose the dead of winter.

Duration & Length


Duration: 5 – 8 hours

Length: 9 miles.

My stats according to Viewranger

Obviously, this will be slightly less if you choose to do just one of the Munros but once you’re up it would feel a shame not to tackle both.

Ordnance Survey Map for route: Explorer 377 or Landranger 50.

 

Where To Stay


There are plenty of tourists around these parts in the summer so you can well imagine there is no shortage of accommodation.

 

Budget:

 

Mid-Range:

 

Expensive:

The most convenient option would be the Bridge of Orchy hotel which is at the foot of these mountains, but this is very expensive.

 

Camping:

 

The Hike


From the Bridge of Orchy car park, the route starts off quite self-explanatory. You cross the road and head up the road towards the train station. Head through the railway underpass and through the gate ahead. This is part of the West Highland Way route but you don’t follow it for long. Head onto the path going up the hill past the big mast on your right.

start of hike
The road heading up to the starting track
Continue to weave your way up the clear path until you reach the bealach where there’s a prominent cairn. The cairn is almost exactly 2 miles from the car park. The views on the way up get gradually better with the Munros directly to your west coming into view. These include Ben Starav and Stob Coire Dheirg which overlook Loch Etive.
view from hike up beinn dorain
The stunning views as you start your ascent
Once at the cairn, it’s time to make a decision! It makes no difference which Munro you decide to tackle first because you’re essentially retracing your steps on both of them.

We decided to take a right and head up Beinn Dorain first. It was still quite foggy with poor visibility at this point but the sun was trying so hard to force its way through. We went up in the hope that it would clear by the time we reached the summit!

The initial path up Beinn Dorain is quite rocky and you need to watch your footing, sometimes using your hands to get over some of the larger slabs. This doesn’t last for long and you’ll soon end up on a grassy ridge.

clouds_going_up_dorain
Clouds starting to close in
It’s very wide at first but further along it narrows and begins to feel more like a proper ridge walk. Continue along the path on the ridge, taking care not to deviate off at the fork where the right turn takes you below the ridge.

There’s a large cairn further along the ridge and it’s very easy to think this is the summit, especially if it’s foggy! For us there was still very low visibility at this point and the GPS was a bit of a lifesaver. We passed a couple of guys on our way along the ridge but never saw them at the summit, I hink the poor guys mistook this cairn for the summit!

false cairn before summit of beinn dorain
This is one of the cairns on the way up which can be mistaken for the summit. I took this photo on the way down once the mist had cleared
The real summit is about another half mile along the ridge. Luckily for us we made it just as the sun was burning through that thick blanket of fog. This opened up some spectacular views of Ben More and Ben Lui to the south/southwest, Loch Lyon to the northeast while directly to the west is Ben Cruachan and further peaks in Glencoe.
me on the top of Beinn Dorain
The sun was dazzling at the top
Getting to the second Munro of the day is a simple case of retracing your steps all the way back to the cairn where the route splits. The summit of Beinn an Dothaidh can be made into a bit of a loop from here, or tackled directly by going straight up and down, it’s entirely up to you.

I always like to try and incorporate some kind of loop if possible so we decided to follow the path northeast. Initially the path is clear and easy to follow but eventually merges into the hillside as you climb up the Coire Reidh.

me at the cairn of munro number 2
The final stretch!
You’ll soon reach the bealach conncting Beinn an Dothaidh’s southern top to the summit itself. From here, it’s a short and steady walk directly north to the summit cairn.

The views from the top are spectacular, we were lucky with the weather because little pockets of cloud were giving way for us. You look right across Rannoch Moor and can even catch a glimpse of Ben Nevis in the distance.

For even more of the epic views, head west over to another cairn which overlooks Loch Tulla and its mountains directly behind. We were greeted with a stunning rainbow in the distance. The moment was fleeting however as the clouds decided to quickly descend and ruin it!

Rainbow from summit
This rainbow was gone in seconds so had to be quick!
From here you descend to the southeast and rejoin the path you used to come up. Getting back to to the car park is a simple case of retracing your steps back to the bealach and then all the way down the Coire an Dothaidh.

Alternative Routes


The above is definitely the most common route for bagging these two Munros. You can do one at a time if you’re just getting into hiking but in all honesty, it would feel like a shame to go up and only tick off the one, the second is so close and it adds on very little to your total hike time.

For the very adventurous out there another option is to take on a 5-Munro circuit. Once you reach the summit of Beinn Dorain, head northeast and summit Beinn Mhanach. From here you return down to the bealach and then go northeast to Beinn a’ Chreachain where the ground is rocky and uneven.

Now it’s over to Beinn Achaladair with an initial steep climb which steadily evens out towards the summit. From here you head directly south until the path starts to head southwest towards the top of Beinn an Dothaidh.

the cairn on beinn an dothaidh
Beinn an Dothaidh cairn
Next time I tackle these mountains this will most likely be the route I take, it involves plenty of ridge walking and the views will be spectacular. It’s not one for the faint-hearted and will be a long day in the hills!

 

Nearby Munros


The three closest Munros are the ones mentioned in the extended route above, Beinn Mhanach, Beinn a’Chreachain and Beinn Achaladair.

The beauty about this part of Scotland is the fact that the A82 passes by dozens of Munros so you’re never far away from another hike.

 

To Conclude


Easily accessible from Glasgow and the south, this hike is great for beginners or those just getting started climbing the Munros. The majority of the route follows a clear path and is steady walking. As always, the views are excellent on a clear day and if you’re keen on doing some more mountains on the same day then I recommend combining the ones I explained on alternative routes. It’s also aptly located for a post-hike pint in the Bridge of Orchy hotel!

As always, thanks a lot for reading and please leave anything you have to add in the comments box below! 🙂

2 Comments

  1. Hi Stephen, this is an amazing website. To have an experienced mountain climber to give the right advice to help people to stay safe and enjoy their experience. Have you thought about checking out some of our mountain/volcanoes in New Zealand? The imagery shown in your post has some similarities to scenery here. What is the biggest mountain hike you have done? 

    Reply
    • Thanks a lot for your comment, Cass!

      I would absolutely love to go to New Zealand and do some hiking. It looks like an amazing experience and one that is very high on my bucket list. I have seen lots of pictures of New Zealand and it very much resembles the scenery here in Scotland. 

      The longest hike I have done was 7 mountains in one day here in Scotland but the highest peak I have ever climbed was the the Acatenango Volcano in Guatemala which has an altitude of 3976 metres.

      Reply

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