A Tale of Two Beinns

There are two munros everyone who’s travelling between Tyndrum and Rannoch Moor has seen and more than likely marvelled at. They seem so close to the A82 and so dominating that it is hard to avert the eyes, alas, it’s even hard to keep your eyes fixed on the road and not stare at them in awe.

May I introduce Beinn an Dothaid. The Hill of the Scorching (or singeing). Sporting a superb view point over Rannoch Moor all the way to The Ben and everything in between.

And then his more famous and popular brother. Beinn Dorain. The Hill of the Otter. Sounds less impressive, but its seemingly conical shape as seen from Tyndrum makes it hard not to instantly admire it. So much so, that Dorain has a poem written to him and even a symphony composed based on said poem.

Tough competition. I was about to climb both today and decide which one I liked better. I am one of those people who had passed by the two countless times, but never gotten around to climbing them.

Now, there was one thing that didn’t help Dothaid… clouds shrouding the hill tops. I would not be able to judge the views from both tops. The one thing that Dothaid was said to be better at. Still, I started my walk at 10:15am from Bridge of Orchy with an open mind.

Both share the same approach. A long path up to the saddle between both munros, in parts quite eroded and seemingly never ending. It took me an hour and 15mins to get there.

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That included more faff with my blistered heels. I had put some proper compeed plasters on, but again they had moved around and revealed the tender parts of my heel to more rubbing. FFS… I tried to peel them off to put a fresh one on, but the one on the right had bound with my skin so much, I couldn’t get it off without causing quite some damage. So I put another one on top and taped it off generously. The left heel plaster came off at least and another fresh one hopefully did the trick.

Relief was temporary on the right. Something was still wrong, but at least the left one seemed to be quiet now.

I had also tied my boots tighter to get a nice snug fit, but something was digging into the front of my ankle. It was that or more rubbing especially uphill. I just couldn’t win. Ignoring the pain I ploughed on walking slightly awkwardly.

I wasn’t as warm as on the previous days, more cold wind and definitely no sun today. At least I wasn’t sweating on the ascent today.

Views were limited, but I could imagine how grand they must be over Loch Tulla and into Glen Orchy behind me and into Glen Lyon ahead when I reached the saddle. At over 700m I was still not immersed in clouds, but I wasn’t far off it. Nothing I could do about it, so better get on with it.

Climbing into the clouds, visibility went from moderate to poor just when the path seemingly vanished and all around me just grass and bog. No idea, if you can actually see it in good visibility, but I dug out my GPS (I know, cheating, but I couldn’t be bothered to wander around in the clag with map and compass.), double checked with the map on my phone and headed off into the direction both agreed on. You could soooo easily get lost here.

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Eventually I found a path again after some bog jumping, which led all the way to the summit. I couldn’t see the cairn until I almost bumped into it. Add a steady icy wind to it and after a quick sip from my hip flask, I turned around and made my way back down again. No view, no fun.

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A very brief pause in the wind saw my stuff my face with some food, before I stomped on before I got too cold. No chance for a longer break really. Back down at the saddle I made straight for munro number two. Dothaid hadn’t been too inviting and that confusing bog didn’t win him any points either.

The path up the back of Dorain was rocky and very easy to follow. A few steeper bits, but generally the gentler approach. It almost felt inviting compared to Dothaid. Like “Come on up and enjoy.”.  Cloud was so thick at the top, that I more than once wiped my eyes, thinking my contact lenses at fogged up or something.  Quick sip at the top to munro number two for today and 41 on my tick list. I had now claimed as many munros as I was old.

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Back down to the saddle I headed and got a glimpse of some views, nice. Like a little bit of compensation and a goodbye gift from Dorain. The path down from the saddle was tiring. Even after the steepest and most awkward bit, it was just so very long and I simply couldn’t relax until I was back at the car. Being so rocky and uneven, losing concentration could’ve meant rolling an ankle or something, especially with tired legs and feet.

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Had a look at my heels back at the car and whilst the left was okay-ish, the right wasn’t. Once more the plaster had slipped down and since it had bound with my tender skin it had simply taken it down too leaving raw flesh. Dammit. I spare you a gory photo, haha. Put a sterile patch on it and taped it off once more. I’ve used more of my first aid kit in two days than in the last four years or so.

After all a nice day. At least there had been no rain. Just under six hours without rushing it or hanging around too much. Treated myself to a nice steak pie and a pint at the pub next door since I was back much earlier than yesterday.

So who wins the battle of the two Beinns? I’m afraid I have to go with the majority of people and say Beinn Dorain. The path up its shoulder was more enjoyable and gentler and although longer than Dothaid’s it didn’t feel like it. I can’t judge the views obviously, but Dorain has an alternative path closer to its “edge” which might offer some nice ones. I wouldn’t mind coming back one day if the opportunity presents itself, with nicer weather and more time to enjoy the day and then reassess if Dothaid’s views are so stunning, that he wins after all.

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