Walk of the week: Beinn Dorain, Bridge of Orchy

WINTER snow has remained high on the mountains of Scotland, and on a sunny morning last week the drive from Killin to Crianlarich was akin to being in the Alps in springtime.

Beinn Dorain, Bridge of Orchy. Picture: Nick Drainey
Beinn Dorain, Bridge of Orchy. Picture: Nick Drainey

The snowfields clinging to Ben More and Stob Binnein looked like two huge snowmen guarding the way north.

Beinn Dorain was the aim, and it too retained a little of its winter coat. This huge, pointed summit above Bridge of Orchy greets drivers as they crest the hill above Tyndrum on the A82, acting like a magnet to walkers who want to reach the top of this most mountainous of mountain summits.

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The walk up, however, is deceptive. It is fairly steep on the way up Coire an Dothaidh, and along the broad ridge, but not nearly as steep as the southern slopes seen on the drive to the start.

Below the mountain is the little straggle of houses which makes up Bridge of Orchy, as well as a very hiker-friendly hotel. If there was ever a walk where you come down, have a drink and think “I want to live here”, this is one. Before you leave, make sure you go behind the hotel to the stone bridge and look back at the view up to a fine mountain.

Munro baggers would include Beinn an Dothaidh in this walk and it is quite an easy addition, lying the other side of the bealach at the top of Coire an Dothaidh. Others are content to leave that for another day and spend more time enjoying the summit views from Beinn Dorain, encompassing a myriad Munros in all directions.

DISTANCE 6∫ miles.


TIME 5 to 6 hours.

MAP OS Landranger 50.

PARK Heading north along the A82, about 6 miles north of Tyndrum, turn left just before the Bridge of Orchy Hotel into a large car park.

IN SUMMARY Cross the A82 in front of the hotel and go up a minor road to the railway station.

Take the underpass below the rail line, go through a gate and cross a track, taking a path to the left. This goes to the left of a radio mast and then bears right, up to the steep-sided Coire an Dothaidh. Eventually you reach the bealach and its cairn.

Go right and walk up a steep path to a small lochan which you pass on the left. The path then goes up another steep section. At the top of this don’t go straight ahead but take a smaller path that skirts round the right side of a rocky outcrop and then bears left to reach the top of the main, broad ridge. Follow the ridge up to a large cairn before dropping down slightly then rising up to the actual summit and its cairn.

Return to the bealach and drop back down Coire an Dothaidh to the start – unless adding Beinn an Dothaidh on the other side of the bealach.

REFRESH The Bridge of Orchy Hotel is very welcoming for walkers. Otherwise, head down to Tyndrum, where the highlight has to be the Real Food Café, which sells great fish and chips with pint mugs of tea.

WHILE YOU ARE IN THE AREA It really is all about the scenery in these parts and the drive north on the A82 to Glencoe (about 20 miles) is as spectacular as it gets. The National Trust for Scotland visitor centre (01855 811307, glencoe-nts.org.uk) is situated right at the bottom of Glencoe and gives lots of historical and geographical information about the area. It also has a café and a shop.