The Five Beinns of Bridge of Orchy
Route type: Other
Total climb: 6,811.02 ft
Distance: 36.74km, 22.83 miles. Like (61)
"G3 ***** 35 Beinn Dorain 64 1076m/3530ft (OS 50, NN 325378) Ben Doe-rin, Mountain of the Otter (from Gaelic Dobhran) or Streamlets (from Gaelic Dobhar, perhaps referring to its fluted flanks) 36 Beinn an Dothaidh 129 1004m/3294ft (OS 50, NN 331408) Ben an Daw-y, Mountain of Scorching 37 Beinn Achaladair 94 1038m/3405ft (OS 50, NN 344432) Ben Achallader, Mountain of the Field by the Hard Water (from Gaelic Ach-a-ladair), named after the farm at its foot 38 Beinn aâ€™ Chreachain 61 1081m/3547ft (OS 50, NN 373440) Ben a Chrechin, Clamshell Mountain, named for the appearance of its stony summit dome 39 Beinn Mhanach 211 953m/3127ft (OS 50, NN 373411) Ben Vanach, Monk Mountain. Contenders include St. Columba, St. Fillan and Adamnan (Columbaâ€™s biographer). For Munro info, see Routes 35a, 37a & 39a. Route 39c description The Five Beinns of Bridge of Orchy from Auch Farm NN 317354, 21ml/34km, 2200m/7200ft Auch farm, situated on the A82 between Tyndrum and Bridge of Orchy, is perfectly placed as the starting point for a long but enterprising round of all five Bridge of Orchy Munros, beginning up the south ridge of Beinn Dorain and returning from Beinn Mhanach along Auch Gleann. As the four principals stand in a line north of the farm, each one hiding the next, their traverse has a real sense of adventure with ever-changing views. The route is formed by combining other routes, which should be consulted for full details. First climb the south ridge of Beinn Dorain (Route 35b). The bottom section of the ridge forms a craggy nose that is best outflanked by starting the ascent in Auch Gleann. Park on the road verge beside the access road to Auch farm, take the paved road down to the farm and follow the continuing Land Rover track along the glen, ignoring all side branches. The track crosses the West Highland Way, fords the Allt Coralan (usually passable dryshod on stepping stones) and passes under the curving viaduct of the West Highland Railway line. Once under the viaduct, ford the Allt Kinglass and climb the steep slope in front of you to a shoulder above the rocks. Having reached the south ridge proper, the angle of ascent lessens, though not enough to make any appreciable difference to the effort required. At least there are views west now into the Central Highlands. Just below the summit, a rock band extends across the whole width of the ridge and seems to block the way. It can in fact be outflanked on steep grass slopes to the right, but there is a fascinating alternative solution to the problem. If you head straight up the centre of the rock band, on an apron of grass that leads right into the crags, youâ€™ll find a hidden grassy gully that curves up left to the top of them. Itâ€™s a hands-and-feet clamber, but itâ€™s not difficult. The summit lies not far above. Continue to Beinn an Dothaidh (Route 35a). From Dorainâ€™s summit cairn, cross a dip to a second cairn known as Carn Sasunaich (Carn Sassanich, Englishmanâ€™s Cairn), then follow the path down across a small plateau and steeper, slabbier ground to the bealach below Beinn an Dothaidh. Above here, a stony path can be seen climbing diagonally right into a shallow corrie, whose grassy slopes lead up to a broad saddle on Dothaidhâ€™s tilted summit plateau between west top and summit. Alternatively, youâ€™ll get better views on a less distinct path goes up the broad south ridge to the west top, on slopes of grass and rocks left of the corrie. From Dothaidhâ€™s summit, continue to Beinn Achaladair and Beinn aâ€™ Chreachain (Route 37a). A distinct path leads around the cliff-top of Dothaidhâ€™s north-east corrie to the south-east top, then a broad ridge of grass and moss curves down the far rim of the corrie to the Dothaidhâ€“Achaladair bealach. Fairly steep slopes soon ease off to give a problem-free descent. Above the bealach, broad grass slopes rise to Achaladairâ€™s South Top. A small path soon disappears on boggy ground but reappears higher up when the ridge becomes more well-defined. Over the South Top, a broad saddle leads to Achaladairâ€™s long, flat, rocky, confusing summit ridge. Why confusing? The cairn at the far end, at the edge of Achaladairâ€™s craggy north-east corrie, seems to be the highest point, but the true summit (2m/6ft higher) is a couple of hundred metres before then. Donâ€™t miss it. The route onwards to Beinn aâ€™ Chreachain begins with a descent around the rim of the north-east corrie, a twin for Beinn an Dothaidhâ€™s. Rough but easy ground leads down to a steep hillside cluttered with rock outcrops. The path weaves its way down without difficulty, although there are a few places where hands will come inâ€¦ handy. On the 813m/2667ft Bealach an Aoghlain at the foot of the steep descent (unnamed on OS 1:50,000 map), the terrain improves again, and this time itâ€™s for good. An easy climb up grass slopes to the Top of Meall Buidhe (Myowl Boo-ya, Yellow Hill) is followed by an effortless stroll along a broad, flat, turf ridge, which drops only 6m/20ft in Â½ml/1km as it heads for the rim of Coire an Lochain (Beinn aâ€™ Chreachainâ€™s northern corrie). Before reaching the rim, the path quits the ridge to take a diagonal short cut right, down across the grassy hillside, to the rimâ€™s low point â€“ the 924m/3032ft bealach below Beinn aâ€™ Chreachain. Across the bealach, the path becomes indistinct as it climbs increasingly rock-strewn slopes to the skyline, which turns out to be the rim of another large corrie, complete with its own sparkling little lochan, on the east side of Beinn aâ€™ Chreachain. Whoever named this corrie had a gift for understatement â€“ it is called Coire Dubh Beag (Corra Doo Bake, Little Black Corrie, unnamed on OS 1:50,000 map). The summit lies a short distance to the right (south), reached by a good path along the corrie rim. From Chreachainâ€™s summit return to the bealach between Meall Buidhe and Beinn Achaladair and traverse to the bealach below Beinn aâ€™ Chuirn (Ben a Hoorn, Mountain of the Cairn), Mhanachâ€™s subsidiary Top. The traverse is damp and pathless but perfectly easy. Above the bealach, Climb Beinn Mhanach (Route 39b). A direct ascent would take you onto the craggy ground of Beinn aâ€™ Chuirnâ€™s western front. Circumvent the crags on the left. An old fence climbs from the bealach, with traces of a wet path beside it. When the fence turns sharp left, the path continues diagonally up the hillside below the crags but soon disappears. Continue in the same direction to outflank all steep ground and reach drier, less clingy grass slopes that curve up to the Mhanachâ€“Chuirn saddle. Continue easily to Mhanachâ€™s summit and descend via Auch Gleann (Route 39a). The Allt aâ€™ Chuirn flows down from the Mhanachâ€“Chuirn saddle and indicates the initial line to be taken. Follow it down to a set of weirs and waterslides, where youâ€™ll pick up a Land Rover track that will take you all the way back to Auch. Needlepoint: On the long traverse of the skyline in adverse weather, there are several opportunities for cloudy confusion. The route is best left for a clear day. Chilly Willy: This is a very long route for a short winterâ€™s day and is not one for beginners. Very steep, very exposed snow slopes in several places make it a rarely attempted winter venture. "