Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Day 7. Monday 27th April

Beinn Dhorain - NC 925 157

Ascent from Glen Loth - NC 936 155 via north east flank. Descent from col between Dhorain and Ben Uarie.

The approach was up the minor single track road from the A9. Snow was abundant on all the hills. The first sighting of Beinn Dhorain was breathtaking. It was by far the most heavily covered hill in the glen. This was one of the toughest hills I have climbed especially in these conditions. Every side of the hill is incredibly steep.

I ploughed through deep soft snow covering tussocks and heather and then on the flank it became steeper and steeper. I was kicking deep steps in the snow which was not really firm enough to give support, and then I was hands on plunging fists into snow for hand support and occasionally using my knees. This was strenuous and endless and I found myself resting every few steps as if on a Himalayan ascent.

On the summit I reckoned my ascent route was too steep to descend, but looking at the contours on the map there wasn't much to choose in steepness from any other option. I decided to go to the col between Dhorain and Uarie. The snow alternated between long patches often thigh deep and shallower but treacherous sections where heather showed through. On the former patches I did some bum-sliding and on the rest picked my way carefully. All the time I was conscious of the possibility of further snow as happened yesterday with an unbelievably rapid change from blue sky sunshine to a thick covering of snow and minimal visibility. That could have blocked the glen road which had a warning at its start from the A9 saying the road was not gritted or attended to in bad conditions.

Back at the car I was off south to, guess where, yes, the Poppy Café. I am becoming a regular at this cosy venue, and had some good chat with the staff. I learnt that the aforementioned Duke of Sutherland had forced his tenants to contribute to the cost of his gigantic monument under threat of eviction. The café is named after an old established sweetie shop that occupied the premises before it became a café. The first one failed, but the present owners have been in situ for I think they said three years and long may they continue.




First sighting from the road. Dohrain is the highest on the right


I know everybody says this but this photo and the next in no way convey the actual steepness.


Looking down from about halfway up my ascent route


From the summit




In Poppy Café




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4 comments:

afootinthehills said...

Magnificent, if arduous, conditions Conrad and you are obviously enjoying every minute of your trip. The Poppy Cafe looks very inviting and cosy, so I can see why you 'retreat' there after a day in the hills.






Roderick Robinson said...

Something to say and you've risen to its potential. Good. But reflect on those ascents where you're merely up then down; they appear dull to the reader, were they dull to you? If so you'd be better off in front of the telly, getting your exercise from a stationary bike.

"a good chat with the staff." Just one quoted sentence would have told us more.

The story with these latterday expeditions is (I'm guessing) one of physical compromise. How you cope can be covered in a positive way, a revelation to those of your age and suffering your impediments. A world away from moaning about defects. Such a practical approach might well be valuable to others and might inform the style in which you write.

Sir Hugh said...

Afoot - yes Gibson I am enjoying it. So glad to be in Scotland again. Nowhere else comes close.

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RR - you will note I am putting a summary of each walk in a brief first paragraph. Many of my readers are interested to have those details. Also my posts on this kind of trip are written partly for my own reference and possible compilation of another book, but I do strive to entertain.

The anecdote about the Duke arose from the conversation with the café staff as did the bit of history about the name, ok, that could have been made more obvious by linking it with chat sentence.

I thought the account of the hairy ascent and descent in snow conditions was quite exciting .

bowlandclimber said...

The driving looks more hazardous than the walking, I once got stuck, whilst car camping, in an icy and snowed in Glen Lyon for several days at this time of year.
Enjoy.
Even had a bit of snow on Longridge Fell today and the Snake Pass was closed.
The lady in Poppies looks ever so friendly.