Posted by: Andrea | April 14, 2008

Beinn Dorain

One of the best parts about Scotland, without a doubt, is the scenery.  It is more beautiful here than I can even describe.  My favorite part of the country is the highlands, where all the mountains are.  They seem endless when you get up there, just peak after peak, fading off into the distance.  During the summer, the hills are green and brown, turning to purple in August when the heather blooms.  It’s one of my favorite months, with all the gorgeous colors.  I see those greens and purples and browns now and I automatically think of Scotland.

Winter is the other time of the year when the mountains are truly at their most beautiful.  Each peak is covered by snow, fading down into the snowline where the heather takes over.  This year the winter has been very cold, so there is still a good amount of snow on top of the mountains.  Last April most of the snow was gone at this time, but we’ve gotten lucky.  

One thing I’ve loved about living here is that I’ve had the opportunity to get more involved in outdoor activities.  I’ve always had the chance before, but never really took advantage until the past few years.  The past year I’ve started ‘hill-walking’ which sounds like a nice stroll up a hill, but actually involves hiking up mountains.  My preferred ones are Munros.  These are the 284 mountains in Scotland that are all higher than 3,000 feet.  Many people attempt to climb them all, which obviously takes a very, very long time.  So far I’ve climbed seven, which isn’t much, but is something I’m pretty proud of.  Coming from Oregon, 3,000 feet isn’t very much, but Munros are perfectly sized to climb in a day on the weekend.  They’re great in that respect and I can say from my own experience that when you get to the top, the feeling of accomplishment is amazing.  Don’t get me wrong, there are moments where I’m climbing and my legs are burning and I’m running out of breath and I think, why in the world do I do this?  But when I get to the top, the answer is pretty obvious.

This Saturday I climbed Beinn Dorain.  We’d intended to climb two Munros, but with the amount of snow on the top we ran out of time.  It took us five hours to get up and down, which was a pretty good time considering the snow.  

This is right as we left the carpark, looking up the path towards Beinn Dorain.  We’re aiming to go right between the two hills and then behind the hill to the right to a larger peak behind.  

At the top of the Bealach (the dip between the two hills) and on our way up!  This was just the first of the steep parts.  I had no idea what was to come…

Into the snow!  On our way up from the Bealach, where every single time you get to the top of the hill, another hill rises up on front!  Snow is hard work too, it’s like climbing a mountain in the sand.  Luckily there was only around 6-8 inches at the worst of it, so it was manageable.  Still slow going, we kept on slogging along.

I was convinced we’d reached the top, but when we came over the rise, we saw this in front of us!  Perfect example of thinking you’re almost there and then being no where near!  This wasn’t too bad though and I practically ran, even though my winter boots have as much give as ski boots and are about twice as heavy.  It’s amazing how you can get a burst of speed when the end is in sight!

It goes without saying that the views from the top were stunning.  Though you can see the clouds rolling in…  We had our lunch and then got caught in the hail/snow and headed down pretty quickly.  And the best part about climbing in the snow?  Taking the quick way down!

We pulled on our waterproof trousers and slid down on our bums down the steepest part of the slope.  I think this shaved off about twenty to thirty minutes off our descent time and was pretty fun too!  

By the time we’d gotten down the majority of the snow below the bealach was gone, though I’m sure with the clouds rolling in it would be replaced by morning.  It was a wonderful day and I even managed to get a bit sunburned with the sun bouncing off the snow.  That doesn’t happen very often in Scotland!  Hopefully a few of these photos will entice you all to come visit too!  I can’t say enough how amazing it is up here.  Plus you might be able to do some bum sliding too!




  1. We were up on Beinn Dorain that day too! Were you the group with the crampons etc…? Thanks for sharing your photos, they’re awesome, and the writeup is really nice!

  2. No, we most definitely didn’t have crampons! Forgot our ice axes too, but we ended up being fine. Thankfully nothing was too icy or steep. When did you get to the summit? We reached the top around 1:30 or so and we passed a few groups coming down on our way up. Maybe we passed you? 🙂

  3. We were at the top at 1:10pm! We must have passed fairly close although I only recall seeing a middle aged couple, a group of about four who had crampons, and a bit later while looking back, two others who had walking poles and were watching the middle aged gentleman sliding down the hill!

  4. We may have been the two with the poles, I was there with my boyfriend and I think we were up probably the latest in the day. We only passed people on the way up, none on the way down. Though there was one guy we passed on the way down at around 4pm and he was just starting out! He seemed to want to do both of the munros that day, though we did warn him there was quite a bit of snow at the top. I kept hoping he turned around and didn’t get stuck in the dark in the snow! That may have been us checking out the gentleman sliding down the hill, we definitely got the idea from somewhere 🙂

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