Discovering a Gem of a Place, Glen Orrin

The best plans are flexible, in some case very flexible. What was to be a multi-day trip in the hills, covering a lot of distance and ascent and with high camps in a remote area new to us was curtailed somewhat due to weather, no point enduring bad weather and getting no views when the plans can be sat on till next time, instead we opted for something a bit lower and more sedentary.

Arriving at the point where we’d leave the car, we sat and stayed warm and dry a little longer enjoying the scenery from within. There was no need to rush in to Glen Orrin where we would be walking in the coming days as we only intended to get in and settle for the night a short journey away and with that, we lingered, occasionally using the window wipers to give us a better view of what we would soon be out in.

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A steep track up through forest took us to level ground and … less shelter. Wind and rain combined to hasten us on our way across moorland on what would normally be good paths. On this occasion however, after a lot of rainfall, the paths were running as extensions of, and feeders to the usual burns, and it was not long before our feet were wet. Soon we had to cross one of these burns and a thigh deep wade through chilly water was strangely enjoyable as it rectified the ‘decision’ not to wear gaiters which would have been overwhelmed at this point.

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Our destination arrived at, we settled, got warm and dry, dined and were merry for the rest of the day and evening.

Next day, sunshine, blue skies and warm air (just) spurred us on to a more energetic day. We had in mind a traverse of the Strathfarrar Munros from the north and set off up Glen Orrin to a point where we could cross the River Orrin via a marked bridge.

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Progress was happily slow as we stopped often to admire the views of the glen itself and wonder about our route over the tops. A surprising amount of snow up top was our main consideration for weighing up options for routes considering our lack of ice axe and crampons and the obvious cornices above large snow slopes added to our concerns about specific approaches.

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The Glen was an unexpected gem, new to both of us and seemingly keeping the best for last as we headed west on our way to the bridge. River views and the snow capped peaks beyond it to the south drew our attention at first but on rounding a bend, a new scene opened up taking us by surprise, a craggy hill complete with light forest cover and a plunging streak of water sitting proudly above the River Orrin. Beyond, through the narrowing glen more impressive water falls could be seen in the distance. Scale, distance and varied colours composed something like that which you see in photos from somewhere more ‘Big Country’ than a typical Scottish glen.

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Arriving at and crossing the bridge, we were more focused now on the approach up to the peaks we intended to walk. Out the wind, which had picked up notably at this point, we had lunch and had more deliberations using the map and views ahead to come up with two options which we would decide upon later, when further up and with better views of the approaches. To get there we would follow a path beside a tributary of the River Orrin.

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We may as well have been in the flow of the water for its effect on our upward progress as we lingered admiring all its many features and paths down the hillside in a seemingly continuous line of falls. Stunning!

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Clouds began to form above and obscure the tops then soon after lethargy started to encroach and revise our plans, first from four down to three, then to two hills we might tackle above, then it was none. The clouds were showing signs of sinking down even lower and settling so we turned and re-traced steps back to base, thankfully staying dry all the way before the rain started for the evening.

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That rain remained and we departed early next day in drizzle, but happy with our time somewhere new and with thoughts of heading back for more in future.

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