#313 – Easan Dorcha and the Tea House Bothy

The path from Coire Lair to Easan Dorcha and the Tea House Bothy

For the best viewing experience, left-click the images and maps to zoom in to a new window, then exit that window to go back – go on, it really does work!

The Northwest Highlands showing the Easan Dorcha/Tea House Bothy route in the centre

If you have been following recent blog posts, you might be excused for thinking that the Scottish Highlands are a sun trap, and the myths about rain and wind are just that – myths.  Well, sadly that isn’t always the case, but whether it’s rain or shine we still have a Border Collie wanting to get out for a walk.  We usually manage to find something interesting though, even if it doesn’t always involve heading up a mountain.

The Tea House Bothy route (in blue) and the loch Coulin route from Glen Torridon (in red)

September is often a time of fine, settled weather in the Highlands, but in 2021 the middle of the month had a few rainy or blowy days.  We were down in Wester Ross by now, which usually means a visit to Torridon – one of our standby low-level routes in Torridon is a circuit of Loch Coulin (shown in red on the map above) which although it doesn’t include heading up a mountain, it does pass through some interesting mountain country. 

Map view showing the two routes, with the Tea House route in blue, Loch Coulin circuit in red

Looking at the map, it was obvious that the Loch Coulin circuit carries on over the Coulin Pass towards Glen Carron.  A bit more research showed a bothy, that was easily accessible from the Glen Carron side – now, I’m a sucker for a bothy walk, and here was one off the beaten track in an area we don’t get to very often. 

Closer view of the route – clockwise starting at the red flag, with the bothy at the blue flag

Over the past couple of years, I’ve started to add the occasional lower level walk to our mountain days. These often have the feel of being part of a journey, or sometimes even an exploration.  The bothy route looked ideal for a day where the weather forecast wasn’t looking too good, and ‘Mist’ was happy to have a new area to sniff around.   In addition, the bothy itself would be a dry spot for lunch if needed, so all the boxes were ticked.

Achnashellach railway station in all its glory

A good map makes route planning a doddle.  There was an obvious circular route starting out from the railway halt at Achnashellach – from there, a 15 km circular route wandered through mountain terrain. The 15kms fitted neatly into four sections – a stalkers path cllmbing gradually to Drochaid Coire Lair to start with, followed by an equally gradual descent to the bothy and the Easan Dorcha stream.  The third section was a good track over the Coulin Pass followed by a steady descent through woodland back to Achnashellach to finish – we had a route.

Setting out beyond the woods….
…. with the 907 metre peak of Fuar Tholl above
1         The stalkers path leading up towards the bealach (pass) of Drochaid Coire Lair
The upper part of the stalkers path

The railway station at Achnashellach is a bit on the pretentious side, with little more than a single platform, but it does give access to some magnificent mountain country.  The path soon leaves the woods behind as it skirts below the 907 metre peak of Fuar Tholl.  It then winds its way gradually upwards, in the easy way that stalkers paths usually do, before finally arriving at the bealach (pass) of Drochaid Coire Lair below the ridge of Beinn Liath Mhor.

At Drochaid Coire Lair with Beinn Liath Mhor above – © Trevor Littlewood
The Beinn Liath Mhor ridge above Coire Lair © Nigel Brown
Starting the descent to Easan Dorcha and the Tea House
The woods above the both

Our view of the Beinn Liath Mhor ridge was clouded out, hence the two images used above taken from the Geograph project – they reveal what looks like a classic Munro ascent, and I’m sure we will be back for that in better weather.  Instead, we plodded on down the still excellent path towards the bothy, with waterproof tops eventually coming out of our packs.  ‘Mist’ has her own smart dayglo pink jacket, more for our benefit than hers – collies have perfectly adequate fur coats, but once ‘Mist’ is wet, she is wet for the rest of the day!

The Tea House Bothy finally comes into view
Waterfall near the bothy, on the Easan Geal stream
The bothy – a bit like a posh garden shed!
Cosy enough inside ….
…. in fact, cosy enough for Border Collie ‘Mist’ to have forty winks!

The route passes by native woodland before the bright green roof of the bothy comes into view.  The two streams of Easan Dorcha (Dark Waterfall) and Easan Geal (Bright Waterfall) join just before reaching the bothy, which takes its Easan Dorcha name from the larger stream, though it is usually just known as ‘The Tea House’ – in reality, it’s a posh garden shed, though it could be used for sleeping at a push.  Which is exactly what ‘Mist’ did, and she caught up on her beauty sleep whilst the humans had lunch in the dry.

Looking back towards the waterfall with Beinn Liath Mhor beyond, as we set off to return to Glen Carron
One last view of the Easan Geal stream joining the Easan Dorcha stream ….
…. before heading down towards the River Coulin
Beinn Eighe hiding in the cloud to the north
On the Loch Coulin route in May 2018, with Beinn Liath Mhor peeping out in the centre

After the bothy, there was a further descent of 1 km to meet the Coulin Pass track.  Views of Beinn Liath Mhor peeping out of the mist were replaced by an old favourite, Beinn Eighe (see posts #230 and #246) before we hit the track leading uphill to the Coulin Pass – an old photo shown above from May 2018 shows the start point of this track at the head of Loch Coulin, and although I didn’t know it at the time, it also includes yet another view of Beinn Liath Mhor.

Heading up to the Coulin Pass in September 2021, the ridge of Beinn Liath Mhor left of centre
Rainbow above the head of Loch Coulin chasing us up the track as we head up to the Coulin Pass

Beinn Liath Mhor continued to dominate the scene as we gradually gained height to the head of the pass, with a rainbow chasing us up the track.  The height gain was gradual and civilised, and soon we were heading downhill on the final section of the route.  Eventually, we reached the forest, and the scenery became boring endless green, but before that, we had a final panorama over Loch Dughaill in Glen Carron – it was time to head for home.

Heading for home – Loch Dughaill in Glen Carron

Text and images © Paul Shorrock, except where otherwise indicated, which are taken from the Geograph Project and are reproduced under a Creative Commons Licence.

About Paul Shorrock

I've been mucking about in the mountains for longer than I care to mention. I started out by walking my local hills, then went on to rock climbing, mountaineering and skiing. Still doing it, and still getting a buzz. I'm now sharing the fun, through my guided walking business (Hillcraft Guided Walking) and by writing routes for other publishers, mainly Walking World and Discovery Walking Guides. Just to make sure I keep really busy, I am also currently a member of my local mountain rescue team.
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3 Responses to #313 – Easan Dorcha and the Tea House Bothy

  1. Some great photos there. I think I prefer the look of the outward route best. I didn’t know that bothy was called that – we visited on a very wet day when it wasn’t fit to do the Torridonian hills from the other side as well as going round Loch Coulin/Clare.

    I wouldn’t be able to pass below the ridge of Beinn Liath Mhor on that track though without bobbing up it and doing its ridge!

    Liked by 1 person

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