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Beinn a' Bheithir

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Title: Beinn a' Bheithir  
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Subject: Meall a' Bhùiridh, Glenachulish, Mountains and hills of the Central Highlands, Buachaille Etive Mòr, Ballachulish
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Beinn a' Bheithir

Beinn a' Bheithir - Sgorr Dhearg
Beinn a' Bheithir seen from the slopes of Mam na Gualainn, across Loch Leven. Sgorr Dhearg is the left-hand peak.
Elevation 1,024 m (3,360 ft)[1]
Prominence 729 m (2,392 ft)
Parent peak Bidean nam Bian
Listing Marilyn, Munro
Translation Mountain of the Thunderbolt (Scottish Gaelic)
Scottish Gaelic: 
English approx: bain uh ve-hurr
Location Glen Coe, Scotland
OS grid
Topo map OS Landranger 41
Easiest route Hike
Listed summits of Beinn a' Bheithir
Name Grid ref Height Status
Sgorr Dhonuill 1001 m (3,284 ft) Marilyn, Munro

Beinn a' Bheithir (Scottish Gaelic pronunciation: , 'Mountain of the Thunderbolt') is a mountain lying to the south of Ballachulish, on the south side of Loch Leven in the Scottish Highlands. It boasts two Munro summits: the higher peak Sgorr Dhearg (Scottish Gaelic pronunciation: ) lies about 2 km (1.2 mi) east of Sgorr Dhonuill (Sgurr Dhòmhnaill).

The mountain forms a horseshoe shape, with ridges pointing north enclosing the corrie of Gleann a' Chaolais (Glenachulish). The lower slopes on this side are cloaked in conifer plantations. To the south the mountain forms a steep ridge forming the northern wall of Glen Duror, which is also forested.

There are several routes up Beinn a' Bheithir. One of the simplest is to head through the forestry up Gleann a' Chaolais, reaching the 757 m (2,484 ft) high bealach between the two summits. Both summits can be bagged from here, and the walker may descend by the route of ascent.

Other routes on include the north and northwest ridges of Sgorr Dhearg, or a steep ascent from Glen Duror.

Folk Tale

The mountain at whose base tourists to Glencoe are landed was first called Beinn Ghuilbin but is now known as Beinn Bheithir. It got this name from a dragon which, long ago, took shelter in Corrie Liath, a great hollow in the face of the mountain and almost right above Ballachulish Pier. This dragon was apparently a terror to the surrounding district. From the lip of the corrie she overlooked the path round the foot of the mountain and, if the unsuspecting traveller attempted to pass by her, she would leap down and tear him to pieces.

No one dared attack her nor could anyone tell how she might be destroyed until Charles, the Skipper, came the way. He anchored his vessel a good distance out from the site of the present pier and, between the vessel and the shore, formed a bridge of empty barrels lashed together with ropes and brisling with iron spikes. When the bridge was finished he kindled a large fire on board the vessel and placed pieces of flesh on the burning embers. As soon as the savour of burning flesh reached the corrie the dragon descended by a succession of leaps to the shore and thence tried to make her way out on the barrels to the vessel. But the spikes entered her body and tore her up so badly that she was nearly dead before she reached the outer edge of the bridge. Meantime the vessel was moved from the bridge until a wide interval was left between it and the last barrel. Over this interval the dragon had not sufficient strength left to leap to the deck of the vessel and, as she could not return the way she came, she died of her wounds where she was, at the end of the bridge.

The people who lived in the neighbourhood of the mountain felt now at peace, But, if they did, little did they know of the new danger which threatened them. The cause of this new danger was a whelp which the old dragon left behind her in Corrie Liath. In course of time the whelp became a full-grown dragon which had a brood of young dragons hidden away in a corn stack at the foot of the mountain. When the farmer discovered them in his stack he at once set fire to it hoping thus to destroy the dangerous vermin it contained. Their shrieking was, with the wind, borne up the mountain-side and, as soon as it reached their mother, down she rushed to their assistance. But she was long in reaching them and in spite of all her efforts they were burned to death. When she saw this she stretched herself on a flat rock near the shore and continued to lash the rock with her tail until she killed herself.

The rock is still known as the Dragon’s Rock, and on it Beinn Bheithir House now stands.[2][3]


  1. ^ "walkhighlands Sgorr Dhearg (Beinn a'Bheithir)". 2013. Retrieved 2 November 2013. 
  2. ^ Folk Tales and Fairy Lore in Gaelic and English Collected from Oral Tradition. by Rev. James MacDougall, sometime Minister of Duror. Edited with Introduction and Notes by Rev. George Calder, B.D., Minister of Strathfillan. John Grant, 31 George 1V Bridge, Edinburgh. (1910).
  3. ^ Transactions of The Gaelic Society of Inverness, vol. 49, Sgeul o Ghleann Baille Chaoil by Eoghan Mac a Phi, 1975,

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