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Finally! Corrour to Spean Bridge overnighter

Finally! Corrour to Spean Bridge overnighter


Postby malky_c » Wed Jul 20, 2011 3:32 pm

Corbetts included on this walk: Cruach Innse, Glas Bheinn (Kinlochleven), Leum Uilleim, Sgurr Innse

Grahams included on this walk: Beinn na Cloiche, Cnap Cruinn, Creag Ghuanach

Date walked: 19/07/2011

Time taken: 16 hours

Distance: 47 km

Ascent: 3000m

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I had all sorts of multi-day routes on the cards this year, but as usual, I didn't get round to half of them. This one was joint top of the list with a jaunt around the hills north of Glenfinnan, and being the shorter of the two (two days as opposed to four), it was the obvious choice. Last time I did a proper multi-day trip carrying all of my stuff was slightly over two years ago, so I thought it better to think small for my re-introduction!

I made a leisurely start, not wanting to catch the 5:30 am bus required to meet the early train to Corrour. Instead I left Inverness on the 8:45 bus, had a good hour and a half bumbling around the shop and toilet at Spean Bridge, and caught the 11:55 train to Corrour, landing me there shortly after 12:30.

Having cycled into Beinn na Lap from Loch Laggan, and done the hills south of Loch Ossian from Ben Alder Cottage, I'd never made this journey or been to Corrour before. A bit of an oversight, as it was a great little train ride down the side of Loch Treig. I snapped a quick photo of the hill I was hoping to end the day on (Creag Guanach), but the Easains also looked really wild from the train. Somehow the conducter failed to charge me for my ticket as well!

Creag Ghuanach from the West Highland Line:
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Day 1: Corrour to Staoineag bothy
Corbetts: Leum Uilleim, Glas Bheinn
Grahams: Beinn na Cloiche, Creag Ghuanach
Date walked: 18/07/2011
Distance: 21 km
Ascent: 1600 m
Time: 6 hours 40 minutes
Weather: Warm, sunny, breezy.

Quite a few people got off the train at Corrour, but everyone else made straight for the YHA/cafe building, so I was on my own almost immediately. It can be a bit daunting leaving the comfort of the car for a multi-day trip at times, but the preceeding train journey had been great at building up the anticipation and I couldn't wait to start.

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A bit of a boggy trundle across the heather initially, but I was soon on the bumpy NE ridge of Leum Uilleim. Higher up, various animal tracks seemed to come together into a trodden path, and the summit was only an hour away (via a work related phone call - that's what happens if you forget to turn your phone off!)

Leum Uilleim from Corrour:
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Corrour Station:
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Loch Ossian:
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On the NE ridge of Leum Uilleim:
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About 30 minutes in, I spotted another train going south. I'm pretty sure this wasn't on the timetable. Any ideas?

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Beinn na Lap, Loch Ossian, Aonach Beag/Alder massif:
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You can see it from everywhere (if you don't spend most of your time in the NW!):
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Great views to the Easains (which dominated the view for most of the day), Loch Ossian, and all the big Glen Coe and Glen Nevis hills. Schiehallion sneaked in too, reminding me that it had been visible on most of my days out when I'd walked more in the central and southern Highlands.

Approaching the summit of Leum Uilleim:
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Rannoch Moor looking to the Bridge of Orchy hills and Ben Lui:
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Easains and Loch Treig:
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Ben Nevis and the Aonachs:
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It was an easy descent and re-ascent to Beinn a Bhric, and it also became apparent that Leum Uilleim was much more massive and sprawling than it appeared from Corrour. A descent of the ill-defined western spur towards Loch Chiarain would probably have been advisable, but I hadn't bothered to get the map out, so took a steeper line straight towards my next target, Beinn na Cloiche. This was a bit painful, and brought home how much more awkward descents were with a heavy pack (some things are easily forgotten!). Looking down onto the SW flank of Meall a Bhainne opposite, I could see what looked like moraine deposits on the top of the hill. Seems odd, as I'd have expected to see them in the valley.

I had thought to look into the bothy at one point, but in the end I didn't bother. Reports from earlier in the year show it to be in a decent state though.

Loch Chiarain and bothy:
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More Easains and Loch Treig:
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Steep descent to Allt Feith Chiarain:
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Once across the Allt Feith Chiarain, I followed the stalker's path towards the bothy for a short while, before heading up onto the rough slopes on my right towards Beinn na Cloiche.

Loch Chiarain bothy with the Buachailles behind:
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Beinn na Cloiche wasn't steep, but it was hard work on rough ground, and I was beginning to feel less fit than I thought I should be. The top made a great stop for a late lunch though, and a perfect reminder not to dismiss the lower, less interesting looking hills. While the view was similar (perhaps slightly inferior) to Leum Uilleim, it struck me that I could see many of the most popular and busy mountains in the Highlands (Ben Lui, Bridge of Orchy hills, Glen Coe hills, Mamores, Ben Nevis, Aonachs, Grey Corries etc), but the only obvious sign of human intervention was the faint scar of the railway line up the side of Loch Treig. No roads or buildings in site at all. There probably aren't that many summits that can boast that! (Yes, we could be pedantic and point out sheep and man-made lochs such as Blackwater Reservoir and Loch Treig, but lets not, shall we?)

Ben Nevis and the Aonachs from Beinn na Cloiche:
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Beinn a Chrulaiste and the Buachailles across Blackwater Reservoir:
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After a lovely break, it was time to move on to Glas Bheinn. There was more rough ground to cross, and rather than ascend the E face of Glas Bheinn directly, I opted to meet the NE ridge about 150m beneath the summit. It was nice to dump the heavy rucksack and pretend to be weightless for the short ascent to the summit. Views down Loch Leven and to the Mamores were stunning.

SE across Blackwater to Stob na Chruaiche and the Glen Lyon hills from the flank of Glas Bheinn:
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Along the long NE ridge of Glas Bheinn to the Easains:
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Aggy Ridge, the pap, and a view straight down Loch Eilde Mor and Loch Leven from Glas Bheinn:
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Big Buachaille from Glas Bheinn:
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I was back at my bag shortly after, and headed along the long NE ridge of Glas Bheinn. This was easy walking, and there was occasional evidence of a path (also some 4x4 tracks). The little bump of Carn Dearg provided a slight elevation for a view back, and then I was hunting for a way down to the Abhainn Rath, the bothy at Staoineag being by destination

Grey Corries in different lights:
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Binnein Beag, the Ben and Aonachs:
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Looking back to Glas Bheinn from Carn Dearg:
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Easains and Creag Ghuanach:
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Down the Abhainn Rath to Staoineag bothy:
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The Allt Gleann na Ghiubhsachain looked quite wide at the confluence with the Abhainn Rath, so I dropped down rough ground further south to reach it at a narrower point. From here it was a sometimes boggy walk along the Abhainn Rath to the bothy. There were some nice tree-lined banks and rapids to enliven the walk.

Abhainn Rath:
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Staoineag bothy:
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Again a nice feeling of ditching the rucksack at the bothy, but I wasn't done yet. After unpacking all of my overnight stuff, I headed back out to climb Creag Ghuanach. I probably could have done this the next day without adding any time to the walk, but I fancied doing it while the weather was good.

Creag Ghuanach looks really impressive from across Loch Treig, and I'd seen mention of a scramble up its NE flank in Farside's recent trip report. However I couldn't be bothered to walk all the way around, so I compromised with a rising traverse instead. This missed most of the proper scrambling out, but gave me some of the views over Loch Treig that I would have missed going straight up from the bothy.

First bit of fun was the Staoineag stepping stones. The water level might have been slightly higher than normal, but not much, and they were still awkward and slippery. One spot where I'd definitely go against my no-walking-poles philosophy in future!

Stepping stones:
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I took a line NE and then up, mainly on steep grass. The bits of rock that protruded were manky and overhanging, and didn't invite scrambling. Some nice arial views of Loch Treig and the Abhainn Rath, and I was up in about 45 minutes.

Back to Staoineag and Sron na Saobhaidhe from the ascent of Creag Ghuanach:
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Dragonfly:
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Abhainn Rath:
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The only rain I had experienced all day was here, and it was only a few drops - the edge of a shower passing down Loch Treig. The summit was a bizarre mixture of rocky outcrops and peat hags, and the views were worth the effort.

Shower coming down Loch Treig:
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Across Beinn na Cloiche to the top of Glen Coe:
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Mamores and the top of Glen Nevis:
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Rainbow on the dull side of Leum Uilleim:
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Small patch of sunshine on Creag Meagaidh:
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Towards Glen Coe again:
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Last patch of sun for me:
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I was glad to have made it here in reasonable conditions, as this hill had stood out on the map to me for years, since way before I knew of the existence of Grahams. I took a straight line back down to the bothy, which was steep and involved a lot of crashing through bracken. Then those stepping stones again.

A nice bothy, and pretty spacious, with two downstairs rooms and the whole of the attic available for sleeping. Being a Monday night, I wasn't surprised to have the place to myself.

Time for dinner:
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Day 2: Staoineag to Spean Bridge
Corbetts: Sgurr Innse, Cruach Innse
Grahams: Cnap Cruinn
Date walked: 19/07/2011
Distance: 26 km
Ascent: 1400 m
Time: 9 hours
Weather: Overcast, in/out of cloud, some showers

The weather had been unexpectedly great yesterday, so much so that I wasn't too fussed if today wasn't up to much. Unsurprisingly, it was rather grey, with the cloud hanging at about 700m. Part of my original plan had been to include the Easains in today's route if the weather was any good. After yesterday, I'd removed them from the list as I was pretty knackered, but I thought I'd make an early start just in case I changed my mind. I was packed up and walking for just after 7:30 am.

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It's quite likely that traversing the rough ground to the west of Creag Ghuanach would have been the shortest way to go, but I wanted to walk round the valleys as it looked more scenic. I wasn't disappointed, as the last 2 km of the Abhainn Rath was very attractive, with waterfalls and gorges. It was almost like a mini version of the Nevis gorge.

Abhainn Rath:
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I passed a couple of other walkers at Creaguaineach Lodge, who looked like they'd just struck camp. The air was very still, and with the amount of midges around, I was glad I'd been in the bothy instead.

Fmck's comment on Bagger's report for Creag Ghuanaich made mention of the run-down state of the lodge, with the inside having been destroyed by visitors. I'd read a note in the bothy log the previous night that it had been cleaned up a bit, and that the gas cooker was useable. Although there was no padlock on the steel shutter over the door, it was a bit jammed, so I didn't bother opening it in the end. Hopefully it hasn't returned to mess again.

Creaguaineach Lodge:
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Drowned sheep pens at Loch Treig:
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Starting my walk up the Allt na Lairige, I got a good view of the scrambly route up Creag Ghuanach - quite likely I'll return to this at some point. The footpath was typical of the area - some good bits, some boggy, but it followed another interesting river. At one point, the path deviated away from the river to run through a sort of mini-gorge.

NE flank of Creag Ghuanach:
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Strange fault that the Allt na Lairige footpath goes through:
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What had been an occasional drop of rain turned to a proper shower now, and the cloud descended on most hills (apart from Stob Ban, which remained clear for much of the day. The path went on and on, and I was rather surprised to find it had taken me over 2 hours to reach the Lairig Leacach bothy.

Stob Ban just about clear of the murk:
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Lairig Leacach bothy:
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I saw a couple of walkers come out of the door - just looking in, judging by their small bags. They were off up Stob Ban before I got close enough to say hello. Anyway, at least Sgurr Innse was mainly cloud free, although this brought its own problems. I knew it was a knobbly hill, but I hadn't appreciated just how big some of the crags were.

Sgurr Innse looks more awkward the closer you get:
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I followed a faint path up the SW spur towards what looked like an impassible crag. Maybe it would look easier close up, I thought, but it didn't. I opted to contour leftwards, looking for a break in the defences, but I didn't find much. I started up steep heather in one place, but the greasy rocks and heavy pack put me off going this way, so I retreated and contoured some more. Eventually I passed a massive fault, where a pinnacle of rock had broken away from the rest of the hill, and met a well worn path on the other side. This was still steep but led me to the summit with no further difficulties.

Hide and seek with Stob Ban:
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Awkward bit of Sgurr Innse - to be avoided in the damp!
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Looking for a route up - probably not here:
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Looking back from the cleft to Stob Ban:
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Luckily my visit to the summit co-incided with a clearing of the cloud, so I got some views. Fairly shortly I reversed my route and carried on descending to the col between Sgurr Innse and Cruach Innse. Another hill to revisit, preferably on a dry day, when there may well be more interesting routes to the summit.

Loch Laggan just visible:
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From Sgurr Innse to Cruach Innse:
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Back to the cleft - not clear from this angle:
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Cruach Innse looked to be more of the same, although not quite as steep. I abandoned my idea of dropping down the northeastern slopes and left my bag at the col. I wasn't so lucky with the cloud this time, as I went into it just at the top of the steep section.

The top of Cruach Innse is a bit of a plateau, and quite different in character to the south end. Walking is easy across short heather and quartz blocks. Back down the same route, and I observed some interesting faults and large boulderfields on the SW flank.

Back to Sgurr Innse from the ascent of Cruach Innse:
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Massive jumble of boulders on Cruach Innse:
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Back at the rucksack, and I could see towards my final summit of the day - Cnap Cruinn. Despite being lower than all the surrounding hills, it stubbornly clung onto a thicker layer of cloud than the rest of them. It was a boggy trot across the corrie to the western flanks of the hill, then a straightforward but unexciting ascent through heather to the SW summit. The mist stayed down as I traversed to the main summit, then N onto Beinn Chlianaig. In fact it was the only part of the entire trip where I needed the compass, or even had to pay much attention to the map!

Shoulder of Cnap Cruinn and shoulder of Stob a Choire Mheadhoin:
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Bit of a shame, as despite the sprawling appearence, I'd had this hill earmarked as one which probably had good views from its summit. The entire summit area could have been pleasant too - a mixture of the short heather and moss more common in Sutherland, some small rocky outcrops and the odd peat hag. As it was, it was a dreary trudge, and I was glad it was now downhill all the way home.

If anything, the mist had come down even further, and I crashed about the surprisingly steep western tip of the hill for what seemed like an age before emerging from the cloud at about 500m. Roybridge was right in front of me, and as I got lower, it became apparent that lots of the other higher hills had much less cloud on them.

Roybridge appears from the murk:
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Druim Fada and Meall a Phubuill across Glen Spean:
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Crashing over bog and crossing the Allt Bheinn Clianaig brought me to a nicely surfaced vehicle track, which delivered me to the farm of Insh. It was an hour's walk from here back to Spean Bridge, where I was two hours early for my bus home. Despite the tarmac of the last 3 miles, it was a nice quiet walk, with only 2 or 3 cars passing by.

Nearly there:
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I was pretty knackered at the end - far more than I thought I should be. Luckily there was a bar right next to the bus stop, and while it seemed depressingly empty, it meant that they were quite happy to serve a smelly tramp like me! Must've been one of the nicest pints I've had.
Last edited by malky_c on Wed Jul 20, 2011 3:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Finally! Corrour to Spean Bridge overnighter

Postby Stretch » Wed Jul 20, 2011 3:42 pm

Awesome report and pics Malky, one of your best. :thumbup:
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Re: Finally! Corrour to Spean Bridge overnighter

Postby kev_russ » Wed Jul 20, 2011 4:12 pm

Stunning :)
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Re: Finally! Corrour to Spean Bridge overnighter

Postby dooterbang » Wed Jul 20, 2011 5:51 pm

A fine description of yourself "smelly tramp" :lol:

This report must have taken days :shock:

Brilliant descriptive read and some great photos.

Great viewpoint to surrounding hills, glad you got some views for your efforts.

Nice to see you early for the bus and not racing against time - i think your fitness is back to its best.
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Re: Finally! Corrour to Spean Bridge overnighter

Postby kinley » Wed Jul 20, 2011 6:18 pm

Good effort - been doodling some routes around this area too so that was interesting.

Lovely evening light on the Graham.

I took perverse pleasure in reading how tired you were - I'm sure it won't last :lol:
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Re: Finally! Corrour to Spean Bridge overnighter

Postby rockhopper » Wed Jul 20, 2011 9:13 pm

A cracker of a report malky - I really enjoyed reading it right through :thumbup:

It must've taken some planning and a definite one in the bag for public transport. :D
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Re: Finally! Corrour to Spean Bridge overnighter

Postby gammy leg walker » Wed Jul 20, 2011 9:43 pm

Brilliant read malky,enjoyed it that much have now read it 3 times,I can only dream of ever doing anything along these lines,so jealous when ever a report like this is posted
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Re: Finally! Corrour to Spean Bridge overnighter

Postby Johnny Corbett » Wed Jul 20, 2011 9:44 pm

Very enjoyable and interesting report made all the better with the fine weather you got, good effort
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Re: Finally! Corrour to Spean Bridge overnighter

Postby malky_c » Fri Jul 22, 2011 3:36 pm

Cheers all, had a great time, and hope to do at least one more of these this year (unlike Kinley and the like, who do it almost every weekend :mrgreen: )

dooterbang wrote:This report must have taken days :shock:


If I do anything longer I'll need a secretary to write it up :lol:

dooterbang wrote:Nice to see you early for the bus and not racing against time - i think your fitness is back to its best.


kinley wrote:I took perverse pleasure in reading how tired you were - I'm sure it won't last :lol:


Kinley is closer to the mark I'm afraid. I seem to have started something I can't finish with this Mullardoch round business - I don't think I'm actually fit enough right now :? . Still, maybe another session of weightlifting my pack across loads of bog will help :wink:
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Re: Finally! Corrour to Spean Bridge overnighter

Postby joenorris » Sun Jan 22, 2012 11:41 am

What a great report, inspiring.

I think I'll spend the rest of the day obsessively planning multi-day trips that will inevitably never come to fruition.

Nice one Malky.
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Re: Finally! Corrour to Spean Bridge overnighter

Postby past my sell by date » Mon Nov 24, 2014 3:07 pm

Great walk and report. Leum Ileum on its own from Corrour looks a real pain as it seems you'd have to wait several hours for the train back, or make a very boggy traverse to Pharlagan and then back to kinlochrannoch
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Re: Finally! Corrour to Spean Bridge overnighter

Postby basscadet » Mon Nov 24, 2014 5:14 pm

Loved it 8)
Thanks for posting :D
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