I've been working up to my first multi-day expedition like this for some time, accruing the bits and bobs of kit off eBay for the last month or so. The end of May seemed like the cut off before the midges, so it was now or never.
I wanted to go somewhere new to me, and with the convenience of being able to take the train and leave the car at home for the family to use over the weekend, a Corrour - Rannoch loop seemed like a good idea.
It almost ended in disaster before it started on the Friday morning as I realised just after I bought my ticket into Queen Street that I'd left my boots in the front of the car which my wife was now driving off in, and she'd left her phone at home! Panic set in only for her to come screaming into the Lenzie station car park where I was helplessly pacing about a minute before my train came. What a hero.
The train up to Corrour was fairly busy, but a good busy. It being a sunny morning and the train laden with happy excited people all heading out on adventures, there was a nice buzz on the train which I quite enjoyed. Started applying the sunblock and got boots on at Bridge of Orchy, only to find my hands were actually shoogling in excitement at the idea of getting off at Corrour and not coming back to the tracks til Sunday.
Away the train goes from Corrour. Renton was wrong about being Scottish.
The view ahead, crazy to think I'd be sleeping on the other side of that horizon that night!
The train got in about half past eleven and about 20 folk got off, of which half crossed the tracks heading West, and half followed the track to Loch Ossian. One guy went south, presumably up Carn Dearg, the rest went up Beinn na Lap, and before I knew it I was on my own walking along the landrover track on the north side of Loch Ossian. It was hot and the trees gave some welcome shade.
Not a bad walk in!
At the end of the loch there was some building work going on at the lodge which kind of spoiled the sense of isolation, but only for a little bit. Before I was at the end of the track at a new micro hydro scheme and looking up at my ascent up Beinn Eibhinn. I aimed up the heathery shoulder with back to the sun, and got stuck into my first real bit of ascent bearing a weight. Perhaps it was the initial buzz having worn off over the last hour, or the heat, or the bog, but I found this tough going, especially with such a long way to go.
Looking north up Srath Ossian. The OS map shows how the left side is Alasdair's side and the right is Sorley's side. Anyone know about what this is about?
End of the road
Back where I'd come from. The train station is just past the end of the loch.
First view of the way ahead over Aonach Beag to Geal Charn.
But eventually I got to the top where I had an unfamiliar view north across the Spean Bridge to A9 road. At this point the wind really started to pick up, and blowing from the side the effect of it twisting my pretty large backpack was getting me annoyed, an honestly I wasn't particularly enjoying my walk! Sulking I just marched straight on when I got to the top of Beinn Eibhinn, my first Munro of the day, and got down out of the wind at the low point in the ridge to Aonach Beag, where I brewed up a cup of coffee and felt much better. I met the first of my two fellow walkers here a nice guy from Wales, camping somewhere down to the north towards Roy Bridge.
A nice ridge to walk
Looking back to Beinn Eibhinn, nicer from this direction, as were nearly all the hills around here.
Continuing on, the ridge up and over Aonach Beag was nice enough, and I don't remember much ascent at all on the way up to Geal Charn, where the wind started to die down a bit as evening approached. Met my second walker here, a real intrepid dude who was going on to do Aonach Beag, Beinn Eibhinn, AND Beinn a'Chlachair, before heading back to Culra where I was going. Wished him well and off he sped.
I thought from having read up on here before hand not to expect much from Geal Charn, wieghing in at a humble 170 on the "Munros by User Rating", two places beneath Beinn Eibhinn. And it is after all called "Geal Charn"! To read of all it really has going for it is the fact that's on a ridge making it doable with 3 other Munros. Well, I am going to fly the flag for Geal Charn being a very fine hill indeed, with a lot going for it. It had a lovely plateau top, not one of those horribly endless boulder fields in the cairngorms, but a gently sloping yellow grass meadow, which was lovely to walk on. The ridge onwards to Carn Dearg is really nice with corrie lochs on both sides. It's remote. And it has the celebrated, if somewhat poncy-sounding Lancet Edge to scramble up from Culra (which I haven't done). In fact I though it looked better from Culra than Ben Alder did, at least it certainly held it's own. It is to Geal Charns what the AE one is to Meall Deargs. Okay maybe not quite, but you get the idea.
The meadow plateau which would be a nice spot for a high altitude music festival (properly policed, it must not, repeat not, turn into an all night rave)
A burn forming.
Ahead to Carn Dearg.
Behind to Geal Charn.
Carn Dearg on the other hand is basically a viewpoint for Ben Alder and Geal Charn...
...as well as being a nice spot for my tea at about 8pm.
Descending to Culra I saw these interesting wee flowers, any ideas?
After a rough-ish start up Beinn Eibhinn, I found that by the time I was on the later two munros I was really starting to enjoy myself. Probably having Culra in sight, and knowing I had managed my plan for the day had a lot to do with it. Camping at Culra was just perfect. Still but no midges, and a really clear but warm night. Cup of tea and off to sleep, getting up about 6.
The morning view.
Ben Alder today!
The plan was to go up the Long Leachas, call home from the top of Ben Alder, down and up to Beinn Bheoil and then descend to Ben Alder Cottage for an early night. Headed up the path where I was overtaken by the guy from last night, this time on a bike going up to walk Beinn Bheoil, hats off to the guy. Was also overtaken by a rude man who didn't stop to say hello, the kind of thing you expect on Ben Lomond but not all the way out here. He must have been in a rush to get home.
Clouds started to form over the hill, which was a welcome relief, and spared me having to cover up in sunblock. Scrambling with a big pack and poles was a new experience for me, but one which I actually enjoyed since it slowed my down (a lot) and it lasted longer. Usually scrambling's more of a sprint for me, and often it's over all too soon. Felt proud of myself getting to the top. There's a lot of boulders to cross to get from there to the summit, but you miss the worst of it by staying close to the grassier edge of the hill. The views were brilliant, but not as clear as yesterday, and the clouds were threatening rain.
Looking back down the Long Leachas
Across to the East
I enjoyed sitting out of the wind by the trig point and having my lunch with a view of yesterday's walk. I was pleased with my achievements and in particularly the timing of getting to the top before the clouds came in, which the did within half an hour of setting off for the bealach.
Satisfied with my aventures, and with munro number 100 on Ben Alder seeming like a nice place to stop, I decided to forego the pleasure on Beinn Bhoil in the dreich and get to Ben Alder Cottage before it got too wet. I could always come back for a trip from Dalwhinnie in future, and it's not on my list anyway.
Getting to Ben Alder Cottage was very nice, spitting rain, but still warm and calm. I got myself cleaned up unpacked, before settling down for a brew and a read in my veranda I strung up outside to keep the rain off.
Ben Alder Cottage
Making myself at home.
There was a constant stream of somewhat extreme mountain bikers on passing through on their way to Foinaven (yes, that's right, see www.highlandtrail.net). One of them, a doctor from America, stopped in for a coffee and a chat before heading off up towards the bealach to the west of Ben Alder. Not something that appeals to me! He warned me of the boggy walk out I faced tomorrow on the way to the Loch Ericht track.
Had dinner, read more, fell asleep, and woke up to the alarm at 6am. Would have slept all morning! Got away at about quarter to seven. The only one at the bothy, my first time.
I had 6 hours to make the train from Rannoch, but would have long road walk, which gave me hope of a lift at getting their early enough to enjoy the tearoom!
Looking back in the morning light.
The walk out was a delight. Once past the worst of the peat canyons, it was nice to make up time along the track to the south of Loch Ericht and then up and over the hill to the west end of Loch Rannoch. Cuckoos and skylarks calling all the way with the Siskins looking particularly vivid.
The view up Loch Ericht
I got a lift from a lovely German couple on holiday from Stuttgart, and enjoyed about an hour and a half at the platform filling my time with egg roll, bacon roll, tea, beer, and so on
A nice beer, "Ossian" by the Inveralmond Brewery, not sure about the image of the Storr, minus the old man, on it though?!
Noticed this sculpture and plaque at the end of the platform. "Financier" is a euphemism for slave trader.
A quick look on the database published by UCL a few years ago showed that James Renton was compensated to the tune of £9,584 for the loss of his slaves in Jamaica following abolition in 1833. (That's about £7.4m in today's money, none of which would have made it to the freed slaves themselves). I'd heard that the Fort William-Mallaig line was similarly financed. Worth sparing a thought for those who lost so much, as we enjoy the benefits all these years on. It certainly adds a layer of irony to Renton's rant on Scotland's colonial victimhood in Trainspotting, just a stop up the tracks from here.
The train coming! The one waiting at the platform was the Royal Scotsman, 10 cars, chartered by one customer according to the conductor
All in all a fantastic walk, and a lovely train journey back to Glasgow to reflect on it all. What a privilege!
Day 1 14miles 1345m asc
Day 2 5.9miles 778m asc
Day 3 10.7miles 304m asc
Share your personal walking route experiences in Scotland, and comment on other peoples' reports.
Warning Please note that hillwalking when there is snow lying requires an ice-axe, crampons and the knowledge, experience and skill to use them correctly. Summer routes may not be viable or appropriate in winter. See winter information on our skills and safety pages for more information.