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A greyish traverse of the Black Corries

A greyish traverse of the Black Corries


Postby malky_c » Sun Sep 27, 2015 4:44 pm

Corbetts included on this walk: Beinn Pharlagain

Grahams included on this walk: Stob na Cruaiche

Sub 2000' hills included on this walk: Sron Smeur

Date walked: 26/09/2015

Time taken: 9.4 hours

Distance: 36 km

Ascent: 1455m

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Corbetts: Beinn Pharlagain.
Grahams: Stob na Cruaiche.
Sub 2k Marilyns: Sron Smeur.
Date: 26/09/2015.
Distance: 36km.
Ascent: 1455m.
Time taken: 9 hours, 20 minutes.
Weather: Grey with some drifting cloud, improving later. Warm and calm.

This is a variation on a route that I came up with earlier in the year. A Corrour start and the inclusion of the two Munros south of Loch Ossian was the preferred option, but try as I might, I couldn't shoehorn it all into the train and bus timetables. An overnighter with the tent seemed to be the answer, but I've had more than my share of weekends away this year (with a couple more to come hopefully), so I settled for a day version instead.


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It was an early start - I got the 5:30am Fort William bus to myself for the whole journey, but the train south from there was almost full. Even in the grey weather, the train journey across Rannoch Moor is worth it. I was off the train at 8:40am and walking down the road by 9.

Rannoch Station:
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Loch Eigheach and Meall Buidhe:
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The weather was as forecast - grey but benign, and the cloud was gradually lifting off some of the hills. I was heading for the Road to the Isles but took a shortcut immediately after crossing the bridge over the Eigheach. I crossed right over the (much upgraded) Road to the Isles and carried on up the southern slopes of Sron Smeur. This was wet in places but not especially steep or hard going.

Deer on Sron Smeur:
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Sron Smeur was a nice little addition to the walk, particularly as some of the higher hills were still in the cloud and viewless.

Loch Ericht from Sron Smeur:
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I followed a deer fence steeply down the north face and strolled across the sandy beach of Lochan Sron Smeur. Not much sign of any midges, but the deer keds were out in force instead. Not really a problem if I kept moving.

Lochan Sron Smeur:
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Descending to the lochan, Schiehallion behind:
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Nice beach:
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On the north side of the lochan, I climbed heathery slopes towards Beinn Pharlagain, disturbing a herd of deer which fled over the horizon. Unfortunately the cloud was still skimming the summit, so views were intermittent. The adjacent lochan looked like a good future camping spot.

Back to Sron Smeur:
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Deer on Beinn Pharlagain:
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Lochan Meoigach:
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Mountains to the west are beginning to clear:
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In order to reach the Black Corries on the other side of the railway, I didn't really want to retrace my steps back to the station. Instead I aimed for the snow tunnel which covers a cutting at one of the high points of the railway. First I descended over more heather to meet the Allt Eigheach at the new hydro intake that was being constructed. While under construction, this stands out like a sore thumb, but I was also quite interested in it from an engineering perspective as I have designed similar things in the past

New hydro intake on Allt Eigheach:
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The access track to the intake went in my direction so I followed it for a short while, leaving it once it met the Road to the Isles. Now it was onto rough moorland and bog to reach the railway.

Schiehallion and Sron Smeur:
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I missed getting a photo of a train about 10 minutes before reaching the railway line. The line itself isn't overly obvious once you are down at the same level as it, so there is something satisfyingly eerie about suddenly seeing a train moving across the bog in the middle of nowhere :D . I reached the snow tunnel at the wrong end - there is a proper footbridge at the southern end. I managed to resist the urge to cross the corrugated sheet roof - there is a high chance that this would collapse under the weight of a person due to the amount of rust on it. Even just dislodging a section onto the tracks below would be potentially stupid and dangerous, so I made my way over the rough ground to the footbridge.

Snow tunnel on the West Highland line:
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The ground on the west side of the line was harder going initially, until I had climbed above the fenced plantation enclosure. The sun was now promising to brighten the day, with the odd beam piercing the clouds. Would things clear fully?

Lochan a’ Chlaidheimh:
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A bit of sunshine:
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The gradient eased on Meall Liath na Doire, but the peat hags on the ridge between here and Meall a' Bhuirich were hard work, requiring some interesting routefinding around the deeper pools of mud.

Loch Rannoch and Loch Eigheach:
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On Meall a' Bhuirich, there were memorials to 3 people from the same family, presumably of the estate. The water content of the scenery was also beginning to equal that in my boots, with the string of lochs from Loch Rannoch laid out behind, and Loch Laidon to my left.

Memorials on Meall a’ Bhuirich:
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The ground was still rough between here and Stob na Cruaiche but with less deep peaty pools. Right before the summit cone, the sun popped out briefly and I was suddenly on a faint vehicle track that appeared from the northern flank of the hill. Possibly a better way up than following the skyline.

Sunshine on the summit of Stob na Cruiache:
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The sun didn't ever break through in the way I'd hoped, but even without it, the maze of lochs on Rannoch Moor was impressive. The Western Isles and the far NW are the only other places in the country you get this sort of scenery. It had me thinking that Loch Ba and Loch Laidon would probably be ideal candidates for another adventure in the inflatable canoe.

Bridge of Orchy hills across Loch Laidon:
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Black Mount hills:
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Summit photo:
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Mamores and Blackwater Reservoir (Ben Nevis in background):
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Bridge of Orchy hills:
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And now to walk out to the Kingshouse. It looked a long way away! There was a faint vehicle track to follow west, so the going was a little easier than the ridge so far. I intended to pick up the stalkers path shown on the map lower down, and follow it out to Black Corries Lodge. I could soon see that it had been upgraded into a vehicle track for much of the way. Once on it, the walk out was quite rapid.

Beinn a’ Chrulaiste and some new estate tracks:
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As I edged west, the scenery around the top of Glencoe and Glen Etive got bigger and more impressive. Quite a difference to the rolling Perthshire hills at the start of the walk.

Big Buachaille:
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Mamores:
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Lochan Meall a’ Phuill and Glen Etive:
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Lochan Meall a’ Phuill:
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Horse with fencepost:
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There is a track which bypasses Black Corries Lodge, after which the going is almost of minor road standard. I had a break down by the infant River Etive, which was fine in the breeze. Further down, I stopped to get changed into trousers and a clean top, and the midges had emerged in ;large droves :shock: . It almost made me feel slightly sorry for the people camping around the Kingshouse.

Blackmount and Buachaille Etive Mor:
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Blackmount:
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Stob na Cruaiche now seems a long way away:
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Buachaille Etive Mor:
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I can almost smell the beer:
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With the walk nearly over, I went into the Kingshouse for a pint and to use up some of the 80 minutes I had before the bus was due. Trade Winds and Wildcat on tap - not bad but was hoping for something a little more exciting. Perhaps it's just because Cairngorm ales are pretty much ubiquitous to everywhere claiming to sell real ale in Inverness and around.

After a pint of Trade Winds, it was back outside for the last 20 minutes of the walk up the old road to the bus stop. While the sun never really came through during the day, the last light was particularly atmospheric.

Despite being a listed bus stop, there is no layby or pull-off at the Black Corries ski road. with a blind summit just behind and traffic hammering along in both directions, I wouldn't have blamed the driver if he hadn't stopped for me, although I'd have been pretty hacked off.

Last light from the bus stop:
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There was another layover in Fort William (where I nipped to the Nevisport bar for a pint of Red MacGregor - seemed to be some kind of rugby match on :roll: ), before jumping on the last bus to Inverness, which I finally reached at 10:30pm, not really relishing the cycle home up the hill.

An interesting outing which could have been better with more sunshine. I was quite pleased that this was possible by public transport as a daytrip, as it really doesn't look that probable. Reminds me of when I discovered that it was possible to use the train to do a full traverse of the Cadair Idris range in a day from Birmingham - another idea that would seem unlikely.

Note:this is no longer possible by public transport from Inverness due to a re-vamp of bus timetables (I doubt there was a huge queue forming anyway). You'd need to move at about 10mph to fit it in now!
Last edited by malky_c on Tue Oct 31, 2017 10:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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malky_c
 
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Re: A greyish traverse of the Black Corries

Postby Graeme D » Tue Sep 29, 2015 9:15 pm

I was just a few hours behind you on a train on the Corrour-Rannoch stretch coming back from a Gold assessment. The kids commented on the amount of hydro work going on along the track from the Rannoch road to Lubnaclach, and there was a huge amount going on further out towards and around Loch Treig.
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Graeme D
 
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Re: A greyish traverse of the Black Corries

Postby malky_c » Tue Sep 29, 2015 9:35 pm

Was that the 12:30ish train from Corrour? Saw it going by - if I'd just been 10 minutes faster, you could have pointed out the idiot specimen wading though the peat hags next to the track in his shorts :oops: . I'm guessing that was your minibus parked up at Rannoch too.

Lots of hydro for sure. I believe there will be one going in near the Lairig Leacach bothy soon. Subsidy cut due in the next year or two, so the amount being built will probably drop off a bit.
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malky_c
 
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Re: A greyish traverse of the Black Corries

Postby Graeme D » Tue Sep 29, 2015 9:43 pm

No, we were on the train at the back of 6, but yes that was our minibus at Rannoch. I had to drive it back to Perth that night while listening to a CD of acid house beats that the kids found in the glove compartment! :evil:
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Re: A greyish traverse of the Black Corries

Postby Collaciotach » Tue Sep 29, 2015 10:13 pm

Thats a good report and especially liked the pic of the snow tunnel .

A grand place Am Mòine Mor :clap: :clap:
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Re: A greyish traverse of the Black Corries

Postby rockhopper » Fri Oct 02, 2015 5:56 pm

Quite a route - takes in a big area. I see you also came across the new hydro - suspect the jury is still out on the new tracks which are being built as a result.
Maybe not much sun but an awful lot drier than my last trip here :roll: - cheers :)
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