Thursday, 8 April 2010

39: Loch Ossian trio (part 2)

Beinn na Lap   8th April 2010

Rannoch Station
A chance to combine two of my interests - mountains and railways!  Beinn na Lap, above Loch Ossian, can only easily be reached by train from the remote Corrour Station.

And so it was, that Anne, Fiona and I set off from our wee holiday cottage at Kinloch Rannoch for the lovely drive up Loch Rannoch to Rannoch Station to catch the 11.08 train to Corrour.  

The train was delayed 50 minutes due to some problem further south, but it was no hardship waiting in such an attractive location.  

Eventually the train trundled into view, and we climbed on board for the 12 minute journey across the desolate Rannoch Moor to Corrour.   

We watched the train trundle on northwards out of sight, then took a short walk along the track to wards Loch Ossian to where a boggy path headed off up the rather uninviting slopes of Beinn na Lap (right).  

A brief sandwich stop, and we were off. 

Fortunately the "path" became a bit drier higher up, and we made steady progress towards the snowy skyline.

Kicking steps up the final snowy slope (left) to the ridge was a pleasant diversion from the grassy trudge.

Once on the ridge, the going became easier, the ground firmer underfoot, and soon we were approaching the summit area.  The actual summit was at the far end of the hill, and we were glad to get some shelter form the cold wind behind the summit cairn and rocks at 2.30pm, 2 hours 15 minutes after leaving the station.

Although an undramatic hill, the views were good across Loch Ossian to Ben Alder and to the hills we had climbed yesterday, Carn Dearg and Sgor Gaibhre (above).

We descended by a slightly different (and drier) route, slanting across the face of the hill and dropping down to the northern shore of Loch Ossian (right).

Our return train wasn't due until 18.25, so we had a couple of hours spare to explore around the loch and the Youth Hostel. 

Loch Ossian Youth Hostel (left)

Corrour Station, with Corbett Leum Uilleam beyond.
Then back along the track to Corrour Station, for the train back to Rannoch.


1 Munro
9km walk.
550m climbing.

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

41,40: Loch Ossian trio (part 1)

Busy weekends setting AH Computing exam, and a week's holiday in Spain (Seville, Madrid, Bilbao) meant that there was no more Munro-ing in autumn 2009, so the year ended on a tally of 242 (or 241 in "new money").

Kinloch Rannoch from Creag Varr
The 2010 season opened, then, with 42 to go!   We decided to really go for it this year, with a view to "compleating" in 2011.

First target was the trio around Loch Ossian, so we booked a cottage for a week in Kinloch Rannoch (right) for the first week of April.  Our cottage, Cnoc Eoghainn, was quaint but comfy, with an open fire - it's the 2nd last house on the left heading out of the village towards the loch (right).

view south across Loch Eigheach at the start of the route

The weather wasn't great at the start of the week, with intermittent rain and low cloud. but the forecast for Wednesday was good, so Anne and I headed off at 9am up the wee road along the north shore of Loch Rannoch to the start of the old drove "road to the isles" beside Loch Eigheach, just a mile short of Rannoch Station.

Bikes out, and off up the track in the chilly morning air.  The track was rough and steep in places, but we were able to cycle about 3km before abandoning the bikes, and continuing on foot.  We followed the path gradually uphill for a further 3 or 4 km to its highest point, then struck up the grassy hillside to the right to reach Carn Dearg's long south ridge.  The legs were feeling a bit sluggish on their first outing after the winter rest!

looking west from Carn Dearg, across Rannoch Moor towards Glencoe
Once on the ridge, the going was easier over a succession of small tops, each one higher than the one before.  To the west, Rannoch Moor was spread out, with the Black Mount beyond.  We reached Carn Dearg's summit (941m) at 1.40pm, and were glad to sit down for a 15 minute lunch stop.   Time was marching on, though, with the daylight still fairly short, so we couldn't linger.

east from Carn Dearg towards Sgor Gaibhre (right), with Ben Alder beyond

From Carn Dearg, gentle slopes led us down to the Mam Ban at 700m, then steadily up towards Sgor Gaibhre.  Halfway up this slope, I cut across left towards the col, while Anne continued directly up towards the summit.   My detour led across snowy patches toward Bealach nan Sgor, then up a short steep slope to the outlying top, Sgor Choinnich (929m).  As I descended, a snow/hail squall blew in from the north, and hid Sgor Gaibhre for 20 minutes.  Meanwhile, Anne was sheltering behind the cairn waiting for me to emerge.  As it cleared, I made my way up alongside a fine sweeping cornice, to meet Anne on the second Munro of the day.

Now, time to head back to the bikes and car.  The first part was very easy going, down Sgor Gaibhre's long south ridge to the Bealach Leachainn at 700m.  Decision time - to strike off east into Coire Eigheach, but this looked like miles of peat hag, or to continue up and over Beinn Pharlagain.  We chose the latter, but it was hard going, with no paths, a bitterly cold wind at our backs, tired legs, and rough terrain.  We threaded a route up through rocky outcrops to Lochan Meoigach (right) - entirely frozen over - and between it and  Meall na Meoig (a Corbett, but left for another day!).  

Schihallion looked impressive - like a Scottish Matterhorn -  away to the east beyond Loch Ericht and the interveining moorland (left).

We picked a route over the next outcrop, then onto Ben Pharlagain itself (807m), continuing along its ridge for a while, before slanting off to the right down steep grassy slopes to rejoin the track a few hundred metres above where we had left the bikes.   

Finally, a quick whizz back downhill, to reach the car at 7.40pm.


2 Munros + 1 Top
18km walk.
6km cycle.
1250m climbing.
8hrs 40mins.

Later that evening, we had a long journey in the other direction, to pick up Fiona (joining us at the cottage for a few days) from the train at Pitlochry.

Decided that, with a reasonable forecast for Thursday, she would join us for her 3rd Munro - Beinn na Lap.