A long trek

Quiet lineThis past weekend, Nicole and I were away hillwalking with a group of friends from Glasgow.  Our base was a hostel near Roy Bridge, and our route was Corrour to Spean Bridge.  The start and end points lie on the famous and beautiful Glasgow to Mallaig train line, and so we headed by train to Corrour and walked back.

This webpage more or less describes the route we took, in reverse anyway.  It was hard work – taking us a probably quite sluggish eleven hours in total – but a lovely day, and immensely satisfying to have made it to the end with only a couple of blisters and muscle aches to show for it.

Loch Ossian youth hostel Starting out with a thirty minute journey from Spean Bridge to Corrour, we were able to take in some of the scenery from the route that is often described as one of the world’s best.  It’s not a line I know well, but it’s certainly lovely, the stretch that we travelled taking in some lovely view of Loch Trieg, a spot we’d soon return to on foot.

From Corrour station (right), site of a notorious scene from Trainspotting, we walked nearly to the rustic and picturesque Loch Ossian hostel (left) where I’ve stayed before (1|2), and then back towards the trainline, Loch Trieg again (below), and then northwards through the Grey Corries.

The weather was mostly good, with warm sunshine and a pleasant breeze that kept the midges at bay.  The only drawback was sharing part of the route with an endless stream of cross country motorcyclists, clearly on some major race.  We crossed the river at one point to get away from them and the smell of burning fuel, only to find that they later did the same, necessitating a second crossing back.

Loch Trieg panorama - but click for all the others

Having shaken off the bikes we took on the one peak of our walk: Stob Ban, standing modestly among the Grey Corries but a challenging climb nevertheless as there was a moderate amount of snow at the top, plus the occasional strong gust.  We took on the comparatively easy east face, but encountered a couple of guys near the top who had, with crampons and ice axes, navigated the much more difficult north face.  They said it was quite hairy.  “We were making buttons at one point”, one of them said.  I have to confess I had to google the phrase later.

From near the topNot that our own ascent wasn’t without its nervous moments.  I’m awful with heights (yes, I don’t quite know how I reconcile this fear with a love of hillwalking either), and the snowy ridge we climbed near the top rendered terrifyingly spectacular views over the steep sides.

Fifteen miles laterUpon (eventually) descending again, a bothy (boasting graffiti from the 1930s) provided a brief respite, before the final two and a half hour slog back to Spean Bridge through a long glen, past the Wee Minister, and through a few gates.

I definitely deserved my beer at the end of it.  I’d been fantasising about my chilled bottle of magnificent limited edition Ardmore Beast all day, and it tasted amazing.

Beer always does though, once you feel you’ve earned it.

The customary haul of photos can be found on Flickr.


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