Rannoch to Spean Bridge via some hills

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By rockhopper on 19/09/15 at 12:04am

Hills walked:
Beinn Pharlagain - Meall na Meoig (Corbett, Marilyn, HuMP, High Hill of Britain, Yeaman, Sim, and Tump)
Leum Uilleim (Corbett, Marilyn, HuMP, High Hill of Britain, Yeaman, Sim, and Tump)
Sgurr Innse (Corbett, Marilyn, HuMP, Yeaman, Sim, and Tump)
Cruach Innse (Corbett, Marilyn, HuMP, High Hill of Britain, Yeaman, Sim, and Tump)
Date started:12/09/2015
Distance:63.0 km or 39.1 miles
Ascent:2400m or 7874ft
Start OSGB:NN423578
Time taken:23:00

Corbetts: Meall na Meoig of Beinn Pharlagain, Leum Uilleim, Sgurr Innse, Cruach Innse Date: 12 - 14 sept 2015 Distance: 63km approx Ascent: 2,400m approx Time: 17hrs - move, 6hrs - stops Attendees: me

Had been looking at different ways to approach these central corbetts and decided on a point to point route - booked train tickets in advance and kept my fingers crossed for the weather. Obviously didn't work as the good weather during the week was forecast to deteriorate rapidly on the Saturday - forecast just seemed to get worse and worse with gale force winds and driving rain.

Initial plan was on day 1 to walk Beinn Pharlagain then go over the munros Sgor Gaibhre and Carn Dearg to get to Loch Ossian and set up the tent. Not much height gain for the munros and probably less distance than doubling back from the Corbett. This was to be the first of two changes in the plan.......

Day 1 Rannoch to Loch Ossian

Not a good sign - already raining when my wife gave me a lift down to the station early morning. Nice though not to have to drive for a change. Alighted at Rannoch at the same time as a group of Scouts who were walking the "Road to the Isles" to Corrour, camping over night then getting the train back to Glasgow.

Walked along the road for 2-3km then left up the "Road to the Isles". There's a lot of work being carried out on it for hydro access - no longer the boggy track of old.

Constant rain and the wind was already very strong - not auguring well for going any higher. Didn't take any photos as there was no point really. Good track so stayed on it as long as I could - not long after it forks off up to Corrour I set off east towards Beinn Pharlagain.

Found a suitable point to cross the Allt Eigheach then over boggy moorland to ascend Beinn Pharlagain. The wind was getting stronger and stronger as I gained height - in theory coming off the south it should be mostly behind me but some of the gusts were very strong - nearly got blown over a few times despite carrying the heavy pack.

Pushed on until I got to the summit of Meall na Meoig - quick photo in the rain and clag

Change of plan at this point. The wind gusts were bad enough sub 900m and no way did I want to try going any higher. I knew that doubling back would probably be longer in distance terms but much more favourable than trying to go higher. Continued on round a wee lochan then west and down to get back to the Allt.

Further down there was more evidence of some of the hydro works.

I then contoured round the base of Sron Leachd a' Chaorainn before starting the walk up the track towards Loch Ossian. Further up the rain started to abate a little and the sun actually appeared for a short time.

Good track all the way up to Loch Ossian now

Met some people in a Landrover heading towards me. The driver advised that they were staying at the shooting lodge as they had done for several years but had never seen this road before - he asked how far down it went. Explained that it starts at the Rannoch road but there's a gate which I had to walk round. They continued on and theme reappeared some time later on their way back up - said hello again.

Came across a notice which explained about a bright new future for Corrour Estate and the investment in three hydro schemes, hence the level of construction activity. The hydro schemes are expected to provide electricity for 50 years for both the estate's needs and those of up to 2,000 households.

Continued on past the ruin of the old lodge then down past Peter's Rock (for which I forgot to look out) and down towards Loch Ossian

The rain had been off for a wee while but had now started again. Found a spot beside the loch and set up the tent as quickly as I could - still got wet though. Turned out to be somewhat lumpy ground but I wasn't for trying to resite the tent by now. Got out of my wet clothes, cooked up dinner then got to bed. The wind did drop a bit then strengthened during the night. Rain on and off. Didn't sleep well due to this and the ground but then I never sleep well in a tent anyway.

Day 2 Loch Ossian to Lairig Leacach

The plan for today was to copy one of malkyC's routes over Leum Uilleim then on to Beinn na Cloiche and Glas Bheinn before heading north to Staoineag bothy possibly with Creag Ghuanach at some point. I knew I could take longer as I could return to Glasgow late Monday or early Tuesday - not being super human like malkyC, I reckoned it would take me a bit longer anyway. That, however, was the plan - like the previous day, it was about to be altered significantly.

It was dry when I got up and things were looking a bit brighter. Was still very tired due to lack of sleep and Saturday's walk in the wind had taken more out of me than I thought it would.

Had a good breakfast, packed up and set off towards Corrour.

It was quite boggy but picked up a quad bike trail which helped - followed it uphill.

Looking back to Loch Ossian

Found a track for part of the way but nearer the top the cloud rolled in and visibility was right down again.

Still harbouring plans to get over to Glas Bheinn, I walked westwards to the summit of Beinn a Bhric. Some decent views from here as the clag had lifted for a short time.

Then over to a wee lochan - ripples showing that the wind has strengthened a lot again.

Decision time. I could see dark grey clouds and some rain approaching in the distance and had no desire to get over to Glas Bheinn only to be stuck in rain clouds with no view - wouldn't do it justice. So decided to head north and aim for the Lairig Leacach bothy for the night. At least it would be dry and there should be no problem making the train from Spean bridge the following day.

Headed off NW to get down to Gleann Iolairean.

View north to Creag Ghuanach and then two Innses.

Loch Treig

Glencoe - Lairig Gartain in the distance

Once down in the floor of the glen I followed the path to Loch Treig - as expected the rain had rolled in again but the wind was much less noticeable lower down.

Followed the track round to the deserted Creaguaineach Lodge and crossed the Abhainn Rath using the bridge.

Some interesting features at this end of the loch

The map showed a track on the north side of the Allt na Lairige so crossed the bridge to have a look - couldn't find the start of any track though so headed back and up the rather boggy track to the south of the Allt.

Very little wind at all now but the rain was steady. Did have a brief think about dropping the rucksack and heading up Creag Ghuanach from the north - ascent would have been less than 300m and about 2km there and back and I had plenty of time now - but not that appealing in the rain so just kept going.

The track comes and goes as it follows the Allt - pretty boggy much of the way but nice enough beside the water.

Fortunately the weather did start to clear as I got higher.

Then on to the bothy.

Arrived at the bothy at around 1545hrs - rather earlier than planned given the shortening of the day's route. No one else around and I had to myself for the night.

First night I'd ever sent in a bothy - was expecting rats and mice but no sight or sound of them at all. Just a couple of slugs on the floor in the morning. Cleaned out the stove then tried briefly to get it lit properly - failed miserably though. Cooked up dinner, had a wander around outside trying to avoid the midges then got to bed early.

Day 3 Lairig Leacach to Spean Bridge

Clear sky around dawn - weather looking much better

Made breakfast, cleared up then ready for the off. Not in any hurry as I knew I had plenty of time for today's walk.

Contemplating today's hills

Walked up the path then took a detour off to the right to get up to the bealach between the two Innses.

First up - Sgurr Innse. A fair bit of cloud had bubbled up and was blowing over in the wind.

Being watched

Found some tracks on the way up which made the going easier - nice views at the top in between waiting for the cloud to blow over.

Self portrait - looking to Cruach Innse

Stob Ban

Then headed back down initially on the same track for the ascent until I came across a different track which I tried instead. It seemed fine until I got to a point where I couldn't first of all see a way to get past - camping rucksack was getting in the way as well but eventually managed to stretch over to a small foothold and get past it. An extra half a foot in height would have been useful.

Back down to the bealach looking towards Cruach Innse

And back to Sgurr Innse

Walked over to the base of Cruach Innse, found the track and started up.

Didn't take long to get to the top

Took some photos then had a long break in the sun at the cairn. Lovely morning, warm in the sun - stayed until some more cloud rolled in and shaded the sun.

Then off northwards to get back down to the main track

Just a case now of taking the track to Corriechoille then walking the road to Spean Bridge

Didn't walk fast but still got to the train station at about 1415hrs - just over 3.5 hrs early for the train to Queen Street. That said even if I'd speeded up I don't think I could've made the earlier 1215hrs train. Had plenty of time to wander round Spean Bridge, get something to eat and explore the train station.

Commando plaque at the station

Old ticket office which is now a restaurant

Sign stating that the toilets in the old ticket office were for restaurant users only with the door locked so just assumed there were none. However, on further exploring, there's what I assumed to be the former signal box at the end of the platform.

Steps up to the left lead to a door with Ladies and Gentleman signs - opening the door reveals the following:

Not sure how many would actually want to use it but, for info, the flush doesn't work hence the container of water on the floor to the left.......

It had been an interesting trip - first time I'd tried a route between two different stations and first night in a bothy. Earlier poor weather aside, it had been enjoyable and I'd do it again. Not having to drive back was also a bonus although it would certainly have taken a lot less time than waiting for the train.

By Chris Mac on 30/09/15 at 12:34am

Nice report and some quality photos! Moody to begin with then some great shots of some lovely hills later on. Good effort for the walk and camping too, i've yet to do my first bothy stay and i'm quite looking forward to it when it happens as I don't sleep well in a tent either. :)

Worst toilet in Scotland? Haha, I couldn't resist a Trainspotting reference! :D


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