Archive for the ‘corrour’ Tag

Reflections, Lighter Packs and Trains   8 comments

We’d had our big day in the sun and after 4 days in the mountains it was time to head home. There are only 3 or 4 trains a day from Corrour so we were up early to make sure we didn’t miss the lunchtime one and have to wait another 6 hours for the evening train. Entertainment is somewhat limited at Corrour. We had some grand ideas about walking out over the Loch Treig hills but we had a long journey home and work the next day – and the packs were still heavy enough even having eaten most of the food. Time to pack up and haul the packs onto tired bodies and off to catch a train

Lochaber 4

It was an uneventful walk, returning firstly, again back along the riverside path to Loch Treig

backpacking, corrour, crianlarich, leum uilleim, loch treig, Scotland, Scottish Highlands, west highland line, Wild Camping, Allt a Chamabhreac, loch treig, abhainn rath

From there it’s a bit of long grind along the track by the lake-shore and back to the station. The cloud was down on the summits but the air was still and the reflections of the mountains in the calm waters of Loch Treig enchanting

backpacking, corrour, crianlarich, leum uilleim, loch treig, Scotland, Scottish Highlands, west highland line, Wild Camping, Allt a Chamabhreac, loch treig, abhainn rath

backpacking, corrour, crianlarich, leum uilleim, loch treig, Scotland, Scottish Highlands, west highland line, Wild Camping, Allt a Chamabhreac, loch treig, abhainn rath

backpacking, corrour, crianlarich, leum uilleim, loch treig, Scotland, Scottish Highlands, west highland line, Wild Camping, Allt a Chamabhreac, loch treig, abhainn rath

As we made progress along the track the cloud made progress away from the summits and all became clearer

backpacking, corrour, crianlarich, leum uilleim, loch treig, Scotland, Scottish Highlands, west highland line, Wild Camping, Allt a Chamabhreac, loch treig, abhainn rath

backpacking, corrour, crianlarich, leum uilleim, loch treig, Scotland, Scottish Highlands, west highland line, Wild Camping, Allt a Chamabhreac, loch treig, abhainn rath

backpacking, corrour, crianlarich, leum uilleim, loch treig, Scotland, Scottish Highlands, west highland line, Wild Camping, Allt a Chamabhreac, loch treig, abhainn rath

It was turning into a pretty fine day for our walk out.

backpacking, corrour, crianlarich, leum uilleim, loch treig, Scotland, Scottish Highlands, west highland line, Wild Camping, Allt a Chamabhreac, loch treig, abhainn rath

backpacking, corrour, crianlarich, leum uilleim, loch treig, Scotland, Scottish Highlands, west highland line, Wild Camping, Allt a Chamabhreac, loch treig, abhainn rath

The power or water company are doing some kind of work on the Allt a Chamabhreac for the Loch Ossian Estate and there is now a well made road heading up to the station. It climbs much higher and was much steeper than I’d thought and I found it a bit of grind under the heavy pack with my big mountain boots on. TJS now seemed to be more at ease with the pack and was keeping pace with GM, no mean feat, while I dragged my heels at the back.

backpacking, corrour, crianlarich, leum uilleim, loch treig, Scotland, Scottish Highlands, west highland line, Wild Camping, Allt a Chamabhreac, loch treig, abhainn rath

backpacking, corrour, crianlarich, leum uilleim, loch treig, Scotland, Scottish Highlands, west highland line, Wild Camping, Allt a Chamabhreac, loch treig, abhainn rath

As we climbed the views improved and as the road cuts under the railway line and heads away into the estate we were able to pick up a more foot friendly path to the station

backpacking, corrour, crianlarich, leum uilleim, loch treig, Scotland, Scottish Highlands, west highland line, Wild Camping, Allt a Chamabhreac, loch treig, abhainn rath

backpacking, corrour, crianlarich, leum uilleim, loch treig, Scotland, Scottish Highlands, west highland line, Wild Camping, Allt a Chamabhreac, loch treig, abhainn rath

We stopped for a bite and took a look at Leum Uilleam, our summit from 4 days ago. The transformation was dramatic. I think these two photos taken 4 days apart told the story

backpacking, corrour, crianlarich, leum uilleim, loch treig, Scotland, Scottish Highlands, west highland line, Wild Camping, Allt a Chamabhreac, loch treig, abhainn rath

backpacking, corrour, crianlarich, leum uilleim, loch treig, Scotland, Scottish Highlands, west highland line, Wild Camping, Allt a Chamabhreac, loch treig, abhainn rath

The walk to the station was really rather enjoyable. The streams and rivers gave a soundtrack and there were numerous places to camp. With hindsight, I’d have just walked down here from the train and pitched up for a night, claiming Leum Uilleam without the packs or the cross-country bog trotting of the first day. Still, having had a superb 5 days I wasn’t about to pick apart what we’d done and chose to celebrate in my mind a tremendous trip full of great experiences and great walking.

backpacking, corrour, crianlarich, leum uilleim, loch treig, Scotland, Scottish Highlands, west highland line, Wild Camping, Allt a Chamabhreac, loch treig, abhainn rath

backpacking, corrour, crianlarich, leum uilleim, loch treig, Scotland, Scottish Highlands, west highland line, Wild Camping, Allt a Chamabhreac, loch treig, abhainn rath

All that remained was the last mile or so to Corrour, approaching from the north really gives a sense of how remote and bleak a place it is for a train station and the sign reminds you of the altitude

backpacking, corrour, crianlarich, leum uilleim, loch treig, Scotland, Scottish Highlands, west highland line, Wild Camping, Allt a Chamabhreac, loch treig, abhainn rath

backpacking, corrour, crianlarich, leum uilleim, loch treig, Scotland, Scottish Highlands, west highland line, Wild Camping, Allt a Chamabhreac, loch treig, abhainn rath

We arrived with an hour to spare and spent a lazy time massaging sore feet and reflecting on our adventures. As the train rolled in, Stob Coire Easain, our Munro from the previous day, finally emerged from the cloud to bid us farewell

backpacking, corrour, crianlarich, leum uilleim, loch treig, Scotland, Scottish Highlands, west highland line, Wild Camping, Allt a Chamabhreac, loch treig, abhainn rath

backpacking, corrour, crianlarich, leum uilleim, loch treig, Scotland, Scottish Highlands, west highland line, Wild Camping, Allt a Chamabhreac, loch treig, abhainn rath

It had been an amazing and at times pretty tough adventure but so rewarding especially for TJS. I think we have a new regular for the Easter trip 🙂

Heavy Packs, Trains, Sunshine and Snow   12 comments

Now here’s a first. Writing up a trip within a few days of completing it!

Our backpacking trip to Scotland over the Easter weekend has become a regular and much planned outing since 2009. Thanks to GM and his photos you also have the pleasure of seeing me in action over the next few posts!

This year we had a new member of the team

crianlarich, west highland line, corrour, leum uilleim, an diollaid, coir a bhric beag, gleann iolairean, loch treig, backpacking, wild camping

TJS is pretty experienced now in terms of his walks in Wales. However he has never been to Scotland and I’ve been promising to take him. This year seemed like a good time to move him on to the next level. He was just back from a long weekend on the Brecon Beacons Way with TBF in some wild, wet and stormy weather. They did some long days and clocked up some decent miles. However walking on marked paths and staying in hotels, B&Bs and Bunkhouses is a world away from the Scottish Highlands in a tent. The challenge was added to by the fact that Scotland was still in the grip of winter so conditions would be even more challenging. Added to that, we were out for 5 days and needing to carry extra food, extra clothes and ice axe and crampons. This made for a very heavy pack probably in excess of 50lbs for me and GM. With this in mind, where did we plan to take TJS for his first Scottish adventure? The most dense collection of high mountains in the UK in Lochaber!

The trip had the added bonus of kicking off with a train ride.

crianlarich, west highland line, corrour, leum uilleim, an diollaid, coir a bhric beag, gleann iolairean, loch treig, backpacking, wild camping

crianlarich, west highland line, corrour, leum uilleim, an diollaid, coir a bhric beag, gleann iolairean, loch treig, backpacking, wild camping

Our route was based on a start and finish at Corrour Station giving us a nice hour to chill out and enjoy the ride from Crianlarich. The weather in preceding few days had been appalling but today it was glorious. Blue skies and snow-capped peaks. The train ride was spectacular with the Southern Highlands looking majestic and a little daunting for TJS.

crianlarich, west highland line, corrour, leum uilleim, an diollaid, coir a bhric beag, gleann iolairean, loch treig, backpacking, wild camping

crianlarich, west highland line, corrour, leum uilleim, an diollaid, coir a bhric beag, gleann iolairean, loch treig, backpacking, wild camping

We arrived at Corrour and found snow lying right down at the station and on the platform. I’d expected snow but not this low down. Daunting indeed. Corrour is an amazing place to exit a train. Right in the middle of the mountains with not a metalled road for miles. As the train disappears into the distance you feel abandoned and committed. I felt daunted too!

crianlarich, west highland line, corrour, leum uilleim, an diollaid, coir a bhric beag, gleann iolairean, loch treig, backpacking, wild camping

crianlarich, west highland line, corrour, leum uilleim, an diollaid, coir a bhric beag, gleann iolairean, loch treig, backpacking, wild camping

We hoisted packs and set off into the mountains. Our plan was to backpack over the very isolated and fine Corbett of Leum Uilleim. Immediately we were in deep unconsolidated and untrodden snow.

crianlarich, west highland line, corrour, leum uilleim, an diollaid, coir a bhric beag, gleann iolairean, loch treig, backpacking, wild camping

crianlarich, west highland line, corrour, leum uilleim, an diollaid, coir a bhric beag, gleann iolairean, loch treig, backpacking, wild camping

crianlarich, west highland line, corrour, leum uilleim, an diollaid, coir a bhric beag, gleann iolairean, loch treig, backpacking, wild camping

crianlarich, west highland line, corrour, leum uilleim, an diollaid, coir a bhric beag, gleann iolairean, loch treig, backpacking, wild camping

The views were magnificent but the going tough. By the time we’d plodded up to the NE ridge at An Diollaid we were already feeling the strain.

crianlarich, west highland line, corrour, leum uilleim, an diollaid, coir a bhric beag, gleann iolairean, loch treig, backpacking, wild camping

crianlarich, west highland line, corrour, leum uilleim, an diollaid, coir a bhric beag, gleann iolairean, loch treig, backpacking, wild camping

crianlarich, west highland line, corrour, leum uilleim, an diollaid, coir a bhric beag, gleann iolairean, loch treig, backpacking, wild camping

I hadn’t expected either this much sunshine or snow and had neglected to bring either sunglasses or suncream. Schoolboy error. For this reason we were sunburnt and squinting for most of the day. We abandoned the sacks and walked out and back to the summit. It’s a mighty fine ridge but a very long way around Coir’ a’ Bhric Beag (and back again!) but the conditions were superb. Nothing finer than walking on snow in the Scottish Highlands under a blue sky. We told TJS just how lucky he was to have this on his first day. He seemed much happier without the burden of a heavy pack. He seemed especially pleased to catch his first view of Ben Nevis, looking mighty and magnificent in its winter garb next to Aonach Beag

crianlarich, west highland line, corrour, leum uilleim, an diollaid, coir a bhric beag, gleann iolairean, loch treig, backpacking, wild camping

crianlarich, west highland line, corrour, leum uilleim, an diollaid, coir a bhric beag, gleann iolairean, loch treig, backpacking, wild camping

crianlarich, west highland line, corrour, leum uilleim, an diollaid, coir a bhric beag, gleann iolairean, loch treig, backpacking, wild camping

crianlarich, west highland line, corrour, leum uilleim, an diollaid, coir a bhric beag, gleann iolairean, loch treig, backpacking, wild camping

As we climbed the views become better and better, especially fine back east toward Loch Ossian and Ben Alder

crianlarich, west highland line, corrour, leum uilleim, an diollaid, coir a bhric beag, gleann iolairean, loch treig, backpacking, wild camping

crianlarich, west highland line, corrour, leum uilleim, an diollaid, coir a bhric beag, gleann iolairean, loch treig, backpacking, wild camping

crianlarich, west highland line, corrour, leum uilleim, an diollaid, coir a bhric beag, gleann iolairean, loch treig, backpacking, wild camping

The snow cover was immense, huge fields of deep snow, hard going in places as you plopped through the crust from time to time. Both me and GM kept thinking how perfect the conditions were for ski touring!

crianlarich, west highland line, corrour, leum uilleim, an diollaid, coir a bhric beag, gleann iolairean, loch treig, backpacking, wild camping

crianlarich, west highland line, corrour, leum uilleim, an diollaid, coir a bhric beag, gleann iolairean, loch treig, backpacking, wild camping

crianlarich, west highland line, corrour, leum uilleim, an diollaid, coir a bhric beag, gleann iolairean, loch treig, backpacking, wild camping

We stopped briefly at the summit for a snack and pressed on back to collect the snacks. TJS was pleased to reach his first Scottish summit but still despite all his walking exploits he was still yet to reach a 3000 foot summit anywhere in the UK

crianlarich, west highland line, corrour, leum uilleim, an diollaid, coir a bhric beag, gleann iolairean, loch treig, backpacking, wild camping

crianlarich, west highland line, corrour, leum uilleim, an diollaid, coir a bhric beag, gleann iolairean, loch treig, backpacking, wild camping

The cloud was beginning to thicken but the weather was still grand and the return down the ridge was equally fine.

crianlarich, west highland line, corrour, leum uilleim, an diollaid, coir a bhric beag, gleann iolairean, loch treig, backpacking, wild camping

crianlarich, west highland line, corrour, leum uilleim, an diollaid, coir a bhric beag, gleann iolairean, loch treig, backpacking, wild camping

We reached the packs, scoffed some more food and headed off. We had a plan to camp near Staoineag bothy and headed off to cut the corner off cross-country.

crianlarich, west highland line, corrour, leum uilleim, an diollaid, coir a bhric beag, gleann iolairean, loch treig, backpacking, wild camping

The snow was thawing and crossing slushy snow-covered Scottish bog with a heavy pack was no fun. TJS was in particular finding it tough. He’s only ever backpacked in summer before, a single night with a couple of days food, lightweight sleeping bag and minimal clothing. Even though me and GM were carrying the bulk of the weight his pack was still an order of magnitude heavier than he’s ever carried before and he was clearly suffering. To be honest so were me and GM. I had a new pack (A Granite Gear Nimbus Trace if you’re interested) and even though it’s substantially lighter than my old one it doesn’t help when you fill it with heavy stuff. Still, the snow-capped mountain views kept our spirits up.

crianlarich, west highland line, corrour, leum uilleim, an diollaid, coir a bhric beag, gleann iolairean, loch treig, backpacking, wild camping

crianlarich, west highland line, corrour, leum uilleim, an diollaid, coir a bhric beag, gleann iolairean, loch treig, backpacking, wild camping

crianlarich, west highland line, corrour, leum uilleim, an diollaid, coir a bhric beag, gleann iolairean, loch treig, backpacking, wild camping

By the time we’d dropped down into Gleann Iolairean we were spent. It’s a soggy valley, albeit a nice one with a grand view down Loch Treig, but GM found an elevated patch of bracken that was reasonably dry. It was good enough and after re-enacting our own version of the Highland Clearances we were pitched. I’ve never enjoyed a brew as much as I did at that point!

crianlarich, west highland line, corrour, leum uilleim, an diollaid, coir a bhric beag, gleann iolairean, loch treig, backpacking, wild camping

crianlarich, west highland line, corrour, leum uilleim, an diollaid, coir a bhric beag, gleann iolairean, loch treig, backpacking, wild camping

crianlarich, west highland line, corrour, leum uilleim, an diollaid, coir a bhric beag, gleann iolairean, loch treig, backpacking, wild camping

The relief at dropping the sack was palpable. Despite the glorious weather the tough conditions and created a little tension that was all let go as we settled in. It had been a long day. Only 8 miles but with heavy packs, deep snow and no paths, that’s tough in my book

Lochaber 1

The weather was clearly on the turn but the views and the situation were still superb. Nothing finer than a good pitch out in the wilds with what feels like the whole of the mountains to yourself. We set about the important task of reducing the pack weights by eating the food. I’m not into the whole ultra-lightweight backpacking obsession although this trip was testing that reluctance severely. It’s only when you take the pack off, open it up, and realise that your reward for that pain and effort is food, nice food and lots of it that it makes it seen worthwhile. We ate like wild camping kings with fresh chicken and noodle stir fry followed by Jaffa Cakes and Tebay Fruit Pies (well worth a detour off the motorway for) washed down with plenty more tea and hot chocolate

crianlarich, west highland line, corrour, leum uilleim, an diollaid, coir a bhric beag, gleann iolairean, loch treig, backpacking, wild camping

crianlarich, west highland line, corrour, leum uilleim, an diollaid, coir a bhric beag, gleann iolairean, loch treig, backpacking, wild camping

Bellies full and with tired bodies we turned in. We weren’t hopeful on the weather and indeed it was raining before we fell asleep. On these trips though you take every day in turn and this had been a great one. We’d had a ride on the train, basked in the sunshine, climbed a summit, walked in the snow, had majestic views, found a decent campsite and were set up warm, cosy and dry in the tent. Whatever the next few days were to bring we had at least one glorious day. Scotland has a habit of kicking you up the ar5e when you think everything is going your way and the steady rain that lulled us to sleep was a reminder of that

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