The train stopped just before noon at a remote spot. Corrour Station is high up on a moor, 1350 feet above sea level, in the middle of nowhere. I got off along with two cyclists, leaving just one other traveller on the train and we watched as the train crawled towards a gap in the hills to the north before starting its descent to Loch Treig, Roy Bridge and finally Fort William at sea level.
Once the train had disappeared out of sight there was total silence. I walked down off the platform and across the track, stopping to take a photograph. Normally you would be lifted for standing on a railway track taking photographs but not here at Corrour Station, a dot on the map, in the middle of nowhere.
I strode off along the dirt track in the direction of Loch Ossian with my rucksack full of camping gear, meeting two campers who were catching the 1230 train south. They assured me that there were no midges around which was a relief.
I pitched the tent on the south slopes of Beinn na Lap, just below a huge boulder. The view down Loch Ossian was tremendous. The loch itself was a mirror with tiny wooded islands where herons were nesting and the mountains beyond still had snow patches.
It was getting hot as I climbed up Beinn na Lap and upon reaching the broad ridge it was ‘taps aff’, despite there being snow fields I had to cross. On the summit I met a guy from Airdrie who had cycled from Rannoch. ‘Its taken me four hours to get here’ he exclaimed, perhaps just realising he would not be back in Airdrie in time for his tea.
I ,on the other hand, had all the time in the world and was back at the tent for 5pm. Mission accomplished. It was almost too easy, Beinn na Lap is known as the easiest munro after all. I read a book, ate my tea then decided to follow the track to Loch Treig alongside the railway line.
It was a lovely walk, looking across the glen towards a snow capped Ben Nevis. A goods train trundled past, heading for Fort William, the sun glinting off its roof as it snaked around the hill before disappearing. A red fox ran across the track ahead of me.
There was a ruin beside a burn, Allt Luib Ruaridh, a stone memorial to a time when people lived here. Their view would have been amazing until the railway was built in 1880s and a huge embankment blocked that view. Progress eh. I wandered around it, the familiar 4 foot thick stone walls now reduced to 4 foot high.
After 4km, I spied Loch Trieg below and headed back towards the tent, the sun setting behind me, casting my long shadow ahead of me. I slept on and off through the night, listening to the harsh ‘kraak’ of the herons on the loch and the soft trilling of the black grouse. Popped my head out the tent to see a big moon and lots of stars. At 6am the sun was hitting the tent and a weird mist forming across the moor and the loch below.
I got up at 7am, the tussocky grass was crunchy with frost as I dropped the tent in jig time. By 8am I had walked the 1.5km to the station and sat on a bench, eating a melted/frozen mars bar. It was warm already and the blue skies persuaded me watch the 0830 Glasgow train arrive and leave.
I decided to try and climb Leum Uilleum (Williams Leap), better known as the mountain in that scene in Trainspotting. Yes thats right, Corrour is the station where they filmed that classic scene. I even found the wooden bridge where Renton sat, swigging a hauf bottle of Grants vodka and launched into the classic tirade “its shite being Scottish”.
Well, I almost made the top of Leum Uilleum but I was worried I may miss the last train back to Crianlarich at 1230. I did climb high enough to be in the snow again and got some cracking views west across to Ben Nevis and east looking down on Corrour Station and Loch Ossian beyond.
Back down near the station, I was eating my piece, sat on a rock whilst my tent was spread out drying in the sun. The 1130 train for Fort William arrived and one walker got off. The train headed past me and I waved to the driver who tooted the horn. This filled me with a childlike happiness. The walker meanwhile headed off in the direction of Leum Uilleum and the wooden bridge, perhaps he had a hauf bottle of Grants vodka in his rucksack?
I read a book until the 1230 arrived and looked out the window as the train crossed the moors to Rannoch Station and then sped downhill past Caledonian pine forests to Bridge of Orchy. What a train journey, over horseshoe viaducts, bridges over waterfalls, stags on the moor and buzzards gliding below, wee lambs running scared to the mammies as the train hurtled past. Down we went, stopping at Upper Tyndrum before the final descent and final viaduct at Crianlarich where my car was parked.
It had only been 27 hours since I left Crianlarich but it felt like I had been away abroad. A reconnect with nature anyway. Tired but happy.
As I drove down Glen Ogle I was thinking I could fair go a cold drink when I suddenly remembered the cans I’d put in the boot. And I can tell you, happiness is stopping in Lochearnhead, putting all your rubbish in a bin before draining an ice cold Irn Bru.
*Note : This is/was just as Covid-19 restrictions were being lifted. Travel was allowed again but no pubs open (yet).