Monday, 30 July 2012

Ossian Munros, July 2012

We're in the middle of July with a spell of very unsettled weather ! Some showers, some sun and a bit of wind, infact a bit of everything. What better place to visit than Ossian in these conditions ? With 3 Munros surrounding Loch Ossian, a train journey in and restaurant at the day's end, this was an ideal location for a bit of hillwalking.

We drove up from Edinburgh, leaving in what I thought was plenty time to catch the train. Upon reaching Pitlochry, I began to feel time was running a bit tight. Right foot down and the road journey was sped up, with us reaching the station just as the train pulled in ! No time to lace up boots, Sam, Phil, Jake and myself quickly ran across the rail-bridge, where we were hussled into one of the rear trucks on the overnight sleeper.

The journey north on the railway is brief, but beautiful with flowing scenery passing by, pitted with occasional ruins and the odd deer here and there. We disembarked and there must have been around 20 of us heading east along the track. The pack split with some heading to the southern shore of the loch, some heading for a low-level walk to Laggan and us heading for Beinn na Lap. This Munro is grass covered we enjoyed an easy, pleasant slog up the gentle slopes on a faint path. The path becomes more distinct higher up and making for a quick time to the summit. Unfortunately, mist was swirling around on the crest, so not views from the cairn !

We descended directly to the forest below, and instead of taking the stile over the deer fence, continued following the forest-edge. Mistake ! We ended up battling our way through thick undergrowth, branches whipping our bodies and catching rucksacks. Onto the track and into a gentle breeze, it was time for lunch by the loch shore.

The track around Loch Ossian leads to Ossian Lodge, then some cottages. Leaving the track here, we aimed for our next goal, Sgor Gaibhre. Beyond a small dam, a burn was negotiated, then more gentle slopes were ascended. Around the minor summit of Sgorr Choinnich, one last pull took us onto Sgor Gaibhre, where our efforts were rewarded with fine views all around. We picked out the summits near and afar, with Stuchd an Lochain and Meall Buidhe testing our navigation.

A fine path leads from Sgor Gaibhre onto Carn Dearg, our last Munro of the day. I was beginning to watch our time as our deadline back at the station was 6:25, otheriwse we would have a long wait for the next train. It took us an hour from summit to summit - perfect timing, and time enough for some food and a view of the panorama.

The descent down Carn Dearg begins gently enough, but gradually tussocky ground takes over, testing knees and ankles. Onto the track, our speed increased and we were back at the rail-halt with ample time to spare. The restaurant lease was in the process of changing and didn't unfortuantely open for another week, but since the sun was out, we didn't mind and ate the last of our sandwiches as we blethered about the day.

In the rush to get on the train at the beginning of the day I forgot my camera. Luckily I did have my iPhone and some of the photos taken are on
my Flickr site. Sorry the quality is not quite as good as normal !