Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Ossian, May'15

We like to get into the heart of the Ossian at least once a year. This is a remote area only accessible by foot or train. We were going for the soft option, but with a wedding at Corrour Station and the Moor of Rannoch fully booked for evening meals, we were struggling to stick to our plan. So an alternative was hatched - into Ossian by train on Saturday morning, walk out over some mountains to Tulloch Hostel then do some Munros nearby on the Sunday. Would this go to plan ?

We met as planned at Tulloch Station, Christina, Diane, Jo and Richard all raring to get up on the hills. Onto the Sprinter train for the 15 minute whisk down to Tulloch, getting some fine views over Loch Treig and down to Leum Uilleim on the way. We alighted and thought we were the only ones getting of the train - the platform is so short that the train had to move further forward to let the folk at the rear of the train get off !

We started with a stiff breeze from behind us, all the cobwebs were blown away. Then the rain came in, forcing us to get into our waterproofs - the forecast for the day was for lots of wind and some sun intersperced with rain and hail. We were playing leapfrog with a group of 4 guys from the Ayrshire coast. Away from the track, we hiked up a wet path onto the western shoulder of Beinn na Lap, the wind picking up the higher we hiked. Onto the summit, we sheltered behind the cairn for an early lunch. We were rewarded with some fine views all around - that is when we dared to poke out from the shelter of the cairn ! The group of 4 guys arrived, so after a wee blether, we gracefully gave up our sheltered seats for them.

Down to the valley below Chno Dearg was a simple grassy trudge, the weather coming and going as we descended. Keeping more to the west than we'd planned, we got up onto the high ground to the north-east of Garbh-bheinn's summit and back into the strong wind - at least it was behind us ! Over Meall Garbh, we gawped at the huge cornice on its north-eastern side, keeping well away from its pecarious edge. Up to Chno Dearg, more views, more food and a sudden greeting from a couple from Taynuillt with the guy having a GPS and map dangling from around his neck.

An about-turn and straight into the cold gale-force wind. Some ptarmigan fluttered around - they're hardy birds. Over the bumps on Stob Coire Sgriodain and onto the summit in mist. I suggested we held on, hoping the mist would lift. And it did, briefly, so some photos of the dramatic view were taken before we started downhill.

The descent route we took is not the one listed in books or certain websites - I know of a lovely route down a coire and we headed down this, having some fun bum-sliding on some snow runs. Down to Fersit, a short drive took everyone back to Tulloch Station Lodge for the night's stay.

Our second day began really dreich from the lay-by a couple of miles north-east of Tulloch Lodge. Overnight a lot of rain, and higher up snow, had fallen and I was already preparing the group for the river-crossing, chatting about our alternatives should we not be able to get across. Up the track, through the forest, we then hiked by the Alt a'Chaorainn. Right enough, we couldn't cross it at the planned spot - the fence and deer-guard has somewhat been washed away and can no longer be used.

So no alternative, we had to hike up the eastern side of this river until we could cross. I'd never been up this section before, and it's a fine option - a faint path comes and goes all the way to the col. Just below the cairn, we turned westards over Tom Mor and began our climb up Beinn Teallach. Quickly we were in snow, and not just a light dusting, really deep stuff in bits. An amazing amount at this time of year ! Cloud and wind came and went and for the most part we got some views. Onto the summit, a decision was made to have our break back down where we could get some shelter.

We tucked into our sandwiches back at the col before we began the slog up Beinn a'Chaorainn. The side of the hill we were ascending was west facing, so fairly wind-swept, but we were still getting through lots of snow. We waved to a group of 3 guys on the way and reached the summit crest. Wow, the cornice was massive ! In a white out with mist down, this could really catch folk out. We kept well back. Over the first top, the skies opened up and sun began to shine. The summit was reached in glorious conditions and the reward was some top-notch views. It was cold and windy tho, so after a bit of posing for the camera, we started down the south-west face of the hill.

Woo-hoo, some more fun on snow made for a fast descent down the first 1,000ft or so. And into some shelter, so we basked in the warm sunshine for another break. You really wouldn't have expected such a lovely end to the day after what we started in !

Some more photos are here on our Flickr album.

We stayed at Tulloch Station Lodge, highly recommended !