Thursday, 29 May 2014


Corrour station in the Highlands of Scotland is the highest on a mainline railway in the UK, and one of the most remote, with the nearest road 10 miles away. Sir John Stirling-Maxwell bought Corrour Estate in 1891, initially as a "playground for gentlemen".

On a stunningly beautiful day, myself and two friends, Andrew and Roger, set out from Rannoch Station late morning, having caught a very early train out of Edinburgh. Both Andrew and I had walked this path once before with Pauline, and on that occasion a large part of it was literally a muddy swamp.

The route in question is the Road to the Isles, and starts 4km east from Rannoch station and heads north toward Corrour. We had full packs with us, as we had planned to spend an overnight camping, near to the picturesque Loch Ossian. Both Andrew and I were pleasantly surprised that the path had recovered to a large degree from the previous time, thanks in part to additional drainage ditches having been dug.

Just 15km later, having stopped briefly at the ruins of the old Corrour Lodge, where I admired a very red-looking Common Frog, we were at our camp spot for the night, a delightful ruin of an old house, a place I know is very special to Pauline. It is in a stunning setting and Pauline has photographs of the old house in virtually every season. It is quite photogenic, as Andrew found out to his delight. He is prone to taking a lot of photographs when we are in the hills, and on this occasion he outdid himself and confessed that if ever an architect required comprehensive evidence of the architecture of the ruin from every possible angle, he had it covered. I had never camped at the ruin before so I was particularly looking forward to it.

Our three tents set up, and supper prepared and consumed, I relaxed in the late evening sunshine watching the sun set over the Grey Corries to the north, still with remnants of winter snow. There was not a breath of wind, except from Andrew in his tent, and the silence was only broken by the last train heading north across this remote land.

Roger is very knowledgable about bird life, and he was able to point out the many species we encountered during the day. We saw Wheatears, Common Sandpiper, Wagtails, and on one occasion, a Merlin, which apparently was quite rare to catch sight of.  As Andrew and Roger were busy inside their tents, two eagles soared past, heading south, presumably to hunt at Blackwater Reservoir a few kilometres way.

The following morning could not have been more different. During the night it had rained relentlessly and by dawn there was low cloud everywhere. We packed up our wet tents late morning and set off for Corrour Station. There was talk of mutiny, and catching the early train home, but I was determined to stay, optimistic it would clear up.

It didn't.

After the south bound 12.30 train had left we set off up the nearby small peak of Leum Ullieum. Usually the view from the top is spectacular, as it had been on a previous occasion. It really feels like this hill is smack in the middle of all the famous mountains of Scotland, with Glencoe to our west and Ben Nevis to our north. We knew they were there somewhere, but on this occasion we were lucky to keep sight of each other in the low dense cloud along the summit ridge.

After several short heavy showers of rain it decided to come on monsoon-style. The decent was slippy and boggy and by the time we reached Corrour station again none of us had any item of clothing on that was even remotely dry. For those staying at the expensive B&B opposite the station it must have been quite entertaining as three men stripped to their undies in the station shelter.

With a hot cup of tea and shortbread on the way home on the train, this three gentlemen all agreed we had enjoyed our time in the playground of Corrour.

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