Well, it’s been a while since I’ve put “finger to keyboard” but here we go….
The weather forecast was looking rather good for the weekend and after a bit of “what shall we do this weekend” I decided to opt for the daft plan of a camp on the summit of one of the Loch Ossian munros.
Well you can’t actually drive to Loch Ossian, Corrour station (famous for being in the middle of nowhere, having no roads to it and for being in the film trainspotting) is the closest point you can get to these hills. You can actually drive to Rannoch station (one stop south of Corrour) but it’s a longer walk to the hills and besides it’s a long drive too. So car left at home, walk down to the station and hop on the train, change once and I’m off on the west highland line to Corrour. Now you have to make sure you sit in the right carriage on this train as when you get to Crianlarich, half the train goes to Oban and half to Mallaig, you do get about a 5-10 minute stop in Crianlarich while the train folk uncouple the carriages, just time to pop into the station tearoom and get a coffee and cake I thought.
As the train left Glasgow and wove it’s way around the hills the summits were all in the clouds but as we left Crainlarich the clouds rapidly broke and the sunshine appeared just like the weatherman said it would. It makes a nice change in the train, being able to pay more attention to the scenery – which is actually quite good round here.
I hopped off the train at Corrour, actually I had to walk half way down the train, “passengers must leave via the middle doors” and yours truly was sat at the end of the train – it’s not a very long platform at Corrour and the train was a bit longer than the platform. Corrour does have another advantage and that is that it’s over 400m above sea level which is a nice way to be greeted when you get off the train.
The station building at Corrour has been taken on by SYHA, initially on a 1 year lease to see how it goes and you can get accommodation, food, tea and cakes there, a nice job they’ve done too (the last time I was here a few years ago I walked in from glen nevis and was kinda looking forward to some cake but it was all shut up so I had to make do with a sit on the bench outside) Anyway, I digress, so after 5 minutes faffing about on the platform I headed off down the estate track towards Loch Ossian, past the youth hostel on the loch side and around the south side of the loch. At the other end of the loch are some estate houses and a rather fancy shooting lodge, past these, over the bridges and I hung a right onto the hillside.
There’s probably a munro path up Sgor Gaibhre from the Loch Ossian side I imagine, but I wasn’t looking for it instead opting for the “hmm, that way looks okay” approach (there’s a big deer fence part way up to hop over). Eventually making it onto the subsidiary peak of Meall Nathrach Mor before contouring round Sgor Choinnich (this carrying tent and radio malarkey is harder than it looks I’m thinking) and up the final step pull to the summit of Sgor Gaibhre, GM/WS-081. A nice summit with the feeling that you really are somewhere quite remote, summits of Glen Coe, Ben Nevis and the Aonachs to the west, Ben Alder is just across the way, the distinct shape of Schiehallion out to the east, the………
Once I’d left the lochside, I hadn’t seen anyone till I was almost at the summit, a couple were descending as I made my way to the top and as I reached the summit I saw another couple of folk heading off the summit away from me and that was it for the day.
The plan was to hopefully just try 2m FM on this summit, so I could press on to Carn Dearg (WS-088). Now the advantage of a large rucksack is I found you can just support the pole with the rucksack propped up against a rock, that’s nice a quick I thought. Well after a couple of calls on s20, Robin GM7PKT/P answered, turned out Robin was only a couple of hills away from me on WS-032 and so unsurprisingly he was 59+, after Robin, Andy MM0USU found me (he’d been chatting to Robin on 6m I think) and Andy was kind enough to spot me, he was followed a few minutes later by MM1HMZ and 2M0IOB, I could hear Bobby, GM7GAX calling but couldn’t get back to him. Then Adrian MM0DHY and Colwyn, MM6YCJ appeared, I’d just missed them on their summit, ES-022 as they were on their way down. Final contact was ‘GAX, as we finally managed to make the contact – I obviously finally got the beam pointing the right way. I think there was someone else who called a few times, sorry I just couldn’t pull anything out.
Packing up and heading down from the summit, it’s a nice easy plod down and up the other side to the summit of Carn Dearg, GM/WS-088, not to be confused with all the other Carn Dearg’s in GM-land, it’s a rather popular name.
The plan was to camp on the summit here, so I had a bid of a wander around to decide where to pitch the tent. I always have the debate, do I go for the view from the tent or do I pitch the tent into the wind, trouble is I’m a sucker for a good view, so I opted for a view of the the Ben, the Mamore and the Aonachs and decided to put up with the wind battering the side of the tent.
Anyway tent up and time to play radio, 80m wasn’t playing although I heard G0BFJ call me, 40mm however was a different matter, it seemed like everyone wanted to say hello. I tried to work all the stations I could hear. It was pretty hectic, or at least it felt it when I was only pulling about a couple of letters of a callsign from all the calls. I don’t know if it’s just me but the dulcet tones of Ken, GM0AXY just jumped out at me even though I only picked out the ‘XY from the initial call. It was the first LA, EA and I stations I’d worked I think. After 40m I had a shout on 2m FM and was found by Robin GM7PKT, Robins qth wasn’t the best for these summits but he was kind enough to spot me, MM0HMM in Oban was next and finally Jack, GM4COX, I couldn’t work the stations west of Glasgow but Jack further east just had a really good path (once I got the beam going the right way). Had a good banter with Jack before it was time for tea, but not before I’d arranged a sked with Jack for the next morning.
It was pretty windy so I dropped the mast onto the ground overnight to avoid any un-necessary damage. The next morning, after porridge and then calling Jack and having a chat I was called by one other station out to the east before deciding it was time to pack up and head down the hill. It’s a nice stroll down towards the Youth Hostel if a little off-piste in places and back along to the station.
I wandered into the station with the intention of getting tea and cakes before the train arrived, however the hostel manager appeared to tell me they had no water (due to the huge amount of rain during the previous week the water supply part way up the hill was clogged up with silt) so I had to settle for a fizzy pop and cake instead, whilst waiting for the train home.
It made a nice change taking the train, takes out the hassle of driving and meant I could watch the views go past and spending the night on the hill, well, it’s definitely a good time to be there.
Thanks to all the stations who took the time to listen for me.