Reproduced from www.viewranger.com. Map data: Ordnance Survey ©Crown Copyright and/or database right 2016. License number 100043379.
|From camp Retrace to re-join Northwards WHW at NN 192 617, but stay on minor road through Kinlochmore until NN 191 622 to pick up a NE bound track. Follow this track NE as it runs N of Meall an Diore Dharaich, then E to the S of Loch Eildhe Mor and N of Meall na Duibhe. Continue SE over Meall na Cruaidhe. Continue on this route E to NN 278 626 then NE on this route to Loch Trieg. At NN 320 687 travel east to NN 327 690 then south on that route. Cross railway at NN 342 681 and take estate track to Loch Ossian YH at NN 371 670.|
|OS Landranger series maps: 41|
|Length: 25.86 km|
|Total Ascent: 1033m|
|Total Descent: 657m|
|Max Elevation: 562m|
|Min Elevation: 14m|
From the campsite today, I will track back a short way to pick up the West HIghland Way again along Wade’s Road, as it heads to wards the north of the town, and will take the path marked Grey Mares Waterfall. I wont actually walk all the way to the waterfall today but if its been wet, I will hear it. Its a fantastic Canyon waterfall, one of the best in the area. Some people climb up it, and then abseil down – 90m, recommended only for experienced people.
My route cuts NE through the forest, so hoping to see some red squirrels here, maybe further up. I’ve got quite a hefty climb here and I will be careful with my footwork in places. I’ll soon hit an estate road and this will take me towards Loch Eilde Mor. It was originally a feeder for the Blackwater reservoir, but when the smelter closed, and the demand for power lessened, this particular hydro outlet was wound down.
I will cross the dam head at the SE of the loch, then will follow the stalkers path on an easterly route to summit Meall na Cruaidhe, a modest 570m. The slow and gradual descent takes me onto the Ciaran Path, another heritage path http://www.heritagepaths.co.uk/pathdetails.php?path=340.
This drove route led from Loch Treig to Kinlochleven the reference to Ciaran being a drive stance now absorbed by the Blackwater reservoir.
I follow the path for around 9k, at which point I encounter Loch Treig, another natural water resource hijacked by hydro. The level of this loch has been raised approximately 35ft in its life time, and at one point in the 1930’s required a re-routing of the West Highland Line, which skirts its southern bank. From the south of the loch I will cross a bridge and pick up an estate track. This route is the Road to the isles another ancient path used by cattle drovers from Rannoch to Loch Treig where it meets an onward route to Fort William.
I will follow the West Highland Line for a short while here as it skirts the northern tip of the Rannoch Moor, the most extensive wet peatland habitat in all of the UK. If I am lucky, a train will pass, and I will wave at all the little human sardines, who can only peer at this wonderfully rugged landscape for the few moments they pass through. As the train passes, I will watch for bubbles rising from the wet peat below the tracks. While the line served and still serves as a lifeline (of sorts – economically for tourism), the manner in which it was constructed is shameful. From the point at which the line enters the wetland round Rannoch station, the line floats for around 20km on a bed formed from tens, if not hundreds of thousands of locally felled trees. When you are on the train, the familiar ticketty tick, ticketty tick falls silent as it reaches the moor. Eerily silent! The station at Corrour is only accessible by train or by foot, and is the highest Station in the UK rail network at 1347ft above sea level.
Soon I will turn off north towards Loch Ossian, and to the Youth Hostel that bears the same name, which will be a welcome stop for the night, and collection point for my first box of provisions.
I love this hostel. I first visited around 1996, back when Alan was running it, and Windswept was a regular visitor. I learned a wee bit of fly fishing, and truly experienced dark skies as I had never seen before. I went back regularly, but I must admit, it’s almost 20 years…. Back then it was gas lights and water hand pumped from the Loch, and weeing by head torch in the small loo’s out back. Nowadays, hydro and solar power, composting toilets and reed bed grey water drainage gifts the hostel a Green Tourism award.
Photo credit: Welcome to Scotland
See you tomorrow.