Ben Alder Cottage and the Ossian Munros: Field Notes

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In this month’s issue of The Great Outdoors Magazine, I’m stravaiging in the mountains above Ben Alder Cottage. Here are a few photos that didn’t make the cut.

A year ago, I stepped out of a warm train carriage onto the platform at Corrour Station, a remote halt on the edge of Rannoch Moor. To say it was a shock to the system would be something of an understatement. It was snowing heavily, and although I’d planned to camp somewhere beside Loch Ossian, I decided to spend the night in the little platform shelter instead.

Things looked a bit less grim the next morning. The stormy weather had blown itself out, and a new, pristine whiteness lay quiet over the landscape. I began the walk into the Ossian Estate. My planned route took me over the Munros of Carn Dearg and Sgor Gaibhre.

It was a classic – if understated – day in the Scottish hills. These mountains won’t win any awards for fearsome ridges or sublime corries, but they have a solemn dignity about them – and the views over Rannoch Moor did not disappoint. As I climbed the ridge to Carn Dearg, I was captivated by the wind-carved drifts of snow.

From the summit of Sgor Gaibhre things became a bit more spicy. You may recognise this section from my account of hiking the Alder Trail – it’s actually on the same line, and you could say that my February trip was a reconnoitre to assess the feasibility of a long-distance summer route over this terrain. As it happens, my Alder Trail was just as wintry (but that’s another tale altogether, one that has already been told elsewhere).

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When I finally reached it in gathering darkness and with my strength ebbing, Ben Alder Cottage was a haven of warmth and welcome. They say it’s a haunted bothy, but I found nothing but dry firewood, shelter, and whisky aplenty there. On both of my visits to date I’ve found it an unusually friendly and attractive bothy.

The next morning dawned mild and damp. I’d planned a big stomp over a few more Munros, but I could see wet-snow avalanches coming down the slopes and decided to cut a low-level route through the glens back to Corrour instead. Cue more bog snorkelling, followed by a relaxing stay at the Loch Ossian Hostel. I commend this excellent hostel to anyone walking through the area. It’s an experience!

I hope you enjoyed my contributions to this month’s TGO. You might also notice a Wild Walk telling the story of how I found the right one! Thanks for reading.


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