From the Cairn Ban Archives... 

Ossian (Mythical Warrior) vs Homer Simpson

Ian Collinson, 17 July 2004

Team: I. Collinson, D. Collinson, B. Fish, J. Finlayson


Doh! - 1

The West Highland rail route really is a treat with magnificent views and no caravans barring progress. The train splits at Crianlarich, one half going to Oban the other north to Fort William. Having put the bikes and myself in the wrong half of the train a quick shift about was required at Crianlarich.

Hopping onto the platform I quickly put Douglas's bike in the correct compartment whilst a friendly soul held my own bike for me. Turning round to go and get my own bike mild panic set in when the doors closed and the train lurched forward. Madly pressing the OPEN button was to no avail... but fortunately the train was just in the process of decoupling and all was well. The friendly soul on the platform was laughing loudly and said... ‘you really should have seen the look on your face!’

Doh! - 2

Douglas and Brian were to join up at Bridge of Orchy but as the train drew up at the platform they were nowhere to be seen. Douglas had my rucksack / panniers / tent / sleeping bag / walking poles. Disaster?

No, Brian appeared just as I was sweet talking the guard lady. The phrase ‘Honestly they will be here any minute’ doesn't cut much ice with the Iron Lady of Scotrail. As I broached the driver who was looking at his watch impatiently Douglas appeared over the platform struggling with his gear, ashen faced and panicking like mad.

Lesson learned... no matter how good a pint of Somerled at the Bridge of Orchy Hotel is ‘one more for the road’ converts to ‘one more to miss the train’.

Corrour Bunkhouse looks great these days and we availed itself of its facilities and met some chaps planning to walk Corrour to Dalwhinnie the following day.

35 minutes cycle along the north side of Loch Ossian takes to about as far as you can meaningfully cycle to and at that point Douglas's bike rack fell to pieces.

‘We'll be pitching our tents here then?’

We were joined by Jerome Finlayson, one of my work colleagues, appeared out of the twilight gloom who has the best that MacPac can offer and all his gear inflates from packs the size of a matchbox.

Doh! - 3

Tents of various shades'n'sizes appeared and all manner of pegs - except of course Douglas who had forgotten his pegs! Still, we got by.

Hipflasks of Ardbeg 17yo, 'Morangie 18yo, accompanied by hip-cans of Stella, Miller & Caley 80. A familiar heatwarming scene unfolded... some drams, some beer, some chat. Splendid!

It's been a few years since I've camped out and I'd forgotten that every blade of grass blown by the wind sounds, in your mind, like it’s a maurauding herd of deer / manic acid-fired sheep etc...

Dawn brings the patter of rain down onto your flysheet and a quick confab and we agree its too cloudy, wet, miserable looking to attempt the Alder / Bheoil circuit and the easier option of Eibhen and Aonach Beag looks like a good option for the day, albeit only one new tick in the book.

In summary there wasn't much of a view all day but good practice with compass & map vs. GPS. The contrast between Saturday and the crisp winter day Douglas and I had early in the year with views to Finland could not have been more pronounced.

Eventually the cloud level began to lift and on return to the tents the day began to open up a bit.

Doh! - 4

Arriving at the tents I dropped my 'sac to the ground and casually tossed one of my poles down beside it. I did the same with the second and bizarrely it bounced, somersaulted and the wee pointy steel tipped end bit sailed right through the side of my tent fly sheet leaving a neat tear. Used once, damaged immediately!

Jerome did a terrific engineering job on Dougie's rack and off we set into a blue skied, warm terrific viewed kinda evening along the southside of Ossian. We even saw Ben Alder for the first time!

The new cafe at Corrour Halt is a wee gem. Chilled Cairngorm Ale, hearty soup and a laze about on the garden at the front whilst waiting for the return train was an excellent way to finish the trip.

Doh! - 5

We also met up the guys that had been planning to walk to Dalwhinnie who had managed to get along Ossian to Courrour Lodge, go North through Strath Osian track which goes to Moy on the Laggan road, and who realised they should have been in a different glen to head off road up the glen between Beinn a Chlachair and Beinn Eibhen. Eventually they gave up the ghost and walked back to Corrour for some pints. Estimated 20 miles walk to get precisely back to where they started!

As for us - Alder will have to wait for another day, but hey, that's just fine.