The Road goes ever on and on; Down from the door where it began;
Now far ahead the Road has gone; And I must follow, if I can;
Pursuing it with eager feet; Until it joins some larger way;
Where many paths and errands met; And whither then? I cannot say.

[JRR Tolkien, Lord of the Rings]

Thursday 5 May 2011

Day 38 - S of W edge of Rannoch Forest to NW of Corrour Station

Wed 4 May (0735-1650)
Distance: 20 miles (Tot: 669.5)
Weather: wall-to-wall sunshine
Number of fortuitously-found chocolate bars: 1

It was a cold night again; much colder than I had appreciated from the warmth of my sleeping bag. I knew that there was a frost from my excursion out of the tent in the early hours, but I hadn't expected the water to be iced up.

We soon warmed ourselves up with an arduous first mile, which was an adventure through tussocks, bogs, peat hags and oozing peat bogs. I say it was the first mile, but we walked much further than that in reality as we meandered along trying to find firm ground.

The going remained a little soggy, but very pretty, as we entered Rannoch Forest, until we met the track we wanted to follow. Then the surroundings were just trees, with no views to be seen, and I quickly cooled down in the shade.

Part way through the forest we had a choice. This was a day that went from the bottom left of the map up to the top right (all other days have either gone straight up or done the opposite, which makes sense given our destination), with a big detour required in order to stick on tracks throughout the forest. Because it's just not feasible (and usually not possible) to just bash through a pine plantation. And, of course, Rannoch Forest is where we had an absolute 'mare of a time on an impassible path in 2008. So, part way through the forest we had a choice: stick with the safe but long route, or take a more direct line. The gambles with the direct line were two-fold: would we be able to get out of the forest and would we be able to get across the river that then lay in our way. We decided to take the gamble.

Getting out of the forest proved not to be difficult. The track we were following may have ended before the trees did, but there was a break that continued to the edge. We made short work of the brand-new deer-fence that then lay in our way. Then we got to the river and were pleased to find that, at the point we reached it, although wide and moderately deep, it wasn't fast flowing.

Off came the socks and the trousers (in my case, Mick had the advantage of zip-offs) and across we went. It turned out only to be a shade over knee high at the deepest point, and with the day being nice and warm we soon dried out and warmed up on the sandy beach on the other side.

Another yomp got us to the road and back on our original route with over three miles of distance having been omitted (and I'm sure our route was much more interesting than walking further through the forest and then back along a road).
The second half of the day was rather less adventurous, as we took a track that climbed gently up to 550 metres, from where we looked down on the vast nothingness that is Rannoch Moor. It was again a bit of a circuitous route, but had the advantage that we've not walked this way before.

Past Loch Ossian Youth Hostel we went (stunning location!), and as they didn't have a bed available for me last I checked, and as we'd reduced our mileage (we chose to ignore the additional effort we'd put into all the yomping on the direct route), we decided to walk on a bit. Nearby was where we had the fortuitous find of a Chunky KitKat sitting, unopened, right in the middle of the path; it was especially fortuitous because due to a hunger misjudgement at Killin we've found ourselves a bit short of snacks.

Having walked on for an extra couple of miles or so, we're now camped on the edge of a lovely stream, just below the railway line and a track and except for the occasional train, all is peaceful. We're making the most of the evening sun too, as we understand that tomorrow will bring a change in the weather and end this incredible dry spell that we have been enjoying.

(To TGO Challengers: could one of you please let us know what numbers we are?)

Sent using BlackBerry® from Orange


  1. Mick 22, Gayle 23. (Sure there'll be lots of comments on this post!)

    There has been rain here today, for the first time in a while. I'm glad of it, but I think we need some more, if not here, then certainly in many other areas. It's hard to wish for even a little rain, but it's desperately needed. Hope you keep dry enough!

  2. (...Only 'cos I thought heaps of helpful Challengers would all comment at the same time. Maybe not!)

  3. I remember being impressed by that walk from Loch Rannoch to Ossian on a wonderful clear day. I could see the Glencoe mountains a long way off.
    Vodafone has been pathetic so far on my walk and it is all I can do to try and keep up with my own posts, but tonight I am in a b and b in Caernarfon and switched into their wi fi- it is like a dream.
    I have had fifteen days without rain, but today, the sixteenth day, it has rained non stop. The Roclites have had their first test at waterproofness and all is well. O have two blisters so far but they are under control.
    Best wishes for the rest of your trip.

  4. Challenge Numbers... yes... you are supposed to remember those.... never have managed that one.

    I know your camping spot well - a lovely little place. I'll see you in Strathcarron then.