Wet and wild

By James Carron

These days it's hard to find true wilderness. That is, until you travel to lonely Corrour Station on Rannoch Moor and wander around Loch Ossian. Only a handful of people live on the 81 square miles of the Corrour Estate and as there are no roads in or out, you won't see any cars here, except for the odd Land Rover.

Loch Ossian sits in the shadow of three Munros. There's a shooting lodge and estate buildings at one end and, at the other, a basic youth hostel where tame stags frequently gather to be fed apples, bananas and potatoes by the warden and his guests.

Step off the train at Corrour Station, the highest station on the BR network, cross the rails and follow the track east across the open moor. It runs fairly level, through a landscape of heather and boggy pools, before dropping down to the lochside hostel. The wooden building, once a boathouse and stable, sits among trees on a low promontory.

Tracks at a wide V-junction lead into the hostel and a path on the right is signed for Rannoch. Avoid these and carry straight on along the lochside, passing by a couple of small tree-covered island just offshore. Just over a mile on, the route enters coniferous forestry, initially sparsely planted but then more dense. The track remains close to the water and there are strips of pleasant sandy beach which make ideal rest spots.

Continue until the far end of the loch is reached, not long beyond a high gate and stile. The track curves left round past an estate house, then crosses the River Ossian. On the far side is a white gate and a grey stone wall. Don't go through the gate but follow the track as it skirts to the right around the wall. On the other side is Corrour Lodge which has recently been substantially enlarged from the unassuming structure which was build after the original shooting lodge was destroyed by fire in the 1940s. The track curves past more estate buildings before reaching a junction.

A memorial to former estate owner Sir John Stirling Maxwell stands at the junction. The right-hand option runs off through Strath Ossian. Our route, however, goes left along the north shore of the loch, passing a couple of high gates by way of ladder stiles. There are excellent views over the water to Carn Dearg, a Munro. Keep an eye out for the occasional tree-lined peninsula offering a good viewpoint down the loch.

Three miles from the lodge the track leaves the forest and runs over open moorland, curving round the west end of the loch. This is the most scenic stretch of water, dotted with small islands heavy with pine trees. The way meets up with the main track just above the youth hostel. From here, retrace your steps back to Corrour Station.


Distance 8 miles/13km.
Map OS Landranger sheets 41 and 42.
Start Corrour Station on the Glasgow to Fort William West Highland Railway (grid ref NN 355664).
Parking The nearest access by car is Rannoch Station, the next station down from Corrour.
Grading An easy, low level walk on good tracks. Be prepared for bad weather, however. In addition to the SYHA hostel, there's a comfortable bunkhouse and small shop at Corrour Station.