here was a time that if I had decided to go out for a day in the hills then that would happen regardless of the weather. I guess that for some people this does not matter. It does not matter whether you get a view from the top of a Munro or not. If you reach the top then it is a tick and more closer to the elusive total. I have been fortunate to have some epic days on the mountains and as much as I want to complete all the Munro’s I am prepared to wait if necessary. Based on this, a couple of years back I set myself the following criteria:
- No boring ‘up and down tourist path’ routes if possible
- No just ticking off peaks regardless of the weather
- Always knock off any subsidiary peaks (specifically Munro Tops) where available
- Attempt to combine different combinations into big days out or overnight expeditions
It is fair to say that I have stayed true to this and had some epic trips. But a combination of continual bad weather and a move to running more on trails as I have been training for a number of ultra-marathons in the past four years have significantly reduced the number of unclimbed Munro’s I have climbed recently. In fact the stats are pretty grim.
In 2011 I climbed a healthy new 34 Munro’s and in 2012 the figure was up to 41. Things started to slip in 2013 with only 13 new peaks conquered and in 2014 there was just a paltry 6 new additions. With the Lakeland 100 fast approaching, I want to focus the last few weeks training on ascent rather than distance. It was time to get involved in some serious Munro action.
There are three routes that have been formulating in my mind for a while now.
- Glencoe Round – A circular round of all the Munro’s and Munro Tops in the Glencoe area
- An extended Black Mount traverse taking in all the peaks from Ben Starav to Meall a’Bhuiridh – This would be a monster of a route
- A point to point run linking Rannoch and Corrour train stations taking in the five Loch Ossian Munros I had not climbed in that area
With a decent weather forecast for the Monday I decided on the easiest of the three; the point to point route from Rannoch to Corrour train stations. But was there a point to point route from Rannoch to Corrour? Well yes, if you were interested in just Carn Dearg and Sgor Gaibhre. This would actually be a pleasant run. Without too much hardship you could drop off Sgor Gaibhre, scoot round Loch Ossian and take in Beinn na Lapp. But what about Chno Dearg and Stob Coire Sgriodain? I could do a point to point from Tulloch station, take in them in, add on Beinn na Lapp and get the train back from Corrour. Alternatively, I could tag these onto Stob Coire Essain and Stob a’ Choire Mheadhoin and do a route circumnavigating Loch Treig.
Maybe, if I started from Corrour station instead of Rannoch, took in Beinn na Lapp first, I could head over to Stob Coire Sgriodain and Chno Dearg then drop down onto the path near Strathossian House and head up to Sgoe Gaibhre from Corrour shooting lodge then over to Carn Dearg and then back to Rannoch. The descent from Beinn na Lapp and ascent up onto Garbh beheinn would be a little ‘rough’ and the climb from the shooting lodge up onto the plateau looked a bit of a slog but putting that aside it was definitely doable. The prize at the end would be five Munro’s and three Munro Tops. Game On!
Proposed Route starting at Corrour station and finishing at Rannoch station
The train departed Rannoch at 11:09 and it was a two hour journey from my house in Fife. I gave myself an extra 30 minutes contingency which I thought would be more than adequate to get me to the station with time to spare. What I did not account for was being stuck behind a coach for ten miles on the winding road from Loch Tummel to Loch Rannoch. Fortunately the gods were on my side and it pulled in at some point to let me get past. I arrived at the station with five minutes to spare and by the time I had got my kit together, the train was pulling onto the platform.
It was only a short journey and just over ten minutes later, I was standing on the platform of Corrour and ready for action. I jogged down the track towards the YHA and then followed the path that heads around the Loch. From here it was up the hikers trod towards my first peak of the day, Beinn na Lap. Progress was straightforward and in just under an hour I had covered the 5km and 500 metres of ascent to the summit top. From here I continued along the ride then cut back and took a north westerly bearing directly for the summit of the minor top, Garbh-bheinn. There was no path just a case of straight down the hillside, a descent of 400 metres to the Allt Feith Thuill. Then 300 metres up the other side and onto the plateau. From the summit of Beinn na Lap, the ascent looked really steep but once I got down it was not too bad and I was able to make fast progress, just 35 minutes to descend and climb back up.
Although there was no blue sky visible, the clouds were way above the summit tops and with really good air quality you could see for miles. I jogged slowly up to the Meall Garbh (Munro Top) and then down to the bealach between Stob Coire Sgriodain and Chno Dearg. From here it would be an ‘out and back’ over Stob Coire Sgriodain south top (Munro Top) and Stob Coire Sgriodain then up to Chno Dearg.
Two and a half hours after setting off I was sat at the summit of Stob Coire Sgriodain looking over Loch Trieg to Stob Coire Easain and Stob a’ Choire Mheadhoin. The view was amazing, really isolated and peaceful. I chilled for a while, grabbed some food and relaxed. I retraced my steps back over Stob Coire Sgriodain south top and headed towards the col, skirting around the top of Coire an Lochain. From here it was about a 170 metre to the top of Chno Dearg. 16km down in just over three hours. There was a guy on the summit but he did not acknowledge me and in all honesty looked miserable as sin so I just ran past and the summit and down towards Strath Ossian. This descent was a little trickier than the descent from Beinn na Lap. It was rocky and steep. I took my time and slowly made my way to easier terrain. Thirty minutes later I was on the wide land rover track that head through Strath Ossian.
It was an easy 5km run now to Loch Ossian and the next section of my route, the two Munros Sgor Gaibhre and Carn Dearg. The plan was to attack Sgor Gaibhre by taking a direct line from the plantation near Corrour Shooting Lodge straight over Meall Nathrach Mor to the Munro Top Sgor Choinnich. What followed was a 3.5km slog up from the Loch. Awful boggy ground lower down lead to deep tussocks higher up. It seemed to take forever (an hour actually) but when I finally did reach the summit of Sgor Choinnich, I was rewarded with amazing views in all directions. I quickly blasted down to the Bealach nan Sgor then up to Sgor Gaibhre. Four Munro’s and Three Munro Tops down, one Munro to go!
It was a 230 metre drop to the bealach and then another 220 metres up to the summit of Carn Dearg. The path was well worn and easy to run so it did not take too long to cover the three kilometres between the peaks. The ascent was beginning to take its toll now so I was happy to reach my final peak. I stopped and knocked off a couple of photos and then contemplated my route back to the car at Rannoch station. One option would be to head south west off the summit down to Corrour Old Lodge and pick up the ‘The Road to the Isles’ path to the Allt Eigheach. Another option would be to stay on the summit ridge and head directly south off the summit and meet up with the same path at the Allt Eigheach.
I decided on the summit path and what an inspired decision it was. What followed was five kilometres of trail running bliss. A single track meandered up over Meall nam Fiadh before gradually descending over Sron Leachd a’Chaorainn and off the shoulder. It was runnable all the way and I knocked the distance off in thirty minutes. Unfortunately all good things to come an end and I still had eight kilometres to go on a combination of a construction road and then a final blast on tarmac back to the car. Five Munro’s, three Munro Tops, an amazing route and only met one person all day. Perfect!