Trainspotting at Loch Ossian

Did you know that the most remote train station in the British Isles can be reached by a direct train from London Euston?

The little station at Corrour is a request stop on the Caledonian Sleeper to Fort William.  It is possible to leave the noise and bustle of London at nine o’clock each evening to wake, twelve hours later, immersed in the wide open spaces and crisp, clean air of Rannoch Moor.

It is snowing when I arrive in February, and the snow-line on the tall mountains surrounding the station is closer than I had anticipated.

Trainspotting

Corrour Station famously featured in the original film of Trainspotting and, more recently, T2: Trainspotting.  It is the place where Tommy brings Renton, Sick Boy and Spud to experience “the great outdoors” and “fresh air”, only for Spud to declare that “this is not natural, man” and Renton to rant that “it’s shite being Scottish”.

I am inclined to side with Tommy over Spud and Renton: Corrour is about as ‘great outdoors’ as it is possible to find in the British Isles.

Munros and Corbetts

Corrour is 408 metres above sea level, making it the highest mainline railway station in the United Kingdom.  The nearest public road is ten miles away.  Next to the station is a small station house, which includes a restaurant, but it is only open from mid-March to October.

The main visitors to Corrour are Munro and Corbett baggers.  Munros are mountains over 3,000 feet in height; Corbetts between 2,500 and 3,000 feet.  Corrour’s high altitude makes some of these summits reasonably readily accessible.

Although not in February, and not in the snow.

Hostel

The only place to stay is a tiny YHA hostel, located at Loch Ossian.  It is a twenty minute walk from the station along a marked track.

The wind is beginning to blow more strongly, making the temperature feel distinctly sub-zero.  Halfway along the track, the station is no longer visible behind me; the Loch nowhere in sight in front of me.  All around the moor is a boggy wilderness of brown, springy heather and glistening icy pools, treacherous for walking.  To my right, a small, dark hillock looks like an ancient burial mound; too perfectly sculptured to be natural.  And, beside the mound, five shapes suddenly appear out of the landscape, where they had remained invisible until they had moved: red deer does, startled by my approach.

There are three figures on the track ahead.  Two wear combat fatigues; the other a dark jacket.  There is something vaguely sinister about them, viewed in the half-light of the swirling snow.  I am reminded of too many scary movies I have watched; the remoteness of the Scottish Highlands has always been a thriller writer’s dream.

The men approach nearer.  The leader raises his hand in greeting, asks:

“Will you be staying at the hostel, tonight?”

“Yes,” I confirm.

“Good.  So shall we.”

travel_avatar-thumbs-up

Travel writer E. C. Glendenny gives Corrour a big thumbs up.

© E. C. “Easy” Glendenny

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