A great Corbett which is a mighty leap from the nearest civilisation

The days are stretching out again. Once again longer walks can be contemplated, bags packed just a little fuller and feet brought home.

By The Newsroom
Wednesday, 13th July 2016, 3:00 pm
Mighty Buachaille Etive Mor as seen from Leum Uilleam

Thus Leum Uilleim, which is the Gaelic for William’s Leap, though why anyone named Bill wanted to jump from this week’s chosen mountain is a mystery to me!

We had driven halfway across Scotland to catch the early train at Rannoch Station.

We were only on the train for one stop, yet it was a slow trundle over that section of Rannoch Moor that made us promise ourselves to come again, just to roam the wilderness properly.

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For wilderness it is; peaty wastelands punctured by lochs and lochans were barely hinted at as we pressed our noses against the carriage’s dirty window, straining for a view.

The cloud was down to mere couple of hundred feet and unpromising as we stepped from the train at Corrour Halt.

All we could see of our mountain was its toes.

And yet above us we sensed the sun boldly burning away at the early morning clouds, faint blue patches were already hinting at the forecasters’ promised sunshine.

Corrour Halt is probably the most remote railway station in Britain.

Making our day an unusually easy one, the platform stands on the 400 metres contour.

From the tracks a soggy looking A.T.V. track pointed in the direction of the cone of our Corbett barely a mile ahead.

Even as we set off that cone began to throw off its shawl of cloud.

Soggy it was, that track, so we were glad to get to grips with the rockier hillside; on Sron an Lagain Ghairbh’s steeper slopes we climbed at last.

The views unfolded as we rose. South especially was superb; rising from the sea of cloud created by an inversion, like so many black islands, peeped many of the peaks of the Southern Highlands, Schiehallion, in particular like a great Egyptian pyramid.

Our own pyramid quickly ascended we were treated to a kilometre of almost flat grassy ridge and a gob smacking view from the 906 metre summit of Leum Uilleim.

The Blackmount, Creise and the Buachailles and, highest of all the Argyll peaks, Bidean nam Bian, all seemed but a William’s leap away in the south.

In the north, waiting to grow as we walked around the ridge, Ben Nevis lorded it over the Mamore peaks and the pale Grey Corries.

I’ve said it many times in this column in the past but it really is difficult to better the views to be had from some of Scotland’s “lesser” Corbetts.

Already our climb was basically over.

For our final short ascent we turned west and wandered down to a slight dip in the ridge and thence quickly up again onto Bheinn a Bhric for a wonderful view to the east where the blue banana of Loch Ossian sat framed by the distant Bealch Dubh and Ben Alder.

With more grand vistas along the fjord of Loch Treig, itself hemmed beautifully by Stob Coire Sgriodain, on its eastern side and the Easains to the west, we dropped down the long gentle ridge above lonely Coire a Bhric Beag.

Somewhere along the ridge of An Diollaid we discovered another A.T.V. track which led us all the way down to the railway line and the ancient “road to the isles’”.

The first time we ever came here there was nothing but the station, now there is an incongruous modern building boasting Britain’s remotest restaurant and B&B.

Thank goodness there isn’t a road to reach it; you come by train or walk a long, long way!

It had been a glorious morning. We had enjoyed sparkling views but now, as the sun climbed into its mid-day height, the views began to grow hazier as thin high cloud streamed in from the south. But oh, for early May, it was warm!

A mile east, at the head of Loch Ossian, a charming wooden youth hostel nestles amongst waterside trees.

There were one or two other walkers about and folk on mountain bikes.

We sweated below little Meall na Lice, almost a mini replica of Glencoe’s Three Sisters.

A rough path came down to join the lochside track, a sign said: “Peter’s Rock: Peter Trowell was a mountain man who loved this area much, he died at only 30 years of age.”

A nearby stone, with a neat memorial plaque, bears a poetic tribute to the man: “I have a friend and a song and a glass; Gaily along life’s road I pass; Joyous and free outdoors for me; Over the hills in the morning...”

For the next four miles or so we walked high on the flanks of a Munro with the dull and common name of Carn Dearg, which simply means red cairn.

Memories returned of the first time I’s climbed that hill, in company with its neighbour, across Corrie Eagheach, Sgorr Gaibhre.

Although the names might sound mundane there was nothing ordinary about these fine mountains.

It had been a wonderful outing.

After another mile or so we came upon the ruins of Corrour Old Lodge.

None of the remaining walls stand more than a few feet high now yet, judging by their extensive sprawl, here stood a substantial shooting lodge in its hey day.

Clach nan Fhuarain, marked on the map beside the rough path we trod, means stone of the well or spring.

We passed a number of candidates for this title, but only one that really fitted the bill, an ordinary looking chunk of rock from beneath which a spring of water actually seemed to flow, as at Meribah.

And still we had plenty of walking left to do. Below Sron Leachd a Chaorainn, with its skyline pencil cairn standing like a man, we stopped for more refreshments.

The water of Blackwater Reservoir glinted in the distance and those of little Lochan a Chlaidheimh (lochan of the claymore), showed us the line of the railway.

Add STILL we had plenty of walking left to do!

At the bridge over the Allt Eigeach, we found a huge slab of rock midstream on which we sat to eat our remaining ration, and bathe our aching feet.

The sun at our backs and the water singing all about us. It was idyllic!

If our feet were sore, our bones were growing weary!

Happily a couple more miles had us at the roadside by Loch Eigheach and 20 painful minutes left before we reached the car at Rannoch Station.

We’d been walking for ten hours, had climbed a mere 1800feet or so, that’s true. But for every hundred feet we’d climbed we’d walked a mile.

Near the station there is a hotel. The last time here we’d been refused a drink unless we bought a meal.

Today we gave the place a wide berth. There was lemonade in the boot of the car, albeit warmed up by the sun.

Not many miles back down the road, at Kinloch Rannoch’s own fine watering hole, we were assured of a leisurely pint or two to get us on our way back east.

Leum Uilleim: Map - O.S. sheets 41 & 42, start/finish - Corrour Halt (grid ref. 664355), ascent - 2000ft/610m, distance - 18 miles/29km