13th to 15th October 2017 - Tulloch Station Lodge, Tulloch
Stepping out of your kitchen door directly onto the southbound platform of the West Highland Line is one of the most endearing features of Tulloch Station Lodge, a hostel in the converted station building at Tulloch. We arrived on Friday night to find the hostel in darkness, occupied only by Claire who’d earlier run down from Corrour on Rannoch Moor, having taken a morning train from Glasgow. Still dressed in her running gear and not at her fragrant best she had nevertheless filled her time usefully and allocated all known snorers on the meet into a room of their own. I think it’s fair to say this was an experiment that, while bold in its execution, was generally well received and the snorers reported an undisturbed night. Q.E.D.
With the power restored later on Friday evening and with a reasonable forecast for Saturday, hill plans were hastily put together. Five of us started our Saturday walk by stepping out of said kitchen door and taking the scenic 15 minute train journey to Rannoch Moor. Alighting at a rather chilly Corrour Station, the rain held off and the tops stayed clear as we split into two groups: Marcus and Katrina heading for Beinn na Lap while myself, Alan and Anne headed up Leum Uilleum. The forecast suggested the best chance of dry weather was in the vicinity of Loch Treig and though the actual weather has a habit of making a mockery of such detailed forecasting, today the forecasters were spot on. With the exception of one or two squally showers, the day stayed dry if rather grey, while further west the big peaks of Lochaber were shrouded in dark clouds. Those not catching the train didn’t stray far, with Alison F, Perry, Ken and Claire pairing Leana Mhor with Beinn Iaruinn in Glen Roy while Tim climbed two of the Beinn Deargs at the end of Glen Roy before returning to his car and heading up again, this time to Beinn Iaruinn. To the east of Loch Treig, Pauline, Dave, Nigel, David and Thibault climbed Stob Coire Sgriodain and Chno Dearg, enjoying some good views. From the summit of Beinn na Lap, Marcus struck out northwards to return to Tulloch on foot, repeating some of Claire’s run from the previous day. The rest of the Corrour party reconvened at the station and with the next train north over 2 hours away, we whiled away the time tucking into the excellent homemade food at the station restaurant. Rounding off the day, Fiona & Mike had the most frustrating time, having to ditch their plans for Gairich and head to Belford Hospital in Fort William for an emergency course of antibiotics to treat Fiona’s infected finger. Apparently sport climbing in Kalymnos is not just about lying around in the sun!
On Saturday evening the sleeper to London passed through the station and as the attractive liveried coaches trundled by, some onlookers got quite an eyeful as one passenger had decided to undress in their cabin without first closing the curtains! Thankfully the train wasn’t stopping.
The torrential rain and winds originally forecast for the whole weekend, finally arrived on Sunday morning and there was a distinct lack of enthusiasm over breakfast. Dave and Pauline headed straight home, taking a sickening Claire with them, while Thibault took the return portion of Claire’s ticket for the train back to Glasgow. Many opted to head east with the promise of better weather: Alan managed a run up Meall a’ Bhuachaille near Aviemore where it was sunny and dry but so windy he had to come off the ridge early as he couldn’t stand up, Nigel and David climbed Creag Bheag, a Marilyn above Kingussie, Alison F, Ken and Perry stayed low and walked in the woods near Dunkeld and myself and Katrina enjoyed watching salmon hurling themselves up a waterfall on the River Braan. Not everyone was deterred by the weather in the west. Tim had his sights on Glas Bheinn near Kinlochleven and after sitting in his car for a while waiting for the rain to ease he eventually set out. The wind was so strong at Loch Eilde Mor he almost turned back, but with the weather steadily improving he pushed on and made the top. The steady improvement in the west was echoed by Mike who stole the cheekiest ascent of the weekend. After a morning spent climbing with Marcus at the climbing wall in Fort William, he dropped Fiona off at Lagangarbh hut for an SMC committee meeting and then made a fast ascent of the Buachaille by a wet Curved Ridge, returning to the hut via Coire na Tulaich. Ten out of ten for effort!
After an absence of some years it was good to have a meet based at Tulloch Station Lodge again. With so many options literally on the doorstep and so many others within an easy drive, I’m sure we’ll be back again soon.