The train pulled out of Waverly Station. We were on the road again: leaving the comfort of Edinburgh for an uncertain destination.
After a quick change at Glasgow, the landscape got steadily wilder – and more dramatic; green hills and waving pine forests eventually gave way, under a glowering sky, to barren moorland.
After a couple of hours, the train pulled into Corrour Station. We got off and, shivering slightly, surveyed the scene. (Incidentally, the famous “I don’t hate the English – they’re just wankers” scene from Trainspotting was shot to the right of the image below – chosen perhaps for its uniquely lonely qualities…)
Anyway, as the train pulled away, it became quite apparent that there was the station house, the railway tracks… and then, well, nothing. Hills and heather. And a lot of nothing. A gravel track ran away towards the loch, and following the signpost, we headed off down it, the driving horizontal rain in our faces.
After a brisk walk, we arrived at Loch Ossian Youth Hostel, wet and cold (this being June, remember!) Never before have HostelBloggers been so grateful to see four walls, a roof, and, we hoped, a bed for the night.
Fortunately, the scene that awaited us inside was perfect. A coal fire belched out heat while Nick the manager ran through the rules and regulations. As well as being one of the most isolated hostels in Scotland, Loch Ossian is an eco-hostel and it takes its environmentally-friendly/conservation role incredibly seriously.
Having warmed up a bit, we ventured outside again. The surrounding area of Loch Ossian and Rannoch Moor is a haven for walkers, and mountains surged upwards everywhere you looked.
While HostelBloggers like a good climb as much as anyone, it was late afternoon, so to get a good view of our surroundings we had to settle for a nearby hill instead.
After a fair bit of puffing and blowing we reached the top… and the views were absolutely spectacular…
…In every direction!
The way that shards of light pierced the heavy clouds and played upon the hills was just stunning. As we stood there surveying the scene, the sky darkened (even more!) on the horizon, and black clouds began to roll in. It was time to get back down again, out of the impending rain, and warm up a bit.
All in all we spent a couple of days on lonely Loch Ossian. We wandered about a bit during the day shooting some video footage; we read, listened to the other guests (all hard-core walkers) compare tales of derring do; played a few slightly boozy games of chess in the evening…
Without doing very much of anything in particular, we just had a great time. The weather was foul, but somehow it seemed fitting – more atmospheric even.
On our last evening, though, the sun finally saw fit to come out… And the scene was absolutely breathtaking.
It’s hard to sum up quite what sort of a place Loch Ossian is. Wild, certainly. And possessing a starkly beautiful, elemental quality, too. Spending time there, it’s impossible not to be struck by the sense of isolation and detachment.
And that, ultimately, is what makes it – and, more broadly, the Highlands of Scotland – so special.
Want to know more about what makes Loch Ossian hostel so eco-friendly? Here’s a little video we put together…