Bikepacking like other similar pursuits is I think you would agree about the adventure and what you may hope to find. Like with most bikepacking trips I have prepared for I scope out a plausible route while trying to second guess the terrain, the quality of the track (for excitement) along with the kind of scenery I expect to find. Loch Ossian though had been on and off my to-do list since we first moving to Scotland 10 years. The area looked remote but not particularly interesting feature-wise, so we or I would always choose an alternative area or revisit old favourites guaranteed to have some fun. For the purposes of bikepacking through the tracks in the area looked to be particularly well suited, hence the decision to go far it. Also given the time-challenged weekend we had lined up the tracks would make for generally fast riding given the time to travel to the start from home.
When carrying my research looking for a suitable place to pitch the tent my excitement grew when I discovered on Youtube the railway station at Corrour was used in the film Trainspotting. A cult film released in the nineties about a group of heroin drug addicts who decided to leave Edinburgh and travel a few hundred miles north to a really remote railway station to go for a walk. This station is also infamous for the fact it is the only station in Scotland which does not have public road access. You can only visit this station by train, foot, or bike. A very young Ewan McGregor (Starwars Phantom Menace) starred in the film which brought him future success. It occurred to me that with a bit of editing magic I could add their infamous “Now what?” scene to our visit at the same Corrour station.
As we left the main road to start on our journey on double track into the Corrour estate my preconceptions were already firming up to what I thought would be a boring double track ride to Corrour Station.
I should have known better. Yes we had double track, yes they were long and straight. We rode up over a hill through a forest plantation which blocked all view for a few kilometres, all bar a narrow slit of light to the sky. Then the forest just ended, a perfectly straight line perpendicular to the track where the moor and heather started. A ruler line, forest on one side, a carpet of green on the other travelling as far as the eye could see. We emerged into a wide-open landscape devoid of trees, just the track and the rolling hills merging into high rounded ridges cut by glacial forces. It was magnificent with the streams and lochs in the glen. This theme was on a scale I had not seen before. I used the GoPro Hero7 camera for most of the scenic shots so not to lose the scale and detail.
It was only when we reached the far end of Loch Ossian and the rail line at Corrour station did the landscape’s character change again. Like the forest boundary before, the straight line of the railway designated another change in the landscape, a return to the landscape I am normally familiar with around Scotland, something more compact and undulating with boggy bits. We had left the double track for singletrack and boggy ground. That indeed changed the nature of the riding and added additional excitement to the adventure; guessing where the solid ground is and if wrong you win a boot full of bog. Choose wisely the ground you stand on. Other perils like trying to cross very dodgy bridges brought further excitement.
From the railway, we descended a few hundred meters leaving the railway high above us following a far more gentle gradient down. At the bottom, we met Loch Treig and skirted it’s edge to find our place for the night. After several possibilities, we decided on what I guess was the front lawn of the lodge at the mouth of a river entering the loch. The view and being flat decided it.
I also saw this as an opportunity to go for a swim if only because I could remove that sticky icky feeling from six hours of riding. It took about 5 to 10 minutes to get used to the temperature of the water. So glad I did as it made the evening far more comfortable.
We had chicken thai red curry and rice for dinner topped off with a few shots of whisky while playing with the midges. Let’s just say they got very persistent over the night greatly challenging my DIY midge net canopy. When I got home I made some new modifications to improve the security of the netting to stop the midge leaks.
The next morning was a timely planned departure before the inclement weather arrived. It was all planned apart from the bit where I did not put on any midge repellant on which I regretted very quickly. My face swelled up and had to take an antihistamine tablet which I have never done before. I will not be making that mistake again even if the lotions are an icky sticky nuisance.
The heavy rain and low cloud stayed with us for next few hours as we made our way back to our starting point the day before. The sky may have changed but looking at the scenery in the reverse direction did not disappoint.
We arrived back at the car dry’ish as the weather passed on. Quite an eventful trip and another one to remember. A shall in future not overlook an area where the contours are gentle and the singletrack is limited.
–All the best