Rannoch Moor

20 March 2011
Summary
Route Distance: 17.28 km Estimated Time: 5:53
[snow made it longer]
Total Ascent: 384 m Total Descent: 384 m
Details

It has been many years since Iain and I have been out trekking together, but this weekend it finally all came together and we headed off to the Corrour Old Lodge on Rannoch Moor. The drive up was through beautiful countryside and the closer we got to Rannoch, the more snow there was on the hill tops. This worried me slightly as I was not really geared up for the cold.

From the car park, we set off up the path which was clear of snow and easy walking and soon arrived at a large foot bridge for a quick snack and short rest. The wind was quite strong for most of the way until we reached the small tree plantation which sheltered the path and all the layers I was wearing were now too many! Out of the shelter of the trees and up into the heavier snow. Some parts of the path were completely covered with snow in various depths from just a few inches to a few feet and little indication as to depth until you sank. This snow also hid little streams, which were deep enough to cover boots and soak your feet!

The views of Rannoch Moor were outstanding and worth the effort to see.

We arrived at Corrour Old Lodge, set up the stove and got some tea on. By the time tea was made I was going cold with my sweaty base layer leaching out the heat, so I dug out my dry sack to get a clean and dry thermal t-shirt… only to find it was a pair of thermal long johns! Shivering now, I put on a thick fleece and waterproof, but the dampness of the base layer transferred to the fleece and I was soon shivering again! Crap. Luckily Iain had an awesome RAB down jacket, so all damp items removed and jacket on and the shivering soon stopped.

Valuable lesson there… when you pack, make sure you are packing what you think you are packing. If I had packed the thermal t-shirt instead of the long johns, everything would have been fine. Dressing for the effort would also have helped - on the way back I wore only the base layer (no fleece or jacket) and did not even break a sweat!

Once the tent was pitched and gear stowed, we got dinner underway. Reider travellunch: dried meals in a foil pack that you just add water to. They were surprisingly good and very warming. While we ate, the Corrour to Rannoch train passed. We could hear it easily, but it was not so easy to spot. When we finally did, it was tiny and gave a whole new scale to the scenery around us. Shortly after the train passed a military helicopter followed the tracks, very close to the ground.

With the light fading we cleared up out gear and retired to the tent. I was using my new GoLite Ultralite 1 Season Backless Down Sleeping Bag and POE Ether Thermo Mat, which is basically a down blanket on a lilo. At 1 season it’s only rated to 4C and the temperature on my watch was saying it was already 2C! I also had a fleece liner. Iain had been laughing at my gear choice and to be honest after the lack of thermal t-shirt incident, I was now a little worried that this would turn out to be a poor equipment choice. My worries were groundless. We sat in the tent until about midnight drinking a little Whisky (mmm, Isle of Jura) then slept. The lilo made the bumpy ground nice and smooth, almost like a futon and the down blanket did keep me nice and warm.

Breakfast was noodles, hot chocolate and some chai. The chai was an instant packet mix from Royal Tea and whilst it did not have quite the same taste of original Indian chai (but then it was not made in a big bucket that had 50 years of tea making ingrained) it was surprisingly good. The cloud had come down and visibility was not very far, a few tens of meters. We packed up and headed off and as we got to about half way back the cloud started to lift to provide some dramatic light to the hills and moor. A stunning close to a fantastic trek.

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