Rounded off the year with a trip to Ben Alder Cottage, dusting down my 80 litre rucksack and walking boots, which certainly have been neglected of late. However, such is the habit forming routine I am now experiencing, it didn’t stop me from booking a cycle berth on the train, not even realising til I got to Glasgow and looked through my tickets. Doh! The plan was to hitch down the road from Rannoch to Bridge of Gaur, and then yomp north through the forestry and on up to the bothy. There used to bus a daily bus service to Pitlochry but now it only operates on a Wednesday in the winter, and only three times a week in the summer. And I got lucky, cadging a lift from a guy delivering building supplies to the house next to the station. The binmen were also in attendance, but according to this bloke, who had made the trip a few times, they were supposedly a particularly grumpy lot. A bit more local knowledge to add to the mix.
The walk in was certainly as long as I remembered and it took the rest of the day, but I was happy in the knowledge that with a bit of coal in the pack, and plenty of trees near the bothy, a comfortable evening was in store. And so it came to pass. The left hand room has recently been transformed into very plush accommodation, with full wood panelling, a sleeping platform and a substantial, and very welcome, wood burning stove. In fact I had a moment of complete zen like peace warming my wine by the heat of the fire, before starting to get spooked by the inevitable creeks and groans coming from the roof, as the temperature dropped outside. The ghost stories associated with the bothy are hard to shake from your consciousness.
In the morning it was absolutely freezing, so much so the river had iced up overnight, and I was glad I didn’t have any particular plans for the day. In the end I forced myself up to the first summit before Beinn Bheoil to take some photos, but I was too lethargic to do anything else. I think I deserved a bit of a break from what has been a very enjoyable but at times quite relentless year. The next day I walked out to Corrour via the Bealach Cumhann and Loch Ossian, stomping my way through 3 miles of undisturbed snow before I got to the lodge. I haven’t been so relieved to make a bridge crossing in my life, and almost kissed the railing in gratitude. I was also pretty ecstatic that the bar/cafe at the station was open despite the lateness in the year. A fellow traveller even bought me a pint. Having a bit of a charmed life at the moment.