BEINN NA LAP isn’t one of the most highly rated of Scotland’s mountains but it is fast catching up on Mull’s Ben More as the choice for a final Munro party.
This rounded hill sits quietly and inoffensively above Loch Ossian but the increasing popularity of the remote railway halt at Corrour has seen its stock rise in recent years.
Corrour is the station which famously featured in the film Trainspotting, when Renton and the gang had a day off from their usual routine and took a trip into the great outdoors. It’s where he made his imfamous “Scotland is shite” speech.
Corrour is the only rail station in the UK which can’t be reached by road and it has long been a favourite of hill walkers. At weekends they can be seen pouring out of the central carriage doors on to the short platform for a day in the hills.
Beinn na Lap only takes a couple of hours to complete and coupled with the attraction of a train journey through some of our finest countryside it’s perfect for an expedition that often involves dragging along the whole family to the final peak.
An added bonus is that the station houses a restaurant and hotel so that triumphant parties can enjoy a few beers and a fine meal as an apres-hill celebration.
There are only three trains a day in either direction and for many years the only overnight accommodation was at the youth hostel on the shores of Loch Ossian.
Now with three rooms available for guests, the station restaurant is fast becoming one of the country’s more sought-after eating places with the option of an overnight stay.
But Beinn na Lap isn’t the only mountain you can tackle from Corrour. A walk through from the platform takes you into the heart of the Alders, big muscular hills that give long and strenuous expeditions.
Strong walkers will do all six in one big round but for those who prefer to break it down into smaller days there are two fine bothies available.
Culra sits in the heart of the main round and is an ideal splitting point for a two-day trip while Benalder cottage, while more remote, is ideal for an assault on Ben Alder and Beinn Bheoil from the south. It’s also reputedly haunted by the ghost of a ghillie who killed himself and many otherwise sensible folk having reported hearing bumps in the night.
You can also tackle the horseshoe walk around the Road to the Isles which leads back out to Loch Rannoch, and a selection of other Munros and smaller hills around Loch Treig.
One of my favourite memories was waiting at Rannoch Station on a December morning, hundreds of chaffinches hopping round my feet looking for titbits, then seeing the overnight sleeper from London creep silently out of the icy mist.
I was the only passenger at Rannoch but once on board I met a few other hardy souls crowded into the one available carriage like refugees in a scene from Doctor Zhivago, heading for all points north and west.
My target that day was Leum Uilleim (William’s Leap), a curvaceous Corbett across the other side of the tracks. But with seven hours between trains that day, I managed to fit in Beinn na Lap as well.
(First published Daily Record, May 23, 2013)