The annual club pilgramige to Loch Ossian went ahead in fine style this year. Don’t believe those forecasts – apart from a bit of wind and some occasional rain, we were once again blessed with some very pleasant Autumn weather. I get to enjoy the company of Dave, Steffen and Vicky on the drive up to Bridge of Orchy, where we meet the rest of the party, all except Lucy and Stanley who took the train from Arrochar. After a hearty meal it’s all aboard the train to Corrour, and then head torches out for the walk to the hostel. There’s construction work about, with the building of three power stations around the loch – presumably responsible for a car (!) passing us along the track. Tut tut – the place used to be so quiet! The hostel is as always, set right next to the loch with a warming fire to greet us. Kit stowed, maps out and planning begins for tomorrow’s adventures. Dave brings out a bottle of whiskey, which disappears in short order. An early-ish night. I sleep well, and by 8 or so next morning we’re all looking fresh and keen. I’ve decided to explore the west of Loch Treig this year, and set off at a gentle plod along the track. As I approached the railway underpass, I hear another runner behind me. Turns out to be a member of Locharber who has taken the train to Corrour and is running back to Spean Bridge. We chat until I turn off at the start of the Lairig Leacash and head up toward Stob Coire Easain. It’s a cold climb in the wind, and I’m soon wearing all my kit. Must be an exposed face, as the wind doesn’t want to let up. I shelter briefly in some crags and have a bite to eat. It’s a straightforward climb to the top, and despite the wind the view is clear. Mindful that I’m on my own, close to steep gullys and in wind that makes standing difficult, I decide to head down and soon reach a stretch of peat hags between two hills. Stags bellow in the distance. A stop for more food, then a slightly tricky descent and I’m back to the river. Just before I reach Loch Treig I look back and see the hills brightly lit in a burnt orange. Alas, no camera! I walk the track by the loch, feeling in no hurry to leave here. Then the rain steps up, so it’s head down and a more energetic plod back to the hostel. Too late and cold for a dip in the loch today. Time to bring out my Lemon and Apricot cake (see Recipies section of the club web page!) and start preparing for dinner. This mostly involves drinking, watching an extended version of shift-the-tables, placing plastic webs, spiders etc. in inappropriate locations throughout the hostel, and putting together a sausage and chorizo goulash to simmer in the oven. Oh, and more drinking. Dinner at Loch Ossian is one of the highlights of the culinary year. You’d be excused for thinking the entree was the main, and good luck on leaving room for dessert! The hostel manager (whose name I have shamefully forgotten) joins us, and proclaims us the best group ever in the history of Loch Ossian hostelling (or words to that effect). And she’s not even seen the fancy dress! Gothic Horror turns out to be a broad theme, encompassing not only the usual vampires and penguins, but the actual, true real Batman and some hideous red-headed harlot. There was a quiz in there somewhere, won by the Team of True Righteousness after the disgraceful elimination of the Cheating Team of Pure Evil. Tables are cleared, and the dance floor opens. We dance. Gradually folk drift off to their bunks. Batman leaves, then Batman returns (I told you he was the actual, true, real Batman!). Steffen is momentarily confused when a women wanders into the bunk room and starts to undress. Only momentarily!
During the night, magic pixies tidy up all the mess. Thank you, Lucy, but really – this is traditionally the mens job :-). Sunday outing planning time. I set off early for my round-the-loch, and fall miserably short of the sub-60 mark. I make up for it with a quick dip. Steffen manages, as does Dave, Stanley and Gwyn (who romps around in 42 minutes, complaining about a slow time). Well done also to Vicky for taking on the challenger. No big exertions for me today, and I join Paula, Doug, Fiona and Colin for a clockwise loch meander. Plenty of time for photos of the Autumn colours. Back for lunch. More soup, curry and pizza. And some delicious lemon drizzle cake. The spiders start to get out of control, gravitating to people’s shoes and hair. Tidy time, ably supervised by Dave and a platoon of sub-supervisors (all of whom happen to be men, but that’s just a coincidence!!). Then the trudge back to the station and the traditional games on the platform. Thanks to all involved for making this such a fabulous weekend. Can hardly wait to do it all again next year!