Wednesday, 6 November 2013

The Lonely Mountain. Stob Na Cruaiche. Rannoch Moor.

A fine day dawned after a few days of rain so I happily accepted the offer of a lift from Graeme, along with Alex, David and Sandra to head off to the wilds of Rannoch Moor. We parked at Rannoch Station, the isolated outpost on the eastern edge of the moor. On a grim day Rannoch Moor is grim indeed with 50 square miles of loch, bog and peat hag sitting at an elevation of around 1000 feet with little shelter to be had anywhere. Rannoch Station in conditions of  high wind, snow, hail or rain just described can seem like a life giving bubble of sheltered 21st century civilisation even though its just a station waiting room, a few scattered cottages and a stubbornly tenacious handful of trees. Oasis come in all shapes and sizes.
After a long drive in from Pitlochry and the east, via Kinloch Rannoch we arrived at the road end beside the station and parked up. It's amazing the things you find out when you go to a new place. Our hill of choice today was a Graham. Stob Na Cruaiche. 739 metres or 2425 feet approx.. Although the flat basin of  Rannoch Moor is surrounded by Munros (914 metres plus mountains) if any hill can lay claim to being inside Rannoch moor itself it is this one, situated as it is between Loch Laidon and the Blackwater Reservoir.
Views on a clear day are exceptional with vistas across to Beinn Achaladair 1039 metres and Beinn a' Chreachain 1081 metres. Two of my favourite Munros with a truly wild feel, especially in the depths of winter. A long hard day with several hours slogging back through deep snow in the dark at minus -15 degrees. I used to enjoy that kind of thing years ago. Changed days now :0) Good link to the Great Moor of Rannoch and what it contains here.
One thing I didn't know about this place was that it was the home of Donald Duck and also, his nephews Huey, Dewey and Louie plus old Scrooge McDuck himself. Rannoch moor is Dismal Downs in the Disney cartoons!
You couldn't make it up! It was also the setting for part of Robert Louis Stevenson's  much loved novel 'Kidnapped'.
Could this be the track to Dismal Downs, Home of Clan McDuck? Plenty of wild mallards about.  Bizarre. In the words of Sir Michael Caine." Not a lot of people know that." An actor incidentally who also has played Scrooge.
Zoom of Curved Ridge on the Buachaille Etive Mor From Stob Na Cruaiche.
The path up to the summit with wooden fence tracks laid flat to help an ATV get up here, probably for the purpose of deer stalking. This gives you some idea of how the railway line across Rannoch Moor was constructed using timber, brushwood and turf to stabilise the route first before placing the sleepers and metal rails on top, floating the railway on a raft of dense material on top of the existing bog in places where the ground was too soft to take the weight of the train.
View of my companions looking towards the west and the Glencoe hills.
View of the watery expanse of moor surrounding this isolated hill. Hence the title- The Lonely Mountain. Peak of the Peat Stack indeed. A mountain surrounded on all sides by an empty desolation. The dried up bed of the Blackwater Reservoir looking like a soda lake.

Not a hard days hill walk though at around 4 to 5 hours, around 14 km in distance, with a good path up to the summit. You could also do it from the west if you like more of a challenge.
A view of the Blackmount from the edge of Rannoch Moor.
I believe this is a Slippery Jack Mushroom. Also known as a Sticky Bun for obvious reasons. Luckily I don't like mushrooms so I'm never tempted to try them as I hate the texture and flavour of even the white supermarket variety. Don't mind admiring them though as wonderful aspects of nature.
With the news that they may have solved the mystery of the Yeti at long last using DNA testing of hair and skin fibres ( It may be a hybrid type of ancient bear, like a high altitude polar bear if any still remain in the world unaffected by global warming.) its good to know that wonders still remain on the planet. This is a Rannoch Moor Moss Bear. I did see it move- Honest! It feeds on Slippery Jacks and the occasional lone backpacker.
 How a St Andrews Cross is made. I bet sky pilots love creating these although they are not supposed to deviate from the flight plan :0)
A great day out and a cracking hill walk. Save it for a clear day.

Few modern pop videos can claim to be haunting, beautiful, poetic, hypnotic and exquisite, all at the same time but this is one. Filmed around the stunning Lake Ioannina (Pamvotis) in northern Greece which lies at an elevation of 470 metres or one and a half thousand feet high this song is a musical interpretation of Edgar Allan Poe's classic poem 'The Lake'.
If you like this artist I can highly recommend the album 'I am a Bird Now.' Released in 2005. A mercury music prize winner and one of the most extraordinary CDs of the last twenty years featuring fantastic arrangements of piano, saxophone, violin and cello around the themes of transformation and duality. Best watched full screen. A fan video and an excellent one. Some of these are better than the expensive official variety I often find. Crafted with real love and devotion over a longer period of time.


Neil said...

Good to see this one Bob, it is a hill that is on my list to do. I always reckoned that it would be a good viewpoint in a remote setting. Even better to learn that there is a path all the way! It will have to be next year now, though, days are getting too short. Are there any fences etc. that would prevent me taking Ben?

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Neil.
No fences and didn't see any sheep on the hill either. An easy gradient and a good path makes it one of the easiest hills in a long time but very enjoyable.
Ben might need to walk on the grass next to the walkway as his paws might get stuck in the gaps.

Carol said...

Love the moss yeti and the St. Andrews saltire :-)

I like Rannoch Moor in summer - I think I'd find it tough in winter. Gather you've got snow on the hllls already there? :-(

The Glebe Blog said...

A great place for Scrooge McDuck Bob, no place to spend any money and plenty hiding places. Just been looking at satellite views. I can understand why they call it one of the last remaining wildernesses in Europe.
I think your Rannoch Moor Moss Bear is more related to Sasquatch than the Yeti,he looks quite cuddly which would explain how he attracts backpackers.
Like the bright images on the video, but musically I prefer (Little) Anthony and the Imperials, is it an age thing ?

Robert Craig said...

A great hill. Traversed it from west to east and was asked by the local stalker if I thought I was on the West Highland Way! The hill is OK underfoot but I wouldn't fancy trying to cross the moor away from any paths... A wee pic from near the top on the western side of the Black Corries. Gets the Glencoe peaks into a proper perspective:

blueskyscotland said...

Cheers Carol,
Yes, I was up in the Cairngorms at the weekend and the snow is down to 2000 feet there in places though it might melt again as its turned milder in the last few days.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Jim,
Big surprise to find it was the home of Donald Duck. I think I've got young ears when it comes to my music tastes as I'm ashamed to admit I quite like Jessie J, Shakira, and Katy Perry as well.( and no, I'm not Gay :0)
I'll look Tony and the Imps up on you tube. Imps always remind me of Impis, the Zulu warrior army under their ruler Shaka that went on to dominate Africa until the met their nemesis...the repeating rifle and a modern western army.
I like old films...

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Craig.
Yep, I do like my zoom and Rannoch Moor is much wider than it appears in my photos.
Years ago I tried to kayak across it in late summer from the Blackmount using Loch Ba then attempted to drag the kayaks up a small river into the Laidon with my old mate Alistair but the water was too low and we were beaten back by distance and an unseasonal fierce hailstone storm that lasted longer than our patience to wait it out. Seen the wild side of it that day alright

Carol said...

Wouldn't make you gay liking Shakira Bob - not with that body! ;-)

blueskyscotland said...

Thanks Carol, I've always kept myself in good shape :)

Anonymous said...

I wondered where this Graham was starting as you did from Rannoch Station...then realised it was a Marilyn I'd thought of doing a few years back - without realising it was a Graham (oops). Never mind.

Never did it because I wasn't sure about fences at the forestry. So...just for the record...are there any doggy obstacles? I may take the pups that way sometime if there aren't. Oops again...I see my question is answered in your reply to the first comment.

Always thought the views would be good looking at the map...and always good to hear of an easy walk these days..