It had been a while since I’d travelled solo and a long time since I did so in Scotland.
I was looking for somewhere remote and unique. Somewhere away from the busyness of home life and the city, where I could reconnect with myself and with the beautiful landscape of Scotland.
And I needed it to be affordable and reachable by public transport.
Not the easiest list of boxes to tick…
Except that, I managed to find the place that did so, and I’m SO glad I did.
Loch Ossian Hostel is run by Hostelling Scotland, who I’ve worked with in the past. This trip was just for me, however.
It had been on my radar for a while, and the more I looked, the more it seemed to fit. I spent two blissful nights there, and I would go back in a heartbeat.
The adventure started with getting on the train at Glasgow Queen Street, and by the time the train slowed at Corrour Station, my stomach was churning with anticipation.
I exited the train along with a few others and popped into Corrour Station to book for dinner the following night (required!).
In the process, I ran into Jan, who is the hostel manager – that day happened to be her 70th birthday, although you would absolutely never imagine that.
She was with Alex, who I later learnt is almost 80, yet you would also never know. He regularly comes to stay at the hostel or, in his tent out by the loch, to help out around the property. Better than spending his retirement all in Glasgow all the time, he said!
I met lots of people of various ages over my two days at the hostel, including young and older couples hiking, and something that really stood out to me was our conversations at the hostel about age and how it really is just a number.
It’s up to you how you take care of yourself and how you keep yourself active and involved in the things you want to do in life.
This trip was so rejuvenating for me, having had two children in the past 4.5 years and sometimes feeling like I’m never going to get back to “myself”. There’s plenty of time, and this was a first step.
The History of Loch Ossian Hostel
Loch Ossian is the embodiment of “wild Scotland”. Its remote setting in the Grampian Mountains lends it a romantic air. It’s a long loch surrounded by mountains on all sides, both close and in the distance, no matter where you look.
Perched at one end of the loch is the Loch Ossian Hostel. It was formed out of a boathouse and stables built around 1895 that was used by passengers waiting for the steam yacht along the loch to Corrour Lodge at the other end.
The stables were for the pony that pulled a light carriage for the passengers and their luggage from the Corrour Railway Station a further mile west.
Around 1931 it was gifted to Stirling Maxwell, an environmentalist who turned it into a Youth Hostel.
In its current state, it is an eco-hostel used by those keen to walk and cycle in the area or rest on their journey further into or out of the Highlands.
There were undated black and white images of women hiking and climbing in the snow and children coming with their backpacks to stay in the hostel. I love that there is a real sense of history here, and we’ve all added to it in our own way.
Walks around Loch Ossian
Loch Ossian Hostel is the perfect location for walkers of all levels.
In my time there, I came across people who only walked between Loch Ossian Hostel and Corrour Station, others who did the flatter Loch Ossian Circuit, and those trying to do every hill and mountain in sight.
I use WalkHighlands to help me plan walks. You can look up all of these there.
Loch Ossian Circuit
Basically, a flat walk around the loch, although there is a small side path up to see some fairy pools on the northern side, which I’m told is beautiful in the autumn.
It’s quite a long walk at 14km and could take anywhere from 4-6 hours.
Beinn na Lap – Munro
A Munro is a mountain in Scotland that’s over 3000 ft, or 914.4 metres and is on the Scottish Mountaineering Club’s official list of Munros.
Beinn na Lap is 935 metres high, but because you’re already starting from 400m at the hostel, it makes it a relatively easy one to do. Which I was perfectly happy with!
The track is pretty easy, and you can even see it from the hostel. It goes straight up the side of the mountain before taking a sharp right turn and heading upwards. I lost it a little near the top as it gets more rocky, but once you can see the summit, it’s fine.
I also managed to overshoot the sharp turn to go down on my way back as it was raining hard, but it was easy enough to retrace my steps and find it again.
You get most of the steep work over at the start, so then you can enjoy the views up to the top.
It will take around 3-5 hours. It took me 3 hours and 45 minutes, and I stopped a lot to take photos and had a leisurely lunch at the top.
Leum Uilleim – Corbett
A Corbett is a Scottish mountain under 3000ft (a Munro) but above 2500 ft, or 762 metres, with a drop of at least 500ft between any listed hill and another next to it.
This is the mountain they talk about climbing in the first Trainspotting movie (although they never actually do!). It’s located to the west of Corrour Station.
It’s around 4 hours to walk to Rannoch Station, and you can then time it with a train back to Corrour.
This loch with a sandy beach is around a 2-4 hour walk, 4.3km from Corrour Station. There is a track from the station and also one from the hostel.
Sgor Gaibhre and Carn Dearg – Munros
These two Munros are at the eastern end of Loch Ossian and can be added on to Beinn na Lap or done on their own.
It’s probably the longest and most challenging option from the hostel. It’s a circular track that can be accessed from the hostel or the eastern end of Loch Ossian and stretches 22km, taking around 7-8 hours.
Carn Dearg could be done on its own by going up and back the track, but since you’re up there and they’re connected by a ridge, it’s likely you’ll want to continue on…
What to Expect at Loch Ossian Hostel
There is strictly no car access to the hostel! While there are some vehicles allowed through on the private estate roads for maintenance etc, you absolutely must make your way to the hostel on foot or bicycle.
The nearest station is Corrour Station which is on the West Highland Line stretching from Glasgow to Fort William/Mallaig. It’s a mile away and takes around 20-30 minutes to walk.
Make sure you’re in the right carriage as the train splits, and half of it will go to Oban, so you need to be in the Fort William/Mallaig part, and the platform is also short, and you’ll want to be able to get off!
It will say on the board at Glasgow Queen Street, and you can ask ticket attendants both there and on the train to be sure.
Open year-round, but from November to March, it’s only open Wednesday to Sunday or for exclusive use at other times.
The hostel is open for check-in from 3.45 pm, but things are pretty flexible, so make contact with the manager if you need to. They’ll send a big email of advice in the week or so before you go, so read up!
The female dorm has 4 bunk beds (sleeps 8 ), and the male dorm has 6 beds (sleeps 12). Each dorm has a bathroom with a hot shower and sinks. The composting toilets are located in a separate building out the back of the hostel.
The kitchen is fully equipped with cooking utensils, pots etc., and there is also a small fridge and a microwave.
There is a woodburning fire in the kitchen area and electric heaters in the dorms, but bring warm clothes as you’ll likely spend a lot of time outdoors!
You need to bring everything in and out with you. There are some limited supplies at the hostel “store” and a shared leftover food cupboard, but I’d recommend taking what you think you need, plus your own rubbish and recycling bags to take it back out with you.
There is a small composting bin for organic food waste.
Wifi & Signal
Wifi and signal are generally only available away from the hostel, depending on your carrier.
There is wifi available at the generator building, a short 5-minute walk away (no access, so you stand outside), although I found I had better 4G just before this and in random spots around the nearby trails. Otherwise, you’ll need to head back up to Corrour Station House to use their wifi.
It is possible to eat out at Corrour Station House while you’re staying at Loch Ossian Hostel or even at Rannoch Tea Rooms if you walk/train there and back.
However, the former is at least 20 minutes walk away, and it would get tiresome doing that all the time. I’d recommend bringing at least some breakfast supplies and snacks and planning all your meals before you go.
For me, that looked like this:
Lunch on the train from Edinburgh to Glasgow that I bought at M&S at Waverley Station.
Dinner was also a nice falafel salad I picked up from M&S at Waverley Station. There’s one at Glasgow Queen Street too, and I don’t normally eat M&S food a lot, so it was a treat for me!
Breakfast was porridge and a slightly squashed banana.
Lunch was on the trail, and I packed protein bars made of nuts and chocolate and some other snacks, and a small quiche that I’d also bought from the supermarket and kept in the hostel fridge after I arrived.
Dinner was at Corrour Station House – the venison stew was amazing!
Breakfast was porridge again
Lunch was at Corrour Station House just before my train came in at 12.30. Plus a cake for the train ride…
I also took coffee, tea, some powdered milk, chocolate, and some mandarins. As you can see, I didn’t actually cook much at all, but you could easily plan to do so to keep the budget down. The weekend away was my treat, so I spoiled myself a little!
What to Pack for Loch Ossian Hostel
Pack like you’re going to be camping but without the camping gear!
Essentially, you’ll want a backpack (or two). While I did see someone with a small suitcase, the track between the station and the hostel is basically a gravel road, and I wouldn’t have fancied pulling a suitcase along…
I took two bags – a larger backpack full of all my gear, toiletries, and some food items, and then a daypack with my camera gear and some other food I picked up at the train station just before I left. This is also what I took on my hike.
- A torch or headlamp if you need to be out at night – less important for me as it was so close to the summer solstice and seemed to barely get dark!
- A second pair of shoes or sandals for around the hostel – I took jandals/flip-flops, and this worked fine for me, but you might want something warmer.
- Rain cover for your backpacks – I forgot a rain cover for my larger bag, and it was raining a bit when I walked from the station to the hostel, but luckily not too much.
- Rubbish bags for your food and recycling to take it out again.
- Something to do – I read two books in my two nights at the hostel! While I spent some time talking to others at the hostel, I also enjoyed reading my books. There is a small library and some games on a bookshelf by the front door, but you might want to consider taking something yourself too.
- A towel – You can hire these from the hostel, but I find it’s easy to take your own and you can dry it by the fire too
- Daypack – If you intend to do any hiking
- Swimsuit – So you can enjoy a wild swim!
- Food – See above for what food I took and how I planned my meals.
- Clothes – I packed hiking clothes (waterproofs, leggings and layers, hiking socks), my hiking boots, several spare pairs of socks, pyjamas and comfy clothes for around the hostel.
- Small first aid kit – Plasters for blisters, pain relief, and any medications you need.
- OS Map – There is a box full of printed maps there but it’s easiest to take your own just in case. Look for OS Explorer 385 Rannoch Moor & Ben Alder.
I adored my time at Loch Ossian Hostel. I felt renewed and re-energised by the time out in nature, time on my own, and at least more disconnected from technology than normal. The best thing was I certainly didn’t miss it, and I could have spent many more days there without it.
I’ll definitely be booking another trip in future, and if you want somewhere to go in Scotland that feels off the beaten track, then I recommend you do too!