This month we are inspiring you to Be SYHActive! Steffen our volunteer from Germany currently helping at the SYHA National Office tells us how he uses youth hostels as a great base for getting out and about to explore Scotland's more remote areas...
It was our first summer-like weekend in Scotland so we planned a trip to visit the Lochaber area. I took the train from Stirling to Fort William straight after work to meet Killian, a volunteer at Oban, at Glen Nevis Youth Hostel and, after a proper dinner, we sat and planned our ascent of Ben Nevis. The next day started really early, but the weather wasn’t on our side. Our hike was not easy with a wet, boggy ground underfoot and a steep track. Up on the plateau, the conditions were really icy and snowy so we had to be careful and made sure to have our crampons on and ice axes to hand*. The winter conditions caused us to move at a slower pace but when we reached the shelter at the highest point, it was superb! Around us everything was just white, but inside the shelter it was nice and we stopped here for a snack. Our descent was more far more pleasurable because the weather was turning into sunshine. Halfway down, we took another break. With the water on our right and Glen Nevis just in front the view was fantastic. Back in the youth hostel, there was still some time left, so we popped in and ate some scones with jam. What a nice day on Scotland’s highest mountain!
After our stay in Glen Nevis, the next stop on our route was Loch Ossian Youth Hostel. From Fort William you can take the train towards Glasgow and get off at Corrour Station. The most remote train station in the UK is a sight on its own, but the youth hostel‘s location is even better. Right beside Loch Ossian and the stunning Rannoch Moor area, there is nothing around, just nature. A warm welcome from the manager and the other guests along with the hearty atmosphere made us feel right at home. The fireplace was alight and it was really easy to get into conversation. Not only was the inside amazing, but outside you could see hundreds of millions of stars in the sky - something only visible in such a remote area.
The following day we were woken up by the sun. We left our peaceful accommodation and walked along the side of Loch Ossian. At the end the path continued straight, but we turned right to climb the Munro Carn Dearg. Making our way through bushes and snow, we spotted around 30 red deer grazing in the distance, but when they noticed us they fled right away. The sun was shining and a crystal clear sky made us stop a bit too often to have a look out over the Southern Highlands. When we finally reached the summit, it was time for lunch. Sitting in the snow while bathed in the sun felt like a paradox but was definitely enjoyable. The descent was easy and the road took us back to Loch Ossian where we had some time to spare before our train so took advantage of the warm weather and our water-side position with a jump in the loch!
The train journey back through the Lochaber area was just as nice as the day, with all of the stunning scenery going past. Back in the harbour at Fort William we ate fish and chips and reminisced about the last couple of days. It was really nice and left us looking forward for the summer. Fingers crossed its going to be a really nice one!
*Remember walking in winter conditions can be dangerous - see blog post by Jim from Nineonesix Guiding for more details
Biography for SYHA Hostelling Scotland
Scotland's best known network of youth hostels in stunning city & rural locations. Go on a #SYHAdventure! As a not-for-profit organisation, we encourage guests to join SYHA Hostelling Scotland. Members enjoy a range of exclusive benefits including dual membership of Hostelling International, providing access to more than 4,000 youth hostels in over 90 countries worldwide. Membership and guest overnight income supports our charitable youth programmes and the maintenance of the hostelling network, particularly in rural Scotland.