Best Backpacking Days #3 – Rannoch Moor to Loch Ericht

A look back at some stand out days of backpacking. Today we go back to May 2018 and the TGO Challenge. That year my route started in Oban, and took in Glen Etive, Rannoch Moor, Dalwhinnie, Glen Tromie, Glen Feshie, Ballater, Glentannar Forest, Fetteresso Forest and Stonehaven. An unexpectedly solo route after my walking partner withdrew shortly before the event.

Sometimes backpacking days grow in awesomeness with the passage of time. The painful or uncomfortable pushed to the back of the mind and the radiant and sublime coming to the fore. This day was one of those. The passing of a couple of years has imbued this day with a bit of a rose-tint, but when you strip away the reasons why it didn’t always feel like that at the time, it really WAS a great day of backpacking.

I started the day from my camp spot next to the track across Rannoch Moor, which had given me such sublime sunset views. This morning though, I had blue skies.

The views back to Glencoe were pretty good even though they were behind me and getting further away.

The track that had brought me from Kingshouse with ease, now petered out and I found myself threading a route across heather. Heather-bashing would come to be a bit of a theme of this trip. I was relieved to reach the forest, but it took a bit of thwacking about at its fringe before a secure track emerged. But the track took me all the way to Rannoch Station.

Now Rannoch Station has a fine tea room, and consequently was responsible for a considerable delay as I put away second breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea, in one epic troughing session.

More pathless terrain awaited me as I cut the corner off to head north to Loch Ericht. Given that I was behind schedule, it was probably not a great idea to climb a completely unnecessary hill, and still less to deal with a precipitous descent the other side where a bog awaited.

I tired and my focus became all on just getting to the loch, and putting to the back of my mind that my plan had me then going some distance up the loch before stopping. Water was running low and I was so sick of bog-hopping that I elected to climb to gain the surefootedness of a track. The track got me to the loch without further ado, and arguably I could have followed it all the way from the road east of Rannoch station if I’d been prepared to do some extra distance.

My legs told me it was time to stop, and I found a place by the loch, feeling all done in. This turned out to be a great spot – very few people passed, and those that did suggested I’d have had a bit of a crowd at Ben Alder Cottage. A solitary evening was spent exploring the dead wood at the loch’s edge, tending to my feet, de-ticking myself and watching a film. Although clouded by how I was feeling, it was a great camp and I’d seek the spot out again.

So, moor, forest, a tea room, a hill bagged, a loch and a great camp – what more could you ask for in a day’s backpacking ?

Best Backpacking Days is an occasional series of short posts looking back on past walks. They’re in no particular order, and have been drawn randomly to keep it fun. The series features backpacking in the Lake District, Scotland, Wales, Dartmoor, and even the South East of England.

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