Sunday, 22 November 2015

Loch Ossian Youth Hostel

A hidden gem!

Run by the Scottish Youth Hostels Association this eco-friendly youth hostel is in a magnificently scenic area and welcomes walkers and climbers who still wish to enjoy some creature comforts whilst roaming the hills.

Situated on Rannoch Moor at the western end of Loch Ossian (you will find it on the Ordnance Survey of Great Britain 1:50,000 Landranger map 41) at grid reference: NN371670 (see on map) it lies slap bang in the middle of a whole group of hills. There are five Munros and numerous beinns, sgors, carns, mealls and other lesser, but no less wonderful, hills within a day's walk of the hostel.

There are also many miles of low-level paths and routes to follow and a complete circuit of the loch is a surprisingly interesting and strenuous day - half on a good tarmac estate road and half on an overgrown and difficult path. If you do go for a stroll be careful to stay on the paths. This is boggy Rannoch Moor and it can be a treacherous place for the unwary - people have simply disappeared here!

A man standing outside Loch Ossian youth hostel
Photograph by the author
There is no public road to Loch Ossian. You either walk in and out (a long way no matter which route you take) or you do it the easy way and take the train - the west highland railway line from Glasgow to Fort William stops at Corrour Halt which is only about a mile from the hostel!

This is a great base for a few days walking and exploring and, indeed, it was our first choice for one of the first multi-day trips my wingman and I ever undertook on the Scottish hills (many years ago).

But it's not just walkers and climbers who come here. Loch Ossian is a well-known and popular fishing destination for that hardy group of anglers who don't mind the isolation. We well remember our first visit there and the taste of fresh trout fried in butter still lives with us today; three minutes from loch to frying pan - you can't get fresher than that!

A friendly deer greets walkers at Loch Ossian Youth Hostel
Photograph by Walter Baxter/Geograph UK
Red deer are common in the area and there used to be a group of semi-tame deer who frequented the immediate area of the hostel hoping for titbits from sympathetic walkers. I believe they were probably the best-fed deer in Scotland!

This hostel can also play a vital part in one of Scotland's many magnificent long-distance routes, which my wingman and I have travelled several times. Starting at the village of Dalwhinnie it is possible to walk westwards to Loch Ossian in one (rather long) day but it is more convenient and sensible to spend a night at either Culra bothy or McCook's Cottage (for an interesting story about McCook's Cottage read this: The Legend of McCook's Cottage).

The journey can then be continued to Loch Ossian where we would spend 2-3 days before moving on further west to another couple of well-placed bothies and then finally on to Fort William taking 5-6 days for the complete trip and climbing several hills on the way - a total journey of about 40 miles/65 kilometers.
A loch with hills in the background
Photograph by Russel Wills/Geograph UK
If you're thinking of walking from Dalwhinnie to Fort William then, as well as the OSGB map 41, you will need the one which covers the Dalwhinnie to Loch Ossian part of the route: OSGB map 42.

Although Loch Ossian Youth Hostel is in a remote area the west highland railway makes it very easy to get to and for that reason it is often full. If you are thinking of spending some time there then booking in advance is strongly recommended. This can be done online at the hostel's website: Loch Ossian Youth Hostel where you can check further details and view some photographs of the hostel.


  1. That sounds a great place for some peace and quiet and good exercise!

    1. The exercise is always there but the peace and quiet can be elusive. It can be a busy place and you need to get away up the hills from the hostel first!