GUIDE TO THE RIVER OSSIAN
NAME OF RIVER: Ossian.
WHERE IS IT?: In the middle of nowhere...a tributary of the Spean, entering the valley from the north.
PUT-INS/ TAKE-OUTS: Getting there is half the fun! You need to make use of the West Highland Line railway to get you to high, remote Corrour Station. Be nice to the conductor, note that only the night train from Fort William can carry kayaks (guards van) BUT THEY DON'T HAVE TO. You can then bivvy/ bunkhouse/ youth hostel up there, or return by train in the morning. Needs thinking through! Then carry your boats a mile slog to Loch Ossian and paddle the whole 3 miles of it to the far end. The tiddly little stream coming out the end is the Ossian. For the Takeout, read the Ghuilbinn guide.
APPROX LENGTH: Total length of Ossian and Ghuilbinn trip, about 15 miles.
TIME NEEDED: Probably a whole day.
ACCESS HASSLES: Unknown.
WATER LEVEL INDICATORS: You can get an idea of the level by walking up a mile or so from the Spean valley to check the Ghuilbinn's last fall. We have done this in low water, but it is much better after heavy rain. We actually once set off on a morning when this was predicted...but got a blizzard instead. Be warned.
GRADING: Grade 2-3.
MAJOR HAZARDS/ FALLS: Remote, committing...and probably bloody cold.
GENERAL DESCRIPTION: A mini-expedition! From Loch Ossian, easy rapids lead through a beautiful open and wild Glen. In flood the odd ledge would probably generate a powerful hole. Eventually you reach Loch Ghuilbinn and paddle across this to the real reason you have come, the start of the River Ghuilbinn....
OTHER NOTES: The nearest thing to an expedition you'll get in the UK? Take appropriate kit.
Andrew Jackson (SCA Scotland, June 2004)...'I followed this one up with Corrour estates at the time and the access issue has been resolved. No problem with access to the river or loch. The fence that is mentioned shouldn't present much of an obstruction as it is on a flat section and there is a handy gate for portaging.'
Chas Couchman (April 2004)...'On Wednesday last week a group of four paddlers decided to make the trip down the Ossian and Gulbinn via British Rail from Laggan Dam. We left our boats overnight at Corrour station and set out Wednesday morning, on arrival at Corrour we were approached by the lady owner of the Bunkhouse who advised us that we should not paddle Loch Ossian or the river without permission of the new owners of the lodge (at the far end of the loch). It seems that it recently changed hands and will soon become an exclusive (enclosed) retreat hotel (35K per wk) for very rich people. The Ossian river runs through the estate in front of the lodge. The lady was very friendly and asked us to wait till she had telephoned the new owners before we set off, which we did. She returned stating she could not raise them but that we should not be surprised if we get turned back at the far end of the loch (something we were not looking forward to!). We then set off and did not encounter any problems passing the house or entering the river, no one spoke to us - good news for now anyway (it's still under construction and could change once it's in use). However, at the lower end of the estate the new owners have erected a deer fence which crosses the river, its 5-6' high and also has a log (1' dia) below it, securely fixed across the river. At the level we paddled you could just squeeze under the log but at higher levels the unwary could be stuck, but I doubt the flow is likely to be a problem. They have kindly put a gate beside the river to bypass the fence. The trip was exhausting, rain, sleet, snow, hail stones but the Ghuilbinn burn made up for all the effort. I doubt any of us will make this long trip again it is certainly a one off that will never be forgotten.'
CONTRIBUTED BY: Mark Rainsley, also Chas Couchman and Andrew Jackson.