Loch Ossian SYH Review
I’d never stayed in a youth hostel till this trip. Why bother, I’ve lived within convenient distance of the hills. I can camp if it’s foul weather, or make use of the one and only mountain bothy in North Eryri if it’s worse. So this was a change of tack for me. I was greeted, and made to feel most welcome by Nick – the hostel warden, and any preconceptions i had of strict and unfriendly hostels were soon dispelled. Of course, the hostel has probably more rules than most places, but that’s all part of the eco-hostel ethos. The main one that was a problem to most, was to carry all your waste out. This i found no problem as it was just a matter of treating the trip as a wild camp and taking bags to carry my waste out in. Many found themselves with wine bottles they didn’t really want to carry back, but had to. I smugly drank brandy from my platypus, that collapses to nothing when empty (not the only thing that collapses after all that brandy’s gone).
It was a source of much amusement though, that Nick had a wheely bin. Or at least, a refuse collection service – but many many kilometres down the estate road. He’d had no end of trouble getting it as Corrour is based in one council area and the end of his ‘drive’ is in another. He did eventually get what he wanted, but only after 2 years wangling. I had visions of this wheely bin being dragged along the side of Loch Ossian on a weekely basis. The only waste you could leave was in the composting toilet, and i shan’t go into what kind of waste that was. They weren’t nasty to use and didn’t smell, other than of disinfectant. Again, strict rules were in place, as the system for composting was such a delicate process.
While they’re not on the water mains, neither are they on the national grid. All power was provided by a turbine, with large batteries for storage. There was no shortage of power during my visit, and i was gutted i’d forgotten to take my mobile charger as there was a 3 pin socket which (presumably) i’d be able to use. The only other fuels used were the gas in the cookers and coal in the fire, which was incidentally always on keeping the place nice and warm. I did wonder if there was a reason that coal was burnt and not wood, but forgot to ask.
The kitchen was very well equiped, you could cook anything there i’d imagine. So long as you eat it all, as you really didn’t want to carry excess cooked food with you. There was plenty of seating too, with a large collection of TGO magazines and some books to while away the evening. Not that you needed them as there was someone to chat to every night, and i was lucky to share the Hostel with a group of friendly souls. One was a lady of 85 who was quite a character, having visited many hostels and who’d nearly taken over the hostel at Ogwen. They’d only refused as her husband hadn’t been fit enough to join mountan rescue as that was a condition placed on the warden.
Finally, the bunks were decent too. The dorm was warm, and there was a washroom next door that you could wash most of yourself in. There are unfortunately no showers, which is a shame, but i suppose something that would put undue strain on their waste water – all of which is purified by reed beds on site. It surely was a bargain for £13.50 a night, plus £1 a night as i wasn’t a member. Next time i’ll not have to pay the extra as i’ll definately join. I’m not sure what the busier hostels are like, but i can say with little doubt that they’ll not be as friendly and cosy as a small one. It was really like a bothy experience, but with much, much more facilities and a lot, lot less alcohol and noise!
See the links below for more information –
Note that the Station House at Corrour has also been converted to a hostel, so there are now two SYHA hostels at Corrour!
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siDave Roberts founded Walk Eryri in 2004, with the aim of providing routes that are off the beaten track. Walk Eryri is now part of Mud and Routes which continues to provide more off beat routes and walks in Snowdonia and beyond. Dave has been exploring the hills of Eryri for over thirty years, and is a qualified Mountain Leader. Dave also established Walk up Snowdon, Walk up Scafell Pike and Walk up Ben Nevis just to mention a few.