Scottish trail running: 3 great locations for a run around a loch
Scotland’s many inland lochs offer an attractive destination for a trail run. No matter what the season, weather or time of day, the views of water and sky are often breath-taking.
I have chosen three of my favourite round-loch routes to run.
Where: West Highlands
How to get there: Alight at Corrour Railway Station on the West Highland Line. See www.scotrail.co.uk
Start/finish: Loch Ossian Youth Hostel.
Distance: 7.5 miles around the loch (a little less than a mile each way from the station to the hostel).
Route: Walk Highlands.
Corrour is between Rannoch and Tulloch stations on the Glasgow to Fort William West Highland Line. It is accessible only by train, or on foot or bike on a rough track. The nearest public road is 15 miles.
Many people will know of the station – the highest in the UK – from the 1990s film Trainspotting. In the movie, Renton, Tommy, Sick Boy and Spud arrive in the great outdoors at Corrour.
Corrour is also a destination for mountain walkers. Surprisingly, given its remote location, the area is home to a station restaurant (March to October), self-catering lodges and cottages and Hostelling Scotland’s Loch Ossian Youth Hostel.
The appeal of the run around the picturesque loch is the amazing sense of adventure, as well as the chance to follow a straightforward route through spectacular scenery of wild moorland and majestic mountains.
Planning is crucial because of a fairly limited train timetable to and from Corrour and the desire for a good weather window.
Runners can start the route at the station, or enjoy a warm-up walk to the youth hostel a mile away.
An obvious track runs close to the loch all the way around except for a short detour around the Corrour Estate lodge and cottages, and over the outflow of the loch, at the far end.
The northern shore is a little more undulating than the south side but it is never challenging.
The estate is owned by TetraPak heiress Lisbet Rausing and you may glimpse the strange architecture of the granite and glass lodge, which was built in 2003 after fire destroyed the former building.
The views are mostly open across the loch or towards the mountains, with a few short sections through woodland.
There is a challenge, too. A folder in the hostel, started by a former warden, the late Tom Rigg in 1977, keeps a record of runners who complete the Run Around the Loch in under an hour.
Loop of Loch Leven
Where: Perth & Kinross.
How to get there: Follow signs from the A90 near Kinross.
Start/finish: Loch Leven National Nature Reserve.
Distance: 12 miles
Terrain: Almost entirely flat. Trails and paths.
Route suggestion: www.lochlevenheritagetrail.co.uk
The loop is waymarked as the Loch Leven Heritage Trail and includes less than 20m of ascent.
Loch Leven is famous for its over-wintering wildfowl, especially geese, with more than 20,000 arriving each season.
The route takes you through a range of landscapes, including mixed woodland, marshland and past rolling farmland.
The water is rarely out of sight and you can also spot a couple of small islands.
If you tire of the picturesque loch view, look to the north-east to the rounded Lomond Hills in neighbouring Fife, which are known locally as the Paps of Fife.
Loch an Eilein circuit
Where: Cairngorms National Park.
How to get there: Signposted by following a minor road from the B970, south east of Aviemore.
Start/finish: Loch an Eilein car park (charge per person), Rothiemurchus, near Aviemore.
Terrain: Mostly flat with a few steeper shorter climbs. Forest trails and paths.
Route suggestion: www.walkhighlands.co.uk/cairngorms/loch-an-eilein.shtml
Loch an Eilein is located in the forest of Rothiemurchus and the area is one of around 30 remnants of the ancient Caledonian Forest.
Whatever the season, the forest is alive with wildlife and, if you jog quietly, you may spot red squirrels, roe deer, Scottish crossbill and deer.
A small island in the middle of Loch an Eilein has a ruined castle.
The suggested trail running route around Loch an Eilein and the smaller neighbouring Loch Gamhna, is part of 50km of waymarked paths in Rothiemurchus.
Run it clockwise or anti-clockwise, whatever takes your fancy.
Also have a read of 5 trail runs in Scotland.
This article appeared in the Sunday Mail.