26th April – Kinlochleven to Fort William

20190426 Blackwater Backpackers' Hostel
Blackwater Backpackers’ Hostel

After the challenges of staying at the Kingshouse, it was a pleasure to be in the well-run Blackwater hostel.  As the forecast was poor, I had an early breakfast and left at 7.45.

20190426 Loch Leven
Loch Leven

The initial climb out of Kinlochleven is 250m-820ft up to the old military road which is then followed to near Fort William.  Despite the light showers there were good views of Loch Leven and the Pap of Glencoe.

20190426 The Pap of Glencoe
The Pap of Glencoe

Once on the military road the trail undulates gently and rises gradually to the Lairigmor Pass in the middle of some wild country. The old farmhouses at Tigh-na-sleubhaich  are now derelict and it is difficult to understand how anyone could have made a living in such an inhospitable place.

20190426 Tigh-na-sleubhaich derelict cottages
Tigh-na-sleubhaich derelict cottages

Despite the forecast the weather gradually improved and the Aonach Eagach Ridge, above Glencoe, made an appearance through the clouds.

20190426 The Aonach Eagach - Eagles Ridge
Aonach Eagach – the Eagle’s Ridge

After passing another ruined farm at Lairigmor the trail turns NW and begins to descend towards Glen Nevis.  There is an interesting information board regarding the Battle of Inverlochy after which Clan Donald pursued the Cambells over the Lairigmor, before abandoning the chase.  A cairn marks where they stopped.

20190426 Looking up the trail from the Lairigmor - Big Pass
Looking up the trail from the Lairig Mor (‘Big Pass’)

The next few miles were through clear-felled forest and seemed quite tough. The consolidation is that Ben Nevis came into view, initially capped with thick cloud but gradually becoming more visible as I neared Glen Nevis.

20190426 First sight of Ben Nevis
First sight of Ben Nevis

The final descent to sea level at Fort William is through forest which is being clear-felled, so was not very inspiring.

20190426 Forestry work near Fort William
Clear felling near Fort William

I reached the town at 2.15 and was disappointed that the hostel didn’t open until 5.00.  Tea and cake at Nevisport and some food shopping filled in the time, and I even managed to get to the accommodation before the long-forecast rain finally descended from the heavens.

20190426 Glen Nevis
Glen Nevis

This completes the West Highland Way, and tomorrow is a rest day.

Most of the through walkers on the way were European, Dutch, German, Swiss or Italians and it was good to see lots of young people taking up the challenge.  It would be true to say that both my fellow walkers and I have enjoyed the last week, but it would be a very different walk in bad weather.

Leaving the crowds on the West Highland Way behind, I suspect that Wyn and I will have plenty of company on the equally popular Great Glen Way when we start on Sunday.

20190426 The Tourist Route up Ben Nevis
The tourist route up Ben Nevis

23rd April – Tyndrum to Inveroran

20190423 Tricky and Alison on the path to the Bridge of Orchy
Tricky and Alison on the path to the Bridge of Orchy

As I was in the hostel, I had bought some breakfast.  I was able to have a relaxed meal, as Tricky and Alison were traveling from the east coast and would not arrive before 10.00.

I am feeling a little guilty that my large rucksack went into the car, and I only carried a day sack.  This seemed sensible given the problem with my shin, and made the walk much easier.

20190423 Beinn Dorain 1076m
Beinn Dorain (1076m)

The weather was good again, and we set off along the valley with wonderful views of Beinn Dorain.  As we were busy chatting the walk to Bridge of Orchy passed quickly and we arrived just before 1.00pm.

20190423 At the Bridge of Orchy
Neil at Bridge of Orchy

Tricky caught the train back to Tyndrum while Alison and I went to the hotel for some lunch.  Half an hour or so later Tricky returned, and he and I walked on to Inveroran, while Alison moved the car.

20190423 Tricky on the path to Inveroran
Tricky on the path to Inveroran, with Loch Tulla in the distance

The river at the Bridge of Orchy was very low – and long may that continue.  The walk through a plantation rose gently over a ridge, and soon Loch Tulla and Inveroran were in sight.

20190423 Loch Tulla
Loch Tulla

We had made good time, as Alison was just leaving the hotel to walk up and meet us, when we arrived around 3.30.

20190423 Inveroran Hotel
Inveroran Hotel

After tea and cake, Tricky and Alison set off to return home.  We had all enjoyed the day, and I am very grateful that they took the trouble to travel so far to support me, as well as for lunch.

20190423 Deer
How could you?

The hotel was friendly and comfortable, and I enjoyed venison for dinner.  When I went out for a post-dinner walk I am sure that the deer I passed gave me disapproving looks.

It was a great pleasure to hear a cuckoo for the first time this year and also to see the swallows had returned at the Bridge of Orchy.  Interestingly, at Inveroran I only saw house martins.  Perhaps the birds have come to an arrangement over territory.

20190423 More Deer
Less disapproving deer