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.
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.
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.
Despite the forecast the weather gradually improved and the Aonach Eagach Ridge, above Glencoe, made an appearance through the clouds.
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.
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.
The final descent to sea level at Fort William is through forest which is being clear-felled, so was not very inspiring.
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.
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.