Wealth I seek not, hope nor love, nor a friend to know me; all I seek, the heaven above and the road below me.
The 8:34 bus was full of hikers. At least, of people dressed as hikers. No wonder. From Crianlarich to Glencoe there is only one village, Tyndrum, three or four settlements, and mountains. And the bus arrives at Fort William, the nerve centre of mountain sports in Scotland, as evidenced by the amount of clothing and equipment stores for hiking, climbing, etc., in the city centre. It is also the end of the West Highland Way, as well as the start of other long-distance routes, such as the Great Glenn Way.
Kinlochleven, here I go!
However, I got off at the ski resort stop. And with me, just a girl, Swiss and young, who spent a few days in Crianlarich and wanted to do a stretch of road. We talked for a while, she seemed lazy to start walking, until she was gone. Since I didn’t see her very convinced of where she had to go, I waited for her to take the right path. After a while, she has disappeared inside Rannoch Moor and I crossed the road to Kingshouse, where the stage that should take me to Kinlochleven begins.
Kingshouse is reached quickly, and by the same boulder that is the old military road that we have been following for a couple of days. Those who have slept in the hotel seemed to want to start walking all at once, the surroundings of the facilities were full of people, and even those who had camped in the vicinity, which were quite a few, were folding their belongings. In order not to have to do the route as if it were a Sunday in the Rambles, I had little fun taking pictures of the deer that were there, and I climbed the path, which after about three and a half kilometres, passes by from the road, getting closer and closer to the majestic Glencoe Valley.
The Devil’s Staircase
Once the road reaches Altnafeadh, you leave the road and the way enters directly towards the foot of the mountain. At first, it ascends slightly, but then the path begins to zigzag, with a very steep slope. It’s The Devil’s Staircase. It is not a long stretch, but the ascent is very hard: the path is a boulder and the slope is very steep. And, for a change, there is a lot of wind.
The ascent, like all of them, has its well-deserved prize with fantastic views. To the south, with The Devil’s Staircase at its feet, the Glencoe Valley clearly bounded by the Stob at Ghlais Choire and Stob Dearg. To the north, the highest mountains in Scotland: Am Bodach, Sgurr a ‘Mahim, Stob Ban, Carn Mór Dearg and the highest peak in the UK: Ben Nevis (1344 m.). The majesty of the Highlands, on the horizon, is enjoyed for the rest of the day.
From here, the path begins a fairly steep descent to rise again briefly and continue with the steep descent to Kinlochleven, always in the open air, being just as exposed as Rannoch Moor, but much shorter. Three kilometres before the end of the stage, the path enters a forest that will no longer leave us until the entrance to the village, which seems to be close to us, but the route takes us away momentarily.
The entrance to Kinlochleven is at the back, so it’s time to cross the whole village, not too long, to the stop of a bus that, every hour, connects Kinlochleven with Fort William, where the West Highland Way will end tomorrow and where, due to the change of plans, I already sleep there tonight.
While waiting for the bus, the Scottish atmosphere has started to smell like rain. And like goodbye.
Map & Profile
T. distance (km)
T. ascent (m)
T. descent (m)