Category Archives: Hiking

6. West Highland Way – Kinlochleven to Fort William

Kinlochleven to Fort William WHW sign

West Highland Way Day Six Low Down

Day 6: Kinlochleven to Fort William: Songs from A-Z
Miles: 16
Time: 09:30 – 16:30
Weather: One sideways downpour

Climbing out of a Valley

Leaving Kinlochleven was one of my favourite parts of West Highland Way ’14, not because the town is basic (the Co-op is nice enough) but because we had the opportunity to see this…

Kinlochleven West Highland Way Scotland

It may be raining at the bottom, keep walking, there’s sunshine at the top

As we ascended, the rain started, as we reached the top, the rain had stopped. Although that was not the last of the rain. The trek made me think of the Highland Clearances, I found it hard to imagine communities living in this vast space.

West Highland Way Scotland Kinlochleven to Fort William

Into the Valley, The Skids

Horizontal Rain

We met a group of lads a couple of times today, between them they could not have had more than a couple of plastic bags. They obviously hadn’t read my packing list. It did get me thinking that we probably overthink the packing process. To keep us motivated through the horizontal rain we selected songs titles from A-Z and sang them in their entirety (or as much as we could), this was rejuvenating.

Fin – Fort William

As we reached Fort William (where the famous Harry Potter train leaves!) my parents met us with Buck’s fizz which was just what we needed to scrape ourselves through Fort William. Seriously, who moved the goalposts? The traditional end to The West Highland Way would have been manageable, I genuinely thought I was going to have to get a piggyback from my Dad through the high street. But we made it…

West Highland Way Finish Fort William

After a post celebratory pint we parted ways. My Dad then drove home, unintentionally, through the route I had just walked (taking me six days). Did you know that some hikers then go on to climb Ben Nevis?

  • Day by day: starting here
  • Packing list: here
  • Accommodation guide: here


5. West Highland Way – Kingshouse to Kinlochleven

Kingshouse to Kinlochleven WHW sign

West Highland Way Day Five Low Down

Day 5: Kingshouse to Kinlochleven: Slept in a Valley Miles: 9 (over The Devil’s Staircase) Time: 10:30 -15:30 Weather: Rainy (but wore trainers) Accommodation: Highland Getaway (£38 per person / now £55!)

The Devil’s Staircase

Day 5 of The West Highland Way started with a freak out in the drying room as I could not get either pair of walking boots over my Achilles’ heels, after much deliberation I went with the Nike trainers.

We took a taxi ride (£15 both ways) from the Glencoe Independent Hostel to The Kings House Hotel where we geared up for the penultimate day.

We started the trek from the right-hand side of The Kings House Hotel, this trail takes you up and over The Devil’s Staircase which isn’t actually as terrifying as I thought it would be.

Devils Staircase Kinlockleven West Highland Way

The hike itself was very pleasant. Lots of natural tones to stare at for most of the journey and it did rain but we kept ourselves amused naming pop stars beginning with the letters A – Z, getting us to Kinlochleven with no further injury!

West Highland Way Kinlochleven Devils Staircase

Sleeping in a Valley, Kinlochleven

As today was shorter we decided not to bother with packed lunches and dined at our destination, The Highland Gateway, Kinlochleven, after a much needed snooze in the cosy hotel room (review).

That shower was the best shower I had so far, I think that has a lot to do with the downpour for the majority of the day. What I didn’t quite realise was the fact we were sleeping in a valley!

Devils Staircase Kinlockleven Scotland West Highland Way

A quick but wet hike for day 5 (Kingshouse to Kinlochleven) and a cosy night’s sleep in a valley!

What games do you play to keep yourself going on the road?

4. West Highland Way – Bridge of Orchy to Kingshouse

Bridge of Orchy to Kingshouse WHW sign

West Highland Way Day Four Low Down

Day 4: Bridge of Orchy to Kingshouse (Glencoe): Bus Day
Miles: 12
Time: Got the bus! Day 4 Team – less than 4 hours
Weather: Dry
Accommodation: Glencoe Independent Hostel (£15 per person/taxi £15 each)

Let’s get to Buss’ness

After hobbling into Bridge of Orchy on Day 3 of The West Highland Way, I made the conscious decision to sit out on day 4 and leave the team (Helen and Lee) to march on.

As advised by the owner of Stance Cottage, I hopped on the Citylink bus, there was a small group outside The Bridge of Orchy Hotel next to the tables (I was told to wave the bus down). I met some walkers who often drive up to Bridge of Orchy, get the bus to Glencoe then walk back to the car (one to note).

The Thursday part-time hikers were on the bus, some of our friends we travelling to meet us at Glencoe to finish the West Highland Way with us.

Kingshouse, Glencoe

Julie had returned, healed and ready to go and Susan, Gemma T, Gem’s Mum and friend Linda were excited to join us on the West Highland Way route from Kingshouse. We were greeted by these fellas

Deer at Kingshouse, Glencoe West Highland Way

The Kingshouse Hotel was fully booked (we booked at the start of February for April), the alternative was to stay with the Glencoe Independent Hostel (review here) and hire a minivan taxi to collect us from Kingshouse and return us the following morning which worked well (taxi £15 each).

We had a hostel room to ourselves which was ideal and the hostel had a drying room for our outdoor gear which was magic.

Kingshouse West Highland Way

We dined at The Clachaig Inn, deciding on what to eat was a challenge, I went for the chilli.

Clachaig Inn Kingshouse West Highland Way

The hostel didn’t offer the best sleep unfortunately but the cereal/toast breakfast packs set us up for the day and I was rested enough to take on The Devil’s Staircase the next day with the WHW full squad.

  • Day by dayday 5
  • Packing list: here
  • Accommodation guide: here

What has been your best trip with friends?

3. West Highland Way – Inverarnan to Bridge of Orchy

Inveranan to Bridge of Orchy West Highland Way sign

West Highland Way Day Three Low Down

Day 3: Inverarnan to Bridge of Orchy: The Day of Doom, West Highland Way
Miles: 19
Time: 09:30 – 18:00
Weather: Grey, dull and rainy
Accommodation: Stance Cottage (£70 double room / £50 or £55 single / Bridge of Orchy Hotel £100 – £160)

Inverarnan to Bridge of Orchy

I honestly cannot think about this day of the West Highland Way without grimacing. I have never felt pain like it. All was well as we (day three team, Helen, Lee, and myself) left The Drover’s Inn, walking over bridges, up hills and over cow pats.

Inverarnan to Bridge of Orchy West Highland Way

We chatted away about life in America (where Lee lives) and with good pace headed towards Crianlarich. The weather took a turn (raincoat fail – see packing guide) and hammered down as we walked through a fairy-like forest.

Legs were heavy and Crianlarich was never coming. We spoke with some workmen who told us Crianlarich was a few miles off the route and they offered us a lift, which we declined with yesterday in mind! We decided to bypass lunch in Crianlarich and keep muddling through.

Stathfillan campsite offered us a bench, toilets and a wee shop to buy a Kit Kat from (there are limited, but some food options) which was respite but for me, the damage had been done.

The Day of Doom

Soon after, the back of my heels became excruciatingly painful and I couldn’t have anything touching them. At points, I thought I was going to be sick with pain (I’ve never broken anything, only a twisted ankle when I was 14 trying to impress the P.E student teacher, so this was new for me).

I somehow managed to make it to Tyndrum for late lunch at The Green Welly, Bridge of Orchy, using the walking sticks (saviour) as crutches and with the support from an ankle sock. I put it down to my walking boots.

I had purchased new boots with high ankle support as I had previously started to feel my ankle niggle a little – rookie mistake. Most of WHW is farm tracks, you could even do a lot of it in your trainers. But I did the unthinkable and did not fully break them in. This is what I should have done.

The owner of Stance Cottage (for where we stayed every night, click here) commented on me hobbling in (a sight he sees often) and reassured me this was the best stage to need help as there was a bus that drove through, straight to Glencoe (the bus that the day four girls would get getting from Glasgow).

I received a text from my cousin David (an avid walker) who told that it was acceptable to sit out and that I would do more damage if I didn’t, this made me feel better. Dinner was next door at The Bridge of Orchy Hotel and I put my feet up…

Bridge of Orchy Hotel West Highland Way

Rest, Ice, Compress and Elevate. 

Although day 3 of the West Highland Way was not the longest in miles, it dragged on caused by the rain and my pain!

  • Day by dayday 4
  • Packing list: here
  • Accommodation guide: here

Have you ever been ill or injured on the road?

2. West Highland Way – Balmaha to Inverarnan

Balmaha to Inveranan West Highland Way sign

The West Highland Way Day Two Low Down

Day 2: Balmaha to Inverarnan: Boots, boats, and automobiles
Miles: 21
Time: 09:30- 15:40 (well that’s what time we went for the water taxi…)
Weather: Dry, mild
Accommodation: The Drovers Inn (£30 per person) / Alternative:  Strathfillan Wigwam Village

Balmaha to The Land of the Twig Trees

After a breakfast fit for West Highland Way walkers, the team dismantled. Julie’s feet were plagued by blisters (she’d had her walking boots for years, you can never tell how it’s going to work out) and because Balmaha was close enough to home she made the decision to leave, rest up and rejoin us on the Thursday (with some other friends via the bus from Glasgow to Glencoe.

Little did we know at this point that I’d be on that bus too…)

Friends West Highland Way Balmaha

Helen and I took the easy and breathtaking path out of Balmaha. Who thought an area with such tranquillity could cause so much stress?

Balmaha West Hightland Way Scotland

Within a couple of hours, we were met with a choice (close to the Glasgow University building) – straight ahead or right.

When Helen last did the WHW (trojan), they had to take a road path which we wanted to avoid, you know, so we could to it ‘properly’. There was work going on in the area to improve the paths and unfortunately for us, some signs had not been erected yet.

Balmaha to Inverarnan West Highland Way

We walked through the beach and headed straight for the trees but the trees appeared to get closer together and there was no longer a path. Then beneath our feet turned boggy so we headed up the hill (through the blasted trees) to get to dry mud. This worked and we could see Rowardennan (just, the tree branches were piercing our eyes) but just could not get to it.

With the help of GPS on our iPhones (seriously, what would we have done in the 90s?) we made it out of twig hell and on to… back to more like – the Glasgow University building.

Over two hours wasted in the trees, like a horror film, we can laugh about it now. It was suffocating.

Helen remembered there was a water taxi (from the youth hostel) and made some calls. Luckily her husband’s parents were dropping off her sister-in-law, Lee, to join us for the rest of the trek. They had a right laugh at us.

Balmaha to Inverarnan West Highland WayDrover’s Inn & Billy Connolly’s Dad

The Careys (Helen’s family in law) and I dined at The Drovers Inn, Inverarnan (for accommodation reviews see here), had a sing-a-long with a man who looked like Billy Connolly’s Dad (The Drover’s Inn is renowned for its entertainment) and then is was time for bed to recharge for tomorrow (aka The Day of Doom, for me).

Drovers Inn, Inverarnan West Highland Way

  • Day by day: day 3
  • Packing list: here
  • Accommodation guide: here

What mishaps have you go yourself into whilst travelling?