Day 8: West Highland Way (Kinlochleven to Fort William)


This was our last day, and quite a long and tough one.  14 miles with two climbs, two descents and a moor crossing.  For the first time we were somewhat under a timetable as we needed to get Michelle back to Fort William in time to catch the 5.30pm train back to London.  We were originally both staying the night in Fort William so we could either climb Ben Nevis or at least take some time to look around.  However, Michelle had to make a change to her plans, so she would be leaving close to our arrival at the B&B.

So we managed an earlier start of 8.15am from the Kinlochleven B&B and started immediately on the first climb of the day.  It was through a wooded hillside and a pretty, sustained ascent.  After about an hour of climbing the trail heads out on to open moorland, and you can see the next few hours of trail stretch out in front of you for a long, long way.

The long haul across Lairigmor

I didn’t measure how long the moor stretch was but it went on for a long time.  Perhaps 6-8 miles, and the terrain didn’t change too much for that stretch, making the walk feel a little monotonous.  There were few landmarks either.  The most notable one was an abandoned farmhouse.  It had long turned into a ruin and, although the roof was long gone, the walls were built so thick and well that the main structure still looked pretty stable.

Ruin of Lairigmor Farmhouse

After about 8 miles, the path turned to what was supposed to be another ascent through woods.  However, there had been a great deal of deforestation and this whole section was now a wasteland of tree stumps and dead branches.  Not very pretty.

We started glancing more at our watches, trying to calculate how far we still had to go so that Michelle had time for a shower before the train.  When the trail is more strenuous it can be so much harder to calculate how long 1 mile will really take, and we still had about 7 left.

The remaining stretches of the walk took us through a forest (that still had trees) through needle-covered woodland floors until we saw our first glimpses of Ben Nevis.  Unmistakeable.

The final stretches were down a very wide level track that seemed to descent forever into the Glen Nevis area, then across some flat fields and out on to the road.  The road was not a very welcome sight.  It felt wrong to be forced to march along concrete after walking so far to reach the end.  I seem to find it harder and harder to walk on paved roads and my legs were just seizing up about a mile into the two mile stretch to the finish.  We were doing well for time, so we took a rest for a bit at a carpark just for some relief from the pavement pounding.

Finally, we found the strength to march the last mile and reached the official marker for the end of the walk.

95 miles.  DONE!

2 thoughts on “Day 8: West Highland Way (Kinlochleven to Fort William)

  1. And in time to drink a cup of tea in the sitting room of the B&B, shower, repack, and hop in a taxi for the embarrassingly short ride to the train station!

    What an awesome trip. I’m hooked on long distance hikes. Can’t wait to start planning the next one! 🙂

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