West Highland Way 7: Kinlochleven - Ft.William
Ross & Cromarty
Distance 15.33 miles (24.67 km)
Total ascent 722m
Steepest climb 22% (1 in 5)
Time 5 – 7 hours (Walking)
Start Stage 6 finished at Kinlochleven's Ice Factor climbing wall, and this is as good a place as any to pick up the thread today, NN187619; Finish Gordon Square, Fort William, NN099737
Nearest town Fort William and Kinlochleven
Terrain A steep initial climb out of Kinlochleven, then much gentler gradients for the rest of the day. The terrain is fairly easy going underfoot and route finding obvious throughout.
Seasonal variations The Lairig Mor is a high pass with little shelter - a pretty wild spot in poor winter weather. It's high enough to get a lot of snow on occasion.
Weather and hill conditions SAIS: Lochaber – mwis: Northwest Highlands – Met Office: West Highlands
Public transport Long distance buses from Ft.William to Glasgow or Inverness. Rail link to Glasgow. Local buses connecting Ft.William and Kinlochleven.
Guidebooks West Highland Way, Dan Bailey, pb. Pocket Mountains
Maps OS Explorer 384 (1:25,000), OS Explorer 392 (1:25,000), OS Explorer 399 (1:25,000), Harvey/BMC Ben Nevis (1:40,000), OS Landranger 41 (1:50,000)
Find more Classifieds near this route
Tourist info Ballachulish (08452 255 121); Fort William (0845 22 55 121); Spean Bridge (0845 22 55 121)
1 NN1879661927 Head out of Kinlochleven along the north loop of the minor road that circles Loch Leven; the path starts just opposite a school. It's a steep ascent through scattered birch woods, very pretty and with views back down to Kinlochleven, and over narrow Loch Leven to the jagged skyline of Aonach Eagach. Having crossed a vehicle track the trail zigzags uphill to eventually reach another track on about the 240m contour.
2 NN1714463036 Turn left onto this, passing above the wooded gorge of the Allt Nathrach and then gradually ascending into the desolate Lairig Mor. Above to the north are the Mamores, some of the best hills in Scotland - though it's hard to appreciate their quality from this close-to. Cross the high point of the col at about 340m, then pass some forlorn ruins and continue west to round the western flanks of the Mamores. Shortly afterwards enter the first of many pine plantations.
3 NN1004166496 Just before meeting a minor road the WHW bears right, then follows a long series of wiggly little ups and downs through the trees, making gradually towards Glen Nevis. Occasional glimpses through the branches show Ben Nevis dead ahead; this is the mountain's far less impressive southern flank (the north is where it's at) but still striking for its sheer scale. Just as you're beginning to tire of dense-packed sitka spruce, reach a little col overlooking Glen Nevis.
4 NN1237070475 A short detour right from here brings you to the prehistoric fort at Dun Deardail. Otherwise, descend towards Glen Nevis to meet a forestry track. After a big hairpin this makes a long, gradual descending traverse throuh the woods. If you’re staying at Glen Nevis Youth Hostel then leave the West Highland Way early, turning hard right on a side track leading to the road in the glen bottom. The official route brings you to the same road about 1km further north.
5 NN1220272749 Turn left onto this, and follow it past the visitor centre. Pass out of Glen Nevis at a roundabout on the main road (the former inauspicious northern end of the WHW). Go left here to follow the main road past the sports centre and Belford Hospital. Then turn left at Nevisport onto the pedestrianized High Street, and walk down this to Gordon Square. Here is the new official finish point of the trail, marked with a statue of a man with sore feet, and some benches (well it is better than the former finish). Still, this journey was never about the destination was it?