West Highland Way 5: Bridge of Orchy - Kings House Hotel Walking

Crossing a corner of Rannoch Moor at the foot of the majestic Black Mount range, this stage is one of the best bits of the WHW. For the first time on the trail (for those heading north) the wild surroundings give the impression of really entering the west Highlands proper. The moor is uniquely impressive, a desolate expanse of peat ringed (at a distance) by mountains. The WHW follows the course of an old military road here, a long leg where the lack of shelter will be noticed on a windswept day. Fast teams might combine this leg with stage 6 to Kinlochleven, but pub fans will probably want to break the route with an evening in the Kingshouse.

Blackrock Cottage and The Buachaille  © Dan Bailey -
Blackrock Cottage and The Buachaille
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Detailed description

NN2973039574 Cross the bridge over the River Orchy then take the WHW for a short ascent through pine woods. Once up on open ground the path winds over the broad shoulder of Màm Carraigh; cairns mark the high point. The trail now drops to the minor road by the historic Inveroran Hotel, the only chance for a cuppa before the Kings House.

NN2745741394 Follow the road west then north as it loops wide around the head of Loch Tulla. Pass a hill walker's car park to reach the houses at Forest Lodge. The old road now continues as a track of unsurfaced cobbles (the original surface of the military road?). This ascends past woods to reach the desolate western edge of Rannoch Moor. The track now heads roughly north across the open moor. Pass a couple of incongruous pine plantations, descending slightly into the mouth of Coireach a’ Bà, a massive corrie system at the heart of the Black Mount. Beyond a small loch is Bà Bridge, the halfway point between Inveroran and Kingshouse, and about the loneliest place on the WHW.

NN2771348382 Stay with the track as it climbs north-northeast (ish) to a broad saddle between Meall a' Bhuiridh and the minor top of Beinn Chaorach. For a brief taste of the path-free going on Rannoch Moor proper the latter hill is worth a short (soggy) detour. From the saddle the WHW descends below Meall a’ Bhùiridh, home of Glen Coe ski centre, to meet the ski road at the private club hut of Blackrock Cottage.

NN2681053044 By now, unless you're really unlucky with the weather, you won't have failed to spot Buachaille Etive Mor. This massive rock peak will probably be familiar from photos even if you've never seen it in the flesh before, and dominates the next few km of the WHW. Reach and cross the A82, and follow the track to Kings House Hotel.

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