The West Highland Way & Great Glen Way

Walked in August 2010

Day 6 - Friday 20th August

Kinlochleven – Fort William
13 miles

I heard Darryl’s watch go off at some point, but must have dozed again because I was surprised when I asked the time and he told me it was 8am already. We got up and got ourselves ready before getting breakfast started in the hostel kitchen. We must have been the trendsetters as several other people came in soon afterwards to make their breakfast. Even in a large kitchen things can seem to get crowded very quickly with only a small amount of people, but we managed to get our scrambled eggs, beans and toast cooked promptly and sat down to scoff it with a couple of coffees. We chatted to the Australian girl we’d met the day before who was working in the UK but taking some time out to do something ‘different.’ We didn’t see her again, or any of the other walkers in the hostel. They all seemed to leave before us and stay ahead of us the whole day, despite the foul weather.
After breakfast we brushed our teeth and got going. The forecast for the whole day had not been great and even as we started out it was starting to drizzle. As we found the path leading out of Kinlochleven and up the side of the mountain we came across a party of kids and a couple of adults. They were probably a school party, and they didn’t seem particularly well prepared mentally or physically for what lay ahead. We never saw them again that day, and they must have had a pretty miserable time with the weather. We passed them and pushed uphill finding the going just as tough as the Devil’s Staircase, until we reached the top and could look back to the mist-encircled Kinlochleven, now far below and behind us.

We followed a rocky path now heading toward the distant Mamores and traversing the lower slopes of Stob Coire na h Eirghe. The light rain gradually worsened forcing us to raise hoods and push on with our heads down. The more we walked the worse the rain got and eventually the water started flooding some parts of the path. It was utterly miserable and it was almost impossible to take a break as there was nowhere to shelter and stopping would mean getting cold as well as wet. We passed several people all suffering like us, and at one point we stopped by a large information sign that provided scant shelter but at least kept some of the rain off. We only stopped for a couple of minutes however as Darryl was worried about catching a cold or something worse. Pressing on we could at least comfort ourselves with the knowledge that we were heading toward a forest which would give us some respite from the rain.

Sure enough not long afterwards we were entering the trees and soon found a spot near a waterfall where we could stop and eat our lunch. Several people passed us while we were having our break, but by now all competitiveness had left us so we just took our time and pressed on when we were ready. After a short while in Nevis Forest we emerged into the open again to be greeted by the immense sight of Ben Nevis, or at least most of it, since the highest reaches were obscured by cloud.

We stopped for a few moments to take in the view and could see part of Fort William a few miles away and the campsite where we were headed and where we’d be spending the next few days. We walked on down the path that zig-zagged downwards, and a couple of miles further on we found The Glen Nevis campsite and went into the Reception area to pay for two nights.

We were given the choice of two camping areas, and after a quick investigation decided on the ground nearer Reception. There were quite a few people there but it wasn’t noisy and the Sun had come out so we were able to hang out our clothes and dry them out. My sleeping bag and inner liner had also gotten wet, so it was a good job it didn’t rain otherwise it would have been a pretty uncomfortable night. We were tired and looking forward to an easy couple of days. We hadn’t technically finished the West Highland Way yet as the official finishing line was at the top of Fort William high street, but we were happy to do the last couple of miles the next day.

Later we bought some more provisions from the shop and then phoned Mum to check in and wish her a happy birthday. We then had a drink in the bar/restaurant down the road, followed by dinner in Darryl’s tent – another delectable combination of noodles, beans and other oddities and relaxed until bedtime.

 

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