Day 8: Kingshouse – Kinlochleven
Distance 16km – Hiking time: 4 – 6 hours – Altitude (↑) 550m
While yesterday it was a bit cloudier, today it looked really grey and rainy. Also there was no early fog which had never deceived us as a guarantor for good weather from 10 or 11 o’clock. So we took a lot of time and because my shins still hurt a little I took a bath after the delicious breakfast.
Much later than usual we set off and walked in the deserted plateau through beautiful bad weather, as a North German one is used to rain and wind 🙂
After about four kilometers the path rises. First soft and then stronger and stronger. In serpentine-like zigzag curves we go up the so-called Devil’s Staircase. This becomes somewhat steep shortly before you reach the ridge and thus the highest point of the West Highland Way. Here you are 584 meters above sea level and you notice that. The weather was now stormy, it was pretty cool up here and the drizzle justified for the first time the rain jacket we had with us every day 😉
The last 300 meters before the ridge, the paths are quite loose and consist of a lot of boulders, so you’re a bit out of breath when you get to the top…at least if you’re as untrained as we are. We would have liked to rest now, but it was too windy for that, so we went on, this time first a little steeper downhill and then more and more gently into the plateau.
500 meters further we rested protected behind a rock and the morning packed tea was exactly the right thing to warm up!
Towards the end of the day’s stage we reached the valley bottom of the plain again and there a torrent that splashed its way through the landscape. The unbelievable abundance of green tones that we have admired in the best sunshine so far proved to us today that green can shine and enchant even without the sun.
The ferns, which had become fewer in the last few days, also reappeared.
After we had left the ferns behind us, we already came to Kinlochleven, the destination of today’s stage. Kinlochleven is a very small town with less than 1000 inhabitants and yet it has the largest ice climbing hall in the world – Ice-Factor. Ice-Factor offers a huge indoor ice rink where you can learn to climb. Ice-Factor also has many outdoor activities in its program.
How do I get to the ice climbing hall? This hall is located in the former aluminum works of the city. These plants were the largest employers in the area from 1907 to mid-2000. Up to 800 employees were employed here at peak times, in 2011 only 896 people lived in Kinlochleven.
But the place does not have to have any existential fears, because as the biggest place directly at the West Highland Way and as an ideal starting point for outdoor holidaymakers and nature lovers, the place with its B&B’s and hotels is very well situated.
We stayed at the Allt-na-Leven Guesthouse with Pauline and Wullie and I have to say that I slept there under the thickest and warmest blankets I have ever met 😉
My shins had held out reasonably well, but unfortunately the pain was not completely gone.
What we saw on the last leg to Fort William and how it went on you can see and read on the next page.