Kingshouse to Kinlochleven – 9 miles
Today the clouds were low and our windows were wet but it was not raining too heavily. After breakfast we knew we had what could be a hard, tiring day as we had the Devil’s Staircase to deal with. We left the hotel and it wasn’t long before we donned our waterproofs as it was that fine rain that easily soaks you. We headed to the rear of the hotel
to find the trail, passing campers who were eating breakfast in the rain. Walking along the path we could see the bulk of Beinn a Chrulaiste (2805ft) to our right and the A82 on our left.
The trail, leading us into Glen Coe, runs parallel with the road, and at times quite near. As we progressed an eerie feeling developed within as we looked around to see the clouds rolling over the mountain tops heading towards us. As we got deeper into Glen Coe the weather started to improve; the sun was beginning to appear and burn off the cloud cover upon our arrival at Altnafeadh, base of the Devil’s Staircase. As we made our preparations for the ascent we could see across the road lots of climbers preparing for the day’s climb somewhere on any of the mountains surrounding us.
We set off along the trail making steady headway uphill,
then the path got longer and steeper making for slower progress. There were lots of zig-zags to ease the climb and we stopped a few times for photos
before continuing to the three summit cairns at the top of Devil’s Staircase (1797ft)
and Glen Coe peaks all around. This is also the highest point of the West Highland Way. At the summit it’s easy to see just how exposed you could be as there is not shelter to hide or cover you in bad weather.
Here we had coffee and some Kendal Mint Cake as a reward for the climb. Whilst having our break a German family out for a day’s walk came over to seek guidance as they didn’t have a map and after a brief chat they were soon on their way towards Kinlochleven. Suddenly the Carlisle ladies appeared, breathing heavily as they thought it was a tough climb. After a few more photos we were off, heading down the long descent
towards Kinlochleven with views of Black Water Reservoir in the distance.
The path skirts the mountain side and becomes wider, and at times rockier, with some steps which were built in to ease walking. As we came around a bend in the hillside we could see Kinlochleven in the distance
and a little of the Highlands in the foreground, but as the cloud base was low we couldn’t see Ben Nevis. Continuing along the trail we came to the old pipeline
that fed water into the town for the aluminum industry that once existed. The trail became steeper as we neared the town but the sun began to shine, which made it a much more pleasant walk. As we arrived we sat and had lunch on the green in the town centre. Now we could see more walkers coming off the trail nearing the end of the day. We checked the map to locate our accommodation and found our B&B just on the outskirts of the town, a very pleasant spot overlooking the river. As we arrived, so did our luggage. In we went to meet our hosts who were very hospitable and as we were shown to our room I could see an honesty box on the landing where guests can purchase as many chocolate bars as they like. Then in our room there was even more chocolate in the various dishes that lay about! Now it was downstairs for a welcoming cup of tea and to our surprise and delight we were each given a mini Pavlova. Whilst enjoying our cup of tea two ladies arrived to receive the same treatment; in discussion we found they were from Canada and also walking the WHW. We left them to their tea, had showers, changed our clothes, reported into base control and headed back into town to find a place for dinner. It was recommended that we go to the Trailrace Inn just by the river. The inn was busy with the locals but we found an empty table and then who should come in but the Carlisle ladies! We said hello to each other, discussed the walk and upon enquiring where they were staying it transpired they were at our B&B. We had fish & chips and a pint before returning to our accommodation.