This section of the walk, Kings house to Kinlochleven, is considered to be its most dramatic in terms of the backdrop to your journey. Fantastic views of the Glencoe Mountains will be seen along today’s path as well as simultaneously taking you to the highest point of the entire West Highland Way. The lead up to this point takes in a steep slope and there are some rougher areas on the path to be wary of throughout this section.
The penultimate leg of this epic journey begins with almost 70 miles worth of West Highland Way left behind. Today’s trek will again be relatively short, at under 9 miles and taking approximately 4 hours, but should ensure that you are in an adequately fit physical and mental state to complete the final, longer leg tomorrow.
After passing the Kingshouse hotel and the land set aside for campers, follow the minor road as indicated by the thistle logo which is prominently displayed on the signpost. Turn left at the junction, which is again signposted and start onwards towards Glencoe and the 956 metre high Buachaille Etive Mor.
As you follow the path, a stile on the right hand side will lead you over some rougher terrain, taking you down the glen and ever closer to the towering Buachaille Etive Mor ahead. After crossing a small bridge the downhill section will turn quickly to a steep uphill climb. You will come across the “Devil’s Staircase” which zig zag’s upwards and takes you to the highest point of the West Highland Way. At 550 metres you will be greeted by a pair of cairns which mark the point and be offered a stunning view of the Glencoe Mountains.
From your elevated vantage point, the path ahead will be visible and you will be able to see it winding its way through some rough looking terrain. Fortunately, the path through this section is in good condition but some loose stones can cause trips and slips so it will be necessary to remain vigilant.
The path will start to descend slowly ,while maintaining the spectacular and dramatic views across the highlands, and will bring you to some stepping stones. After passing these stones the immense Blackwater Reservoir will be visible further down the path. This 13 kilometer long reservoir is home to a 1 kilometer long dam, which was built almost entirely by hand in 1909 by a workforce that lived on the moors for the duration of the dams’ construction.
As the path continues to descend the horizon, on a clear day, offers views far enough afield to include Ben Nevis. Again the path leads downhill, turning left onto a narrow track which follows on to give views of Loch Leven and surrounding villages in the land below.
The path takes a route which winds slowly down and merges with another track. From here the downhill slope steepens considerably for the descent into Kinlochleven. This is the destination reached for this section of the West Highland Way and there are some small shops here, cafes and a choice of accommodation, from camping to hotels and anything in between.