The West Highland (Half)Way: Kinlochleven to Fort William (Day 4)

The West Highland Way is a beautiful and classic walk in the highlands of Scotland, and I would heartily recommend sections of it or the full 95 miles for a challenging and worthwhile trek. My friend and I walked the second (and arguably better) half of the West Highland Way in October 2018 over three and a half days.

This post is about our Day 4 walk from Kinlochleven to Fort William. You can also check out the overview of our itinerary, accommodations, and food, and notes on & photos of the walks from Crianlarich to Tyndrum (Day 1), Tyndrum to Glencoe (Day 2), and Glencoe to Kinlochleven (Day 3).

Kinlochleven to Fort William

Thursday, October 4, 2018

The walk from Kinlochleven to Fort William is 15 miles and took up about 7.5 hours. Fort William is the end of the West Highland Way (Mile 95)!

For breakfast we bought some instant oatmeal cups from the Co-op (thankfully open by 8:00 am) and headed back to the hostel to eat them with tea and instant coffee. Free cereal at the hostel meant we could top-up our stomachs before heading out.

The start of the walk from Kinlochleven is upward and through a woodland. Once you emerge, that’s it for tree cover.

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A misty view of Kinlochleven from the top of the hill to the north of the town.

The forest we were hoping to find (and which is shown on the map) for some cover from the rain and wind was no more: all logged. All of the existing trees are pretty far off of the actual path.

Once you reach the top of the hill out of Kinlochleven, you follow a hydro road for a little while:

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Construction taking place on hydro access roads north of Kinlochleven. The West Highland Way follows one of the hydro access roads for a short way.

Then gravel track:

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Two walkers ahead of us on the gravel track through Lairigmor.

Which passes by an old ruined cottage:

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Ruins of an old cottage on Lairigmor on the West Highland Way north of Kinlochleven.

It is hard to imagine anyone living here: it’s wildly beautiful with the mountains sloping up on either side and lots of space for sheep grazing, but oh wow the driving rain and wind. The sheep are still here being grazed but the humans are gone. Except for those of us crazy enough to be walking here.

Once through this wide-open and exposed pass, we turn north into a narrower valley and it’s a *little* bit more protected. We lose some elevation and have lunch in a sort of stand of trees (more or less the only one that provides any shelter on this section of the Way) – more cheese and oatcakes and chocolate and fruit that we’ve been carrying with us.

After a bit more up and down along the slopes of a narrower valley, we finally emerge onto the forestry road (near the ruin of an old fort) that takes you all the way down to Fort William. We were lucky that the clouds had broken so that we could see Fort William and Ben Nevis ahead of us. Ben Nevis is a *big* mountain.

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The gravel forestry road that leads downhill to Fort William. There is a West Highland Way thistle signpost in this photo and Ben Nevis looms in the background.

Quickly the clouds closed in again and we headed down. (Our attempt to walk to the old fort failed – we couldn’t quite manage it energy-wise at this point.)

We passed a couple of women on our way down with whom we’d been leap frogging and exchanged banter. My friend said, “A little wet, eh?” and one of the women said, “Wet?? Us?? Nooooo!” and then we all laughed because there was nothing else for it at that point.

We arrived at the B&B, hung up all our wet stuff, showered and changed and went for a celebratory dinner at The Crofter. Sausage and mash has never tasted so good. Beer has never tasted so good! (In the photos below it looks as if I have maybe never had a beer before in my life.)


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