Way out west

By James Carron

Other long distance routes have sprung up across Scotland, but the West Highland Way, a 95 mile trek from the outskirts of Glasgow to Fort William, continues to draw the largest crowds. Walkers from all parts of the world are to be found tramping the route throughout the year, enjoying the contrast between leafy lochside paths in the south and rugged upland moor as the path progresses towards its northern goal. The majority of hikers tackle it in one go, either camping along the way or taking advantage of the many hostels and B&Bs along the way. However, several sections are ideally placed for day walks. One of these is the last 14 miles from Kinlochleven to Fort William, an old military road cutting through an isolated upland glen flanked by the scree-covered peaks of the Mamores.

This is a linear walk so your best bet is to travel by bus from Fort William to Kinlochleven - the journey takes about 45 minutes - and then walk back, arriving just in time for a pint and a bar supper in one of the many friendly local pubs.

The route leaves the B863 opposite the primary school in Kinlochleven. A noticeboard, waymarker and green right of way sign identify the path as it sets off through leafy woodland. It soon begins to climb, emerging beyond a couple of burn crossings on to the single track access road to Mamore Lodge. Go over and the path disappears back into the trees. It climbs steadily, crossing two more burns before emerging into open moorland.

The path joins a track at a waymarker. Turn left and head west along the old military road. The track drops to cross a burn by a bridge and a little way upstream there is an impressive waterfall concealed within the trees. It is well worth seeking out. Climb up the west bank but take care as the ground can be slippery. Back on the track, continue along the gently undulating route.

The ruined cottages at Tigh-na-sleubhaich are among the scant remains of settlement in the glen. The houses, overgrown by nettles, are long deserted but an adjacent sheep fold is still in use. The track drops down from the houses to cross a burn by a fairly new wooden footbridge just downstream from a ford.

A mile on another ruined cottage at Lairigmor is reached. From here, look east for impressive views to the sharp peak of Stob Ban, a Munro and one of the Mamore summits. The glen has a real feel of remoteness here as you push further into uninhabited terrain. Beyond Lairigmor, the track rises before curving north towards the public road near Lundavra. It enters woodland a mile before the junction.

The track joins the road but the West Highland Way peels off to the right just before this, a path rising through coniferous plantation. Open hillside is reached once again before the route drops down into the trees again. The site of an old fort at Dun Deardail is passed as the path climbs through a cleft between the hillside and an outlying knoll. Beyond this, it descends to join a solid track in Nevis Forest. The way runs south before turning back on itself, skirting along the hillside.

At the next junction, carry straight on until a path crosses the track half a mile beyond. Turn right here and follow it the short distance through flat open fields to join the Glen Nevis road at a WHW noticeboard. Go left here and the road leads to Fort William, a mile or so away.


Distance 14 miles/22.5km.
Maps OS Landranger 1:50,000 sheet 41, Harveys 'Ben Nevis', Harveys 'West Highland Way'.
Start West Highland Way noticeboard opposite Kinlochleven primary school (grid ref NN 183624).
Parking On-street parking in Kinlochleven.
Grading Good track through long open glen, forest paths, rutted in places and can be wet and muddy underfoot suitable for fit walkers and older children.