Friday, May 31, 2013

Day 8: Kingshouse to Kinlochleven

Here I am, 9:30 am., ready for the second last day of my West Highland Way experience. A fierce wind storm overnight that sounded like trucks just outside the wall had kept me awake but a restorative breakfast did the trick and I was ready. The morning was chilly and still windy with weak sunlight behind some clouds, so I bundled up in many layers and strode out to meet the day.
A last look at Kingshouse Hotel behind,
a tip of the hat to the head of Glen Coe, Buachaille Etive Mor
and onward. Still on the moor. Very boggy. What a stark and unforgiving landscape it is!


The first 5k of the path today was flat. The clouds started to clear off and the temperature rose, necessitating the peeling off of layer after layer of clothing. It turned into a spectacular day!

And then I approached the infamous Devil's Staircase, where the WHW climbs out of Glen Coe. This part of the route was hand-built by 450 soldiers around 1750. Many parts of it still look fresh.
Other parts, less so and tricky underfoot. Most of it was like this.
Pictures don't do justice to the steepness of the climb. It was very steep with difficult footing, though zig-zags near the top eased the pain somewhat. In all, the climb goes up 1000 ft. in height from Kingshouse.
The elevation at the top, where there are 2 cairns to proclaim the summit, is, at 1800 ft., the highest elevation on the WHW. It was very windy up here.
Then it was down the back side of the staircase - treacherous in places!
with some interesting passages over burns.
It was at this point that I met some hikers coming in the other direction and I stopped to chat with Glynis. She and her husband are on an epic journey of a lifetime, walking from John O'Groats to Lands End: an end-to-end passage of Britain that they started at the beginning of this month and which will take them into the summer.


I bemoaned the constant nose-dripping I'd been having - had to walk with a tissue in one hand and we talked briefly about allergies. She gave me her card so we could connect via blogs. Here is hers. I looked it up when I got home and was so interested to read about their motivation for the journey. She even mentioned me in this post. Meeting Glynis was the highlight of my day!
The peaks of the Mamores, beyond Kinlochleven came into view, with Ben Nevis beyond in the distance.
Blackwater Reservoir was off to the right.
and soon Kinlochlevin came into view in the distance. It still took a long time to get there, with a very steep descent of 1000 ft .
The route entered a forested area and
passed the water intake building where huge water pipes emerge and go straight down the hill.

One of them had sprung a leak. The pipes were originally installed to provide a water supply for the aluminum smelter in town. The smelter closed in 2000, but the town is still supplied with this water and there are plans afoot, with public meetings to discuss, a possible hydroelectric project.
Kinlochlevin is a pretty town with colourful gardens.
The Leven River runs through on its way to the Loch on the north side of town.
This sculpture celebrates the existence of salmon in the river.
Kinlochleven is set in a hollow with mountains all around, with just enough opening on the north end for Loch Leven which is actually an arm of Loch Linnhe, an inlet from the Atlantic Ocean. With the closing of the smelter, the town's businesses have focused on hosting and providing services for outdoor adventurers of all kinds. The old Alcan building is now home to the Ice Factor, where people can learn and practice rock and ice climbing indoors.
 Here's my destination, the Tailrace Inn.
There was a sunny patio on the other side which I forgot to photo.
my room
 and the view out the window
I arrived in Kinlochleven at 2:30. It had been a short but rigorous walk. I was tired! I went down the street to the Co-op to buy a few supplies for tomorrow's lunch, then I made some green tea and read my Kobo while waiting for my bag to arrive.
Last day tomorrow: mixed feelings about this! On one hand it will be great to finish. On the other, I'll miss the feeling of stepping out the door each morning for a day-long outside adventure.
Go to Day 1
Go to Day 2
Go to Day 3
Go to Day 4
Go to Day 6
Go to Day 7
Go to Day 9