West Highland Way Day 4: Kingshouse to Fort William

It poured with rain all night. So much so that I had to keep looking out to make sure the river wasn’t rising. Fortunately, it was OK and at around 5:30am I heard the rain ease off. A quick check of the weather apps and it looked as though it would start again soon so I took the opportunity to pack up as fast as I could. The views this morning were quite dramatic.

Views this morning
Views this morning

Once outside it was clear that everything was very wet and that some of the precipitation had been snow, not rain.

Very wet with snow on the hills
Very wet with snow on the hills

It started raining again before I had fully packed up, but at least my tent was away. I found some shelter, rearranged a few things in my backpack and then set off from a very quiet Kingshouse.

All quiet at Kingshouse
All quiet at Kingshouse

Typically the sun then came out for about an hour and the views around Glencoe were spectacular as I made my way towards the Devils Staircase.

Snowy Conditions on the Devil’s Staircase

As I reached the bottom of the Devil’s Staircase it started snowing heavily and the skies were dark.

Starting to snow at the bottom of The Devil’s Staircase

The climb up wasn’t too bad and at the top the paths were almost obscured by the snow. It was nice up here with views of Blackwater Reservoir in the Distance – it’s a huge body of water high up in the mountains that seemed to disappear over the horizon.

There was someone else in a blue jacket following me so I wasn’t the only one up here. I caught glimpses of them every now and then behind me, but soon lost sight of them as I forged on through Rannoch Moor stopping now and then to take some photos.

The snow had now turned to very heavy rain and after a long descent I made it into Kinlochleven.

I was soaked through and getting cold so was looking forward to sitting in a café with a nice breakfast and a chance to dry out for a while. That wasn’t to be as nothing was open. I found a sandwich shop called Leven Bites. They didn’t have anywhere to sit but did sell lots of well-priced takeaway food. I ordered a ‘Big Bun’ with haggis, sausage, bacon and egg and they offered to let me stay there while I ate it. They even offered to charge my phone.

Whilst there a group of Americans popped in looking for the West Highland Way stamp for their ‘West Highland Way Passports’ – you can get a stamp at each location along the way to show that you’ve done it all. I hadn’t been bothering with this. I asked them which way they were going and how far they planned to go today – they said they were heading all the way to Fort William (the same as me), but were getting there on the bus!!! 

The guy in the blue jacket who had been following me across the moor also popped in. He too was soaked through and was ending his day here in Kinlochleven so was trying to find his accommodation. Leven Bites was the only place open so he popped in to ask for directions.

Kinlochleven to Fort William

Suitably replenished but still a little wet I set off once again into the rain. I did pop into the toilets and took the chance of some shelter and privacy to rearrange my clothing and to add an extra layer in the form of a warmer jacket. However, the next stretch was a steep climb out of Kinlochleven so I was soon getting warm.

Looking back at Kinlochleven from the climb out
Looking back at Kinlochleven from the climb out

I’d overtaken a group of about 8 lads who then passed me once again as I stopped to take off the jacket. I caught them up again towards the top and had a chat. Strangely they were all from Aberystwyth and one of them even worked at Ynyslas! It’s a small world. I chatted to them for a while as we walked and then headed off again at my own pace so soon opened up a bit of a gap.

Aber Lads
Aber Lads

The going was now relatively easy so I was making good time as I sploshed through the puddles and jumped over the numerous streams. The rain was easing and turned to showers and then eventually stopped altogether. I passed a few people here and there who had all started in Kinlochleven that morning.

After a gentle descent for a while there were a few ups and downs through various bits of forestry land and then a long descent all the way down to the banks of the River Nevis.

Here the route took me along the road where I spotted a potential campsite. My watch told me that I was about 1.5 miles from the end so I decided that I’d continue into Fort William, complete the West Highland Way, stock up with some supplies (and a dry pair of socks) and then return to here to camp for the night. Seeing as I would have finished the West Highland Way a lot quicker than intended I was planning to head out onto the Great Glen Way tomorrow to do an extra 75 miles or so.

Fort William

I soon made it into Fort William and started to look for the statue that everyone has their photo with in order to mark the end of the Way. I popped into Nevis Sports and bought some new socks ready for tomorrow. Then, all of a sudden my foot started hurting and I ended up hobbling the next half mile to the statue. Once there I was in agony. I had my photo taken then headed to a café.


The hot chocolate didn’t help, despite the marshmallows and cream! My foot was definitely not happy and there was no way I could walk a couple of miles back to the campsite I had identified.

Hot Chocolate Celebration
Hot Chocolate Celebration

I phoned Anna and with her help found somewhere to stay for the night. She booked me into the Travelodge which was only 300 yds away – I could at least make it that far and bought some blister plasters on the way!

I’d covered 26 miles today and had now finished the entire West Highland Way in 4 days. The official distance is 96 miles. Somehow I had done 101 miles but I guess I headed off track occasionally to visit shops, find campsites and take a look at the views now and then all of which will have added up a little.

Foot Issues

Investigation of my foot did reveal some blisters but there were other parts that were hurting too. I patched them up as best I could and would see how they were in the morning. I didn’t go out for dinner. Instead, I ate the ham and cheese roll and Rocky Road that I had bought in Kinlochleven and carried with me all day and then spent a while washing out all of my clothes in the sink before going to bed.

Hopefully, after a decent nights sleep in a real bed my foot might feel better and I would at least have a complete set of clean and dry clothes in which to start the Great Glen Way.

Unfortunately, come 5am my foot was still sore. I’m not one for hanging around doing very little so I packed everything away and hobbled through the deserted streets of Fort William. I couldn’t make a start on the Great Glen Way so, having achieved what I’d set out to do I was going to head home instead. I waited outside McDonalds until they opened at 6:30am, had some breakfast and then headed to the train station to wait for the first train to Glasgow. 

Heading Home

The 7:44 train to Glasgow left on time and it was a nice journey across Rannoch Moor with all of the mountains sporting a fresh covering a snow. The train then retraced my route through Tyndrum, Crianlarich, past Beinglas Farm and along the far shores of Loch Lomond before heading off to Loch Long and the Dumbartonshire coast. From Glasgow it was a quick 25 minute train ride to Milngavie Station where the van awaited along with a 7 hour drive home. This was punctuated with a stop at Killington Lakes services which has a nice view from the car park – if you park at the furthest spot from the services themselves.

Killington Lake

Of course, after 4 days of pretty much constant rain on the West Highland Way, now that I was heading home the weather was lovely!

Following the day of relative rest just travelling and driving I could at least walk a bit easier once I got home. I don’t think it would have been a good idea to head out onto the Great Glen Way though, even if I had taken a rest day before doing so. Hopefully, it’s a minor (if somewhat painful) issue that will resolve itself over the next few days. If I’d tried to do the Great Glen Way I may have ended up stuck halfway along it with a more major problem that could have taken weeks to recover from.

I’ll have to return soon for another adventure, the Great Glen Way awaits, and maybe the East Highland Way or the Coast to Coast Path. Who knows, I might even manage to slow down and do a little less one day!

1 Response

  1. Avatar forComment Author Mum x says:

    Well all done in record time and with no major injuries. Hope the foot heals over the next couple of days, no doubt giving you time to sit to rest it whilst planning your next mad adventure. Poor Anna !

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Avatar forComment Author

Alan Cole

Alan is a Freelance Website Designer, Sports & Exercise Science Lab Technician and full time Dad & husband with far too many hobbies: Triathlete, Swimming, Cycling, Running, MTBing, Surfing, Windsurfing, SUPing, Gardening, Photography.... The list goes on.

You may also like...