Distance: 26,3 km (16,3 mi) for a total of 1797,7 km (1116,9 mi)
Ascent (ca.): 720 m (2360 ft)
Weather: Overcast and a bit of drizzle in the morning, followed by some sunny spells which gave way to rain in the late afternoon and evening
Despite the one beer too many yesterday evening me, Andy and Ewan managed to get away from Kinlochleven at six o’clock. Out of the glen the WHW gains some height, but the ascent isn’t dramatic and I took it with a steady pace. Nevertheless, I lost the other two on this stretch. Andy, for sure, would have easily been able to follow me, I guess he had to keep company with Ewan.
As soon as the WHW has reached about 300 m height the path mainly contours on a broad track without any navigational or other challenges, unless the small streams crossing the path in a considerable number count for that. So the walking allowed to admire the landscape around me for most of the time.
I passed a large cairn where an information panel explained that this cairn replaced the Clach nan Caimbeulach (the stone of the Campbells) which was erected by the MacDonalds where they stopped the pursuing of the Campbells after the battle of Inverlochy. It further said that sympathisers of the MacDonalds and the royalist cause should add a stone to the cairn and sympathisers of the Campbells and the covenanters’ cause should take one away. I won’t reveal what I had done 😉
Shortly afterwards a small information shelter showed two alternative routes to Fort William: the official one and a shorter one on another track. Of course, I took the official route. I remembered from my WHW walk ten years ago that the last stretch into Fort William wasn’t especially interesting running on a broad forest track. But what was presented for several kilometres before this was even worse. It looked like Saruman and his Orcs had devastated the country.
I was aghast seeing this deforestation but that was topped by a sign which explained that the deadwood was left behind as a habitat for many other plants and animals and that the aim is to make the forests more natural. Which forest this should be in the surrounding of this sign I have no idea. It would be interesting to know if the tourist board had a say in this because it makes a very ugly last day of the WHW which most people walk south to north.
In Fort William I first collected my resupply parcel from the post office before checking in at the hostel to once again sort my pack and the parcel content and prepare the return package. And I had to pay a visit to the outdoor shops, mainly to buy some new socks as I had binned three socks (out of three identical pairs) already with more holes than fabric left.
After a very good three courses evening meal I tried to secure some accomodation along the next stretch. I had left the decision about my route behind Fort William to this point because it was weather dependent. But now it’s settled: I’m going the western route first following the Cape Wrath Trail northwards before turning to the east for JOG. That will definitely be the more scenic route compared to the Great Glen 🙂
Posting to this blog will presumably be affected by the lack of mobile signal in these areas but I’ll try my best to keep you updated.