Cow Hill above Fort William.

Start. Fort William (West End car park).

Route. Fort William - Belford Road - Lochaber Leisure Centre - Cow Hill Circuit - Sugar Loaf Hill - Lower Glen Nevis - Peat Track - Cow Hill - Peat Track - Lundavra Road - Fort William.

Notes. Cow Hill above Fort William gifts the lucky hill walker with stunning open vistas of Loch Eil, Loch Linnhe, Glen Nevis and it's surrounding mountains. As the name suggests crofters once grazed their beasts on the slopes of Cow Hill, the beasts are back part of a conservation project, their grazing habits suit the land in these parts perfectly. On the way up we'll pass a stunning view point, Sugar Loaf Hill, cannon balls were fired from this insignificant grassy mound in the unsuccessful siege of Fort William during the Jacobite uprising of 1745.

I hold my hands up, I made a mistake planning this walk, I should have done my homework but didn't. Trouble with Scotland is not all paths are marked on the map, as in this case, much to the disgust of my better half, who hates walking up steep ground.

We set out from West End car park, made our way to the Leisure Centre via Morrisons Supermarket, we needed fuel for the day. Behind the Leisure Centre an interpretation board marks the start of the Cow Hill Circuit, we should have spent a moment reading it, alas we never. Up we climbed a good path under foot, deciduous woodland all around, once the main circuit path was reached we turned left, a finger-post invited us to the Braveheart car park, this we followed like fools ignoring all other paths. Dear reader when you reach the second sign announcing the Cow Hill Circuit unlike us follow it, all will be revealed shortly. We continued our sights set on Lower Glen Nevis and the Braveheart car park, when the path started descending we questioned our chosen route, not wanting to re-trace our steps we continued almost to the glen floor.

Now in Glen Nevis forest tracks guided between tall pine trees, just over half a mile of forest walking deposited us at a finger-post, an invitation to walk the Peat Track, we obliged. Until recently this track was used for gathering peats from the hill above to use as fuel, I can imagine peat being sledged down but there had to be another way up. This was a leg burner of an ascent, steep and unforgiving, never ending, 550ft almost straight up, it ended at a path junction, the path we passed earlier, the path that would have avoided the leg burner of a climb. A gate allowed access to a shallow coll, we rested before passing through said gate, as we crossed the coll views the length of Loch Linnhe opened out, part way across a finger-post invited us to Cow Hill Summit, we obliged following a land rover track over easier ground to access the top, no cairn just a radio mast and stunning views. After re-fueling, downing a brew, sandwich and the obligatory pork pie we re-traced our steps to the coll, turned right to started our descent.

The stoney track we now followed guided us to Upper Auchintore, high in the hills on the outskirts of Fort William, we stepped onto an old military road, swung right then let the tarmac surface guide us to Lundavra Road. Tarmac walking continue, a long descent passed modern housing and a smart contemporary primary school, when we thought the descent would never end we reached level ground at the West End Roundabout and car park.

view route map.


Loch Linnhe from the parked car.

Viewing the houses of Caol over Loch Linnhe.

A little height gained and the views open out, a stunning view over Loch Linnhe towards Loch Eil.

Sugar Loaf Hill provides a fine view point, Fort William, Loch Linnhe with Meall an t-Slamain across the horizon.

On Sugar Loaf Hill just soaking up the view.

The steep slopes of Meall an t-Suidhe plunge into Lower Glen Nevis.

Meall an t-Suidhe catching the Autumn sun, seen from the Braveheart car park.

Through the trees our first view of Ben Nevis, the one with a dusting of snow on the upper slopes.

An icing sugar day on Ben Nevis.

The beauty of Autumn in Glen Nevis, looking to The Mamors.

The summit of Cow Hill is off to the right accessed via that land rover track, I couldn't resist stopping to drink in the magnificent view over Loch Linnhe.

Nearing the summit of Cow Hill, with another stunning view over Loch Linnhe for our delectation.

Immersing ourselves in the beauty all around, well not quite I'm looking to that weather front heading in our direction.

Viewing the islands in Loch Linnhe with the white washed townships of Corpach and Caol clearly visible.

Before descending the hill a last look to Ben Nevis.

Meall nan Cleireach under a Autumn sun.

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