Kings House to Kinlochleven.

Start. Kings House Hotel.

Route. Kings House Hotel - Glen Coe - Altnafeadh - Devil's Staircase - Kinlochleven.

Notes. When Sue opened the curtains this morning I couldn't’t believe my eyes, Glen Coe basked in glorious sunshine, a cap of cloud the remains of yesterdays weather front hung over the Buachaille, deer grazed under our window, a perfect invitation onto the trail. But first one of the Kings House breakfasts, fuel for the ascent of the Devil's Staircase, today maybe our shortest but it's the highest.

We left the Kings House via a stone bridge spanning the River Etive, a short walk took us to a minor road were we turned left to head towards Glen Coe, just before the junction with the A82 the way climbed the fell side cutting across the lower slopes of Beinn a Chrulaiste, gifting us with mouth-watering vistas over Glen Coe, today would be a day of many such views. After a tantalizing glimpse of things to come we descended to the main road. A short walk in the company of traffic took us to Altnafeadh, the start of The Devil's Staircase, don't let the name put you off, this zigzag military highway only climbs to 1800ft and you're already on the 1000ft contour. Just under a hour of fairly easy ascending took us to the cairns that adorning the saddle, we stopped, sat down, we wouldn't find a better café stop than this. Stunning views over Glen Coe to the south, to the north the Ben Nevis massif including the sharp profile of The Mamores, Bienn Mor, Na Gruagachean and Sgurr Eilde Mor being the principal tops, and disappearing round the shoulder of Siron a' Choire Odhair-bhig the West Highland Way disappeared into the valley beyond.

We sat for ages soaking up the atmosphere, we'd walked a long way to get here there was no rush to leave. Several parties of walkers passed by without even glancing at the view, strange people these long distant walkers. Eventually we packed the bags to start the long descent to Kinlochleven, no sooner had we set off then views to the north-west opened up, the Blackwater Reservoir stretched to the horizon, constructed by 3000 navvies between 1905-09 to service the Kinlochleven aluminum industry. On we strolled, this was a day for strolling, two miles of delightful walking passed before we reached the penstock (the header tank for the pipeline that carries water form the Blackwater Reservoir to the hydro electric plant in Kinlochleven). We stepped onto a land rover track here to start a long winding, drawn out descent to the valley floor and another night in a camping pod.

view route map.


The was the view that greeted us on day six, Buachaille Etive Mor with the Pass of Glencoe to the right.

The Kings House Hotel, built in the 17th century to service the needs of the cattle drovers, used after the Battle of Culloden as a barracks for the troops of King George III, hence the name, over the years it's been associated with salt smuggling and whisky running, today a haven for climbers and West Highland Way walkers.

Seen over the Kings House the cliffs of Stob a' Ghlais Chor backed by the cloud and snow capped Clach Leathad.

Under snow Clach Leathad and Stob a' Ghlais Choir, a stunning early morning view.

Dominating many of the views this morning, Buachaille Etive Mor.

Views down Glen Coe.

Views through Lairig Gartain with the Buachaille Etive Beag ridge to the right.

From the Altnafeadh stunning views across the head of Glen Coe and The Rannoch Moor.

Ascending The Devil's Staircase.

Wonderful views over Glen Coe.

Resting before the long descent to Kinlochleven, savouring the views to snow capped Ben Nevis.

A small tarn on the coll above The Devil's Staircase reflects the midday sky, gifting us with magical views to Ben Nevis and Carn Mor Bearg with The Mamores running out of shot to the right.

Drinking in the views across the head of Glen Coe, the precipitous cliffs of Buachaille Etive Mor backed by Clach Leathad.

A few paces north along the track and views like this open up, the Blackwater Reservoir rests in the shadow of Beinn a' Bhric and Leum Uilleim.

Our first view of Kinlochleven and the peaks of Stob Coire na h-Eirgh, Am Bodach and the higher Sgurr an Fhuarain.

On the long descent with still a 1000ft to go.

Taking a breather on the foot-bridge spanning the Allt a' Choire Odhair mhoir.

Allt a' Choire Odhair mhoir a typical mountain stream.

Views over the valley of the River Leven, the half mile long Blackwater dam can clearly be seen across the head of the valley.

Looking to the penstock (building on the skyline), the pipeline carries water to the hydro electric plant in Kinlochleven, this industrial hidden corner of Scotland is industrial no longer, British Alcam closed the aluminum smelter in 2000, in 2001 the citizens of Kinlochleven took control of the land, turning the village into a place of outdoor excellence. I was expecting an industrial relic, a run down village, dilapidated and in need of love, how wrong I was it's a beautiful little place, a place to return to.

Looking down on the village with tidal Loch Leven in the background.

Home for the night.

back to top

back to list

back to WHW