Top 5 Scottish Winter Walks: Kinlochleven
Posted on Jan 22, 2016 by Alex Kendall
Experience the final day of one of the most popular long distance walks in the UK, The West Highland Way.
The last in our series of Top 5 Scottish Winter Walks: Kinlochleven. Wilderness Guide, Alex Kendall outlines this cracking walk which is the final day of one of the UK’s most iconic walking adventures, the West Highland Way.
It is excellent for the remoteness of the valleys while being easy to follow due to the well-made track. The start and end locations are also major towns so are easy to access and offer some great eating!
Head north-west out of Kinlochleven. Here the path zig-zags up through woodland which crowds the steep hillside. Once out of the woods the ground levels off and the path joins a track. This is the old military road, which heads west through the wide and airy valley of Lairig Mor. The going from here is steady and the track easy to follow. The splendour of the valley gives a feeling of complete isolation. The only signs of human habitation being the ruins of old stone huts.
For the first few kilometres the track follows the Allt Nathrach as it drains the hillside back down to Loch Leven. But before long the track crosses the high point of the watershed and you head downhill. You now follow the Allt na Lairige Mòire. This runs in the same direction you are heading, west and then north into Loch Linnhe.
On both sides of the valley, dozens of small streams run down the mountainsides. In winter they can be frozen and the whole place silent instead of the intermittent gush of water. The track is easy to follow, and barely breaks 280 metres, but I have known it to be completely iced over. Take care if it is!
The mountain on the right, which the track spends most of the day traversing around, is Mullach nan Coirean. This is the most westerly peak of the great ridge of The Mamores. These run west-east from here to the Abhainn Rath, which drains into Loch Treig. Shortly after passing the ruin of Lairigmòr, the track turns north. After another 15 minutes or so it enters a small forest. Two-thirds of the way through the forest, bear right onto a path that avoids the road ahead.
You now begin the descent into Glen Nevis and soon enter Nevis Forest. There is an easy side-path for a visit to the ancient hill fort of Dun Deardail, if you have time to explore. Before long, through gaps in the trees, Ben Nevis itself becomes visible as its great bulk overshadows the valley. The forest track winds gently downhill, eventually dropping into the glen at the information centre. If you have the time and the will, follow the road into Fort William, or just get a lift from here.
Disclaimer: All walks are undertaken at your own risk, as walking can be a dangerous activity if the appropriate precautions are not taken. Wilderness Scotland does not guarantee full-accuracy of the information given and does not accept responsibility or liability. Winter walking is incredibly rewarding, but attention must be paid to your equipment even if staying at a low level, as even low level walks can be remote. It is your own responsibility to check the information with other resources, to know your own capability and to check weather conditions. Attention must be paid to your equipment; plan for the worst weather, carry a detailed map, compass, warm clothing, waterproofs, plenty of food and drink to last you the day and a head torch. If heading up high, take an ice axe and crampons and know how to use them, and always be prepared to turn back. Remember that a route description and a map are no use unless you can navigate with a map and compass. A GPS unit and the GPX route are a good back up but should be used as a guide rather than as a main navigational tool.
Other walks in this series:
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