Day 9: 10 miles
We left the Isles of Glencoe behind and taxi’d back to Kingshouse to start our day. After several miles of easy walking, we came to the Devil’s Staircase. I figured that since I had climbed Hell Hill at the beginning of the trip, I should be able to make it up the Devil’s Staircase. (Besides, I’d rather climb up out of Hell and down into it!) This by far felt like the longest, steepest ascent. It led up to the highest elevation of the entire West Highland way, the top of Beinn Beagh, at 1850 feet. To say that I struggled is a bit of an understatement, but I persevered and made it to the top!
This is an explanation of the Devil’s Staircase written by my brother, John, for my mom and dad’s blog: [The Devil’s Staircase was given its name by the soldiers who were part of the road building programme of General Wade, because of the difficulties of carrying building materials up that stretch of the road. (Apparently, Major Caulfield took over for General Wade following General Wade’s departure from the British Army in 1740. Major Caulfield then became responsible for directing the Scottish military roads initiative, further construction of new roads and bridges as well as upgrading. He was responsible for much more road construction than his predecessor: about 900 miles of road and 600 bridges).
Later, however, the road lived up to its name when workers building the Blackwater Dam chose to travel to the Kingshouse Hotel after they had been paid, rather than walking down to Kinlochleven. The journey to the pub often proved to be more difficult than they realized and on the return trip, after a few drinks on a cold winter’s night, the devil often “claimed his own”.
In 1692, the path was the approach route for the troops coming from Kinlochleven to provide reinforcements for the Massacre of Glencoe (yikes, this actually seemed pretty awful – Scottish history is so violent!)].
We stopped along the hillside to have lunch. Somehow pictures do no do justice to the immensity of the scenery surrounding us! A panoramic view of the valley, a waterfall across the way heading down the facing mountain, and a loch in the distance. Amazing.
As we came closer to the town, we passed another hydro-electric plant. These plants have tunnels that feed water from a nearby loch, usually on the other side of the mountain. As the water flows down through the pipes, it passes through the turbines creating electricity. It seems as if enough electricity is made to run the Aluminum Smelting plants and anything more goes out to the National Grid. It was here that we also found a geocache! Can’t go a day without one!
Today, as we entered town, we could see the water runoff from the plant – an enormous amount of water.
Our B&B was on the other side of town from the trail, but not too far of a walk. Again, dinner was at a local pub. I have to tell you about dinner tonight – I had Glencoe Chicken – and it was delicious! Chicken breast stuffed with Haggis and wrapped in bacon and then covered with a cream sauce. On the side, new potatoes and cooked carrots. A real treat!
Day 10: I didn’t walk – but still clocked 5 miles on Nike Sportswatch.
After the first couple of miles yesterday, I realized that my legs were getting too tired. By the time that I made it up the Devil’s Staircase, I knew for sure that I needed a day’s rest. Since today is supposed to be 16 miles – the first several miles up steep hills yet again, I decided to take the bus into Fort William.
Dad came with me and we arrived in Fort William around 10am. We figured out where the B&B was, the located the end of the West Highland Way. Even though I didn’t technically finish the entire walk, I got my picture taken at the statue at the end.
From there, Dad and I wandered through town and located the beginning to the Great Glen way that we will start tomorrow. At the Old Fort of Fort William, we found a geocache! Dad wanted to hike up along the WHW to find another couple of caches but I was not up to hiking up the hill. While he backtracked the trail to find the rest of the group, I decided to take a cruise along Loch Linnhe. As we cruised down the Loch, we passed a Salmon Farm and a Mussel Farm. Further down, we saw some seals sunning themselves on a small rock island. They were much smaller than I thought they would be. On the ride back up the Loch to Fort William, the sun was shining warmly and I think I took a nap on the boat!
Once I got back into town, I found a pub for lunch, then walked a bit down the WHW hoping to find the group – only to decide to turn back and wait at the end. It was a good thing I did – they were another hour getting into town! As I waited for them, I met up with Allison, Adrian and Sandra who will be joining us for the Great Glen Way.
Here’s looking forward to tomorrow, and 5 more days of hiking on the Great Glen Way!
- Day 8: Kingshouse and Isles of Glencoe
- Day 11: Spean Bridge