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Hiking trail

Bridge of Orchy to Kinlochleven

Hiking trail
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Macs Adventure Verified partner  Explorers Choice 
  • Sunrise Above Loch Tulla in Inveroran
    / Sunrise Above Loch Tulla in Inveroran
    Photo: Fraser MacRae, Macs Adventure
m 600 400 200 30 25 20 15 10 5 km Inveroran Hotel Glencoe Mountain Resort Café Drove Roads The Devils Staircase Kingshouse Hotel Ba Bridge

After passing the isolated Inveroran hotel, walk across the Rannoch Moor and look upon Scotland's most iconic mountain: Buachaille Etive Mor. The walk by Kingshouse hotel to climb the Devil's Staircase and catch a glimpse of Ben Nevis (Scotland's highest mountain). 

difficult
34 km
10:00 h
790 m
950 m

There is a steep climb as you leave Bridge of Orchy, but you are rewarded with some of the best views in Scotland (in our humble opinion). A short descent brings you to the isolated Inveroran Hotel.

 

Arguably the most scenic section of the West Highland Way; leave Inveroran and skirt Loch Tulla before joining the track across Rannoch Moor - a wonderful, lonely and exposed place that was once covered by a giant icecap and is today covered in bog. There is no shelter and in bad weather it can be exposed, whilst in good weather Rannoch Moor is simply inspiring. The 17th century Kingshouse Hotel affords the best views of Buachaille Etive Mor, Scotland’s most photographed mountain. 

 

From Kingshouse follow a track to Altnafeadh, which reveals great views of the famous ‘weeping glen’ and site of the Glencoe Massacre in 1692. Zigzag up the Devil’s Staircase to the highpoint of the West Highland Way at 548m, giving stunning views towards Ben Nevis in clear weather. From here wind your way down into the small town of Kinlochleven.

outdooractive.com User
Author
Macs Adventure
Updated: February 17, 2020

Difficulty
difficult
Technique
Stamina
Experience
Landscape
Highest point
550 m
Lowest point
13 m
Best time of year
Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct
Nov
Dec

Rest Stop

Kingshouse Hotel
Bridge of Orchy Hotel
Inveroran Hotel
Glencoe Mountain Resort Café

Safety information

As there is little shelter for this section make sure you are prepared for all weathers. Carry a waterproof and some sun cream

Please take extreme care crossing the A82 road to reach Kingshouse Hotel.

Take your time climbing the devils staircase and be careful of loose gravel. The climb is short but steep.

Maps

If you wish to carry a hardcopy map, we would recommend buying the West Highland Way map from Footprints. Alternatively, you may wish to print the daily maps directly from our app.

Guidebook

If you wish to bring a guidebook, we would recommend Trailblazer's West Highland Way: Milngavie to Fort William by Charlie Loram.

Macs Adventure Blogs

Using our decades of experience we have written several blogs containing helpful tips, daily wildlife information, lunch stops, where to eat, FAQ and more. Please follow the link below to read our West Highland Way insights:

https://www.macsadventure.com/walking-holidays/category/walking/west-highland-way/ 

Equipment

Sturdy hiking boots, warm clothes and a waterproof/wind-break layer are all required. The weather can change quickly so be sure to take all equipment even if the weather looks okay. A waterproof cover for your rucksack is also useful.

Ensure your phone is fully charged; if you doubt the battery will last throughout the hike, it would be beneficial to bring a power bank.

Tips, hints and links

Noted on the interactive map are a couple notable points of interest. Click the icons on the map for more information.

Start

Bridge of Orchy Hotel (176 m)
Coordinates:
Geographic
56.517752, -4.766348
UTM
30V 391320 6265103

Destination

Kinlochleven town centre

Turn-by-turn directions

*** To help you follow the route with confidence we provide these route notes to help you. The West Highland Way is well waymarked, but we strongly suggest that you follow the GPS tracks in the Macs Adventure smartphone app to ensure you have a safe, enjoyable and problem-free day.  The daily maps can also be printed from the web version of the app should you wish to take paper copies with you. ***

 

Follow the road between Bridge of Orchy Hotel and Stance cottage. Cross the bridge to follow the trail into the forest and ascend to the viewpoint at Mam Carraigh – a great place to spot birds of prey soaring above the moor. 

Descend on the trail to the remote Inveroran Hotel and turn left to join the single-track road, taking care of traffic as you follow this quiet country road for 1.50 km. At Forest Lodge, where river flows into Loch Tulla, the Way picks up an old Drove Road and continues along the base of the Black Mount Munros before crossing the edge of the Rannoch Moor and winding its way between small lochans to cross the Ba Bridge.  The scenery on this section of the West Highland Way is spectacular even on cloudy days the low light lends a special moodiness to the ancient landscape. 

After Ba Bridge ascend slightly on a good path keeping a look out for the pyramidal peak of the much photographed and iconic mountain of Buachaille Etive Mor (“meaning Great Herdsman of Etive”). The sheer dark grey face boasts a multitude of popular traditional rock-climbing routes, while hillwalkers normally approach the ascent from the north on a well-built and less intimidating path.  The Way skirts the base of Meall Bhuiridh (1108m), the Munro that’s home to the Glencoe Ski Centre.  At 17.60 km turn right to walk down the minor road leading up to the ski centre, and with great care cross the A82 (this is a busy road with a speed limit of 60 mph) to continue on the trail towards Kingshouse. 

Approach Kingshouse Hotel from the SE, pass the bunk houses and head into the hotel for some well-earned rest, recuperation, and refreshments !

If you leave from the entrance to the small walkers/climber’s bar at the eastern end of Kingshouse Hotel turn left.  Soon you’ll cross a stone bridge and follow the track to a T-junction, turn left again and follow the signs for the West Highland Way with excellent views of Buachaille Etive Mor on an old road.  Make sure you don’t miss the signposted turn off to the right onto a narrow path.  Follow this path as it traverses the hillside towards Glencoe, keeping the A82 on your left-hand side.  After a small clump of pine trees the path swings right to ascend the side of the glen – this is the iconic Devils Staircase.  Ascend on stone steps to gain the top, at 26.10 km into your day’s walk, for wonderful views of Loch Leven to the west, Blackwater Reservoir to the east and the Nevis Range mountains to the north.

From the high point (550m) traverse the slopes of Stob Mhic Mhartuin from where it’s a steady descent, for 8 km, into Kinlochleven. After the open space of the Rannoch Moor enjoy the change of scenery as you walk along forest trails and tracks leading into the village.  Make sure to look behind you up at the steep slopes of the Aonach Eagach Ridge – a popular scrambling route with seasoned walkers in the summer months and mountaineers in the winter. 

At 33.20 km cross the River Leven and turn left to enter the village via a residential area, following the West Highland Way into the village centre – the track today finishes outside the Tailrace Inn.  Please see your tailored accommodation for specific accommodation directions. 

Note


all notes on protected areas

Arrival by train, car, foot or bike


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Photos of others


Difficulty
difficult
Distance
34 km
Duration
10:00 h
Ascent
790 m
Descent
950 m
Scenic With refreshment stops Cultural/historical value Faunistic highlights Healthy climate

Statistics

: h
 km
 m
 m
Highest point
 m
Lowest point
 m
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