West Highland Way: Kinlochleven to Fort William via Mallaig. Oops.

Thursday 12th August
Was supposed to be 14 miles

I was still worried about my ankles which felt like they were weakening, but I made my way down to Kinlochleven to buy some food.  I was just making my way over to the Tailrace Inn for breakfast when I met Maria, the girl I’d walked to Crianlarich with a few days beforehand.  She wasn’t doing the whole West Highland Way, and was waiting for a bus to Fort William.  On the spur of the moment, I decided to join her.  I probably knew deep down that I would regret it later, but it seemed like a good idea at the time.  The bus took a very scenic route via Glencoe, but then again I don’t think there are any bus routes in the area which aren’t scenic.

Maria told me about her trip to Mallaig which she said was absolutely beautiful, and she’d also been over to the Isle of Skye. We arrived at Fort William, and on the spur of the moment I went to look at a train timetable and decided to take a day trip to Mallaig.  After making a few phone calls and helping her find somewhere to stay in Inverness, I boarded the train.  The West Highland Line has been voted the world’s most scenic railway.  Here’s the famous Glenfinnan Viaduct, complete with my reflection in the window.

The rest of the journey was absolutely stunning.

When I arrived in Mallaig, the first thing I did was to go to a chemist and buy a support sock for one of my ankles.  I already had some support bandages with me that were the right size for my knees, but for some reason I hadn’t anticipated it happening to my ankles.

Mallaig is a gorgeous little place.

When I got back to Fort William I found that Steve was staying in the same hostel as me.  The route to Fort William was supposed to go through three forests, and he said one of them had been completely cut down which had been such a shame.

I also met a girl who had hitch-hiked all the way from Amsterdam!  Now there’s something I don’t think I’d have the confidence to do.

Much as I had a wonderful time going to Mallaig, I do regret my last-minute decision to forego the walk.  At the same time, I think I might have seriously damaged my ankle if I’d stuck to the plan.  I’ll never know, but one thing I do know is that I have some unfinished business with the Highlands.  One day I’m going to come back here and do the Great Glen Way from Fort William to Inverness, but it’s going to start the day before with a walk from Kinlochleven to Fort William.  I’m not going to leave it undone forever.

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One foot in front of the other
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4 Responses to West Highland Way: Kinlochleven to Fort William via Mallaig. Oops.

  1. ilmari.org says:

    One day I'm going to come back here and do the Great Glen Way from Fort William to Inverness, but it's going to start the day before with a walk from Kinlochleven to Fort William.Can I come with? ;-)

  2. Leena says:

    And I and my husband?

  3. I think that detour was quite creative actually. The walk out of Kinlochleven is stunning though and it will be well worth doing when the time comes. The Great Glen Way is also beautiful.As regards the forests these are commercial pine trees which do have to be harvested. Encouragingly the re-planting tends now to have more native trees.Peterwww.distanthills.com

  4. Karen says:

    Hi Peter, and thanks for your message.It's great that forests are replanted, but I think it's more the element of surprise that catches people out! If you've walked the same way fifteen times and then you turn up one day and find it's all gone, I suppose it must be a bit disconcerting.

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