Wednesday 11th August
When I went to sleep the previous night, I had a wonderful view of Buachaille Etive Mor from my window. When I woke up in the morning, it had almost disappeared in the mist. It can be difficult to get motivated in this weather. I went in for a late breakfast and finally got going at 10.45am, possibly the latest start of the week. Once again I nearly chickened out and called a taxi, but at the very last minute I met the three ladies I’d met the previous day, so we set off together. My ankles were starting to feel slightly weak, but it was nothing too serious.
The first part of the walk was easy, skirting around the main road. After reaching Altnafeadh, the path started to climb and we were soon going up the Devil’s Staircase. It’s a fairly strenuous uphill walk, but I think the name is a bit of an over exaggeration. Here’s a photo from about half way up.
I realised I was a faster walker than the other ladies, so when they stopped for a rest I carried on up the hill and soon arrived at the top. I like this pile of stones next to the cairn.
It was quite windy at the top, but as I descended down the other side I got a bit of shelter. Half an hour later it started to rain, which carried on until I finally got to appreciate what people mean when they talk about paths turning into streams. There was no way I was going to manage to keep my feet dry, so I just plodded on through the middle of it all.
I finally reached the road. I had company by this point, but the road down to Kinlochleven started to feel like the World’s Longest Road. We stopped to check the map several times and the compass too, but there were no other roads there to accidentally turn on to so we carried on. It was quite a steep downhill and the road was gravelly, so it began to take its toll on my knees and ankles.
Kinlochleven is a strange sort of town. Its main source of income used to be the aluminium industry and it still has a very industrial feel about it, even though there’s loads of accommodation catering for walkers. I’d booked myself in to the Blackwater Hostel, but the main building was full so I was directed up the road to an annexe building known as West Highland Lodge. After a long day of walking it felt like it was half way up a steep flight of stairs, but it probably wasn’t that bad. It was quite a basic building, but at £12 per night it was also the cheapest accommodation of my week and it was clean and warm and so on, and definitely much better than the Bridge of Orchy bunkhouse. I was so tired that I couldn’t even be bothered to walk back down the stairs to go to the food shop (opening hours are something like 7am – 10pm) on the grounds that I’d have to walk back up again. Luckily a group of German people were cooking and they offered me some food. I’d met them a few times earlier in the week so we had a chance to catch up.
I shared a dorm with a girl who was driving around the Highlands and climbing lots of munroes. She had a whole list that she was gradually getting through and it was interesting to hear about her adventures. The building was deserted compared to the previous night when it had been fully booked; there were no power sockets in the dorms, so people had been gradually unplugging kitchen appliances in favour of phone chargers, and she’d unplugged the TV to charge hers. I chose a spare place next to the kettle.
I found it a bit difficult to get to sleep that night, because my ankle kept twitching and it was starting to hurt.