Grab a cuppa and get comfy – this will be a long post! Day 6 was EPIC.
Today was the day I had been looking forward to the most when I planned the trip – I’d deliberately given myself two short days (10 miles today and 8 tomorrow) over this stretch as I knew it would be the most dramatic in terms of scenery and I wanted to feel unhurried and be able to enjoy it. I also had the idea that I could make a detour today to the Glencoe Mountain Centre, if I had the time.
I had a lovely breakfast at Inveroran and made friends with a couple from Melbourne who invited me to join them. We had a nice chat while we ate our breakfast and then went off to start the day’s walk. I was super excited about this stretch over Rannoch Moor & Glencoe and determined to savour every moment of it!
I bid a fond farewell to the Inveroran Hotel – I’d definitely come back here again!
The weather was perfect today; I’d heard Rannoch Moor could be very exposed so was grateful not to be walking it in driving rain or wind! To quote from the Walk Highlands website: “In fine weather this is a place of otherworldly beauty – in a storm it is wild, forbidding and exposed.” Yup, sounds about right. Happily for me it was a wee bit overcast but very comfortable for walking.
First selfie of the day 🙂
Soon the trail reached the end of the tarmac road and the start of the old Drovers Road which would lead all the way across the moor to Glencoe.
It was a wee bit hazy, but the views were still beautiful. The land got wilder and more desolate as the trail began to cross Rannoch Moor.
The Drovers Road was easy to walk on but tough on the feet – almost like walking on cobbles much of the time!
Happy selfie – I was enjoying every minute today 🙂
I stopped by this wee lochan for a breather and to admire the views.
Looking ahead the dramatic mountains of Glencoe were starting to appear.
Once again I overtook Simon & his friend – they’d gone further than me yesterday and were wild camping on Rannoch Moor, but were still packing up as I passed them! We had a wee chat before I headed off – of course they ended up overtaking me again later when I stopped for lunch! I thought that would probably be the last time I would see them, as they were planning to get to Fort William the day before me, so I felt a wee bit nostalgic – it’s the same with everyone you meet on the walk, you see them and then you don’t, and it’s kind of nice but a bit sad too.
Around the 5 mile mark I reached Ba Bridge where I stopped for a snack. My Australian friends from breakfast were resting up here too and you can see them in this photo – I climbed to the top of a wee mound to get this panorama. How amazing is this view?!
The other side of the bridge I spotted this deer who I think may have been pregnant – either that or just a bit porky!
I walked down to the River Ba to get this shot – I got wet feet going off the path but it was worth it!
The trail continued across the moor and everywhere I looked the views were just amazing …. I could upload hundreds of pictures quite easily but I’ll stick to these two!
As usual I went off the Way to add on some extra miles, hopping off onto a path which led up to the cairn at the highest point of Rannoch Moor. The views were incredible – just wilderness as far as the eye can see (Rannoch Moor is the largest uninhabited wilderness in Britain, 50 square miles). I scattered some ashes here in this beautiful spot.
Back on the trail I got my first glimpse of the dramatic Buachaille Etive Mòr in the distance. I was quite smitten with this mountain and ended up with loads of photos of it from different angles! It’s another one going on the list for a future climb 🙂
At the 9 mile mark I detoured off the Way again, heading instead for Glencoe Mountain Resort. Dave had overtaken me around lunchtime and was camping here for the night while I was pushing on another mile to Kings House. I tracked Dave down in the café and we ate lunch together. Then he headed off to his wee “hobbit house” he had rented for the night while I with some trepidation headed for the chairlift. I’d never been on one before, so I was a wee bit scared. It looked like a long way up as well!
On I got, and yes I did find it quite terrifying! What I didn’t like was that once you were on you were stuck there for the 12 minutes it took to get to the top – there was no possibility of bailing out halfway through! I really didn’t enjoy the first few minutes at all, and once again the mindfulness techniques I’d been learning came in handy – just focussing on my breathing helped a lot and calmed me down. By the time I’d got halfway up I had got used to it and was feeling much happier and even enjoying the views. No photos though – I may have been feeling less terrified than at the start but I was still using both hands to grip on to the bar for dear life!
Eventually I got to the top and it was totally worth it for the views!
From the top of the chairlift there was a footpath to the top of Creag Dhubh and since I hadn’t done much walking for the past few days (!) I decided an extra mile and a half hill walk was just what I needed! So I set off up the hill. There was still quite a bit of snow at this higher altitude.
Before long the path reached this bridge over the river which was almost as terrifying as the chairlift!
I scampered over it as quickly as possible and discovered it didn’t look much better from the other side either!
One of the many things I learned from this adventure was that I am stronger and more resilient than I thought I was. It’s really given me more confidence to just go out and do things even if I think I can’t. I managed to keep on walking in the times when everything hurt and I thought I had no energy left. I went on the chairlift despite being scared of it, and found that after a while it wasn’t so scary. I scuttled across this bridge like a scared rabbit on the way out, but on the way back I was brave enough to stop in the middle, crouch down and snap this selfie! I love feeling like this – I hope I manage to carry this feeling of being brave and adventurous back into my post-WHW life!
Once the scary bridge was behind me, the walk to the summit was not too strenuous and once again, totally worth it for the amazing views at the top. This was the second time on this trip that the views made me cry!
The photos don’t really do it justice – there’s a 360 degree video of the view here on my facebook page.
There was a group of Americans at the summit cairn and one of them kindly snapped this photo of me 🙂
And of course I took my usual selfie 🙂
You could see Ben Nevis in the distance – another one on my list to climb, but not this holiday!
After drinking in the views for a good long time I walked back to the chairlift. Much less scared this time, I was happily videoing and enjoying the views when about 4 minutes in, we just stopped. AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARGH. There I was dangling in mid air not knowing how long I would be stuck there …. not the most fun experience ever! I won’t be uploading the video, partly because it’s too long and would take an age to upload, and partly because at this point I would need to bleep out quite a lot of the swear words! We moved off again after what felt like an age but was really only a few seconds …. only to stop again almost immediately and this time my chair was swaying back and forth in the wind! Again I just focussed on breathing and telling Dave via the video how much I loved him, just in case I fell to my death! Happily we moved off again and I made it to the bottom unscathed. PHEW!
I went over to find Dave in his hobbit hut, feeling in need of a hug after all that! and then left him there and headed for my hotel.
At the entrance to the Mountain Centre the Scottish flags were looking fabulous against the backdrop of the mountains ❤
I made my way over the last mile of trail towards the wonderful Kings House Hotel – another brilliant place I would love to go back to! There were loads of deer around and about who did not seem in the slightest bit bothered by any of us humans.
The hotel did not disappoint – from the front garden, and from my room, I had this amazing view of the deer and Buachaille Etive Mòr.
I went to check in feeling like I should really do some washing as my clothes were getting a bit ripe and sweaty! But sadly my overnight bag had not yet arrived so I was forced to relax have a pint instead – what a shame! I sat and chatted with a big group of Americans who I’d seen on and off along the Way. They hadn’t been able to get booked in at Kings House, so were getting a taxi to Kinlochleven and then coming back the next morning to start the walk from here. I was very glad I’d organised all my rooms so early (back in October last year) as everywhere I stayed seemed to be fully booked!
It was now getting on for 6 and the Americans headed off in their taxi – but I still had no luggage! I met up with the Canadians who had taken my photo right at the start – they were also using Travel Lite and theirs had not arrived either, so at least I knew that Travel Lite were just running late, not that my bag had been lost! We were all having a laugh about how we’d be the smelly ones and have to sit on our own at dinner as no-one would want to come near us – when hooray! the bags arrived. So I went off for a shower and change as quickly as possible, not wanting to miss any of the views ….. then it was back outside to sit and chill with my second pint and my journal. I have to say, this was possibly the best pint ever in the history of the world!
I concur with this – AMAZING views from the hotel.
As I headed inside to get my dinner I bumped into Blister Girl from yesterday and we chatted for a bit – she was happy to hear about the chairlift as she was not able to walk and was looking for something to do tomorrow while her friends walked on. They’d planned to climb Ben Nevis once they finished the West Highland Way and she was hoping if she rested her feet until then she’d manage it. I hope she did!
Once inside it was time for some very delicious scampi and chips and another pint …. tonight I really wanted to stay awake later than 8, as I had a feeling there might be a nice sunset to watch. I was finishing off my dinner by 7.30 and flagging when two lads who I’d seen on and off on the trail came into the bar – with no tables free I said they were welcome to join me. I ordered myself a coffee and a Glayva in an attempt to keep awake and chatted to them while they ate their dinner. They were two brothers Chris & Stuart, really nice lads, and Dave & I ended up seeing them every day for the rest of the trail.
Having managed to stay in the bar as late as the ungodly hour of 8.45 I went round to the front of the hotel by the river and was rewarded for my sterling efforts with this beautiful sight of the sun setting next to Buachaille Etive Mòr. It was just stunning, and the perfect end to what had been an amazing day and my favourite one so far on the West Highland Way.
Click here for the Day 7 blog.