The West Highland Way 4/5/6 – Strathfillian to Altnafeadh (Kings House)

This is another double post; days four and five on the WHW.   A grand total of three photographs from day four given the absolutely atrocious weather.  Cold, wet and muddy combined with uncountable numbers of midges.  I’m fairly comfortable with flying insects given my years spent silviculture surveying out in the hinterlands of Northern BC…however these Scottish midges are certainly something else.  Definitely heed the warnings.  Despite anyone’s apparent mosquito/blackfly hardiness, these midges will make life difficult for the unprepared.  Even with a good headnet and copious amounts of quality 70% pure DEET, the midges will find their way into just about everything.  Cooking while battling midges, rain and mud bring a whole new definition of miserable.

About 5KM outside of Strathfillian Farms is the town of Tydrum.  Unlike the many ‘villages’ one passes through while on the WHW, Tyndrum is a full-service town.  A stop on one of the national highways, this is pretty much the last spot to grab any kind of supplies before one reaches Kinlochleven, which is a further 2 days down the trail.  While there are a few pubs (Bridge of Orchy, Inveroran and Kings House, they don’t sell much other than beer and pub food…which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  The beer and meat pie at the Kings House Hotel was certainly welcome after a day of marching through Rannoch Moor.



Passing through Mam Carriagh on the way to Inveroran, about 15KM out of Tyndrum


Inveroran is essentially a hotel with a small pub/cafe.  I camped just down the road near the old bridge. 


Essential midge armour.


Fortunately day five saw some decent weather.  This is luck in it’s purest form, given that this section of the WHW is considered to one of the most scenic.  Truly isolated and wild with nothing but the 300 year old military road winding through the moors.



Pushing 300 years old, the cobbled military road provides a rather rough walking surface with the uneven cobble rock making ones’ ankle run through a serious range of motions.  I would often make use of the non-cobbled sections, choosing to suffer the mud rather than the cobbles.  Generally in very good shape, the military road receives periodic maintenance from a volunteer group of WHW ramblers.   It was on this section that I lost my old trusty bush hat I bought in Mongolia in 2006.  The hat had travelled with me everywhere post-Mongolia.  I managed to acquire some kind of tendonitis (my first ever trekking injury) and my right food was killing me.  This required me to stop rather frequently to readjust my boot lacing in a vain search for some kind of sweet spot where my Achilles heel didn’t feel like it was being ripped apart.  It was during one of these readjustment breaks that I forgot to pick my hat up.  I didn’t notice it was gone until several KM down the road.  Bummer. 



This is probably one of my favourite shots of the trek, looking west from the Ba Bridge (the only real landmark within the moor)


Stob Grabhar


Just over the summit and down into Glen Coe.  Highway A82 is running through the middle of the Glen, with Kings House about half way through the photo.


Glen Coe Mountain Resort


Probably one of the most recognizable mountains in Scotland, Buachaille Etive Mòr is impossible to miss while walking into our out of the Kings House Hotel. At 1,021m, it’s one of the larger peaks in the Highlands.  The pub within the Kings House Hotel is plastered with mountaineering photographs and paraphernalia, many of which showcases the story of the long and storied mountaineering traditions in the Highlands. 



Looking back down Glen Coe towards Kings House.  The base of the ski resort can be seen in the far right of the photo.


My campsite for the night near Altnafeadh.  I couldn’t find much information on Altnafeadh, other than it appears to be a clump of timber in the otherwise bare Glen Coe.  A few shacks, but no apparent permanent residents.  Judging by the number of vehicles randomly parked everywhere, it appears to be some sort of base camp for climbers and trekkers as they move into the highlands.


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