Day 5 - Wednesday 24 November 2021
Bridge of Orchy to Kingshouse (12.4 miles)
Weather wasn't looking too bad as we departed Bridge of Orchy - Angie and Fudge would be joining me as far as Mam Carraigh. The forecast was for rainy spells, sunshine on occasion with light breezes and the weathermen were spot on with their prediction.
The stone bridge over the River Orchy which gives the settlement its name. The bridge dates from around 1750.
The River Orchy from the stone bridge looking to Meall Beag
Just after passing over the River Orchy a crossroads of four paths/tracks is reached. Immediately left leads to the farm at Inverveigh whilst heading straight on will take the walker into Glen Orchy. The West Highland Way heads along a path to the right and in case of inclement weather a road also heads to the extreme right to handrail the river and then curves around the southern end of Loch Tulla to reach the Inverornan Hotel from where the route can be rejoined.
The path to the Inveroran Hotel via Mam Carraigh is clearly signposted and heads gently uphill through a plantation
A quick look back to Bridge of Orchy with Beinn an Dothaidh to the left and Beinn Dorain to the right
Rain cover now on for me as it had just started to drizzle
Despite the initial dreariness of the day there were still good views to be had
The route passes through two large old gate posts as it nears Mam Carraigh
Loch Tulla now in view as the path continues to rise
Fudge looks immensely proud of himself having discovered the summit cairn on Mam Carraigh
Looking back to Bridge of Orchy & Beinn Dorain from Mam Carraigh
A rainbow on Loch Tulla as I say goodbye to Angie & Fudge who would drive round to Kingshouse and meet me later
Looking to Stop Ghabhar, Beinn Toaig and Loch Tulla as I head down to the Inveroran Hotel
The Inveroran Hotel below with the road coming in from Bridge of Orchy which terminates just up ahead at Forest Lodge
The Inveroran Hotel - it was like the Marie Celeste here, no one about and very closed
Crossing Victoria Bridge
The former hunting lodge of Forest Lodge. The West Highland Way heads straight on with a track heading left that will take you all the way to Loch Etive via Glen Kinglass. It would be good to come back and walk along that path some day.
At Forest Lodge the road ends and the route carries on over an old drove road to Glencoe which would take me all the way to Kingshouse - a distance of around 9 miles. In 1803 the roads in the Highlands were in such a bad state of repair that Thomas Telford was commissioned to repair them and also construct new ones plus associated bridges. For the first few miles of this drove road the going is over rough cobbles and is tough on the feet.
Another rainbow as I continue to cross Rannoch Moor - at 50 square miles it is the largest uninhabited wilderness in Britain. This is about as desolate as it gets - it is true highland scenery being wild, desolate and waterlogged.
As I passed one of many small lochans the weather started to brighten up
I was really glad that the weather had perked up - the scenery was just fantastic as I made my way down to Ba Bridge
The River Ba from Ba Bridge
Just after Ba Bridge is a large cairn which I took a short detour to visit - at around 1500ft up it gave me a superb view over the wilderness of Rannoch Moor. The cairn is a memorial to Peter Fleming who was the elder brother of Ian Fleming, the creator of James Bond. Peter had an estate at nearby Black Mount, the house of which is just off the West Highland Way near Forest Lodge and was married to the actress Dame Celia Johnson. He died whilst grouse shooting on the estate in 1971.
The familiar site of Stob Dearg on Buachille Etive Mor now in sight to the left as I make the final approach to Kingshouse. Beinn a' Chrulaiste is to the centre right.
Just after the entrance to the Glencoe Ski Centre is Blackrock Cottage - home of the Ladies Scottish Climbing Club. Angie and Fudge met me near here. What a fantastic setting this is with walks literally from the door. The hut is available for bookings by recognised Clubs and certain affiliated individuals.
Heading down the Glencoe Ski Centre access road to Kingshouse with Beinn a' Chrulaiste providing the backdrop
The West Highland Way crosses the A82 to head up another access track which leads to the Kingshouse Hotel
Kingshouse is well known for the Deer that roam the Car Park looking for food. Luckily they are fed by an employee of the hotel and not by the general public. Angie, Fudge and I watched whilst the chap fed them. We managed to take some close up photos of these beautiful creatures.
The Deer at Kingshouse (click Play to view)
The Kingshouse Hotel so called because it was used by the British Army during the subjugation of the Highlands following the aftermath of the Jacobite rising of 1745. It has had its fair share of critics over the years including the poet William Wordsworth's sister Dorothy who visited the Inn in 1803 and described it as follows on the Georgian version of Trip Advisor:
"Never did I see such a miserable, such wretched place - long rooms with ranges of beds, no other furniture except benches, or perhaps one or two crazy chairs, the floors far dirtier than an ordinary house could be if it were never washed. With length of time the fire was kindled and after another hour of waiting, supper came, a shoulder of mutton so hard it was impossible to chew the little flesh that might have been scraped off the bones"
In 2019 the hotel re-opened after a substantial 1960s extension was demolished. Only the original 18th century structure was retained and incorporated into the new building. Make of it what you will as you can either stay here or keep on walking - apart from the facilities at the Glencoe Mountain Resort there is nowt else for miles!!
Day 5 Data