Day 3 Sunday 12th May 2019 Lairig Eilde to Kinlochleven, Blackwater Hostel Campsite

Reproduced from Map data: Ordnance Survey ©Crown Copyright and/or database right 2016. License number 100043379.

Continue northwards/northeast on Lairig Eide to A82 at NN 187 562. Follow A82 on an easterly direction to Altnafeadh at NN 220 563 and follow Devil’s Stairway/West Highland Way northwards to Kinlochleven, divert westwards at NN 1921 6178 to camp at Blackwater Campsite NN 189 619.
OS Landranger series maps: 41
Length: 16.68 km                         
Total Ascent:  449m
Total Descent: 931m
Max Elevation: 550m
Min Elevation: 12m
Route Profile:    

From my camp spot high in the Lairig Eilde, I will walk for around two and a half hours NE following the bank  of the Allt Lairig Eilde, and I will cross back and forth a couple of times. I’ll be hoping its been relatively dry, as there are a lot of streams run off the Buchaille Etive Beag (The Wee Buchaille) that will be not so easy to cross if they are in spate. I may need to head up hill a little to cross them at narrower pointe but that will be no hardship.

This pass, and much of the area around it, is owned by the National Trust for Scotland, and in autumn, the pass roars with the sound of rutting stags. It really is something to behold. There has been no deer hunting in the area for over 60 years, so if I am lucky, not that you would wish an overcast day, the cloud will be low on the hill, and the deer will be grazing at low level.

As I near the end of the pass, there’s a footpath runs up the Wee Buchaille, SW that takes you to a bealach, which is the easiest route up the Wee Buchaille. If you were so mind, and today, I am not, follow this path and from the bealach NE, you can summit Stob Coire Raineach, designated a munro in 1997 at 925m, and then further on to Stob Nan Cabar, its much lower partner, for the best views of the Pass of Glencoe. Double back on yourself back to the bealach and continue SW to summit Stob Dubh, the Dark Peak at 956 Metres.

Today I will stop here for a cuppa and recall fondly a day on that very route, where it was so foggy it was a map and compass climb. The entire day was shrouded in low cloud, until we walked off the back of Stob Dubh into the most glorious sunshine. Perhaps we should have stayed in bed an hour longer that day.

So I continue onwards and down to the Pass of Glencoe, where I meet the A82, and I head East on the Glencoe Military Road, my third heritage path.

Following the Jacobite rebellion of 1745, military commanders at the time received a roasting as they had been “greatly embarrassed for want of a proper Survey of the Country”. A chap called William Roy was paid 4 shillings a day to survey Scotland and execute a map fit for military purposes. This link shows Roys Roads overlaid on an OS base.

My route today follows Wade’s military road to Altnafeadh, where I will meet the West Highland Way, which follows another of Wade’s Military Roads. From Altnafeadh I head uphill in in a northerly direction, on a part of the West Highland Way called The Devil’s Staircase, names by the soldiers who carried all of the building materials for this section of road.

Phot Credit: Bill Brown

This military road follows the old drove road, and was constructed around 1750. From the summit of the Devils staircase, the views over Rannoch Moor to the NE, and the two Buchailles side by side to the S and SE.
I’ll have a late lunch here, before my descent to Kinlochleven. From here is also a view of The Blackwater Reservoir to the North, a 900m long gravity dam built by ‘navvies’ in a most in accessible and inhospitable location. There is a small graveyard head to the head of the dam, where the bodies lie of those fatally injured during the construction, or died through exposure following the treacherous walk back from the Kingshouse on a Friday after being paid.

Kinlochleven was once two independent towns in counties separated by the River Leven. Kinloch more to the North in Inverness-shire, and Kinlochbeg in Argyll, on the south bank.  The British Aluminium Company built a smelter and hydroelectric scheme, completed in 1907, and housing for all of its employees, and effectively merged the two into one. The village of Kinlochleven was famed for being the “electric village” the first in the world to have every house connected to an electricity supply! As you approach Kinlochleven, you follow the pipelines from the Blackwater Reservoir to the smelter. The plant closed in 1996 due to US competition, but the hydro electric plant was connected to the National Grid as a general purpose power station.

My camp tonight is at the lovely Blackwater Hostel, which, apart from the hostel, has a small campsite, and cabins. They have a fantastic drying room too!!

Lab Road, Kinlochleven PH50 4SG

01855 831253

I’m stopping here because there’s a co-op in town and I can replenish my bagels and bananas! Might even manage a Sherry in the Tailrace Inn.

See you tomorrow.

Categories: For Bracken, TGOC2019Tags: , , , , ,
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