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Hiking in Britain

Walk #908: West Highland Way: Tyndrum to Kingshouse Hotel

 

P2011DSC00459	Following a stream towards Tyndrum village.
     
P2011DSC00461	Following a stream towards Tyndrum village.
P2011DSC00459 Following a stream towards Tyndrum village.
     
P2011DSC00461 Following a stream towards Tyndrum village.

General Data

Date Walked 03/07/2011
County Strathclyde, Central Scotland, Highlands
Start Location Tyndrum
End Location Kingshouse Hotel
Start time 07.20
End time 16.20
Distance 19.4 miles
Description This walk was a glorious day's walk following the West Highland Way along a series of tracks; the ascents and descents are generally easy and the views - especially from the crossing of the Black Mount - superb.
Pack Today I carried my Macpac Glissade rucksack containing my North Face Westwind tent, spare clothes, waterproofs, water, and enough food to last three days. In total it weighed about thirty-five pounds.
Condition The biggets problem today was that I slightly twisted my left ankle - the sort of injury that I can usually walk on for a day or two until it fixes itself. Otherwise I feel fine, although am slightly sunburnt on my upper arms.
Weather In common with the past couple of days, today started bright and sunny before clouding over slightly. There was plenty of sun throughout the day, however, and it felt quite warm on the ascents.
OS map Landranger number 50 (Glen Orchy & Loch Etive) and Landranger number 41 (Ben Nevis, Fort William & Glen Coe)

 

P2011DSC00463	Heading north towards Tyndrum village.
     
P2011DSC00467	Heading north from Tyndrum.
P2011DSC00463 Heading north towards Tyndrum village.
     
P2011DSC00467 Heading north from Tyndrum.


Map of the walk


Maps courtesy of Google Maps. Route for indicative purposes only, and may have been plotted after the walk. Please let me have comments on what you think of this new format. For a detailed table of timings for this walk, please see the table file.

 

P2011DSC00470	Crossing the railway line to the north of Tyndrum.
     
P2011DSC00472	Following the old military road north towards Allt Kinglass.
P2011DSC00470 Crossing the railway line to the north of Tyndrum.
     
P2011DSC00472 Following the old military road north towards Allt Kinglass.


Notes

I awoke early in the morning to find what seemed like thousands of midges inside my tent. An examination of the zips showed that they were all fully closed so it is a wonder how they got in - there were no obvious holes and the tent seemed well sealed. Cursing, I examined the many bites I had on exposed skin. Worse, my stomach was still playing up. I killed as many of the beasts before packing up as much of my gear as possible within the tent.

It then became a case of taking down my tent as quickly as possible before heading off along the trail. This led past a beautiful stretch of stream before reaching the village of Tyndrum proper. The village is dominated by the busy road that passes through and there were a couple of shops. I went into one to buy some provisions and munched these as I took the track that led out of the village.

I was very much looking forward to today’s walk; ten years ago I walked the northern third of the West Highland Way as part of another walk, and I had fond memories of the route above the Bridge of Orchy. Those memories powered me on as the path crossed over the railway line and joined an old military road that provided relatively easy and level walking. Unfortunately this did not last for long; a stiff but thankfully short climb led down to a cattle creep under the railway line, after which the trail rejoined the military road as it descended down into the valley of the Allt Kinglass. The railway line made a graceful curve around the valley to the right as the trail crossed the river on a bridge.

The military road started to climb gently up the hillside as it headed northwestwards, eventually meeting and crossing the railway line once more. Good views were ever-present on this stretch and I found myself really enjoying the walk. All too soon the railway station at Bridge of Orchy came into view and I followed the trail as it descended through the hamlet to reach the hotel by the main road. This seemed as good a place as any to stop for a break, so I sat down on the steps and scoffed a pork pie.

Something made me want to continue, and so I set off once more along the trail. This crossed the eponymous bridge over the river before climbing steeply through the wooded hillside to the west of the river, still following the old military road. Views assailed me as it finally broke out of the trees and before I knew it I had diverted off to the summit cairn of Mam Carraigh where the landscape unfolded all around me. It was a literal high and I felt as though I was in heaven - it was a superb spot.

The descent down to the road at Inveroran granted good views over Loch Tulla which sparkled in the bright sunshine. Before I knew it I was standing outside the Inveroran Hotel, where a couple were having a drink at the tables outside. As I was ahead of schedule it seemed like a perfect place for a stop, so I bought a pot of tea and lovely slice of cake and sat down. The couple were from Glasgow and were walking the trail in sections, doing one day every weekend. They soon finished their drinks and set off, leaving me to feed a friendly little blue tit crumbs from my cake.

Soon I shouldered my pack and headed off once more. The next stretch of path followed a road to Victoria Bridge before joining the military road over the Black Mount. This was the main road until the new, lower road opened in the 1930s and the going was good with a gentle gradient taking me uphill. My fond decade-old memories of this walk were more than lived up to, with fantastic views over Rannoch Moor to the east and sculpted mountains to the west. It is a heavenly and surprisingly easy walk, especially in today’s good weather.

I cannot put into words how this stroll made me feel; some people would understandably prefer the high mountains that lie just to the west, but for me the stroll along the track and the view over Rannoch Moor were sublime. A few hour’s walk along this stretch made me feel better than some whole trails - it is perfection and, better yet, perfectly accessible. The ascents and descents are relatively gradual - as befits an old road - and every step is rewarded with grand vistas.

Eventually the track descended to reach Ba Bridge, where it crosses a rocky defile that carries the River Ba from its source on Aonach Mor. It is a magnificent spot with slanted slabs of rock projecting from the white water. The Glaswegian couple were having their lunch and we chatted as I dropped my rucksack off and stared down at the water churning below. The couple headed off and I strolled around the boggy sides of the stream to take some pictures.

The track started to climb, aiming for a wide bealach between two hills. The views of Rannoch Moor were now behind me and as I reached the summit of the track (marked by a cairn on the left) the views switched to encompass the dramatic hills of Glen Coe. A long descent followed along the track, which was uneven and rocky in places. The white buildings of the Kings House Hotel were visible far below, as were the Glaswegian couple ahead of me.

I was nearing the surfaced road that leads up to the Glen Coe ski resort when I went over on a rock, my left ankle turning nastily. I fell to the ground and said something akin to "oh bother", although possibly much less polite. I got up and tested my foot; it ached but seemed to be able to support my weight. Since I was only two miles away from the hotel I limped on, being careful not to put my left foot on anything uneven.

It should have been a dispiriting couple of miles but the scenery prevented my mood from dropping. There was something even better as I approached the hotel - a deer was being closely photographed by people in the car park. It look unconcerned as people were snapping photographs and I took a few as well - the hotel staff feed them for exactly this reason.

Sencan had booked me a room for the night - this seemed sensible because of the terrible midges that the Kings House campsite is famous for and because I would have access to a toilet in the middle of the night - as it happens this was a very wise decision. The room cost only thirty pounds but was situated above the bar.

After a shower and a meal downstairs I logged onto the free Internet that the hotel provides. I was amazed to find that the hits on my website had gone up massively in the last couple of days because of an article in the Guardian online that had favourably mentioned britishwalks.org. My left ankle was slightly swollen but I was almost walking on air as I headed to bed. It had been a superb day’s walk through captivating terrain.

 

P2011DSC00481	A sheet of water falling down a slab of rock.
     
P2011DSC00484	Following the old military road north towards Allt Kinglass.
P2011DSC00481 A sheet of water falling down a slab of rock.
     
P2011DSC00484 Following the old military road north towards Allt Kinglass.


Directions

Turn left along the road near the railway station, and as the road curves to the left turn right through a wooden clapper gate to continue along a path that heads northwards with a stream on the right. It fords a wide, erratic-strewn stream and continues across rough land to join the end of a surfaced road that leads past some houses to reach the A82 in Tyndrum at NN327306.

Carefully cross the A82 and head on northwards uphill along a road, passing the village hall and a new graveyard on the left. After the village hall it becomes an unsurfaced track and later goes through a gate with the A82 off to the left. 0.8 miles after crossing the man road, the track reaches two bridges that lead over a stream and then the railway line.

On the other side of the bridge the track turns to the left to head northwards with the railway line on the left. After 0.8 miles cross a stile beside a gate as the track curves to the left to descend towards the railway line; do not follow the track and instead turn right to take a path that heads slightly up the hillside to continue northwards. It summits by a small cairn and drops steeply to reach the railway line at NN328334.

The path passes under a narrow cattle creep and crosses a stile before descending a short distance to rejoins the Old Military Road. Turn right and follow this northwards as it slowly descends for 1.4 miles until a gate is reached. Cross the stile beside the gate to reach a bridge over the Allt Kinglass at NN326357.

Cross the stone bridge and then turn left to cross a stile to continue along the Old Military Road as it heads northwestwards with the railway line high to the right. The old road slowly climbs up the hillside to join the railway line. After 1.3 miles it reaches a stile beside a gate; cross the stile and turn right to cross the railway line on a bridge. On the other side of the bridge the track turns to the left to continue northwestwards, this time with the railway to the left.

Continue on along the military road for another 1.6 miles until Bridge of Orchy railway station is approached on the left. Pass the station and then immediately turn left through a metal gate and down a few steps to head through an underpass that leads under the railway line to reach Station Road. Turn right along the road; it soon curves to the left to head westwards for a couple of hundred yards to reach the A82 in Bridge of Orchy at NN297396 opposite the Bridge of Orchy Hotel.

Carefully cross the A82 and continue on westwards down the road, immediately passing the Bridge of Orchy Hotel on the left. The road descends to the eponymous bridge over the River Orchy. Cross over the bridge and, a few yards after the road turns sharply to the right, take a footpath that leads off to the left (do not take the more obvious track beforehand).

The path crosses a boardwalk across a boggy area of ground before rising up the hillside to the west of the River Orchy in a general northwesterly direction, still following the Old Military Road. It soon crosses a gate through a deer fence to enter some woodland. The path continues to climb; after about a kilometre it breaks out of the forest and continues to climb to reach a summit. A short path leads up to a cairn at the summit of Mam Carraigh, from where some lovely views over the Black Mount and Loch Tulla are available. An obvious path then descends, zigzagging down to a road near to the Inveroran Hotel at NN274413.

Turn left down the road and follow it across a bridge over the Allt Orain and past the Hotel. A bridge carries the road over the Allt Tolaghan, which drains into Loch Tulla, and then curves to the right to head northwards. It passes a small car park on the left and crosses Victoria Bridge over the Abhainn Shira. A short distance later Forest Lodge is reached at NN270423.

At Forest Lodge leave the road and head straight on through a small gate to join the Old Glencoe Road. This slowly ascends northeastwards and the going is very easy, with a wide unsurfaced road making for fast going; all the burns are crossed by good bridges. The track starts skirting to the western edge of a conifer plantation, the end of which signifies the end of the first rise.

The track continues in a rough northerly direction, crossing over the Allt Doire Mhic Laimh and then to the east of a small wooded area. It then starts a slight descent down to the west of another wooded area and the weed-filled Lochan Mhic Pheadair Ruaidh. After four miles it descends to reach the River Ba. Some lovely views are available along this section, with Coireach a Ba visible to the west and Rannock Moor to the east.

The River Ba is crossed by means of Ba Bridge, and after this the track starts to rise slowly as it heads north. It reaches a high point of about 445 metres near NN282511 before starting to descend slowly as it skirts the eastern flank of Gualann Laith Ghiubhais. As it does so it changes from a northerly to a northwesterly direction, and the track becomes increasingly rough. At all times it is distinct on the ground and easy to follow.

After 3.4 miles it goes through a metal vehicle barrier and approaches a surfaced road opposite Blackrock Cottage (NN267530). Turn right to join this road and follow it northwards for about six hundred yards until you meet the A82(T) road at a triangular junction; take the left-hand branch to reach the main road. Carefully cross the road and go through a gate to join a track that heads northwestwards for three-quarters of a mile along a decrepit surfaced road to reach the Kings House Hotel at NN259546.

 

P2011DSC00487	Following the military road northwestwards from Allt Kinglass towards the birdge over the railway line.
     
P2011DSC00493	Following the military road northwards towards the Bridge of Orchy.
P2011DSC00487 Following the military road northwestwards from Allt Kinglass towards the birdge over the railway line.
     
P2011DSC00493 Following the military road northwards towards the Bridge of Orchy.


Distances

From To Distance (m)Ascent (ft) Descent (ft)
Tyndrum campsite Bridge of Orchy 7.0 699 909
Bridge of Orchy Inveroran 2.5 607 561
Inveroran Ba Bridge 5.2 673 213
Ba Bridge Kingshouse 4.7 495 741

This makes a total distance of 19.4 miles, with 2474 feet of ascent and 2424 feet of descent.

  Profile of walk #908
For more information on profiles, ascents and descents, see this page


Accommodation

I spent the night at the Kings House Hotel in Glen Coe; my single room cost me thirty pounds for the night. There is a wild camping spot beside the river and teh hotel, but the hotel do not open their toilets in the morning for campers. They do, however, offer breakfasts to walkers who are hungry enough. They have a website at www.kingy.com.

 

P2011DSC00495	Bridge of Orchy hotel.
     
P2011DSC00496	The River Orchy at Bridge of Orchy.
P2011DSC00495 Bridge of Orchy hotel.
     
P2011DSC00496 The River Orchy at Bridge of Orchy.

 

P2011DSC00498	The Bridge of Orchy.
     
P2011DSC00499	The path climbing up towards Mam Carraigh.
P2011DSC00498 The Bridge of Orchy.
     
P2011DSC00499 The path climbing up towards Mam Carraigh.

 

P2011DSC00505	The path climbing up towards Mam Carraigh.
     
P2011DSC00509	The view from the summit of Mam Carraigh.
P2011DSC00505 The path climbing up towards Mam Carraigh.
     
P2011DSC00509 The view from the summit of Mam Carraigh.

 

P2011DSC00513	The summit of Mam Carraigh.
     
P2011DSC00514	The descent from Mam Carraigh towards the Inveroran Hotel.
P2011DSC00513 The summit of Mam Carraigh.
     
P2011DSC00514 The descent from Mam Carraigh towards the Inveroran Hotel.

 

P2011DSC00515	Looking down over the western end of Loch Tulla.
     
P2011DSC00521	The Allt Tolaghan.
P2011DSC00515 Looking down over the western end of Loch Tulla.
     
P2011DSC00521 The Allt Tolaghan.

 

P2011DSC00525	The road leading towards Victoria Bridge.
     
P2011DSC00526	The Abhainn Shira at Victoria Bridge.
P2011DSC00525 The road leading towards Victoria Bridge.
     
P2011DSC00526 The Abhainn Shira at Victoria Bridge.

 

P2011DSC00534	Following the parliamentary road northwards from Victoria Bridge.
     
P2011DSC00538	Following the parliamentary road northwards from Victoria Bridge.
P2011DSC00534 Following the parliamentary road northwards from Victoria Bridge.
     
P2011DSC00538 Following the parliamentary road northwards from Victoria Bridge.

 

P2011DSC00539	Following the parliamentary road northwards from Victoria Bridge.
     
P2011DSC00553	Following the road northwards towards Ba Bridge.
P2011DSC00539 Following the parliamentary road northwards from Victoria Bridge.
     
P2011DSC00553 Following the road northwards towards Ba Bridge.

 

P2011DSC00559	Following the road northwards towards Ba Bridge.
     
P2011DSC00564	Following the road northwards towards Ba Bridge.
P2011DSC00559 Following the road northwards towards Ba Bridge.
     
P2011DSC00564 Following the road northwards towards Ba Bridge.

 

P2011DSC00565	The River Ba at Ba Bridge.
     
P2011DSC00566	The River Ba at Ba Bridge.
P2011DSC00565 The River Ba at Ba Bridge.
     
P2011DSC00566 The River Ba at Ba Bridge.

 

P2011DSC00567	Myself at Ba Bridge.
     
P2011DSC00581	Following the road northwards from Ba Bridge.
P2011DSC00567 Myself at Ba Bridge.
     
P2011DSC00581 Following the road northwards from Ba Bridge.

 

P2011DSC00583	Following the road northwards from Ba Bridge.
     
P2011DSC00586	Following the road northwards from Ba Bridge.
P2011DSC00583 Following the road northwards from Ba Bridge.
     
P2011DSC00586 Following the road northwards from Ba Bridge.

 

P2011DSC00589	Following the road northwards from Ba Bridge.
     
P2011DSC00591	Following the road northwards from Ba Bridge.
P2011DSC00589 Following the road northwards from Ba Bridge.
     
P2011DSC00591 Following the road northwards from Ba Bridge.

 

P2011DSC00596	The view from the top of the descent down into Glencoe.
     
P2011DSC00599	The top of the descent down into Glencoe.
P2011DSC00596 The view from the top of the descent down into Glencoe.
     
P2011DSC00599 The top of the descent down into Glencoe.

 

P2011DSC00601	The descent down into Glencoe.
     
P2011DSC00603	Blackrock Cottage.
P2011DSC00601 The descent down into Glencoe.
     
P2011DSC00603 Blackrock Cottage.

 

P2011DSC00606	Descending down to the Kings House Hotel.
     
P2011DSC00614	A deer at the Kings House Hotel.
P2011DSC00606 Descending down to the Kings House Hotel.
     
P2011DSC00614 A deer at the Kings House Hotel.

 

P2011DSC00619	A deer at the Kings House Hotel.
     
P2011DSC00621	The Kings House Hotel.
P2011DSC00619 A deer at the Kings House Hotel.
     
P2011DSC00621 The Kings House Hotel.

 

P2011DSC00624	The river at the Kings House Hotel.
     
P2011DSC00629	The Kings House Hotel.
P2011DSC00624 The river at the Kings House Hotel.
     
P2011DSC00629 The Kings House Hotel.


Disclaimer

Please note that I take no responsibility for anything that may happen when following these directions. If you intend to follow this route, then please use the relevant maps and check the route out before you go out. As always when walking, use common sense and you should be fine.

If you find any information on any of these routes that is inaccurate, or you wish to add anything, then please email me.

All images on this site are © of the author. Any reproduction, retransmissions, or republication of all or part of any document found on this site is expressly prohibited, unless the author has explicitly granted its prior written consent to so reproduce, retransmit, or republish the material. All other rights reserved.

Although this site includes links providing convenient direct access to other Internet sites, I do not endorse, approve, certify or make warranties or representations as to the accuracy of the information on these sites.

And finally, enjoy your walking!


Nearby walks

#TitleWalk length (miles)
149Killin to Gleann Meran18.1
150Gleann Meran to Bridge of Orchy Hotel11.1
151Bridge of Orchy to Kings House Hotel12.1


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