West Highland Way | Day 5

Still round the corner, there may wait, a new road or a secret gate.

J.R.R. Tolkien

September 17, 2019

Day five has proven to be the most picturesque on the trail thus far; walking through Glencoe provided a true taste of the highlands. I started my morning with a lovely breakfast spread set out by Zita, who then drove me back to the Bridge of Orchy Hotel where I set out once again by foot along the WHW. The morning air was crisp, the sun sparkling down in thick rays. At 8:30 AM, the trail was already splattered with brightly coloured dots as everyone got their morning start. Walking down into Invoraron from Bridge of Orchy was spectacular, and from there the trail began to weave back up and into the highlands along a 16th century military road.

I had read that this stage of the trail would become a bit more crowded as there are fewer options for accommodation the further North one walks. I found this to be very true, and once in the highlands it became rare to be further than a few hundred metres from the next group on the trail.

I reached the Kingshouse Hotel by 1:30 PM, and opted to stop in for a cup of tea. I joined a girl around my age, Hannah, beside the roaring fireplace. Visiting the UK from the Netherlands, Hannah was walking from Fort William to Tyndrum, heading North to South. We compared notes on past hikes that had inspired us to trek solo – she had just been hiking through Slovenia’s Karavanke Alps, and I made a mental note to add this to my list of to-dos.

By 2:00 PM, I was back on the trail and the only thing that stood between me and Kinlochleven was a section of the trail aptly named Devil’s Staircase. Up and up I climbed. Halfway up, I took a late lunch break and dug into my backpack for the sandwich I had made at Zita’s. Nothing had ever tasted so good! Everything was starting to slow down; my pace, my motivation.

Conquering Devil’s Staircase was an incredible feeling, and it was made better when a familiar face waved me down and I looked up from the switchback leading down into Kinlochleven’s valley. It was my German friend from Rowendennan! We walked the remaining kilometres together, the whole time chatting away like old friends. When I reached my campsite (I’m glamping in a hobbit house!), we said our good-byes. “I’m Martin, by the way,” he said, shaking my hand. “I’m Chloe,” I laughed, wishing him well on his remaining kilometres.

Day five is done. Tomorrow I am ready for an early start, to finish this thing!

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