Day 16 May 24 North – South ATC Hut Kinlochleven – Devils Staircase – Blackrock Cottage Glencoe.

West Highland Way Map

The weather got very wild with extremely high winds and the classic Aonach Eagach was in no way on the winds were in excess of 60 mph so one of the best days is Scotland was not to be that day. Instead we followed the Devils Staircase over to Glencoe soaked to the skin we spent the night in the Blackrock Cottage Glencoe. The Devil’s Staircase was initially given its name by the soldiers who were part of the road building programme of General Wade. The carrying of building materials up that stretch of the road was not popular! The name was perpetuated when some of the workers building the Blackwater Dam chose to travel to the nearest pub after their wages had been paid out. For the workers at Kinlochleven the journey to the Kingshouse Hotel proved to be more difficult than many realised. The journey back was even worse as unsteady legs meant that many were unable to manage the return trip and, on a cold winter’s night, the devil often ”claimed his own“.

There is a signpost at AltnaFeadh indicating the West Highland Way over to Kinlochleven. The path is very clear and soon rises above the plain of Rannoch Moor. The path zigzags as it climbs the steepest part at which point the views of the moor and of the mountains surrounding it are well worth taking in. The path continues down, crosses the burn using surrounding it are well worth taking in. The path continues down, crosses the burn using stepping-stones and then starts slowly upwards again. To the right the Blackwater reservoir comes into view. Built for the aluminium smelter (now closed) at Kinlochleven, the dam had a capability, when full, of running the smelter for eighty days. There are great stories about the building of this dam and its worth reading about the effort and work involved in the building of these dams and pipelines.

The path continues downwards until it reaches the dam road at the pumping station where the pipes to the smelter start the high pressure build up for the turbines in the generating station. Still very steep, the path continues down to Kinlochleven across the river, through a small section of woods to the tailrace where the water rushes out of the generating station.

Tunnel Tigers.

 It was the right decision and gave my knee a bit of a break as it was a short day carrying big rucksacks  and  5 days food. Normally this is a lovely walk but today it was wild and wet but we had some great weather so far so could not complain the hut is just at the foot of Meall a’ Bhuird, and Rannoch Moor at the entrance to Glen Coe. OS map 41, GR NN268530. 

It was great arriving on  Blackrock Cottage The cottage is about 1.5 miles south-east of the Kingshouse Hotel, and about half a mile from the A82, on the access road to White Corries ski area. The hut is owned by the Ladies Scottish Mountaineering Club and is the classic photo of Glencoe and many cards and Calendar’s what a place to stay the night and try and dry off.  

Blackrock Cottage

I was happy to have an easy day Jim and Paul were disappointed but it was the correct decision in the weather. As we came down into Glencoe the weather changed but it was late in the day. My knee was hurting would I manage to continue the Etive Hills were next on the list and we could break the record for number of hills done. We slept well and got our gear dry in this haven of a hut.

 The forecast was poor!

A wet day 10 .5 miles and height 1750 feet. No Munros

About heavywhalley.MBE

Mountain Rescue Specialist. Environmentalist. Spent 37 years with RAF Mountain Rescue and 3 years with a civilian Team . Still an active Mountaineer when body slows, loves the wild places.
This entry was posted in Books, Enviroment, mountain safety, Mountaineering, Views Mountaineering, Weather. Bookmark the permalink.

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