A gentle but beautiful start to the WHW

The statue at Fort William at the start/finish of the West Highland Way

I chose to spend the night at the Travelodge Hotel in the town centre, right at the start (or end) of the West Highland Way, partly because it was near to the start but also because it was quite cheap on the night I stayed, about the same price as the local Hostel. This meant a better night sleep, no one in the room snoring and just more relaxing before heading off in the morning. My plan though meant that I was going to Wetherspoons for a large breakfast before I started as it was just downstairs. So, nicely filled up, I started my West Highland Way walk on a bright sunny but chilly morning, the snow on the hills surrounding Fort William looking beautiful against a blue background with no clouds to be seen. A short walk through the quiet town centre, past the old West Highland Way finish at the roundabout and a gentle walk towards Glen Nevis to warm my legs up before leaving the roadside and changing direction.

Looking across at the magnificent Ben Nevis

By now it was warming up a bit and the gloves and hat came off but the jacket would stay on for a few more miles. The first few miles from Glen Nevis are up a forest track, the sight of Ben Nevis on your left gets better the higher you get but even more so when it's covered in snow and the sky is so clear, you'll spend lots of time just looking over and back at Ben Nevis during the first seven miles. The forest track isn't very steep and your legs should still feel fresh when you leave the track and head off down through some woodland and quite an easy path until you reach an information post. This is about half way between Fort William and Kinlochleven so it's a good place to stop for a rest, maybe your lunch and admire the scenery all around you.

A last look back at Ben Nevis

I had walked this path before but always in the other direction and found it a bit boring at the time and just wanted to get finished and home but doing it at the start of the West Highland Way instead of the last day made me see it in a different light. I hadn't really looked at the scenery before but the snow covered hills all around me had me reaching for my camera all the time or just pausing to take the views in all around and the peace and quiet, not even any wind to make a noise.

A taste of the lovely scenery to come

Looking South from the Information Point

After the information post, it's about seven miles to Kinlochleven and reasonably level until you get about a mile from Kinlochleven, where the path goes down through woodland into the village but before then, your walk will take you through a valley surrounded by snow covered hills before Loch Leven comes into view and the hills above Kinlochleven and your next days walk.

Looking down towards Kinlochleven

Day 1 isn't a very long or hard day and I found myself getting into Kinlochleven less than six hours since I left Fort William and I wasn't exactly walking very fast as I was stopping all the time for photos or views so I descended into Kinlochleven and my accommodation for the night would be a camping cabin at the MacDonald Hotel just as the Way enters the village, you can see the hotel and cabins as you come down the path. I made my way to the Hotel, got my key and had a drink and just felt good about a fantastic days walk and hoped the next day would be just as good. The cabins are pretty basic but to be honest, they do me fine and are very cheap, especially before summertime. They sleep four people in two bunk beds, have a heater, light and electric sockets to charge your phone up plus space to hang your clothing. The cabins also have an area at the front where you can sit and watch a fantastic sunset if you are lucky. I got my stuff sorted and then headed off to the local shop and chip shop to stuff my face before settling down for the night in my sleeping bag.

Looking at the sun setting over the River Leven from my Cabin in Kinlochleven

Below are a few more photos taken on Day 1 of my WHW, some more can be seen by clicking the "Photo Gallery" Link on the left hand side Menu at the top of the page.

Some snow covered hills surrounding the West Highland Way path

Click here to go to Day 2 - Kinlochleven to Tyndrum