Hiking Scotland Travel

West Highland Way; Day 5 | Devil’s Staircase

I woke up at 6.30 but struggled to get out of bed.  I was sore but had slept really well.  Waking up by the river in a pretty remote location made me so happy!  This was my favorite camping spot so far.  Once I got going I was keen to get back on the Way, so I packed up and left without breakfast.  I knew I would have to stop and eat soon but wanted to get a few miles in first.  I knew that the infamous Devil’s Staircase lay ahead of me and I was both dreading and looking forward to it.

Glenco on the West Highland Way

After about 1 hours walking I came to the Inveroran Hotel.  (This is the last chance for a brew before the long walk to Kingshouse.)  I stopped here for about an hour and inhaled a bacon sandwich and a pot of tea.  I was back on the WHW at 9.30 am.  The walk from the Inveroran Hotel to Kingshouse was beautiful.

The walk from the Inveroran Hotel to Kingshouse

The Way follows old military tracks through the open moorland.  I could see the weather closing in and walked quickly to keep ahead of it for as long as possible.  The tops of the mountains disappeared beneath the clouds only to reappear a few minutes later, taunting me.  I walked quicker, wanting to stay dry as long as possible.

Bad weather on the West Highland Way

I arrived at Kingshouse at 1 pm.  The pub was closed but the cafe open, I found a table and ordered a bowl of vegi chilli, and a Guinness.  It went down well!  As I tucked into my lunch the heavens opened.  I watched the rain come down and the drenched hikers pile into the cafe one by one.

Scottish deer

After 1 hour 20 minutes, I decided to get back on the trail.  The rain was now torrential and people questioned my decision to hike on, probably because I was wearing shorts.  With no phone signal or WIFI, the nice waitress in the cafe let me use the phone to call my mum.  With the Mothership reassured, I pulled up my hood and set out in the sideways rain.

Food at Kingshouse on the West Highland Way


The Devil’s Staircase!

After Kingshouse comes one of the biggest challenges that the West Highland Way has to offer, Devil’s Staircase.   Devil’s Staircase is a 305-meter climb from Kingshouse, (let me tell you, it feels much higher!) Putting you at 550 meters above sea level at the summit.

The guidebook promises spectacular views both from the bottom, midway point, and summit of the Devil’s Staircase.  I was unable to appreciate any of these views though, as the rain and clouds put visibility down to just a few feet.  I kept my head down and followed my feet upwards.  Water gushed down the path, a temporary waterfall.  I had to laugh when a frog passed me going in the opposite direction, the flow of water helping him on his way.  The wind was cold but I kept warm by pushing forward and upwards as fast as I could.  My knees turned a bright pink and I regrated my choice of outfit.

The top of the Devil's Staircase on the West Highland Way

The summit!

I reached the summit of Devil’s Staircase around 90 minutes after leaving Kingshouse, much quicker than I expected.  Bad weather is a good motivator!  Unable to see more than a few feet ahead, I was surprised to reach a sign announcing, ‘YOU’VE JUST CLIMBING DEVIL’S STAIRCASE!’ I picked up an Iron Bru from an honesty box and started the long descent.

Top of Devil's Staircase on the West Highland Way

Since leaving Kingshouse I had seen no one, all the sensible people deciding to call it a day before the bad weather closed in, it seemed.  A few minutes after leaving the summit I looked up to see a red dot in the distance, it was Fabian.  I caught up with him and we hiked the last 3 miles to Kinlochleven together.  I was happy to see him and we laughed and moaned about how wet we were.  We questioned why we had chosen to do this and wondered what our friends were doing back home, something inside, probably.

Kinlochleven- a shower and a real bed!

At Kinlochleven, I headed straight into the Blackwater hostel and happily handed over £20 for a bed, not a chance I was crawling into my tent tonight!  After a quick bite to eat and the most awesome shower of my life, I climbing into my top bunk and slept hard for 11 hours solid.



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