Review of the week: a West Highland trek with a view of Fort William


Each week our Stories Editor highlights a unique review left by a volunteer that speaks to the spirit of Slow Ways

We are often checking routes and the progress made in different areas and come across great reviews, which come in all shapes and sizes, by our volunteers — some are short and to the point, others are humorous, historical or personal. Together they provide a full picture of a route for the next walker.

This week, Ingrina tells us about a 15-mile route she completed in two parts from Kinlochleven to Fort William. Much of it follows the established West Highland Way walking route, but the Slow Ways version features a diversion up Cow Hill for a view of Fort William before descending into town. Ingrina, who’s previously taught us how to get started with multi-day hiking, did this one in two parts (in seperate trips), meaning she’s experienced it in both rain and shine. In this review she gives us plenty of information about the route and manages to condense 15 miles of trekking into three paragraphs while still giving us a feel for what it’s like out there on that wild highland way! All of this is accompanied by some fantastic pictures, which show both the rainy day and the sunny day, highlighting the sheer contrast between the two.

Forkin one
Kinlochleven to
Fort William
Ingrina Shieh
13 June 2023

A beautiful route in the west Highlands that mostly follows the West Highland Way until you get into Glen Nevis. I did the whole of this route in 2 different trips – the first time as part of a West Highland Way walk (when it rained A LOT), and the next trip to finish the last part of it, which goes around Cow Hill.

The path from Kinlochleven starts with a bit of a climb, but the scenery and surrounding nature eased the effort. We then joined a wide old military road in very good condition, which is great for walking and talking side by side. This continues on for a long while, and you’ll pass and wind through woodlands on the undulating path. It’s not as varied as some of the other walks around the area, but it is fairly relaxing if you get good weather (we didn’t, so we rushed quite a lot of it!). To descend, we followed a gradually zig-zagging path through the forest.

The section where it diverges from the WHW towards Cow Hill is beautiful and a MUCH better alternative to the road walking of the WHW. It goes through and in woodland, with the Mamores range in sight on a clearer day. We did have to do a bit of an ascent, but it doesn’t go all the way up Cow Hill, just to a great viewpoint overlooking Fort William before descending into the town. This is one of the reasons why I love doing Slow Ways – discovering great alternatives to the popular suggestion. If you’re doing the West Highland Way and have the legs in you, I’d definitely opt for this route into Fort William to the end. It’s a stunning way to end a great walk!

If you want to follow in Ingrina’s footsteps, here’s the route page for Forkin one. Ingrina has written a number of pieces for us, including her guide to multi-day hiking trips and a story of a group walk which shows the wonder of walking together. She also starred in an interview with Saira, where topics covered include what it’s like walking solo as a woman. For more of our favourite reviews from Slow Ways volunteers, click here.

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Slow Ways
Slow Ways is an initiative to create a national network of walking routes connecting all of Great Britain’s towns and cities as well as thousands of villages. It’s designed to make it easier for people to imagine, plan and go on walking journeys, walking further and for more purposes.