Why not Kinlochleven?September 23rd, 2007
The following thought entered my head not so long ago while looking at the idea of creating a West Highland Way photo gallery: why is Kinlochleven a sleepy place in the heart of fine mountain country rather than a bustling centre of all things outdoors? My visit last month might have one answer to this. I suffered the attentions of a swarm of midges while awaiting a bus and it is not an experience that I wish to repeat. Fort William was mercifully free of the blighters.
In a sense, it is too easy to ignore Kinlochleven for it is bypassed by the A82 and the railways. Fort William has the "Ben" and much more with the accommodation provision to match. Yet, it isn’t for nothing that the West Highland Way passes through Kinlochleven as it is in the midst of its climax. Proximity to Glen Coe and the Mamores ensures that eventuality but not a steady stream of other visitors, it seems.
The village’s history may not help its cause either. After all, it did nearly get called "Alumimiumville" and possessed the requisite smelter that used hydroelectric power provided from the Blackwater Reservoir. These days, the old smelter is now an outdoors centre with the The Ice Factor being its major attraction but there is an outdoor equipment shop and a cafe to complement the said indoor ice climbing wall.
As the mention of Glen Coe and the Mamores suggests, this is quality hillwalking country that is not limited to the attentions of winter climbing wannabees. A quick inspection of an OS and Harvey map will reveal a plethora of hill tracks probing countryside that affords plenty of peace and solitude. I didn’t see it at its best last month but I did like what I saw and the views over Loch Leven were excellent, even with rain laden skies and low level cloud.
With its prospects for good walking and reasonable bus service to and from Glencoe, Ballachulish and Fort William, Kinlochleven is well worth using as an access point for hill country. I suppose that its being overlooked by the hordes that frequent Fort William does have one very attractive compensation: you get to feel that you admire the scenery at your ease without the feeling that you are constantly leap frogging others. I hope to go back.