Stage 1: Fort William to Spean Bridge — East Highland Way
Includes an off-grid segment
Navigation instructions may be limited.
84 yd in total
Alex Langfield planned a hike.
March 1, 2021
The main attraction during the first stage are the views towards the mighty North Face of the Ben and the other giants that rise above the Leanachan Forest between Fort William and Spean Bridge. The hiking is straightforward, on well-established forest tracks and there are a number of possible detours to sights of interest.
You start in Fort William, where I have immediately plotted a short detour to Inverlochy Castle at the mouth of the River Lochy. If you’re a whisky fan, the Ben Nevis Distillery is also nearby. The Way takes you past the Alcan smelter as it leaves Fort William and briefly ascends into the huge Leanachan Forest.
You walk past the North Face car park and cross the River Lundy at Torlundy with the railway, which you shadow all the way to the end of stage 2, at your side. From here, you venture north east, gradually ascending on firm forest tracks towards Spean Bridge.
Not far from the village, you reach Tighnacoille Junction and the Way turns south in order to arc through the woodland and into Spean Bridge. A worthy detour follows a short history trail. First it visits Highbridge, a ruined bridge and site of the 1745 Jacobite rising, and then continues to the impressive and gloriously situated Commando Memorial, built to commemorate elite soldiers who passed away during the Second World War.
Spean Bridge has a number of guesthouses and B&Bs, though do book in advance. There are a few restaurants in the vicinity of the bridge, as well as a convenience store for stocking up on supplies. Alternatively, if you get there in time for the last service, you could hop on the train and be back in Fort William in less than a quarter of an hour.
March 15, 2021