logo Walking Britain

Highland Walk
Five day Knoydart exploration

County/Area - Highland - Central Highland

Author - Mike Bexley

Length - 91.4 miles / 148.5 km    Ascent - 20195 feet / 6120 metres

Time - 65 hours 50 minutes    Grade - very hard

Start - OS grid reference NH076117
Lat 57.155721 // Long -5.1827
Postcode IV63 7YW (approx. location only)
what3words start faces.eggplants.flasks

Maps Ordnance Survey Logo Anquet Maps Logo

Ordnance Survey Landranger 33Sheet Map1:50kBUY
Anquet OS Landranger 33Digital Map1:50kBUY
Ordnance Survey Landranger 34Sheet Map1:50kBUY
Anquet OS Landranger 34Digital Map1:50kBUY

It is recommended you take a map. The preferred scale is 1:25k.

Walk Route Description

Photo from the walk - Five day Knoydart exploration
Click thumbnails for larger images.

Warning - This is a demanding walk and should not be undertaken unless you are proficient with map and compass. You should also be well equipped to cope with sudden weather changes. The walk visits some of the remotest areas of Scotland and help is a long way away.

The scenery throughout is spectacular and if you have never been to this area before unforgettable. The author has not provided too much detail as it is possible to alter or add to the stated route to suit your own preferences. All the paths are shown on the relevant OS 1:50000 maps and some useful information has been added at the end of the description.

Day One - Cluanie Inn to Kinloch Hourn - Length : 19.2 miles / 30.9 km

The day starts from Cluanie Inn (Grid ref. NH076117) on the A87 main road from Fort William to Kyle of Lochalsh. From the Inn walk a short way along the road East (towards Fort William) turning right (south) along the stalkers road between the lochs. Pass a turning on the left leading to Cluanie Lodge. This stalkers road climbs up into the hills and provides a perfect springboard from which to gain the South Glen Shiel Ridge which will take up the majority of the day.

Leave the stalkers road at the path junction (Grid ref. NH 102072) and make your way up onto the ridge. The ridge extends for some 14 km and includes seven Munros plus a number of lesser subsidiary summits. The following are the Munros topped on this section in order of "appearance" :-

Creag a'Mhaim - 947m
Druim Shionnach - 987 m
Aonach air Chrith - 1021 m
Maol Chinn-dearg - 981m
Sgurr an Doire Leathain - 1010m
Sgurr an Lochain - 1004 m
Creag nan Damh - 918 m

Reaching Bealach Duibh Leac (Grid ref. NG 968112) turn left (south) off the ridge and down into the valley. Cross the burn and take the feint path south aiming for grid ref. NG 975095. Stay on this path down to Kinloch Hourn (Grid ref. NG 955064).

Kinloch Hourn provides a base for two nights. There is no TV, radio reception is poor, and it's 20 miles along a single track road to the main road. Post is delivered twice a week by boat. Food and supplies are collected by boat.

Day Two - Kinloch Hourn to Ladhar Bheinn - Length : 22.9 miles / 36.8 km

The route today is along one the most famous paths in Scotland with stunning views of Loch Hourn and the Isle of Skye. From the head of the Loch take the path west on the south side of the Loch, passing the cottage at Skiary (Grid ref. NG 927071). Proceed along this path following the Lochside for a long six miles to Barrisdale (Grid ref. NG 872 048) where the huts have been built to accommodate deer stalking parties who are brought over with their ponies by boat from the other side of the Loch.

As you drop down to the bridge over the river at Barrisdale you will see the path leading right. This takes you northwest and then southwest to Shielings (Grid ref. NG 849044). Continue uphill following the burn into Coire Dhorrcail. On the right you will see that can climb up onto the ridge, then left along the ridge to Ladhar Bheinn (1020m), which is a Munro and one of the finest mountains in Scotland.

After taking a well earned rest you can follow the ridge in a southeast direction back to Barrisdale and then follow retrace your steps along the shores of Loch hourn back to Kinloch Hourn.

Day Three - Kinloch Hourn to Tomdoun Hotel - Length : 15 miles / 24 km
Alternative 17.9 miles / 28.8 km

Count this as a rest day as the route is via the single track road Southeast from Kinloch Hourn alongside Loch Quoich to Tomdoun (Grid ref. NH 153010).

A very worthwhile alternative is to follow the same road as far as the bridge (Grid ref. NH 012040). From here head north to Alltbeithe (Grid ref. NH 021071) where you turn east along the footpath following Easter Glen Quoich Bur. Crossing the watershed at a broad col you continue following he River Loyne. Look out for the path right at grid ref. NH 083060. This climbs up to reach a col just west of Mam na Seilg before swinging south and descending to join the road (Grid ref. NH 111019). Here you turn left and continue to Tomdoun.

Day Four - Tomdoun to Spean Bridge - Length : 22.6 miles / 36.4 km

From Tomdoun continue east along the road turning south (Grid ref. NH 194023) along a track and over a bridge to pass Greenfield. From here proceed east to grid ref. NH 230003 where you pick up the path south. This path sweeps west around Sron a'Choire Ghairbh (935 m). (Subject to your energy levels it is well worth the effort to climb this mountain.)

At grid ref. NN 207945 there is a path not marked on the map which connects with the path leading from the ruin of Fedden, a small stone hut. Take this unmapped path and continue south through Gleann Cia-aig joining the road and small car park at the waterfalls. At the road turn right towards Loch Arkaig then left over a narrow bridge to Achnacarry (Grid ref. NN 176878). Proceed through the estate to reach the main road. Then it's right to Gairlochy and left over the canal bridge. Joining the A82 near the Memorial to the Parachute Regiment, who trained in this area, turn right into Spean Bridge (Grid ref. NN 222817).

If you want to cut out Spean Bridge turn right just after the canal bridge and follow the Caledonian Canal path Southwest to Fort William - 7 miles / 11km.

Day Five - Spean Bridge to Fort William - Length : 9.2 miles / 14.8 km

Leave Spean Bridge on the road to Fort William. After a kilometre turn left under the railway bridge to locate a track that runs parallel with the railway towards Fort William. This was General Wade's Military Road and it takes you as far as Torlundy. Rejoin the main road here and passing the Whisky Distillery you reach Fort William and the end of this superb route.



Other walks nearby

Walk 3083 Five Sisters Ridge, North Glen Shiel - very hard - 8.0 miles/13 km

Walk 2468 The Falls of Glomach from Morvich - moderate - 7.5 miles/12.2 km

Walk 1781 Loch Affric Circular - moderate - 11.0 miles/17.9 km

Walk 1789 Mam Sodhail & Carn Eighe from Glen Affric - hard - 14.4 miles/23.4 km

Walk 1163 Fraoch Bheinn from Strathan, Loch Arkaig - moderate - 5.0 miles/8.1 km

Walk 3289 Loch Lundie from Invergarry - easy/mod - 6.5 miles/10.6 km

Walk 2824 Arkaig Hills Circular - moderate - 8.8 miles/14.3 km

Walk 3275 Ben Tee & Kilfinnan Falls from Laggan - mod/hard - 7.5 miles/12.2 km

Walk 1735 Monadh Beag and Meall a' Phubuill from Drumsallie - hard - 16.5 miles/26.8 km

Walk 2918 Aonach Mor and Aonach Beag - two of the "Lochaber giants" - mod/hard - 9.0 miles/14.6 km

Recommended Books & eBooks

Skye's Cuillin Ridge Traverse

Skye's Cuillin Ridge TraverseThis 2-volume set provides all the information required to complete the main ridge traverse on Skye's Black Cuillin. Strategy, gear, training, navigation and logistics are covered, and 10 classic scrambles are described. A lightweight second guidebook gives the scrambler detailed maps, topos and route description for the ridge traverse itself.
More information

Walking the Munros Vol 2 - Northern Highlands and the Cairngorms

Walking the Munros Vol 2 - Northern Highlands and the CairngormsGuidebook to walking the northern Munros, covering the northern Highlands, the Cairngorms and the Isle of Skye. 70 routes are described, including those up Ben Macdui, Braeriach and Cairn Gorm. Routes range from 7 to 46km, requiring a fair level of fitness. The second of two guidebooks to walking Scotland's Munros: peaks higher than 3000ft.
More information

The National Trails

The National TrailsThis inspirational guidebook looks at each of the UK's 19 National Trails, with information that allows ease of comparison and contrast, inspiring you to find out more and to take up a long-distance challenge. Some Trails are short and easy, others much longer, many have strong themes - they may follow a coastline, or traverse ranges of hills.
More information

Social Media

Follow Walking Britain for the latest news.

Facebook Twitter

CBD For Walking & Hiking

Discover the benefits of CBD for walkers and hikers. More info.

Mountain Weather

Stay safe on the mountains with detailed weather forecasts - for iOS devices or for Android devices.

Digital Mapping Guide

Digital Mapping Guide - a simple guide of how to start using digital mapping. Includes advice and useful links.