Walk of the week: The peaceful approach to Glen Coe

Most serious walkers visit beautiful Glen Coe when they attempt the West Highland Way. As we reach autumn, the area should have fewer tourists and a reasonable chance of fine weather. Why not plan to do two walks over a weekend that are not part of the over-used long-distance route, but still penetrate the best scenery in the area?

Most serious walkers visit beautiful Glen Coe when they attempt the West Highland Way. As we reach autumn, the area should have fewer tourists and a reasonable chance of fine weather. Why not plan to do two walks over a weekend that are not part of the over-used long-distance route, but still penetrate the best scenery in the area?

The first is the ascent of Stob Ghabhar (3,575ft), a wonderful rocky peak that is well worth the scramble. The views from the top are superb. This is my kind of walking - at a leisurely pace, with no other goal than contemplation of glorious scenery. I loathe the whole concept of Monroe-bagging, where people race from one mountain top to another in the quest to tick yet another 3,000ft peak off their list.

There is nothing soft about this walk, though: don't start it if the weather is bad. You need proper boots and waterproofs, as well as a compass. It's a slog up - about two hours - avoiding scree and steep slopes to your right. The day I did it, the weather changed every 20 minutes and clouds swirled about dramatically.

I'm assuming that your Glen Coe weekend involves staying at a hotel or b&b, and that you have a car. Leave the A892 at the Bridge of Orchy and go round Lock Tulla to the car park near Victoria Bridge. (Without a car, you could arrive by train at Bridge of Orchy station and walk the first stretch of road.) Turn down the road by the lodge. Just after a green hut, take a track up a stream. After about a mile you cross the stream where another one joins it, leaving the easy path for a scramble west and then northwest up the ridge of Stob Ghabhar.

As you approach the summit, you pick up an old metal railing and a narrow path. Stob Ghabhar means "hill of the goat", although I felt more like an creaking old machine in need of oiling by the time I stood on the windswept cairn at the top. The best way down (outside the stalking season) is via the western ridge. Follow the broad back of it and, just where it starts to rise again, you will pick up a shooters' path heading south and dropping back to the estate road on the valley floor where you started. If there is stalking, you will have to descend by your route up, but that still provides excellent views. The walk takes five to six hours.

My second walk involves taking the superb West Highland Line to Rannock station, which has a delightful tearoom and gift shop. There is also a small hotel nearby. This is an easy flat walk, perfect after the rigours of the day before.

You can either walk up Loch Laidon and return by the same route, picking up the train at the end of the day, or arrange for someone to pick you up on the A82 by the King's House Hotel. If you opt for the second, as I did, the walk is about 12 miles, taking four to five hours.

Loch Laidon is in the middle of Rannock Moor, one of the loneliest places I've ever walked. Cross the railway line by the footbridge into the car park and then follow the sign which says "Glencoe via Loch Laidon". You cross the railway and follow a track to the edge of the loch.

Here I encountered a man pushing a large suitcase on a small set of wheels, wearing hiking gear, with a rucksack on his back. He claimed to have walked here from Edinburgh, and who was I to disagree?

For the next hour the track takes you through a forestry plantation (midges were a nightmare) before it emerges on to the open moor.

At the end of the wide track you have a choice. The first is to take the narrow path that follows a line of telegraph poles over the moor. After a mile follow a stream down to the edge of the loch, where you can have a picnic before returning to Rannock station by the same route. I decided to press on to Glencoe, following the rising and dipping line of telegraph poles through the tussocks of the moor, skirting round isolated Black Corries Lodge. Now the track becomes wide again and eventually the welcome outline of the King's House Hotel comes into view. Here I ate cakes, drank tea and dried out.

Both walks are in the 'Ordnance Survey guide to Fort William and Glen Coe Walks', published by Jarrold. The West Highland Railway runs from Craigendoran (near Glasgow) to Fort William. Janet Street-Porter is vice-president of the Ramblers' Association.

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