Glen Coe's highest peak, Bidean nam Bian forms the apex of a complex and majestic massif of several sharp summits, with chiselled crests and deep-gouged corries walled by an impressive array of crags. Taken together this is one of the great mountains of Scotland. The range throws three parallel ridges towards the glen, cut short by an ice age glacier to form the famous spurs of the Three Sisters. The higher peaks and corries rise half-hidden and mysterious behind this public face. The radiating ridge/corrie layout permits many combinations of route; the one described here is among the more comprehensive tours of the massif, taking in its three most distinctive summits (two of them Munros).
West Highland Way 6
11 - 551 m | 14.1 km
Kings House Hotel - Kinlochleven. Passing beneath the dramatic crags of The Buachaille, up the zigzags of the Devil's Staircase and over a high pass with views of the magnificent Mamores range; then down into the deep wooded glen of Kinlochleven, a small town with a fascinating industrial past, hidden away at the head of a fjord-like sea loch - there's a lot to be said for this fairly short stage of the WHW. For a more challenging day it can easily be run together with stages 5 or 7.
Buachaille Etive Mor
275 - 997 m | 10 km
This is a classic route on one of Scotland's most famous mountains in a glorious setting. Although the route described here is the reverse of the more common one, it offers something different in terms of views, and saves the highlight, Stob Dearg, until last. This muscular peak is unmissable as one enters Glen Coe, and for many it signals the beginning of the Highlands. Well-known for its rock climbing routes, it also has much to offer the walker. The hard work is done getting up onto the ridge, but once up you can stride out with incredible views far and wide, stretching from the wild outreaches of Rannoch Moor to Ben Nevis and beyond.
Aonach Eagach, extended version
22 - 965 m | 14.5 km
Following the spectacular serrated north wall of Glen Coe, this classic Lochaber scramble has a reputation as the gnarliest ridge traverse on the Mainland. While there are harder ridge scrambles elsewhere it's true that few are as long, as thrillingly exposed, or as tricky to escape as Aonach Eagach. Unusual among Mainland ridges the most difficult grade 2 sections cannot be skirted around, and they definitely need a steady head. The customary way to do it is westwards from Am Bodach, but while this has the advantage of a high start the various descent options from the western end of the ridge are either unpleasant, unsafe or slightly unintuitive on first acquaintance. Besides this the standard route is a fairly short day that visits less than half of the range that forms the north side of the glen. If you've time a full traverse from the Pap of Glencoe to the Devil’s Staircase on the West Highland Way is a more satisfying and substantial day out; for the sake of being different the route is described here in the easterly direction. This linear walk needs pre-arranged transport back to the start; or chance your arm hitching.
West Highland Way 7: Kinlochleven - Ft.William
4 - 335 m | 24.7 km
This final stage of the route nicely rounds off the WHW, running from the attractive wooded shores of Loch Leven and over the desolate high pass of the Lairig Mor beneath the southern flank of the Mamores. A long easy stretch on forest tracks then brings you out in Glen Nevis at the foot of The Ben. That's the scenery done with, and by rights the trail should probably finish here; but of course it continues for a couple of miles of pavement walking into the middle of Fort William.