The Devil’s Staircase

The Devil’s Staircase is a challenging but relatively short off-road classic from Glencoe to Kinlochleven.

The rather ominously named Devil’s Staircase is a classic, some would say legendary, off road mountain bike route which follows the route of the West Highland Way from Glencoe to Kinlochleven.

The quick way to do the route, so that you can squeeze it in after work on a sunny summer’s evening, is to park at the foot of the climb at Alltnafeadh and make some arrangements to have a car waiting in either Kinlochleven or Glencoe village.

However, improvements to the tracks in the glen of Glencoe have made doing this as a proper off road loop a more pleasant experience. From Clachaig Inn ride up to the A82 and cross over onto the short section of the old road by the photogenic Loch Achtriochtan. Pick up the new track which runs parallel to the main road as far as the farm and then rejoin the old road along the floor of the glen.

You’ll need to join the A82 briefly as you approach the gorge, but take a rough track up to the left after the cottage of Allt-na-reigh to again use the old road as it crosses the Study.

The old road seems to rejoin the A82 again further up, but you can pick up a more overgrown section just after the large lay-by on the left which will bring you out just short of the West Highland Way at Altnafeadh. Take a breath as this is where the real route begins.

It’s a walk for most of the way to the top from here, though the first section can be ridden if your legs and lungs are big enough. But it’s well worth the slog. Take time to enjoy the view of Rannoch Moor and Buachaille Etive Mor behind you.

From the top, disengage your brain and go for it. Nearly 5 miles of descent, quite technical at times, to the village of Kinlochleven, dropping some 550m of vertical height. The last section on the dam access road is a blast – and consequently quite dangerous. Watch out for snakebites, rim dings and West Highland Way walkers.

Pop into the Ice Factor bar or the Tailrace for a pint and to pick the flies from your teeth. Return from Kinlochleven to Glencoe on the fairly quiet tarmac road.