Looking down on Kinlochleven Blackwater Reservoir

Kinlochleven is a village of around 1000 people, at the head of Loch Leven, and is the nearest village to our Base Camp. It is home to the usual signs of village life - a chip shop, a pub, a post office, but also has the Ice Factor, an indoor climbing centre that houses the largest indoor ice wall in the world, a brewery, and the West Highland Way passing through!

Kinlochleven was "born" at the start of the 20th Century, when an aluminium company built a smelter and hydro-electric plant near the hamlets of Kinlochmore and Kinlochbeag. To aid the operation of this, Blackwater dam was built and a pipeline layed from the reservoir down into Kinlochleven. The dam was the last major project in Britain that was constructed entirely by navvies, and this was done at great cost. Just to the South of the dam wall is a graveyard where many of these workers were buried, still in the clothes they died in. Because of the smelter, the village grew quickly. Houses were constructed, and the Mamore Lodge Hotel was relocated further up the hill. Thanks to the hydro-electric plant, Kinlochleven was one of the first communities in Britain to have electric streetlights. During the First World War, a German prisoner of war camp was built in the forest above the village, the remains of which can still be seen. The aluminium smelter closed in 2000, but hydro-electric production continues.