Planning your route along the West Highland Way couldn’t be easier. We have suggested itineraries to inspire you, along with some helpful information to consider before you embark on your trip.
Things to Consider
The West Highland Way is 96-miles in length, venturing along ancient roads, abandoned railways and forestry paths. The terrain varies underfoot, but for the most part, well-maintained paths and a few purpose-built areas keep the ground surface fairly hard-packed, so having comfortable footwear is essential.
Although 96-miles can sound like a long walk, there is no rush to complete the West Highland Way. When planning your route, consider your level of fitness and how many hours of walking you can comfortably manage to cover each day. With many villages and towns along the route, the full walk is completable in a few long days or many short-days.
The West Highland Way is suitable for experienced walkers, although not a very technical trail, it’s physically demanding. You won’t need specialist walking equipment, but we recommend a few essential items such as plenty of water, energy-filled snacks and appropriate walking footwear. The Scottish weather is famed for being quick-changing and somewhat unpredictable, so carrying an extra layer and waterproof clothing is advisable, just in case you find yourself caught out in a shower. However, it’s equally important to carry sun protection cream and sunglasses for the same reason as well.
For large sections of the West Highland Way, there isn’t any mobile phone reception, so it’s a good idea to carry a map of the West Highland Way, a whistle to alert attention and a first aid pack in case of an emergency also.
Along the Way
Starting just a few miles north of Glasgow, the West Highland Way begins at the obelisk in the centre of Milngavie. From there, the trail will lead you through the Queen Elizabeth Forest Park and onto Conic Hill with its breathtaking views over Loch Lomond and the smaller islands.
Onwards to Balmaha where the path follows the eastern shores of the loch to Inverarnan. Walking across the Highland Boundary Fault, Scotland’s most southerly Munro, Ben Lomond, looms majestically in the distance.
Winding through the valley of Strathfillan, you’ll come to the solitary Rannoch Moor before descending into Glen Coe. It is at this point of the West Highland Way that the big climb begins with the Devil’s Staircase, the highest point of the Way at 550 meters.
From the summit, the path gradually descends to sea level at Kinlochleven marking the final stretch of the West Highland Way, taking you over the Lairigmor. From there, the journey continues further into Fort William and the foot of Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in the British Isles standing at 1,344 metres (4,409 ft) above sea level. Many people choose to stay an extra night in Fort William so that they can climb Ben Nevis after walking the West Highland Way.
Generally, the journey will take from seven to eight days, although more experienced walkers can manage the route in five days. You can take as long as you want to enjoy the countryside along the West Highland Way, immersing yourself in the stunning landscapes and vibrant culture that Scotland has to offer.
Here are a few route suggestions to help you along your West Highland Way.
|Most Popular (7 Days)||Advanced Walk (5 Days)||Cycle Route (3 Days)|
|Day 1||Milngavie to Drymen – 12 Miles||Milngavie to Balmaha – 19 Miles||Milngavie to Rowardennan – 27 Miles|
|Day 2||Drymen to Rowardennan – 14 Miles||Balmaha to Inverarnan – 19 Miles||Rowardennan to Bridge of Orchy – 32 Miles|
|Day 3||Rowardennan to Inverarnan – 13 Miles||Inverarnan to Bridge of Orchy – 19 Miles||Bridge of Orchy to Fort William – 34 Miles|
|Day 4||Inverarnan to Tyndrum – 12 Miles||Bridge of Orchy to Kinlochleven – 20 Miles|
|Day 5||Tyndrum to Kingshouse – 18 miles||Kinlochleven to Fort William – 14 Miles|
|Day 6||Kingshouse to Kinlochleven – 9 Miles|
|Day 7||Kinlochleven to Fort William – 14 Miles|