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West Highland Way

West Highland Way is the perfect route for trekkers who are hungry for a challenge, but wouldn’t want to miss the chance to explore the British landscape. Set in the Scottish West Highlands, it cuts through the highest peaks in United Kingdom and offers amazing views of surrounding landscapes.

One can expect no less than an adventure on this trail as it takes you across seemingly endless mountain ranges, picturesque lochs, peaceful lowlands, and thick woodlands. Simply put, there is no better and more exciting way to introduce yourself to Scotland’s impressive mountains than by walking the West Highland Way.

As much as 30,000 visitors go to the West Highlands every year, making it one of Europe’s most popular trails. Though not for everyone, people who are used to walking long distances – like those who’ve walked the Camino de Santiago routes, for example – should be able to traverse it. The route spans for a total of 96 miles and is divided into 8 stages. Each section comes with varying levels of difficulty, sceneries, and accommodations.

west highland way

Milngavie to Drymen

Distance: 19 km (11.8 miles)

Estimated Time: 5-6 hours

The first part of the West Highland Way starts in Milngavie. You can get there with a bus when coming from Glasgow, or a train when leaving from Edinburgh, Motherwell, or Blantyre. It’s a pretty small place – you can walk most of it in as little as a day. While in town, you can visit Mugdock Country Park and see the remains of a 14th century castle, or grab some ale at a traditional pub called The Talbot Arms.

The trail begins at the granite obelisk located in the town centre. Following the footpath will lead you away from the urban landscape and take you across lochs and woodlands. The road passes tracks, country lanes, and unused railway lines. Eventually, you’ll find yourself among the Campsie Fells hill range.

Drymen to Rowardennan

Distance: 23 km (14.3 miles)

Estimated time: 6-7 hours

Upon arriving at Drymen, you can refresh yourself at Clachan Inn, the oldest hotel in Scotland. But if you’re after a fright, drop by Winnock, the country’s most haunted hotel.

The path from Drymen climbs a forest and passes a moorland until it reaches Conic Hill. The hill overlooks nearby islands and Loch Lomond. Once you go past the village of Balmaha, you will get a closer view of the lake which extends up to Rowardennan.

Wild camping is not allowed in this route between March and October. If you want to spend the night, there’s a campsite at Sallochy.

Rowardennan to Inverarnan

Distance: 22 km (13.7 miles)

Estimated time: 6-7 hours

A quick over view of the West Highland Way reveals this is the most challenging part of the journey. You will pass some forest tracks but mostly there will be rugged walks with ascents and descents along the lochside path. The route past the forest is very scenic and something you can look forward to amidst the difficult walk.

Several accommodations will be available en route and at Inverarnan. These include a variety of hotels, bed and breakfasts, and informal camping sites.

Inverarnan to Tyndrum

Distance: 19 km (11.8 miles)

Estimated time: 5-6 hours

Views from Invernan are more bare, but it surely makes for an easier and faster walk. Steep climbs can be expected after Crianlarich and in the Old Military Road, but overall the road is less challenging than the previous leg of the West Highlands Way.

The terrain is varied from Invernan to Tyndrum. You will come across mountains, forests, farmlands, and rivers.

Tyndrum to Inveroran

Distance: 14 km (8.7 miles)

Estimated time: 4-5 hours

After an initial climb at Tyndrum, the trail eases up into a glen flanked with steep mountains. It remains to be an easy walk until the Bridge of Orchy. From there, you will have to climb up the woods and pass by a low ridge, then make a descent into Inveroran.

Inveroran is an isolated village and accommodations are limited to a single hotel. That being said, it’s an excellent place to rest after a tough walk.

Inveroran to Kings House

Distance: 15.5 km (9.6 miles)

Estimated time: 4-5 hours

The path follows Telford’s Parliamentary Road into a vast field of heather and bog. As if that’s not stunning enough, a quick look around will give you an overview of the West Highland Way and its majestic mountains. The walk from Inveroran to Kings House is relatively easy under calm weather. During storms, it is not such a good place as you will be completely exposed to the elements.

Kings House to Kinlochleven

Distance: 14 km (8.7 miles)

Estimated time: 4-5 hours

The way from Kings House to Kinlochleven is widely varied. It can be easy on some parts and rough and rocky on others, especially as you climb up to the route’s highest point. The view from the top is excellent as it towers over the Glencoe mountains. However, the moorland is exposed and conditions can be treacherous in poor weather.

From the peak, the trail descends towards Kinlochleven. Unlike Inveroran, Kinlochleven has noteworthy amenities. These include a hostel, camping site, and the Ice Factor National Ice Climbing Centre – an indoor recreational facility.

Kinlochleven to Fort William

Distance: 24.5 km (15.2 miles)

Estimated time: 6-7 hours

The last stretch of the West Highland Way is also the longest, though it’s not as difficult as the climb from Kings House. The path from Kinlochleven gently ascends into a woodland where it follows the route of a now-defunct military road. There, you will pass through a bare glen surrounded by tall mountains. Afterwards, you will walk past a forested area and gradually descend into Glen Nevis amidst the backdrop of Britain’s tallest mountain – Ben Nevis.

When you reach Fort Williams, your over view of the West Highland Way is officially complete. But this doesn’t mean your journey to Scotland also has to end.

The historic town of Fort Williams is a good place for travel and is frequented by tourists. Its location makes it an ideal destination for outdoor activities such as big camping trips or mountain biking adventures. You will, however, need to equip yourself with proper gear, which you should have no trouble finding at discounted prices.

About the author
Leslie Gilmour

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