The West Highland Way is a long-distance route in Scotland that runs from Milngavie – north of Glasgow – and ends in Fort William. The route provides the opportunity to experience stunning views and walk alongside the famous River Ness and the River Oich.
The terrain is usually far from challenging, and most sections can be walked on footpaths or minor roads using mountain bike hire, or hired cars, or even taxis.
With over 35,000 people taking on the challenge each year, and the unique landscapes of Glen Coe, Loch Lomond and Rannoch Moor, this iconic route has become one of the world’s finest walks.
Facts About the West Highland Way
· Distance travelled- 153 kilometres (96 miles).
· Height- 4,312m (12,143ft) in total ascent, with the highest point at the summit of Devil’s Staircase (548m above sea-level).
· Time taken- Most people complete it in six to eight days. You can plan to complete the adventure in 6, 7, 8, or 9 days with Maximum Adventure. The tour may be completed in two parts: the north (4 days) and the south (3 days).
· Signposts- The route is well signposted from beginning to end because of how well-known it is. However, the specifics of these markers will vary as you go, so we advise some advance planning before you finish the trek. Watch out for Scotland’s Great Trails’ distinctive enclosed thistle insignia.
· Optimal sections- Everyone agrees that the sections of the WHW between Inveroran, Kingshouse, and Kinlochleven are the best. These spots, known for their beauty, traverse Rannoch Moor, the Glen Coe valley, and the fabled Devil Staircase.
West Highland Way- Rich Heritage
The West Highland Way is a single-track scenic route in Scotland between Fort William and Mallaig. It was officially opened in 1974 when the West Highland Way Trust was established.
The intention of the WHW was to create a network of trails across Britain to link up with existing walking routes. The trail aims to encourage people to visit lesser-known places in rural Scotland, including mountains and forests, wetlands, rock features and coastlines.
The Ideal Route to the West Highland Way
The West Highland Way is a perfect Scottish trail for those who love walking and hiking as it offers some of Scotland’s most spectacular scenery. The route flows from Milngavie through to Rowardennan, down the edge of Loch Lomond, and finishes in Fort William.
The West Highland Way is considered one of Scotland’s most beautiful walks, so if you’re looking for a challenge follow our itinerary below.
The Seven days Itinerary
Your walk begins in East Dunbartonshire, a serene Glasgow suburb, on Day One in Milngavie. Before beginning your major expedition, the next day, spend the night here.
Drymnen to Milngavie Go to the West Highland Way’s official beginning point, which is marked with an obelisk made of grey granite that stands erect in Douglas Street. To reach Craigallian Loch, use the road that is well-marked and meander through the Mugdock Country Park Estate. Thereafter, the road curves around Gartness and descends towards the little town of Drymen.
Drymen to Rowardennan involves a decision point in Garadhban Forest. Do you choose the noble path or the low one? The more difficult route ascends Comic Hill, where you’ll be rewarded for your efforts with vistas of Loch Lomond and the Highland Fells.
The path enters the charming village of Balmaha, where you can stand on Loch Lomond’s coast. Reach Rowardennan by meandering across the natural beach that skirts the loch.
Crianlarich to Rowardennan: 38 islands dot the 23-mile-long Loch Lomond, which is scattered throughout. You’ll travel along forest trails past roaring waterfalls until you arrive in Inversnaid, where you’ll enter the famous nature reserve known as RSPB.
If you are lucky you could spot red deer, and black grouse in this nature reserve, and occasionally you’ll see a wild goat. The path then ascends in the opposite direction of Loch Lomond to Dubh Lochan and Glen Falloch. You may get to the settlement of Crianlarich by following the river.
Bridge of Orchy to Crianlarich: You may reach the River Filla and the intriguing ruins of St. Fillian’s Priory by hiking up through woodland paths from the settlement of Crianlarich. Ben More and Stob Binnein can be seen in the distance.
Then, as you make your way to Tyndrum, you’ll pass the remnants of the region’s lead mining industry. Impressive views of the instantly identifiable peak of Beinn Dorain greet you as you leave Tyndrum.
As you approach the Bridge of Orchy, you can go to the top of a short ridgeline for views of Loch Tulla, Black Mount, and Rannoch Moor while taking in the valley’s scenery. There is a little dip that leads into the bridge of orchy.
Bridge of Orchy to Kinlochleven. Many people enjoy walking the portion of the WHW that leads to Kinlochleven. Due to its distinctive terrain and wildlife, the wild area has been designated an SSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest) and has served as an inspiration to numerous writers and poets.
After departing Inveroran, the trail climbs 445 metres as it ascends Black Mount, a section of high moorland, and passes over Rannoch Moor (1,460ft). After passing the Glencoe ski resort, the road descends towards Kingshouse. The Devil’s stairs is a hard climb from here.
Don’t be deceived by the intimidating moniker; the walking is simple. Before descending, you will have a total elevation gain of 548 metres and be greeted with views of the Mamores and Ben Nevis.
Fort William to Kinlochleven: The last day’s walk bring you to some of the Scottish Highlands‘ outstanding landscapes after leaving Kinlochleven. Starting out of Kinlochleven, you’ll ascend steeply while enjoying stunning views of Loch Leven as you make your way to the top of the Lairigmor pass.
The Mamores, a ridge of mountains that stretches for about 15 km and rises abruptly on the opposite side of Aonach Eagach, are to your right as you walk. Once you cross the pass, you can reach a conifer forest by taking a leisurely stroll down beside a mountain creek that cascades.
The last section leads you through Nevis Forest and into Glen Nevis, where you can see the 1344m (4,406ft)-tall Ben. Your stroll will come to an end at the heart of Fort William.
Things to Carry
- Walking boots
- Insulating fleeces and jackets
- Hat and gloves
- Midge repellent
- Walking poles
- First aid pack
So here’s our complete guide to walking and prepping for the west highland way.