Plan and book your West Hightland Way 6 Day Itinerary with Distance Hiker, including our top accommodation picks.Continue reading
UK Long Distance Hiking is a wonderful community of like minded hikers. Every member has a story to tell regardless of how many trails they have hiked (or plan to hike) and I’m in a remarkably privileged position to see and approve every member who has joined the group.
Also, with such a wealth of collective experience within the group, I’ve decided to ask members who have recently shared their experience on a particular trail
Which trail did you hike?
The West Highland Way
How many days did you take to walk the trail?
Did you camp or stay in accommodation along the trail?
Both – mixture of camping, glamping and hotels
Which were the best overnight spots you found?
Camping – Beinglas – Staff was very welcoming, a good selection of hot and hearty meals and the place had a good social atmosphere (despite social distancing).
Glamping – Strathfillan Wigwams – Accommodation felt huge (especially compared to other cabins) and it had a heater, electricity, microwave, a ‘dining table’ which converted to a massive bed and a beautiful riverside location. Also the shower – £1 for 16 minutes – was super hot and wonderful.
Hotel – Inveroran – made to feel super welcome, food was amazing, room was very homely (although there was limited hot water for the shower).
What was your biggest day on the trail in terms of miles?
16.9m – both on day 2 (Drymen to Rowardennan) and day 8 (Kinlochleven to Fort William)
How was the social aspect of the trail? Did you meet a lot of other hikers?
Day 1 out of Milngavie we met a couple who said the trail was exceptionally quiet compared to normal – due to covid a lot of overseas travelers were not able to visit and the Scottish borders had only been open less than a week. Despite this, I felt this was one of the more social trails I have walked. Throughout the day, you were leapfrogging other hikers and you saw familiar faces at the stops each night. There were more opportunities to socialize than we took advantage of and in non-covid times this would be a very sociable trail.
Was it easy for you to replenish food and water along the route?
Very easy. We took more food than we ended up eating because it was so easy to eat/stock up en route.
Did you find the trail easy to navigate or were there any tricky sections?
It is exceptionally well signposted. The only tricky bit was the section by Loch Lomond (which is well known). Here the way markers are few and far between and at times you come to areas where the trail appears to be blocked by rocks – it isn’t but you have to figure out the easiest way to get over/around them. Nothing too difficult but trickier than the rest of the trail.
How difficult did you find the trail?
Not difficult. The section by Loch Lomond was the most difficult simply because the trail was so uneven underfoot. It’s also helpful to be mentally prepared for the ascent out of Kinlochleven – it’s steeper than you expect for the final day.
What were the best bits of the trail?
The views were outstanding.
What was the worst bit of the trail?
For us the weather whilst walking the Loch Lomond section. It was torrential rain all day. No criticism of the trail – or the weather – rain happens!
If camping, what shelter or tent did you use?
Alpkit Jaran 3
What bag, stove, and footwear did you carry?
Granite Gear Crown Ki 60 pack, Jetboil flash stove, Salomon X Ultra 4 GTX shoes
Roughly what was the total weight of your pack?
12.5kg without water
If you were going to walk the route again, was there anything you would do differently?
Take sealskinz socks and gaiters to help mitigate how wet my feet / shoes got on the Loch Lomond section.
What inspired you to walk this trail?
It’s a classic trail and the promise of amazing views lived up to all my expectations.
Where do you plan to walk next?
Cumbria Way and/or Yorkshire Wolds Way this summer
Planning a 9 day hike along the West Highland Way is quite an adventure. In order to help you prepare I’ve written a 9 Day Itinerary for the route if you are planning to hike it in sections or as a single journey.Continue reading
The West Highland Way is a 96 (154 Km) mile Scottish National Trail. The Trail takes walkers from Milingavie to Fort William, taking in an excellent variety of scenery, from moorland, open park, lochs, and tough mountain terrain.
Most walkers complete the route from South to North, finishing in Fort William, with the chance to walk Ben Nevis as a final achievement. However walking in reverse is possible, but puts the harder miles at the beginning of the route.
But When Is The Best Time Of Year To Walk The West Highland Way?
We recommend hiking the West Highland Way April and June, and in September and October. The weather is generally milder at this time of year, with less chance of hot, or wet days, or even obscure cold days (We have had snow in April before!). During these months the ground likely to be dry and walking conditions therefore easier, and safer.
Accommodation along West Highland Way opens up between mid March and October, with transport links also ramping up their operations.
It’s also benefit to avoid August when all schools and universities have broken up. During this time expect busy trails, expensive or sold-out hotels and inns.
Whenever you decide to walk the West Highland Way, note that Scottish Weather is sure to be unpredictable, and plan for the worst.
Also, plan for the midges, which are probably worse than rain. Midges are worse between May-September, with the peak being in August. If bad accommodation options/prices and busy trails wasn’t enough, the Midges should convince you to book outside this month.
Lets Look At When To NOT Walk The West Highland Way (If Avoidable)
Let’s start with when, if you can help it to avoid walking the West Highland Way July and August (Midges!)
Often the months of July and August are hot, and the attractions along the path are filled with excited families taking time off for the school holidays.
Accommodations are full and those available are expensive, and probably not great, and sure there’s a lot going on but you may not get the peace and quiet you hoped for. That being said, if you are younger and wanting to walk the path as part of a break from college or university, staying in hostels this time may be perfect for you, but please plan well in advance!
However, for the independent walker, looking for some calm away from the crowds I strongly recommend avoiding walking between mid July and the end of August.
May – Almost Perfect, But A Few Bank Holidays
May is a busy month on the waking calendar with a few bank holidays. Regardless the weather is often good in May, with the spring bloom fading, and the summer flowers beginning to show. The bank holidays do however make booking accommodation tricky if your booking late in the year. They also create busy hotspots on nice days, with crowds pouring out of Glasgow and surrounding towns to enjoy the route and the local countryside.
June & September – Less Families, More Walkers
June is often much quieter, and outside the holiday season, while September is again, the other side of the summer holidays. Both months tend to be busier with fellow walkers, yet quieter with the general public enjoying the long-distance route.
March, April & October – Quiet Trails, But Be Careful Of The Weather
March, April, and October are the quieter months, however, the weather tends to be either glorious sunshine, or flooding the locality. Be warned, either is possible so don’t be disheartened if you find yourself walking 7 days in the rain. It does sometimes snow in March too.
But Whatever Your Choice…
British weather is temperamental. Sure, we get great summers here, but we can also get two weeks of rain in the middle of June. Prepare for the worst, and enjoy the best. Happy Hiking!
The West Highland Way is one of Britains finest Backpacking treks, beginning just outside the beautiful city of Glasgow and finishing at the easy going seaside town of Fort William. The entire walk should be achievable in about a week providing that you are walking at a leisurely pace and are acclimatized to any other elements, such as weather conditions.
However I would like to make the point that there is no right, or wrong way to walk this route. Here are the differences in how to walk the West Highland Way.
The Slow Way
Slow travel is taking a huge quantum leap.
For many walkers, and I dare say the majority, taking the route slow is becoming really popular, regardless of age.
Well it’s simple. You can sample all there is to sample along the route. By eliminating the huge daily mileage, you instantly free yourself up to enjoy the views, attractions, pubs and tea rooms available on route.
One example of an easy itinerary is this one below, as adapted from Contours Walking Holidays.
Travel to Milngavie
Day 1: Milngavie to Drymen – 12 miles / 19km
Day 2: Drymen to Balmaha – 6.5 miles / 10.5km
Day 3: Balmaha to Rowardennan – 7.5 miles / 12km
Day 4: Rowardennan to Inverarnan – 14 miles / 22km
Day 5: Inverarnan to Tyndrum – 13 miles /21km
Day 6: Tyndrum to Inveroran – 10 miles / 16km
Day 7: Inveroran to Kingshouse – 10 miles / 16km
Day 8: Kingshouse to Kinlochleven – 9 miles / 14.5km
Day 9: Kinlochleven to Fort William – 14 miles / 22km
Depart from Fort William
This itinerary, with an average daily milage of 10.6 is an ideal starting point a slow walk.
Doing it in halfs
How long to walk the West Highland Way if you want to walk the West Highland Way but you don’t have 10 days spare? Well, It’s perfectly acceptable to walk the route in two halves. A good mid-way stopping point is Tyndrum which has two train stations giving you public transport back to the start. Moreover, a few of the luggage transfer companies offer returns to the start of the route for a reasonable price.
Walking the West Highland Way really quickly 💨
Whether you enjoy a personal challenge, sponsored walk, trail run, or your just too damn hardcore and simply want to tick the trail off your list in a weekend (please write and let us know how you do!), there are itineraries to suit.
Personally, I feel there is no shame in enjoying the comfort of a B&B if you are walking/running/unicycling the route in 4 days.
Either way, Hillwalk Tours offers an excellent option of routes, including a 4-day challenge hike from Inveroran to Fort William. There are other companies offering challenge hikes too, such as the West Highland Way Challenger, which offers walk support, or the West Highland Way Race.
Really, it’s all about your personal ability.
Know your limits, and if you don’t take it easy.
So there you have it. How long to walk the West Highland Way. Be sure to pick a route based on your ability rather than feeling like you have to overachieve. Slow is great, so is fast. There really is no right or wrong way to walk the route. Know your limits, and if you don’t take it easy.
Walk or run the route happy rather than bent and broken, from biting off more than you can chew.