West Highland Way

Rugged rolling landscapes, and wildflower-filled glens seems like something out of a fairytale, but you can easily see otherworldly beauty like this on the West Highland Way. Starting in the town of Milngavie, this long-distance trek extends 154 kilometres to the outdoor capital of the UK, Fort William.

West Highland Way: The Highlands

Self-guided

From the 4* Bridge of Orchy hotel, walk through the rugged Scottish Highlands and across Rannoch Moor, to complete the northern section of the West Highland Way.

Self-guided 5 Days From $1150 Moderate What's Included

West Highland Way: The Highlands

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What's Included
  • 4 nights accommodation in 4*, 3* hotels & guesthouses
  • 4 breakfasts, 3 lunches, 2 dinners
  • Luggage transfers as described
  • Route Notes, Maps and GPX tracks
  • Stay in the famous Highland hotel, Kingshouse
  • Option to upgrade to a 4* spa hotel in Glencoe
  • 24/7 telephone support
  • Walk through the rugged Scottish Highlands of the West Highland Way
  • Enjoy the warmth of a Highland whisky and Scottish hospitality
  • Finish in Fort William on the shores of Loch Linnhe

West Highland Way: 9 days

Self-guided

Walk the West Highland Way, Scotland’s most popular long-distance trail. Hike along the shores of Loch Lomond and deep into the rugged highlands, ending at Fort William.

Self-guided 9 Days From $1450 Moderate What's Included

West Highland Way: 9 days

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What's Included
  • 8 nights accommodation in 3* hotels & guest houses
  • All luggage transfers
  • 8 breakfasts, 1 dinner
  • Maps, guidebook and route summary
  • Flexible itinerary to add or remove days
  • A night in famous Kingshouse wilderness hotel
  • 24/7 telephone support
  • Complete Scotland’s most popular long-distance hiking trail
  • Enjoy the warmth of a Highland whisky and Scottish hospitality
  • Walk through Glen Nevis to the foot of UK’s highest mountain, Ben Nevis

West Highland Way Uncovered: 11 days

Self-guided

Walk the West Highland Way in a relaxed 11 days. North of Glasgow, walk along the banks of Loch Lomond, across moorland and through the highlands to Fort William.

Self-guided 11 Days From $1790 Moderate What's Included

West Highland Way Uncovered: 11 days

BACK
What's Included
  • 10 nights accommodation in 3* hotels & guest houses
  • All luggage transfers
  • 10 breakfasts & 1 dinner
  • Maps, guidebook and route summary
  • A night at the famous Kinghouse hotel
  • Flexible itinerary to add or remove days
  • 24/7 telephone support
  • Walk Scotland’s popular West Highland Way long distance trail
  • Spend the night in the wilderness hotels of Kingshouse and Inveroran
  • Walk through Glen Nevis to the foot of UK’s highest mountain, Ben Nevis

OVERVIEW

You can choose between our three route options, and regardless of which one you pick, you will get to traverse through many stunningly beautiful landscapes. You will walk alongside the glassy waters of Loch Lomond, witness breathtaking views from the top of Conic Hill, taste traditional Scottish single malt whisky at the Glengoyne Distillery, and revel in the towering glory of Ben Nevis. As you walk, you can take in everything that nature has to offer; you may be lucky enough to spot otters at the water’s edge or Golden Eagles overhead. During springtime, wildflowers will blanket the landscape in vivid blues, yellows, and reds, making it feel as though you have stepped into a painting.

Each night you will stay in a bed and breakfast or a three-star hotel staffed by locals. You will get to experience Scottish hospitality at its finest, for the Scots are truly friendly and will welcome you with open arms. Additionally, you will have many opportunities to try traditional Scottish cuisine. The local restaurants serve everything from authentic Scottish food that will warm your heart to more exotic dishes whose flavours will delight you.

This walking holiday will take you to a place where simplicity and natural beauty are the centre of each day. Leave the troubles of the modern world behind and take a journey through the captivating highlands of Scotland.

history

The West Highland Land, also known as Slighe na Gàidhealtachd an Iar in Gaelic, was Scotland’s first long-distance route and is one of the most popular long-distance trails in the UK.

The West Highland Way officially opened on October 6th, 1980, but it took almost two decades for this trail system to be completed. The idea of this long-distance trail came to be after the opening of the Pennine Way in England was met with great enthusiasm and garnered a lot of success. It took a substantial amount of work to finalise the route, get locals on board, and physically create the path itself. Now, over 85,000 people walk along the beautiful trails of the West Highland Way and over 30,000 of them traverse the full 154km long stretch.

Taking a step back in time, this stunning area has a rich and bloody history. This wild region was where Robert the Bruce, the Scottish king who freed Scotland from English rule, was defeated by the MacDougalls in an epic battle in 1306 near Tyndrum. However, this defeat did not stop Robert the Bruce, and in 1328, England acknowledged his reign and made peace via the Treaty of Northampton.

This bloody saga continued over 300 hundred years later with the Massacre of Glencoe. The story goes that all the clans’ chiefs had the choice to swear an oath of allegiance to King William III by January 1st, 1692. Chief Alexander MacDonald of Glencoe was late in his submission by 6 days, so an order was given to proceed with the massacre. The chief and many members of his clan died on that fateful day.

It wasn’t even a century later that the Jacobite uprising began. Many military roads were built in this region in order to help keep the Jacobite clans under control. Those roads combined with ancient transportation paths, communication routes, and cattle paths are what make up the West Highland Way today. The past may have been bloody, but it didn’t impact the inspiring beauty of the land. Battlefields and age-old wars can no longer be seen within this vivid landscape, but the history remains.

Flora & Fauna

Walking the length of the West Highland Way will take you through a spectacular natural landscape that many species of plants and animals call home. If you happen to take your walking holiday in the Spring, you will be able to witness the plethora of brilliantly coloured wildflowers that dot the landscape. The bright blues of the Bluebells can be found blanketing the ground in wooded areas. Let your eyes wander over the pale yellow rattles, the golden buttercups, and the pinks of the red clovers. When passing ponds or bogs, you may also spot water lilies perched on top like floating plates. If you look carefully along the edges of the track, you will be able to see a variety of orchids including the early purple, the fragrant, the frog, and the rare greater butterfly orchid!

There are obviously more than just wildflowers throughout this lush landscape. Tall conifers and oaks create delightful shade in the summer heat. A variety of lichen including parmelion and usneion hang along these tremendous trees. Hidden among the shady areas you will find ferns peeking out. When you look over the moors, you will see the globe-flower, purple saxifrage, and roseroot.

Nestled in the beautiful landscape of the West Highland Way is a secret world of fascinating creatures. Butterflies can be seen flocking to the brightly coloured wildflowers in the Spring, and the endangered red squirrel can occasionally be seen scampering up an oak tree searching for food. Golden eagles, peregrine falcons, and buzzards soar high overhead, while osprey can be seen swooping down towards the water to catch fish.

As you traverse along the track, you may see the green garden tiger beetle scuttling out of the way or the distinctly coloured Redstarts hopping around. In addition to all the smaller creatures that call this place home, there are also larger mammals. There is a large population of red deer that will often stare at you as you pass by. You may also see feral goats relaxing on the shores of the loch; they are an invasive species that often cause significant environmental damage and are culled every few years to prevent long-lasting damage.

Midges are incredibly annoying and sadly very common along the trail; it is best to avoid large swarms of them. If you are lucky, you may witness Daubenton’s bat having them for dinner in the waning light of the evening.

As you approach Fort William, you can take in the sights of the coastal creatures. Otters, grey seals, dolphins, and whales play in the water while seabirds swoop overhead. Basking sharks and the rare leatherback turtle swim along the coast. Many tourists, adults and children alike, are attracted to the rock pools littering the beach where they can get up close and personal to small sea creatures. No matter where you are along the trail, there is always a lot to see. Keep your eyes open and your camera ready because you never know what lovely creature you might find along your path.

Local Cuisine

Scottish cuisine will warm your soul and put meat on your bones. This hearty style of cooking is steeped in tradition dating back centuries. Focused on locally-sourced products, the restaurants along the West Highland Way will delight you at every turn. Most menus will include steak pie, fish and chips, cranachan, haggis, porridge, black pudding, Scottish seafood, and other staples of Scottish life along with more common foods found throughout the rest of the world.

Fantoosh Nook

Fantoosh Nook Café is the place to go in Milngavie for delicious seafood. Their food is created with locally-sourced seafood selected by their fishmonger at Fantoosh Fish. Begin your meal with a Cullen skink and end with a caramelised pear, ricotta, and walnut pot. Their mains include traditional dishes like fish and chips and the more exotic Thai-style Shetland muscles. You will leave full and happy!

Garvie & Co

Garvie & Co is a restaurant, bar, and bakery all rolled in one; they will provide you with all you could ever want for an evening on the town. Stop by for a glass of wine, a craftsman beer, or a traditional whisky, or keep it simple and grab a pastry on your way by. If you are ready for a more traditional sit-down meal, make your way into their charming restaurant. Here you can try classic Scottish dishes like haggis, get a taste of the sea with their smoked haddock, or delight in their penne salsiccia. There is something for everyone on the menu, and it is a perfect place to share a meal with a friend or loved one.

Andiamo

Andiamo is a chic-yet-relaxed Italian bar and restaurant that serves traditional Italian cuisine with a contemporary twist. Add a bit of Scottish flair to your pizza by trying their Branzino acqua pizza made with sea bass or keep it old school with a lasagna al forno. Make sure to leave room for dessert because they have plenty of options to choose from like torta di formaggio, budino di caramello mou appiccicoso, and more!

Café Alba

Located in the city of Milngavie, Café Alba is open seven days a week. If you have the time, be sure to stop by for their restaurant-quality food at café prices. In 2018, they won the award for the Best Café in Scotland. Try one of their savoury egg dishes along with a creamy cappuccino for breakfast, one of their toasties for lunch, or a vegan burger for dinner. No matter when you visit, you will leave with a smile on your face.

Glengoyne Distillery

Glengoyne Distillery is considered one of the most beautiful distilleries in Scotland. What better way to enjoy tasting some fine Scottish whisky than with delightful accompaniments? This distillery features a variety of tours and masterclasses, a notable one being the whisky and chocolate tour. You will get to savour the rich flavours of whisky along with the handmade chocolate from Iain Burnett, the Highland Chocolatier. This experience will be the perfect treat at the end of a long day of walking.

The Drymen Inn

The Drymen Inn is a lovely location to relax in towards the end of a long day of walking. Start your meal off right by having dessert first. Their hot chocolate fudge cake and banoffee pie are to die for! If you are looking for something a bit more substantial, they have classic burgers, fish, and steak options that will fill you up. If you are feeling brave and want to dine like a true Scot, try their Gateau haggis starter!

Kingshouse Hotel Restaurant

You won’t have to travel far for this eatery, as the Kingshouse restaurant is located right within your accommodation. Be sure to take in the incredible 270-degree view of the Glencoe Valley before your food arrives! Start off with an Ailsa Craig goat cheese fondant or a Scottish charcuterie. Feast upon their Scrabster monkfish, estate venison loin, chicken in the heather, and other tasty dishes. Then end the evening with their rhubarb and apple flapjack crumble or dark chocolate churros!

The Real Food Café

The Real Food Café is focused on providing you quality food with excellent flavour. Join them for breakfast, elevenses, lunch, tea, dinner, and supper; they are open late into the evening. Try their award-winning fish and chips, delicious burgers, savoury sausages, or sample their vegetarian and vegan menu. End the meal with their famous rainbow cake or a freshly fried doughnut to make the experience extra sweet!

Chillers Bar & Grill

Open every day until 9:30pm, Chillers Bar & Grill is a great place to go for fun and food! This comfortable restaurant will warm you right up after a long day out in the elements. Seasonal menu options prepared with high-quality local produce accompanied by traditional malt whisky is the perfect way to end the day. If you are feeling up for a challenge, this location also sports one of the world’s top ten climbing centres! Try your hand at rock climbing or just head on over to the Ice Factor café to hear the stories of those who did it!

The Bothy Bar

The Bothy Bar, located within the MacDonald Hotel, is an excellent place to relax and socialise. Start the night off at the pool table, with a board game, or by watching the sports channel on the big screen. Enjoy their homemade burgers, loaded potato skins, and other homey dishes with a tall pint of beer. This location is excellent for hanging out with old friends or making new ones!

Lochleven Seafood Café

Lochleven Seafood Café is all about bringing the sea right to your table. Large windows provide epic views of the sea loch and mountains in the distance. Additionally, the restaurant has its own fishing boats that catch shellfish to be served fresh for your enjoyment. Taste a variety of shellfish from lobster to mussels to scallops, you will definitely get the true feeling of being one with the sea.

The Grog & Grill

The Grog & Grill is one of the most popular restaurants in all of Fort William. This joint has everything you could ever want. From morning till night, you can order from their Alehouse menu. Here you can find the perfect light snack or hearty meal to fill your belly. Once evening rolls around, try their restaurant menu which features everything from nachos to steak to Cajun food. You will want for nothing after an evening here. Plus, it is an absolute must to try one of their regionally brewed ales or classy whiskies.

Crannog

Make your way over to this red-roofed restaurant to experience the best seafood that Scotland has to offer. Overlooking Loch Linnhe, right on the Fort William town pier, Crannog has everything from salmon to hake. If you are not a seafood lover, no problem! They also serve roasted turkey, rib-eye steaks, and meat pies. Just make sure to leave room for their cherry chocolate torte with cherry Chantilly cream to finish off the night in style.

The Lime Tree

The Lime Tree is an award-winning restaurant that prides itself on creating delicious meals from fresh and seasonal locally-sourced products. Curious about haggis but don’t want to try the real thing? Try their vegetarian haggis instead! You can also taste their beautifully made aubergine parmigiana, highland venison, or Lasg bree. The kitchen even serves a tiny taster course similar to an amuse-bouche that will give you a sneak peek into Scottish cuisine.

ACCOMMODATION

Along your walking holiday, you will stay in 3-star hotels, bed and breakfasts, and guesthouses. These charming accommodations are run by local Scottish people who are incredibly kind and love welcoming walkers. Located along the West Highland Way, each accommodation was carefully chosen to provide you with a comfortable and memorable stay. Below are some of the typical hotels that we stay in along the West Highland Way.

Braeside Bed & Breakfast

Braeside Bed & Breakfast, located in the quaint city of Drymen, provides a charming end to the first day of your walking holiday. While this accommodation is little, it is full of heart. The owners greatly enjoy walkers who pass through and are always waiting with a smile. You can book one of their twin rooms on the top floor, the double room on the bottom floor, or the detached garden room. Comfortable and relaxing, these rooms will be just what you need to wind down at the end of the day. With its convenient location in the heart of Drymen, you can easily access all the wonders that this town has to offer.

Kingshouse Hotel

The Kingshouse Hotel is a luxurious stop along your walking holiday. Here, incredible views will inspire your next day of walking. You can book one of their standard or signature rooms. Standard rooms feature a king-sized bed or twin beds, cosy amenities, and plenty of space to relax. If you would like to upgrade, you can marvel at the gorgeous Glencoe landscape from the signature rooms’ private terraces. These extra-large rooms can sleep four adults and are perfect for those adventuring as a group. Lastly, you could take on a true backpacker’s lifestyle and stay in the bunkhouse. Here you will sleep in a bunkroom, socialise with new people, and save money! When you get hungry, you can partake in the fantastic meals and drinks provided by the hotel’s restaurant and bar.

Allt-na-Leven Guest House

Nestled in the centre of Kinlochleven Village is the award-winning guesthouse, Allt-na-Leven. This delightful guesthouse was once the village store but has been recently renovated in order to provide a quality and comfortable stay for its patrons. Each room contains en-suite bathrooms with high-end, thermostatic showers as well as highly comfortable beds. Drying facilities available for wet clothes, free use of DVDs, and an optional laundry service make this guesthouse a great option for weary travellers. When morning arrives, you can choose between a traditional Scottish breakfast or an extensive continental breakfast; either way, you won’t leave hungry!

Myrtle Bank Guest House

On the south side of Fort William is the Myrtle Bank Guest House. This guesthouse was originally built in the 1890s as a Victorian villa. Over time, it has been transformed into a delightful guesthouse, perfect for the end of your journey. Stunning views of the lochs and the colourful gardens can be seen from many of the rooms. Myrtle Bank offers a variety of room choices as well as a vegetarian, continental, or Scottish breakfast in the morning to ensure you have all the energy necessary to enjoy the beautiful city of Fort William.

Transport

As a part of your tour package with us, we will transfer your main luggage between accommodations. Therefore, you will only have to wear light daypacks as you enjoy your walking holiday. However, it is your responsibility to manage how you will arrive at the first city and how you will depart from the final destination. We have listed some suggestions below, and additionally we can arrange a private transfer at your request. If you have any questions, please feel free to get in contact with your service representative; after doing so, we will happily guide you through your best options.

If you are travelling from outside of Scotland and the UK, you can find arrival and departure flights in Glasgow. Glasgow has a variety of flights connecting to Europe and other regions of the world.

If you are travelling from within Scotland or the UK, there are a variety of bus and train lines that will connect you to and from Glasgow.

Arrive in Milngavie

From Glasgow Airport:
If you are flying into Glasgow Airport, it is easy to complete onward travel to the starting point of Milngavie. From Glasgow Airport, it will take about 15 minutes to take the 500 Airport Express bus to the Waterloo Lane Station. From there, walk into the Glasgow Central Station and take the ScotRail train to Milngavie; this ride will take about 25 minutes.

From Glasgow Central Station:
If you are taking a bus or train from another city within the UK, make sure to transfer to Glasgow Central Station. From here, you can take the 25-minute ride, via the ScotRail train, to Milngavie.

Depart from Fort William

To Glasgow:
Glasgow Central Station and Glasgow Queen Street Station are the primary transfer locations for other towns in the UK such as Edinburgh, Kilmarnock, and others further south. From Fort William, you can take the ScotRail train to either station depending on your final location. If you wish to transfer to the airport, you can take the 500 Airport Express.

To Inverness:
If you would like to see the beautiful city of Inverness, you have two options. First, you can take another walking holiday! We offer a walking holiday along the gorgeous Great Glen Way from Fort William to Inverness. It is a fantastic way to dovetail from one adventure to the next and explore more of Scotland. Another option would be to take the 919 bus from the Fort William Bus Station to the Farraline Park Bus Station in Inverness, taking approximately two hours.

climate/weather

The best time of year to traverse the West Highland Way is from April to October. In spring, the temperatures can reach 10 C during the day and drop down to 1.5 C in the evening. June through September is considered the warm season with average high temperatures ranging from 10.5 C to 18 C. With fall comes cooler weather along the trail; the temperature usually remains around 4 C during the day and can drop below freezing at night.

Rain and clouds are a part of the daily life in the highlands of Scotland. Throughout the year, there is a good chance that it could be overcast with rain showers. April through October is the clearest part of the year with the sky being clear or partly cloudy 47% of the time.

We couldn’t have the beautiful green colours of Scotland without frequent rain. From April to October, the chance of rain ranges from 31% in early spring and increases over summer and into fall; by October there is a 50% daily chance of precipitation. It is always best to assume that you will encounter rain when visiting the West Highland Way and to prepare accordingly.

Terrain

The West Highland Way runs 154 km from Milngavie to the coastal city of Fort William. This lovely trail will take you along wide tracks through the forest, over twisting trails in the moorland, on hillside paths, through wide-open fields, and into tiny hamlets and cities. The highest point along the track is the top of the Devil’s Staircase, which peaks at 548m. The majority of the trail is easy to navigate and clearly marked, making it simple to enjoy your journey along the West Highland Way.

when to walk

The best time to visit the glorious West Highland Way is from April all the way through to the start of October. It is during this time that you can bask in the beauty of nature at its most accommodating point. Sunshine, stunning landscapes, and amazingly kind people will greet you along your journey. Lovely weather will dazzle you as you walk, and all of the local accommodations, restaurants, stores, and activities will be open.

walking fitness levels

The West Highland Way is not a gentle beginner’s walk. While the walk does not require technical skills, depending on the itinerary you choose, an adequate level of fitness is recommended based on the endurance level needed for strenuous walking. Walkers can traverse up to 20km per day with an ascent and descent of up to 500m.

Each walk is very well-marked and easy to navigate. Many of the paths are wide and are easy underfoot. You will walk along forest trails, on lochside paths, across moorlands, through remote glens, on vehicle tracks, and through towns and villages. There will be some road walking, mainly when arriving and departing from the towns and villages. You will likely meet many other walkers along the path, making it easy to find a hiking buddy if you so desire.

It is recommended that you have a moderately active lifestyle if you want to participate in this walk. You should maintain an exercise regimen of 2 to 3 times a week and be able to walk for multiple hours a day. If you are unsure of your level of fitness, consult with your doctor.

walking essentials

Your main piece of luggage will be transported for you each day as you walk, so when you arrive at your accommodation, it will be there waiting for you. You will only have to carry a light day pack with your essentials.

As with any journey, it is essential to be prepared for your self-guided walking holiday. While we will be transporting your luggage from accommodation to accommodation, you will still be carrying a lightweight day pack with you. Scotland is also known for being wet and rainy. Even in the middle of summer, it can get hit with poor weather, so it is best to be prepared. Here is what we suggest that you take with you each day:

  • Walking notes, map and a map case
  • Picnic lunch packed in an insulated container (when supplied)
  • Quality waterproof jacket with a hood
  • Warm jumper or jacket
  • Sunhat/Rainhat
  • Comfortable walking shoes or boots
  • Waterproof backpack cover
  • Sunscreen (at least 15 SPF+)
  • 1 to 2 litres of water
  • First aid kit
  • Toilet paper
  • Some money
  • Mobile phone (please note that reception is not available in all walk areas)
  • Personal insect repellent (highly important for midges), band-aids, and a small container of salt mixed with rice grains
  • Personal necessities (example: required medication)

Now that we have the essentials packed, it is time to think of any additional items that may be worth taking along with you. These items may include but are not limited to:

  • Waterproof over-trousers
  • Warm hat
  • Extra socks
  • Sunglasses
  • Camera (with an extra battery or SIM cards)
  • Binoculars
  • Notebook and pen
  • Matches
  • Small torch
  • Walking stick / walking poles
  • Additional snacks

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact our office and have a chat with our friendly team. We will happily advise you on what types of clothing, backpacks, boots, and other materials you may need for your walking holiday.

locations

Milngavie

Milngavie (pronounced “mill-guy”) is the starting location for the West Highland Way. This little town boasts a wide array of outdoor attractions including the reservoir, Tannoch Loch, Lennox Park, Antonine Wall, Kilpatrick Hills, and Old Wives Lift & Cave. Arrive early before your walking holiday so you can explore all this town has to offer, like its charming restaurants, quaint shops, and cute cafes!

Mugdock Country Park

Covering a massive 260 hectares across the sweeping hills is Mugdock Country Park. This park is more than just a patch of grass. Locals and tourists alike gather here to walk, cycle, ride horses, and practice archery. During summer, the ranger service leads beloved environmental learning activities. Make sure to stop at the restaurant or bistro for lunch and check out the gift shop for a souvenir!

Loch Lomond

Loch Lomond is the largest freshwater loch in all of Great Britain. The West Highland way follows along the eastern edge of the loch. Here you can gaze over the glassy water to the 30 islands that call Loch Lomond home. There’s lots of wildlife to see; you may even witness birds of prey hunting along the water or little birds flitting about on the shore.

Trossachs

It was here that inspired Sir Walter Scott to write his international best-selling epic poem, The Lady of the Lake, about a girl who called this majestic location home. Due to the tale’s massive success, the area subsequently became a popular tourist destination for experiencing the romantic wonder of this spectacular landscape. For over 200 years, many have flocked to this beautiful national park, and now you will too! In addition to walking, you can take a loch cruise or shop at the centre on the southern shores. If you’re more actively inclined, there’s fishing, kayaking, canoeing, windsurfing, and even jet skiing!

Drymen

This little town used to be a popular resting point for Highland cattle drivers and is now a fantastic stopping point for the tired walkers of the West Highland Way. Visit the almost 250-year-old parish, the Buchanan Castle, the medieval motte, and The Clachan Inn to get a little taste of history. Take the time to walk around, pop into little shops, and try authentic Scottish cuisine at one of their locally-run restaurants.

Ben Lomond

While climbing Ben Lomond is not a part of your walking holiday, you will get to experience the incredible view of this majestic mountain as you traverse the West Highland Way. Make sure to get a few shots with your camera, because this mountain is ever-changing and will perpetually surprise you with its beauty.

Glen Falloch

Between the top of Loch Lomond and the quaint village of Crianlarich is Glen Falloch. It follows the River Falloch until the river dumps into Loch Lomond. This wild landscape is home to ancient woodlands and over 700 deer that roam the area. Emerald green hills with mountains in the distance make for indescribable scenes. When you are walking through, pause for a moment and enjoy the simple elegance of Glen Falloch.

Conic Hill

Rising from the West Highland Way is a little detour that will offer spectacular views over Loch Lomond. Conic Hill is a short summit that rises above Balmaha. This rocky slope does not take long to ascend, and you will be rewarded with stunning views of a glistening Loch Lomond. Once at the top, relax for a moment and breathe in the fresh Highland air.

Rannoch Moor

Rannoch Moor is considered to be one of the last wildernesses left in Europe. This massive stretch of land is crisscrossed by rivers, holds hidden bogs, has tiny lochan, and features rocky outcroppings. It is a challenging habitat that still supports a vast array of flora and fauna from the large roe deer to the tiniest of insects. Trekking through this area will make you feel as though you left the modern world far behind to discover new and uncharted lands.

Buachaille Etive Mor

Buachaille Etive Mor is one of Scotland’s beloved Munro peaks. It appears to be impossible to conquer, although many have, and it is one of the most photographed sites in Scotland. While hiking up this gorgeous mountain is not a part of your walking holiday, you will be able to revel in its beauty and join the list of countless others who have gotten the chance to photograph it.

Glencoe

Glencoe is considered Scotland’s most historic and romantic glen. It was here that the Harry Potter film, “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban,” was filmed. Glencoe’s incredible beauty definitely lives up to its Hollywood reputation. Cloud filled skies frame tall hills that slope down into what seems like an endless green wonderland. Sunbeams will shine down between the clouds to illuminate the glen’s vast beauty.

Glengoyne Distillery

Glengoyne Distillery is considered one of the most beautiful distilleries in all of Scotland. It all began in 1820 when the distillery, carefully hidden by a waterfall, was built. It wasn’t until 13 years later that it received its legal license and truly began its whisky legacy. This distillery and its founders certainly have a tumultuous history; they weathered a storm that destroyed their warehouses, experienced a tragic death after someone drank a dram too many, and lost a barrel off a lorry that made its way to the townspeople. The Glengoyne Distillery produces some of the finest whisky in the world but not without protecting the environment that has given them a place to thrive. In 2011, they planted 14,500 plants to help rejuvenate the wetlands and are continually trying to help the world around them!

Kinlochleven Village

This adventurous little town sits on the far east end of Loch Leven. Climbers and winter sports lovers come from around the world to practice at the Ice Factor sports centre for a realistic version of what it will be like out in the wild. From Kinlochleven, it is easy to hike out to the Steall Waterfall or climb Aonach Eagach. If you have had your fill of the great outdoors, head on down to the local brewery or charming restaurants for beer and good food.

Devil’s Staircase

As the story goes, the Devil’s Staircase was named by the soldiers who worked under General Wade during the road-building program that had to carry building materials up this challenging stretch of land. It was made famous, or maybe infamous in this case, by the workers of the Blackwater Dam who would walk to the pub in Kinlochleven and trade stories. The journey was always more difficult than expected, and the return trip was even worse, especially when intoxicated! This road will be no match for you, and once you reach the highest point, you will be rewarded with stunning views of the mountains and moors!

River Leven

The River Leven extends from Dumbarton to Balloch and was a backbone of the industrial revolution in Scotland. This river was primarily used by the textile industry; in the 1880s, 165 million yards of cloth and 20 million pounds of cotton were dyed and printed by harnessing the river’s power. Sadly, this caused damage to the river, but its power will never be tamed completely. As you walk along the river, you will notice how the environment has bounced back from the destruction. If you look carefully, you may see the local fauna thriving along its banks.

Loch Leven

Loch Leven is a haven for bird watchers as it has a very large population of breeding ducks, more than anywhere else in inland Europe. From the end of summer until spring, wildfowl flock here from hundred of miles away; there are thousands upon thousands of them that come to breed. It is not only home to ducks, but other animals as well. Otters, kingfishers, and even the white-tailed sea eagle take advantage of Loch Leven’s vast resources. Get out your binoculars because you never know what animal will swoop in unexpectedly.

Glen Nevis

Sitting at the foot of the highest mountain in the UK, Ben Nevis, is the captivating Glen Nevis. Flowing through the glen from the top of Ben Nevis is the short River Nevis; here you can watch the water bubble and swirl its way down the mountain to the sea below. Steall Falls is hidden in an impressive gorge where the water forcefully falls into the deep rock pools below. If you happen to think it looks quite familiar, you just might be onto something! This is where some scenes from the movie Braveheart were filmed. It looks just as amazing in person, huh?

Fort William

Known as the “Outdoor Capital of the UK,” Fort William is a fantastic destination to finish off your walking holiday. The world is your oyster here! You can try everything from sea angling to river paddling to learning to sail. Test your skills at one of the golf courses or take a bushcraft survival course! Delightful restaurants, adorable shops, and endless things to do will have you wanting to return to Fort William again and again. If you are not quite ready to leave the majesty of Scotland, you can dovetail into our walking trek from Fort William to Inverness.

non-walking activites

Scottish Munro Challenge

Ben Nevis, Ben Lomond, and Buachaille Etive Mor are a part of Scotland’s Munros, a list of mountains that are all over 914.4m in height. While it is not a part of your walking holiday, you can take some extra time afterwards or return later to take on the Scottish Munro Challenge. The challenge is to conquer all 282 of the mountains on this list, and it is known as “Munro bagging.” You can experience some of Scotland’s glorious scenery while checking each peak off the list!

Ice Factor

Try something new by visiting the Ice Factor National Ice Climbing Centre. This centre has the biggest indoor ice climbing walls in the world. It also features rocking climbing walls with over 135 different routes. If you are feeling extra daring, try their serial adventure course where you can leap from obstacle to obstacle while suspended high above the ground. This centre is not for the faint of heart and will surely get your blood racing!

Glencoe Mountain Resort Chair Lift

Do you want to get to the top of Glencoe without walking? Taking the chairlift is the easiest way to witness the stunning views. It only takes about 12 minutes to ascend the 670 meters to the top! You will have sweeping views of the Rannoch Moor, waterfalls, and Buachaille Etive Mor in the distance. Hike a little over a kilometre up the hill, and you will be rewarded with gorgeous views down into the Glen Etive. Just make sure to wear plenty of layers because the ride can be a bit chilly!

Canyoning

Are you an adrenaline junkie? What better way to get your adventure fix than by canyoning in the Scottish countryside? You can spend the day climbing, sliding, and splashing in the clear Scottish water with an epic view on all sides. There are a couple of tour companies available, and they will supply you with all the gear and training you could need, so it doesn’t matter if this is your first time or your tenth time!

Loch Lomond Cruise

Loch Lomond is the largest freshwater loch in Great Britain, and it’s lovely to explore it on a boat! Take a cruise of Loch Lomond to get a new perspective: from the centre looking out. Enjoy watching the water glisten while native animals take advantage of all that the lake has to offer. Stunning views will keep you on the edge of your seat, just make sure not to drop your camera overboard!

Buchanan Castle

Just outside of Drymen are the ruins of what was once an opulent castle. Initially, an older castle stood on the same grounds as that of Buchanan Castle, but it burned to the ground in 1852. The Buchanan castle was built by the 4th Duke of Montrose in 1855, atop the remains of the previous structure. Royals lived within the castle until 1925, until it was transformed into a hotel with a golf course. However, when World War II began the estate was again transformed, this time into a hospital. Hitler’s right-hand man, Rudolph Hess, was actually treated in the hospital in 1941. After the war, Buchanan Castle was used as a school for a short amount of time before being partially demolished and abandoned. Visiting the ruins now, one can see how Mother Nature’s creeping vines are slowly reclaiming this castle.

Water Sports in the Trossachs

The Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park has 22 lochs with some featuring water sports. Fishing, sailing, kayaking, snorkelling, angling, and more are all available here. If you are lucky, you may even be able to witness a race! Each loch has its own set of rules, so make sure to investigate which loch offers what before getting started.

Golfing

Test your skills on one of Scotland’s many golf courses! The Buchanan Castle Golf Course and the Strathendrick Golf Course are along the way if you would like to take an extra day to play or simply wake up early enough for a short round! See if you can drive like a pro and putt like a champ!

Overview

OVERVIEW

You can choose between our three route options, and regardless of which one you pick, you will get to traverse through many stunningly beautiful landscapes. You will walk alongside the glassy waters of Loch Lomond, witness breathtaking views from the top of Conic Hill, taste traditional Scottish single malt whisky at the Glengoyne Distillery, and revel in the towering glory of Ben Nevis. As you walk, you can take in everything that nature has to offer; you may be lucky enough to spot otters at the water’s edge or Golden Eagles overhead. During springtime, wildflowers will blanket the landscape in vivid blues, yellows, and reds, making it feel as though you have stepped into a painting.

Each night you will stay in a bed and breakfast or a three-star hotel staffed by locals. You will get to experience Scottish hospitality at its finest, for the Scots are truly friendly and will welcome you with open arms. Additionally, you will have many opportunities to try traditional Scottish cuisine. The local restaurants serve everything from authentic Scottish food that will warm your heart to more exotic dishes whose flavours will delight you.

This walking holiday will take you to a place where simplicity and natural beauty are the centre of each day. Leave the troubles of the modern world behind and take a journey through the captivating highlands of Scotland.

History

History

The West Highland Land, also known as Slighe na Gàidhealtachd an Iar in Gaelic, was Scotland’s first long-distance route and is one of the most popular long-distance trails in the UK.

The West Highland Way officially opened on October 6th, 1980, but it took almost two decades for this trail system to be completed. The idea of this long-distance trail came to be after the opening of the Pennine Way in England was met with great enthusiasm and garnered a lot of success. It took a substantial amount of work to finalise the route, get locals on board, and physically create the path itself. Now, over 85,000 people walk along the beautiful trails of the West Highland Way and over 30,000 of them traverse the full 154km long stretch.

Taking a step back in time, this stunning area has a rich and bloody history. This wild region was where Robert the Bruce, the Scottish king who freed Scotland from English rule, was defeated by the MacDougalls in an epic battle in 1306 near Tyndrum. However, this defeat did not stop Robert the Bruce, and in 1328, England acknowledged his reign and made peace via the Treaty of Northampton.

This bloody saga continued over 300 hundred years later with the Massacre of Glencoe. The story goes that all the clans’ chiefs had the choice to swear an oath of allegiance to King William III by January 1st, 1692. Chief Alexander MacDonald of Glencoe was late in his submission by 6 days, so an order was given to proceed with the massacre. The chief and many members of his clan died on that fateful day.

It wasn’t even a century later that the Jacobite uprising began. Many military roads were built in this region in order to help keep the Jacobite clans under control. Those roads combined with ancient transportation paths, communication routes, and cattle paths are what make up the West Highland Way today. The past may have been bloody, but it didn’t impact the inspiring beauty of the land. Battlefields and age-old wars can no longer be seen within this vivid landscape, but the history remains.

Flora & Fauna

Flora & Fauna

Walking the length of the West Highland Way will take you through a spectacular natural landscape that many species of plants and animals call home. If you happen to take your walking holiday in the Spring, you will be able to witness the plethora of brilliantly coloured wildflowers that dot the landscape. The bright blues of the Bluebells can be found blanketing the ground in wooded areas. Let your eyes wander over the pale yellow rattles, the golden buttercups, and the pinks of the red clovers. When passing ponds or bogs, you may also spot water lilies perched on top like floating plates. If you look carefully along the edges of the track, you will be able to see a variety of orchids including the early purple, the fragrant, the frog, and the rare greater butterfly orchid!

There are obviously more than just wildflowers throughout this lush landscape. Tall conifers and oaks create delightful shade in the summer heat. A variety of lichen including parmelion and usneion hang along these tremendous trees. Hidden among the shady areas you will find ferns peeking out. When you look over the moors, you will see the globe-flower, purple saxifrage, and roseroot.

Nestled in the beautiful landscape of the West Highland Way is a secret world of fascinating creatures. Butterflies can be seen flocking to the brightly coloured wildflowers in the Spring, and the endangered red squirrel can occasionally be seen scampering up an oak tree searching for food. Golden eagles, peregrine falcons, and buzzards soar high overhead, while osprey can be seen swooping down towards the water to catch fish.

As you traverse along the track, you may see the green garden tiger beetle scuttling out of the way or the distinctly coloured Redstarts hopping around. In addition to all the smaller creatures that call this place home, there are also larger mammals. There is a large population of red deer that will often stare at you as you pass by. You may also see feral goats relaxing on the shores of the loch; they are an invasive species that often cause significant environmental damage and are culled every few years to prevent long-lasting damage.

Midges are incredibly annoying and sadly very common along the trail; it is best to avoid large swarms of them. If you are lucky, you may witness Daubenton’s bat having them for dinner in the waning light of the evening.

As you approach Fort William, you can take in the sights of the coastal creatures. Otters, grey seals, dolphins, and whales play in the water while seabirds swoop overhead. Basking sharks and the rare leatherback turtle swim along the coast. Many tourists, adults and children alike, are attracted to the rock pools littering the beach where they can get up close and personal to small sea creatures. No matter where you are along the trail, there is always a lot to see. Keep your eyes open and your camera ready because you never know what lovely creature you might find along your path.

Local Cuisine

Local Cuisine

Scottish cuisine will warm your soul and put meat on your bones. This hearty style of cooking is steeped in tradition dating back centuries. Focused on locally-sourced products, the restaurants along the West Highland Way will delight you at every turn. Most menus will include steak pie, fish and chips, cranachan, haggis, porridge, black pudding, Scottish seafood, and other staples of Scottish life along with more common foods found throughout the rest of the world.

Fantoosh Nook

Fantoosh Nook Café is the place to go in Milngavie for delicious seafood. Their food is created with locally-sourced seafood selected by their fishmonger at Fantoosh Fish. Begin your meal with a Cullen skink and end with a caramelised pear, ricotta, and walnut pot. Their mains include traditional dishes like fish and chips and the more exotic Thai-style Shetland muscles. You will leave full and happy!

Garvie & Co

Garvie & Co is a restaurant, bar, and bakery all rolled in one; they will provide you with all you could ever want for an evening on the town. Stop by for a glass of wine, a craftsman beer, or a traditional whisky, or keep it simple and grab a pastry on your way by. If you are ready for a more traditional sit-down meal, make your way into their charming restaurant. Here you can try classic Scottish dishes like haggis, get a taste of the sea with their smoked haddock, or delight in their penne salsiccia. There is something for everyone on the menu, and it is a perfect place to share a meal with a friend or loved one.

Andiamo

Andiamo is a chic-yet-relaxed Italian bar and restaurant that serves traditional Italian cuisine with a contemporary twist. Add a bit of Scottish flair to your pizza by trying their Branzino acqua pizza made with sea bass or keep it old school with a lasagna al forno. Make sure to leave room for dessert because they have plenty of options to choose from like torta di formaggio, budino di caramello mou appiccicoso, and more!

Café Alba

Located in the city of Milngavie, Café Alba is open seven days a week. If you have the time, be sure to stop by for their restaurant-quality food at café prices. In 2018, they won the award for the Best Café in Scotland. Try one of their savoury egg dishes along with a creamy cappuccino for breakfast, one of their toasties for lunch, or a vegan burger for dinner. No matter when you visit, you will leave with a smile on your face.

Glengoyne Distillery

Glengoyne Distillery is considered one of the most beautiful distilleries in Scotland. What better way to enjoy tasting some fine Scottish whisky than with delightful accompaniments? This distillery features a variety of tours and masterclasses, a notable one being the whisky and chocolate tour. You will get to savour the rich flavours of whisky along with the handmade chocolate from Iain Burnett, the Highland Chocolatier. This experience will be the perfect treat at the end of a long day of walking.

The Drymen Inn

The Drymen Inn is a lovely location to relax in towards the end of a long day of walking. Start your meal off right by having dessert first. Their hot chocolate fudge cake and banoffee pie are to die for! If you are looking for something a bit more substantial, they have classic burgers, fish, and steak options that will fill you up. If you are feeling brave and want to dine like a true Scot, try their Gateau haggis starter!

Kingshouse Hotel Restaurant

You won’t have to travel far for this eatery, as the Kingshouse restaurant is located right within your accommodation. Be sure to take in the incredible 270-degree view of the Glencoe Valley before your food arrives! Start off with an Ailsa Craig goat cheese fondant or a Scottish charcuterie. Feast upon their Scrabster monkfish, estate venison loin, chicken in the heather, and other tasty dishes. Then end the evening with their rhubarb and apple flapjack crumble or dark chocolate churros!

The Real Food Café

The Real Food Café is focused on providing you quality food with excellent flavour. Join them for breakfast, elevenses, lunch, tea, dinner, and supper; they are open late into the evening. Try their award-winning fish and chips, delicious burgers, savoury sausages, or sample their vegetarian and vegan menu. End the meal with their famous rainbow cake or a freshly fried doughnut to make the experience extra sweet!

Chillers Bar & Grill

Open every day until 9:30pm, Chillers Bar & Grill is a great place to go for fun and food! This comfortable restaurant will warm you right up after a long day out in the elements. Seasonal menu options prepared with high-quality local produce accompanied by traditional malt whisky is the perfect way to end the day. If you are feeling up for a challenge, this location also sports one of the world’s top ten climbing centres! Try your hand at rock climbing or just head on over to the Ice Factor café to hear the stories of those who did it!

The Bothy Bar

The Bothy Bar, located within the MacDonald Hotel, is an excellent place to relax and socialise. Start the night off at the pool table, with a board game, or by watching the sports channel on the big screen. Enjoy their homemade burgers, loaded potato skins, and other homey dishes with a tall pint of beer. This location is excellent for hanging out with old friends or making new ones!

Lochleven Seafood Café

Lochleven Seafood Café is all about bringing the sea right to your table. Large windows provide epic views of the sea loch and mountains in the distance. Additionally, the restaurant has its own fishing boats that catch shellfish to be served fresh for your enjoyment. Taste a variety of shellfish from lobster to mussels to scallops, you will definitely get the true feeling of being one with the sea.

The Grog & Grill

The Grog & Grill is one of the most popular restaurants in all of Fort William. This joint has everything you could ever want. From morning till night, you can order from their Alehouse menu. Here you can find the perfect light snack or hearty meal to fill your belly. Once evening rolls around, try their restaurant menu which features everything from nachos to steak to Cajun food. You will want for nothing after an evening here. Plus, it is an absolute must to try one of their regionally brewed ales or classy whiskies.

Crannog

Make your way over to this red-roofed restaurant to experience the best seafood that Scotland has to offer. Overlooking Loch Linnhe, right on the Fort William town pier, Crannog has everything from salmon to hake. If you are not a seafood lover, no problem! They also serve roasted turkey, rib-eye steaks, and meat pies. Just make sure to leave room for their cherry chocolate torte with cherry Chantilly cream to finish off the night in style.

The Lime Tree

The Lime Tree is an award-winning restaurant that prides itself on creating delicious meals from fresh and seasonal locally-sourced products. Curious about haggis but don’t want to try the real thing? Try their vegetarian haggis instead! You can also taste their beautifully made aubergine parmigiana, highland venison, or Lasg bree. The kitchen even serves a tiny taster course similar to an amuse-bouche that will give you a sneak peek into Scottish cuisine.

ACCOMMODATION

ACCOMMODATION

Along your walking holiday, you will stay in 3-star hotels, bed and breakfasts, and guesthouses. These charming accommodations are run by local Scottish people who are incredibly kind and love welcoming walkers. Located along the West Highland Way, each accommodation was carefully chosen to provide you with a comfortable and memorable stay. Below are some of the typical hotels that we stay in along the West Highland Way.

Braeside Bed & Breakfast

Braeside Bed & Breakfast, located in the quaint city of Drymen, provides a charming end to the first day of your walking holiday. While this accommodation is little, it is full of heart. The owners greatly enjoy walkers who pass through and are always waiting with a smile. You can book one of their twin rooms on the top floor, the double room on the bottom floor, or the detached garden room. Comfortable and relaxing, these rooms will be just what you need to wind down at the end of the day. With its convenient location in the heart of Drymen, you can easily access all the wonders that this town has to offer.

Kingshouse Hotel

The Kingshouse Hotel is a luxurious stop along your walking holiday. Here, incredible views will inspire your next day of walking. You can book one of their standard or signature rooms. Standard rooms feature a king-sized bed or twin beds, cosy amenities, and plenty of space to relax. If you would like to upgrade, you can marvel at the gorgeous Glencoe landscape from the signature rooms’ private terraces. These extra-large rooms can sleep four adults and are perfect for those adventuring as a group. Lastly, you could take on a true backpacker’s lifestyle and stay in the bunkhouse. Here you will sleep in a bunkroom, socialise with new people, and save money! When you get hungry, you can partake in the fantastic meals and drinks provided by the hotel’s restaurant and bar.

Allt-na-Leven Guest House

Nestled in the centre of Kinlochleven Village is the award-winning guesthouse, Allt-na-Leven. This delightful guesthouse was once the village store but has been recently renovated in order to provide a quality and comfortable stay for its patrons. Each room contains en-suite bathrooms with high-end, thermostatic showers as well as highly comfortable beds. Drying facilities available for wet clothes, free use of DVDs, and an optional laundry service make this guesthouse a great option for weary travellers. When morning arrives, you can choose between a traditional Scottish breakfast or an extensive continental breakfast; either way, you won’t leave hungry!

Myrtle Bank Guest House

On the south side of Fort William is the Myrtle Bank Guest House. This guesthouse was originally built in the 1890s as a Victorian villa. Over time, it has been transformed into a delightful guesthouse, perfect for the end of your journey. Stunning views of the lochs and the colourful gardens can be seen from many of the rooms. Myrtle Bank offers a variety of room choices as well as a vegetarian, continental, or Scottish breakfast in the morning to ensure you have all the energy necessary to enjoy the beautiful city of Fort William.

Transport

Transport

As a part of your tour package with us, we will transfer your main luggage between accommodations. Therefore, you will only have to wear light daypacks as you enjoy your walking holiday. However, it is your responsibility to manage how you will arrive at the first city and how you will depart from the final destination. We have listed some suggestions below, and additionally we can arrange a private transfer at your request. If you have any questions, please feel free to get in contact with your service representative; after doing so, we will happily guide you through your best options.

If you are travelling from outside of Scotland and the UK, you can find arrival and departure flights in Glasgow. Glasgow has a variety of flights connecting to Europe and other regions of the world.

If you are travelling from within Scotland or the UK, there are a variety of bus and train lines that will connect you to and from Glasgow.

1. Arrive in Milngavie

From Glasgow Airport:
If you are flying into Glasgow Airport, it is easy to complete onward travel to the starting point of Milngavie. From Glasgow Airport, it will take about 15 minutes to take the 500 Airport Express bus to the Waterloo Lane Station. From there, walk into the Glasgow Central Station and take the ScotRail train to Milngavie; this ride will take about 25 minutes.

From Glasgow Central Station:
If you are taking a bus or train from another city within the UK, make sure to transfer to Glasgow Central Station. From here, you can take the 25-minute ride, via the ScotRail train, to Milngavie.

2. Depart from Fort William

To Glasgow:
Glasgow Central Station and Glasgow Queen Street Station are the primary transfer locations for other towns in the UK such as Edinburgh, Kilmarnock, and others further south. From Fort William, you can take the ScotRail train to either station depending on your final location. If you wish to transfer to the airport, you can take the 500 Airport Express.

To Inverness:
If you would like to see the beautiful city of Inverness, you have two options. First, you can take another walking holiday! We offer a walking holiday along the gorgeous Great Glen Way from Fort William to Inverness. It is a fantastic way to dovetail from one adventure to the next and explore more of Scotland. Another option would be to take the 919 bus from the Fort William Bus Station to the Farraline Park Bus Station in Inverness, taking approximately two hours.

climate/weather

climate/weather

The best time of year to traverse the West Highland Way is from April to October. In spring, the temperatures can reach 10 C during the day and drop down to 1.5 C in the evening. June through September is considered the warm season with average high temperatures ranging from 10.5 C to 18 C. With fall comes cooler weather along the trail; the temperature usually remains around 4 C during the day and can drop below freezing at night.

Rain and clouds are a part of the daily life in the highlands of Scotland. Throughout the year, there is a good chance that it could be overcast with rain showers. April through October is the clearest part of the year with the sky being clear or partly cloudy 47% of the time.

We couldn’t have the beautiful green colours of Scotland without frequent rain. From April to October, the chance of rain ranges from 31% in early spring and increases over summer and into fall; by October there is a 50% daily chance of precipitation. It is always best to assume that you will encounter rain when visiting the West Highland Way and to prepare accordingly.

Terrain

Terrain

The West Highland Way runs 154 km from Milngavie to the coastal city of Fort William. This lovely trail will take you along wide tracks through the forest, over twisting trails in the moorland, on hillside paths, through wide-open fields, and into tiny hamlets and cities. The highest point along the track is the top of the Devil’s Staircase, which peaks at 548m. The majority of the trail is easy to navigate and clearly marked, making it simple to enjoy your journey along the West Highland Way.

when to walk

when to walk

The best time to visit the glorious West Highland Way is from April all the way through to the start of October. It is during this time that you can bask in the beauty of nature at its most accommodating point. Sunshine, stunning landscapes, and amazingly kind people will greet you along your journey. Lovely weather will dazzle you as you walk, and all of the local accommodations, restaurants, stores, and activities will be open.

walking fitness levels

walking fitness levels

The West Highland Way is not a gentle beginner’s walk. While the walk does not require technical skills, depending on the itinerary you choose, an adequate level of fitness is recommended based on the endurance level needed for strenuous walking. Walkers can traverse up to 20km per day with an ascent and descent of up to 500m.

Each walk is very well-marked and easy to navigate. Many of the paths are wide and are easy underfoot. You will walk along forest trails, on lochside paths, across moorlands, through remote glens, on vehicle tracks, and through towns and villages. There will be some road walking, mainly when arriving and departing from the towns and villages. You will likely meet many other walkers along the path, making it easy to find a hiking buddy if you so desire.

It is recommended that you have a moderately active lifestyle if you want to participate in this walk. You should maintain an exercise regimen of 2 to 3 times a week and be able to walk for multiple hours a day. If you are unsure of your level of fitness, consult with your doctor.

walking essentials

walking essentials

Your main piece of luggage will be transported for you each day as you walk, so when you arrive at your accommodation, it will be there waiting for you. You will only have to carry a light day pack with your essentials.

As with any journey, it is essential to be prepared for your self-guided walking holiday. While we will be transporting your luggage from accommodation to accommodation, you will still be carrying a lightweight day pack with you. Scotland is also known for being wet and rainy. Even in the middle of summer, it can get hit with poor weather, so it is best to be prepared. Here is what we suggest that you take with you each day:

  • Walking notes, map and a map case
  • Picnic lunch packed in an insulated container (when supplied)
  • Quality waterproof jacket with a hood
  • Warm jumper or jacket
  • Sunhat/Rainhat
  • Comfortable walking shoes or boots
  • Waterproof backpack cover
  • Sunscreen (at least 15 SPF+)
  • 1 to 2 litres of water
  • First aid kit
  • Toilet paper
  • Some money
  • Mobile phone (please note that reception is not available in all walk areas)
  • Personal insect repellent (highly important for midges), band-aids, and a small container of salt mixed with rice grains
  • Personal necessities (example: required medication)

Now that we have the essentials packed, it is time to think of any additional items that may be worth taking along with you. These items may include but are not limited to:

  • Waterproof over-trousers
  • Warm hat
  • Extra socks
  • Sunglasses
  • Camera (with an extra battery or SIM cards)
  • Binoculars
  • Notebook and pen
  • Matches
  • Small torch
  • Walking stick / walking poles
  • Additional snacks

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact our office and have a chat with our friendly team. We will happily advise you on what types of clothing, backpacks, boots, and other materials you may need for your walking holiday.

locations

locations

Milngavie

Milngavie (pronounced “mill-guy”) is the starting location for the West Highland Way. This little town boasts a wide array of outdoor attractions including the reservoir, Tannoch Loch, Lennox Park, Antonine Wall, Kilpatrick Hills, and Old Wives Lift & Cave. Arrive early before your walking holiday so you can explore all this town has to offer, like its charming restaurants, quaint shops, and cute cafes!

Mugdock Country Park

Covering a massive 260 hectares across the sweeping hills is Mugdock Country Park. This park is more than just a patch of grass. Locals and tourists alike gather here to walk, cycle, ride horses, and practice archery. During summer, the ranger service leads beloved environmental learning activities. Make sure to stop at the restaurant or bistro for lunch and check out the gift shop for a souvenir!

Loch Lomond

Loch Lomond is the largest freshwater loch in all of Great Britain. The West Highland way follows along the eastern edge of the loch. Here you can gaze over the glassy water to the 30 islands that call Loch Lomond home. There’s lots of wildlife to see; you may even witness birds of prey hunting along the water or little birds flitting about on the shore.

Trossachs

It was here that inspired Sir Walter Scott to write his international best-selling epic poem, The Lady of the Lake, about a girl who called this majestic location home. Due to the tale’s massive success, the area subsequently became a popular tourist destination for experiencing the romantic wonder of this spectacular landscape. For over 200 years, many have flocked to this beautiful national park, and now you will too! In addition to walking, you can take a loch cruise or shop at the centre on the southern shores. If you’re more actively inclined, there’s fishing, kayaking, canoeing, windsurfing, and even jet skiing!

Drymen

This little town used to be a popular resting point for Highland cattle drivers and is now a fantastic stopping point for the tired walkers of the West Highland Way. Visit the almost 250-year-old parish, the Buchanan Castle, the medieval motte, and The Clachan Inn to get a little taste of history. Take the time to walk around, pop into little shops, and try authentic Scottish cuisine at one of their locally-run restaurants.

Ben Lomond

While climbing Ben Lomond is not a part of your walking holiday, you will get to experience the incredible view of this majestic mountain as you traverse the West Highland Way. Make sure to get a few shots with your camera, because this mountain is ever-changing and will perpetually surprise you with its beauty.

Glen Falloch

Between the top of Loch Lomond and the quaint village of Crianlarich is Glen Falloch. It follows the River Falloch until the river dumps into Loch Lomond. This wild landscape is home to ancient woodlands and over 700 deer that roam the area. Emerald green hills with mountains in the distance make for indescribable scenes. When you are walking through, pause for a moment and enjoy the simple elegance of Glen Falloch.

Conic Hill

Rising from the West Highland Way is a little detour that will offer spectacular views over Loch Lomond. Conic Hill is a short summit that rises above Balmaha. This rocky slope does not take long to ascend, and you will be rewarded with stunning views of a glistening Loch Lomond. Once at the top, relax for a moment and breathe in the fresh Highland air.

Rannoch Moor

Rannoch Moor is considered to be one of the last wildernesses left in Europe. This massive stretch of land is crisscrossed by rivers, holds hidden bogs, has tiny lochan, and features rocky outcroppings. It is a challenging habitat that still supports a vast array of flora and fauna from the large roe deer to the tiniest of insects. Trekking through this area will make you feel as though you left the modern world far behind to discover new and uncharted lands.

Buachaille Etive Mor

Buachaille Etive Mor is one of Scotland’s beloved Munro peaks. It appears to be impossible to conquer, although many have, and it is one of the most photographed sites in Scotland. While hiking up this gorgeous mountain is not a part of your walking holiday, you will be able to revel in its beauty and join the list of countless others who have gotten the chance to photograph it.

Glencoe

Glencoe is considered Scotland’s most historic and romantic glen. It was here that the Harry Potter film, “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban,” was filmed. Glencoe’s incredible beauty definitely lives up to its Hollywood reputation. Cloud filled skies frame tall hills that slope down into what seems like an endless green wonderland. Sunbeams will shine down between the clouds to illuminate the glen’s vast beauty.

Glengoyne Distillery

Glengoyne Distillery is considered one of the most beautiful distilleries in all of Scotland. It all began in 1820 when the distillery, carefully hidden by a waterfall, was built. It wasn’t until 13 years later that it received its legal license and truly began its whisky legacy. This distillery and its founders certainly have a tumultuous history; they weathered a storm that destroyed their warehouses, experienced a tragic death after someone drank a dram too many, and lost a barrel off a lorry that made its way to the townspeople. The Glengoyne Distillery produces some of the finest whisky in the world but not without protecting the environment that has given them a place to thrive. In 2011, they planted 14,500 plants to help rejuvenate the wetlands and are continually trying to help the world around them!

Kinlochleven Village

This adventurous little town sits on the far east end of Loch Leven. Climbers and winter sports lovers come from around the world to practice at the Ice Factor sports centre for a realistic version of what it will be like out in the wild. From Kinlochleven, it is easy to hike out to the Steall Waterfall or climb Aonach Eagach. If you have had your fill of the great outdoors, head on down to the local brewery or charming restaurants for beer and good food.

Devil’s Staircase

As the story goes, the Devil’s Staircase was named by the soldiers who worked under General Wade during the road-building program that had to carry building materials up this challenging stretch of land. It was made famous, or maybe infamous in this case, by the workers of the Blackwater Dam who would walk to the pub in Kinlochleven and trade stories. The journey was always more difficult than expected, and the return trip was even worse, especially when intoxicated! This road will be no match for you, and once you reach the highest point, you will be rewarded with stunning views of the mountains and moors!

River Leven

The River Leven extends from Dumbarton to Balloch and was a backbone of the industrial revolution in Scotland. This river was primarily used by the textile industry; in the 1880s, 165 million yards of cloth and 20 million pounds of cotton were dyed and printed by harnessing the river’s power. Sadly, this caused damage to the river, but its power will never be tamed completely. As you walk along the river, you will notice how the environment has bounced back from the destruction. If you look carefully, you may see the local fauna thriving along its banks.

Loch Leven

Loch Leven is a haven for bird watchers as it has a very large population of breeding ducks, more than anywhere else in inland Europe. From the end of summer until spring, wildfowl flock here from hundred of miles away; there are thousands upon thousands of them that come to breed. It is not only home to ducks, but other animals as well. Otters, kingfishers, and even the white-tailed sea eagle take advantage of Loch Leven’s vast resources. Get out your binoculars because you never know what animal will swoop in unexpectedly.

Glen Nevis

Sitting at the foot of the highest mountain in the UK, Ben Nevis, is the captivating Glen Nevis. Flowing through the glen from the top of Ben Nevis is the short River Nevis; here you can watch the water bubble and swirl its way down the mountain to the sea below. Steall Falls is hidden in an impressive gorge where the water forcefully falls into the deep rock pools below. If you happen to think it looks quite familiar, you just might be onto something! This is where some scenes from the movie Braveheart were filmed. It looks just as amazing in person, huh?

Fort William

Known as the “Outdoor Capital of the UK,” Fort William is a fantastic destination to finish off your walking holiday. The world is your oyster here! You can try everything from sea angling to river paddling to learning to sail. Test your skills at one of the golf courses or take a bushcraft survival course! Delightful restaurants, adorable shops, and endless things to do will have you wanting to return to Fort William again and again. If you are not quite ready to leave the majesty of Scotland, you can dovetail into our walking trek from Fort William to Inverness.

non-walking activites

non-walking activites

Scottish Munro Challenge

Ben Nevis, Ben Lomond, and Buachaille Etive Mor are a part of Scotland’s Munros, a list of mountains that are all over 914.4m in height. While it is not a part of your walking holiday, you can take some extra time afterwards or return later to take on the Scottish Munro Challenge. The challenge is to conquer all 282 of the mountains on this list, and it is known as “Munro bagging.” You can experience some of Scotland’s glorious scenery while checking each peak off the list!

Ice Factor

Try something new by visiting the Ice Factor National Ice Climbing Centre. This centre has the biggest indoor ice climbing walls in the world. It also features rocking climbing walls with over 135 different routes. If you are feeling extra daring, try their serial adventure course where you can leap from obstacle to obstacle while suspended high above the ground. This centre is not for the faint of heart and will surely get your blood racing!

Glencoe Mountain Resort Chair Lift

Do you want to get to the top of Glencoe without walking? Taking the chairlift is the easiest way to witness the stunning views. It only takes about 12 minutes to ascend the 670 meters to the top! You will have sweeping views of the Rannoch Moor, waterfalls, and Buachaille Etive Mor in the distance. Hike a little over a kilometre up the hill, and you will be rewarded with gorgeous views down into the Glen Etive. Just make sure to wear plenty of layers because the ride can be a bit chilly!

Canyoning

Are you an adrenaline junkie? What better way to get your adventure fix than by canyoning in the Scottish countryside? You can spend the day climbing, sliding, and splashing in the clear Scottish water with an epic view on all sides. There are a couple of tour companies available, and they will supply you with all the gear and training you could need, so it doesn’t matter if this is your first time or your tenth time!

Loch Lomond Cruise

Loch Lomond is the largest freshwater loch in Great Britain, and it’s lovely to explore it on a boat! Take a cruise of Loch Lomond to get a new perspective: from the centre looking out. Enjoy watching the water glisten while native animals take advantage of all that the lake has to offer. Stunning views will keep you on the edge of your seat, just make sure not to drop your camera overboard!

Buchanan Castle

Just outside of Drymen are the ruins of what was once an opulent castle. Initially, an older castle stood on the same grounds as that of Buchanan Castle, but it burned to the ground in 1852. The Buchanan castle was built by the 4th Duke of Montrose in 1855, atop the remains of the previous structure. Royals lived within the castle until 1925, until it was transformed into a hotel with a golf course. However, when World War II began the estate was again transformed, this time into a hospital. Hitler’s right-hand man, Rudolph Hess, was actually treated in the hospital in 1941. After the war, Buchanan Castle was used as a school for a short amount of time before being partially demolished and abandoned. Visiting the ruins now, one can see how Mother Nature’s creeping vines are slowly reclaiming this castle.

Water Sports in the Trossachs

The Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park has 22 lochs with some featuring water sports. Fishing, sailing, kayaking, snorkelling, angling, and more are all available here. If you are lucky, you may even be able to witness a race! Each loch has its own set of rules, so make sure to investigate which loch offers what before getting started.

Golfing

Test your skills on one of Scotland’s many golf courses! The Buchanan Castle Golf Course and the Strathendrick Golf Course are along the way if you would like to take an extra day to play or simply wake up early enough for a short round! See if you can drive like a pro and putt like a champ!

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