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.