Exploring the Wonders of the West Highland Way: A 96-Mile Hiking Adventure
Exploring the Wonders of the West Highland Way: A 96-Mile Hiking Adventure

Exploring the Wonders of the West Highland Way: A 96-Mile Hiking Adventure

Experience the breathtaking landscapes, challenging terrains, and rich history of Scotland’s West Highland Way.

Are you ready for an unforgettable hiking adventure through some of Scotland‘s most stunning landscapes? Look no further than the West Highland Way, a 96-mile long-distance trail that winds its way through the rugged beauty of the Scottish Highlands. In this comprehensive guide, we will take you on a journey through this remarkable trail, providing insights into the country’s natural beauty, historical sites, and practical information to help you plan your own West Highland Way adventure.

Discovering the West Highland Way

An Overview of the Trail

The West Highland Way, often abbreviated as WHW, is Scotland’s first official long-distance walking trail, established in 1980. Stretching approximately 96 miles (154 kilometers), it takes hikers on a captivating journey from Milngavie, a suburb of Glasgow, to Fort William in the Highlands. This iconic trail traverses some of the most captivating landscapes Scotland has to offer, including lochs, glens, mountains, and moors.

The Route

The journey begins in Milngavie and gradually unfolds as you follow the trail markers, which are signposted with a thistle symbol. The route meanders through a diverse range of terrains, from well-maintained paths to rocky and challenging sections. Along the way, you’ll encounter picturesque villages, dense forests, and serene lochs, offering a wide array of experiences for hikers of all skill levels.

What Can You See?

1. Loch Lomond: One of the highlights of the West Highland Way is Loch Lomond, the largest freshwater lake in Great Britain. The trail skirts its eastern shores, providing mesmerizing views of the shimmering waters and surrounding mountains.

2. Rannoch Moor: As you progress, you’ll enter the hauntingly beautiful Rannoch Moor, a vast expanse of boggy moorland surrounded by mountains. This desolate yet captivating landscape is a unique feature of the West Highland Way.

3. Devil’s Staircase: Hikers will encounter the infamous Devil’s Staircase, a steep and challenging ascent that rewards with panoramic views of Glencoe and the surrounding peaks.

4. Ben Nevis: The grand finale of the trail is the ascent of Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in the British Isles. The sense of accomplishment when reaching the summit is unparalleled, with stunning vistas in every direction.

5. Historical Sites: Throughout the journey, you’ll come across historic sites, including old military roads, ruins of cottages, and ancient stone bridges, offering glimpses into the region’s rich history.

Difficulty and Duration

Hiking the West Highland Way is a remarkable experience, but it is not without its challenges. The trail varies in terrain, from well-trodden paths to rocky and uneven sections, making it suitable for hikers with different skill levels. However, it’s essential to be prepared for the physical demands of long-distance hiking, as you’ll be covering about 15 miles (24 kilometers) each day.

The duration of your hike can vary depending on your pace and stops along the way. Most hikers complete the West Highland Way in 7-8 days, allowing for a comfortable and enjoyable experience. However, some ambitious trekkers complete it in as little as 5 days, while others take a more leisurely approach over 10-14 days.

Preparing for Your West Highland Way Adventure

How to Get There

1. Travel to Glasgow: Your journey begins in the city of Glasgow, Scotland’s largest metropolis. Glasgow is well-connected by air, train, and bus to major cities in the UK and Europe.

2. Milngavie: From Glasgow, you’ll travel to the starting point of the West Highland Way, Milngavie. It’s just a short train ride or bus journey from Glasgow’s city center.

3. Fort William: To return from Fort William at the end of your hike, you can take a train or bus back to Glasgow. The train journey from Fort William to Glasgow offers spectacular views of the Scottish countryside.


While the West Highland Way offers the opportunity for wild camping, many hikers prefer the comfort of established accommodations. You’ll find a range of options along the trail, including hotels, bed and breakfasts, hostels, and campgrounds. It’s advisable to book your accommodations in advance, especially during the peak hiking season.

Packing Essentials

1. Hiking Boots: Invest in a pair of comfortable and waterproof hiking boots that provide good ankle support.

2. Weather-Appropriate Clothing: Be prepared for Scotland’s ever-changing weather. Layered clothing, a waterproof jacket, and quick-drying pants are essential.

3. Backpack: Choose a sturdy backpack that can comfortably carry your essentials, including food, water, and extra clothing.

4. Navigation Tools: Carry a detailed map and compass or a GPS device to navigate the trail.

5. Food and Water: Plan your meals and carry enough food and water to last between stops, as some sections may not have immediate access to supplies.

6. First Aid Kit: A basic first aid kit is crucial for minor injuries and ailments on the trail.

7. Camping Gear: If you plan to camp, ensure you have a suitable tent, sleeping bag, and camping stove.

Permits and Regulations

While hiking the West Highland Way doesn’t require any special permits, it’s essential to follow the Leave No Trace principles to minimize your impact on the environment. Respect local regulations, especially regarding camping and campfires, and be considerate of fellow hikers and residents in the villages along the trail.

Planning Your West Highland Way Adventure

10-Day Itinerary

Day 1: Milngavie to Drymen (12 miles)

Your West Highland Way adventure begins in Milngavie, a suburb of Glasgow. The first leg takes you through lush greenery and woodlands, following the gentle slopes of the Campsie Fells. Your destination for the day is Drymen, a charming village situated on the eastern shore of Loch Lomond. The trail provides a gentle introduction to the beauty of the Scottish countryside.

Day 2: Drymen to Rowardennan (15 miles)

Leaving Drymen, you’ll make your way towards Rowardennan, hugging the eastern shores of Loch Lomond. This section offers spectacular views of the lake’s azure waters and the surrounding mountains. Keep an eye out for the impressive Ben Lomond, which dominates the landscape.

Day 3: Rowardennan to Inverarnan (14 miles)

Continuing along the shores of Loch Lomond, you’ll traverse through forests and meadows, occasionally encountering rocky and uneven terrain. The trail leads you to Inverarnan, a small village nestled amidst the picturesque landscape of the Scottish Highlands.

Day 4: Inverarnan to Tyndrum (12 miles)

Today’s hike takes you through the desolate yet mesmerizing Rannoch Moor, a vast expanse of moorland surrounded by mountains. As you cross the moor, you’ll encounter sections of boardwalk to help you navigate the boggy terrain. Your day concludes in Tyndrum, a village known for its historic gold mines.

Day 5: Tyndrum to Bridge of Orchy (7 miles)

A shorter day awaits, allowing you to recuperate and soak in the scenery. The trail from Tyndrum to Bridge of Orchy takes you through glens and moors, with the rugged beauty of the Highlands all around. Bridge of Orchy is a peaceful hamlet nestled amid this stunning landscape.

Day 6: Bridge of Orchy to Inveroran (7 miles)

Your journey continues through the enchanting wilderness of the Highlands. This shorter day’s hike offers a chance to appreciate the rugged beauty and solitude of the Scottish moors. Inveroran, your destination, is a remote and serene location, perfect for a peaceful evening.

Day 7: Inveroran to Kingshouse (7 miles)

Today’s hike leads you to Kingshouse, nestled at the foot of the Buachaille Etive Mòr, a striking mountain that dominates the skyline. You’ll cross the iconic Rannoch Moor once more, relishing the stark beauty of this unique landscape.

Day 8: Kingshouse to Kinlochleven (9 miles)

A challenging day awaits as you ascend the infamous Devil’s Staircase. This steep ascent rewards you with panoramic views of Glencoe and the surrounding peaks. Descending from the Devil’s Staircase, you’ll reach Kinlochleven, a village nestled beside Loch Leven, offering a well-deserved rest.

Day 9: Kinlochleven to Fort William (15 miles)

The grand finale of your West Highland Way adventure begins with a challenging ascent followed by a descent into Glen Nevis. Here, you’ll encounter lush forests, beautiful waterfalls, and the magnificent Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in the British Isles. Your journey concludes in Fort William, a bustling town situated on the shores of Loch Linnhe.

Day 10: Explore Fort William and Relax

Your final day is a chance to explore Fort William, a town surrounded by dramatic landscapes. Visit local attractions, savor delicious Scottish cuisine, or simply relax by the loch before concluding your West Highland Way adventure.

Best Time to Hike

The West Highland Way is accessible year-round, but the best time to hike it is during the late spring to early autumn months, roughly from May to September. During this period, the weather is more favorable, with longer daylight hours and milder temperatures. However, be prepared for occasional rain showers and unpredictable weather typical of the Scottish Highlands.

Safety Tips

Safety should be a top priority when hiking the West Highland Way. Here are some essential safety tips:

  • Check the Weather: Always check the weather forecast before starting your hike, and be prepared for sudden changes in weather.
  • Inform Someone: Let a friend or family member know your hiking plans and expected return time.
  • Stay Hydrated: Carry enough water and stay hydrated throughout your hike, as water sources can be limited in some sections.
  • Emergency Contacts: Save local emergency numbers and contacts in case you need assistance.
  • Wildlife Awareness: Be cautious of local wildlife, such as deer and sheep, and avoid disturbing them.


Embarking on the West Highland Way is an adventure that promises to leave you with unforgettable memories of Scotland’s natural beauty and rich history. Whether you’re an experienced hiker seeking a new challenge or a nature enthusiast looking for a unique way to explore the Highlands, this iconic trail has something to offer everyone.

So, lace up your hiking boots, pack your backpack, and get ready to embark on a 96-mile journey through some of the most breathtaking landscapes Scotland has to offer. The West Highland Way awaits, ready to enchant and inspire you with its rugged beauty and rich heritage.