I made it! I hiked the entire West Highland Way at the end of October. The whole 154 kilometers (96miles). I tried to draw in the route as well as possible. I guess that didn’t work out that well, haha.
We did the West Highland Way in 6 days, and that’s pretty well to manage.
Milngavie – Drymen
Milngavie is a little town near Glasgow. We took the train from Glasgow to Milngavie and started off there. This part was an easy one since it was the first day and only 20km. At the beginning of the Highlands, everything is still relatively flat.
Drymen – Rowardennan
It starts getting a little less flat. But in comparison to Switzerland probably everything is kind of flat to me, haha. This is an easy as well as a beautiful part too.
Rowardennan – Crianlarich
A total underestimated part of the WHW by many hikers. 31km a day is doable, but this part of the way goes mostly along Loch Lomond. During this part, you consistently go up and down along the rock bordering the lake. I think this section took us around 10 to 11 hours. In this stage, you’ll have to cross a waterfall which cascades in Loch Lomond.
Crianlarich – Inveroran
On this stage, you can enjoy plenty of scenic woodlands. After 10km you’ll approach some hills. Then you have to hike up Mam Carraigh which provides you with the most beautiful view on the entire WHW. So don’t miss to plan some time to stay up there and enjoy the view over Loch Tulla. Be aware of the fact that Inveroran is not a town but just a hotel out in the nowhere. There are no public connections from there. But there you’ll have the chance to meet some lovely deer!<3
Inveroran – Kinlochleven
The most significant part of this stage is the Devil’s Staircase which leads you to the top of Mhic Mhartuin.
Kinlochleven – Fort William
On this stage, you’ll pass plenty of old ruins and signs. On the last part of this section, Ben Nevis will be visible. Ben Nevis is the highest and most famous mountain in Scotland. At the end of your journey, you will finally arrive in Fort William. Don’t miss the statue of a seated traveler rubbing his sore foot, which marks the official end of the West Highland Way. It’s placed beside the Travelodge on an open square.
We usually left the hotel around 10 o’clock in the morning and arrived at our stay around 6 o’clock in the evening.
The way is mostly well maintained but watch out for wet and muddy spots.
I warmly recommend downloading the WHW App. It’s perfect for tracking where you are. You can choose between different variations of the West Highland Way regarding extents and stages. It shows you hotels, hostels, etc. and stores. On top of it, it gives you information to every part of the way, where it’s worth to stop and how many percents of the stage you’ve already done.
Nature is so, so beautiful and mystical. All the time I expected a dragon or a unicorn to come out of the woods. And I wouldn’t have been surprised if we would have met a fairy or another mythical creature.
Btw, check out all the pictures at the bottom of this post. You might be able to link them to the different stages, and they are just beautiful overall!;-)
We allowed ourselves the luxury of staying in hostels and even hotels instead of camping. The advantages of staying at a hotel are: Always having a prepared and comfortable bed, a shower, a water heater with coffee and tea and breakfast. Another one is you will have to carry less gear and food with you.
The price variates from facility to facility. The prices below are per night and person. As always it’s cheaper if you book in advance.
Through staying mostly at hotels we had the privilege to have a traditional British/Scottish breakfast every morning. Which means eggs, baked beans, toast with butter and tattie scones – which I liked a lot. Of course, there was also coffee and orange juice with it.<3
In hostels, there is always a kitchen for cooking. You just have to bring along your food or buy some. Sometimes breakfast is provided and included in the staying price as well.
How much someone will need for the way throughout the day, one has to figure out by himself. I am a foodie, so I stuffed myself at breakfast and took two huge bares of chocolate with proteins, three usual chocolate bars and a whole bag of brownies.<3
When it comes to packing, everyone considers something else substantial enough to carry it all the 154 kilometers. In my eyes the most important things to have with you are:
Before you go on the WHW make sure to go on a hike before with the hiking shoes you are going to wear on the WHW and the backpack with all the equipment.
Keep in mind to impregnate your hiking shoes – Scotland got a lot of rain for you! And by the way, the more the shoes are impregnated, the better they are at absorbing the water is a fact that’s just not true. #momknowseverything
Make sure to store all your electronic gadgets and chargers in a plastic bag to protect them from the humidity.
Plus have a coat for your backpack to protect everything from the rain in the first place.
When it comes to packing there is a simple rule for making your backpack as comfortable to carry as possible which is to pack the lighter things at the bottom and the heavier ones the top.
The weight of your backpack should be no more than 10% of your weight.
Overall less is more! I just took two sets of clothes with me, and I didn’t regret it at all. At sometimes I was convinced that I could have taken even less with me. So keep in mind: Less is more!😉
Therefore I took another pair of shoes with me for walking around in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Fort William and for flying.
There are two rules on how to adjust the backpack right:
Rule #1 – The weight needs to be carried on your hips.
Rule #2 – Two fingers space between the shoulder straps.
Oh, dear, where to start? On the way back from the airport home I was so exhausted. Exhausted of this big adventure, all the new impressions, and amazing experiences.
Despite having great talks with my wonderful friend, it was a fantastic experience to just realize how powerful nature is and the fact that every one of us is a little part of it. The human is exposed to the beauty and enormous destructive force.
While hiking, we inhaled the beauty of nature. At the same time the hurricane Ophelia, which destroyed a considerable area of Ireland, came to Scotland as a stiff breeze. This also caused the sun to be constantly orange for an entire day because ex-hurricane Ophelia carried Saharan sand.
I’d do it all again, with no doubt!!!<3
What would have been our hiking tour without a little trip to Loch Ness? – we thought. So we took a coach bus from Fort William to Drumnadrochit, the small town near Loch Ness. We visited the Urquhart Castle at the lake. For visiting the castle, you have to pay an entrance fee. But let’s be honest, my friend and I just jumped over the fence and acted like casual visitors. So much fun #youreallyonlyjustliveonce! We didn’t see Nessy though…