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Hike Scotland’s most iconic long distance trail — West Highland Way

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Hike Scotland’s most iconic long distance trail — West Highland Way

Hiking Collection by Alex Foxfield

8-16

days

3-6 h

/ day

106 mi

11,575 ft

11,675 ft

The West Highland Way is an iconic long-distance trail that explores some of Scotland’s most enchanting landscapes, taking you from the outskirts of Glasgow to Fort William in the heart of the Scottish Highlands.

Across 96 miles (154 km), the trail takes you alongside tranquil lochs and crystal-clear rivers, into ancient woodland, through serene glens, beneath awe-inspiring mountains and deep into remote moorland. It is a land rich with wildlife, including golden eagles, peregrine falcons, wild goats, and red deer.

The trail, which was opened in 1980, was Scotland's first official long distance route and is now designated by Scottish Natural Heritage as one of Scotland's Great Trails. For good reason, too. With an ever-changing landscape, you encounter areas of immense peace, solitude and beauty, as well as vibrant villages and towns that always offer a friendly Highland welcome.

Most people opt to walk the route from south to north, as this Collection does. The standard itinerary is eight days, but more experienced walkers can cover it in four to six days. However, this is not a route to rush; it is a journey you should take time over; appreciating the landscape every step of the way. This Collection also features a couple of optional detours to the summits of Dumgoyne and Stob Mhic Mhartuin, as well as the Iron Age hillfort Dun Deardail, which aren’t part of the official route.
As the route passes through some extremely remote countryside, preparation is absolutely essential. Whilst shops are available at most of the stops, there are some lengthy sections that don’t offer the possibility of a resupply.

As well as ensuring you have adequate clothing and footwear for the conditions, make sure you have a map, compass, first aid kit, enough food and water for each stage, a torch with spare bulb and batteries and a whistle to summon assistance.
At the end of every stage, there is at least one form of accommodation and usually a few options. However, you may also choose to utilise the many designated camping spots along the way, or even stay in a bothy or two.

Wild camping is also allowed along most of the West Highland Way. The official website states: “Avoid causing problems for local people and land managers by not camping in enclosed fields of crops or farm animals and by keeping well away from buildings, roads or historic structures. Leave no trace by taking away all your litter, removing all traces of your tent pitch and of any open fire and not causing pollution. Please also note that within the Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park camping byelaws operate between March and September.”

See lochlomond-trossachs.org/things-to-do/camping/go-wild for more information about the byelaws.

If you plan to arrive by public transport, Milngavie is well served by regular train services from Glasgow and it’s simple enough to take the train back from Fort William to Milngavie or Glasgow.

If you want to arrive by car, there is free parking outside Milngavie railway station with CCTV coverage or you can park outside the police station. You should inform the police of your intentions and give them your registration number and emergency contact number. Some hotels in Milngavie and Fort William may allow you to leave your vehicle for a period, usually for a fee.

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West Highland Way

94.2 mi

8,575 ft

8,700 ft

Last updated: June 16, 2022

Plan your own version of this adventure in the multi-day planner based on the stages suggested in this Collection.

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Tours & Highlights

  • Map data © OpenStreetMap contributors

    Stage 1: Milngavie to Drymen — West Highland Way

    Difficult
    07:45
    16.7 mi
    2.2 mph
    1,900 ft
    1,975 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    The West Highland Way begins from the town of Milngavie. Before you set off on the 96-mile (154 km) route, it is worth topping-up on any supplies you might need.

    

    The first day is relatively flat and easy-going, aside from the optional detour shown here to the summit of Dumgoyne, giving you a nice warm

    by Alex Foxfield

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  • Difficult
    07:14
    15.7 mi
    2.2 mph
    1,850 ft
    1,850 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    This stage affords an utterly spellbinding hike into the hills and along the shores of Loch Lomond.

    

    From Drymen, you make a steady ascent northwest before a steep push to the summit of Conic Hill, where your climbing efforts are richly rewarded with breathtaking views over Loch Lomond, backed by the rugged

    by Alex Foxfield

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  • Difficult
    06:26
    14.0 mi
    2.2 mph
    1,000 ft
    1,025 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Sure-footedness, sturdy shoes and alpine experience required.

    This section of the West Highland Way affords a first taste of wild beauty that the route is renowned for.

    

    Taking you along the remote northern shores of Loch Lomond, where the water is 620 feet (189 m) deep in places, this section of the trail is home to birds of prey, including the golden eagle and

    by Alex Foxfield

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  • Difficult
    05:25
    12.2 mi
    2.3 mph
    1,350 ft
    675 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    After sauntering along the tranquil shores of Loch Lomond previously, day four begins to explore a new landscape of rugged mountains and serene glens.

    

    From Inverarnan, you make a gradual ascent past the beautiful Falls of Falloch; a cascading waterfall on the River Falloch with a plunge pool, if you are

    by Alex Foxfield

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  • Intermediate
    04:06
    9.06 mi
    2.2 mph
    925 ft
    1,075 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    This stage is a heavenly hike through the mountainous Bridge of Orchy region; rewarding you with awe-inspiring views of some Scottish giants.

    

    Before you leave Tyndrum, though, make sure you stock up on any supplies you might need, as the next shop is at Kinlochleven, 28 miles (45 km) further up the trail

    by Alex Foxfield

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  • Difficult
    05:28
    12.3 mi
    2.3 mph
    1,200 ft
    975 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    The trail rises gently from Inveroran to Rannoch Moor, a wild and wonderful part of the West Highland Way, crowned with the awesome spectacle of Buachaille Etive Mòr to finish things off.

    

    Hailed as one of the last great wildernesses of Europe, Rannoch Moor has an atmosphere you could chew. Bleak, yet

    by Alex Foxfield

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  • Difficult
    05:51
    9.86 mi
    1.7 mph
    1,575 ft
    2,325 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Sure-footedness, sturdy shoes and alpine experience required.

    The penultimate day of the West Highland Way takes you deep into mountainous glens and up to the highest point along the trail.

    

    From Kingshouse you ascend gently with glorious views of Buachaille Etive Mòr's pyramidal form before ascending the zig-zag path of the Devil’s Staircase.

    

    Reaching a height of

    by Alex Foxfield

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  • Difficult
    07:16
    15.9 mi
    2.2 mph
    1,850 ft
    1,800 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    The final stage of the West Highland Way begins with a very steep climb out of Kinlochleven which is guaranteed to blow away the cobwebs and get the blood pumping for Fort William.

    

    The challenging section ascends 700 feet (213 m) in one mile (1.5 km), before easing off and rewarding you with views back

    by Alex Foxfield

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Collection Stats

  • Tours
    8
  • Distance
    106 mi
  • Duration
    49:30 h
  • Elevation
    11,575 ft11,675 ft

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