The 96 miles West Highland Way stretches from Milngavie, Glasgow to Fort William, the route follows a mixture of cattle paths, old military roads, drover tracks while undulating alongside Loch Lomond, over moorland, and through forests. The West Highland Way is undoubtedly the most famous long distance hiking trail in Scotland and the most popular walking route of all the long distance routes.

Offering stunning scenery across the Scottish Highlands with ample support services along the route, the West Highland Way is one of my favourite multi-day hikes.

About 36,000 people complete the WHW each year. With only about 14,700 feet of elevation gain and loss, the West Highland Way is suitable for walkers of all abilities. The cosy hotels, B&Bs, guesthouses, and campsites along the route help ensure that everyone’s journey is both successful and special.

The West Highland Way doesn’t require a great deal of logistical experience or preparation, but there are still a few things you need to consider if you want to complete the entire West Highland Way.

This guide is based on my personal experience on the trail, and it contains everything you need to know when preparing for your West Highland Way adventure. One thing to note you don’t have to walk south to north. You can get a bus or the train from Glasgow to Fort William and walk south – but you will be in the minority and perhaps miss out on the friendships that are made along the West Highland Way.

Why Walk the WHW?

Mountain views on the WHW

There is a good reason why the West Highland Way became the first official long-distance trail in Scotland. It offers an excellent introduction to the Scottish Highlands.

Taking hikers through beautiful landscapes beneath Ben Lomond and later the gorgeous moorland of Rannoch Moor, past serene lochs such as Loch Leven and along the eastern shore of Loch Lomond, before reaching the foot of Britain’s highest mountain, Ben Nevis, via the majestic Glen Nevis, the West Highland Way offers a tremendous variety of hill walking.

The West Highland Way has enough challenges and ascents to inspire imagination, and, at the same time, it is within the capabilities of most walkers – there are not many steep climbs. If you are a particularly keen hiker, do know that Fort William is an excellent base for exploring the rest of the Western Highlands and it has some great hotels.

Like many hikers, I chose to climb Ben Nevis, the UK’s highest mountain, upon completing the trail. Alternatively, you can walk the unofficial East Highland Way or the Great Glen Way. If you’ve had enough of hiking, there’s still plenty you can do in Fort William and the surrounding area. For instance, you can ride the iconic Harry Potter steam train from Fort William to Mallaig.

Where is the West Highland Way?

The start of the west highland way

The West Highland Way begins in Milngavie, a suburb on the northern fringe of the conurbation of Glasgow. The easiest way to get there is via CityLink from either Edinburgh or Glasgow. It’s about a 25-minute ride from Glasgow Queen Street Station.

The train will drop you just a short walk from the start of the West Highland Way. There are clearly marked directions just outside Milngavie Train Station that will show you how to get to the start. For your return, the train, as well as many buses, are available from Fort William. The West Highland Line that runs from Mallaig to Glasgow is one of the most scenic train rides in the United Kingdom.

Most people choose to hike the West Highland Way from south to north. It’s easier to begin your adventure in Milngavie. It makes for better acclimation and the sun won’t be getting in your eyes all the time. You can hike the West Highland Way in the opposite direction, but completing the hike with the beautiful Ben Nevis range is much more rewarding than ending it with a bus ride from Milngavie to Glasgow. 🙂

The Best Time to Walk the West Highland Way

Any month during the hiking season can have anything from a downpour to a heatwave. That said—spring, early summer, or autumn is the best time to hike the West Highland Way.

The West Highland Way is most “crowded” from May to August. Now, when I say crowded, I am really only referring to accommodation and certain points along the trail. You won’t see that many people on the trail itself. Thanks to the winding route of the trail, fellow walkers quickly disappear behind the corner. This gives you the illusion of being alone on the trail. But, as soon as you reach the first rest stop or guest house, the illusion disappears.

And, you will see many tourists around popular attractions and in Fort William. If you plan on hiking the West Highland Way in the summer, you should book accommodation at least 3 months in advance.

Most people start walking the West Highland Way on a Saturday, so it’s best to pick some other day of the week to begin your walking holiday. This way, you will have an easier time finding a place to stay. If the lack of accommodation options makes it difficult for you to walk the WHW this year, there are still many other long-distance hiking trails in Scotland you can consider.

And, if you are coming from abroad, be prepared to face the infamous Highland midge. Midges are prevalent during the summer. I don’t think midges are as much of a nuisance as most people make them out to be. Yes, they are annoying and they like to bite, but they won’t bother you when you’re walking. They are not a good enough reason not to trekk the West Highland Way in summer. Just make sure to bring a midge repellent and a midge net. A regular mosquito net won’t work; it will let them right through.

The trail can get a bit hectic when there are some special events going on, such as the West Highland Way Challenge Race or the Altra West Highland Way Race. Most of these are in summer, but each lasts just a couple of days. Whether you want to participate in such events or avoid them altogether, it’s good to be informed about them. Check this post to find out more.

You won’t have to worry about midges or crowds if you walk the trail in spring. However, finding overnight accommodation over the Easter holidays can be difficult.

May has the most hours of sunshine and the least rainfall. But it is also one of the most popular months for waking the West Highland Way. The crowds and midges begin to subside come September. The trail looks exceptionally beautiful in autumn. Green fern and grass swap places with purple heather and orange bracken.

While the temperatures are usually very comfortable in September, it is very rainy. Moreover, the northern half of the trail leads through a treeless landscape and the open countryside, so you may have a hard time finding shelter from the rain. That said, I had a wonderful time walking the West Highland Way in September. But I made sure to pack the right waterproofs and layers for the whole journey. If you pack the right gear, you won’t need to worry about this either (more on this later on).

You can undoubtedly expect bad weather if you hike West Highland Way in March or October, but it is still doable.

Some experienced walkers choose to walk the West Highland Way in winter. But this is definitely something most of us shouldn’t even try. It’s not just that it’s a physical challenge, but many shops, hotels and campsites along the trail are closed during winter. Moreover, the sun sets around 4 PM and comes back around 8 AM.

How Long Does It Take to Walk the West Highland Way?

It took me 7 days to complete the entire West Highland Way (excluding rest days). Most walkers choose to split the WHW into 6 to 8 days. Don’t forget to add an arrival and departure day if you’re coming from abroad.

You will cover 12 miles per day on average if you opt for an 8-day itinerary. If you are not in a hurry, you can easily plan a two-week walking holiday along the West Highland Way.

There are many iconic attractions you can explore along the route, including the Glengoyne Distillery, Mugdock Castle, the Trossachs National Park, and the tranquil wooded isle of Inchcailloch. If you are up for a challenge, on the other hand, it’s possible to complete the entire West Highland Way in 5 days.

6-Day Itinerary

  • 1st Stage: Milngavie to Balhama — 19 miles
  • 2nd Stage: Balmaha to Rowardennan — 7 miles
  • 3rd Stage: Rowardennan to Inverarnan —13.5 miles
  • 4th Stage: Inverarnan to Bridge of Orchy — 19.5 miles
  • 5th Stage: Bridge of Orchy to Kinlochleven — 21.5 miles
  • 6th Stage: Kinlochleven to Fort William — 15 miles

7-Day Itinerary

  • 1st Stage: Milngavie to Drymen — 12 miles
  • 2nd Stage: Drymen to Rowardennan — 13.5 miles
  • 3rd Stage: Rowardennan to Inverarnan — 13.5 miles
  • 4th Stage: Inverarnan to Tyndrum — 13 miles
  • 5th Stage: Tyndrum to King’s House Hotel — 18.5 miles
  • 6th Stage: Kingshouse Hotel to Kinlochleven — 9 miles
  • 7th Stage: Kinlochleven to Fort William — 15 miles

8-Day Itinerary

  • 1st Stage: Milngavie to Drymen — 12 miles
  • 2nd Stage: Drymen to Rowardennan — 13.5 miles
  • 3rd Stage: Rowardennan to Inverarnan — 13.5 miles
  • 4th Stage: Inverarnan to Tyndrum — 13 miles
  • 5th Stage: Tyndrum to Inveroran or Bridge of Orchy — 8.5 or 6.5 miles
  • 6th Stage: Inveroran or Bridge of Orchy to Kingshouse Hotel — 9.5 to 11.5 miles
  • 7th Stage: Kingshouse Hotel to Kinlochleven— 9 miles
  • 8th Stage: Kinlochleven to Fort William — 15 miles

Budget

First, it’s important to note that most campgrounds, pubs, and smaller shops require cash. However, large supermarkets accept major credit cards.

How much you will spend mainly depends on two factors – where you will eat and where you will stay. Since there is a wide variety of accommodation options along the West Highland Way, you can hike on a shoestring budget or you can go all out.

The cheapest option on the West Highland Way is to wild camp and prepare your own meals. I was happy to spend more on warm meals, but I tried to keep my budget at a low level for accommodation. When I stayed in hostels, I paid between £14 and £30 ($20 and $42) per night. On average, I spent around £15 per meal in local pubs, including a pint. A night in a hotel, guest house, or B&B will cost you at least £75 ($106).

If you opt for the suggested itinerary, do know that booking a room at the Kingshouse Hotel can be quite pricey, over £300 ($425) per night. However, Kingshouse Hotel also has a bunkhouse, and they charge £35 ($50) for a bed.

One of my favourite campsites along the West Highland Way, the Glencoe Mountain Resort, is just a stone’s throw away from the Kingshouse Hotel, so that’s an option as well. Moreover, there are plenty of cheaper accommodation options in the nearby Glencoe Village.

Even though I didn’t spend the night at the Kingshouse Hotel, I stopped here for a meal and a drink. Many hikers say it’s their favourite eatery along the WHW, so it comes highly recommended.

If you want to use a luggage transfer service, it will cost you about £45 ($64) per bag for the entire trail.

Generally, campsites along the West Highland Way charge £10 ($15) per tent per night.

The cheapest way to get back to Edinburgh or Glasgow from Fort William is by bus. The same goes for getting from Edinburgh to Milngavie. A bus from Fort William to Glasgow costs only £20 ($28). The train is very scenic, so spending a bit more money on more comfortable transport should be well worth it. And you can save quite a lot if you buy your train tickets well in advance.

I bought a train ticket from Fort William to Glasgow 90 days in advance, and it cost me about £25 ($35) As you get closer to your departure date, the price increases significantly.

Camping

camping on the west highland way

Even though there are many great B&Bs and guest houses on the West Highland Way, I highly recommend camping. Waking up to fresh air and beautiful scenery is just one of the many benefits of sleeping in a tent on the WHW. When it comes to the WHW, finding a great place to pitch your tent is much easier than finding an available bed. The ability to pitch a tent whenever you feel like calling it a day is a huge plus on every multi-day hike. It’s the best option if you want to walk at your own pace.

Thanks to something called the Scottish Outdoor Access Code, Scotland has become a true campaign paradise. Wild camping in Scotland is perfectly legal in Scotland, although there are a few exceptions.

Between March and September, camping Byelaws operate within the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park. You can camp only with a camping permit or within designated campsites. As for the rest of the West Highland Way, there are no such obstacles.

You will also see many designated campgrounds along the route. There are a few free ones as well, but they generally offer just a few if any amenities. It’s still possible to use a luggage service when camping on the West Highland Way; many businesses will happily carry your tent.

Milngavie

The following campsites may be out of the way for some walkers, as they are a few miles past the starting point of the trail.

If you want to test your gear one last time before you start walking, the West Highland Way Campsite may be your best bet. You can pitch your own tent or stay in their well-appointed caravans and luxury safari tents.

Services at the West Highland Campsite:

  • Breakfast
  • WiFi
  • Electronics charging
  • Kitchen
  • Potable water
  • Hot showers
  • Toilets

Price per person: £25 ($35)

Nearby in Milngavie:

  • Bus and train connections
  • Pubs, cafes, restaurants
  • Outdoor trailer
  • Post office
  • Banks/ATMs
  • Pharmacy
  • Supermarkets
  • Taxi service

Drymen

About 1.5 miles from the town, there is a small campground surrounded by superb scenery. It’s also the only designated campground in the area that’s worth considering.

If this is not your cup of tea, there is a wild-camping area in Garadhban Forest further on.

There are no full grocery stores between Drymen and Tyndrom, so make sure to do some shopping while you are here.

Services at Drymen Camping:

  • Cooking area
  • Electronics charging
  • Dishwashing sink
  • Potable water
  • Hot showers
  • Toilets (bring your own TP!)

Price: £8 ($12)

Nearby in Drymen:

  • Taxi service
  • Bus connections
  • Health centre/dentist
  • Post office
  • ATM
  • Pubs, cafes, restaurants
  • Library (with free WiFi)
  • Grocery store

Rowardennan and the Loch Lomond Area

Rowardennan

There are many options for camping along the “bonnie banks” of Loch Lomond. The best ones are Sallochy Campsite, Cashel Caravan and Campsite, and Milarrochy Bay. All three campsites are located on the eastern shore of the loch.

I chose to stay at Sallochy, a semi-formal campground, and I highly recommend that you do the same. In terms of facilities, it is the most basic of the three campsites. However, it is secluded, serene, and incredibly beautiful.

Moreover, stage 3 of the West Highland Way is the most difficult stage of the entire route. You’ll have a head start for the day ahead if you make it all the way to Sallochy.

The Sallochy Campsite is operated by Forestry and Land Scotland and the rangers here are very friendly and helpful.

Keep in mind, wild camping is not permitted in Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park between March and September.

Services at Sallochy Campsite:

  • Firepit and firewood rentals
  • Sinks
  • Potable water
  • Composting toilets

Price: £7 ($10)

Note: You must make reservations in advance

Services at Cashel Caravan and Campsite:

  • Small shop
  • Laundry
  • Dishwashing area
  • Electronics charging
  • Hot showers
  • Potable Water
  • Toilets

Price per person: £9 – 15 ($13 – $21)

Services at Milarrochy Bay Campsite:

  • WiFi
  • Electronics charging
  • Small shop
  • Cooking area
  • Hot showers
  • Potable water
  • Toilets

Price per person: £7 – 10 ($10 – $14)

Nearby in Rowardennan:

  • Hostel with a basic shop
  • Hotel
  • Pub

Inverarnan

Beinglas Farm WHW

Beinglas Farm is the traditional stopping point for campers walking the West Highland Way. But, if you think that hiking all the way to Beinglas Farm might be too much, Doune Bothy is probably a better option for you.

Friendly staff, clean hot showers, and an opportunity to drink a cold beer after 9 hours of hiking are the main reasons why most of us loved camping at Beinglas Farm. But, I must also mention that this is the “most midgy” campsite along the West Highland Way, at least in my experience.

Doune Bothy is just a simple stone structure with a fireplace. Camping here is free.

If you find the challenging terrain of this stage to be too much for a day’s walk, you can pitch a tent in the camping area of Inversnaid Hotel or Inversnaid Bunkhouse and simply stay at Beinglas Farm the following night.

Services at Beinglas Farm:

  • Electronics charging
  • WiFi
  • Restaurant/bar
  • Laundry/facilities
  • Indoor cooking area
  • Hot showers
  • Potable water
  • Toilets

Price: £8 ($11)

Nearby in Inverarnan*

  • Transportation connections
  • Pub
  • Hotels

*If you would like to resupply at a proper supermarket, you can make a detour to Crianlarich.

Services at Inversnaid Hotel:

  • Bus connections
  • Restaurant/bar
  • WiFi (at the hotel bar)
  • Potable water (at the hotel bar)
  • Toilets (at the hotel bar)

Price: Free

Services at Inversnaid Bunkhouse:

  • Restaurant/bar
  • Electronics charging
  • Kitchen
  • Free WiFi
  • Hot showers
  • Potable water
  • Toilets

Price per person: £10 ($14)

Tyndrum

Tyndrum WHW

Near Tyndrum, there are three options for camping. The first one you’ll come across is Strathfillan Wigwams. It’s quiet, and the surroundings are spectacular. I didn’t pick this one because it is not very close to the services in town but I wish I did.

The next one is Pine Trees Caravan Park. It is considerably less scenic, quite big, and, unsurprisingly, dominated by caravans. On the plus side, it’s conveniently located in the centre of Tyndrum. I stayed here, even though it wasn’t my first choice.

Why? Well, my plan was to camp at the By the Way Hostel and Campground. But, there had been a significant amount of rain that day and they didn’t accept any campers because the ground was too water-logged. The hostel was fully booked, so I walked back to Pine Trees Caravan Park.

Even when the weather is good, By the Way Hostel and Campground only accept one or two-person tents.

Services at Strathfillan Wigwams:

  • WiFi (£3 for 24 hours)
  • Small shop
  • Electronics charging
  • Laundry
  • Indoor cooking area
  • Hot showers (£1)
  • Sinks
  • Potable water
  • Toilets

Price: £8 ($11)

Services at By The Way Hostel and Campground:

  • WiFi
  • Electronics charging
  • Kitchen
  • Indoor dishwashing area
  • Heated drying room
  • Laundry facilities
  • Hot showers
  • Potable water
  • Toilets

Services at Pine Trees Caravan Park and Camping:

  • WiFi
  • Electronics charging
  • Laundry facilities
  • Hot showers
  • Potable water
  • Toilets

Price per person: £10 ($14)

Nearby in Tyndrum*

  • Train station
  • ATM
  • Post office
  • Outdoor trailer
  • Supermarket

Make sure to stock up on food and supplies while you are here. You won’t see a proper shop along the West Highland Way again until you reach the final rest stop of your hiking adventure.

Bridge of Orchy

Bridge of Orchy

There is a free camping area across the bridge, past the hotel. Next to the entrance of the hotel, you will find potable water. This is pretty much it when it comes to facilities and amenities. There are no toilets, but you can use the hotel bathroom if you leave a donation on the tray by the bar or buy something at the bar/restaurant.

However, you can only use the hotel bathroom while the hotel bar is open. Your other option is the wooded area behind the campground. It’s not ideal, but you’ll be fine as long as you bring a trowel and a positive attitude.

Services at Bridge of Orchy:

  • Toilets (only when the hotel bar is open; only with purchase)
  • Potable water

Price: Free

Nearby in Bridge of Orchy:

  • Post office
  • Bus and train connections
  • Restaurant/bar

The Invernonan Hotel is three miles further down the route. It’s well worth considering if you are willing to extend this stage. The Hotel offers free camping. There’s also a restaurant on site and a water tap.

Kingshouse Hotel Glencoe

Kinghouse Hotel Glencoe on the West HIghland way

Depending on how much luxury you are looking for, you have two nice campgrounds along this section of the West Highland Way. Well, you’ll actually need to make a slight detour to reach the Glencoe Mountain Resort campground, but it’s well worth it.

Here, you can enjoy great, grassy pitches, and modern amenities. It’s also a nice place to hang out with other walkers. I liked it so much that I decided to spend an extra day here and unwind.

Considering that the following section of the route is a climb over the sinisterly named Devil’s Staircase, one of the toughest parts of the entire way, I advise all inexperienced hikers to do the same.

If free camping is what you are after, there’s an established wild camping area a bit further down the route, right next to the Kingshouse Hotel. You can use the public toilets behind the bunkhouse for free.

I didn’t camp here because I was told that level spots are hard to come by and that the campground can be a bit boggy. But I did have a nice lunch at the hotel restaurant, as mentioned.

Services at Glencoe Mountain Resort:

  • WiFi
  • Cafe/bar
  • Electronics charging
  • Hot showers (£1)
  • Potable water
  • Toilets

Price per person: £6 ($8.5)

Services at Kingshouse Hotel:

  • Restaurant/bar
  • Hot showers ((£1 for 5 minutes)
  • Potable water
  • Toilets

Price: Free

Nearby in Glencoe Village*

  • Medical centre
  • ATM
  • Small grocery store

Glencoe Village is about 9 miles away from the main walking route. However, there’s a bus that goes from Kingshouse Hostel to Glencoe. It runs every few hours.

Kinlochleven

near Kinlochleven WHW

When you get to Kinlochleven, you can pitch your tent next to the Blackwater Hostel or the MacDonald Hotel. Both areas are designated campgrounds.

I stayed at a B&Bs when I reached Kinlochleven, not because there’s anything wrong with these campsites, but because… well… because I earned it. This is the last rest stop on the West Highland Way, after all. It was the right call because I was well-rested for the steep climb out of the village—via the beautiful Glen Nevis.

Almost immediately upon entering Kinlochleven, the route passes the Blackwater Hostel. They only allow one or two-person tents. On the upside, reservations are not needed.

The MacDonald Hostel is at the far end of the village. Reservations are recommended during the busy season, and there are only 11 pitches. Moreover, they only allow one or two-person tents. From what I’ve heard, it’s still worth the extra walk. The views of Loch Lomond are spectacular and the staff is very friendly.

Services at Blackwater Hostel:

  • WiFi
  • Electronics charging
  • Drying room
  • Covered cooking area
  • Hot showers
  • Potable water
  • Toilets

Price per person: £10 ($14)

Services at MacDonald Hotel:

  • WiFi
  • Electronics charging
  • Restaurant/bar
  • Heated drying room
  • Indoor cooking area
  • Hot showers
  • Potable water
  • Toilets

Price per person: £10 ($14)

Nearby in Kinlochleven:

  • Taxi service
  • Bus connections
  • Library (with free WiFi)
  • Pubs, cafes, restaurants
  • Outdoor retailer
  • Post office
  • Supermarket

Fort William Glen Nevis

I treated myself to a real bed when I reached the end of the West Highland Way in Fort William. This time it was planned. But, this doesn’t mean that there aren’t options for hardcore campers in the area.

If you plan on climbing Ben Nevis upon completing the West Highland Way, camping at the Glen Nevis Caravan and Camping Park is the most convenient option. It’s located right next to the old military road that makes up the last section of the trail, just a couple of miles before Fort William.

Anna at the top of Ben Nevis
And, I managed to forget to get a photo of the two of us together…
Leslie at the Top of Ben Nevis
Still to go down, the hardest part.

Services at Glen Nevis Caravan and Camping Park:

  • WiFi (£5.00 per day)
  • Electronics charging
  • Small shop
  • Restaurant/bar
  • Dishwashing area
  • Laundry
  • Hot showers
  • Potable water
  • Toilets

Price: £10 ($14)

Fort William is a popular tourist centre, so you won’t have a hard time finding anything you might need.

Accommodation

As mentioned, I camped most nights when I hiked the West Highland Way. But I asked a few friends that I made along the way to help me put this list together.

Milngavie

Instead of starting their walk right away, many people choose to spend their first night in Milngavie. The Premier Inn Glasgow offers great value for the price. If you are looking for something higher-end, you can spend the night at West Highland Way Rooms.

Drymen

Drymen offers a choice of hotels and B&Bs. Ashbank Bed and Breakfast is great for those who are seeking a bit of luxury. It’s welcoming, clean, and you can expect a hearty breakfast.

If you are on a tight budget, consider staying at the Winnock Hotel. It’s not a particularly fancy place, but the location is great and there are many amenities, including a restaurant and bar on site.

Balmaha

This village on the eastern shore of Loch Lomond is an alternative stop on the West Highland Way. There aren’t many accommodation providers in this village. Some of the few include the Balmaha Bunkhouse/Hostel and the Oak Tree Inn (a bit pricey).

Rowardennan

There aren’t many accommodation options in Rowardennan either, as the village is a bit isolated. Budget-friendly options include the Ben Lomond Bunkhouse and the Rowardennan Lodge Youth Hostel.

The bunkhouse only has a couple of rooms and a communal kitchen. The hostel has a drying room, laundry facilities, and a self-catering kitchen. They also offer private rooms.

Rowardennan Hotel is the only high-end option in the area. This is a historic hotel located on the banks of the lake.

Inverarnan

Again, a small village, but it does offer a few accommodation options. On top of tent campsites and basic camping cabins, Beinglas Farm offers a variety of lodging options, including a lovely B&B. On site, you will find a small shop, a good restaurant, and laundry facilities.

There’s also the Drovers Inn, another popular historic hotel on the trail. Although I stayed at Beinglas Farms, a few fellow hikers told me they really liked the restaurant there. Full disclosure: They also told me that the place is haunted, though…

Tyndrum

Tyndrum is a great place to buy supplies and packed lunches. I highly recommend stopping at the Real Food Cafe. As for lodging, hikers rave about Glengarry House, a nice B&B located on the outskirts of the village.

There’s also the By the Way Hostel and Campsite. You will find a few well-maintained facilities here, including a communal kitchen and a drying room.

Inveroran

Some hikers choose to hike to Inveroran, an old coaching inn, instead of Bridge of Orchy. Rooms start at £52 per person, per night.

It’s a nice place to have a hot meal, a cup of tea, and grab a packed lunch. There’s also a drying room. If you don’t want to stay in the hotel, but still want to walk this route, there’s a camping area nearby.

Kingshouse Hotel Glencoe

As mentioned, the rooms at the Kingshouse Hotel are expensive. But most hikers come here for the amazing scenery, not the lodging. Again, you also have the option of staying in the bunkhouse or pitching a tent next to the hotel if you don’t want to rent a private room.

If there’s one place on the WHW you should treat yourself to a luxurious meal, this is it. There is a more casual pub next door if you are not interested in the hotel’s upscale restaurant. If you would rather spend the night in Glencoe, some of your options include the Glencoe Independent Hostel and the Glencoe Mountain Resort.

The Glencoe Mountain Resort has its own cafe; it’s also a great place to relax and swap stories with other hikers. You will need to bring your own sleeping bag if you want to stay at the Glencoe Mountain Resort as the accommodation is very basic.

Kinlochleven

In Kinlochleven, near the end of the West Highland Way, I decided to treat myself to a stay at a cosy B&B called Allengrange instead of sleeping in my tent. This B&B has a separate drying room for gear and clothing, and there’s a co-op supermarket and a few nice restaurants in the nearby village.

I’ve been told that the Blackwater Hostel in Kinlochleven is one of the best hostels along the WHW. It has a well-equipped communal kitchen and drying rooms. MacDonald Hotel and Cabins, located on the banks of Loch Leven, is another famous establishment along the trail.

Fort William

When you make it to Fort William, you won’t have a hard time finding accommodation that perfectly fits your budget and your needs (unless it is the holiday season). But, of all of the places to stay in Fort William, Fort William Backpackers and Myrtle Bank Guest House really stand out.

Fort William Backpackers is a welcoming hostel that boasts tons of quirky charm. Some of the features are a bit dated as it is set in a cosy historic house.

The hostel serves affordable continental breakfast. It also has a lovely communal kitchen. I was lucky enough to get the only twin room in the hostel.

Again, it’s best to book accommodation at least 3 months in advance, especially if you plan to walk the WHW during the busy season.

Difficulty and Preparation

In my opinion, the West Highland Way is one of the least challenging hikes of all Scotland’s Great Trails. It’s one of my favourite long distance walks because it offers some of the highest beauty-to-difficulty value.

But don’t expect a wall in the park, I’m not saying that it will be easy. The West Highland Way is still a long distance trail that crosses the remote wilderness of Rannoch Moor, so it still requires a great sense of determination and a reasonable level of fitness.

What I can guarantee is that you will enjoy the hike more if you start preparing on time. In the months leading up to your West Highland Way adventure, focus on building your aerobic endurance.

I recommend starting at least six months before your trip if you haven’t been doing any sort of “cardio” exercise. Longer bouts of running or should become a part of your regular routine. Increase the intensity and frequency of your exercises about three months before your trip.

To achieve ample leg strength for the West Highland Way, I started doing step-ups, lunges, and goblet squats. Doing three sets of each exercise, three times per week, helped me tremendously. Compared to my previous hikes, I had an easier time navigating steep ascents and descents.

Make sure to complete a few challenging day hikes in the weeks leading up to your West Highland Way adventure. Add as much weight to your pack as you can.

Navigation

The West Highland Way is a very well-marked trail. Still, you should be able to find your way in the wilderness without relying on signs – just in case. Bring a GPS device, a compass, and a map.

I highly recommend you get the West Highland Way Footprint Map or the Cirecone West Highland Way Map. The first one is more of a traditional map while the other includes the whole route in a pocket-sized book.

You can download GPS maps for offline use from the official website of the route.

What to Pack for the West Highland Way

The wrong footwear will cause an early end to your West Highland Way hike. When it comes to hiking holidays in the Scottish Highlands, A good pair of hiking boots is the most important piece of outdoor gear to bring. If you are buying new hiking shoes for the West Highland Way, make sure to break them in before you start your adventure. You should put at least 30 miles on them. This will help you avoid blisters on the trail.

To make sure your feet will stay warm and dry, pack several pairs of merino wool socks. Merino wool is quick-drying, moisture-wicking, and super comfortable.

You will also need a backpack with a hip belt and a rain cover. Rain covers are usually sold separately, although most newer models already include one.

It’s important to get the size right. If you plan on sleeping in hotels and guest houses or using a luggage transfer service, a 40L backpack will suffice. If not, you need a hiking pack with a volume between 45 and 60 litres. Just like hiking shoes, packs need to be broken in through use.

And, let’s not forget about those annoying midges. You will need a midge net and midge repellent.

On the West Highland Way, you may experience four seasons in one day. To make sure you’ll stay comfortable, bring layers for all types of weather.

When it comes to optional gear, trekking poles are always my first choice. If you are carrying a heavier load, you’ll be glad to have them on steep sections.

This is just the tip of the iceberg. I’ve created a comprehensive packing list for the West Highland Way. You can check it out here.

Self-Guided Walking Holidays

I love planning hiking holidays on my own; it’s part of the fun. But I understand why many hikers find it to be a pain in the neck. Even with online guides such as this one, it can be very time-consuming.

If you want to make it easier on yourself, consider booking a self-guided West Highland Way hiking tour. There are many local tour agencies that can plan and organize every step of your walking holiday. And, if something goes wrong, they will provide immediate support.

I can’t personally vouch for any travel company, but I do know that Wilderness Scotland has been named one of the best adventure travel companies by National Geographic and that they offer self-guided tours.

Self-guided tours have their downsides as well, the biggest one being that you don’t have full control over the places you’ll be staying at.

Guided Walking Holiday

Truth be told, I can’t come up with many good reasons why guided walking holidays are worth the money. Unless you absolutely refuse to learn how to read a map, you don’t really need a guide.

Guided tours are a good way of meeting people on the West Highland Way, sure. But, if you don’t happen to get along with your group—tough luck. You’re stuck with them for the rest of your hike.

Other FAQs About the West Highland Way

Can I Walk the West Highland Way With My Dog?

Yes, you can. If you adhere to the Outdoor Access Code for dog walking and keep your pet under proper control, the rangers won’t give you any trouble. That said, I think I can be too big of a hassle and that you may come to regret your decision very quickly.

You will encounter many different creatures along the route, such as feral goats, wild pigs, sheep, weasels, ponies, and hens. Unless you are absolutely sure that you can keep your dog under control in such situations, it’s best to find another companion for your walking holiday.

Moreover, the section over Conic Hill is closed for dog walkers during lambing. However, there is an alternative route you can take.

How Difficult Is It to Walk the West Highland Way As a Vegan?

While you won’t find that many satisfying vegan options along the trail, walking the WHW as a vegan is absolutely doable.

There are many places along the trail where you can stock up on fruit, veggies, hummus, bagels, and Trek bars. Moreover, many hostels and campsites have a kitchen area where you can prepare your own meals.

Most pubs and restaurants along the trail have at least one vegan option on the menu, while the Real Food Cafe in Tyndrum and Wetherspoon the Great Glen in Fort William have a separate vegan menu.

Is Walking the West Highland Way Solo a Good Idea?

The UK is one of the safest countries for solo female travel, and the West Highland Way is one of the most popular trails among solo travellers.

I had a lot of fun walking the WHW by myself, and I’ve befriended a few other solo walkers along the way.

If you can’t find a buddy for your walk, don’t worry. We’re a social bunch in Scotland. There’s a good chance you will meet a friendly fellow walker at each stop. Alternatively, you can do a callout in the West Highland Way Support Group on Facebook. Lastly, this is my list of the best places to eat.

Takeaway

There you have it, my comprehensive guide to the West Highland Way. If you would like to add a few tips, or if you think that I forgot to mention something, please leave a comment below.

Other long distance walking routes in Scotland

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