West Highland Way - Scotland
Country | Scotland
Distance | 154km / 97 miles
Route | Milngavie to Fort William
Duration | 5 – 8 Days
Official Website | https://www.westhighlandway.org/
The West Highland Way Info
The West Highland Way was the first marked out long distance hiking trail in Scotland, spanning 154km from Milngavie to Fort William. The trail is very popular during summer, with more than 70,000 hikers attempting every year. It gives you a great introduction to the Scottish Highlands and offers fantastic scenery.
The trail is mainly walked northbound, starting in Milngavie and typically takes between 5 to 8 days to complete. The more north you walk, the more scenic it gets. Walking between the mountains or glens in the valleys and along beautiful Loch Lomond, the West Highland Way offers something for everyone. During the walk you come across picturesque villages and landscapes. While society is never far away, you will still get the feeling of being in the mountains.
During the last section, Ben Nevis will show itself and you will get the option to climb the highest mountain in Scotland and Britain. At the finish in Fort William many options can be found to continue your journey. The most popular options are to walk the Great Glen Way or the East Highland Way. Some people choose to travel to the Scottish Islands from here.
The trail is well marked, but a map or guidebook is highly recommended. I used the official guidebook, but of course there are other options available on Amazon.
- Milngavie to Drymen: 12 miles/19 km
- Drymen to Rowardennan: 14 miles/22.5 km
- Rowardennan to Inverarnan: 14 miles/22.5 km
- Inverarnan to Tyndrum: 12 miles/19.5 km
- Tyndrum to Inveroran: 9 miles/14.5 km
- Inveroran to Kingshouse : 10 miles/16 km
- Kingshouse to Kinlochleven: 9 miles/ 14.5 km
- Kinlochleven to Fort William: 16 miles/24 km
Getting to and from the West Highland Way
The easiest way to get there is by public transport from Glasgow or Edinburgh. I usually take the train from Glasgow, which takes about 30min. Other options are to take a taxi or uber from the airport to Milngavie, which would be about 15min travel time.
From Fort William, both bus and train are an option. The bus takes about 3 hours and is the cheapest, whereas the train takes between 3 and 4 hours to get to Glasgow.
Travelling from outside the UK, the closest airport is Glasgow and the second is Edinburgh.
Checkout this website for your best itinerary.
Accommodation on the West Highland Way
In Scotland you are allowed to wild camp. Along the West Highland Way you will come across many beautiful camping spots. For more information on wild camping in Scotland, check out the Scottish Outdoor Access Code website.
Some might choose for a little bit more comfort and opt to stay at the official campsites, of which you have plenty of choice along the trail. Most campsites have a little shop for emergency supplies and some of them have a pub on site with great meals and drinks!
From South to North:
- West Highland Way Campsite
- Drymen Camping
- Milarrochy Bay Campsite
- Cashel Caravan and Campsite
- Sallochy Campsite
- Doune Bothy
- Beinglas Farm
- Strathfillan Wigwams
- Pine Trees Caravan Park and Camping
- By The Way Hostel & Campground
- Blackwater Hostel & Campground
- Glen Nevis Caravan and Camping Park
Hotels and hostels
Along the way there are a few campsites and small towns offering small camping supplies where you could potentially stock up. I would recommend tho to pack food for the whole trip with you if you are not planning to eat out.
There are many options to eat out on trail, such as the campsite restaurants and pubs.
Towns along the WHW with shop facilities:
As you might expect, there is no shortage of water sources along the way. Even though people might even say that it is safe to drink without filtering, I would still recommend filtering all water that comes from the trail.
Alternatively you will be able to buy/refill your water in town or at the campsites.
There are multiple companies that offer luggage transfer along the trail if you wish to.
“Of All the Paths You Take in Life, Make Sure a Few of Them are Dirt” – John Muir
This is the starting point of the West Highland Way at Milngavie.
The train from Glasgow only takes half an hour to get there. Once at the train station in Milngavie, it is only a short walk through the centre to get to the trailhead.
Milngavie has a supermarket and a small outdoor shop if you need to stock up on some last minute supplies. There are plenty of options to get one last meal/coffee before the trail.
One of my favourite sections along the trail is the stretch along Loch Lomond. The West Highland Way goes almost the full length of Loch Lomond, resulting in some amazing scenery.
If you are lucky and there is no wind, you will see some stunning reflections!
In good weather, you will get a chance to stop and go for a swim and you might be able to find a lonely beach for camping.
Me and my brother at the Northern Terminus of the trail just outside Fort William.
We felt so happy and fulfilled we made it. For me it was my third finish of the West Highland Way.
Unfortunately the weather wasn’t good, so we skipped Ben Nevis. Most people attempt to climb up from the last campsite on the trail.
From the terminus it is a short walk into Fort William. From here you can take on other hiking adventures or travel to the islands if you still have the time.
A great way to finish the trail is to try the local whisky 🙂
Most people walk from South to North, but both directions are perfectly possible.
Please be mindful and leave no trace, part of the Way is already a no camping zone due to some inconsiderate behaviour from wild campers in the past.
The scenery along the trail is absolutely stunning. Views like this are almost constant once you get into the highlands.
The trail goes mainly over these kind of pathways and there is almost no bitumen.
For the West Highland Way I do recommend some good rain gear. Please refer to my gear section if you would like some recommendations and for a full gear list of my walk.