(96 miles, 5/8 days)
The West Highland Way is the first official Long Distant footpath in Scotland. The route takes you from the granite obelisk in Milngavie on the northern outskirts of Glasgow, up the shores of Loch Lomond before it crosses in to the more rugged lands of the Highlands. Here the walk becomes a little more difficult as it passes the higher lands between Tyndrum and on to Rannoch Moor before the final steep valley passes brings you down to the finish at the capital of the Highlands, Fort William. The West Highland Way is very clearly marked and the route makes use of old railway tracks and drovers road so the route is never overly difficult. However for those who are not used to the particular challenges of Scottish Highland walking then the 2nd half of the route becomes very demanding. The walk is usually taken from south to north as ‘it gets better’ at every step but revering the walk causes no difficulties.
Much of the pleasure of Long Distance Paths is not sticking rigidly to the route. In the case of the West Highland Way this is certainly true with so many splendid mountains nearby. Ben Lomond, Beinn Dothaidh, the Corbett above the Kingshouse and the Munros of the Mamores are all worthwhile detours in half decent weather; in the rain sticking to the route makes more sense.
Suitable for: This is one of the shorter long distance paths and the first few days are on easy, lowland terrain so for those wanting a first Long Distance Walk there is no better than the West Highland Way.
The 5 maps below run from South at Glasgow to north at Fort William as this is the route that most walkers tend to take. There are some distance information below the relevant map.
Milngavie to Balmaha 20 miles
Balmaha to Inversnaid 14 miles
Inversnaid to Tyndrum 19 miles
Tyndrum to Kingshouse 19 miles
Kingshouse to Kinlochleven 9 miles
Kinlochleven to Fort William 16 miles
Maps Required (from south to north): O/S 1.25,000. 347, 364, 377, 384, 392
Places to Stay
The West Highland Way is well organized and popular but the reports I have read all suggest that finding a B & B is fine in the first half of the walk but from Tyndrum pre-booking the hotel or bunkhouse at the Kingshouse is advisable. Kinlochleven should be fine but it all depends if you are a worrier or not! Booking ahead relieves the tension of finding somewhere, however it also puts the pressure on performing to schedule. If your back can take it a tent is the most relaxing plan.