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7-day West Highland Way

Bookatrekking.com Trips - 7 days

  • 7-day West Highland Way
  • 7 days / 6 nights
  • Difficulty: Medium
Overview
Route
What's Included
Accommodation
Packing List
FAQ
Safety
COVID-19
How to Book

Overview

> Complete the West Highland Way in 7 days
> Accommodation on the WHW is included
> Moderate route designed for hikers with some trekking experience

The West Highland Way is Scotland's most popular long-distance walking trail, quite possibly because it runs through some of the most iconic landscapes of the Scottish Highlands. The route is 96 miles long and runs from Milngavie to Fort William. On the way, you will walk through moorland, mountain passes, glens, and some of the most breathtaking landscapes in Scotland. 

The route is traditionally divided into 7 stages but you can arrange it depending on your fitness level and experience. We have prepared this moderate, 7-day trek for those trekkers who have some trekking experience and have a normal fitness level. The average walking time on this 7-day tour is 6,5 hours per day, so make sure that you are prepared for such a challenge.

Why book with us?

You can do the West Highland Way fully independent and self-guided. However, stringing an itinerary including all the accommodation together can be a complicated undertaking. Bookatrekking.com has warm contacts with the hotels on the WHW and we can take the load of having to book the accommodation yourself off your shoulders. Let us help you to make your West Highland Way memories stressfree and enjoy free hiking advice from our trekking experts while you're at it. 

Important: Availability in the hotels is limited and should be booked in advance. Get in touch with our Trekking Experts and inquire about the possibilities. 

Route

What's the plan?

Stage 1: Milngavie to Drymen

The trek from Milngavie to Drymen is a good warm-up for the rest of the West Highland Way route. The trail is relatively flat and is a nice introduction to the diverse landscapes you will encounter during the coming 96 miles. Along the way, you will encounter some smaller lochs and rivers as views open up to reveal the highland landscape beyond Drymen. The official route takes you around the village of Drymen and then Balmaha. Many walkers prefer to end this first day in Drymen or to at least stop for supplies and refreshments. 

Distance: 12 miles /19 km
Walking time: 5.5 hours

Stage 2: Drymen to Rowardennan

After leaving Drymen, rejoin the West Highland Way as it veers away from the A811 and towards Conic Hill.  The view from Conic Hill is breathtaking. Below, stretching across the famous Loch Lomond, there are a series of islands that mark the highland boundary fault, between the lowlands and the highlands of Scotland. You will then descend into the village of Balmaha. Here you can enjoy a hearty meal and refreshments and also learn about the region in the National Park Visitor Centre. If you want to explore a wider area along the route, you can also visit the island of Inchcailloch. This stage then continues along the shores of Loch Lomond. The trail takes you through ancient oak woodland and, on the way, you will pass three campsites: Cashel, Milarrochy, and Sallochy. You will finally reach Rowardennan, the ending point of this stage. 

Distance: 15 miles / 24 km
Walking time: 6 hours

Stage 3: Rowardennan to Inverarnan

This section guides you through the northern, more remote section of Loch Lomond. The terrain is challenging, but the wildness and soaring mountains are worth the effort. One of the highlights of today's stage is the breathtaking waterfall at Inversnaid. The West Highland Way route guides you over a footbridge over the waterfall as it cascades down into Loch Lomond.  Along this stage, you may well encounter some wild goats and catch a glimpse of magnificent birds of prey, like the Golden Eagle and the Osprey. Once in Inverarnan, you can visit the famous Drovers Inn and share a beer with fellow West Highland Way walkers. 

Distance: 14 miles / 22.5 km
Walking time: 6.5 hours

Stage 4: Inverarnan to Tyndrum

This stage takes you to a new and different landscape, one of soaring mountains and gentle glen walking. You will first follow the River Falloch, where you will catch glimpses of the cascades of the Falls of Falloch, up to the halfway point of this stage, Crianlarich. You can either skirt past the town, or you can walk into Crianlarich for refreshments. You will then continue your journey to Tyndrum, following the River Fillan across the valley floor. Once you reach Kirkton Farm, you’ll find the ruins of St Fillan’s Priory and its graveyard. Afterward, follow the River Cononish into Tyndrum. 

Distance: 12 miles / 19.5 km
Walking time: 5.5 hours

Stage 5: Tyndrum to Kingshouse

Important: make sure you have everything you need before leaving Tyndrum since there are no more shops until Kinlochleven, 28 miles away! This section of the West Highland Way offers unique views of the surrounding mountains. Soon after leaving Tyndrum, you will skirt the steep sides of Beinn Odhar and you will walk across the floor of the glen until you reach Bridge of Orchy. To the right, you will discover the famous railway and you’ll see another viaduct showcasing the engineering skills of the West Highland Railway Line. From here the glen widens and flattens and the trail guides you with a gentle descent down to the railway station. After leaving Bridge of Orchy, the WHW joins the Old Military Road. After a short climb up the hill, you will be able to enjoy the dramatic views from the viewpoint across Loch Tulla and the Black Mount. Beyond Inveroran, the remote Rannoch Moor beckons. 

From Forest Lodge follows an ascent to the edges of Rannoch Moor. Make sure you are prepared for unfavorable weather since the terrain on this section is exposed and getting across can be tough with bad climate. Ba Bridge is halfway across the moor and is a good spot for a break, surrounded by good views. A short walk to the left of the bridge takes you to the ruins of Ba cottage, a lovely spot for lunch. While following the undulating old military road you will walk past the Glencoe Ski Centre, Black Rock Cottage, and one of Scotland’s most famous mountains, Buachaille Etive Mor. 

Distance: 19 miles / 30 km
Walking time: 8 hours

Stage 6: Kingshouse to Kinlochleven

Today you will make your way towards Altnafeadh close to the foot of Buachaille Etive Mor, before turning sharply right for the Devil’s Staircase. A zig-zag trail will take you to the highest point of the West Highland Way, located at 550m. The top is marked with a cairn and showcases breathtaking views back to ‘The Buachaille’ and northwards towards the Mamores mountain range. After conquering the Devil’s Staircase, the WHW takes you through moorland down to Kinlochleven. 

Distance: 9 miles / 14.5 km
Walking time: 5 hours

Stage 7: Kinlochleven to Fort William

This last section begins with a steep climb out of Kinlochleven. Ahead of you is Lairigmor, also known as The Great Pass. The path follows the glen as it bends to the north, guides you through woodland, and then takes you towards Glen Nevis. The WHW then continues through forestry plantations. Before finally descending to Fort William, you can visit the remains of Dun Deardail, an Iron Age fort in Glen Nevis. Then follow the trail into Fort William and make your way into the center of the town. The finishing point of the WHW is the bronze statue of a fellow walker at Gordon Square. 

Distance: 15 miles / 24 km
Walking time: 8 hours

What's Included

Included:

 Booking the hotels
We will take care of arranging accommodation for you. We will also provide you with a detailed itinerary for every stage and instructions on how to get to the trailhead. 

√ Accommodation
We will arrange your accommodation on the West Highland Way in hotels. The accommodation will be in shared rooms if needed, although most hotels on the route offer private rooms.

√ Breakfast
Breakfast is, if possible, included in this trek and it will be provided every morning at the hotel before you continue with your WHW adventure.

√ Baggage Transfer
This trek includes the transfer of your luggage throughout the entire trek. Your bags will be picked up every morning from the hotel lobby and will be driven to your next stop. Baggage transfers allow you to travel lighter during the day and enjoy the walk in a more relaxed manner.

Excluded:

× Airfare and Visa
You have to make your way to Glasgow. The total amount is exclusive of flights to Scotland. 

× Transfers
Once in Scotland, you will have to make your way to the trailhead in Milngavie. We will provide the instructions and assist you with how to get there and back to Glasgow after the trek, but the bus/train tickets are not included. 

× Accommodation before and after the trek
Before and after the trek you have to take care of your own accommodation.

× Travel Insurance
Your international travel insurance is your own responsibility. Discuss your itinerary with the insurance company before your trek.

× Lunch and Dinner
Breakfast is, if possible, included in the price of the trek. You can get lunch and dinner at the shops, hotels, and restaurants along the way.

× Personal expenses
Personal expenses such as souvenirs, drinks, and other similar expenses are for your own account.

Accommodation

Accommodation

The most popular and convenient accommodation option on the WHW is in hotels. The availability, however, can be a bit limited at times. The thing with the West Highland Way is that the stages start and end mostly in very small towns, where there usually are only 1, 2, or maybe 3 accommodation options. The WHW is one of the most popular treks in Scotland and it welcomes thousands of trekkers every year. 

Arranging the stages and booking the accommodation should not be taken lightly, since the hotels get fully booked months in advance. Below you will find the hotels we usually work with on this 7-day trek. Should any of these be completely booked, we will look for a different option of a similar category whenever possible:

Day 1, Drymen: The Drymen Inn
The Drymen Inn is run by husband and wife Stuart and Jennifer along with their little baby boss George. This hotel has the perfect combination of down to earth yet professional hospitality. 



Day 2,  Rowardennan: Rowardennan Lodge Youth Hostel
Rowardennan Lodge Youth Hostel sits in an idyllic location on the banks of Loch Lomond. The lodge offers a wide range of private rooms and comfortable shared accommodation with separate washroom facilities. 


Day 3, Inverarnan: 
The Drovers Inn
The Drovers Inn is an old inn used by the Highland drovers who used to drive their cattle down the side of Loch Lomond to the markets. The decor and furniture, in deference to the past, remain as authentic as The Drovers itself.



Day 4, Tyndrum: Muthu Ben Doran Hotel
The Muthu Ben Doran Hotel is surrounded by Alpine forests and gorgeous mountain views, where you will be able to relax after your hiking day.


Day 5, Kingshouse: Glencoe Mountain Resort
Glencoe Mountain Resort is set in an area of astounding natural beauty within a site of special scientific interest for Golden Eagles. With stunning views towards the Buchaille Etive Mor and Rannoch Moor, you are guaranteed a spectacular view to wake up to. On site, they have 16 microlodges and space for 20 tents.


Day 6, Kinlochleven: Black Water Hostel
This hostel is ideally located for all the West Highland Way walkers. With their varying types of accommodation, they cater to a wide range of budgets, including camping, glamping, shared room accommodation, and B&B.

Packing List

Packing List

On the West Highland Way, being prepared for the changing weather is paramount. Scotland has a very diverse climate and you may experience all four seasons in one day! With this in mind, it’s essential to pack clothing, footwear, and accessories suitable for changing weather conditions. 

Try to base your clothing on the "three-layer" principle. This consists of a base layer, which will absorb the moisture from your skin; a middle layer, which should provide some warmth; and a waterproof outer layer to protect you from the rain and the wind. Here are our recommendations for your West Highland Way walk:

- Trousers, waterproof, lightweight, and quick-drying
- Shirts for base layer
- Warm jacket or pullover for middle layer
- Waterproof jacket
- Warm hat and gloves
- Trekking boots, worn in
- Good quality socks
- Extra footwear for the night
- Map
- Waste bags
- Whistle to summon assistance in case of accidents
- Water bottle containing enough water to take you to your next stop
- Torch (preferably a head-torch) with spare bulb and batteries
- Emergency food and snacks (high energy snacks such as chocolate, dried fruit, energy bars etc.)
- Hiking poles 
- First aid kit
- Sleeping bag (in case you will be spending the night at Glencoe Mountain Resort)
- Towel

FAQ

Origin of the West Highland Way

The West Highland Way is the official first long-distance route of Scotland. This route runs on the layout of an old military track built by English troops to quell the ongoing rebellions of the Scottish Jacobite clans. The tracing of the route began in 1974 and was officially opened in 1980 by  Lord Mansfield and so it became the first officially designated long-distance footpath in Scotland.

How long is the West Highland Way?

The West Highland Way runs from Milngavie to Fort William. The trail is 96 miles long, that is to say, 154 kilometers, and is divided into 8 stages. On the way, the route guides you through one of the wildest and most beautiful natural landscapes, including mountains, lakes, valleys, and moorland.

Best season

When it comes to the best season to walk the West Highland Way, the truth is that the weather is pretty much the same, no matter when you go. You can see this as an advantage or a disadvantage. In the Highlands, the weather is always bad. You may even experience all four seasons in one day... and it will certainly rain. 

Officially, the best time is during the Summer months, during July and August. During Summer the average temperature rises a little and days are longer. However, during those two months is mosquito season and it can be quite annoying. A more appropriate time would be during Spring, that is from May to June when temperatures are pretty much the same as during Summer, it rains a bit less, and most importantly: there are no mosquitoes.

What is the Devil's Staircase?


The Devil’s Staircase is the highest point along the way, at 1850 ft / 564 meters, and is located between Kingshouse and Kinlochleven. The Devil’s Staircase was initially given its name by the soldiers who were part of the road-building program. Apparently, the carrying of building materials up that stretch of the road wasn't very popular!

The path to the top of the pass is very clear and soon rises above the plain of Rannoch Moor. The trail zigzags as it climbs to the top marked by a cairn, with breathtaking views back to ‘The Buachaille’ and northwards towards the Mamores mountain range. After the pass, the path continues down towards Kinlochleven. 

How do I get to the trailhead?

The West Highland Way starts in Milngavie and ends in Fort William. The trail is traditionally walked from south to north, although it can be done in the opposite direction. A good reason for starting the trek from the south and making your way northwards is that Milngavie is located on the outskirts of Glasgow, Scotland's biggest city.

Starting point: 
In order to get to Milngavie, the easiest option is to take a plane, train, or bus to Glasgow. Once in Glasgow, you can take a 20-minute train to Milngavie. You can also take the 60A bus line, which takes about 30 minutes. There are also several transfer services that take you from Glasgow straight to the starting point of the WHW.

Ending point: 
The WHW ends in Fort William. The way back to Glasgow is quite simple since there are direct trains and buses (lines 915 and 916) from Fort William to Glasgow's city center. The bus ride takes about 3 hours, while the train is a bit slower and takes almost 4 hours. If you prefer a faster option, car transfers to Glasgow take about 2 hours and cost around GBP 35,- per person. Most luggage transfer agencies also offer these transfers.

If you want to find out more, you can find plenty of information in our blog post about the West Highland Way.

Safety

Safety

The West Highland Way is totally safe. The trails are quite straight forward and there is very little difference in altitude. The biggest challenge during the WHW is the weather. It is well known that the climate in Scotland isn't the best and chances are that it will rain during your WHW trek. The key is knowing that it will happen and being prepared for when it does, so make sure to carry a waterproof jacket and an extra pair of socks with you.

When it comes to the direction, the most popular option is walking the route from south to north and ending at Fort Williams. The signs, however, point in both directions so you can also do it from north to south. The signs on the West Highland Way are clearly marked with the WHW logo.


The path is perfectly laid out and very well signposted, there is no possibility of getting lost. Depending on the section, the trail runs along wide dirt tracks where even a tractor could fit or along narrower pedestrian paths. Regardless of the width of the path, the trail is very clear and easy to follow.

Scottish Emergency Number: 999

COVID-19

The West Highland Way and COVID-19

So far, the hotels on the West Highland Way are open and working almost as usual. There are, however, some restrictions regarding the meals and sitting arrangements at the restaurants:

- Most hotels are only allowed to sell soft drinks. No alcoholic beverages are allowed.
- Those allowed to sell alcoholic beverages can only do so outdoors and in groups of 6 people maximum.
- Groups of six people at one table from a maximum of two households.
- Room service deliveries are allowed.

How to Book

How to book?

On Bookatrekking.com you can find and compare the adventures of your dreams. Is this trekking your match? In that case, you can proceed with your booking. At Bookatrekking.com you make a deposit of 15% of the total amount. In the case of this trek, we will check the availability at the respective accommodations for you. There are two possible outcomes:  

 There is availability 

We ask once again for a deposit of 15% to secure all accommodation for you. The remaining 70% must be paid at least two (2) weeks before the start of the trekking. 

X There is no availability 

If there is no availability, we will look for other starting dates or another trekking in agreement with you. Are there no other options for you? Then your deposit of 15% will be refunded.

Cancellation Policy

If all the accommodations of this trekking are booked and confirmed, you will lose your deposit of 30% at all times. If you cancel within 14 days of your start date, you will lose your full booking amount. 

Is it not quite clear yet or do you have questions? Please contact us via support@bookatrekking.com. We are happy to help you.

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