West Highland Way (The South) - 6 Days & 5 Nights6 Days & 5 Nights 4.8 Read 986 reviews
- Walk a section of Scotland's most famous long distance trail from Milngavie to Inverarnan
- Enjoy camaraderie along the trail as you meet fellow walkers from around the world
- Revel in the myriad of landscapes as you walk the "bonnie banks" of Loch Lomond
- Explore the lush greenery of the Trossachs National Park
- Visit to the renowned Drovers Inn for a well deserved dram at the end of your trip!
Discover the southern half of Scotland's most famous long distance trail - the West Highland Way. Explore the lush glens and rich woodlands of the Loch Lomond & Trossachs National Park as you follow the trail north from Milngavie to Inverarnan.
Towering mountains, tranquil lochs and rushing rivers combine to reward you with a unique and ever-changing landscape as you journey 47 miles from Milngavie (Glasgow) to Inverarnan (just under halfway to Fort William). Pass by whisky distilleries and the charming rural villages of Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park, with spectacular views over and alongside the bonnie waters. This really is Scottish highland scenery at its best.
As the largest operator on the West Highland Way (each year over 2500 people trust us to arrange their walk) we can secure you the best value and quality arrangements, regardless of whether you are walking solo or as a group of 20, and we’re happy to tailor-make a tour to fit your requirements. 99% of our walkers would recommend us to a friend, and you can read over 900 authentic and unbiased West Highland Way customer reviews. So give us a shout today to start planning your own West Highland Way adventure.
What To Expect
Self Guided | Go at your own pace on an independent holiday.
Inn to Inn Walking | A classic point to point walking trip, staying in a different location each night
This trip is suitable for:
Solo Travellers, Families, First Timers
As a guide, we would suggest that the minimum age of traveller this holiday would be suitable for is: 12 Years
Ideal if you have an interest in:
- National Parks & Trails
- Most Popular
Grade & Terrain
This holiday is graded moderate overall with individual itineraries varying from easy to moderate through to moderate to strenuous. Daily walking distances vary between 7 - 21 miles. Some days will be more challenging than others and the terrain will be varied with some rough and rugged footpaths. There are ascents and descents involved so a good level of fitness will be required.
The West Highland Way is very well waymarked and easy to follow. Navigation is straightforward as you can use the Macs Adventure Smartphone App which has maps, GPS tracks and daily route information. Simply download the GPS tracks for offline use and follow the route on your phone with the assurance that navigation on this tour will be made simple and you cannot get lost.
You will find more information on downloading the app in your Macs Adventure Account.
Experience & Fitness
This route is suitable for most regular walkers of average fitness. You should train by walking some daily walks of similar daily distances to your planned itinerary.
Our West Highland Way holidays include overnight accommodation in a mixture of country inns, small hotels, guest houses and B&B’s. We have worked with many of our accommodation partners for over 10 years and have great relationships with them ensuring you receive the best attention from the moment you check in.
We carefully select your accommodation to ensure that you enjoy every minute of your stay and all offer a warm welcome to walkers, traditional hospitality and delicious local food.
We book en suite rooms as standard. If there are no en suite rooms available in an overnight location, we may book a room with shared facilities, but we will always inform you in advance if this was the case.
We will always try and accommodate you at the locations detailed in your itinerary. Occasionally, due to limited availability, there may be an option to be accommodated at an alternative location. In the unlikely event that we have to accommodate you elsewhere, we will advise you of this before confirming your booking. In this case you can change your trip dates or we can arrange taxi transfers to and from an alternative overnight accommodation (supplement payable)
Single Rooms & Solo Walkers
This holiday is available to solo walkers, although a supplement is payable. If you require single rooms within your party we would be happy to accommodate your request, although it is not generally possible to secure more than three single rooms in a party. A single room supplement is payable.
Breakfast is included each morning while lunch and dinner are not included so you are free to choose from the available options. Your accommodation may be able to provide a packed lunch on request and this can be booked on arrival. Alternatively, your guidebook includes details of local shops and convenient lunch stops on the way. Dinner is available either at your accommodation or nearby pubs and restaurants (your info pack has recommendations).
You may wish to take some extra nights along the route, either to rest or for those with plenty of energy to explore some of the other walking opportunities nearby. We recommend extra nights at:
- Rowardennan - for climbing Ben Lomond, a Munro with commanding views over Loch Lomond.
- Crianlarich - a halfway stop with options for visiting the seaside town of Oban, complete with whisky distillery, via the local train service (1hr 15 mins each way).
- Fort William - for climbing Ben Nevis (the UK's highest mountain).
- 5 Nights in hand-picked B&B’s, small hotels & guesthouses
- 5 Breakfasts
- Baggage transfer
- Detailed information pack
- Access to maps, GPX tracks and daily route information with the Macs Adventure smartphone navigation app
- All your trip documents provided digitally through your online Macs “My Account”
- 24/7 Emergency telephone support from our UK office
- Travel to Milngavie / from Fort William
- Taxi transfers or public transport should you need to skip a stage
- Lunches, dinners, snacks & drinks
- Personal equipment
- Travel insurance (required)
- Upgrade to hotel-standard accommodations every night
- Extra nights along the route
- Glasgow / Milngavie accommodation (pre-tour)
When To Go
The trip is available from the end of March to mid-October and while it does get very busy, we are always willing to try and get you booked in.
There are a few dates throughout the year when events in the local area will prevent us from being able to book accommodation. The following are particularly difficult to secure:
Kinlochleven – Pre 65 Trails, held every year in early May
Weather and Climate
Scotland's climate is notoriously changeable! Expect some amounts of both sunshine and rain regardless of the time of year, so always pack both waterproofs and sunscreen. July and August are usually warmest with average temperatures around 14 degrees centigrate, and highs of up to mid-twenties. Some snow may remain or even fall on the higher parts of the route in March & April, and even beyond. May has the least rainfall on average, but you would still expect some wetter days, and each year can vary greatly.
Getting to the Start
Glasgow Airport: Located 8 miles west of the city, the airport is served by numerous domestic and international airlines. A regular Citylink bus service operates between the airport and the city centre. Alternatively, you can also book taxis at a fixed rate from the airport to your accommodation in Glasgow, or to Glasgow Central train station Glasgow city centre, and there is also a service to/from Fort William.
Prestwick Airport: Located 30 miles south of Glasgow, Prestwick is primarily served by the budget airline Ryanair. A train service operates from Prestwick to Glasgow city centre, taking approx. 50 mins.
Edinburgh Airport: Located 45 miles east of Glasgow, Edinburgh Airport is served by numerous domestic and international airlines. A regular Citylink bus service operates between the airport and Glasgow's Buchanan Street Bus Station in the city centre (approx. 60 mins). Alternatively, you could take the tram towards Edinburgh city centre and connect with the train from Edinburgh Haymarket train station to Glasgow Queen Street station.
By Car: Glasgow is served by a motorway network. Long term parking is generally not available in the city centre, but parking (not secured) is available in Milngavie, at the start of the walk. A useful website for directions and parking is the RAC Route Planner.
Getting to Milngavie from Glasgow
Milngavie is most easily accessed by train from Glasgow Central train station on a regular Scotrail service taking approx. 25 mins.
Getting from the End
Return transfers from Inverarnan to Glasgow are NOT included in the price of your holiday. If you are returning to Glasgow we suggest the Citylink Bus (up to 8 daily/1.5 hours).
Scottish Citylink operates up to 8 services daily to Glasgow and the journey takes about 1.5 hours.They also operate services north to Fort William, Inverness and Skye.
Your bags will be collected from your accommodation each day and moved onto your overnight accommodation. We ask you to limit your luggage to one bag of up to 20kg per person.
The distances and ascent/descents are approximations of the recommended routes. Please be prepared by packing all necessary items, for example, proper rain gear (jacket and pants), sun hat, sunscreen. Your information pack has a detailed equipment list which includes standard walking gear such as good walking boots or shoes, warm and waterproof clothes for the cooler months and lightweight clothing for summer, and a day pack.
At Macs Adventure we care about the environment! We’re taking action to minimize the impact we have by converting the majority of our tour documentation for online delivery.
On this tour, all your detailed tour information will be digitally delivered. You will have access to this documentation via “My Account” on our website.
It is a requirement of booking this tour with Macs Adventure that you have suitable travel insurance which covers you for the activity and emergency evacuation and hospital care.
At 98 Miles the West Highland Way is a fair distance and the higher your level of fitness the more you will enjoy the experience. Most of our itineraries involve between 5 and 10 hours walking daily so you should be comfortable walking on good tracks and paths over undulating terrain for at least 6 to 7 hours. If you currently don’t enjoy that level of fitness regular walking in hilly terrain supplemented by cardiovascular exercise for at least 6 months prior to your walk is recommended. A good gym or personal trainer will be able to draw up a personalised training programme.
If you don't overnight in Glasgow or Milngavie before beginning the West Highland Way meet our baggage transfer partners at Milngavie Rail Station at 0830-0900. They will check you in and take your bags, which will magically appear in your next overnight accommodation. Each morning, just leave your bags in the reception area and we will have them transferred to the next location. Please limit the weight of your luggage to 20 kg per bag (one piece per person).
We suggest you book as soon as your plans are finalised as the West Highland Way is extremely popular especially over April/May and July/August. However, we will always try and accommodate your plans.
You will need good walking shoes/boots (ideally waterproof), comfortable walking clothes, waterproof jacket and trousers, a daypack and hats/gloves etc. Our information pack has a list of all the equipment you will need, along with some helpful suggestions.
Traditionally May has always been the most popular time of year because, the theory goes, that the weather is better and the midges have not yet appeared. Although having walked the way in every summer month we believe any time between late March and October offers a wonderful experience.
Midges are small biting insects (much like North American gnats) which are prevalent in the summer months. They are particularly bad on still, overcast days but do not bother you if you are moving, the wind is blowing, sun is shining, it’s raining, or you are inside so as long as you carry repellent for the odd occasion you may need it they shouldn’t have any impact on your experience.
Unfortunately we are unable to accommodate walkers with dogs as many of the accommodation providers we use do not accept pets and several sections of the way are closed to dogs as they are permissive paths through farmland.
You can use public transport and local taxis to reach your next overnight stop. Full details are included in your info pack or you can call us for assistance in making arrangements.
ItineraryDay 1 Arrive Milngavie
Arrive into Glasgow and make your way to the town of Milngavie. This town is perfectly situated for quick access to the hills, and is easily reachable from Glasgow city centre.
Milngavie (pronounced Mullguy), the start of the West Highland Way is a outlying residential suburb of Glasgow. It has a pedestrian town centre, several pubs an restaurants and is a 25 minute train journey into the centre of Glasgow.
Milngavie Premier Inn has everything you'd expect, incredibly comfy beds in every room and an onsite Beefeater restaurant serving freshly cooked chargrilled food.
Stay at the Premier Inn Hotel Glasgow Bearsden and you'll be in pole position for the walkers' favourite, the West Highland Way. They have everything you'd expect, incredibly comfy beds in every room.
This beautifully appointed traditional farmhouse offers all modern conveniences including WI-FI and digital flat screened TVs. It is surrounded by 4 golf courses and is set in picturesque countryside on a non-working farm. A warm welcome awaits our guests in a relaxed and informal atmosphere.
After setting off from Milngavie, today’s route passes through the ancient earldom of Lennox between the Campsie Fells and Blane Water. You follow a series of good paths through beautiful rural scenery to the small village of Drymen. A recommended stop is the Glengoyne Distillery, where you can take a tour and enjoy a wee dram to send you on your way. Enroute to Drymen is the Beech Tree Inn, which has a lovely garden and serves great food.
Drymen is slightly off the route, so refer to your map to ensure that you don’t overshoot the mark.
Ashbank B&B is a family-run accommodation offering superior rooms in the heart of the village. Ashbank was once the home of the famous Olympian Eric Liddel whose story was depicted in the Oscar winning film Chariots of Fire.
Situated in the heart of Loch Lomond National Park, Braeside offers all that one would require for most comfortable lodging. With satellite TV, WiFi, tea / coffee making facilities and access to a fridge, these en suite rooms offer all you might need for a good night’s sleep. The hosts Colin and Scott will offer you an extremely warm welcome and are always on hand to assist.
Green Shadows is an exceptionally situated 4-star country house B&B that sits in the shadows of the ruins of Buchanan Castle just over a mile from the idyllic village of Drymen. All of their rooms feature stylishly designed en-suite or private adjoining facilities and all are equipped with flat screen colour televisions, and tea and coffee making facilities, hair dryers and ironing facilities. You'll also enjoy one of their hearty breakfasts in their very elegant dining area. The B&B also has free Wi-Fi available if you want to access the internet.
As you leave Drymen you start to climb towards Conic Hill, which sits astride the Great Divide, separating the highlands and lowlands of Scotland. The climb is fairly steep but on reaching the summit you can enjoy fantastic views over Loch Lomond, Britain’s largest body of freshwater covering 27 square miles. You descend a steep path towards Balmaha, which is a small village nestling in a protected bay on the shores of bonnie Loch Lomond.
Standing in the shade of a magnificent 500-year-old oak tree, this unique country Inn which was constructed from locally quarried slate. Each room has its own individual character and all of the deluxe rooms in the cottages have views towards the loch. All rooms are en-suite and are well equipped to make your stay with them comfortable and enjoyable.
Dating back from the 19th Century, Bay cottage in Balmaha offers idyllic views over Loch Lomond. All rooms are en-suite and have all the amenities you require for a great overnight stay and you will be assured a warm welcome on arrival with afternoon tea and homemade scones.
This is a beautiful but deceptively tough section. The path alternates between the loch shore and natural forest and headlands on the banks of Loch Lomond. There are numerous short steep climbs, and if you have walked all the way from Drymen you will be very pleased to see Rowardennan. That said, the scenery, forest, and birdlife are outstanding.
Situated on the rugged Eastern Shore of Loch Lomond in the magnificent Queen Elizabeth Forest, the Rowardennan Hotel has breath-taking views of Ben Lomond, Loch Lomond Loch Lomond and the mountains to the North. The hotel is a typical walker’s style property and many rooms have stunning views across the Loch.
Ben Lomond Cottage is a friendly family-run guesthouse. All rooms are en-suite and have everything you need for a great overnight stay. You are sure to receive a very warm welcome from Lucy.
Situated on the rugged Eastern Shore of Loch Lomond in the magnificent Queen Elizabeth Forest, the Rowardennan Hotel has breath-taking views of Ben Lomond, Loch Lomond Loch Lomond and the mountains to the North. The lodges are situated in the gardens adjoining the Hotel and within each you have all that you require to enjoy a comfortable stay. In the evening you can enjoy a wee dram in the Clansman bar, watching the glorious views from the marvellous beer garden, and enjoy quality hot food, also served in the bar, and made using local ingredients, and designed to give you a filling meal after a long days walk. Wifi available in hotel.
Leaving Rowardennan, the West Highland Way follows forestry roads and gently climbs high up above Loch Lomond, giving fantastic views over the water and towards the peaks of the Arrochar Alps. As you close in on Inversnaid the path narrows and becomes more undulating, passing over a spectacular bridge and waterfall as you arrive at Inversnaid Hotel.
Departing Inversnaid you pass through the RSPB Inversnaid Nature Reserve and then close by to Rob Roy’s Cave. The path from Inversnaid to the head of the loch is hard going with numerous ups and downs and a generally rough surface. After leaving the lochside and passing Doune Bothy the path improves but it may seem a very long two miles from Ardleish to Inverarnan where the lovely Beinglas Farm marks the end of your day. Leave the way and follow the signs for Inverarnan. The 300-year old Drovers Inn is world-famous and provides the ideal location for your end-of-day refreshment.
If you are staying across the loch at Ardlui Hotel, then look out for the sign pointing to the little ferry (Around 2 miles before the end of this section). Walk down to the loch shore and call the ferry by raising the ball (you'll be returned to this same spot the following day).
Please ensure you check your tailored accommodation sheet for details of your overnight stay.
Beinglas Farm is situated directly on the West Highland Way at the stage of Inverarnan and is within easy walking distance of the village centre. Beinglas Farm has been awarded a three star grading from the Scottish Tourist Board.
The hotel was built as a private hunting lodge for the Colquhoun family around 1851. It was first opened as a hotel in 1886 and two years later the east wing was added, while the west wing was added by 1905. The hotel today is painted white due to the three different types of stone used to build the main building & each of the two wings.
This hotel is one of the friendliest and most intimate hotels in Loch Lomond. With 10 en-suite rooms they offer a relaxed accommodation with great views across the northern shores.
The Drovers accommodation is, shall it be said, not based on your standard hotel bedroom. It reflects the tradition and history of the building and replicates the ambience of the downstairs areas but no two rooms are in any other way similar with a mixture of styles, décor and facilities and it is their intention for that your overnight stay should be an experience!
Finish your journey on this first half of the West Highland Way - hopefully you'll already be looking forward to tackling the second half of the trail at a later date. Don't hesitate to get in touch with our Destination Specialists!
The Macs Adventure Way
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West Highland Way Video Diary
Dan, our resident wildlife expert, took to the West Highland Way and recorded his whole journey. This video shows you the full route, from the starting point in Milngavie, through all the points of interest, to the finish in Fort William. Dan points out some interesting things along the route that you shouldnt miss, but this is not a video laden with spoilers. Every journey on the West Highland Way is different, dictated by the weather, the people you meet and the chance encounters with wildlife (human and otherwise!) Get a taste of what is in store on the West Highland Way with Dan.
The West Highland Way
For an oversight of the West Highland Way, its history, its logistics and how it feels to walk, this is the video for you. Ewan discusses some of the finer points of walking the route, with the background of Loch Lomond, shows how the baggage transfer works and how easy Macs Adventure make walking the West Highland Way.
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