The West Highland Way’s 96-mile trail is a great balance between challenge and reward no matter how many days you choose to spend walking. The most important thing is to tailor the challenge to suit you best by identifying the itinerary that has the appropriate miles per day for your ability and enjoyment levels!
Every walker has a different idea about how many days they want to take to complete this majestic walk, ranging from the well-paced conservative to the utterly extreme. The trick is to find just how many days are going to suit your ability and aim to have time to actually enjoy the experience while you are at it.
It is also important to note that the days spent walking the trail do not always correlate to the name of the trip. For example, the 9-day, 8 night West Highland Way has 8 days of walking. For the purpose of this post, I will refer to the day’s walking, not the trip name.
Doing the West Highland Way in 5 days is a challenge, not a vacation. The walk will average almost 20 miles/day and provide a great experience for those looking to spend the whole day on the trail. If you are looking to stroll along appreciating the beautiful scenery, then this is not the length for you. Before committing to this itinerary, we strongly recommend long distance walking experience and high level of fitness. If this itinerary is appealing due to a limited in time available, we suggest looking at either doing just the northern section, just the southern section, or our “highlights” offering that gives you the best of the south, a transfer, and the best of the north.
Similar to the 5 day walk, the 6 day provides plenty of challenge for those with a high level of fitness and long-distance walking experience. This option has become more popular over the last couple of years as it provides some longer days mixed in with moderate walks.
The first section of the trip contains arguably the most difficult stretch – from Rowardennan to Crianlarich. Not only is the walk a full 20miles, but the lake-side paths are present uneven terrain and obstacles the slow a walker’s pace. The second section that makes this tough is the long 20-mile day from Bridge of Orchy to Kinlochleven. Though the terrain over the remote Rannoch Moor is moderately flat and has even footing, the section to Kinlochleven contains the Devils Staircase, which can be pretty tough on fresh legs, never mind tired ones. The Devils Staircase is the longest climb and highest point of the West Highland Way, and if you don’t think you are up for it after a long day walk, then I would recommend the 7 Day Itinerary.
The 7 Day itinerary is the classic walk and one of our most popular trips here at Macs Adventure. The walking is well broken up, and still provides an ample challenge with almost 14mile per day and the 20-mile walk between Tyndrum and Kingshouse. This the section is a relatively flat and on time worn, solid paths. But, if this walk would be too long, we suggest enjoying an itinerary that breaks this into two 10m days.
The 8-day adventure averages 12 miles per day, which allows you a little more time to take in the sights and sounds of the West Highland Way. As mentioned, the main differences with this trip and the 7-day is that the day walking over the Rannoch Moor is split in two, turning the daunting 20-mile day into more manageable walks.
Given the popularity of the 7 & 8 day itineraries, you will start to find familiar faces as you walk during the day or visit the restaurants and pubs each night. It is a great trip for building up the outstanding camaraderie that long-distance walking can offer.
This itinerary eases you in a bit more gently while allowing you to take more time on each section of the walk. The first few days are stretched out here to build up strength in your legs and let you get into the swing of things a little easier. The biggest distinguishing factor is that the 14mile day from Drymen to Rowardennan is split down into two with a night in Balmaha. If you are not used to daily walking and are worried about how your legs will fare, then it may be an idea to choose this itinerary and break yourself into the walk.
The 10-day itinerary is the most drawn-out walk that we offer on the West Highland Way. The extra night here breaks the tricky 14-mile section from Rowardennan to Inverarnan into two day. Instead, you walk to the lake side hotel of Inversnaid, where we arrange a transfer to nearby accommodation. This is a great itinerary for those who have the time to enjoy the full walk, but want to have short walking days to best enjoy the trail, towns, and accommodations along the way.
Whichever itinerary you choose to walk on the West Highland Way, you are sure to have a great time and see some of the most amazing Highland scenery that Scotland has to offer. If any of the above itineraries in particular strike you, then simply get in touch with contact Macs Adventure and we can lay the foundation for a fantastic holiday.
Take a look at our complete guide to walking the West Highland Way for information on what to pack, how to get there, and other important pieces of information.