For obvious reasons, the West Highland Way is one of, if not the most popular long distance walk in the UK. The transition from the suburbs of Glasgow out into the increasingly dramatic Highland scenery is something which draws people back to the walk year after year.
With the absence of the dreaded midge and the belief that sun shines brighter in May, the West Highland Way tends to sell out pretty early. By the end of December, accommodation on the whole route is thin on the ground and by the end of January, there is nothing left from Easter through to the middle of June at all. If you are looking to walk the route during this period and you find that there is no availability, do not despair as Scotland is abundant in fantastic walking holidays and here are a few for you to mull over.
The Great Glen Way is a delightful walk from Fort William to Inverness, the capital of the Highlands and follows the Highland Fault Line which splits Scotland in two. The trail follows the three major lochs that have formed in the fault line, Loch Lochy, Loch Oich and finally the infamous Loch Ness. You will either be walking along the banks of these stunning Lochs or walking on paths that overlook them in all their glory.
There are many flat sections and two where you will be walking along the towpath of the Caledonian Canal, which adds a different aspect to the walk completely. The towns that you stay in are beautiful and the hosts that you will stay with are incredibly proud of their spotless accommodations and chock full of Highland hospitality. From walking through ancient pine forest to the manmade spectacle of Neptune’s Staircase and even a little monster spotting, the Great Glen Way can be walked over 5, 6 or 7 days depending on how relaxing you want to make the walking.
A relative newcomer to the world of long-distance walking, the East Highland Way has been developed over the last few years by dedicated walker Kevin Langan and only towards the end of last year did his wonderful guidebook appear on the market. The East Highland Way goes from Fort William in the West and crosses over a central part of the Highlands that not many people get to see. The route is peppered with history, from ancient ruined castles and drovers cottages, important scenes from the Jacobite rebellion right up to the iconic World War II commando memorial at Spean Bridge.
With some of Scotland’s finest scenery to accompany you on this trip, your 7 Days will fly by. Starting off in the shadow of Ben Nevis you will head out on the road less travelled past a variety of lochs, rivers and gullies, constantly accompanied by Munroes and Corbets in the background. You even pass one of the most spectacular beaches in Scotland, different to most beaches as it is inland, on the beautiful Loch Laggan and ideal for stripping off those walking boots and dipping tired feet (or more) into the refreshing loch waters. Definitely an up and coming walk and a good chance to get out there and walk it before most other people.
The Rob Roy Way starts off in Drymen, which is many people’s first night on the West Highland Way, so this definitely the first good reason to switch to this particular trip. It then meanders up through the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park, through Glens and alongside Lochs until you eventually arrive in Pitlochry. The walk takes you through many places that are strongly linked with the infamous outlaw Rob Roy MacGregor, but also links up some quite unique Scottish scenery as well as many great towns and for the thirsty walkers amongst us, many great pubs. Though around a quarter of this trip started off being road walking, it is constantly being worked on to improve this statistic and take out the road sections.
This is a great walk to learn more about Scotland, not just its geography and scenery, but its rich and tumultuous history. The route has many points of historic interest, from the Iron Age Crannogs on Loch Tay to the multitude of scenes of the Jacobite Rebellion and Rob Roy’s resistance to the government of England. Rich in Wildlife, Culture and Hospitality, the Rob Roy Way is a quiet, but fantastic alternative to the West Highland Way.
For many people, the word Speyside conjure up just one image. Whisky. Being such a prolific producer of the Water of Life, many people are quite rightly attracted to this lovely walk by the idea of acquiring a wee dram here or there, however, there is much more to the Speyside Way than this. Starting up above Aberdeen in the wee town of Buckie, the Speyside Way runs down the centre of Scotland to reach Aviemore, passing through the Cairngorm and Highlands National Park. For the most part of this walk, you will be walking through the valley created by the River Spey which is a magnet for a great deal of Scotland’s wildlife. You pass down through the valley and into the ancient Caledonian Pine in the national park where you will get the chance to see Pine Martin, Osprey and Red Squirrels.
With 3 of Scotland’s most recognisable Distilleries on this route, should you be a whisky fan then this walk is definitely worth a try. Glenfiddich, Glenlivet and Macallan are all close to the route and as you are on foot, you can sample the goods as much as your wallet will allow. Coming from the tiny coastal town of Buckie you will have access to a little-known corner of Scotland, one which is well worth discovering as you cut down through the Speyside Way.
These are but a few walks that we offer that give great alternatives should you face disappointment over a sold-out West Highland Way. Should any of them be of interest, please do not hesitate to get in touch with one of our Destination Specialists here at Macs Adventure.