Adventure of the Week: The West Highland Way
This blog is a short, but hopefully informative love letter to the trip that made Macs Adventure the big, beautiful company it is today. The main reason for highlighting it today is to make people aware that availability for May is starting to sell out and June is not too far behind. So if June is your prefered time to walk (and it is a peach) then give us a shout as soon as possible and check your dates before they are gone. We are not big on pushy sales here; we just want to let people know that dates are filling up fast.
Anyway, on to the love letter part. Here are many reasons to love the glorious West Highland Way.
Confidently walking along the West Highland Way with the advice from my coworkers-turned-heroes at Macs Adventure
In a nutshell
The West Highland Way is the best long-distance path in the UK. I know everyone has their favourites, but the West Highland Way has it all, tied up into sections that are walkable dependent on your fitness level, filled with lovely accommodations, the friendliest people, good food and scenery so stunning it will be burned into your memory for all time.
You walk from the outskirts of Glasgow through progressively more rugged landscapes and by the time you reach Ben Nevis at the end of the trip, you are a changed person.
Distance: The West Highland Way is a mere 96 miles, and you can walk the entire trip in 5-10 days depending on how difficult you want it to be.
Grade: Overall it is graded Moderate, the perfectly balanced walking trip. We can make it tougher for you, or easier depending on how you want to experience it. The terrain is a mix of forest track, ancient military paths and some good old hill tracks. You wander along the banks of Loch Lomond, climb a few hills here and there, climb the Devils Staircase (which is nowhere near as bad as it sounds), but for every hard bit, there is a subsequent easier bit. Perfectly balanced. (can you see a theme developing?)
The West Highland Way begins in Milngavie, just outside of Glasgow. The first day is wandering through farmland, rolling and gentle and a great way to break yourself into a walking adventure. From there you head up towards the bonny bonny banks of Loch Lomond, getting a great view from the top of Conic Hill and walking alongside its shores as you head into the Highlands. From here the peaks begin to grow around you, and you walk up over the Rannoch Moor towards Glencoe, before heading up into Glen Nevis where you walk in the shadow of Ben Nevis. Then, just around the corner, you finish in Fort William.
Why Walk Here?
The walk is the most excellent snapshot of Scotland you will ever get. While we have beautiful castles and cities and all that, the West Highland Way shows what Scotland is really about. It is a country of outstanding natural beauty, one of the few places left in the world where wilderness still reigns supreme. You get to marvel at some of the finest natural beauty in the country, walking at your own pace and sharing the joy with your fellow walkers.
Shocking though it may sound, sometimes it rains here (hence all the vivid green you will walk through), but in Scotland, you live with the rain, you don't battle against it. On your West Highland Way trip, you will come to understand Scotland and its people far better than you could on any other type of visit.
So the scenery is amazing. Rannoch Moor has a bleakness, but surrounded by a crown of (depending on the time of year) snow-capped hills; it has a radiant golden beauty. Glen Nevis shines with its vibrant greens and golden-orange rock. The walk up the banks of Loch Lomond is arguably the toughest section, but its gnarled roots and contrasty black and bright greens with flashes of the clear loch beside you. Then there is the view from Conic Hill, a glorious assault of beauty on the senses.
Then there the people. We know the route like the back of our hand. We know everyone on it, and they know us, and we only work with the most pleasant people with the most wonderful accommodations. Getting to know your hosts, listening to their stories and acting on their recommendations is definitely a highlight of the trip. You may get to a point where you are overwhelmed by the generosity at breakfast, but everyone is always happy to offer a lighter option. Everyone works to make this route the best. If you leave something at an accommodation, it will be with you the next night. If you are ill or hurt yourself, people will look after you. The people are a pure joy.
Then, of course, there is the walk itself. The whole, slow transition from the rolling farmland outside Glasgow, through Loch Lomond and the gradual climb up to the Highlands, is amazing, it just unfolds before you on a daily basis. You will arrive each night knowing that you have accomplished something, but not be so tired that you can't fit in a little food and drink.
The social aspect of the walk is definitely another highlight. I have heard it described as a week-long, spaced out, pub crawl, but this does it a little bit of a disservice. There is no drunken laddishness to the walk, but its pubs are some of the best in Scotland, many filled with walkers and climbers, all discussing their day's adventure. The atmosphere is great, the whisky and beer are world-class, and the chat is inclusive and friendly. The West Highland Way is magic!
Planning and preparation
Getting to and from the West Highland Way is simple. There are trains every 15 minutes from Glasgow to Milngavie, and it only takes 15 minutes too. Then from Fort William at the end, you can take the train back to Glasgow. This does take around 3-4 hours, however, it is one of the world's best train journeys (not just my opinion, there is official accreditation to back this one up) and it follows the West Highland Way for much of its route, so you get to look back at the incredible feat you have accomplished.
Macs Adventure live and breathe the West Highland Way, so don't hesitate to get in touch with any of our specialists with any questions you may have by Contacting Us here. Download your free Guide to the West Highland Way.
This is an updated version of a blog first posted in April 2017