The West Highland Way is arguably the greatest long distance walk in the UK, and we would argue that it definitely is. However, there are a couple of reasons why people might not fancy it. I don’t have the time for such a long hike. I am worried about how difficult it will be. I don’t think my legs have it in them. Well, we would encourage everyone to give it a go and if you have any of those trepidations, then fear not, there is a solution – The West Highland Escape.
The West Highland Escape takes in the most dramatic section of the West Highland Way, from Bridge of Orchy to the end at Fort William. It traverses classic Scottish Highland scenery, taking in the Devil’s Staircase, the Rannoch Moor and the stunning Glen Nevis. You finish under the shadow of Ben Nevis, the UK’s highest mountain and we can, of course, offer an extra night if you are feeling like a wee jaunt up the hill to round off your trip.
Distance: A mere 37 miles, split over three days walking.
Grade: Moderate. The walking is on a mix of old military roads, forestry track and mountain paths. There are a few ascents and descents which give the trip it’s moderate rating, but there is nothing to fear, and with little over 10 miles per day, you can take your time on the route.
Bridge of Orchy is right in the middle of nowhere and gloriously so. When you get off the train here, the remoteness and the crisp, clean air will greet you, and all that you need to do is follow the scent of the log fire, to reach the Bridge of Orchy hotel. This is where the western Highlands begin, and it definitely exemplifies the Escape part of the tour name. From Bridge of Orchy, you walk up to Inveroran (our favourite bit) and then out over the Rannoch Moor. After an overnight in the famous Kingshouse hotel, you climb up the Devil’s Staircase before a long descent into Kinlochleven. Then it is up out of Kinlochleven, through some remarkable countryside, into the shadow of Ben Nevis until you reach Fort William at the end of the trip.
This is quite simply one of the most beautiful places to walk in the UK, if not the world. The Scottish Highlands provide a background filled with drama and history that entirely takes you out of yourself for a couple of days. While a massive bog may not sound appealing, the Rannoch Moor is a starkly beautiful place to walk, with mountains swelling up from its vast flat plains on all sides. The Devil’s Staircase has a super scary name, but in reality is not too bad to walk up, but again, with unobstructed views of Glencoe and with the Buchaille to your left, this is an area of unsurpassed beauty.
The West Highland Way is not only famous for its scenery, but for its warmth. Not always out on the trail, Scotland has been known to be a little cold and wet on occasion, but in the accommodations, bars and restaurants and in the hearts of its people. You will definitely meet some characters on the trail, people that will tell you great tales, people that will inspire you and people who will poke good-natured fun at you. You will laugh, you will share drams of whisky with open, engaging people and you will come back from the trip full of memories because of it.
While this is just a taster of the whole route, it is more than enough to foster a deep love for the Highlands of Scotland and to inspire you to head back, perhaps to do the full route, or to sample other areas. After only three days walking, you will feel a great sense of accomplishment, a deep sense of peace and a feeling that you genuinely have been away from it all.
You can head out on the West Highland Escape easily. There are regular trains from Glasgow to Bridge of Orchy, and the same train line will bring you back from Fort William. If you would prefer, there is a bus option, and you can always park your car at the Bridge of Orchy hotel and head back down on the train. We cant always guarantee this, but we are more than happy to ask the hotel for you.
We have been running trips on the West Highland Way since 2003 and know the route inside out, so if you need any more information, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our specialists by emailing at [email protected]