One of the questions people often ask about is where to eat on the West Highland Way. While it may seem like it is not as important as the walk itself, the scenery, the logistics of getting from A to B, what many people forget is that this is a holiday, and what trip away from home is complete without filling yourself up with the local produce! One of the great things about an adventure holiday is that you can sample all the food and drink on offer knowing that you are very likely to walk off all the excesses rather than pile on the pounds. The West Highland Way is classic Inn to Inn walking at its best, and with this in mind, most of the food you will encounter along the route is good hearty pub grub. For lunches, there are occasionally places to stop, but in many cases, your accommodation will ask whether you want a packed lunch and there is often the opportunity to pop to a local shop before you hit the trail.
It is important to stock up on food (and drink) at the end of a hard days walking.
Many people choose to spend the night before their trip in Milngavie, and there is a wealth of choice for food here. Milngavie has all the amenities that you could wish for, so there are plenty of shops to stock up on snacks for the route etc. If you are looking to eat out the night before there are a couple of excellent restaurants to try too. Most of you will be staying at the West Highland Gate hotel before setting off, and the Beefeater restaurant here starts you off on your quality pub grub tour. A wide-ranging menu with something to suit everyone. If you are looking to head out into the town, Fantoosh Nook is a great little restaurant to dine in. Focussing mainly on great Scottish seafood, it is a wonderful treat before you head into the wilderness. An alternative is the wonderful Finsbay, a friendly, welcoming restaurant using the finest of Scottish produce.
The Clachan Inn claims to be the oldest pub in Scotland, dating back to 1734. The food and atmosphere are great and an excellent place to get into the spirit of the West Highland Way. For a more extensive choice of food, try the Winnock Hotel or the Buchanan Arms Hotel.
Just about every member of the Macs Adventure UK team has had at least one good night in the Oak Tree Inn, in Balmaha. Great food, good beer and whisky and incredibly friendly and helpful staff. They brew their own beer, roast their own coffee and make their own ice cream, all of which are delicious.
The Rowardennan Hotel is the only choice tonight, but it is not a bad choice to have. The Clansman bar, with its roaring fire and hearty menu is the perfect place to eat after a day walking along the banks of Loch Lomond.
The Ardlui Hotel offers great food in a lovely modern highland hotel and the food is always as locally sourced as possible. In Inverarnan you can either dine at the hearty Beinglas Farm where all food is cooked to order. Alternatively, there is the 'world famous' Drovers Inn. The Drovers has long had a reputation as one of the best pubs in Scotland, with a fantastic atmosphere in an old, smoke-blackened bar, crammed with oddities. A weekend evening over a few pints can turn into a spectacular party, so if you want a bit of atmosphere, it is definitely worth a try.
The Crianlarich Hotel is the principal place to eat in town, with a wide range of Scottish food and a vast array of whiskies. In Tyndrum, The Real Food Cafe is the place to eat. It is so much more than a cafe and is open until 8 pm. The food is incredible, possibly the best fish n chips on the mainland and sweet treats that can bring a tear to the eye (of joy that is!)
Bridge of Orchy/Inveroran/Kingshouse
There are a couple of outstanding places for dinner on this section, depending on where you are staying. The obvious choices are the Bridge of Orchy Hotel, Inveroran Hotel and Kingshouse Hotel, as once you are here, there is nowhere else to go. Thankfully these hotels both serve a high standard of Scottish fare. We also use alternatives to these places like the entirely wonderful Clachaig Inn. Again, a firm Macs Adventure staff favourite and definitely amongst the best pubs in Scotland, the food is also fresh, local and imaginative and you will rarely find a bar more packed with walkers. Also, in Glencoe village, there is the Glencoe Gathering, which serves up a modern take on fish n chips.
Kinlochleven has a couple of excellent choices of pub grub, each competing to be the best, but to be honest, you can't go wrong with any of them. The Bothy Bar at the MacDonald Hotel is a 'proper' highland pub, with pool table and dogs and serving a good range of pub meals. Closer to the centre of town there is the Tailrace Inn and The Highland Getaway. All friendly, all competitively priced and all serving similar sort of food. Fort William As one of the larger towns on the route, there is a lot of choice in Fort William. If you are still on the bar style food, go for the Grog n Gruel. It has quality food, great atmosphere, but you have to be quick to get a seat as it is crazy popular. If you are looking to celebrate the end of your trip in style, there are a couple of excellent choices. The Crannog down on the loch front is a delightful seafood restaurant, celebrating the quality of the local catch. For a more varied, contemporary menu, The Lime Tree offers genuinely exceptional cooking with an ever-changing seasonal menu.
On many days it is important to stock up on a packed lunch to eat on route.
Milngavie to Drymen
On this section, there are a couple of options to grab some food, and you reach them around lunchtime, so it couldn't be more perfect. The Beech Tree Inn is a great option, just past the Dumgoyne Distillery, and ideal to fill your stomach after you have had a few drams. It is a family orientated pub, with great lunch options. A little further up the path is the Oakwood Garden Centre, which has a lovely little cafe.
Drymen to Balmaha
There is nowhere to stop for lunch on this section, so we would recommend asking your accommodation for a packed lunch, or visiting one of the many little sandwich shops in the centre of Drymen.
Balmaha to Rowardennan
Again, this section doesn't have anywhere to eat, so stock up in the village shop in Balmaha, or ask the lovely people in the Oak Tree Inn to make you a packed lunch. Stock up on a sandwich from the Oak Tree Inn before you head off.
Rowardennan to Inverarnan
The Inversnaid Hotel is the only place you can stop for a bite to eat on this section of the West Highland Way. They provide a good selection of light lunches and are in a wonderfully scenic location.
Inverarnan to Tyndrum
Crianlarich is the halfway point on this stretch, so if you hit there around lunchtime, there are a couple of beautiful places to eat. The Artisan Cafe is a gem of a place to stop for lunch. Set in a converted church, this incredibly friendly, delicious cafe is full of little personal touches. The Crianlarich Hotel is another option for lunch too, and there is a wee local shop should you wish to grab a sandwich and keep going.
Tyndrum to Kingshouse
The Inveroran Hotel or Bridge of Orchy hotel are your only possible places to stop and depending on your pace, you might arrive at inconvenient times. You can stock up on snacks in Tyndrum for this section too.
Kingshouse to Kinlochleven
This is a day out in the wilds, so make sure to ask your accommodation provider for a packed lunch as there are no stops along this section of the route.
Kinlochleven to Fort William
Another pretty wild day, so stock up before you head out on the path today. However, it is highly recommended to stop for a celebratory drink and snack at the wonderfully authentic Ben Nevis Inn, just at the foot of Ben Nevis. It is only 20 minutes walk to the end of the route, but hey, you will have earned a break!