Walking the West Highland Way, the 96 mile long distance hiking trail, typically takes from 5 to 8 days. Starting on the outskirts of Glasgow, the route takes in the splendour of Glencoe and finishes in Fort William.
Popular with trekkers from all around the world, keep in mind these tips when you’re planning your trip…
Pack For The Weather
It’s Scotland. It’s possible to go through all four seasons in one day – even in June. Make sure you have adequate kit for wet and cold weather.
Avoid The Midges
The best time for walking the West Highland Way is April or May before these little creatures start to bite. If you’re hiking the route later in the Summer, it’s best to avoid camping. (If you must camp read my tips for Midges In Scotland (Can You Survice A Summer Camping Trip?). Take Avon Skin So Soft as midge repellent (it’s what the locals use) and a head net.
That “light” pack at the start of the trail will feel a lot heavier by the end. If you’re not used to carrying a back pack, there’s nothing wrong with using a baggage transfer service.
Train Seriously For Walking The West Highland Way
If you’re unfit, 96 miles will seem a long way. The longest sections will be up to 20 miles so you need to be used to long days walking. Follow my guide to train for a trekking trip.
Use Suitable Footwear
This is a tough decision for this trail. Most of the trail is suitable for training shoes provided they have good grip. Yet if you need ankle support – go with lightweight boots.
It’s going to be down to what you’re used to walking in and whether you’re carrying a full pack. There’s no wrong or right answer, it’s what works for you.
Break Your Footwear In Before Walking The West Highland Way
Sounds obvious but so many people start off in new boots and really suffer. We’ve all done it! Pack some Compeed just in case.
Take Dry Bags
It rains a lot on the West Coast of Scotland. Large resealable bags from Ikea are a good buy or you can splash out on dry bags. Don’t forget a plastic bag for your mobile phone!
I know most people will opt for B&B’s, but wild camping in Scotland is a magical experience. You can cut down on the weight you carry by eating your fill in the towns you pass through. Just head into the wild to sleep! (There are some restrictions wild camping around Lock Lomond, check before you go).
Take A Camera
When you’re walking The West Highland Way you’re passing through some of the best scenery in Scotland. Take a camera!
Food and Drink
Long sections of the West Highland Way pass through remote areas. Plan your trip to make sure you top up with adequate provisions.
Stop At The Real Food Cafe
Tyndrum is a welcome stopping point when you’re walking the West Highland Way. The Real Food Cafe gets really busy in Summer but the food is worth the wait.
Take The Family
If you have adventurous children who are used to walking, take them with you! They will love the outdoor experience, especially wild camping.
The West Highland Way is one of the most popular trekking routes in the UK and a favourite of mine. I trekked the route one sunny Easter (yes the sun sometimes shines in Scotland). Are you planning a trip? I’d love to know how you get on…