Hiking Scotland’s Spectacular West Highland Way - Fauna Travel

Hiking Scotland’s Spectacular West Highland Way

En Route to Fort William, Scotland, West Highland Way / Krisjanis Mezulis / Unsplash

10 Days

Scotland’s West Highland Way is a renowned long-distance hiking trail stretching 96 miles from Milngavie, near Glasgow, to Fort William in the Scottish Highlands. This iconic trek offers adventurers a captivating journey through Scotland’s most dramatic and picturesque landscapes, including serene lochs, rugged mountains, and sprawling moors. Established in 1980 as Scotland’s first official long-distance footpath, the West Highland Way attracts hikers worldwide with its blend of challenging terrain, rich history, and the promise of breathtaking vistas at every turn. The route encapsulates the essence of Scotland’s natural beauty and cultural heritage, making it a must-experience for outdoor enthusiasts.

When walking steadily, you can anticipate spending 6-8 hours each day to complete the journey. While you are following a designated trail, it’s essential to understand how to read a hiking map and have basic navigation skills. Trail conditions will range from well-maintained gravel paths to rough, rocky areas, with some sections being muddy and wet. Fortunately, luggage transfer for one bag per person (up to 20kg) is included, so you’ll only need to carry a daypack. Detailed route notes, including a map and directions to your accommodation, will also be provided.

Day 1 – Arrive in Glasgow

Glasgow, Scotland, West Highland Way / Arthur Kraft / Unsplash
Glasgow, Scotland, West Highland Way / Arthur Kraft / Unsplash

Today, you’ll arrive in Glasgow, Scotland’s largest city, renowned for its vibrant culture, rich history, and artistic scene. Take time to explore, considering a visit to Kelvingrove Art Museum, strolling through the charming West End, pausing at the Botanical Gardens for a coffee, and admiring the stunning architecture of the University. Later, unwind at your accommodation before embarking on your hiking expedition tomorrow.

Day 2 – Milngavie to Drymen

Milgavie, Scotland, West Highland Way / Krisjanis Mezulis / Unsplash
Milgavie, Scotland, West Highland Way / Krisjanis Mezulis / Unsplash

This morning, board a train from Glasgow to Milngavie (pronounced mil-gai) to reach the starting point of the West Highland Way. Before setting out on your hike, leave your luggage with the transfer service situated at the trailhead. Begin your journey by heading north, passing by Craigallian and Carbeth Lochs, and walking along the western slopes of the Campsie Fells—a favored spot for many Glaswegian mountaineers on their first adventures. Continue until you arrive at your accommodation in the village of Drymen for the night.

Hike Details: 12 miles | 690 ft elevation

Day 3 – Drymen to Rowardennan

This morning, the trail departs from the charming village of Drymen and meanders through Garadhban Forest. As you leave the peaceful woodland, you can ascend Conic Hill, standing at 361 meters and offering stunning views of Loch Lomond, or take an alternate lower-level route that bypasses the hill’s sharp peak. Upon reaching Balmaha on the eastern shores of Loch Lomond, continue along the tree-lined shoreline until you arrive at Rowardennan, a serene village at the base of Ben Lomond.

Hike Details: 14 miles | 1,410 ft elevation

Loch Lomond, Scotland, West Highland Way / Gary Ellis / Unsplash
Loch Lomond, Scotland, West Highland Way / Gary Ellis / Unsplash

Day 4 – Rowardennan to Inverarnan

Today is regarded by many as one of the toughest sections. The trail winds along the rugged shores of Loch Lomond, presenting a challenging path underfoot. Despite this, the effort is rewarding, as the wild and remote landscape offers numerous chances to spot red deer and golden eagles. The scenery is breathtaking, featuring vast moorlands, dramatic corries, and jagged mountain peaks. As you near the small settlement of Invernarnan, where a cozy bed awaits you for the night, the path becomes easier to navigate.

Hike details: 14 miles | 1,560 ft elevation

Day 5 – Inverarnan to Tyndrum

Ben Lui, Scotland, West Highland Way / Johnny McKenna / Unsplash
Ben Lui, Scotland, West Highland Way / Johnny McKenna / Unsplash

This morning, follow the path through Glen Falloch, then turn northwest toward Strath Fillan. The landscape here is vast and untamed, with winds rustling through the tall grasses and meadow pipits darting over the purple heather. As you near the small village of Tyndrum, take in the magnificent views of Ben Lui to the west and admire the resilient plants emerging from the rocky soil nearby. Upon reaching the village, settle in and unwind at your accommodation for the night.

Hike details: 12 miles | 1,608 ft elevation

Day 6 – Tyndrum to Bridge of Orchy

This wonderful day starts with a climb out of Tyndrum, with the trail paralleling the West Highland Railway line. As you reach the top of the pass, you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking views as you cross the expansive slopes of Beinn Odhar, Beinn a’Chaisteil, and Beinn Dorain. Continue along the old military road toward the Bridge of Orchy until you spot the railway station. Turn left to enter the village, which has been established since 1751.

Hike details: 6 miles | 440 ft elevation

Day 7 – Bridge of Orchy to Glencoe

Glencoe, Scotland, West Highland Way / Max hermansson / Unsplash
Glencoe, Scotland, West Highland Way / Max hermansson / Unsplash

This morning, depart from Bridge of Orchy and venture into the atmospheric beauty of Glencoe. A steady ascent reveals breathtaking views of Loch Tulla and the expansive Rannoch Moor stretching towards the horizon. Wind your way through the solitary landscape, looking for red deer and birds of prey. Upon arriving in Glencoe, settle into your cozy, beautifully situated hotel. Note: An upgrade to a five-star hotel is available for this night.

Hike details: 12.5 miles | 1,540 ft elevation

Day 8 – Glencoe to Kinlochleven

Ben Nevis, Scotland, West Highland Way / Mile Siauciulyte / Unsplash
Ben Nevis, Scotland, West Highland Way / Mile Siauciulyte / Unsplash

The last day of your journey is truly magical and richly rewarding. Start by trekking through the woods above Kinlochleven, then continue along a grand glen that offers mesmerizing views of Ben Nevis and the nearby mountains. Make a steady descent towards Fort William, where a bronze sculpture of a hiker signifies the triumphant conclusion of your adventure. Note: You can upgrade your accommodation tonight to a five-star hotel.

Hike details: 8.5 miles | 1,410 ft of elevation

Day 9 – Kinlochleven to Fort William

Kinlochlevin, Scotland, West Highland Way / Marleen Mulder / Unsplash
Kinlochlevin, Scotland, West Highland Way / Marleen Mulder / Unsplash

The final day of your adventure is suitably enchanting and deservedly satisfying. Begin by walking through the woods above Kinlochleven before strolling along a great glen, which provides captivating views of Ben Nevis and the surrounding mountains. Descend steadily towards Fort William, where a bronze sculpture of a walker marks the celebratory end of your adventure. Note: You can upgrade your accommodation tonight to a five-star hotel.

Hike details: 15 miles | 1,560 ft of ascent

Day 10 – Fort William and Depart

After a leisurely breakfast this morning, put on some comfortable shoes and take the time to explore Fort William. Treat yourself to a coffee and a well-deserved pastry as you stroll around, visiting bookshops, outdoor stores, and bakeries before starting your journey home. Board the train back to Glasgow, enjoying the scenic countryside rolling by your window, content in the knowledge that you just walked 96 miles of it on foot.

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