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West Highland Way

Overview

The West Highland Way is Scotland’s most popular long-distance walking route. It stretches 96 miles (154 km) from Milngavie to Fort William, taking in a huge variety of scenery, from countryside fields and forests to loch shores and from open moorlands to rugged mountains.

Our standard West Highland Way itinerary takes 10 days (9 nights) to complete the whole trail with an average of 12 miles (19 km) of walking per day. On request, we can design a custom shorter version of the itinerary, either more demanding or more leisurely. Extra nights are also possible to book in most places along the route.

The route is very well signposted, with well-maintained paths and tracks throughout. Accommodation, services and refreshments are also conveniently located from start to finish, providing opportunities for a comfortable and relaxing end to a tough day’s walking.

Full list of our West Highland Way itineraries is available here.

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Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive Milngavie

Today you arrive in the town of Milngavie. Milngavie is easily reachable from Glasgow by public transport (20-30 minutes).

Day 2: Walk Milngavie to Drymen | 13 mi / 21 km

The walk starts at the obelisk in the Milngavie town centre and follows the Allander Water through patches of woodland, before heading into Mugdock Country Park and Craigallian Loch. The route towards Drymen follows a quaint, hedge-lined country lane, before leaving the West Highland Way down into the village of Drymen. 

  • Walking for the day: 13 miles (21 km), approx. 6 hours, highest point: 140 m
  • Accommodation: Braeside B&B or similar

Day 3: Drymen to Rowardennan | 15 mi / 24 km

Back on the West Highland Way, the route soon enters the Garadhban Forest, where there are two options for walkers; the first being an easier walk into Milton of Buchanan, where the road is followed into Balmaha, sitting on the banks of the loch.  The second option is a more strenuous, but ultimately much more rewarding route, as the climb up Conic Hill gives rise to fabulous views over Loch Lomond. Then walk along the east side of Loch Lomond, flirting with the water’s edge along much of the way. This is a lovely, low level and relaxed stage as it meanders through pebble beaches.

  • Walking for the day: 15 miles (24 km), approx. 7 hours, highest point: 315 m
  • Accommodation: Rowardennan Hotel*** or similar

Day 4: Rowardennan to Inverarnan | 13.5 mi / 22 km

From Rowardennan, the path heads into the thick woodland. There are two options here; the easier being the wide forest track which follows the contours up and down the hill; or the more time consuming, narrow path which skirts over rocks and exposed tree roots along the banks of the loch. The rocky and uneven path continues along the loch, hugging the water’s edge amidst the fabulous and ancient oak forest.  The loch becomes noticeably narrower as the path approaches Inverarnan.

  • Walking for the day: 13.5 miles (22 km), approx. 6-7 hours, highest point: 131 m
  • Accommodation: The Drovers Inn & Lodge or similar

Day 5: Inverarnan to Tyndrum | 12 mi / 19 km

Soon after leaving Inverarnan, the path runs alongside the picturesque, fast-flowing River Falloch before a long stretch on an old military road. The route here closely follows the west highland railway and eventually passes underneath the tracks as the path nears a coniferous forest. The route continues through the forest, with the path winding and undulating through the contours. The path then crosses through the road and the River Fillin. The views of the surrounding mountains are wonderful. A well-maintained path follows the River Cononish before reaching Tyndrum.

  • Walking for the day: 12 miles (19 km), approx. 5-6 hours, highest point: 335 m
  • Accommodation: Tigh Na Fraoch B&B or similar

Day 6: Tyndrum to Bridge of Orchy | 9 mi / 14.5 km

From Tyndrum, the route closely follows the railway and the road, although it continues to maintain its own unique qualities.  By this stage, you are firmly in the Scottish Highlands, and the view will be spectacular from here, all the way to Fort William.  The path uses an old military road throughout this stage (and continues right across Rannoch Moor).  This is also the most exposed section of the route so far with little protection from the elements. The path climbs out of Bridge of Orchy through a coniferous forest, eventually providing lovely views to Loch Tulla.

  • Walking for the day: 9 miles (14.5 km), approx. 4-5 hours, highest point: 330 m
  • Accommodation: Bridge of Orchy Hotel or similar

Day 7: Bridge of Orchy to Glencoe | 10 mi / 16 km

The path starts from the Inveroran Hotel, before the long stretch across the edge of the wild and eerily remote Rannoch Moor, passes the Glencoe Ski Centre and into the fabulous mountain range of Glencoe.

  • Walking for the day: 10 miles (16 km), approx. 5-6 hours, highest point: 450 m
  • Accommodation: Tom Eachainn B&B or similar

Day 8: Glencoe to Kinlochleven | 9 mi / 14.5 km

This stage of the West Highland Way includes the infamous Devil’s Staircase, the steepest climb of the route, reaching the highest point of the entire mile journey (made easier by the zig-zag path up the hill). The views from the top are spectacular. The track away from the staircase towards Kinlochleven signals an escape from the Glencoe Mountains and offers a long descent along excellent tracks all the way into the town.

  • Walking for the day: 9 miles (14.5 km), approx. 4.5-5.5 hours, highest point: 550 m
  • Accommodation: Tigh Na Cheo Guesthouse or similar

Day 9: Kinlochleven to Fort William | 15 mi / 25 km

The climb out of Kinlochleven is a steep ascent through a beautiful little forest.  The view from the top provides a fabulous view down to Loch Leven and the village.  The old military road then passes through a wide valley on the edge of Mamore mountain range, known as Lairigmor, before turning towards Glen Nevis through forested areas. The path gradually descends to Fort William, with a final stretch along the road into Fort William centre.

  • Walking for the day: 15 miles (25 km), approx. 6-7 hours, highest point: 330 m
  • Accommodation: Guisachan House B&B or similar

Day 10: Departure

Departure by bus or train to Glasgow (3-4 hours) or Edinburgh. Additional nights at the end of the walk can be arranged to explore the highlands at your leisure, including climbing up Scotland’s highest mountain, Ben Nevis.

What to Expect

Accommodation

Accommodation is in nice hotels and B&Bs, all offering comfortable en-suite double or twin rooms. All places have been carefully hand-picked by us, and their quality is regularly monitored. We have tried to choose accommodations that offer friendly service, clean and comfortable rooms and local flavour.

Show the default hotels for this trip

*Note that hotels are subject to availability. In case a particular hotel from the ones pictured above is fully booked for your desired dates, we will replace it with a hotel of equal or higher value and quality level. We will provide exact accommodation details to you upon booking confirmation.

Meals

Breakfast is included on all days. When no restaurant location is available on the route, lunches and snacks should either be bought from local shops, or packed lunch can be pre-ordered from your hotel the night before. You can have dinner at the guesthouse you are staying at or at the village pubs and restaurants.

Difficulty & terrain

Although daily elevation gains are not very big, you should be prepared to walk on average 12 miles (19 km) or 5-7 hours per day. Some days will be more challenging than others and the terrain will be varied with some rough and rugged footpaths (read more about difficulty grades). The route is well signposted throughout, however, walkers must be vigilant at all times as there are paths and junctions along the way which deviate from the main route. As well as the Guidebook, your package includes a detailed map of the full route. We highly recommend that at least one member of your party is a competent map and compass reader. We strongly advise you to follow only marked trails and never try to shorten the path through the unknown and unmarked terrain. We will provide you with detailed road notes and maps, and you can call our 24/7 local assistance phone number anytime. More detailed info on route navigation will be included in your holiday information pack.

When to go

This trip is available to commence every day from 01 April till 30 September. The flexibility of self guided holidays means that there are no fixed dates, and you can start your trip on any date during the season.

Getting there

Up-to-date travel advice on the United Kingdom is available here (for Canadian citizens) and here (for US citizens). Some funny but useful travel advice about Scotland is available here. 😊

Click to view travel options and route planner

By plane

Our recommended airport for this tour is Glasgow.

By train or bus
  • Glasgow: There are excellent air, train and bus services, allowing easy access anywhere in the UK and overseas.
  • Milngavie: Public transport, by train, bus or taxi, from Glasgow city centre
  • Fort William: The main routes out of Fort William are by bus and train to Glasgow. The journey, whether by rail or coach, is an absolutely glorious trip with stunning scenery throughout
  • A great website useful specifically for public transport planning within Scotland is Traveline Scotland.

Inclusions

Included

  • Pre-booked accommodation as per the itinerary on 9 nights in B&B’s, small hotels and guesthouses
  • Full breakfast each morning
  • Door-to-door luggage transfers on all walking days
  • Daily Itineraries, Maps & Guidebooks (one set per booking)
  • Info on transport and local services
  • 24/7 phone assistance by our local office / representative

Excluded

  • Airfare and connecting land transfers
  • Lunches, dinners, drinks and snacks
  • Travel insurance (required – get a quote online)
  • Personal expenses
  • Local tourist taxes and entry fees (payable on-site)
  • Any items not specifically mentioned as included in the programme

Options, extras & supplements

  • Single room supplement for members of a group
  • This holiday is available for solo travellers; a supplement will be charged as accommodation and luggage transfer costs are not shared (we never mix and match – solo travellers will be accommodated in single rooms)
  • Extra nights along the route or in Glasgow are available upon request

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Reviews

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Rating

     

Average rating:  5 stars  from 5 reviews

Fiona and Colin H5 stars

What a wonderful trip! We were extremely lucky to have wall-to-wall sunshine and not a single midge, but really the fantastic organisation of the trip made it all such a pleasure. All the accommodation (B and Bs) was excellent and our hosts were faultless. We were greeted with homemade pancakes and jam in one! Nearly all offered a cooked breakfast, which we much appreciated. The transport (pickup from Kingshouse down to our accommodation in the village and back to the same spot the next morning) worked a treat. Also - the bag pickup was a smart decision and we were delighted with the standard of the service. Thank you so much for making this a really excellent experience.

Jess S and Alexa C5 stars

This was a superb adventure and the Natural Adventure Company made the whole experience seamless from start to finish. The B&Bs they booked for us were wonderful and so comfortable after the day's hike. We found that the owners of the B&Bs were extremely helpful and gave lots of excellent advice about the WHW as well as other places in Scotland to visit. The baggage transfer service was impeccable and made the trip so much more manageable. I could not recommend undertaking the WHW highly enough. It was just the right level of challenge, the scenery is spectacular and you meet lots of like minded hikers throughout the journey.

Hans N5 stars

Accommodations were very good and the check-in/check-out process very easy. Breakfasts provided was excellent. The baggage transfer service was flawless.

Yvette5 stars

We are back from a superb walk: the West Highland Way.  We absolutely loved it!  When we started I thought it may be too crowded but actually it was great to walk with other people and meet them again at the bar in the evening.   And everything was very well organised, so thank you.

Jane5 stars

My daughter and I had a most wonderful time on the West Highland Way, thanks to your great planning and organization!  I am so glad that we chose this route, as it was challenging in places (Devil’s staircase in the pouring rain!) but what an adventure to be in remote and awesomely beautiful places!  The accommodations were superb, with the friendliest people! We liked alternating between B and B’s and small hotels.  Thanks again for everything!