Difference between revisions of "West Highland Way"
Revision as of 15:58, 13 June 2006
Get in / Get out
Although it is of course possible to walk from Fort William to Milngavie, the general advice is to use the more gentle terrain in the south as a warm-up to the remote and dramatic mountain areas further north, plus you will have the sun behind you. Milngavie is best reached from Glasgow city centre. Regular bus and local train services depart throughout the day from Buchanan Street Bus Station and Queen Street Railway Station respectively. The Kelvin Walkway is the best route if you wish to cycle or walk from the city.
Fort William has a three times daily train service and three times daily bus service both to Glasgow. Prices are around GBP15 one way.
Generally, people take anything between 3 and 7 days to complete the W.H.W., with the position of overnight accommodation determining daily milages. The Fort William end of the walk connects with the Great glen way, which runs a further 73 miles (118 kilometres) to Inverness.
There is a range of hotels, B&Bs, bunkhouses, simple shelters and campsites along the way. Expect to pay £20 - £40 per night for bed and breakfast at both hotels and B&B's. This option is available at:
Drymen (mile 12) Balmaha (mile 18) Rowardennan (mile 25) Inversnaid (mile 33) Ardlui (mile 37) Inverarnan (mile 40) Crianlarich (mile 46) Tyndrum (mile 52) Bridge of Orchy (mile 59) Inveroran (mile 62) Kings House Hotel (72) Kinlochleven (mile 80) Fort William (mile 95).
Highlights include the Inversnaid Hotel on the eastern bank of Loch Lomond, where in June 2006 a single room with ensuite and breakfast was a remarkable £20, and the historic King's House Hotel in stunning Glen Coe, where B&B starts at around £30.
You can expect to pay around £10 - £20 for a bunkhouse bed with breakfast. These can be found at
Balmaha (mile 18) Rowardennan Lodge (Youth Hostel) (mile 26) Inversnaid (mile 33) Inverarnan (Youth Hostel) (mile 40) Tyndrum (mile 52) Glencoe Village (10 miles by bus from the Kings House Hotel at mile 72) Kinlochleven (mile 80) Fort William (mile 95)
A backpacker's pitch at a serviced campsite (i.e. one providing water, showers, toilets etc) costs around £5. These can be found at:
Gartness (mile 10) Easter Drumquassle Farm (mile 11) Millarochy (mile 20) Cashel (mile 21) Ardlui (mile 37) Inverarnan (mile 40) Auchtertyre (mile 49) Tyndrum (mile 52) Inveroran (mile 62) Kinlochleven (mile 80).
If this is your preferred option, a choice must be made between a shortish (11 miles) or longish (20 miles) first day. If you choose the latter, conic hill around mile 17, whilst a first taste of the scenic beauty to come, is a heartbreaker. Also note that a long second day to Ardlui or Inverarnan then follows. After that the sites are well spaced. The pick of the bunch is Beinglass Farm at Inverarnan. Basically it's an excellent bar/restaurant with a campsite and camping shop attached. The Millarochy site is also recommended for its lovely spot on Loch Lomond.
Walkers may wild camp for free in small numbers except in enclosed fields of crops or near farm animals but all traces of the camp must be removed (see www.outdooraccess-scotland.com). Water presents the main difficulty with this option. Consuming water from the many streams (or "burns") along the way is said to be "high risk at low level" (i.e. unless there has been lots of rain) because of the cows and sheep on the hills, although boiling the water will provide a measure of protection. The safest option is to bring water from the nearest drinkable source. This means hauling a lot of weight but, if you pick the right spot, it can be worth it for the solitude. Designated wild campsites close to drinkable water can be found at Rowardennan Lodge, Inversnaid and Kings House Hotel.
Finally there are two bothies en route, Rowchoish and Doune, both on Loch Lomond. These are basically stone shelters without running water, i.e. offer wild camping without the need for a tent.
Eat / Drink
Shops on the route can be few and far between, but some are available. Further north the shops disappear for long distances, however there are small public houses at reasonable intervals. These establishments usual serve a range of hot food in addition to bar drinks.
The West Highland Way is a very enjoyable and rewarding walk. The remote country, changeable weather and length which make it so also mean you could find yourself in difficulty. Appropriate emergency equipment should be carried, and all the usual mountain walking rules still apply.