The West Highland Way is one of the best-loved long distance walks in Scotland. Stretching 96 miles (154km) from Milngavie to Fort William, it takes in some of the most beautiful and dramatic scenery of the Scottish Highlands. Your journal covers the route in eight stages, averaging 12 miles of walking each day and giving you plenty of time to enjoy your surroundings.
MILNGAVIE to DRYMEN
The first leg of the walk, with its relatively flat landscapes, gives you a nice gentle introduction to the route today. Starting from a granite obelisk in Milngavie town centre, you’ll begin with a stroll through Mugdock Country Park, before encountering some small rivers and lochs as you head between the Campsie Fells and Blane Water.
The paths on this stretch are good, with some lovely rural outlooks. Today’s leg finishes in the village of Drymen (meaning ‘on the ridge’) which has a pretty village square. The Rob Roy Way also starts in Drymen, so it’s a popular place with walkers.
DRYMEN TO Rowardennan
(22.5 KM/14 MILES)
Leaving Drymen, you head up and over Conic Hill, which separates the highlands and lowlands of Scotland. A steep climb is rewarded with stunning views over Loch Lomond, the largest inland stretch of water in Great Britain. This sets the scene for the views and landscapes you can expect to encounter over the coming days!
A steep path descends into the little village of Balmaha, and you continue on the path which alternates between the loch shore and woodland, passing three campsites. It’s a deceptively hard section, with lots of short steep climbs, but you are rewarded with beautiful forest scenery. You arrive in Rowardennan, which is also the starting point for climbing Ben Lomond.
Rowardennan TO INVERARNAN
Today is one of the more challenging days, with lots of undulating terrain. As you leave Rowardennan the path follows forestry roads to climb above Loch Lomond, with great views over the loch and towards the Arrochar Alps. Coming towards Inversnaid the rough path gets narrower and rockier, so take care underfoot. You’ll be rewarded at Inversnaid as you pass over the spectacular bridge and waterfall.
After Inversnaid the walk takes you through the RSPB nature reserve – wild goats as well as birds of prey have been spotted in this section of the walk. You’ll also pass close by Rob Roy’s Cave. The path to the head of the loch is another strenuous one with lots of ups and downs, so you’ll be glad to visit the renowned Drovers Inn when you reach Inverarnan.
INVERARNAN to TYNDRUM
The landscape changes again on this section of the West Highland Way, giving your legs a chance to recover from the previous days’ efforts! The walking on the stretch to Tyndrum is much more relaxing, with good paths climbing out of Inverarnan through Glen Falloch – look for glimpses of theFalls of Falloch – and towards Crianlarich. The peaks of Ben More and Stob Binnean provide a wonderful backdrop.
After Crianlarich you’ll head through some quiet woodland and then back onto the valley floor, still surrounded by the dramatic highland scenery. The route passes the ruins of St Fillan’s Priory as you follow the river into Tyndrum.
TYNDRUM to INVERORAN
Today is another day of rewarding Highland views, as you get even closer to the surrounding mountains. You’ll be walking on old military roads, which gives you a good chance to stretch your legs now that you’re in your stride on the West Highland Way!
Leaving Tyndrum, you follow the valley floor guided by the huge conical peak of Beinn Dorain ahead. It’s a gentle walk down into the hamlet of Bridge of Orchy, with its railway station and views to Glen Orchy. A short sharp climb leaving Bridge of Orchy provides you with some spectacular views across Loch Tulla and the Black Mount.
INVERORAN to KINGSHOUSE
This is a remote section of the walk, with some exposed areas, so make sure you’re prepared for the ever-changing Scottish elements. The path from Inveroran heads around Loch Tulla and up onto Rannoch Moor, a beautiful wild landscape which was once covered by a giant icecap. Stop for a rest at Ba Bridge, hopefully the weather will allow for good views from here!
Continuing along the old military road, you’ll pass the Glencoe Ski Centre and then into sight of Buachaille Etive Mor, one of the best known, most loved and most photographed Munro peaks. ‘The Buachaille’, as it’s known, featured in scenes from the James Bond film Skyfall.
KINGSHOUSE TO KINLOCHLEVEN
From Kingshouse follow the old military road to Altnafeadh, close to the foot of The Buachaille and with views of the historic Glen Coe, site of the Glencoe Massacre in 1692. You then turn sharp right to follow a zig-zag route up the Devil’s Staircase, reaching the highest point of the West Highland Way at 550m, marked with a cairn. If the weather’s clear you’ll have super views towards Ben Nevis, and also back to Buachaille Etive Mor. From here it’s a descent and a walk across moorland into the pretty town of Kinlochleven.
KINLOCHLEVEN to FORTH WILLIAM
Your final day starts with a steep climb out of Kinlochleven, but it’s worth it for the fantastic views over Loch Leven. You’ll follow a narrow easy track through a remote valley and pretty forest, following the glen into Glen Nevis. Ahead of you is Ben Nevis, Britain’s highest mountain standing at 1,345m – the forestry road passes the visitor centre.
You’re on the home stretch now! The final couple of miles are a descent along the Glen Nevis road into Fort William, where you’ll find the official end to the West Highland Way on the main street in the town. Congratulations on completing the 96-mile route!