2015 West Highland Way

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This is not a race report, but a pictorial guide to the West Highland Way, the 96-mile long distance footpath in Scotland. The photographs are intended to give you a sense of what the West Highland Way is actually like, so this is not just a few images of pretty views. Instead I've taken many pictures of the trail itself. If you'd like more information on any of the images, just ask.

1 Background

We did The Way in 9 days, and used Macs Adventure to book both accommodations and baggage transfer. The baggage transfer means you can hike with just a day pack and have all your other gear driven from place to place, which worked really well. We packed more in our luggage than we should have, and I'd pack lighter next time. Macs offer trips from 6 to 11 days. Regardless of length, you have a 16-mile final leg as it's not practical to split the Kinlochleven to Fort William section up. I found that hiking The Way was far nicer than running it. I started The Way in 2011 but had to drop due to blister problems. Hiking the parts I had previously run allowed me to see more and absorb more. I also found the routine of hiking each day from place to place without any form of motorized transport was sublime. This simple life strips away the noise of life and provides profound relaxation and perspective. It gave me a sense of why people go on pilgrimages, and a desire to do more long-distance hiking.

2 Getting to the Start

3 Milngavie to Drymen

The first part of The Way is easy walking from Milngavie ("mull-guy") to Drymen ("dreman").

3.1 Detour to Mugdock Castle

We took the short (half mile each way) detour to visit the ruins of a castle.

4 Drymen to Rowardennan

The Way now goes over Conic Hill, which includes a tough descent, then some further elevation changes

4.1 Detour to Ben Lomond

You can go up Ben Lomond from Rowardennan, but it's quite a long hike and you may need an extra day for it.

5 Rowardennan to Inversnaid

This section of The Way has nice trails and is easy walking. The Inversnaid Hotel is a good place for lunch or a cup of tea, but we didn't stay there.

6 Inversnaid to Ardlui

This section of the trail is often considered the toughest, and progress tends to be slow. We stayed at the Ardlui Hotel, the other side of the Loch.

7 Ardlui to Tyndrum

The Way starts to change from trails to old roads; the main road last used in the 1930's, old drovers' roads and 18th century military roads.

8 Tyndrum to Bridge of Orchy

Another easy section.

9 Bridge of Orchy to Kingshouse

10 Kingshouse to Kinlochleven

11 Kinlochleven to Fort William

12 Exit Through The Gift Shop

The Way has been extended so that you now have to walk through the commercial center of Fort William. It adds some extra distance, but is rather jarring after being in the wilderness for so long. The new end is rather nice as there are benches to sit and wait for you fellow travelers in good weather.