The West Highland Way is arguably the most beautiful walking route in the entire United Kingdom. At a length of 96 miles, you will travel through areas that will quite simply take your breath away.
You will start your journey in a small town called Milngavie, just on the outskirts of Glasgow. From Glasgow airport it only costs around £20 in a taxi and only takes about 20minutes.
Trains to Milngavie are the best and easiest option and also very cheap. From Glasgow central station tickets only cost around £3.50.
There’s a train from Glasgow Central at 07:39am which will get you into Milngavie at 08:03am. (Recommended) As this will give you plenty of time to complete your baggage handover. You can check other journey times here (www.scotrail.co.uk)
The train station car park at Milngavie is where Baggage Freedom will collect your bags on the morning you begin your walk. Bag collection is between 08:00am and 09:00am.
From the station walk through the underpass and up the stairs, This will take you along to the West Highland Way statue. (Dont forget to take a picture)
When you set off on your journey, you will need to follow the West Highland Way markers positioned along the route. Although these markers are well-positioned, it is recommended you bring a map, just incase you miss one or take a wrong turn!
Looking for places to stay? Simply hover over the locations bar on our website and select an area from the drop down menu. Each location will give you the name, address and a map feature to enable you to familiarize yourself with the surrounding vicinity. We have also included which places are pet friendly so you can decide the best stops to select each day. Giving you the ability to bring your furry friend along for the adventure with you!
Planning Your Overnight Stops
How long your journey takes is based on personal (and group) preference:
- For people who are very fit and used to walking, it can be done in 3 days or less.
- The best pace would be doing it over 5 days, this is a popular choice for most people.
- If you are an older person, not used to walking long distances, or simply want to take your time and enjoy every moment, then we would recommend doing it over 7 days.
Over 7 days we recommend this route:
|Day 1:||Milngavie||to||Drymen||12 Miles|
|Day 2:||Drymen||to||Rowardennan||14 Miles|
|Day 3:||Rowardennan||to||Inverarnan||14 Miles|
|Day 4:||Inverarnan||to||Tyndrum||12 Miles|
|Day 5:||Tyndrum||to||Kingshouse||19 Miles|
|Day 6:||Kingshouse||to||Kinlochleven||9 Miles|
|Day 7:||Kinlochleven||to||Fort William||16 Miles|
Over 5 days we recommend this route:
|Day 1:||Milngavie||to||Balmaha||19 Miles|
|Day 2:||Balmaha||to||Inverarnan||21 Miles|
|Day 3:||Inverarnan||to||Bridge of Orchy||19 Miles|
|Day 4:||Bridge of Orchy||to||Kinlochleven||21 Miles|
|Day 5:||Kinlochleven||to||Fort William||16 Miles|
There are many campsites along the West Highland Way route, Several hotels and pubs also allow camping on their land. You can also wild camp on most of the route but please follow the Scottish Outdoor Access Code.
After you have camped out and are about to move along make sure every belonging of yours is took away with you including rubbish, If you dont this destroys the area and can cause serious harm to wild life. Please keep it tidy so others can also enjoy.
If you’re having a fire please dont destroy/cut down trees, Doing so may result in the police issuing you with a fixed penalty fine for vandalism. Always keep your fire small and under control, It is a handy tip to keep some water nearby so you can put it out quickly in case of emergency. Alternatively if possible please use a stove instead of an open fire.
For Your Safety
Please remember that your own safety and the safety of your group is the most important thing while travelling the West Highland Way. Despite the amazing scenery, you will be travelling through rural and remote places and should prepare appropriately.
Unlike most places in the world, vehicles in the United Kingdom are driven on the left-hand side of the road.
During some sections of the walk you will need to walk along country roads where there are no sidewalks/pavements. It is important to walk on the right-hand side of the road so that you see on-coming traffic, and the on-coming traffic can see you.
Walk as close to the right-hand edge of the road as possible, and in single-file if you are walking as a group. This will allow drivers to get past you safely, It is also smart to wear a high visibility jacket or any bright colours to be seen from further away.
Luckily for us humans, there are no wolves or bears roaming around the United Kingdom anymore! But over the course of your journey you will be passing through fields with various livestock belonging to farmers. You will see many animals ranging from Highland cows to herds of sheep.
For the most part, animals will ignore you, watch from a distance, or run away when they see you. However, on rare occasions, you will see an animal standing in the middle of a track you are walking along that will not move out of the way when it sees you.
You can simply wait for the animal to move out of the way itself, or (if there is enough space) calmly walk to the side of the path, leaving enough distance between you and the animal so it doesn’t become scared or feel threatened.
Many of the fields you will be walking through have a gate on either side of them. Please remember to close the gates behind you, as this prevents the animals from escaping or wandering onto the road.
Weather and Clothes
In Scotland we can have four seasons in a single day, so it’s important to be dressed for sudden changes:
- Base Layer: On very cold days, we recommend wearing thermal underwear to help regulate your body temperature. If you do not own these, an under-shirt / vest-shirt with leggings could work as well.
- Middle Layer (Upper Body): This is your main layer, used to trap the warmth your body generates. For your upper body we recommend a warm sweater or hoody, and a thick, hooded jacket (with zip) to go over it.
- Middle Layer (Lower Body): For your lower body, jeans are a popular choice, although warm walking trousers are preferable as they give you a better range of movement. There are points during the walk where you will have to climb on high steps to get over the other side of a fence or wall, and having trousers with a good range of movement makes this easier.
We only recommend shorts for people who don’t mind the cold, or on a warm summers day!
- Outer Layer: This is the layer that will protect you against the harsher elements, so to start with we highly recommend water-proof trousers and a water-proof jacket. These items can be folded / rolled up and easily stored away if the sun decides to reappear, but a plastic poncho could also work well instead.
We also recommend a pair of warm, water-proof gloves to keep your hands protected, as well as a good woollen hat and scarf. The hat and scarf will protect your head from cold winds, which can be quite unpleasant if you find yourself walking against them!
- Boots: It is best you purchase a good pair of walking boots from a reliable brand, do not be afraid to invest some money as these are the boots you will be wearing your entire trip. These boots need to last until the end of your journey without coming apart or taking in water, spending around £50 (UK) or $60 (US) usually guarantees you will have a reliable pair.
Before you start your journey, it is best you wear the boots for three days while walking around and going about your business. This will help the boots to “break-in” and form to the shape of your feet. This will also help prevent unpleasant blisters while walking the West Highland Way, which can take away from the enjoyment of your walk.
The Van Survival Shop
If you forget any emergency items or lose them along the way, please note that the Baggage Freedom van has a number of items available to buy such as:
- First Aid Kits
- Gas Cannisters
- Cooking Pots
- and more!
You will be able to purchase any of these items from the van at the start of your walk in Milngavie, but you can also purchase from us whenever you see our van parked along the West Highland Way.
If you need anything else, Milngavie town centre is the perfect place to stock up before you start your walk. It’s a small town with a lot of various shops, cafes, pubs and restaurants. The other towns you’ll walk through also have useful shops such as: Drymen, Balmaha, Rowardennan, Crianlarich, Tyndrum and Kinlochleven. And you will be happy to know that mostly everywhere has pubs !!!
It is recommended to take some cash during your walk in case you cant find a cash machine. Most towns do have them but sometimes they can be out of order so its always smart to have an emergency back up. Approx £40 should be more than enough.
Fort William and Ben Nevis
After several days you will reach the end of your journey at Fort William, located in the heart of the Highlands. Fort William is also home to Ben Nevis, The tallest mountain in the United Kingdom! We recommend doing this before you leave as the views from the top are spectacular! And its a great way to finish off your walking trip. The paths are good but it will take most of the day to reach the top and get back down again.
Pet friendly return transport
But after all that walking, we’re sure you’d love to take a rest, and certainly not think about walking all the way back! Well you’re in luck, because at Baggage Freedom we also run a pet friendly return transport service from Fort William to Glasgow daily. Pets travel FREE (This service leaves from the sore feet statue at 6pm daily)
Gregg here, the owner of Baggage Freedom. I have been all over the world (having served in the 1st Battalion Scots Guards in the British Army) and I can honestly say that in the right weather conditions, The West Highland Way has views that send a tingle down my spine and make the hairs on the back of my neck stand up! Breathtakingly amazing, it is a trip you need to put on your bucket list for sure.
But as you’re taking in all the breath-taking views and scenery, Do you really need heavy bags and luggage weighing you down? Wouldn’t you rather we take the weight off your shoulders? You know life makes us all feel weighed down sometimes and its because of this we dont always truly enjoy experiences. Do you want to truly enjoy every moment of this trip as much as possible?
If so, what you waiting for?
Use BAGGAGE FREEDOM, and FEEL THE FREEDOM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Enjoy Your Walk!
Photography credit goes to: Czeska Dalomis @ Images of Scotland / Pamela Aitken / Paul whatley and Catriona biggart