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The West Highland Way

Seven days of hiking Scotlands most famous long distance trail.

west highland way kingshouse

The West Highland Way is Scotland’s first and most famous long distance hiking trail.  It starts on the outskirts of Glasgow and winds its way up to Fort William and the foot of Ben Nevis over the course of about 7 days.  The distance is 96 miles and the scenery ever changing but spectacular throughout.

We gathered at the rather inauspicious Holiday Inn express at Glasgow airport, on the evening of Thursday 19th May.  It was a convenient meeting point and meant that everyone could travel at whatever time they wished.  Then we were up and out on Friday morning to be transported to the official start point in Milngavie.

West Highland Way day 1 – Milngavie to Drymen

west highland way start

The route passes through the outskirts of the town and then moves into more open country.  Around mid morning we get our first views of the hills to the north.

west highland way route to drymen

We had a stop at the pub stop around lunchtime and then continued on towards Drymen our first evening stop.  We stayed at the Buchanan arms hotel and had dinner at the Winnock Hotel.  As we approached Drymen we got our first views of Loch Lomond which was to be our constant companion for the next few days.  Then we popped into the post office to get our West Highland Way passports stamped.

West highloand way passport

West Highland Way day 2 – Drymen to Rowardennan

After re-joining the trail from our hotel we started through forest as we headed towards the start of the first real climb of the week.  Conic Hill is in a very prominent position overlooking Loch Lomond, so gives us fantastic views across the Loch and on to the hills beyond.  Its our first real view of the mountains and its quite breathtaking.

Conic Hill view

Its also a great place to take another group shot with Loch Lomond in the background.

west highland way loch lomond view

It was Donnett’s birthday, so a lunchtime trip to the pub at Balmaha was definitely required.

West Highland way birthday West Highland way pub stop

The afternoon walk from Balmaha is a great stretch along the lakeshore and through woodland, giving more great views of the Loch and surrounding hills and countryside.

loch lomond views

We stayed at the hostel at Rowardennan which is right on the Loch and were greeted by a fantastic rainbow as we arrived and then a spectacular sunset as the sun went down.

loch lomond rainbow loch lomond sunset

West Highland Way day 3 – Rowardennan to Drovers Inn

Day 3 was a bright and sunny start and gave us another opportunity to get a great group photo from outside the hostel overlooking the lake.

West highland way loch lomond

We had a great day as we made our way along the lake shore, through swathes of bluebells in the woods and more spectacular views of the Loch.  We had a lunch stop at Inversnaid where we did a bit of impromptu stretching of aching muscles then it was off again to the Drovers Inn.

west highland way bluebells West highland way stretching west highland way inversnaid Inversnaid harbour

We had an afternoon stop beside the loch for cooling hot feet and a bit of posing for photographs with the great views.

loch lomond photography

The Drovers Inn is a fantastically atmospheric pub.  It is very unusual, but it has loads of character and interest and I for one really enjoy staying there.  The plumbing leaves a bit to be desired but the staff are fantastic as well.

drovers inn pub drovers inn beer

West Highland Way day 4 – Drovers Inn to Tyndrum

Day 4 brings us ever closer to the highest mountains in Scotland as we pass by Crianlarich and make our way to Tyndrum.

west highland way inverarnan crianlarich hills west highland way tyndrum west highland way walking

We stay at the By the way hostel, which is a lovely comfortable and quiet hostel and head on out to the Real Food Café in the evening for the best fish and chips in Scotland.

West Highland Way day 5 – Tyndrum to The Kingshouse

This is our longest day of the entire West Highland Way trip.  But the first section to Bridge of Orchy is relatively flat and easy walking and then the second section over Rannoch Moor is one of the most spectacular.

west highland way bridge of orchy

After a brief stop at Bridge of Orchy there is a steep climb up through forest before we get more great views across to our lunch stop at inverornan and Loch Tulla.  But its also a great opportunity to share a dram with some fellow hikers.

sharing a whisky loch tulla

After Inverornan, its a long afternoons hike across Rannock, but with some great scenery as we make our across part of one of the last great wildernesses in Europe.

But there are still some amusing sights on the way.

on the way

As we cross Rannock Moor the views just keep getting better.

west highland way rannock west highland way rannock moor west highland way stretching west highland way Beauchaille etive mor

We arrive at the KingsHouse to be greeted by deer roaming around the grounds.

kingshouse deer

 West Highland Way day 6 – Kingshouse to Kinlochleven

Another spectacular day with non stop sunshine, so we start with a group photo in front of one of the most famous mountains in Scotland, Beauchaille Etive Mor.

beauchaille etive mor group view

Then climb to the top of the Devils staircase for our first distant views of Ben Nevis.

Devils staircase views

We make our way downhill then towards Kinlochleven our lodging for our last but one night and stop for a lunch break with a view.

west highland way lunch west highland way resting

We are staying at the Blackwater hostel but eat at the MacDonold hotel with its lovely views down the Loch.

blackwater hostel loch leven

 West Highland Way day 7 – Kinlochleven to Fort William

Our final day and we are blessed with yet more sunshine as we climb up from Kinlochleven.

loch leven views

After a very pleasant hike down the Glen the path finally brings us to our first close up glimpses of Ben Nevis and the end of our trek.

Ben Nevis group photo Ben Nevis

The final leg is a hike up Glen Nevis to the outskirts of Fort William for an essential celebration.

end of the west highland way end of the west highland way 2 end of the west highland way 3 end of the west highland way kevin & yen

And one last group photo.

west highland way end

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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