This tour follows the 96 mile national long-distance trail of the same name through the south-western part of the Scottish Highlands. It is claimed by some to be the most popular long distance trail in the British Isles. Starting at the village of Milngavie just outside Glasgow, it includes Loch Lomond, valley routes through the mountains round Crianlarich and open heather moorland across the Rannoch Moor wilderness area. It passes close to somber Glencoe, famed for its massacre of the MacDonald Clan, and finishes at Fort William near the foot of Ben Nevis (Britain's highest peak, which can be readily ascended by experienced clients if they choose to spend an extra day). The West Highland Way is a well-established and popular route, containing some landscapes of great beauty. The altitude range is from sea level to 1850 ft (4408 ft if Ben Nevis is climbed).
The walk is graded as moderate. The terrain is hilly with some steep slopes, boggy areas and narrow trails in places with tree roots. There are also gravel type roads and there is some tarmac walking.
Travel to the start point of the walk in Milngavie. Its a short train journey from Glasgow approx 20 mins.
The official start of the walk is at the obelisk in Milngavie. You follow some good paths through beautiful scenery. Glengoyne Distillery is worth a vist.
Accommodation: We stay overnight in a guesthouse, where the host will make you more than welcome and has become a favorite with our customers.
Today you will experience the gentle scenery on the bonny banks of Loch Lomond. Passing highland cattle in the fields the route winds up through forest and across the moors up to Conic Hill, which from the summit gives great views over the loch, and across the islands there. This marks the boundary of the Highland fault and officially the start of the Highlands proper. The way drops down to Balmaha by the water, and then winds its way towards Rowardennan along the Loch shore with tree-framed views. Rowardennan marks the road head, and a convenient place to stay at our pleasant hotel. An extra day here would be advised if you wanted to make an ascent of Ben Lomond.
Accommodation: We stay overnight at Rowardennan hotel with bar (not the bunkhouse but the hotel itself). The Inn is practically on the shore of Loch Lomond and beautiful scenery surrounds it including the mass of Ben Lomond. All rooms have ensuite facilities. The restaurant provides carefully selected dishes ensuring that you receive a true taste of Scotland.
Today you walk in the shadow of Ben Lomond for much of the time, following the Loch edge path. There are no big ascents to make, but a few short steep ups and downs. You can pass by Rob Roy’s prison and cave, where he is said to have held up in times of difficulty and held prisoners at his pleasure. You could perhaps have a drink at the hotel at Inversnaid before walking on to Ardleish, where you can raise a buoy on a pole to attract the attention of the ferryman who will collect you and transfer you to our hotel on the western side of the Loch (approx £4 per person, not included). Or if you fancy the longer option, or the weather is too rough, you need to continue to Beinglas farm or the Inverarnan Drover’s inn to call for a taxi to transfer you to the hotel (not included).
Accommodation: Tonight we stay at a 3 star hotel with comfortable rooms on the western side of the Loch. Rooms have TV and tea tray etc. and there are two restaurants, a lounge and public bars.
An optional transfer (included) to take you to Crianlarich saving about 8 miles, otherwise return across Loch Lomond by ferry to recommence your walk passing through Glen Falloch and its waterfalls with views towards Benn Mor. A short steep ascent takes you over the shoulder of a hill into the pretty valley of Glen Fillan. Crossing the River Fillan, we can visit the remains of a priory known to Robert The Bruce. He was defeated locally in a skirmish with the English in the broken glacial terrrain around Dalrigh which we next pass on the way to Tyndrum, a busy little village which developed from the 1740s from lead mining and now has expoitable Gold and silver reserves nearby. There is the famous 'Green Wellie' shop here for all things Scottish and kitsch.
Accommodation: Tonight we will use a number of guesthouses in this small but bustling village.
A fairly short but picturesque day. The route continues up past the domed hulks of Ben Odhar, Ben Lui and Ben Dorain to the Bridge of Orchy passing the farm of Auch, often with cotton grass streaming in the wind. You may be staying at Bridge of Orchy, otherwise it is time for a quick dram before continuing on to Loch Tulla (Inveroran), a beautifully situated lake surrounded by Scots pines a remnant of the ancient Caledonian forest which covered much of Scotland. In good weather you can walk steeply over Mam Carraigh for beautiful views, otherwise take the quiet loch side road. You will be opposite the Black Mount estate of the Flemming family, famous for Ian and Peter. Infact the James Bond story 'Skyfall' is probably based on this humble pile. Plkenty of deer and bird life normally evident. There is limited accommodation here hence the reason for staying in either village.
Accommodation: The Inveroran Hotel which is a 19th century Inn which still retains many of its historical features. Otherwise stay at the Bridge of Orchy Hotel, which has recently undergone refurbishment (extra supplement if staying here of £15 per person). Both hotels are set in beautiful surroundings.
Continue to loch Tulla if necessary. We then head up on the old military road across the wilds and the heather clad wastes of Rannoch Moor, past Ba Bridge, claimed to be the remotest part of the route. The scenery become ever more expansive with views into great corries once filled with glaciers. Often you can see deer and there is great interplay between land, lake, mountain and sky. The military road winds down to the old drovers Inn near the Gateway to Glencoe. This is in the shadow of perhaps the most impressive looking mountain of the tour- Buachaille Etive Mor - the shepherd of Etive Mor.
Accommodation: A 17th century hotel, believed to be one of Scotland's oldest Inns, provides tonight's accommodation. It was used after the Battle of Culloden (1745) to house the troops of King George II, but now provides customers with modern facilities and is functional and comfortable. Some rooms are en-suite. The large bar is particularly warm after a day of being blasted on Rannoch Moor. The hotel is the only watering hole in the area; as an old drovers Inn in this inhospitable environment, it had to be subsidized by the government to keep going. Today the number of people who pass through here guarantees its future. Mountaineers mix with hikers and day-trippers and truck drivers. The view from the hotel is one of the finest in Scotland: overlooking the sentinel mountain: Buachaille Etive Mor at the entrance of Glencoe.
From the Inn the way passes beside Buchaille Etive Mor and then proceeds up the Devil's staircase to 1850 ft: not as bad as it seems, a well graded section of the Way. You can try to imagine the army bringing artillery pieces up here. This offers spectacular views back from whence you came. Then it is a long descent to sea level at the head of Loch Leven with views of the Blackwater damn, Loch Leven and The Pap of Glencoe. Kinlochleven was a place for hydroelectric power smelting bauxite for aluminium. There is a new climbing centre in one of the old smelters offering ice climbing. More sedentary activity can be had by walking to the Grey Mares Tail waterfall on the edge of town.
Accommodation: In Kinlochleven we stay in a guesthouse, which has become popular with our clients and a warm welcome awaits.
A steep climb up under the steep slopes of the Mamore hills at the beginning of the day follows old Victorian hunting tracks and then you are back on the old military road and over the Lairigmor Pass and through dense coniferous forest to Glen Nevis past the foot of Ben Nevis, Britain’s highest peak (4408ft). The West Highland Way continues into Fort William on the side of Loch Linnhe, where it ends right in the centre and close to handy pubs for a deserved celebration. Fort William is a Mecca for climbers, mountain bikers and train enthusiasts. The town was built as a garrison against the Jacobite threat. A few remains of the fort are to be seen by the loch side.
Accommodation: We use many different bed & breakfast and guesthouses in Fort William as it is a busy town.
The tour ends after breakfast but why not stay an extra night to climb Ben Nevis and take the evening sleeper out of Fort William?
Per Person, Twin Share