This tour follows most of the 92-mile national long distance trail of the same name through the southwestern 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 Drymen 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. Daily distances vary from 9 miles / 14 km to 15 miles / 24 km.
Make your own way to Drymen, a small town north of Glasgow that is a gateway to the Highlands. If you arrive early there is a teashop with home made cakes across the green and the small Clacan Inn where Rob Roy used to come down for a swift pint whilst collecting "Blackmail."
Accommodation: Stay overnight in a guesthouse, where the host will make you more than welcome and has become a favorite with our customers
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: Stay overnight at the Rowardennan Hotel. The Inn is practically on the shore of Loch Lomond with beautiful scenery 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 stopped at in times of difficulty and held prisoners at his pleasure. You could perhaps have a drink at the hotel at Inversnaid before walking onto 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 the hotel on the western side of the Loch (approx £3 not included). Or if you fancy the longer option, if 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: Stay at a 3 star hotel with comfortable rooms on the western side of the Loch. There are two restaurants, a lounge and public bars.
Two choices today: It is a long way from here to Loch Tulla, if you are a strong walker then it is fine, but otherwise we advise you to use the taxi (included) to take you to Crianlarich or further, to reduce the day to a more manageable length. Crianlarich lies under another big peak; Ben Mor. The largely valley route goes via the ancient priory of St. Fillan associated with both Robert The Bruce and Rob Roy, through the moraines of Dalrigh, where the Bruce was defeated in 1306, then via the old mining settlement of Tyndrum where a seam of gold has been recently found. The route continues up past the peaks of Ben Lui and Ben Dorain to the Bridge of Orchy 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.
Accommodation: Stay at the Inveroran Hotel which is 16.5 miles from Crainlarichl, or at the upgraded accommodation - The Bridge of Orchy Hotel approx 14 miles from Crainlarich. Both hotels are set in beautiful surroundings.
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 views become ever more expansive with views into great corries once filled with glaciers. Often you can see deer and a 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: While the Kings House Hotel is closed due to a refurbishment for 2018, The Glencoe Mountain resort offers room only accommodation in the form of Microlodges (1 x double bed and 2 x single beds). There are shower and toilet blocks and a café open from 9am to 8.30pm (hot food until 7.30pm). The resort can offer rental of a sleeping bag plus liner for £5pp however there is no pre-booking service and they are hired on arrival.
From the mountain resort, the way passes beside one of the most impressive mountains in Scotland - Buahaille Etive Mor or the Shepherd and then proceeds up the Devil's staircase to 1850 ft: not as bad as it seems, a well graded section of the Way. 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.
Accommodation: In Kinlochleven stay in a lovely 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 Lairigmor Pass, through dense coniferous forest to Glen Nevis past the foot of Ben Nevis, Britain’s highest peak (4408ft).
Accommodation: We use many different bed & breakfast/guesthouses in Fort William as it is a popular 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