How NOT to walk the West Highland Way
The West Highland Way is 155 kms long and very well marked. As it’s such a popular trail, facilities are good. There are pubs and accommodation at the end of each stage, and even companies that transfer your luggage.
For these reasons, I thought this trail was a good one to do on my own. As I was going in a busy period and had read that accommodation should be booked months in advance (which I hadn’t done), I decided to bring my tent. Using the services of a luggage transfer company seemed unnecessary, I had walked with a backpack before, in Spain and Norway.
The majority of walkers do the Way in 7 days. I had six days and this is also possible. There were also a few people doing it in five.
However, for me, the project turned out to be too ambitious. Because of the tent, my backpack was heavier than on earlier occasions, and the distances were longer. For this reason, the first four days were pretty exhausting. Day five and six were supposed to be better, with shorter distances, but because of a logistic difficulty I couldn’t start day five and ended up quitting altogether.
So, if you want to walk the Way, I would advise:
- either wear a light pack/use the luggage transfer services or do shorter distances
- if you’re alone and like some company now and then, walk the standard stages. I didn’t enjoy walking another 10 kms all alone after all the others had entered the pub 🙂
- get informed about public transport and accommodation. I ended up quitting because I had assumed there was a frequent transport service somewhere where there was none.
- bring food ( I had a bunch of granola bars and dried fruit) because shops and pubs are sparse. Bringing cooking gear is not necessary in my experience but you do need to have some backup food.
- and of course prepare for Scottish weather: neverending rain and wind.
If you do it this way, you will surely have a wonderful experience. The Way is beautiful. Loch Lomond, Rannoch Moor…wow. And it’s nice to meet so many other walkers from all over the world and see them in the pubs after walking.
I surely will be back to do the last two remaining stages. And I might repeat the part through Rannoch Moor, as I found that very impressive. Scotland is amazing. When you’re done with the WHW, there are many many other trails and areas to explore.
It’s very well possible to hike the WHW without a guidebook, because of the excellent waymarking and because you won’t be alone on the way. But for background information, and practical info about accommodation, transport and shops, you might want to bring one.
May 28: Edinburgh Airport – Milngavie
May 29: Milngavie – Milarrochy Bay
May 30: Milarrochy Bay – Inverarnan
May 31: Inverarnan – Bridge of Orchy
June 1: Bridge of Orchy – Kingshouse
June 2 and 3: Edinburgh