This year at the end of April, I decided to celebrate spring with yet another long distance hike. One that I look back on with a huge smile on my face: the West Highland Way. I’ve been collecting all things preparation in this Wayfaring Guide to the West Highland Way. Meant for all those wanting to embark on this magical journey through the Scottish Highlands.
what and where is the West Highland Way?
The West Highland Way is a long distance walking route in Scotland. The path is 154 kilometres (96 miles) long and runs through the Scottish Highlands from Milngavie to Fort William. Every year, the West Highland Way is visited by 120,000 wayfarers in total and 36,000 of those traverse the entire trail. Although not necessarily a pilgrimage route, the West Highland Way does consist of ancient roads that were used by the military and by farmers to move their cattle.
how long does it take to walk the West Highland Way?
That depends on several things! Before choosing, you should ask yourself the following questions:
- how much time do I have?
- how many kilometres do I want to – and can I – walk every day?
- do I want to do some sight-seeing along the way?
- how fit am I?
On average, people take 5-7 days to walk the entire track. If you have heaps of time on your hands and want to do some sight-seeing, go for eight or nine days. If you’re superfit and want to walk till dawn, go for five.
when to walk the West Highland Way?
Spring and Autumn are the preferred months to hike the West Highland Way. May is the busiest month, so if you like a more quiet trail experience, I wouldn’t opt for May. Summer can be quite warm and apart from that, it’s the peak of midge season in Scotland. I hiked the trail in late April and have only seen (or felt) a few of those midges in the evening. It doesn’t have to keep you from walking the trail, it just requires a bit more planning.
If you wish to camp, make sure you are preparing your trip according to the weather. I was extremely lucky with the weather; it was beautiful right up until the final day. When hiking in early Spring or late Autumn, you can encounter snow. If you want to hike in these periods, don’t go out without the right gear.
why you want to walk the West Highland Way?
There are so many reasons why you would want to walk the West Highland Way! If you are up for a challenge and cannot get away for a long period of time, the WHW is a relatively short alternative. Similarly, if you are structurally broke – like me – than this is a cheap way to have a massive adventure! Apart from that, the nature in Scotland is just something out of the ordinary. Whether you end up being a fan or not, the experience of walking through the Scottish Highlands is one you will never forget!
So this was part one of a Wayfaring Guide to the West Highland Way. Hope you’ve enjoyed it! The second part will be all about getting yourself sorted for your trip through the Highlands. Any blazing questions? Please ask them in the comments. I would be happy to incorporate those in this guide!