Last 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.
In the first part of the guide you can find all the basic information regarding the West Highland Way. The second part, revolves around getting yourself sorted and planning the next steps of your journey. This third, and final part, is all about the final preparations. Enjoy!
what to pack for the West Highland Way?
A question not to be underestimated: what are you going to pack for your grand hike? There a few things to keep in mind when packing:
- The weather: Make sure you prepare for all sorts of weather! The Highlands are known for throwing four different seasons at you in a single day. When I was hiking the West Highland Way there was some sort of heatwave going on, and I only had a little spray on the final day, however, that’s an exception. Packing your rain gear and an extra layer in case things get a little fresh is highly recommended. (Naturally, when you’re camping in winter season you’re preparations have to be more elaborate. Check out the Official West Highland Way page for more information on winter hiking.)
- Wildcamping: If you decided to camp te entire way, you’ll have to bring the appropriate gear. A tent, sleeping bag and pad usually weigh a tad more than clothes only. You don’t want to be hiking with a super heavy pack (how heavy depends a little on your body weight), so take only those things you really need and leave the rest at home.
For my hike, I brought the following items:
- Sleeping: tent, sleeping bag, pad
- Cooking: stove, gas canister, pot, spork
- Eating and drinking: hydration bladder, meals for two days
- Clothes: 2 base layers, 1 midlayer, down jacket, 3 undies, 2 bras, 3 pairs of socks, leggings and tee for at night, raincoat, flipflops
- Misc: first-aid kit, powerbank, phone, headlight, knife, toiletry stuff and towel, she-wee, passport, money, mini-journal and pen
All in all, food and water included, I was carrying around 12 kg. Which was more than enough weight on my back for sure.
how to get to Milngavie?
You’ve got a couple of choices. Either you travel to Milngavie (pronounced as mull-guy) the morning you’re starting your hike, or you stay the night in Milngavie.
As I needed a gas canister, I stayed in a hostel in Glasgow for a night. Glasgow is relatively easy to travel to from many places in Europe plus it’s a nice city to do the touristy thing, if you have a little time on your hands.
There’s a cute little train to Milngavie which rides pretty frequent and takes about 30 minutes to get there. Once you’re in Milngavie, you cannot go wrong. Just follow the waymarks and before you know it, you’re right there where all the magic begins!
Look at that, you’re all set! But just before you go, some final tips to turn this hike into a once in a lifetime experience.
- Make sure you check the weather right before you go. This way you are able to make some last minute adjustments to the gear you’re taking. Think extra garbage bags or sunscreen… you never know!
- If you’re flying to Scotland and you plan on doing your own cooking, don’t forget to purchase a gas canister. I bought mine at Tiso in Glasgow – lovely lads working there, great service.
- And finally, leave your expectations at home and cherish every second of it. It’ll be over before you realise it.
This was the third, and final part, of the Wayfaring Guide to the West Highland Way. I hope it has inspired you to embark on this beautiful journey, and helped you in preparing your hike. Please don’t hesitate to ask your questions, if you have any. I’ll be super excited to answer them.
Have a great hike!