MY FAVOURITE MOMENT ON THE WEST HIGHLAND WAY

They’ll pop up in your mind randomly, and will remain in your heart until the end of times: your favourite hiking moments! Sharing one of my personal faves with you today.

Last year Spring, I decided to hike the West Highland Way and I can tell you – I loved every single day of the trip. Of course, there are always these extra special moments. And I’d like to share one in particular.

After spending the first night on a campsite at Milarrochy Bay, I took off after a coffee together with two lads I met on the campsite the night before. From misty morning to bloody hot afternoon, this section of the West Highland Way guided us all along Loch Lomond. It was the most stunning walk (probably my favourite part of the entire trail), though it certainly wasn’t an easy one.

After a day of rocky trail, going up and down along the Loch, we ended up at the Inversnaid Hotel where we enjoyed a pint of beer in the sun… satisfied but absolutely shattered. We asked some hikers where the nearest wild camping pitches were, and – lucky us! – it was only a few hundred meters walking. It was a beautiful spot in the grass in between trees, looking out over Loch Lomond.

The next morning, I woke up feeling excited for the day ahead. I’ll never forget opening the zip of my tent, and just being in awe of that which I was looking at. The mist hanging over Loch Lomond, it was like a scene out of a fairy tale. Guess I couldn’t have picked a better spot for my very first wild camping experience!

Are you considering to undertake this magical journey through the Scottish Highlands this year, but don’t know where to start? I’ve got you covered! I’ve been collecting all things planning and preparation in my Wayfaring Guide to the West Highland Way.

In case you have any unanswered question, do not hesitate to pose them in the comment section below. Would love to help you with your preparations for this wonderful journey.

Love,

PS. Let’s do this together!

A WAYFARING GUIDE TO THE WEST HIGHLAND WAY #3 | THE FINAL PREPARATIONS

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:

  1. 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.)
  2. 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!

final tips

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!

Love,

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A WAYFARING GUIDE TO THE WEST HIGHLAND WAY #2 | GET YOURSELF SORTED AND PLAN YOUR HIKE

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. Since you are reading this, I guess you’ve decided to embark on this adventure, yeey! Now it is time to get yourself sorted and plan the next steps of your journey.

the route

Getting lost is rather hard as the entire West Highland Way is marked with the thistle sign. If you’re planning to go out and about in winter or early spring, snow might cover the trail. In this case, it obviously would be smart to carry another form of navigation with you.

I just stated it is very hard to get lost, I seem to be preprogrammed for it. In anticipation of this, I thus downloaded the gpx route for my phone, which came in super handy when I suddenly found myself off-trail in the midst of a forest!

You could plan out your route from start to finish, depending on the amount of days you want to walk. The Official West Highland Way website offer many different itineraries.

I estimated to walk for 6 days and decided on an itinerary. The first day I was so excited I decided to keep on walking and abandoned my initial route. Eventually, this is the route I ended up walking:

  • Day 1: Milngavie to Milarrochy Bay (35km)
  • Day 2: Milarrochy Bay to Inversnaid (19km)
  • Day 3: Inversnaid to Auchtertyre (25km)
  • Day 4: Auchtertyre to Kingshouse (35km)
  • Day 5: Kingshouse to Kinlochleven (15km)
  • Day 6: Kinlochleven to Fort William (25km)

Apart from the amount of days you want to walk, your route will depend mainly on how you will be spending the night.

(wild) camping or accommodation

You get up, you open the zip of your tent and look out over Loch Lomond. The West Highland Way was my first time wild camping, and I was sold: it’s the ultimate freedom experience!

That said, if you enjoy the idea and have the right gear, I’d advice you to go for it! When wild camping, you can be as flexible as you want, making it easier to adjust your journey to the needs of your body. If you like to have a shower now and then, they’re also a couple of campsites along the way. I’ve spend three nights on campsites and two in the wild. A good mix, although if I’d go again I would decide to do the entire thing wild camping.

A note on wildcamping: Although it is permitted, make sure to leave no trace or cause any problems. Also be aware that between March and September there are some camping bylaws in place within the Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park areas that forbid you to camp or require you to have a permit. Make sure to check them out before you go.

If wild camping is not an option for you, I’d advice you to pick a route that fits you and book your accommodation accordingly. In peak season it can be rather busy, so I guess booking in advance would be a good thing. As I’ve been camping, I cannot offer any good suggestions. Definitely check out the West Highland Way website or give it a good google.

eating along the way

The most important thing besides sleeping is food (of course!). Carrying food equals carrying extra weight, but it also cheaper than buying lunch or dinner at a pub. I brought some the basics with me, and stocked up in Tyndrum. As far as I can remember I’ve walked past a pub or cafe every day, so plenty of possibilities to eat out. If you are a cheap skate like me, bring your own food (it will taste good anyways when you’re hungry) and enjoy the occasional cake, coffee or beer as a reward!

money

Your accommodation and food choices will eventually determine how much money you need to bring along. In case you are planning to eat out every day, make sure to keep account with that. I brought enough cash for the entire hike. It wasn’t a lot as I didn’t really need much. Although there are ATMs along the way, keep in mind you always run out of money at the wrong time.

hiking alone

You know what the fun part is… you can do this all by yourself! There are many people walking by themselves and the trail feels safe. If you’re up for a chat, there are lots of people around that you can connect with. I met some awesome people along the way, with which I shared some parts of the trail and camped with at night. Some days I didn’t feel like it and just walked by myself, or walk together in silence. It’s all possible and it’s your choice entirely!

That was part two of a Wayfaring Guide to the West Highland Way. Hope this will help you to further plan your journey. Don’t hesitate to contact me if you have more questions. I’ll be happy to answer them. The third and last part of this guide will be all about the final preparations before you embark on your West Highland Way adventure!

See you soon!

Love,

A WAYFARING GUIDE TO THE WEST HIGHLAND WAY #1 | WHAT, WHERE, WHEN AND WHY

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!

Love,

Let’s wander together ♥