If you walk the ninety six miles of Scotland’s West Highland Way from just on the northern outskirts of Glasgow to Gordon Square in Fort William, you may want to take a rest by the side of this statue of the clan chief of weary hikers. The West Highland Way is a walk well worth the taking, though, whether you do it all at once, in short sections, or just stop by to visit a short section on your road, bus or rail travels.
The West Highland Way has parts that are very near civilization and parts that are much more remote. Regions of the trail in the south, from Milngavie just outside Glasgow up through Rowardennan on the eastern shore of Loch Lomond have many areas that work well for families and those with less experience walking the wilderness. These first twenty seven miles may serve as a warm up if you are planning a long distance walk, too, as after that the trail begins to head toward the Highlands and while it does stay close by towns and public transport in several areas, things become more remote, the terrain more challenging, and the need for experience in the wilderness more necessary.
Whatever part of the way you walk, from Milngavie along Loch Lomond to Glencoe to the foot of the highest mountainn in Scotland, Ben Nevis, in Fort William, you’ll have the chance to follow historic routes used by people (including, it is said, Rob Roy MacGregor) over centuries, to experience woodland, moor, and mountain landscapes, and perhaps to see red deer, eagles, and a shaggy hieland cow or two. At any time of year the weather is likely to be changeable, but at any time of year, too, it is likely to be well worth your travels. You’ll find most accommodations and businesses along the Way open from April to October. Autumn is an especially beautiful time to visit and it is a fine walk in spring and summer. Most of my travels along the way have been in the more challenging weather of Scottish winter. The western Highlands hold their own stark beauty at that time of year, as well.
The West Highland Way National Park Headquarters is at Balloch, just outside Glasgow on Loch Lomond. They produce a very helpful pocket companion to the Way, with details and contact information for outfitters, accommodations, safety tips, and ideas for itineraries, and they also offer a number of resources for sale through their online shop including maps, guidebooks, and other material about the The Way.
you may also wish to see
Walk Highlands, a site about walking in western Scotland and the Isles
Loch Lomond, the song stories and background
a selection of the music of Scotland to accompany your walk
a guidebook to Walking in
There’s a connection to the Appalachian Trail in the United States, too: the West Highland Way is the first European member of the International Appalachian Trail, which is part of a project to extend the Appalachian Trail through geologic links to other countries, including Scotland.
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