(West Highland Way) Rannoch Moor and Buachaille Etive Mor
WEST HIGHLAND WAY (SELF-GUIDED)   7 stages . 8 nights . Scottish Highlands   Booking

West Highland Way
Self-guided trekking holiday


+ Complete Scotland's classic long-distance trail
+ Expert advice on routes and itineraries
+ Walk on your ideal dates with your ideal companions

Latest news November 2019
Our 2020 dates and prices are up! Availability is great at this early point. Please ask us about a trip - thank you.

The West Highland Way runs for 152km (95 miles) from Scotland's largest city, Glasgow, to Fort William, the hub of the Western Highlands. Finish your trek in style underneath Britain's highest mountain Ben Nevis.

The walking is excellent underfoot. Enjoy the mix of old military tracks over the Highland moors, solid narrow paths in forests, and lochside trails. There are many attractions to this famous walk - the scenery being foremost among them. Starting in the rolling hills north of Glasgow the scenery builds up before reaching Loch Lomond. A long stretch on the lochside leads walkers into the mountainous country that is the theme for the rest of the route. Further on, the Way skirts Rannoch Moor to reach the head of Glencoe, lastly approaching Glen Nevis through a high valley with Ben Nevis ahead.

As a walking holiday, the West Highland Way excels due to the convenience of the staging posts, the interest along the way, and the easy access to the start and finish. This holiday covers the whole route from Milngavie to Fort William, missing out nothing and giving you true hiking satisfaction. We can also move your baggage between stops, as an extra, to reduce your load.

Your accommodation along the West Highland Way is a good mix of friendly guesthouses and B&Bs, characterful inns and comfy small hotels.


Map


Map showing the route of Alpine Exploratory's West Highland Way self-guided walking holiday

Prices


Alpine Exploratory
WHWsg West Highland Way (Self-guided)
3 May to 18 September 2020
Prices in GBP
per person
Hutty Classic Comfy
Popular schedules
6 stages
(7 nights)

Please ask 650
Singles 175
70 per dog
740
Singles 220
70 per dog
7 stages
(8 nights)

Please ask 720
Singles 200
80 per dog
800
Singles 240
80 per dog
8 stages
(9 nights)

Please ask 790
Singles 225
90 per dog
900
Singles 320
90 per dog
Specialised schedules
5 stages
(6 nights)

Please ask 580
Singles 150
60 per dog
660
Singles 190
60 per dog
9 stages
(10 nights)

Please ask 860
Singles 250
100 per dog
980
Singles 350
100 per dog
Options
Baggage transfer
All stops
50
Baggage transfer
Direct
30


Itinerary and other key information


Itinerary

Here is our normal schedule of 7 stages:


Arrival day: Arrive in Milngavie
Your trip starts on arriving at your guesthouse in Milngavie. This quiet suburb of Glasgow is about half an hour by train from Glasgow Queen Street station. The centre of Milngavie has plenty of shops, pubs and restaurants.
Guesthouse in Milngavie

Stage 1: Milngavie to Drymen
Blue3 grade, 19.5km with 225m ascent, 225m descent
Wake up to your first breakfast of the trip. Pack your transfer bag (if taking the baggage option) and leave it with your host, then put on your boots and walk from the door. It's a short walk to the official start of the WHW at Milngavie station. This first stage is through rolling pastoral terrain, first in the Mugdock park and then alongside the Campsie Fells. It's an easy introduction to life on the trail. The village of Drymen provides a welcoming base at the end of the day, shops and hotels around the green.
B&B in Drymen

Stage 2: Drymen to Rowardennan
Red3 grade, 22km with 720m ascent, 760m descent
The big feature of today's stage is Loch Lomond. Before reaching the loch, it is an option to climb Conic Hill (361m) for high views. The WHW meets Loch Lomond at Balmaha, a lively village for lunch, then heads North along the shore to Rowardennan. This path twists in and out of wooded promontories with glimpses of the Highlands ahead.
Hotel at Rowardennan

Stage 3: Rowardennan to Inverarnan
Red3 grade, 22.5km with 480m ascent, 480m descent
Loch Lomond is the theme for almost the whole of today's stage. You have left behind the loch's wide Southern end and now follow its narrower Northern stretch. The high mountains cluster around the glen as it narrows, first opposite Ardlui then at Inverarnan. The walking is on wooded paths mostly by the loch shore. There are some twisty and rocky sections today, just above the shore.
Hotel at Inverarnan

Stage 4: Inverarnan to Tyndrum
Red3 grade, 18.5km with 475m ascent, 255m descent
Having left Loch Lomond behind, your stage winds through Glen Falloch to the village of Crianlarich. This is an important interchange for the West Highland railway. Turning North West the way ahead is towards Tyndrum along valley tracks sometimes in woods and sometimes in the open. In Tyndrum you'll find good options to eat and to stock up on provisions before the WHW sets off for wilder ground.
Guesthouse in Tyndrum

Stage 5: Tyndrum to Kingshouse
Red3 grade, 30.5km with 610m ascent, 595m descent
One of the most notable sights on the route, Beinn Dorain, is a feature this morning as you follow the tracks towards Bridge of Orchy. It's a triangular-looking mountain looming above the road and railway. Past Bridge of Orchy and Victoria Bridge you enter different country again, skirting the huge expanse of Rannoch Moor before dropping down to Kingshouse in its wild setting near the top of Glencoe. This is a long day but the miles fly by on the smooth solid tracks.
Hotel at Kingshouse

Stage 6: Kingshouse to Kinlochleven
Red3 grade, 14.5km with 375m ascent, 610m descent
Tackle the Devil's Staircase today, the Way's toughest climb. It is a zig-zagging path to a col, and at the col are revealed huge views to the North. We see Blackwater Reservoir and more of Rannoch Moor. All the way up, weather dependent, you have views of Buachaille Etive Mor, the bold hill at the entrance to Glencoe. After the climb, drop down on wide tracks to the friendly village of Kinlochleven in its peaceful setting at the head of Loch Leven.
Hotel in Kinlochleven

Stage 7: Kinlochleven to Fort William
Red3 grade, 24.5km with 520m ascent, 520m descent
Gear up for today's final stage. This is a long but satisfying day, first running through a high valley on the Southern side of the Mamores range. Towards the end of the day, if you're lucky with the weather, you'll be treated to unusual views of the huge slopes of Ben Nevis. A final section of the Way drops into Glen Nevis. Walk through the glen floor to Fort William, pass the leisure centre and railway station and along the high street to the official WHW end post. Congratulations!
Hotel or guesthouse in Fort William

Departure day: Depart from Fort William
Enjoy your last breakfast in Fort William and look round the shops. There is excellent shopping for outdoor kit, plus good coffee options. We advise on the regular trains and buses to Glasgow and we love to suggest further travel in Scotland.


Our usual schedule of accommodation might not be available, especially if there is not much time between booking and your trip. We book accommodation as closely as possible to this itinerary and present a schedule for you to check before we proceed.


Blackrock Cottage on the edge of Rannoch Moor, WHW

Where we stay

This holiday stays in a mix of pleasant guesthouses, hotels, bed & breakfasts or inns along the route. We place most value on a friendly welcome, comfortable standards and a good location within the village or town.

We book ensuite accommodation except where it is not available, for example in older buildings or more remote locations.

We also offer a trek that stays in some of the numerous hostels, bunk houses and wooden �wigwams� along the WHW.

Your info pack contains full details of your accommodation including contact details and directions.


Typical WHW terrain as a stony path crosses the hillside

How to get there

Your holiday starts in Milngavie which is a suburb of Glasgow and ends in the Highland town of Fort William. The most convenient airport is Glasgow with several transfer options available by bus or train, but Edinburgh is fine and Inverness can be fun at the end. The train from Fort William back to Glasgow can be a highlight of the trip. Trains link with London and points throughout the UK.


Fly to
Glasgow (GLA)
Or fly to Edinburgh (EDI)


Transfer by
30m train


Milngavie
Trek 7 days on the
West Highland Way
Fort William


Transfer by
4h train or 3h bus


Fly from
Glasgow (GLA)
Or fly from Edinburgh (EDI) or Inverness (INV)


Travel to and from the trip is not included in the holiday price. We take care to give the most useful notes possible about all the travel options. We supply these both on booking and in your info pack, and we offer personalised tips at any point. The aim is that our trekkers arrange their travel by the simplest and most scenic means as suits their plan.


Route

Our approach to the WHW
Your route follows the official West Highland Way. Set off from Milngavie, a small town at the Northern edge of Glasgow, at the start of your holiday. Pass rolling terrain on the way to Loch Lomond. Climb Conic Hill and descend to Balmaha on the shore. Follow the Loch for a long stretch, later walking inland to Crianlarich. Along Strath Fillan at Tyndrum the Highlands really show themselves. Trek to Bridge of Orchy and beyond it cross the edge of wild Rannoch Moor. Walking to Kingshouse and over the Devil's Staircase to Kinlochleven gives potentially the best views of the route, to a still-distant Ben Nevis over the Mamores. For a final stage ascend a high valley and drop down through trees to Glen Nevis and Fort William.

Terrain
The West Highland Way runs on good clear paths. For some long stretches of the route, the track underfoot is a double-track old military road. At other times you might be walking along narrow forest paths. A few short sections are rockier and twistier, for example between Inversnaid and Inverarnan. The route does not climb any mountains apart from Conic Hill at 360m; the sharpest and highest climb comes on the crossing of the pass between Glencoe and Kinlochleven, but there is no great difficulty.

The landscape should be treated as wild terrain in which you will need to be self-reliant. We strongly recommended that you know how to navigate with a map and compass; the skills are easy to learn and your notes include details of some good books.

Your own routes
While your routecards make up the walking for the trip, you are of course free to walk wherever you choose, taking side trips or going by a different route of your own choice. Please note that if you follow your own route you will have left the holiday for the duration



Typical WHW terrain as a stony path crosses the hillside

Baggage transfer

Our baggage option on the West Highland Way takes your bag to each night's accommodation. Each morning simply leave your bag with your host or at reception.

If your first night is in Glasgow instead of Milngavie (an option, or if due to availability) then we give you details about handing your bag to our baggage partners by 9am at Milngavie station.


Alternatives

We can adjust your WHW in various ways, as follows:

Faster treks
The 7-stage West Highland Way suits many trekkers but it contains one long day, of 30.5km over Rannoch Moor. Please ask for our 8-stage schedule which lets us split this at Bridge of Orchy or Inveroran. Very quick groups might like our 6-stage trek, and equally taking 9 days lets you avoid a longer day beside Loch Lomond.

Stay in hostels
Our normal itinerary is based in B&Bs and hotels, such that all your rooms are private. If you'd like to see the WHW's hostels and bunkhouses, we can swap roughly one third of your nights to these, and the price is lower.

See Glasgow
Our routecard WHW0 describes the easy day's walk from Glasgow city centre to Milngavie, where the WHW starts. This makes a diverse and scenic (and surprisingly rural!) day. Whether walking or not, we recommend spending time in Glasgow.


Scottish travel

Scotland and the Highlands
Edinburgh and Glasgow on the one hand and the Highlands on the other each make for a holiday in their own right; to combine them is to see the breadth of Scotland. The country's alignment North to South with the cities in the South makes for a sense of traveling towards the wilderness. As we head North the villages become centres for larger areas. This is even more the case on the West coast and the Hebridean islands.

The West Highland Way in Scotland
Over the course of its week the West Highland Way reaches the West coast, at Fort William, the biggest town in the West Highlands apart from Oban. This makes an excellent base for further touring and one simple plan would be to take a week after your WHW. The train runs scenically to Mallaig, for ferries to Skye. The bus runs to Inverness or to Skye via Glen Shiel. It is easy to hire a car in Fort William too.

Our Scottish service
Please ask us to recommend airports, cities and train routes to reflect your preferences when traveling. For the full West Highland Way the normal airports would be Glasgow or Edinburgh, but Inverness airport can work too. Internationally, Edinburgh airport has the most routes outside the UK of all Scottish airports. We advise clients on how to contine their travels in the Highlands, based on our own extensive traveling and walking throughout Scotland.

Key information Summer 2020

Trip name: West Highland Way
Guided or self-guided? Self-guided
Trip code: WHWsg
Route: The West Highland Way
(Walking guide)
(Prefer our Guided trip?)
Group size: Any, from solo trekkers to groups
Length: 7 days' trekking
Start: Milngavie near Glasgow
End: Fort William in the Highlands
Typical walk: 21.5km, 400m ascent
Total distance: 152km or 95 miles
Highest altitude: 548m
Grade: Red3 (Walking grades)



Prices Summer 2020

7 stages, per person:

WHWsg Classic
GBP 720 (singles 200, dog 80)
Book
West Highland Way (self-guided)



Research Summer 2020

People at Alpine Exploratory People at Alpine ExploratoryAlpine Exploratory's 2019 research on the West Highland Way was led by:
Steph Ward in April
Hannah Wright in April

Recces 2020

Looking to Loch Lomond through the memorial at Rowardennan
Loch Lomond (Photo gallery)


Alpine Exploratory's service

Accommodation
8 nights, staying in:
B&Bs and guesthouses (5)
Small hotels (2)
Inn (1)

Included
Accommodation and itinerary
Breakfasts
Expert and unlimited advice
Routecards WHW1-7 of the Exploratory system
Maps and local information

Season for self-guided treks
3 May to 18 September 2020
Trek on your ideal dates

Beinn Dorain from the West Highland Way
Beinn Dorain from the WHW (Photo gallery)



Find out more

About our walking holidays Our FAQs page covering equipment, weather, insurance and more about how our trips work

Walking guides Our WHW background page

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Alpine Exploratory
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