Your trip starts on arriving at your hotel in Milngavie. This quiet suburb of Glasgow offers plenty of shops, pubs and restaurants, and is only half an hour away from Glasgow Queen Street Station.
Hotel in Milngavie (breakfast)
Blue 3 (grade) 19.5km with 225m ascent, 225m descent
Wake up to your first breakfast of the trip, then put on your boots to begin the short walk to the official start of the WHW at Milngavie station. This first stage is an easy introduction to life on the trail. You'll start by passing through rolling pastoral terrain, first in the Mugdock park and then alongside the Campsie Fells. The village of Drymen provides a welcoming base at the end of the day, with shops and hotels around the green.
B&B in Drymen (breakfast)
Red 3 (grade) 22km with 720m ascent, 760m descent
The big feature of today's stage is Loch Lomond. Before reaching the loch, we offer an optional climb up Conic Hill (361m) for high views. Otherwise, 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 (breakfast)
Red 3 (grade) 22.5km with 480m ascent, 480m descent
Loch Lomond is the theme for most of today's stage. You have now 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 mostly on wooded paths by the loch shore with some twisty and rocky sections today, just above the shore.
Hotel at Inverarnan (breakfast)
Red 3 (grade) 18.5km with 475m ascent, 255m descent
Having left Loch Lomond behind you, 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 both in the woods and out 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 (breakfast)
Red 3 (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 (breakfast)
Red 3 (grade) 14.5km with 375m ascent, 610m descent
Tackle the Devil's Staircase today, the trail's toughest climb. It is a zig-zagging path to a col where you will be rewarded with huge views to the North onto 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, you'll drop down onto wide tracks to the friendly village of Kinlochleven in its peaceful setting at the head of Loch Leven.
Hotel in Kinlochleven (breakfast)
Red 3 (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 in Fort William (dinner and breakfast)
Take some time to enjoy your well deserved full Scottish Breakfast and a walk along the lochside before jumping on the bus or train back to Glasgow. If you're looking for further travels in Scotland or the Uk, we'd be happy to share our knowledge so please do ask for information!
Make the trip more challenging by hiking the whole route in 6 or 5 stages. This is suited to experienced hikers who are willing to hike for more than 30km consecutively. Combine stages 3, 4, 5 and 6 into 3 stages, with nights in Crianlarich and Inveroran (or Bridge of Orchy) for 6 stages, and condense the first 3 stages into 2 for a 5 stage trip.
Make the trip longer
The 7-stage West Highland Way suits most trekkers and contains one long day, of 30.5km over Rannoch Moor. Our 8 stage schedule breaks this long day with a night in Inveroran or nearby Bridge of Orchy. To make the trip longer still, we suggest splitting the long day beside Loch Lomond with a night in the quaint village of Balmaha.
Milngavie (the official start of the West Highland Way) is close to the great city of Glasgow which is well worth a day if you have time to visit. It is also possible to walk to Milngavie from Glasgow along a suprisingly scenic route! Please do let us know if you'd like to walk this stage also or would like to stay a night in Glasgow before your hike and we'd be happy to book a hotel for you and recommend things to do!
West Highland Way (Self-guided)
3 May to 18 October 2020
2 May to 17 September 2021
70 per dog
70 per dog
80 per dog
80 per dog
90 per dog
90 per dog
60 per dog
60 per dog
100 per dog
100 per dog
|GBP 50 per bag|
|GBP 30 per bag|
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 where possible.
For a touch of luxury whilst you trek, our ‘Comfy’ option would upgrade your accommodation on 3 nights. For example, in Drymen you'd stay in a Hotel rather than a B&B. We'd also swap your acocmmodation in Tyndrum for a hotel just off-route in Crianlarich. We would also upgrade your accommodation in Fort William. If you'd like more information, please do just ask! Please ask if you would like more details.
We don't have any ready made 'Hutty' options for our West Highland Way however it may be possible on some nights to opt to stay in more basic accommodation or hostels. Please do ask us for details of your are interested in a more basic option.
The single supplement covers the difference in cost between a single room and a double room on a per person basis.
Bring your dog
In common with most of our UK trips, we're delighted that you can walk with your dog! Our dog friendly itinerary allows you to have your dog stay with you in your room each night and walk along-side you each day. We ask for a small additional cost of GBP 10 per dog per night as charged by the hotels and Inns. Please just let us know when you book if you'd like to bring a dog.
Our approach to the West highland Way
We follow the official West Highland Way route from Milngavie to Fort William. You'll set off from a small town at the Northern edge of Glasgow, passing through rolling terrain on the way to Loch Lomond. You'll then climb Conic Hill and descend into Balmaha on the shore. The next stage sees you following the Loch for a long stretch, later walking inland to Crianlarich. Once you reach Strath Fillan at Tyndrum, you'll notice that the Highlands really start to show themselves. Trek to Bridge of Orchy and beyond as it crosses the edge of wild Rannoch Moor. Our favourite stage is walking to Kingshouse and over the Devil's Staircase to Kinlochleven. This part reveals some of the best views of the route, as you look out onto a still-distant Ben Nevis over the Mamores. For the final stage, you'll ascend a high valley and drop down through trees to Glen Nevis and Fort William.
The walking is excellent underfoot. Enjoy the mix of old military tracks over the Highland moors, solid narrow paths in forests, and lochside trails. A few short sections are rockier and twistier, most noticeably between Inversnaid and Inverarnan, on the banks of Loch Lomond. The route does not climb any mountains apart from Conic Hill at 360m, instead it meanders amongst the feet of the higher hills known as Scottish munros. The sharpest and highest climb of the West Highland Way comes on the crossing of the pass between Glencoe and Kinlochleven towards the end of the trip, but there is no great difficulty.
Is it for me?
The West Highland Way is a long-distance trail, suited to most walkers. Being just 20 minutes away from Glasgow the start point is easily accessible to all. The route eases you in gently, as you leave the lowlands behind to enter the wild Highlands.
The route is well marked and maintained throughout. For the first half of the trip, until Tyndrum, the route never strays too far from the road. After Tyndrum the route becomes a little wilder, and over Rannoch Moor the route can feel quite remote. 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 West Highland Way is a great introduction for walkers new to long distance trails. It’s not technically difficult, and taking the standard stopping points, none of the days are exceptionally long. The going is generally flat, especially when compared to Alpine walking, with there being only a couple of sections which reach over 300m.
We describe alternatives to vary the level of the walk a little. Some of the hardest sections along Loch Lomond between Rowardennen to Inversnaid can be avoided by an alternative high path. Or for walkers up for a challenge, the West Highland Way lends itself to further exploration of the Highlands and the Scottish munros. 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.
For an even more detailed read, please see our West Highland Way Walking Guide
Arrive by train or plane into the city of Glasgow
Your holiday starts in Milngavie, a suburb of Glasgow, and ends in the Highland town of Fort William. The most convenient airport to reach the WHW is Glasgow Airport with several transfer options available by bus or train too. The train back from Fort William back to Glasgow offers fantastic views. You'll also find that trains link with London if you are heading down South. Alternatively, you can also reach Milngavie from Edinburgh, and it is easy to travel from Fort William to Inverness at the end of your trip.
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.
- Bespoke accommodation itinerary - tailored to suit your particular requirements
- Breakfast every morning
- Detailed Routecards WHW1-7 of the Exploratory system, printed on waterproof paper
- The topographical maps needed
- Expert advice and local information
- A comprehensive 'Season Update' following our pre-season recce
- Full support during your trip from the Alpine Exploratory team (9am until 9pm in the Alps)
- Travel to and from your trip
- Local transport whilst on the trip unless specified
- Travel insurance
- Lunches, snacks, drinks and evening meals in the towns (this would be 8 nights on our main trip)
- Baggage transfers (available as an extra)
Baggage transferOur 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 and it will arrive at your next accommodation.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. We can transfer baggage to all your stops for GBP 50 per bag, or opt for direct baggage transfer from Milngavie to Fort William for GBP 30 per bag.
2020 and 2021
West Highland Way enquiry form
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