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 from Glasgow Queen Street Station. (Some hikers prefer to stay in Glasgow's West End near restaurants and museums.)
Hotel in Milngavie (breakfast)
Blue 3 (grade) 19.7km with 250m ascent, 230m descent
Wake up to your first breakfast of the trip, then put on your boots for 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 is a welcoming base at the end of the day, with shops and hotels around the green.
B&B in Drymen (breakfast)
Blue 3 (grade) 24.5km with 750m ascent, 790m 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. In any case 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)
Blue 3 (grade) 22.4km with 480m ascent, 490m descent
Loch Lomond is the theme for most of today's stage. Later you leave behind the loch's wide Southern end and follow its narrower Northern stretch. The high mountains cluster around the glen, 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)
Blue 3 (grade) 19.7km with 515m ascent, 300m descent
Having left Loch Lomond behind, the 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)
Blue 4 (grade) 29.9km with 610m ascent, 610m 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 smooth solid tracks.
Hotel at Kingshouse or Inn in Glencoe (breakfast)
Blue 3 (grade) 14.4km with 380m ascent, 620m 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)
Blue 4 (grade) 24.7km with 590m ascent, 590m 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 (breakfast)
Take some time to enjoy your 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, we're be happy to share our knowledge so please ask for information!
Make your WHW more challenging by hiking the whole route in 6 or even 5 stages. This is suited to experienced hikers who are willing to hike for more than 30km on consecutive days. Our 6-stage trip combines the stages 3, 4, 5 and 6 into 3 days, with nights in Crianlarich and Inveroran (or Bridge of Orchy). Our 5-stage trip is a feat for the strongest walkers with over 30km of walking on each day apart from the last stretch to Fort William which is at 24.7km. Please ensure for more details.
Make the trip longer
The 7-stage West Highland Way suits most trekkers but contains one long day, of 30km 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. It's harder to recommend longer trips than 9 stages due to the spread of villages; there would be some days still at the usual pace.
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. We'll be happy to book a hotel for you and recommend things to do!
Hike with a guide
Hike with confidence in the company of our fully qualified International Mountain Leaders (IMLs), with the navigation, accommodation and arrangements taken care of. You're welcome to walk on any date within our season and we can adjust the hike to suit your needs. Please get in touch for more details.
West Highland Way
1 May to 15 Sept 2024
105 per dog
105 per dog
120 per dog
120 per dog
135 per dog
135 per dog
To all stops
|GBP 80 per bag|
|GBP 50 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.
At the end of stage on our classic itinerary, we have two great options for accommodation depending on availability. We either book a night at the lovely Kinghouse Hotel, or we book the famous Clachaig Inn in Glencoe which is just a short way off the route. Both options work very well with the comfy Kingshouse Hotel being in such a secluded location, or the Clachaig Inn with its famous walkers' bar, open fire and local whisky. If you are staying in Glencoe as part of your trip, we will book (and pay for) a taxi to pick you up from the Kingshouse Hotel at the end of your stage to take you to your accommodation in Glencoe. The following morning, the taxi would take you back at the Kingshouse for you to continue your hike.
Our ‘Comfy’ option upgrades your accommodation when possible. We book a lovely 4* hotel in Glasgow as opposed to our option in Milngavie, and at Drymen you'd stay in the hotel rather than our B&B. We'd also swap your acocmmodation in Tyndrum for a hotel just off-route in Crianlarich and we'd book (and pay for) a taxi to and from Tyndrum for you. We would also upgrade your accommodation in Fort William. If opting for a schedule which includes Bridge of Orchy/Inveroran (typically our 8-stage trip) then we book the Bridge of Orchy Hotel instead of the more basic hotel at Inveroran.
As standard on our Comfy trips, we book for you to stay at Rowardennan Hotel which is a more basic hotel but situated on the WHW trail. If you'd prefer something a little comfier, we can book for you to stay at Balmaha instead. You'd walk to Rowardennan as normal and then take a taxi back to Balmaha (payable locally) for the night.
Our 'Hutty' West Highland Way swaps hotels on 5 nights for a mix of B&Bs, hostels and bunkhouses offering more basic accommodation, including some nights in dormitories. Breakfast is still included on all but 2 mornings, and while self-catering is possible for dinner at the three hostels, it's also only a short walk to the pub! You'd still stay in hotels in Glasgow (please ask us if you'd rather stay in Milngavie), Inverarnan and Fort William.
Single Room Supplement
If you would like to stay in single rooms rather than sharing a double, twin or triple room we add our single room supplement. This covers the additional cost of booking single occupancy rooms.
We do not take bookings for solo walkers on self-guided trips. If you are still interested in this trip, we do have availability on our guided trips.
Bring your dog (classic or comfy only)
In common with most of our UK trips, we're delighted that you can walk with your dog! Our dog friendly itinerary allows your dog to stay with you in your room each night and walk alongside you each day. Please just let us know when you book if you'd like to bring a dog. Unfortunately it is not possible for us to organise a dog-friendly 'Hutty' itinerary on the West Highland Way, as some of the accommodation providers do not allow dogs.
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. On the next stage you follow 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 (optionally) Conic Hill at 360m; instead it meanders amongst the feet of the higher hills (3,000ft and over) known as the 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 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 Munros. (Please ask us to book you extra nights to climb Ben Lomond or Ben Nevis). 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.
West Highland Way Walking Guide - for more background
The making of our West Highland Way - our story
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. The train from Fort William back to Glasgow offers fantastic views and for many is a highlight of the week. You'll also find that trains link with London if you are heading down South. Alternatively, you can also reach Milngavie from Edinburgh by a direct train, 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 and Itinerary - tailored to your preferences
- Breakfast every morning
- Detailed Routecards WHW1-7 of the Exploratory system, printed on waterproof paper
- A topographical map detailing the full route
- Expert advice and local information
- A comprehensive Season Update following our pre-season recce
- Full support during your trip from the Alpine Exploratory team (8am until 8pm in the UK)
- Travel to and from your trip
- Local transport during the trip unless specified
- Travel insurance
- Lunches, snacks, drinks and evening meals
- Baggage transfer (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; this requires an early train. Alternatively we offer a direct baggage transfer from Milngavie to Fort William for GBP 50 per bag, for those continuing into the Highlands.
If you prefer, please feel welcome to email or call us. Thanks!
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