scottish highlands

The West Highland Way: The Story of My Walking Holiday in Scotland

My trip to the West Highland Way was different than any other trip I have been on before. The varying terrain types made it truly unique. We passed through lowland moors, dense woodlands, and high mountainous regions. All these terrain types are perfect for an adventurer’s holiday. The first few days of walking brought us through the Glasgow suburbs via riverside walks and by following the path of the Blane Valley Railway.

Arrival in Milngavie

We arrived in Milgavie by train from Glasgow. Milngavie is located in the valley of the River Allander and marks the beginning of the West Highland Way. The Milngavie Precint is where we spent most of our time on the first day. Right in the town centre, it houses a variety of shops and restaurants that we hopped around. We spent our night resting up for the next few days of walking.

The Start of the Walk of West Highland Way

Our first day of walking, we planned to complete 19 kilometres. The walk began in Milngavie at a spot marked with an obelisk. From there, we followed the Allander Water River, with Mugdock Park at our right. The easiest part of the walk was that the only high grounds of the day were Dumgoyach and Dumgoyne. The first day of walking wrapped up in Drymen, where we had a pint, ate a warm meal, and put our feet up.

From Drymen, we were set to carry on 23 km along the West Highland Way. This route took us up to the top of Conic Hill. This hill offers breath-taking views of Loch Lomond and its islands. The descent brings us to Balmaha, where we had lunch and rested up for the rest of the days walk. The continuation of the day brought us towards Rowardennan, where our accommodation was waiting for us for the night.

Halfway There

Our fourth day of our trip, and third day of walking, was a beautiful day. We began in Rowardennan. The walk offered views of Ben Lomond, a distinctive mountain. The grand mountain is situated on the eastern shore of Loch Lomond, which we had views of during the walk as well. The path was more rustic than days prior, but is generally a flat walk. At the halfway mark we stopped and had lunch and a breather before continuing on to our destination, Invernan. Invernan is well-known as the home to the Drover’s Inn, which dates back to 1705. It claims to be one of the most haunted pubs in Scotland. Of course, we had to venture over there and check it out. It was definitely well-worth the visit.

Loch Lomond
Loch Lomond

We were sad to say goodbye to Inverarnan, but excited to carryon to see the rest of the beautiful countryside. We continued on to less rustic, better-preserved roads, compared to that of yesterdays. This made the walk exponentially easier. We were accompanied by excellent views of the mountains with sections of forests, farmland, and riverside paths.

As we approached Tyndrum, we noticed plaques lining the road signaling the historic impacts of the lead mining industry in the local area. This was a great way to keep our interest in the homestretch of the 19km walk. We arrived in Tyndrum and settled into our accommodation before heading out to explore more.

Shorter Distances of the West Highland Way

Day six was set to be an easier day as we were only planned to walk 14 km. This part of the route provided us with some beautiful views of the River Orchy and the Bridge of Orchy Railway station. After we reached these, the trail became a little more difficult to travel as we had to ascend 1000 feet but, of course, the views at the top made the rougher part of the walk worth it. The views at the top were beautiful views of Loch Tulla. We continued on our way to end our days walk in Inveroran.

From Inveroran we continued on, set to walk 15.5 km. We started at Victoria Bridge. This walk was beautiful as we walked along the edge of the forest along with through open spaces. We continued on through one of Britain’s largest moors: Rannoch moor. The mid-point of this part of the walk is Ba Bridge. Not much further along, we stopped and had a picnic-style lunch around some cottages. We went on until our final destination for the night, Kings House.

From King’s House, we were to walk 14 km to reach our destination, this is not long, but there are some difficult aspects to this part of the route. About 1.5 km in from our hike, we reached the Devil’s Staircase. This is the sharpest climb we experienced throughout the entire walk. It is very attainable as long as you pace yourself and are conscious of your breathing. Once we made our way to where we were staying for the night, Kinlochleven, we were ready for a drink. We settled into our accommodation and scurried out to a local pub and ordered a pint and some food- the perfect ending to a semi-difficult walk.

Concluding the Walking Holiday

Our final day of walking was a bit longer, a little over 24 km. The day began with some climbing, but the path didn’t stay too difficult for too long. The views along the path were incredible but the most stunning landscapes were around the time we reached Lairigmore. The last few kilometres took us through forestry plantations. The path was a bit rough at this point again. After, we found Dun Deardail which is a unique Iron Age Fort. We walked along until reaching Fort William, where we spent the night and concluded our walking tour.

Continuing On

Fort William is the second largest settlement in the Highlands of Scotland, so there is plenty to do. It is a major tourist centre, so we decided to continue on our holiday here at the completion of our walking holiday. From here you can embark on day trips to Loch Ness, or if you are a Harry Potter fan as I am, you can take the famous train seen in the films. The Jacobite Steam Train was a highlight for me as not only did I get to feel as though I was on my way to Hogwarts, but I also was able to see the amazing panoramic views and iconic sites from the films.

A barrier lake near Fort William

The nearest airports to Fort William are Glasgow, Inverness, and Edinburgh, so depending on where your next destination is, there are a few options for you to depart from.

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