Trekking the West Highland Way is almost a right-of-passage for outdoorsy Scots, and it’s so well-loved and well-known that it’s surprising it only opened in 1980.
The 95-mile route, starts in Milngavie (6 miles north of Glasgow and pronounced “mull-guy”) and heads north to the foot of Ben Nevis and Fort William. Its scenic beauty, easy transport links
and good facilities make it a deservedly popular route, though if you’re in search of wilderness and solitude you’re probably better off elsewhere in the Highlands. That said, much of the route passes through wild, remote and exposed country where red deer, wild goats even golden eagles thrive; be well-prepared for sudden and extreme weather changes.
The route links ancient drove roads, used by Highlanders to herd cattle and sheep to market; military roads built to control the 18th-century Jacobite rebels; old coaching roads and disused railway lines. This makes the route less strenuous than many mountain routes and much of it is even accessible and enjoyable by mountain bike for the fit and reasonably skilled. The root-strewn sections on the banks of Loch Lomond in the south are an exception to this.
Most people walk the West Highland Way south-to-north, take about a week and begin on a Saturday in Milngavie. This means its best to start on another day of the week to avoid the route at its most crowded and make it easier to find space at the various hotels, B&Bs, bunkhouses and campgrounds en route. Most accommodation options are listed at www.west-highland-way.co.uk, which also has links to companies that transport luggage between stops.