West Highland Way, Scotland
Independent walking holidays in Europe
The West Highland Way is a long distance footpath in Scotland about 154km or 96 miles long. The trail goes from Milngavie on the outskirts of Glasgow to Fort William in the Highlands of Scotland.
The northern part of the walking trail forms the highlight of this route and we have incorporated these sections into two of our self guided walking holidays in the highlands of Scotland: Highlands, Isle of Skye - Highlands, Islands & Wild West Coast
The West Highlands Way walking trail was the first officially designated long distance footpath in Scotland and is now one of the classic walking trails in the UK. The trail was approved for development in 1974 and was completed and opened on October 6, 1980. The route is traditionally walked in seven to eight days, although fitter and more experienced walkers do it in five or six. An annual race along the full south–north distance of the West Highland Way has been run in its current form since 1991. The race starts at 1 am on the Saturday nearest to the Summer Solstice.
The West Highlands Way walking route is not difficult as it mainly uses ancient roads, including drovers roads, military roads and old coaching routes and stays at relatively low altitudes. The difficulties arise mainly due to the vagaries of the Scottish weather and the relative long distances of wilderness, especially across Rannoch Moor.
Your walking holidays in Scotland which include several days on the West Highland Way start at the Bridge of Orchy, where the highland scenery really begins to show its true savage beauty. The walking trail from Milngavie to the Bridge of Orchy covers some 98km passing Loch Lommond, leaving about 56km of stunning highland scenery to be enjoyed on your walking holidays. Your walking trail starts by crossing the vast expanse of Rannoch Moor, a remote and desolate part of the trail with little sign of life, except for fellow walkers. This large area of boggy moorland is the approximate location for the last great glacier in the UK at the end of the last ice age. As a result, the land here is still moving upwards at a rate of 2-3 mm per year.
At Glen Coe the scenery changes once more to dramatic mountain terrain, dominated by the impressive mountain of Buachaille Etive Mor which stands as a sentry to this stunning glen. Glen Coe is often considered one of the most spectacular and beautiful places in Scotland. It is a U-shaped valley 16km long which was formed during the last ice age and at its narrowest is only 700 wide. Glen Coe is also the site of a tragic massacre when 38 of the Donald Clan were killed by the English in the 17th century.
From Glen Coe your trail climbs the Devils Staircase, a 259 m ascent to the highest point on the West Highland Way (548m) with great views over the peaks of Glen Coe and Ben Nevis can be seen in the distance North over the Mamores. The trail then descends back to sea level at Kinlochleven. The path runs along the mountainside with spectacular views over the Mamores and miles of open wilderness stretching away to the East. After a final climb your route descends to Glen Nevis and Fort William at the foot of Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in the UK.