West Highland Way, Scotland
IF there’s a better (and easier) way to see the most majestic parts of the Scottish Highlands than walking the eight- to 10-day West Highland Way, we are struggling to find it. Walking through mountain scenery, past mystical lochs (lakes to you and I), expansive moors and bogs and a number of easily climbed munros (Scots for mountains that are over 1000m in height), including Ben Lomond, the UK’s tallest, sounds sort-of tough. But do it with a daypack and have your luggage ferried not to a campsite, but rather to a B&B, hostel or historic Scottish pub, all promising a comfy night (plus beer and food), and you can see what we mean.
This doesn’t mean the walk is overly easy; there are still some relatively challenging ascents and descents, and there’s always the huge variable that is the Scottish weather (regardless of season), plus once you see them, you will want to climb most of the munros you walk past. It all adds up to a fantastic, fun multiday hike that you could also contemplate doing with your kids (from around 10 and up we reckon).
The Way starts in the township of Milngavie (around 30 minutes from Glasgow by train) and ends 154.5km later, at Fort William. Each day on the route offers something different in terms of landscape, and also in regards to Scottish history. Ancient priories associated with Robert the Bruce, and caves where bandit Rob Roy was purported to have hidden, are found along the Way, as is the vale of Glen Coe, where, in 1692, members of clan Campbell murdered 38 of their MacDonald hosts.
The immense Rannoch Moor and its treeless landscape is one walk highlight. You will find this in the Grampian Mountains section of the Way. Also here is the challenging Devil’s Staircase, a well-trod switchback track that takes you up to the 900m highpoint of the Way itself. The entire Way is a mix of old roads and hiking tracks, and even though you could walk it faster than the recommended seven days, we’d advise not to. There’s so much history and beautiful scenery to see it would be wasteful to rush through and not really soak up the ambience of this globally popular hike.