West High­land Way, Scot­land

Australian Geographic Outdoor - - Adventure -

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.

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