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  • Writer's pictureJan Noordermeer

Hiking West Highland Way

Wandelen over West Highland Way
Hiking the West Highland Way

Walking the West Highland Way in Scotland is always a wonderful adventure. The rugged nature, waterfalls, Lochs (lakes) and the weather make it a trip to remember. This hiking route is on many bucket lists and is considered one of the most beautiful hiking trails in the world. Kim and Jan have done the route so many times that they now know everything about it. Kim walks with the walkers and alternately one of our Border Collies Haggis or Smørrie goes along. Jan takes care of the 'tent camp' at every overnight stay and does the shopping, after which Kim and Jan prepare a delicious meal in the evening. Below is the report of our trip.

Startpunt West Highland Way
Starting point West Highland Way

Day 1

We met the travelers at Milngavie railway station, where the West Highland Way starts. Some walkers flew into Glasgow this morning and took the train to Milngavie. Others were already a day earlier and explored Glasgow for a day. After drinking a cup of coffee together, it's time to start the walk.

In the radiant sun we walked about 20 km to Drymen. On the way we walked past the Glengoyne distillery, where we had an interesting tour. And a tasting of course! The first hills presented themselves and in Drymen Jan was ready with the pitched tents and a delicious snack.

We enjoyed a well-deserved snack and a good piece of fresh Scottish salmon for dinner. (we are happy to adapt to local customs)

Day 2

On the second day, the first hill was on the program. Conick hill. 361 meters, and at the top an amazing view over Loch Lomond, which we will hike along for the next 1.5 days. Another beautiful sunny day. Picnic by a stream, with bare feet in the grass. And that in Scotland!

After having walked about 20 kilometers again, the tents were ready again along the lake. And what a surprise! The weather was so good that we took a dip in Loch Lomond! And another advantage, we were all showered right away.

We moved the dining table, so that we could enjoy a delicious 3-course dinner right on the water, under the setting sun. What a present!

Day 3

This is known as the most challenging day of the West Highland Way. Along Loch Lomond you can climb and scramble over very beautiful paths, interspersed with mini beaches, for a nice picnic. How lucky again this day. The shining sun accompanied us.

Fortunately, because that made this challenging day a lot easier.

Jan walked towards us with Smørrie and we all walked the last part to the campsite. in the evening we ate at the Drovers Inn. One of the oldest pubs in the Scottish Highlands. And they even say it's haunted...

Drover's Inn, Pub of the year 1705
Drover's Inn, Pub of the year 1705

Laatste blik op Loch Lomond
Loch Lomond

Day 4

This was a relatively quiet day in terms of kilometers, to give the feet and bodies some rest after the climbing paths. Through forests and meadows, surrounded by the somewhat higher hills, via the town of Crianlarich where we drank coffee in the local pub, through sheep tunnels, past many many sheep we continued.

Unfortunately during the day it became more Scottish again. The rain ponchos had to be taken out of the bags. We arrived at the tents in the pouring rain. Even for Scottish standards it rained heavily. The calm stream we stood by began to look more and more like a large river.

In the group tent we enjoyed hot tea, a nice pint and fish and chips. While the rain tapped on the tents, we fell asleep.

Day 5

Fortunately, most of the rain had fallen during the night, and the next day it was only a few splashes and the river had calmed down again.

Walk the first part through woods and meadows and then along Bridge of Orchy. Past this bridge a small climb, and then we walk past a kind of gate, around the bend, into a painting. Welcome to the Highlands! Just at that point there are a number of Red Deers (Deer) enjoying the sun. Wow!

We walk a few kilometers through the rolling hills. Today's walk was beautiful again. So beautiful to see how the sun plays with the clouds over the landscape.

On to the Inveroran hotel, where there is a beautiful wild camping site 200 meters away. By a stream, sheltered behind a bridge, you can't get a more Scottish view than this.

So you are really in the middle of the Highlands. Together with sheep and deer, and other walkers. The tents are located next to a stream, where we can immediately take a 'shower' and rinse some clothes. In the evening we walk a short distance back to the hotel, where they also have a 'walkers bar', and we enjoy delicious Scottish pints and whisky, together with other walkers we met along the way.

Dag 6

We all start fresh and fruity after a delicious breakfast of Porridge (Scottish hot porridge) sausages, fried bacon and tattie scones. On to the Rannoch Moor! One of Scotland's most wild and unspoilt natural areas. How wonderful it is here. You feel almost alone in the world, as a very small part of nature. In all types of weather this is really a beautiful stretch to walk. But luckily the weather gods are in a good mood, and apart from a few small drizzles, we can continue our walk dry, with only beautiful views around us. In the evening we camp at the Glencoe Mountain resort, where Jan is already waiting for us with Italian snacks, delicious pasta Pesto, and Carrot cake.

Day 7

The next day is another beautiful hiking day. Via the 'Devils Staircase' of 550 meters, also the highest point of the West Highland Way, we walk to Kinlochleven. The weather shows its most Scottish side again. The first part, where we wish several deer a good morning, it is actually too hot (!) to walk, and then to climb up the hill. At the top of the 'Devils Staircase' we have a magnificent view over the Glencoe. In a radiant sun that draws mighty beautiful shadows over the hills. When we turn around we see how a dark gray cloud full of rain is blowing towards us. All wrapped up in our rain ponchos, we walk back down the hill in the pouring rain. At the bottom of the hill we can take off the ponchos and it is necessary to apply sunscreen. We spend the night at a campsite on the edge of the village, where they also have a good dry-room. We make grateful use of it, so that we can start again the next day with dry socks and dry shoes.

Unfortunately, the Midges are now also showing themselves in large numbers. The Scots themselves don't really talk much about the weather, because yes, four seasons can blow by in one day, but they do talk a lot about the amount of Midges. Very small mosquitoes, which fly in large numbers in calm weather, and then like to bite you. Fortunately we have Smidge, an anti-midge ointment, and head nets with very fine mesh that they cannot get through. As long as you keep moving, you won't be bothered by them, so they won't hinder you while walking.

In the evening we eat in the group tent, English oxtail soup, bean stew and then a delicious cup of coffee and tea together with a small glass of whisky.

Dag 8

And then the last walking day has arrived. On to Fort William.

We need the hearty porridge for breakfast, because from Kinlochleven we immediately start with a big climb. The muscles are already awake immediately.

From the top of the hill we look back over Loch Leven and the village. Through woods and blubber and beautiful Glens (valleys) it is as if we are thrown back in time 500 years. We pass an old ruin, and it is not difficult to imagine how a shepherd and his wife and children with his sheep used to live here.

After 20 kilometers we are back in civilization and we walk past the campsite where we spend the night. Jan is already waiting for us with a snack and a drink, and we all walk the last kilometers to the finish line and take the very last step across the finish line. Wow! 154 beautiful kilometers. 96 miles. We have the last stamp put in our West Highland Way stamp booklet and in the Grog & Gruel pub we drink and eat a deserved meal and look back on a fantastic week!

Next year we will walk the West Highland way again. check our website for the departure date.

Yes! Finishing The West Highland Way!
Yes! Finishing The West Highland Way!

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