Back in 2013 I done the West Highland Way with my best mate, Scoob and his cousin Thomas. It is one of the most challenging yet enjoyable experiences of my life.
What Is The West Highland Way?
The West Highland Way is essentially a hike, starting in Milngavie and finishing up at Fort William. It is 96 miles long and is a proper endurance test. You never know what kind of weather you are going to get in Scotland, you could be faced with walking in scorching sunshine or it could be bucketing rain. Regardless though, you pass some of Scotland’s most beautiful landscapes like Rannoch Moor and Buachaille Etive Mor. Its free to do, but unless your camping and well stocked with food, you will need a bit of money with you. We managed to complete it in 5 days/ 4 nights. Our stops were at Rowardennan, Beinglas Farm, Inveroran Hotel and Kinlochleven before finally arriving at Fort William on our 5th day.
Setting out from Milngavie wasn’t the greatest, it was pouring rain (no surprise) but we were eager to get going. The longest stretch we done was the first day, I don’t think we were fully prepared for how much walking we were about to do. After a while of walking in the rain, it began to brighten up, just before we reached Conic Hill at Balmaha. We stopped in Balmaha for a wee lunch and then continued on our way up the banks of Loch Lomond. Eventually we arrived at the Rowardennan Hotel, had our dinner and a wee pint before bed. We pitched our tent a few meters up the road and called it a night.
Rowardennan – Beinglas Farm
Day 2. We woke up and got ourselves sorted for continuing up the banks of Loch Lomond. Scoob and I had developed a few blisters, absolute hell. The path was becoming a bit more rockier and we were having to scramble over boulders at some points. We stopped at the Inversnaid Hotel for a break, some lunch and a pint. We continued the walk and eventually reached Beinglas Farm where we had to stop for night 2. Thank god we did, one of Scoob’s blisters had grown… it was HUGE. We even gave it a name, Harold. We decided to stay in the cabins available at the farm so we could get a good night sleep. Later that night, we made a massive mistake and set about our blisters and burst them with a pair of scissors.
Beinglas Farm – Inveroran Hotel
Day 3. This was probably our hardest day, the weather was horrible and our feet were absolutely killing us. Thomas had to call it quits because of a knee injury so it was just Scot and I that were walking. Thomas continued in his car though which helped us massively. We followed the path as best we could, trying to keep positive but it was difficult. By the time we reached Crainlarich, we were ready to call it quits. Our feet were agony and there was no morale what so ever. We cheated ever so slightly and skipped 2 or 3 miles and Thomas gave us a lift to Tyndrum (it feels good to get that off my chest). In Tyndrum, we had a wee break to dry off and have lunch at the Tyndrum Inn. We boosted our morale with a pint and a shot then we headed off again.
The rain started to ease off as we made our way up to the Bridge of Orchy. Walking along the path at the foot of mountains, we boosted our morale even more by having a few drinks of whiskey from our hip flasks. By the time we reached the Bridge of Orchy, we were quite merry. Not long after, we reached the Inveroran Hotel. We had to book a room in the hotel for the night, we couldn’t pitch our tent because of the wind. Tomi and Robert (Scoob’s Mum and Dad) came up with Thomas’s Mum & Dad that night to see us. We had a few drinks and talked for a few hours before calling it a night.
Inveroran Hotel – Kinlochleven
Day 4. Despite the rain, our 4th day was pretty good. Thomas headed off to the next stop in his car while Scot and I started walking. At this point in life, it was the furthest North in Scotland that I had been and I was enjoying the scenery. We walked through Rannoch Moor in the pouring rain then came up to the King’s House Hotel where we dried off and had some lunch, caught up with Thomas and headed off. We followed the path running parallel with the A82 until we came to Buachaille Etive Mor. Unfortunately, I never got to see the mountain in full because of the clouds (I saw it on the way back though).
Directly across the road from the mountain is the Devil’s Staircase which is aptly named. The path up is all twists and turns and you can feel the burn when your walking up. It took us the best part of an hour to reach the top then we continued down to Kinlochleven. I say continued as if it was nothing but the path went on and on. Our morale was dropping and we had no clue how far we still had to walk. I remember at one point, Scoob was about 20 feet in front of me and just the way he was walking was annoying me. We were starting to go a bit mad. Eventually though we arrived in Kinlochleven and pitched our tent in a wee holiday park. After dinner and a pint or 2, we retired to the tent but had to sleep with our feet elevated because they were so sore and swollen.
Kinlochleven – Fort William
Day 5. Our final day started with a bit of sunshine. About time. The morale was high again and we were off. This day seemed to fly by as we walked and had a laugh. The closer we got to Fort William though, the darker the skies got. Before long it was raining again but it never dampened our spirits. We reached the finishing point in Fort William, got a wee photo and checked in to the hotel. We had a wee dip in the pool and hot tubs to relax a little then chilled with a few beers. The following day, the sun was out in force (no doubt) and Thomas drove us home. We passed Buachaille Etive Mor so we stopped and I got to see it properly. What a view, I never get tired of seeing it. Before long we were home and it was all over.
Looking back at it, I can honestly say that I loved it despite the morale dropping a few times. I would definitely recommend the West Highland Way to anyone who loves a good hike. For us, it was a glorified, long pub crawl but it was one of the best experiences of my life.
Have you ever done the West Highland Way? If so, how long did it take you to do it?
Thanks for reading!