Read other users walk reports for the long distance trails - and add your own.

NB. This board is for reports on multi-day long distance routes - reports on simply long walks should be added to the standard boards.
Warning Please note that hillwalking when there is snow lying requires an ice-axe, crampons and the knowledge, experience and skill to use them correctly. Summer routes may not be viable or appropriate in winter. See winter information on our skills and safety pages for more information.

West highland way in winter

West highland way in winter

Postby Annagreene » Wed Nov 22, 2023 5:40 pm

Date walked: 22/11/2023

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Hi this is a question in posting on behalf of my 18 year old son, who has announced he is going to walk to WHW in December on his own. He has no long distance experience, no navigation skills or mountain experience. I have tried my best to dissuade him but he has the confidence of the young and is convinced he will be fine. I am in a desperate panic about it and just don't know what else to say to change his mind and to help him see the craziness of his plan. Can anyone offer advice to a stressed out mum please? Thank you
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Re: West highland way in winter

Postby Scottk » Thu Nov 23, 2023 10:59 pm

You are quite right, some of the parts of the route are no place for someone on their own without experience. Very exposed, remote and a long way from help. Short days in December too.
Try to get him on a winter skills course or do it with a group with experience.
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Re: West highland way in winter

Postby DopeyLoser » Fri Nov 24, 2023 2:26 pm

I don't even want to respond to this but somehow I feel I need to. I think I mostly feel sorry for your son. I will try to make it as short as possible. Sorry if I will seem rude or harsh but you asked for advice.

I think you are not posting on behalf of your son but on your own behalf. Your son is an adult now. At 18yr old he can make his own decisions, wise or foolish, that's how we learn. You risk your relationship with your adult son by interfering too much.

The WHW, especially in its first half is not remote, not exposed, you are not a long way from help. Navigation is quite simple. It is not a mountain walk. It is a great introduction to long distance walking.

Is it risk free? No. Life is not risk free. Driving a car as an 18 year old or riding a motorbike or going to the pub or hanging out with drug-taking friends is not risk free. Crossing the road is not risk free. The boy is just saying he intends to go for a walk. What is the problem here?

Winter is certainly not as easy as the rest of the year. Needs tent to be carried for sure. Daylight hours are very limited. On the other hand, no midges.

I suspect you have no idea about the WHW. Maybe try reading the walk description here on Walk Highlands. Maybe go tomorrow to walk Milngavie to Drymen and check the navigation difficulty or remoteness or general hazard level.

He may or may not start it or complete it, not a problem for anyone if he doesn't.

I understand you love your son and want him to avoid danger. Fair enough. But you also need to accept he has grown up. Tell him to let you know if he needs anything from you. Otherwise, leave him alone.
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Re: West highland way in winter

Postby matt_outandabout » Mon Nov 27, 2023 1:12 pm

I think I agree with that - better to help your son out with some skills and support to make good decisions on the route than try to block his choice. Why not support him planning the route, the escape points, the kit and food he needs, the bus or train timetable etc?

At 18 you are an adult. Making positive choices (which a winter wander of the WHW seems an adventurous one) is better than negative (drink, drugs, sex) etc which are the adventures a young adult will seek if they cannot find 'good' adventures.

My qualification for saying this? Father of an 18, 20 and 21 year old men....

One is off around the world (solo) a week after his 18th birthday, one lives at home, and one is out drinking with the mountaineering and cycling club at uni most weeks. I worry more about their mental health, their social health and being out in a big city while p*ss*d more than I worry about the hills. I navigated the hills at age 17 solo, and had a few scrapes, got lost and cold, but found I could sort myself out and look after myself. The personal gain I felt from doing all that was wonderful, and led to the career I am in now.
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