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WHW in 6 days in Summery September

WHW in 6 days in Summery September

Postby DjimMunro » Wed Jun 15, 2016 10:28 pm

Route description: West Highland Way

Date walked: 30/08/2015

Time taken: 6 days

Distance: 154 km

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As there are already a number of great reviews and stunning photos of the whole West Highland Way route I'll stick to providing some tips and what I think is a great 6 day itinerary.

We walked the WHW in the first week of September in 2015 and lucked out on the weather - hardly any rain at all and mostly sunny. Most of the midges had gone by now (except for Kinlochleven) and the paths were pretty empty for most of the day, but still some walkers around in the pubs or camp sites to chat to if preferred. I personally would not enjoy doing this walk in May as I heard it's pretty crowded and you'll be queing along the shores of Loch Lomond as the narrow path hardly allows overtaking. But in terms of midges and rainfall you'll have the statistics on your side in May I will admit.

Our plane touched down on Sunday 30 August at Glasgow airport at 8.30 am, took a taxi to the start in Milngavie. We felt quite good about doing the WHW in 6 days as most people take 7 or 8 days but the taxi driver blew our self-esteem away by stating he'd done the walk for charity in 4 days with full camping gear strapped to his back. Feeling somewhat belittled, we dropped off our luggage at the relatively unknown Ginger Routes baggage transfer van. This company was recommended to us by two of our overnight accommodations, also as they don't charge you extra if you want to stay in Inversnaid. Getting to Inversnaid by car is arguably harder than on foot. I'd certainly recommend Ginger Routes as well as our luggage was delivered on time along the full route.

Please note that we are quite fit walkers enjoying full day walks of 19 miles / 30k a day. We thought the itinerary was excellent as it splits the tough section along Loch Lomond between Rowardennan and Ardleish over two days. That part really is a bit of a scramble over rocks, narrow paths, tree roots and the biggest challenge of the route. But we thoroughly enjoyed it as the WHW was not meant to be a walk in park, was it? Walking the 22 mile / 35 km from Drymen to Inversnaid did take us about 10 hours including a detour to the top of Conic Hill and 2 longer stops (great outdoor lunch at Rowerdennan hotel!) so not for the faint-hearted, as it includes Conic Hill (and especially the descent of Conic Hill) and a tough couple of miles along the shores of Loch Lomond.

Day 1: 19km walk to Drymen, stay at Glenalva B&B (great breakfast and on the official WHW route, but owners are extremely strict on house rules and times where you are allowed to check-in and have breakfast).

Day 2: 35 km walk to Inversnaid, stay at Inversnaid Bunkhouse (free pick-up service and great beers and food on menu, good walkers atmosphere but no door lock on private room...)

Day 3: 28km walk to Strathfillan, stay at Strathfillan Wigwams (great accommodation but not much else to do if it rains). Took a taxi back to Crianlarich for dinner. Do have drinks at Rod & Reel which is good but stay away from the food menu and don't expect the usual friendly Scottish chat from the staff. Dinner at Best Western Hotel is better option.

Day 4: our shortest day with a 17km walk to Inveroran, stay at Inveroran Hotel, just for the stunning scenery next to the loch, remote location and great dinner. Pretty expensive place to stay but worth the pricetag I thought. It does enable you to fully enjoy Rannoch Moor and its remoteness as you'll be the first ones out there the next day. The rest of the WHW walkers will be a few miles behind starting from Bridge of Orchy and it makes the next day's walk to Kinlochleven less challenging.

Day 5: walk 30km to Kinlochleven, over the spectacular Rannoch Moor. Toughest part was the long and winding descent from Devil's staircase down into Kinlochleven. Food tip: Highland getaway in Kinlochleven was the best dinner we had on the route. They also serve the locally brewed Kinlochleven ales. We stayed in one of the Hobbit pods at the Blackwater hostel which was good value for money.

Day 6: 25km walk to the finish in Fort William which has the steepest ascent of the whole route, out of Kinlochleven on your stiff legs in the morning. Views are great and the miles after the climb over the old military road offer great scenery. But the last 10km are the least enjoyable with mainly felled trees and tarmac. We saw some people stop and get excited at the old WHW finish near the roundabout. They probably hadn't read any websites our guidebooks in preparation for the walk. We arrived at the 'tired walker' statue in the city centre at 2pm and had plenty of time left for a celebratory pint before taking the 5.37pm train back to Glasgow. Train ride was very enjoyable as it initially takes you past a very remote highland section and its stations (Corrour of the movie Trainspotting) and then drives along many of the places and Bens you passed by on foot.

So to sum it up: thoroughly enjoyable walk especially if you enjoy a certain level of comfort. The proximity of the main A82 road didn't really bother me. However if you are looking for solitude and being far away from civilization, walk the Kintyre Way, East Highland Way or get an OS map and take a train to Corrour.
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