09 Nov

West Highland Way Review

West Highland Way Review

Completing the West Highland Way was a rewarding experience and one I was happy that I had undertaken. It was a pleasurable walk and covered a wide range of scenery as it made its way through the highlands of Scotland.

The Way gave me a nice challenge from time to time and it was never overly difficult. It allowed me to soak in the scenery and not feel pressured to keep moving forward to make it to the next town. I had moments of sore feet from the hard packed military roads, but in general it was pretty easy walking

West Highland Way Trail to Kinlochleven

Trip Planning

I booked everything myself for this trip and did not use a travel service. When I first started planning, I contacted a few companies to get prices and they were pretty expensive, even more for single traveler as they would throw on an extra $40 a day or something crazy for a single occupancy charge.

I booked my reservations in February for September and I had no problem finding places to stay. I used google to find the B&B’s in town and I either contracted them through email or booked the rooms right on their websites. I also booked rooms for the Rowardennan Youth Hostel and the Inverardran Guest House on booking.com.

It took a bit of time and research and plan, but, as you will see below, it was the best decision I made for my trip.

Should I use a travel company?

This is an important question to answer so I want to break it down in detail for you based on my own trip costs.

On average, my room plus a full Scottish breakfast was about $60 a night. As a single hiker, I was able to book 6 nights of accommodations for about $360. I had an additional $75 for baggage handling which brought the main total up to $435 for the week. This included a nights stay in Fort William at the end.

I won’t name any companies here, but here is what it would have cost for me to let a company book my hotel rooms and contact Travel Lite on my behalf (they don’t carry your bags themselves):

Base Cost – £450 – $718
Single Supplement – £25/day for 6 days – $40 day * 6 days = $240
Extra Night in Fort William ~£50 – $80
Total travel company cost – $1038

Do a quick comparison on that.
My Cost – $435
Travel Company – $1038

Total Savings by NOT using a travel company: $603!!!! And thats just for one person!!

My costs were for a single walker, and sometimes I had to pay for a double room. The extra cost was minimal, maybe $20 extra. No where even close to the extra $40 a day the companies want to charge plus the already inflated room rates.

If you were a couple walking the trail and used a travel service, you would have to pay £450 EACH. That would bring the cost up to around $1,450, NOT including a stay in Fort William. Wow…

From the people I talked to on the Way, I was surprised to hear that most people use these services. Having talked to the ones who did, the only real service that anyone mentioned was that they provided a private car to drive them back to a previous town when there were no accommodations available where they wanted to stay.

If you have a lot of extra cash laying around or really don’t want to have to think about planning, use these services. Otherwise, book the trip yourself…seriously…

West Highland Way Flowers


As I mentioned in a previous post, I had Travel Lite carry my main bag from town to town and I just kept a small day pack along with me. Here is how I filled it:

Day Pack Gear List
1. Rain jacket
2. Rain pants
3. Rain cover for backpack
4. Trekking poles
5. First aid kit w/ blister pads
6. Plastic bags for carrying out trash and for keeping electronics dry
7. Camera – DSLR w/ 2 lenses – small lens and a zoom lens
8. Water reservoir (camelback)
9. Food for the day (lunch and snacks)

I was happy with my packing list and I would carry the same gear again. I never had to break out the rain gear as I was extremely lucky to have zero rain on my walk.

The only thing I would change would be my camera setup. I would have left my zoom lens at home as I never had a need for it. There isn’t a lot of wildlife on the trails and there wasn’t a need to zoom in for my shots. I would have the zoom lens out for a fish eye lens which would have come in handy many times.


A lot of reviews and guides suggested wearing full hiking boots for the West Highland Way. I personally think this is overkill. I wore Solomon X Ultra Gore-Tex hiking shoes that come up below the ankle and I had plenty of support and grip for the trail. They fit every need I had and I would recommend them.

The only things you need to think about when picking your shoes is that they are waterproof and comfortable. The long stretches of military road the trail follows are hard and after several miles on them they feel very hard. Make sure your shoes are comfortable. I would even suggest some nice comfortable insoles to make sure you have a pleasant experience.

West Highland Way Loch Lomond


I hiked the West Highland Way in 6 days In my first post, I mentioned that I am in my mid 30’s and in pretty decent shape. If you haven’t seen my earlier posts, this was my itinerary:

Day 1: Milngavie – Drymen – 12 miles
Day 2: Drymen – Rowardennan – 15 miles
Day 3: Rowardennan – Crainlarich – 20 miles
Day 4: Crainlarich – Inveroran – 15 miles
Day 5: Inveroran – Kinlochleven – 19 miles
Day 6: Kinlochleven – Fort William – 16 miles

Overall, I feel like this schedule was super manageable and I could do this again easily. The only day that felt a little too short was the first from Mingavie to Drymen. I could have easily stretched this out to Balmaha and it would have been very manageable.

The only day that felt a little long was from Rowardennan to Crainlarich. The trail along Loch Lomond is slow walking and it takes quite a while to reach the end of the loch. Because of that, I didn’t have a whole lot of time to sit around and enjoy the scenery as much as I would have liked.

If I were to hike the Way again I would probably keep this itinerary or just make a couple adjustments on the two sections I mentioned above. All the other days were perfect lengths and made for an enjoyable trek.

As for recommendations, if you hike regularly or are in good general shape, I would plan on no more than 6 days.  Any longer than this and you will probably be a bit disappointed. The towns are small and there isn’t a lot to do once you arrive.

If you want to go a bit faster, 5 days would be  manageable and give you a good workout without pushing you too hard. Any less than that and you would have to keep a pretty steady pace and you wouldn’t have a lot of time for sight seeing or photography.

Eating and Drinking

West Highland Way Dinner

If you plan on eating all of your meals at restaurants on the way, keep in mind that it is not cheap. Meals for lunch and dinner will set you back anywhere from £9 – £15. When you are paying in US dollars, like I was, that adds up really quick.

I tended to want to eat out for dinner, so I packed my lunches each day on the West Highland Way to save a few dollars. Plus, the big Scottish breakfasts held me over really well so I never wanted a big lunch.

I took advantage of grocery stores or convenience shops along the way to stock up on my food. They had pre-made sandwiches, fruit, crisps, etc. which I could just throw in my bag and get on the trail.

The only day I payed for a lunch was leaving Rowardennan. I bought a packed lunch from the hostel as there weren’t any shops until you reached the Beinglas Farm in Inverarnan or the Cranlarich Store in Crainlarich.

I also stocked up for a few days when I was in Tyndrum. This is the last town with a grocery store you will stop at before you reach Kinlochleven. I bought about two days worth of lunches and snacks here.

As for drinks on the West Highland Way, there are plenty of places to stop and enjoy a pint or some Scottish whiskey. Almost everyday, there seemed to be a pub at about the half way point where I could stop and take a nice break. Each town I stayed in also had a pub where you can unwind at night and enjoy some good conversation.

The pubs don’t always have real ale on draft, which I preferred, but they have a decent selection. They tended to always have the standards such as Belhaven’s Best or Tenants on draft and one or two others. Some pubs had more real ales than others and there are some local selections at a few places as well. I felt obliged to sample the local offerings and I was never disappointed.

If you are a whiskey fan, the selections seemed to be pretty good. I don’t drink it myself, but others on the Way said they had found some good varieties to try.

The End of the Way

There is something very rewarding in the through hike experience. Waking up each morning, throwing your pack on, breathing in the crisp morning air and heading off for a new destination is one of the best feelings in the world.

I had a great experience on and off the trail. One of the best parts of the trail is all of the people that you get to meet. The locals are super friendly and the camaraderie that builds between hikers is great. I made a lot of great friends on the trail and I won’t forget my experience.

Overall, I would recommend the West Highland Way to anyone who is interested in really seeing Scotland and enjoys hiking. The landscapes are varied and beautiful, even if they get a bit too close to civilization at times. Getting outdoors and away from modern society for a week is an amazing and refreshing experience, something most of us could all stand to do more often.

West Highland Way




West Highland Way – Photo Guide and Review by Day

Introduction to the West Highland Way

Milngavie – Drymen – 12 miles

Drymen – Rowardennan – 15 miles

Rowardennan – Crainlarich – 20 miles

Crainlarich – Inveroran – 15 miles

Inveroran – Kinlochleven – 19 miles

Kinlochleven – Fort William – 16 miles


Have you hiked the West Highland Way? Leave your impressions of the trail in the comments!


29 Oct

West Highland Way – Day 6 – Photo Guide and Review

Day 6 – Kinlochleven to Fort William – 15 miles

The final day of the West Highland Way had arrived and I was feeling ready for the last miles of the adventure. I was feeling super pumped after the great previous day from Inveroran to Kinlochleven and I was ready to get on the trail. I powered through my fantastic breakfast at the Fort View Guest House, grabbed my bag and headed for the trailhead.

West Highland Way - Kinlochleven

The weather was warm and a bit hazy as I started my days walk out of the valley from Kinlochleven into the remainder of the Scottish Highlands. The trail from town takes you uphill, nothing outrageous, but it was enough to get the blood flowing and required me to take off an outer layer of clothing.

As you start to reach the crest of the climb, the views start to present themselves. The trail follows a valley for several miles and hills lie on both sides. Before you get into the valley proper though, you will get some nice views of Loch Leven to enjoy. It’s a nice view, even if it does have some power lines in the way.

West Highland Way - Kinlochleven

The next several miles through valley were along the hard packed old military road that I had come to familiarize myself with and they weren’t demanding by any stretch, though hard on the feet as usual. The trail stretched out ahead of me and I could see where I was headed out into the distance.

As I got further down the trail, a few miles, I came across some ruins which were being enjoyed by a couple of sheep. They were quite charming and I soaked them in for a few minutes before hopping back on my way.

West Highland Way Sheep

After the ruins, the view doesn’t change much for several miles. The trail stretches out in front of you and its time to just power through it. The views are nice, but nothing really changes for quite a while. I enjoyed it, but after the great previous day, I was hoping for a bit more.

West Highland Way - Day 6

As I approached the bend in the trail, I saw that I was venturing into a bit of different territory. The landscape was leading me to an old forest that no longer existed. There were fields of old, dried out wood and stumps where the loggers had come through in previous years. This was another one of those times where I felt that civilization was a bit too close, even though there were no people around. Real, standing trees are better than chopped, grey stumps any day.

West Highland Way - Fell Forest

The way got a bit more hilly as the miles went on and steered me toward Fort William and out of the dead forest. The views were still quite nice and awarded me me with a great view of Loch Lunn Da-Bhra off to the West and the hills of the highlands around me. I also got my first views of the UK’s highest mountain, Ben Nevis, on a rare clear day.

West Highland Way - Ben Nevis

After soaking in the view, I pressed on and I was soon entering some thick forest areas that finally weren’t cut down.  Tall pines lined the trail and bird songs provided a nice backdrop to the stroll.  I found myself really happy to be back amongst the trees and enjoying the forest.


At some point, the trail abruptly enters more dead forest and starts to climb some moderate hills. I kept thinking to myself how much nicer this would have been had the trees been allowed to remain in the area and provide some cover and a habitat for local wildlife. It wasn’t long though before I was back in the thick pines and happy again.

West Highland Way - Cleared Forest

The next several miles wandered down the hills, bring me lower and lower to sea level. The road was again a hard packed service road and it wasn’t nice on the feet. It did however provide some great views of Ben Nevis and the country side surrounding Fort William.

West Highland Way Forest

The trail continued to descend until it completely flattened out at the bottom, which marked the final stretch of the West Highland Way. This would have been my preferred ending point for the trail as the last stretch was my absolute least favorite part of the trail.

The remaining stretch, maybe a mile or a bit less, just runs along a sidewalk of a really busy road. Nothing to see other than hedges and traffic. Eventually you get to the traffic circle marking the original end of the West Highland Way and that is the first interesting sight along this stretch.

Highland Cattle

No highland cattle on the West Highland Way…just a sign…

I pressed on further into Fort William and I was happy to be off the busy road when I reached downtown proper. The town is quite nice and the views of the ocean off to the north were great. The final stretch of the trail is all on pedestrian only stretches until you reach the new, official end of the trail.

With some friends I had made on the trail, I ventured to the Ben Nevis Pub to have a few celebratory pints. I grabbed my Bridge of Orchy ale and ventured to the back patio to soak up some sun and enjoy the ocean views.

I had reached the end. 97 miles of Scotland laid behind me. I was done. I felt good.

Having seen the Highlands of Scotland from the ground level and experiencing it at a slow pace, I felt very rewarded. I had really “seen” what northern Scotland had to offer rather than just catching passing glimpses from a car. I met a lot of nice people along the trail and had some great experiences with locals.

I was happy.


– Nice views of the highlands on the first stretch.
– Ben Nevis is pretty awesome.
– You get to celebrate the completion of the West Highland Way.


– Hard military roads for walking.
– A lot of time in old, deforested regions.
– The last stretch into Fort Williams is the worst part of the trail and a lackluster finish.


Come back soon for my final reflections and suggestions for hiking the West Highland Way.

West Highland Way – Photo Guide and Review by Day

Introduction to the West Highland Way

Milngavie – Drymen – 12 miles
Drymen – Rowardennan – 15 miles
Rowardennan – Crainlarich – 20 miles
Crainlarich – Inveroran – 15 miles
Inveroran – Kinlochleven – 19 miles
Kinlochleven – Fort William – 16 miles

25 Oct

West Highland Way – Day 5 – Photo Guide and Review

Day 5 – Inveroran to Kinlochleven – 19 Miles

After a very nice and comfortable nights rest at the Inveroran Hotel and a lighter, yet satisfying breakfast, I took to the trail for what was by far my favorite day on the West Highland Way.

The easy trail leaving Inveroran allowed me to really enjoy the crisp morning air with dramatic lighting that shone through breaks in the clouds. I passed some farm land being grazed by cattle and shortly thereafter began the light, steady climb out of the valley through the remotest regions of the trail.

Inveroran, Scotland

For the first 8 miles or so, the trail took me upward at a relatively steady incline as it made its way through extremely beautiful stretches of the Scottish Highlands. There are no roads or power lines stretched across this open land and it was absolutely superb. It was what I had imagined the trail would be like when I decided to hike it.

West Highland Way - Inveroran

The views and the lands are expansive through this stretch and you are surrounded by beautiful mountains on all sides. The clouds rested on the tops of the peaks and gave them even more personality than they already had. The rays of the sun also provided amazing rays which would part through the clouds.

By about 5 or 6 miles in, you will start to crest the trail and there is an amazing lookout point to your left with a large cairn on the top. CLIMB THIS! The view from the top is absolutely breathtaking and you get to soak in the largest region of uninhabited land in the United Kingdom. It is a perfect spot to take a break and refresh.

West Highland Way, Scotland

Leaving the top of the hill, I started my decent down into Glen Coe and the views just continued to get better. The clouds had dissipated by the time I made it to the area and the skies were dark blue, something I hadn’t seen to this point on my trip in Scotland.

Ahead of me lied the amazing Buachaille Etive Mòr, meaning “the great herdsman of Etive in Scottish Gaelic, and it incredibly powerful. Its cone or pyramid shape stuck out of the flat countryside and all I could think about was it being an ancient, dormant volcano. It was amazing and its size was extremely impressive.

Glen Coe, West Highland Way

The next two miles or so lead me to the Kings House Hotel which lies on the other side of a super busy road that runs through Glen Coe. Watch your ass here because these drivers are flying and they don’t slow down for people crossing the street.

West Highland Way - Glen Coe

Some people I met along the way were walking a short day, 10 miles, from Bridge of Orchy or Inveroran to Kings House and stopping there. If you don’t plan on exploring Glen Coe, don’t make this mistake. I left Inveroran at about 8:00 AM and was at the Kings House by 11:30 AM and I wasn’t pushing myself. I suggest to keep going to Kinlochleven.

West Highland Way - Glen Coe

Leaving the Kings House Hotel, I got back on the way and headed through Glen Coe toward the Devil’s staircase. This stretch of the trail is beautiful, but the busy road I had to cross earlier runs right along it. If the scenery hadn’t been so amazing, I would have been rather annoyed.

West Highland Way - Glen Coe

A couple of miles further, I reached the turn off to climb the Devil’s Staircase. If you cross back over the road to your left, there are a couple of nice benches that give you the postcard views of Glen Coe that are a perfect stopping point for lunch. It was a nice spot to rest before the steepest climb of the trail.

After lunch, I threw on my pack and started my climb up the Devil’s Staircase. It’s a semi-steep climb and you will be breathing heavier than on any other stretch of the trail, but don’t let the name fool you. It’s not very long and the views are so nice that you will forget about the extra effort required.

West Highland Way - Devil's Staircase

Upon reaching the top, I was happy and I felt accomplished. I took some photos and enjoyed the panoramic views of the amazing valley. It was hard to leave it behind and keep hiking.

Turning my back on Glen Coe, I was greeted with more amazing views on the decent. Tall peaks lie in the north and off to the east sits Blackwater Reservoir. After the walk along the busy road, the trail returns to the remote highlands and I was once again only surrounded by nature.

West Highland Way - Top of Devil's Staircase

The next miles to Kinlochleven are very pleasant and the walking is not very difficult. There were several pretty substantial descents but other than the rocky trail, it was easy walking and I could really enjoy the nature.

Soon, I started to reach some civilization and the trail started to venture into Kinlochleven. There is a water plant at the top above town and six large metal tubes bring water down to the town. It also marks the decent into the village.

West Highland Way - Above Kinlochleven

This part of the trail was my least favorite of the day, not for the scenery, but for the road you have to walk on. It is the steepest decent of the day and it is on a really hard packed gravel service road. My knees were really feeling it as I made my way down.

West Highland Way - Kinlochleven Trail

The road eventually flattens out and I walked the rest of the way to town along the metal water pipes. Occasionally I passed a section that had sprung a leak and water was spraying out like crazy. It was pretty cool and totally different than other parts of the trail.

I made my way to town and checked in to the Forest View Guest House. This B&B is right off the trail as soon as you make it into town and it is really nice and comfortable. The plush carpets felt great on my feet and the rooms are very clean and comfortable. The shower was also great and it was very welcome after a full day on the trail.

After I cleaned up, I made my way into town and I enjoyed wandering around. It is a really small, charming place and I felt very comfortable there. They had a grocery store in town where I stocked up and then went out for a bite to eat.

Along the way, a hiker mentioned to me that Kinlochleven had a mountain climbing facility that had an ice climbing wall. I had to see the ice wall so I made my way to the Ice Factor to check it out.

The ice wall was really cool and was in its own special freezer room within the complex. With crampons and some ice axes, you can scale the vertical walls and get ready for your mountaineering adventures. It was worth checking out as this is something I had never encountered before.

The Ice Factor also had a bar and restaurant on the 2nd level which overlooks the climbing walls. I treated myself to a nice and delicious dinner, one of the best on the entire West Highland Way, before I headed back to my room for the evening. It was a great way to spend the evening before my last day on the trail.


– The most beautiful and varied scenery of the entire West Highland Way.
– The trails are mostly remote and away from civilization.
– Glen Coe is absolutely beautiful.


– The stretch from the Kings House Hotel to the Devils Staircase is right along a road.
– Hard service road and decent to Kinlochleven.

West Highland Way – Photo Guide and Review by Day

Introduction to the West Highland Way

Milngavie – Drymen – 12 miles
Drymen – Rowardennan – 15 miles
Rowardennan – Crainlarich – 20 miles
Crainlarich – Inveroran – 15 miles
Inveroran – Kinlochleven – 19 miles
Kinlochleven – Fort William – 16 miles

20 Oct

West Highland Way – Day 4 – Photo Guide and Review

Day Four – Crainlarich to Inveroran – 15 Miles

After the previous days hike from Rowardennan to Crainlarich, I was looking forward to a much shorter day, 15 miles compared to 20, and one that wasn’t quite so hard on the feet. I got an easier hike, but about half of the days miles were on hard, military roads. I didn’t see this in the guidebook before I left and I set off with high hope for a nice, leisurely stroll.

The hardest part of the day was the first, winding up the steep hills leading out of Crainlarich back to where I left the West Highland Way trail the day before. It was nice though, wandering through the thick forest covered with moss, plus it got my heart rate up and the blood flowing again. It was also able to remind me where my new blisters were from the previous day.


WHW - Day 4 - Crainlarich

The first part of the hike takes you through some really nice and peaceful forests along a nice dirt trail. You rise relatively gently and you get nice views of the surrounding country side. It gets you away from the roads for a bit and you can finally reconnect with nature around you. There are babbling brooks that run through the area and the bird songs filled the crisp morning air.


West Highaland Way Flowers


This is a good place where I need to address one area about the trail and that is litter and trash. The only trash I ever saw on the trail was toilet paper and feminine product wrappers, always just a bit off the side of the trail and sometime hung in branches for a bit of artistic expression.

This is such and easy thing for people to throw away. Please bring a couple small zip lock plastic bags to throw away your toilet paper. Wipe, throw it in the bag, zip it up and take it wish you. Please, please, please do this. It would make a big difference for everyones enjoyment of the trail.

OK…back to the trail…

The woods come to an end after a decent underneath the train tracks that run up to Fort William and beyond. The tracks are on a bridge that spans high over the trail and it is really cool. This is one place where the civilization didn’t bother me so much.

West Highland Way - Sheep

The next stretch takes you through some sheep grazing country side and an old ruin of a priest who tried to convert the Pics to Christianity back in the day. The ruins are moss covered and there is a little graveyard that is kind of charming, except for the whole dead thing.

West Highland Way Ruin

West Highland Way Cemetery

After the sheep fields, the next couple of miles will take you through some community park until you reach the town of Tyndrum. It is really easy walking and follows the river. There is a little pond in this section that may or may not hold Robert the Bruces’ sword (I’m going with no).

West Highland Way Sword

The Sword Marker

Tyndrum is a bit of a larger village and there are a few stores where you can replenish any goods you may need. People were looking for gold in the river which looked like a lot of work but fun. I don’t know how much gold they are finding these days, but the area used to be known for mining.

A bit into town you will see a sign on the gas station saying it is the last store until Kinlochleven and they aren’t joking. You aren’t going to see another store for a couple of days. Stock up here or your screwed. Seriously…

I’m really torn on how I feel about the next section of the trail, from Tyndrum to Bridge of Orchy. On a positive note, this area is really beautiful with the highlands all around you. It was the first time I actually felt like I was in Scotland proper on the trail. I stopped often to take pictures and just admire the scenery.

WHW - Trial Picture

On the other hand, this whole stretch runs right along a really busy road and again, power lines are stretched across the area. The road has a lot of traffic on it and it is never quiet.

Military Road


The other issue I have with this stretch is that the West Highland Way trail sits on the old military road. It is not pleasant for the feet, which I have mentioned in other parts of my review. By the time I got to Bridge of Orchy, my feet were calling me an asshole and wanting a break. I was very pleased to find a pub in the Bridge of Orchy Hotel.


I would seriously consider buying some nice insoles for your boots or shoes, even if they are already comfortable. My feet don’t hurt after a good twelve mile hike on dirt trails in my shoes, but on these hard packed rock roads, they felt every step for the last several miles of the day. For the small price for insoles, they could make the walk much more enjoyable.

Military Road

After a pint in the Bridge of Orchy hotel, I set off on the last two miles to the Inveroran Hotel. After the hard roads of the last miles, the back country dirt trails through the hills were very welcoming. This section winds up at a gradual pace up to some stunning views of the surrounding country side.

West Highland Way - Inveroran

When you make it up to the top of the trail, be sure to climb a short way up to the right to the great look out spot. From there, you will get a great panorama of the highlands with a nice view of Loch Tulla. I highly recommend you make the short climb to this spot.


I reached the Inveroran Hotel and I was happy to arrive at such a quaint little hotel out in such remote country. It was very cozy and charming inside and the dinner was quite tasty.

They have a little pub attached so I spent the night listening to some nice Scottish and English folk discussing / arguing about politics before I made my way up to my room and crashed for the night, ready to enter into the much more remote country side.

Inveroran Hotel – A link to the hotel for more info


– Beautiful countryside and the first real Scottish Highlands.
– Variety of scenery from remote forests, small towns, mountains and lochs.


– Road from Tyndrum to Bridge of Orchy follows a busy road.
– Hard military roads for several miles.


West Highland Way – Photo Guide and Review by Day

Introduction to the West Highland Way

Milngavie – Drymen – 12 miles
Drymen – Rowardennan – 15 miles
Rowardennan – Crainlarich – 20 miles
Crainlarich – Inveroran – 15 miles
Inveroran – Kinlochleven – 19 miles
Kinlochleven – Fort William – 16 miles

17 Oct

West Highland Way – Day 3 – Photo Guide and Review

Day Three – Rowardennan to Crainlarich- 20 Miles

Loch Lomond Pano

Morning panorama of Loch Lomond

Day three was going to be my longest day, that much I knew, clocking in at 20 miles. What I didn’t know, was that the trail along Loch Lomond was going to be the slowest hiking of the whole trail.

(NOTE: Please excuse the blurry photos on this page. The lighting was bad and I didn’t use my flash. Sorry!)

I left as soon as I was done with my breakfast and got on the trail. The first part is on easy, but on a very hard packed service road that wanders higher and higher up from Rowardennan. You get some nice views over the Loch now and again, but for the most part, this was pretty boring section of trail. Check out the pictures below for some examples.

West Highland Way - Trail

Trail out of Rowardennan

West Highland Way Bench

A nice spot to take a breather

There is a “low” path I had wanted to take instead of this easier road but it was closed off for construction. Instead, I was forced to keep pressing on down this boring stretch until the low ground was finally accessible. I was glad that I made it down to the lower trail when I could because it was much more scenic and there were even some old ruins along the way which were pretty cool.

The low path of out of Rowardennan

The low path of out of Rowardennan

Ruins on the low path

Ruins on the low path

As the trail continued, I started to get into some of the sections where the trail starts to get more demanding. These parts aren’t hard, but you really have to watch where you are stepping. It is up and down large rock steps and there are tree roots that can get in the way. If the roots are wet, which they probably will be, this gets really slippery. This was the section that I was really happy to have brought along a pair of treking poles for. They gave me the balance I needed in several spots to get down comfortably.

A charming bridge along the way

A charming bridge along the way

If you get adventurous and want to do some scrambling, you can go see Rob Roy’s supposed cave. I walked back far enough to see the large “CAVE” painted on the side, but I didn’t want to have to drop my gear to scramble over rocks to get inside. I doubt this was really his cave anyway. There are all kinds of rock shelters along the way that people could have used as a cave to hide out in whether on the run or for shelter from the rain. This seemed more of a way to make the hikers and people on the boat feel like they were seeing something special from history. Whatever the reason, its fun to think he hung out there so what the hell, right?

A low viewpoint of Loch Lomond

A low viewpoint of Loch Lomond

A cool "ladder" to climb up

A cool “ladder” to climb up

I kept trudging along, up and down the rocks and over the stumps and finally came to a really cool waterfall that empties out into Loch Lomond. The water was pouring down pretty steadily and it was nice to see something new after the many miles along the loch. There is a nice bridge you cross which allows for some nice views of the falls from above.

The falls are right by the Inversnaid Hotel which sits right on the water and on a nice little port where to boats come in from the loch. I took advantage of the picnic tables with great views and ate my lunch. There are a lot of tour boats which stop here so if you have time and aren’t rushed, it might be a good spot to catch the ferry for a boat tour of the area.

I reviewed my distance and checked my watch and saw that I was running behind my original schedule. I had planned on my normal 3mph average but with all the ups and downs I was going at about the 1.5 – 2 mph pace for the last 3 1/2 hours and I was behind schedule. In order to complete the 20 miles by 6 PM or so, I was going to have to keep up a pretty solid pace for the remainder of the day.

I left the hotel and continued along the loch trails which were pretty similar to the earlier path. It eventually opens up into a wide grassy expanse where the loch starts to taper down into its northern shores. It was a welcome change of scenery and before I went further north, I stopped for a moment to look back down the long loch that I had just walked almost the entire length of. It was a beautiful view and it would be the last moments of sun I would enjoy for the day as the Scottish clouds settled in and cast the lighting of dusk on me the rest of the day.

West Highland Way Houses

The next several miles of trail start to present a more highland feel to them as I was more exposed than I was along Loch Lomond. There was a lot of up and down, small hill climbing and visually it was OK, but it wasn’t particularly amazing. I did get to see some feral goats along the trail but I never smelled them as some others said. There were also a lot of small little toads that would run out into the trail from time to time. I had to keep an eye down on the trail for several miles so I didn’t smash any of the cute little fellas with my boot.

One of the cute little toads underfoot

One of the cute little toads underfoot

West Highland Way trail

Several miles away from the loch, I made it to the Beinglas Farm Campsite. It was a nice break and they have a nice pub / restaurant on the site which is super cool and cozy inside. It was a heavily wooded establishment and there were cool swords hanging on the wall. My feet were hurting a bit by this point so I decided to kick off my boots and have myself a pint.

While enjoying my pint, I took a look at the map and saw I still had a good 6 mile hike up to Crainlarich. I didn’t have a lot of time to dilly dally and I needed to get back on the road. I threw my boots back on, hit the trail and powered through the next miles under the dark Scottish skies.

This part of the trail was a mixed bag for me because it has some great scenery on it. The highlands are around you, a river runs along the trail for several stretches with some nice falls and you get to visit with the local sheep who share the trail. You also get to enjoy a lot of traffic from the road that runs right along the trail. There are also big power lines that break up the great views. All the modern “progress” made me miss the dirt trails and seclusion of the forest, now that I was being thrust back into civilization.

West Highland Way Powerlines

An example of the power lines

The worst part for me though, was the type of trail you are walking on. It is the flat, stony, old military roads that do nothing but make your feet hurt, mile after mile. This was my first real experience on the trail with this surface, but I had to get used to it because I was going to be on it for a lot of upcoming miles. This is where I started to get my first and only blisters of the trail as well which I covered that night and didn’t worry about again.

Panorama of the Scottish Highlands

Panorama of the Scottish Highlands

Six miles later, I reached the turnoff sign for Crainlarigh and my feet had had enough for the day. I followed the sign to the East and took the trail, finally dirt, down into town. It’s not a gentle decent and I knew the next morning I was going to be treated with an uphill climb to even reach the West Highland Way trail again. My knees were getting a bit sore during this decent so I was happy to almost be done for the day.

I wandered through town on my way to the Inverardran House at the far eastern end. It was a cute little town and there is a grocery store with a post office to stock up in. Other than that, there are a few B&B’s and a hostel for lodging, and I think only two restaurants in town to get a bite to eat.

Inverardran House

Inverardran House

The Iverardran House which was a great place to stay that night and it was very cozy. The owner was very welcoming and he even brought my bag up to my room which Travel Lite magically made appear earlier in the day. It was a nice gesture and it allowed me to start relaxing as quickly as possible. I would recommend staying here to anyone. The rooms are very nice and the breakfast in the morning was one of the best I had on the trail.

After I got a shower, I went across the street and crushed some really delicious dinner at the Ben More Lodge. The fish and chips were awesome after the long day and I got to enjoy the cozy, old school atmosphere of the place. There were paintings above the bar of the legends of Scottish history and each of the bar stools were wearing their own kilt. It was pretty awesome.

The night I was there was the evening of the Scottish referendum vote so it was a bit lively with political talk and discussions about what was going to happen. My favorite thing about the night was a guy walking around in a jacket displaying a “YES” pin for independence. The pin was just the warmup as underneath he had on a Braveheart T-shirt with Mel Gibson raising his sword above his head, covered in face paint and above him, in old celtic font, “Freedom!” was proudly displayed. It was exactly what I had hoped to see on such an evening and it was the perfect ending to the third day on the trail.



– The trail along Loch Lomond has some nice views and the geology is cool.
– Feral goats.
– Cool waterfall and old ruins along the trail.
– First real highland trails.


– Hard walking on the old, rocky, military roads during the last 6 miles.
– Route between Inverarnan and Crainlarich follows a busy road and you can’t escape the traffic noise.
– Power lines stretch across the beautiful scenery which takes away from the views.

West Highland Way – Photo Guide and Review by Day

Milngavie – Drymen – 12 miles
Drymen – Rowardennan – 15 miles
Rowardennan – Crainlarich – 20 miles
Crainlarich – Inveroran – 15 miles
Inveroran – Kinlochleven – 19 miles
Kinlochleven – Fort William – 16 miles