Scotland's classic long-distance route from Glasgow to Ben Nevis
|Accommodations||B&B, Hotels, Small Inns|
Jul 04, 2024 - Jul 12, 2024
|Single Supp Cost||
We invite you to join us on one of Scotland’s oldest long-distance footpaths, the West Highland Way, offering some of Scotland’s most spectacular scenery.
The West Highland Way (also referred to as just the “Way”), which was finished in 1980, took almost 20 years to complete. Beginning near Scotland’s largest city, Glasgow, and following alongside Britain’s largest body of inland water, Loch Lomond, the Way ends in Fort William, at the foot of Britain’s highest mountain, Ben Nevis. The Scottish Highlands and Lowlands are separated by the Highland Boundary Fault, which runs through the middle of Loch Lomond, creating a contrast in both the geology as well as the human history of the two areas. Along this 95-mile walk through Scotland, we will hike through a variety of landscapes, moorland, and heath, river valleys and farmland, mountains and woodland.
Traveling on foot is a wonderful way to experience Western Scotland. We’ll stay at old inns, small hotels, and B&Bs. After a hearty Scottish breakfast each day, we will set off to our next destination, either picnicking along the way or enjoying the hospitality of local pubs and restaurants. From village to village, from the central lowlands to the heart of the Highlands, together we will explore this route while, at the same time, enjoying the changing landscape. Along the way, we will hike Ben Lomond (3,195′), one of Scotland’s famed Munro peaks and at the end of our route in Fort William, we'll have the opportunity to crown the trip with a hike on Ben Nevis.
Day 1: Pick-up at Glasgow International Airport, transfer to Drymen: Pick-up at the Glasgow International Airport, transfer to Drymen. This village, with its quaint village green, boasts one of the oldest registered pubs in Scotland, established in 1734. After settling in at our B&B, we will meet as a group for our welcome dinner and orientation.
Day 2: Drymen to Balmaha: Leaving Drymen, we join the “Way” just outside the village. Walking on a wide track, we ascend gradually through the Garadhban Forest as we approach our first major climb of the route, Conic Hill (1,184′). From the top, we’ll have great views of Loch Lomond and the mountainous Scottish countryside. After a steep descent, we arrive in the small village of Balmaha on the shore of Loch Lomond. Britain’s largest body of water, 23 miles long, Loch Lomond was formed by a glacier about 10,000 years ago.
Lodging in Balmaha, breakfast and dinner included.
Day 3: Hike Ben Lomond: We’ll begin the day with a short transfer to Rowardennan, where we begin our hike of Ben Lomond. In 1891, Sir Hugo Munro published the first list of all Scotland’s peaks over 3,000 feet. Until then there had been much debate as to exactly how many 3,000-ft peaks there actually were in Scotland. Since then, these peaks have been referred to as “The Munros,” and there are 282 of them. Ben Lomond (3,195′) is the most southerly of Scotland’s Munros. It stands high above Loch Lomond and is the first real mountain we will pass along the route of the West Highland Way. From the summit, we will have superb views of both the Highlands and the Lowlands. Overnight in Rowardennan, breakfast, and dinner included.
Day 4: Rowardennan to Bridge of Orchy: Leaving Rowardennan, we continue our hike along Loch Lomond. This section is considered by many to be the most arduous section of the “Way.” The trail hugs the shore, crossing sections encumbered by boulders and tree roots. The scenery, however, is spectacular as we hike among an oak forest with views across the Loch, including the landmark of the “Cobbler,” a rugged mountain on the opposite side. Continuing alongside the lake, we will pass by Rob Roy’s Cave, the hideaway of the Scottish hero Rob Roy MacGregor, known as the Robin Hood of the Highlands. Near the end of the Loch, we will take a short ferry ride across to Ardlui.
From Ardlui we will transfer to Bridge of Orchy. Passing through Glen Falloch and alongside the River Fallock, we will parallel the drover roads. These roads were created during the 17th and 18th centuries in order to get cattle to market in the Lowlands. Some villages along the “Way” saw almost 100,000 sheep and 10,000 head of cattle pass through each year. We will enjoy the fine mountain scenery, which includes the picturesque cone of Beinn Odhar, and then the more imposing Beinn Dorian, before reaching the village of Bridge of Orchy and entering the Highlands proper. Lodging in Bridge of Orchy, dinner and breakfast included.
Day 5: Bridge of Orchy to Kingshouse: We begin hiking, crossing the “Bridge” as we leave the village, and have a short climb with distant views of the Rannoch Moor, which we will be crossing later in the day. Overlooking Inveroran and Loch Tulla, the trail descends to Inveroran, where we can stop for a morning coffee before beginning our hike across the Black Mount. This is the most exposed and isolated section of the “Way.” A challenging day, but we will be rewarded with the beautiful landscape of the Highlands. The Black Mount is a high moorland plateau between the large mountains to the west and the Rannoch Moor to the east. We climb gradually to the summit at 1,500′ and then begin our long, gradual descent. Breakfast and dinner included.
Day 6: Kingshouse to Kinlochleven: We will have a shorter hike today, though still demanding, as we cross over the highest point of the “Way” at 1,850 feet. The climb begins with the “Devil’s Staircase.” Not as bad as the name may suggest, the route follows an old military road built in 1750 by roughly 450 soldiers. The nickname comes from the switchback section near the summit. As the long descent to Kinlochleven begins and the views of the Glen Coe Mountains are behind us, we’ll enjoy the new scenery that lies ahead; the ridges of the Mamores with the massif of Ben Nevis rising behind it. Breakfast included, dinner on your own.
Day 7: Kinlochleven to Fort William: The last day on the “Way” begins with a climb of 900 feet, arriving at the Lairigmor, the “great pass,” situated between high hills on the left and the even higher Mamores to our right. There are eleven Munros in this section of the West Highland Way. As we descend to Fort William, our destination, the route travels through the Nevis Forest, with distant views of Ben Nevis, Britain’s highest mountain. One of Scotland’s main attractions at 4,413′, “The Ben”, with its rocky summit and 2,000-foot cliffs on the North Face, often has snow on its peak even in summer. With a great sense of accomplishment, we arrive in Fort William and the end of this great journey! Breakfast and dinner included.
Day 8: Fort William – Ben Nevis: Weather permitting, we will have an opportunity to hike Ben Nevis. Dominating the landscape around Fort William, Ben Nevis rises directly from sea level. Another option is a day hike to Steall Falls. This is a shorter hike, but follows the dramatic Nevis Gorge to the beautiful Steall Falls, and is a wonderful alternative to the mighty “Ben.” Farewell dinner and breakfast included.
Day 9: Depart Fort William: Following breakfast, we transfer to the Glasgow International Airport. Our group departs Fort William at 7:30 am and arrives at the airport at about 10:30 am. The travel time is about 3 hours. Please allow for travel time when making plans.
If you wish to have your own room, there is a single supplement charge. Please let us know if you would like a single at the time of registration. If you are traveling alone and would like to share a room, we will match you with a roommate. If there is no one with whom you can share, there is a charge of $425 for this “forced” single.
Airfare, optional/individual transfers between inns or individual excursions, one dinners, items not on set dinner menus, beverages, insurance, tips to guides, items of a personal nature.
This hike has luggage transfer each day. You will need to carry a small daypack with only the clothing and accessories you will need for the day. Having said that, we recommend that you keep your luggage to a size you can easily manage, given that our accommodations may have narrow hallways and no elevator. See our sample packing list.
While this trip includes luggage transfer, it is not vehicle supported. Participants should be in physical condition appropriate to the strenuousness of this hike. It is, however, possible to skip a day of hiking and take a taxi to the next hotel. This extra cost is not included in the price of the trip.
Most evenings will be spent in small towns or villages. For the most part, these are not typical tourist destinations and therefore have limited choices of accommodations. The accommodations on this route are comfortable but not fancy and will run the gamut from small, simple, bed and breakfasts to comfortable country inns and hotels. All reflect the local character and offer a friendly welcome. Breakfasts and dinners are served at the hotels or a nearby restaurant or pub. Lunches are picnic style along the trail, with the occasional stop at a pub or tea room.
It is easiest to fly to Glasgow, Scotland. However, there are frequent trains from Edinburgh and Manchester as well, just be sure to allow for extra travel time.
The trip will start with a group pick-up at the Glasgow International Airport on Day 1.
The trip will end on Day 9 with a group drop-off at the Glasgow International Airport, arriving at about 10:30 am.
The West Highland Way is Scotland's most well-known and well-trodden long-distance route. It is a wonderful and very doable trip for avid walkers and hikers who have not yet experienced the wild and alluring landscapes of Scotland, and who would look forward to staying in a variety of small Scottish hotels, B&Bs and Inns. Given its popularity, the "Way" is considered a very "social" route, offering the opportunity to meet walkers from all over the world. And as with so many footpaths of Great Britain, it passes through varied geological areas as well as ones of historical significance. Traveling on foot is absolutely one of the most rewarding ways to experience the countryside of Scotland.
Please contact us for a more detailed itinerary, for more information, or to register. We're also happy to supply a list of past participants willing to share insights into this guided Scotland West Highland Way Hike experience.
A deposit of $500 along with your completed registration forms will reserve a space on your requested trip. We accept MasterCard, Visa, and American Express card as well as personal checks. To make a deposit, you may either follow one of the “Reserve a Trip” links below, give us a call at 1-888-845-5781, or include your payment information in the area provided when completing your registration forms.
The balance is due 75 days prior to departure for most of our trips. When applying less than 75 days prior to departure, full payment is due. For final payments, we accept MasterCard, Visa, and American Express, as well as personal checks.
As confirmation of receipt of your deposit, we will send you a comprehensive packet of information pertaining to your trip, an invoice for final payment and additional information including release agreement form, medical information form, travel information, and packing list. Upon receipt of final payment and no later than 30 days prior to your trip start, you will receive trip rendezvous information and a list of accommodations. Returning trip participants will receive a 5% discount on most trips.
Receipt of all forms will finalize your registration.