Scotland comes alive on the “Way” … a 154km (96mile) hike from Milngavie to Fort William offering an incredible variety of scenery from countryside to Loch-shores, from open moorlands to steep mountains. We’ll hike the Way in 7 days resting at the charming Inns and Guest Houses along the route & enjoying the Scottish hospitality to its fullest. Our bags will be transported from Inn to Inn allowing us to fully appreciate the Highlands and the awe-inspiring expanse of the Moors. For those who’d like to “bag” their first Munro, we’ll climb Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in the British Isles. We finally come to rest on the last 2 days at a remarkable 13th century Castle situated on the Ardnamurchan Peninsula, one of the hidden delights of the Scottish highlands.
Fly to Glasgow. Meet at our hotel in Glasgow for a kickoff celebration at 7pm.
Distance = 19km, Total Ascent = 245m
After lightening our bags for the day and doning our boots, we’ll head over to Milngavie by way of transport to begin our incredible journey. The West Highland Way begins in the town centre of Milngavie. This first section, from Milngavie to Drymen, is a good warmup with relatively flat terrain. We’ll end the day in the village of Drymen where we’ll stary in a 18th century Inn near Loch Lomond.
Distance = 22.5km, Total Ascent = 540m
Today is another relatively flat day except for the “mildly strenuous section” up Conic Hill where a wonderful panorama awaits. From this summit you’ll view the “highland boundary fault” , a unmistakable chain of islands separating the Lowlands from the Highlands. From this point on, you can officially say you’re in the HIGHLANDS of Scotland. We’ll descend into the tiny village of Balmaha and carry along the shores of Loch Lomond through an ancient oak woodland before coming to our resting point in the hamlet of Rowardennan. Our hotel is situated at the base of Ben Lomond on the bonnie banks of Loch Lomond in the magnificent Queen Elizabeth Forest. You can’t get more Scottish than this.
Distance = 22.5km, Total Ascent = 410m
Today we’ll head north into the more remote section of Loch Lomond where the wilderness and the soaring mountains will really become noticeable. After the Inversnaid Falls and the town itself, the route becomes more challenging as the path twists and turns around large boulders and tree roots. On arrival at Inverarnan, we’ll head to the country pub to raise a glass and drink a few at the renowned Drovers Inn where “real good Scottish hospitality awaits”.
Distance = 30.3km (19.3km + 11km), Total Ascent = 490m
A day of soaring mountains and gentle glen walking, today is long but rewarding. Following the attractive River Falloch, we’ll skirt past the village of Crianlarich to join an old military road into the town of Tyndrum. We’ll continue our route into the hamlet of Bridge of Orchy with lovely views of Beinn Odhar and Beinn Dorain accompanying us all the way. This section of the hike can be done by foot or, for those who desire, by taxi. The path and tracks are straightforward but being our longest day, some may wish to do the last 11km from Tyndrum to Bridge of Orchy by transport. This is totally optional. We’ll unwind in the bar “alongside a roaring fireplace and a prime selection of craft beers and malt whiskies.”
Distance = 19km. Total Ascent = 202m
Today offers a glimpse into the wild and remote as we trek through one of the last great wildernesses of Europe. The Way follows a track that climbs gently past some plantations and then out onto Rannock Moor, a section considered to be the remotest and wildest of the whole Way. On a good day the walking is relatively straightforward but if the weather is bad, the elements can make for a challenging going across this exposed moor. Bleak and beautiful at the same time … it all depends on the conditions! As the path descends from the moor to join the road again, we can catch a view of one of Scotland’s most photographed mountains, Buachaille Etive Mor. We plan to rest in Kings House Hotel, a hotel that dates from the 17th century that was originally used as barracks for George 3rd’s troops.
Distance = 14.5km. Total Ascent = 425m
Today’s hike provides some spectacular walking across inspiring mountainous terrain. The Devil’s Staircase awaits – a zig zag climb up to the highest point of the West Highland Way (548m) where the mountainous views are stunning. On a clear day, you may even be able to see Ben Nevis (1344m), the highest Munro and our final challenge on the last day. After a gentle meander across the moorland, we’ll head down to Kinlochleven where a warm friendly welcome awaits us at a small family run guest house.
Distance = 24km, Total Ascent = 735m
Our final day begins with a steep climb out of Kinlochleven, through the Great Pass of Lairigmor, and onwards through forest plantations. Occasional breaks in the trees provide splendid views of Ben Nevis. We’re now on the homestretch and Fort William awaits. The official end of the West Highland Way is in Gordon Sq. by a bronze sculpture of a weary hiker rubbing his feet. We’ll sit on the bench, rub our feet, and then … celebrate our achievements!
Distance = 5 ½ to 6 ½ hours, Total Ascent = 1,345m
Ben Nevis … the mountain with its head in the clouds … the mountain with “a wild heart, an adventurous spirit and a flair for drama”. With Ben Nevis right at our doorstep, bagging our first Munro will be a natural. For those with energy still remaining, we’ll wake up early and climb to the highest point in Scotland and “bag” the first of hopefully many Munros. A Munro is a mountain in Scotland with a height over 914m/3000ft of which there are 282!
It’s a steep path throughout but fairly straightforward along a well-graded trail, “easy to follow in good visibility but a mountain path none the less”. Expect loose rock and scree underfoot, patches of snow even late in the year, and some steep sections.
The afternoon is equaling thrilling. After hiking 154km and ascending the highest mountain in Scotland, we’ll be transported to a romantic 13th century Castle hidden away in the Highlands of Scotland on the remote and magnificent Ardnamurchan Peninsula. “An unspoilt Highland idyll on the most western peninsula in Britain.” We'll spend the next 2 nights at this remarkable location.
A Castle day. Every LOLA trip has a surprise and this one is no different. Today we let our imagination soar and our playful side express, as we enjoy this remarkable Castle sitting proud on its own rocky outcrop looking over the Sound of Mull. A ferry ride to the Isle of Mull or a walk down to the ocean ... the day is ours to explore.
We'll head back to Glasgow to dine and overnight before catching our flights back to Canada.
Friday May 19
Depart to Airport