Our team member Tara and her partner Scott recently completed the West Highland Way. The A Walk in the Country team is comprised of keen walkers who love to walk just as much as you do so it’s no surprise that our team enjoy revisiting our walking holiday routes as well. Read on to see what great sights they came across during their Scottish walking holiday.
“Our West Highland Way walking holiday officially started as we set off from Milngavie at the obelisk
Milngavie to Drymen
For the first six miles or so we walked through park and woodland trails, with Allander Park and Mugdock Country Park leading us away from the urban areas and out into the countryside.
We then passed Craigallian Loch and crossed over the B821 from where we could enjoy the wonderful views of the Campsie Fells and Ben Lomond on the horizon. The West Highland Way then took us through to the valley bottom and the old railway, providing us with a straight and easy walk through farmland and past Glengoyne Distillery, which we were told is great for a visit and a cheeky sample. We resisted and continued along the road to Drymen, a large village with plenty of walkers around.
Drymen to Rowardennan
Continuing on in all day sunshine, we headed for Balmaha through Garadhban Forest, before choosing the high route through more forest followed by moorland onto Conic Hill which stands at 361m.
We were rewarded with superb views of Loch Lomond. Measuring 23 miles long, Loch Lomond is the largest body of freshwater in Britain. The loch has a line of islands that mark the direction of the Highland Boundary Fault, separating the highlands from the lowlands. From Conic there is a steep descent into Balmaha after which the route continues along the banks of Loch Lomond and passes through some lovely woodland, much of which is part of a project to restore native varieties.
Rowardennan to Inverarnan
We continued on the West Highland Way by walking from Rowardennan to Inverarnan. It was another day of blue sky and sunshine. The first half of our walk took us to Inversnaid along undulating loch side paths with short steep climbs and rocky sections. Some of our walkers choose to bypass this and opt for the alternative route on forestry tracks.
The second half of our day was quite demanding and took place alongside the lock but on tougher terrain that was rocky and punctuated with tree roots. This challenging path later opened into woodland and amazing views as the path descended gently to Inverarnan.
Inverarnan to Bridge of Orchy
Our walk continued on good tracks followed by pasture to the midway point of the 95 mile West Highland Way, near Crianlarich. The route then climbed upwards through a large conifer plantation with superb views, before descending to the valley bottom over farmland and following the river, passing over moorland into Tyndrum. We arrived in Tyndrum in plenty of time for me to catch the train as planned while Scott walked the remaining 7 miles to Bridge of Orchy.
Bridge of Orchy to Kingshouse.
We continued our walk around Loch Tulla before meeting the old cobbled Drovers’ road which slowly climbs Black Mount. The track leads directly across Rannoch Moor, easily the most remote and desolate part of the whole route. At 50 square miles, Rannoch Moor is the largest uninhabited wilderness in Britain. At one stage, with the exception of the odd tree, there is no shelter for 10 miles. The low cloud and fine rain added to the overall moody atmosphere of the moor.
The waterproofs that had been holidaying in my rucksack finally had an outing on the moor as the rain came and went throughout the day. We then descended towards Glencoe and to the pyramid of Buachaille Etive Mor.
Kingshouse to Kinlochleven
Starting parallel to the road we soon reached the start of the climb to the highest point on the Way, up the intimidatingly named Devil’s Staircase. Despite its title, this was not nearly as difficult as the name suggests. Perhaps walking in the Lake District has prepared me well.
We soon reached the highest point quite quickly and were rewarded with fabulous views north to the Mamores and Ben Nevis. Having overtaken everyone else on the climb and realising that we had time to spare, we took a side excursion to see the Three Sisters in the pass of Glencoe, from Stob Mhic Mhartuin. Rejoining the route we started the descent into Kinlochleven which is at sea level. Kinlochleven is a modern village set in spectacular scenery.
Kinlochleven to Fort William.
Our final leg of the West Highland Way was the 14 mile stretch from Kinlochleven to Fort William.
We set out with a long, hot and humid climb out of Kinlochleven on a narrow winding trail through birch woods. Once at the top of the climb, we continued on old military roads before the path headed into forestry plantations.
We continued along rising and falling tracks, over bridges and passing Dun Deardail, an iron-age fort which can be visited as a side excursion as it’s just 15 minutes up a track from the Way. After here the path became forestry road and the view of Ben Nevis from this point on was spectacular. Leaving the forest, we walked on the roadside for 30 minutes until we reached Fort William. After many enjoyable but long days, I found this section of hard flat path the most difficult of the day.
It was tough on my tired feet! On reaching the original end, we went in search of the official end point, a statue of a weary walker on a bench at the far end of the main shopping area.”
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