About 30,000 people complete the West Highland Way every year and 85,000 use the path in one way or another. Do you know why so many people are drawn to this particular route?
1) Magnificent scenery
The West Highland Way begins on the edge of Glasgow, the largest city in Scotland, follows the length of the largest inland body of water in the UK and ends at the foot of Ben Nevis (1,344m or 4,409ft), the highest Scotland’s mountain. The landscape of the Highlands is renowned all over the world and the West Highland Way gives a great taste of it, passing famous Munros including Ben Lomond and Buachaille Etive Mor and crossing diverse terrain including moorland, bog, meadow, and forest.
2) Ease of walking
Even though the landscape crossed by the Way is some of the wildest that you can find in Britain, the trail does a very good job of negotiating it. Along the route, there are only two or three notable ascents—Conic Hill, the Devil’s Staircase and the climb from Kinlochleven—while the great majority of the trail remains low and follows the passes around each mountain. What is more, the path is clearly marked and easy to walk on, being wide and laid with gravel in many sections.
There’s enough accommodation on the West Highland Way to allow a hiker with good planning to be sure of a place to stay overnight at the end of the day. Shops aren’t too few and far between either so you don’t have to carry more than a few days’ worth of food. Of course, there’s also an ample helping of pubs to stop at.
When you cross a landscape ranging from pastoral, to woodland and then to upland, there’s, of course, plenty of wildlife to look out for. You may see a red squirrel on the banks of Loch Lomond, and red deer on the hills further into the Highlands, oystercatchers around smaller lochs, and even the newt.
There’s certainly a spirit of the route. There’s a great chance that you give a friendly smile to walkers on the first day, and then by the third share a lunch together or pitch up in the same camp. During stops everyone shares their experiences so far or their plans for the next day. Somewhat inevitably, there is often a lot of pack weight comparing as well.