Hiking the West Highland Way on your Scotland Vacation by JetSettingFools.com

Hiking the West Highland Way on Vacation  

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Hiking the West Highland Way on vacation is a marvelous way to experience the remarkable beauty of the Scottish Highlands.

The West Highland trail winds through epic nature, meandering from Milngavie to Fort William, Scotland. Around each bend and at the top of every hill of the West Highland Way hike, a new scenic landscape unfolds – revealing yet another magnificent and mesmerizing sight.

While the West Highland hiking trail can be intimidating, it is one of the best long walks in Scotland. To help fellow travelers incorporate trekking the West Highland Way into their vacation plans, we are sharing our top tips and advice.


Hiking the West Highland Way Scotland: FAQs

What you need to Trek the West Highland Way, Scotland

Before we embarked on our journey hiking the Scottish Highlands WHW trail, we had a lot of questions. So to begin, we are answering the most frequently asked questions about West Highland Way Scotland hiking.

First, we are going to answer a few general questions about walking the West Highland Way. Then, share top tips for planning WHW hiking trips in Scotland as part of a longer vacation.


Where is the West Highland Way?

The WHW Scotland trail extends from Milngavie (in the lowlands, near Glasgow) north to Fort William (a tourist hub in the Highlands). We include a Google Map of West Highland Way later in the article to help you pinpoint the route.


How Far is the West Highland Way in Miles?

The complete route of the West Highland Way from Milngavie to Ft William is 96 miles long – or 154 kilometers. The WHW Trail is typically hiked in sections on consecutive days.


How Long is Each Section of the WHW in Miles?

The sections of the West Highland Way are not set in stone. That said, dividing the 96-mile trail into 8 days results in a daily stage length of 9 to 15 miles. 

1: Milngavie to Drymen = 12 miles

2: Drymen to Rowardennan = 15 miles

3: Rowardennan to Inverarnan = 14 miles

4: Inverarnan to Tyndrum = 12 miles

5: Tyndrum to Inveroran = 9 miles

6: Inveroran to Kingshouse = 10 miles

7: Kingshouse to Kinlochleven = 9 miles

8: Kinlochleven to Fort William = 15 miles

Bear in mind that there are various ways to alter the above outline. Days can be combined with stops in alternate towns – such as Balmaha, Inversnaid, Crianlarich and Bridge of Orchy.

For example, conditioned trekkers could combine the first three days of the West Highland Way into two – hiking from Milngavie to Balmaha (20 miles) and then from Balmaha to Inverarnan (21 miles).


How Long Does the West Highland Way Take?

How long it takes to walk the West Highland Way in its entirety differs for each hiker. Serious trekkers can complete the hike in just 4 days, while others spend up to 10 days on the trail.

How many days the West Highland Way takes depends on several factors but is mostly determined by fitness level and objectives. Some hikers approach the WHW as a test of strength and aim to finish it within a short timeframe, while others are simply out to enjoy the stunning Scottish scenery and are content to make overnight stops more frequently.


How Long Do You Walk Each Day?

Most West Highland Way hikers walk a minimum of 10 miles per day. If you’re not camping, it’s sometimes the required distance to get from one accommodation to the next.

That said, how long you spend hiking the WHW each day is totally up to you…and, in many ways, will be dependent on where you choose to stay. Some trekkers opt to mix longer 20-plus-mile days with shorter 12-mile treks, while others (like us) are more comfortable walking 10-15 miles each day. 


Is the WHW a Backpacking Trail?

It can be…but it doesn’t have to be! Hikers can opt to backpack the route and camp on the West Highland Way – or they can choose to stay in WHW hotels (which we talk more about later).


Should I Walk North or South on the West Highland Way?

The West Highland Way can be completed in either direction – but the traditional start and finish points are Milngavie and Fort William, respectfully. So most people embark on a northbound West Highland Way walk.


When is the Best Time to Walk the West Highland Way?

Trying to figure out the best time to hike the West Highland Way is a bit of a conundrum. Blustery wind, heavy rain and pesky midges can all impact a West Highland trek – but the unpredictable Scotland weather is impossible to forecast.

Generally speaking, the best time of year to walk the West Highland Way is from May through August – which is also when it’s the busiest. Hiking in April, September and October might see fewer people, but increases the chance of foul weather.

Hiking the WHW in winter is possible but is only advisable for experienced long-distance walkers.


What is the Best Part of West Highland Way?

The Highland Walk is highlighted by incredible nature throughout the route. However, it is regularly touted that the portion north of Tyndrum is the best. Not only is the scenery stunning, but the northern half of the WHW trail is fairly easy (in comparison to the southern section).


How Hard is the West Highland Way?

There is not a definitive answer to the question, “Is the West Highland Way hard?” The difficulty of the trail will depend on your personal fitness level and the natural elements. The length of your daily walk and how much you carry in your pack can also impact the strenuousness of the trail.

Personally, we found the trek to be slightly easier than anticipated, but we lucked out with fantastic weather and had been hiking regularly the weeks prior.

The inclined sections of West Highland Way (like Conic Hill, Devil’s Staircase and out of Kinlochleven) can be trying, but these ascents are not technically rated as difficult. Likewise, long bouts of decline (into Kinlochleven and Fort William) can be impactful on joints, but overall we didn’t find the trail itself too challenging. 

While most of the trail is well-defined, there are some scrambles along the Loch Lomond section. Water crossings – as well as boggy trail conditions – are other challenges for WHW hikers.


How To Physically Prepare for WHW?

If you have never hiked a long-distance trail before, it is best to train for the West Highland Way by walking 10-plus miles on consecutive days prior to heading out.

As you train for the walk, we recommend using the shoes you plan on wearing on the WHW trail – and carrying the pack with everything in it that you plan to take with you.


Hiking WHW on Vacation: Planning a Hike as Part of Your Scotland Trip

View of Buachaille Etive Mor, West Highland Way, Scotland

Hiking the Scottish Highlands is, without a doubt, one of the best things to do on a Scotland vacation. That said, planning the specifics – and making the hike fit into your overall trip plan – can be quite a task.

To help you plan how to incorporate the Scottish Highland trail into your vacation, we are providing answers to the questions that we had about the trek.


Is it Required to Walk the Entire West Highland Way Route?

Absolutely not. While hiking the Scotland West Highland Way from end-to-end is a goal for many trekkers, it is not essential on the WHW. In fact, those who are planning a longer Scotland trip will likely only want to hike part of the West Highland Way.

Rather than completing all 96 miles, travelers can choose specific stretches to hike, which is made especially easy with bus and train connections to several of the towns along the route.

For our WHW trek – which we outline below – we opted to hike the North Route from Tyndrum to Ft William over a period of 4 days.


Should I Stay in a Hotel or Camp on West Highland Way?

While camping on the West Highland Way is a unique experience, it can be problematic for those on vacation. The main issue being packing, and figuring out how to fit everything you will need for your trip to Scotland plus camping gear, into your luggage.

Therefore, we recommend booking hotels along the West Highland Way, rather than also packing for camping.


How Far in Advance Should You Plan the WHW?

While one might assume a hike can be planned on a whim, it is not true of the West Highland Way – especially for those opting to stay in hotels.

Accommodation along the West Highland Way is scarce and hotels are completely booked out far in advance. In order to secure a room – especially during the summer months – early planning is required. We booked our West Highland Way accommodation 7 months prior to our trip.

Before deciding where to stay, travelers need to plan their WHW route. Therefore, we recommend starting to plan a West Highland Way hike about 8 to 12 months beforehand. Although hikers West Highland Way camping will likely not need nearly as much lead time. 


What Specialized Hiking Gear is Necessary for West Highland Walks?

We spent a long time questioning what hiking gear we needed to trek the WHW – even just 4 days of it.

Are waterproof boots necessary? Should we buy waterproof pants? Will we need a midge net or will spray suffice? What about hiking poles? Do we need to buy a LifeStraw or water purification tablets? Could a headlamp be useful? Maybe a pair of binoculars would be nice to have?

We pondered questions about what hiking gear to pack for the WHW for months. In the end, we opted to tackle the West Highland Way trail with a minimalist mindset and invested in only a few things before we set off. However, each individual needs to decide for themselves what is worth having on the trail.

We share our packing list later in the article that details exactly what we carried in our WHW hiking packs.  


What Do I Do with Luggage while Hiking West Highland Way?

One of the biggest concerns for hikers on vacation is what to do with the luggage that they don’t need for the trek. Fortunately, there are a couple of options for those who need to find storage for their excess stuff.


Baggage Transfer West Highland Way

Bag transfer on the West Highland Way is a fabulous option for vacationing hikers. The company picks up your luggage each morning and transports it to your next stop, so that it is there and waiting for you when you arrive.

Using a luggage transfer company is ideal for those who need items that they don’t want to carry on the trail.


Luggage Storage

Another option is to store luggage in one place during your hike – and carry only what you need for the trail.

We opted to store our luggage at the same hotel in Fort William we would be staying in after completing the hike. Because we were guests of the hotel, they happily stored 3 pieces of luggage for free for the 4 days we hiked the WHW.

Alternatively, trekkers can seek out luggage storage sites – like Stasher – or even use the lockers available at some bus and train stations.


Pack and Park Your Car

Travelers with a car can also opt to leave any luggage they are not carrying in the trunk.

If using a car during your vacation to Scotland, it could be cost (and time) effective to rent a car for the entire period…but leave it parked during the hike on the WHW. There are car lots in Fort William that allow overnight parking for a reasonable fees. 


Ideal Route to Hike the West Highland Way on Vacation

Our Ideal Route to Hike the West Highland Way on Vacation, Scotland

We are outlining what we think works best for travelers who want to walk the WHW on vacation. This detailed route is the exact part of the WHW that we hiked on our trip.


Day 1: Tyndrum to Inveroran

View along the Tyndrum to Inveroran Walk, Scotland WHW

  • Distance: 9 Miles
  • Time Hiking: 5 hours


What To Expect on Day 1

View of the hike from Tyndrum to Bridge of Orchy, West Highland Way, Scotland

The trek from Tyndrum to Inveroran is a lovely introduction to the West Highland Way hiking trail – as the route is undemanding and surrounded by beautiful scenery.

Tyndrum can be accessed by train (via both Lower or Upper Stations) from Glasgow and Fort William (as well as Oban and Mallaig). Pop into the Green Welly Stop for any last-minute necessities (they have bathrooms, too) – then start your West Highland Way trek!

View from Bridge of Orchy, West Highland Way, Scotland

The trail follows the train tracks and A82 Highway past the Allt Kinglass Viaduct through Glen Orchy,  joining the Old Military Road. Cross the stone, arched Bridge of Orchy – which dates to 1751 – and consider taking a break at one of the picnic tables on the riverside.

The Lone Tree, Bridge of Orchy to Inveroran West Highland Way, Scotland

From the Bridge of Orchy, continue on with a gradual climb followed by a few zig-zags, eventually leading up to a cairn with epic panoramic views. A bit further on there is a lone tree overlooking stunning Loch Tulla. From there, the West Highland Way makes a gentle descent into the oasis of Inveroran.


Where We Stayed: Inveroran Hotel

View arriving at the Inveroran Hotel, West Highland Way, Scotland

A historic hotel in an idyllic location, Inveroran Hotel is an exceptional place to stay on the WHW. In addition to the amazing staff and cozy rooms, the restaurant serves exquisite Scottish cuisine (we loved the haggis, neeps and tatties). Plus, the beer garden is a delightful place to wind down and socialize and the included breakfast was our favorite of the hike!

Top Tip: Inveroran Hotel also has a small shop to pick up any necessities.


Day 2: Inveroran to Kingshouse

View on the walk from Inveroran to Kingshouse, West Highland Way, Scotland

  • Distance: 10 Miles
  • Time Hiking: 5 hours


What To Expect on Day 2

Walk the West Highland Way, Inveroran to Kingshouse, Scotland

The hiking trail from Inveroran to Kingshouse is just as wonderfully scenic as the first day – if not even a bit more picturesque (as long as the weather is cooperating). Remote and exposed, the walk winds through a wilderness of the wide-open spaces of Rannoch Moor.

Ba Bridge, enveloped in a thicket of trees and straddling a tumbling brook, is a good halfway point for a rest.

Winding Trail from Inveroran to Kingshouse, WHW, Scotland

From the bridge, the path resembles a ribbon on the landscape, leading the way toward the Glencoe Ski Center. As the trail edges toward Kingshouse, a phenomenal panorama of the much-photographed Buachaille Etive Mor – one of Scotland’s most evocative mountains – comes into view.


Where We Stayed: Kingshouse Hotel West Highland Way

View of Kingshouse Hotel, West Highland Way, Scotland

Offering unparalleled mountain views and lovely rooms (at steep prices), Kingshouse Hotel is an excellent place to relax and recharge. The modern rooms feature large windows and unique amenities – like an in-room welcome cocktail and robes. For food and beverages, the hotel hosts a formal dining room, a cozy lounge and rustic bar-slash-café with outdoor picnic tables.

The included breakfast is an all-you-can-eat extravaganza of filling Scottish breakfast favorites.

Top Tip: Those who prefer not to pay the exorbitant room rates can opt to stay in the Bunkhouse or find a camping spot behind the hotel.


Day 3: Kingshouse to Kinlochleven

Hike from Kingshouse to Kinlochleven, West Highland Way, Scotland

  • Distance: 9 Miles
  • Time Hiking: 5 hours


What To Expect on Day 3

Top of Devil's Staircase, West Highland Way, Scotland

The walk between Kingshouse and Kinlochleven is challenging, yet oh-so rewarding. Not long after departing Kingshouse, trekkers tackle the inclined switchbacks of Devil’s Staircase. The top marks the highest point on the West Highland Way at 1,800 feet (550 meters) – and boasts a sensational panoramic vista with Buachaille Etive Mor to the south and the magnificent Mamores Mountains to the north.

The trail evens out for quite some time, weaving through a moorland that was blanketed in the purple hues of flowering heathers.

Nearing Kinlochleven, hikers are faced with a long sloping trail into the valley. On the final approach into town (after crossing over the large water pipes), find the slightly hidden WHW trail marker that leads to the pretty River Leven and dips down into a park before taking you into the heart of Kinlochleven.


Where We Stayed: The Tailrace Inn

Exterior of the Tailrace Inn, Kinlochleven, Scotland

A classic village hotel, The Tailrace Inn is far from elegant, but more than adequate. Offering basic rooms, a hearty (included) breakfast and a jovial pub atmosphere at the in-house restaurant, it’s a top choice for accommodations on WHW. Plus, it is literally on the trail.

That said, if the weather is nice, we recommend taking a short walk to The Bothy Bar at the MacDonald Hotel for a drink-with-a-view of the serene Loch Leven. If you still have some pep in your step, consider detouring up to Grey Mares Waterfall.

Top Tip: The Co-Op grocery store in Kinlochleven is a popular place to restock for your final day on the West Highland Way.


Day 4: Kinlochleven to Fort William

View of the walk from Kinlochleven to Fort William on the WHW, Scotland

  • Distance: 15 Miles
  • Time Hiking: 7 Hours


What To Expect on Day 4

Scenic Hike on the WHW Kinlochleven Fort William, Scotland

We found the last day of hiking the West Highland Way a bit long, achingly beautiful, arduous and ultimately anti-climatic. After the initial and taxing ascent through a birch forest, the path opens up for fine views of Loch Leven from above. As the trail levels out, it meanders through Lairig Mor (The Great Pass), making its way past abandoned structures and through swaths of trees.

View of Ben Nevis, West Highland Way, Scotland

The way then leads you into the rolling terrain of Glen Nevis, where waterfalls and wildflowers are both in abundance. On a clear day, Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in the UK standing at 4,400 feet (1,345 meters), will make a dramatic appearance. This was the absolute highland of day 4 for us.

View on the Last Day Walking the West Highland Way, Scotland

From there, the route see-saws along and eventually climbs up to join a gravel road with an option to detour to the site of the ancient Dun Deardail Fort. The loose rock track then zigzags down towards the finish line (that is still quite a far way off).

The end of the WHW is not particularly pretty and eventually spits hikers out onto a sidewalk for the long slog into the center of Fort William.

Sign at the Original End of the West Highland Way, Scotland

Finally arriving at a busy roundabout, a sign marks the Original End of the West Highland Way. To truly complete the final stage of the WHW, hikers need to continue on to High Street until reaching Gordon Square and the bronze statue of The Man with Sore Feet, the Official End of West Highland Way since 2010.

Man With Sore Feet and Sarah at the WHW Finish Line, Scotland

Just behind the statue is the Black Isle Bar, which is the perfect place to celebrate with a pint of craft beer and pizza!

Pro Tip: Joining the Cow Hill Trail above the Braveheart Car Park, while not the official West Highland Way, is said to be a more scenic route into Fort William.


Where We Stayed: The Garrison Hotel

Clean and stylish, the former jail-turned-hotel is just steps beyond the end of the West Highland Way – and a convenient place to spend the night in Fort William. The small rooms are clean and modern and the delicious, included breakfast offers a nice variety of choices.

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How To Shorten the WHW Hike

Hikers Resting on the West Highland Way, Scotland

For us, spending four days on the West Highland Way from Tyndrum to Fort William was an ideal adventure. However, we understand that not everyone wants to dedicate four full days of their vacation to hiking in the wilderness!

Therefore, we have a few suggestions for how to experience the West Highland Way in a shorter amount of time.


3 Days on West Highland Way

Travelers uninterested or unable to spend 4 days on the WHW have a few options to complete a portion of the hike in just three days.


Tyndrum to Fort William in 3 Days

Energetic hikers could complete the same distance in 3 days that we recommend in 4 days. To hike from Tyndrum to Ft William in 3 days, combine Days 1 and 2 of our route and make the long trek from Tyndrum to Kingshouse (19 miles) in a single day.


Bridge of Orchy to Fort William in 3 Days

Shorten the hike by starting in Bridge of Orchy, rather than Tyndrum, and complete the route in just 3 days. Start the WHW hike at Bridge of Orchy (bus or train from Glasgow or Fort William) and hike to Kingshouse (12 miles) on Day 1. Continue your walk from Day 3 outlined above.


3 Days on WHW from Tyndrum to Kinlochleven

Hikers can also opt to skip the last and longest day, while still enjoying some of the most breathtaking scenery, by hiking from Tyndrum to Kinlochleven. Simply follow our outlined trip route for Days 1, 2 and 3. From Kinlochleven, catch a bus to Fort William.


2 Days on the West Highland Way

Planning just two days on the WHW is somewhat difficult, as you will need to determine which two days of hiking are of most interest. We are sharing a couple ways for how to plan 2 days on the WHW during a vacation.


Bridge of Orchy to Kinlochleven in 2 Days

Take a bus or train to Bridge of Orchy to begin your two-day hike. On Day 1, trek 12 miles to Kingshouse. On Day 2, hike 9 miles from Kingshouse to Kinlochleven. From Kinlochleven, catch the bus to Fort William.


2 Days from Kingshouse to Fort William

Hop on a bus from Fort William or Glasgow (or even from Isle of Skye or Edinburgh) to Kingshouse to start your trek. Walk 9 miles from Kingshouse to Kinlochleven on Day 1. Then, on Day 2, complete the 15-mile hike from Kinlochleven to Fort William.


1 Day on West Highland Way

It is possible to complete a single section of the trail as a day hike, but we highly recommend the hiking two consecutive days if you can make it fit within your vacation plans!


Bridge of Orchy to Kingshouse One Day WHW Hike

The 12-mile hike between Bridge of Orchy and Kingshouse is considered the most beautiful and easiest section of the West Highland Way, making it a great day trek. Bridge of Orchy is served by both trains and buses, while buses are the only option in Kingshouse – connecting walkers from either end to Fort William or Glasgow.


Kingshouse to Kinlochleven 1 Day Hike on WHW

Travelers staying in (or transiting through) Fort William can easily use public buses to complete the 9-mile Kingshouse to Kinlochleven section of WHW in one day. Use CityLink to get to Kingshouse and Shiel Buses to get from Kinlochleven back to Fort William.


Kinlochleven to Fort William Day Hike on WHW

Although not our favorite part of the West Highland Way (mainly due to the last few miles along the road), the route can make a good day hike option – especially for travelers based in Fort Williams for a few days. Simply hop on the bus to Kinlochleven from Fort William…and walk 15 miles back to Ft William on the WHW


Kingshouse to Fort William 1 Day Hiking Trip

The 24-mile hike from Kingshouse to Fort William is a huge undertaking in our opinion, but certainly possible for people at a high level of fitness…and preferably good weather!


1 Day West Highland Way Hiking Tours from Glasgow

Rather than having to plan a trip on the WHW on your own, Glasgow visitors can join a 1 Day West Highland Way hiking tour that features a section of the South WHW route. Find out more!


West Highland Way Map

1 of several West Highland Way Trail Markers, Scotland

Use this link to Google for an online version of our Map of the West Highland Way. Note that the Star markers indicate our recommended 4-Day WHW Route on the Northern Section of the trail. 

The West Highland Way hiking trail is easy to follow and fairly well-marked with signs. The trail posts typically bear the WHW logo of a thistle between two arrows.

For our trek, we used Google Maps to plan the route, but it was not always clear (as many sections of the WHW follow the Old Military Road) and we rarely had a signal for accurate updates. Trekkers who prefer a paper map should purchase a detailed West Highland Way Map – like this one – in advance of their trip. 

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What To Pack for Your West Highland Walk

Advice for What To Pack for Your West Highland Walk, Scotland

Deciding what to pack for the West Highland Way hike is incredibly personal – and everyone has an opinion about what you need for the WHW and what you don’t.

Being prepared is necessary…but overpacking is not. When planning what to carry, the weight of your bag is of the utmost importance. Even if using a luggage transfer service, you need to carefully consider what to pack in your WHW hiking day pack.  

For vacationers hiking 4 days of the North WHW route, we recommend keeping your day pack as minimalist as possible. We are sharing a few bits of packing advice – followed by our complete WHW packing list.


Durable Shoes

Walk the West Highland Way Trail, Scotland

Although we typically pack versatile shoes for traveling, we upgraded our footwear for the West Highland Way and purchased good hiking shoes for the trek. We bought the shoes 3 months in advance so that we had plenty of time to break them in (which can be absolutely crucial!).

That said, I still managed to get five blisters while walking the West Highland Way.

During our time on the trail, we saw people wearing everything from lightweight trainers to waterproof hiking boots. There are pros and cons to every type of footwear – so it really comes down to what you are most comfortable in and what the Scottish weather has in store for you!


Basic First Aid Kit

It is a good idea to carry a basic med kit. At minimum, it is best to carry some type of pain reliever, antibacterial hand gel or wipes, and various size bandages.

Gaffer tape, moleskin, gauze pads and an anti-blister stick are other items useful for tending to (or preventing) blisters. On the trail, if you feel a blister forming, stop and take care of immediately.


Scotland Weather Gear

WHW Walk in the Scottish Highlands from Tyndrum to Fort William, Scotland

The weather in the Scottish Highlands is notoriously rainy, yet completely unpredictable – and the West Highland Way leaves hikers extremely exposed to the elements.

A good, waterproof raincoat is necessary for WHW hiking – one that will keep both the wind and rain from penetrating through. Additionally, a waterproof backpack cover is highly recommended to keep everything inside your bag dry. Travelers hiking with phones or cameras might also want a waterproof pouch or larger dry bag to ensure their electronics don’t get ruined in a deluge of rain.

Many hikers wear waterproof pants, water resistant hiking pants or convertible hiking pants – but we chose to complete the trek without either.


Midge Protection

The weather during your hike will affect whether or not you encounter midges. The relentless biting insects travel in swarms – and are most likely to appear when the weather conditions are still and humid.

Insect repellent can be a good deterrent (which we packed for our hike), but hikers caught in a swarm are best protected with a midge net head covering (which we did not have).


Quick Dry Clothing

A must-have for any long hike is quick dry clothing – and it is especially important on the West Highland Way. Wearing quick dry clothing on the trail helps pull moisture from your skin – plus, it ensures that if you do get caught in a rainstorm, it won’t take long to dry out.

Another reason to pack quick dry items is that you can sink wash your clothing at night – and re-wear it for the following day…which means you have to pack (and carry) less clothing for your walk!


Travel Camera

We were absolutely astounded by the beauty of the WHW Scottish Highlands Trek – and we were so glad that we carried our DSLR camera to capture to the gorgeous landscapes along the route.

That said, a camera can add quite a bit of heft to your day hiking pack. We share additional insights and reviews in our Best Cameras for Travel article.


Ample Water

Staying hydrated is a must; we heard too many stories of West Highland Way walkers becoming ill from dehydration.

Every hiker needs to carry water on the trail – but how much is enough and how much is too much?

Based on our previous 10-plus-mile hikes in Scotland, we decided to each carry 1.5 liters per day. We had more than enough on the first three days and drank all 3 liters on the last day. Collapsible, refillable water bottles are great for traveling hikers.

Although water is heavy, we think it is better to carry too much than not enough. Some WHW trekkers opt to drink out of the streams, but only do so with a LifeStraw or water tablets. 


Snacks and Lunch

Granola bars, apples and trail mix are good snacks to have on the WHW trail – and we brought plenty for our hike.

We assumed that we would also purchase a to-go lunch from our hotels before starting off each morning, but it turned out that we didn’t need the extra food. After the incredibly filling breakfasts provided at the hotels, we mostly ate granola bars and trail mix during the day.

Once the day’s hike is complete, most hotels and West Highland Way restaurants offer an early dinner. It’s best to check hours – and to make reservations – in advance.


West Highland Way Toilets

Bathrooms on the trail are few and far between – especially along the northern section of the WHW. Trekkers will most likely need a call to nature along the trail (but never by a stream!) – so it’s best to bring toilet paper in your pack.

Additionally, do not litter and leave your used TP behind! Carry a small resealable baggie to carry the used paper in and dispose of it properly.


Hiking Gear for West Highland Way

In the end, we opted not to bring hiking sticks, a headlamp or binoculars – although we understand that many hikers would not go out on the WHW without these items!


My Packing List for West Highland Way

Tips for your Packing List for West Highland Way, Scotland

For our trek on the WHW, I (Sarah) carried my standard 50L backpack (which is what I use for all of our travels instead of a suitcase) – but I only filled it partially. Additionally, I wore a hip pack so that items that I wanted close to my hands – like my phone and TP – were within easy reach.


Sarah’s WHW Packing List:

I also packed one outfit that I wore each evening, which was a T-shirt, Jeggings, Slip On Shoes (but I wished I would have brought my flip flops instead). It was nice to have a non-hiking outfit to change into once we arrived at the hotel each evening. 


Useful Websites and Information for the West Highland Way

Useful Information for the West Highland Way, Scotland

Those preparing to hike the WHW can find additional information online and in guidebooks.


West Highland Way Official Website: The Official WHW website offers even more tips along with technical advice for hikers at all fitness levels.

Walk Highlands: A top website for hikes in the Scottish Highlands, Walk Highlands offers detailed trail info on the WHW and other area treks. 

West Highland Way Private Facebook Group: The WHW Facebook Group is a fantastic place to ask questions! You will need to request to join the group

Best West Highland Way Guidebook: The printed WHW Footprint Map has excellent information, but travelers looking for a more detailed guidebook should purchase the West Highland Way Trailblazer Guidebook.


Travel Tips for Planning a Scotland Vacation

Hike from Kinlochleven to Fort William, West Highland Way, Scotland

We have shared our top tips for WHW treks in Scotland as part of a longer vacation – but we have detailed guides for traveling around Scotland, as well!


Organize Your Scotland Trip

WHW Views, Devils Staircase, Highlands, Scotland

As you begin making plans for your Scotland vacation, organization is key! We recommend using our Printable Travel Planner – to stay on top of all the details of your trip!

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Start planning your trip to Scotland! Search for the lowest airfares, the best accommodations and fun things to do…then start packing!  Want more travel planning tips? Head over to our Travel Planning page for more information and tips on traveling – and for country-specific information, take a look at our Travel Guides page!


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