Backpacking Scotland's West Highland Way

The West Highland Way, Scotland, Stirling, United Kingdom

  • Activities:

    Survival, Camping, Photography, Running, Backpacking, Hiking

  • Skill Level:


  • Season:

    Spring, Summer, Autumn

  • Trail Type:


  • RT Distance:

    96 Miles

  • Elevation Gain:

    2650 Feet


West Highland Way is the most famous Hike in Scotland and one of the best in the world. There is available food and lodging along this 5-7 day trek. 

Let me just start by saying that this is probably the raddest hike I have ever done. Although the ideal way is to start from Glasgow and hike all the way up to Ft. William, the scenery just gets better and better as you get closer to the Ft William area, so if you just have a few days, you can do it backward and go until you run out of time.

This is a very popular hike during the dry season. During the rainy season, you will only see maybe 1 or 2 people on the trail the entire time, especially the weekend. It is an amazing solo hike and is very easy to follow the clearly marked and well maintained path even without a map or compass. The views you get here are EPIC.

Although the trail is easy to follow, be careful when wandering off the path to climb hills. Many have gotten lost and died of hypothermia. Scotland's temperatures don't get too low, but it is so windy and wet all the time that it will feel colder than you expect. You can decide to hike as much as you want and break it up in however many days as you'd like, which makes this hike good for any level of experience or skill.

Make sure to bring a water filter because there are long stretches between towns and there are lots of streams and rivers you can get water from. I ran out of food and lived a couple days off of just water from my filter.

Pack List

  • Tent (Unless you plan on Lodging)
  • Sleeping Bag
  • Hiking Snacks
  • Good Boots
  • Waterproof Pants and Jacket
  • Pad
  • Lots of Water/ Water Filter
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Overall rating: 

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My best friend and I hiked the full trail from May 21 4pm to May 28 5:40pm. Being in europe for 3 months, our bas were about 25 kg, and that was a lot. If you are going to do this hike, pack as light as you can. There are luggage transfer services along the trail, but as one of the fellow hikers I met on the trail commented "thats just cheating". Every twist and tun of this hike brought a new and stunning sight, there were so many moments I just had to stop to fill my lungs with the amazing scents, and fill my eyes with ruins, burly oaks, waterfalls, lochs, sheep, coos, mountains, flowers, and stone bridges. Although my feet hurt and my legs lagged at the end of every night, somehow we managed to find a beer at some on-route pub 5/7 of the days. Highlights for me were climbing the hill above Loch Lomond, and singing into the wind the whole song about that very loch. Aswell as the mossy forests at the first half of the trail being littered with Scottish and Spanish bluebells, creating an eerie purple visual-mist floating through the greenery. I also loved the high mountain passes to view the valleys, villages, and peaks surrounding them. The fresh air, and remote views definitely reminded me of some of my home hikes in the Rocky Mountains of Canada. If you plan to hike, tent, and carry your full pack the whole way, I would say this trail is not for the faint of heart, but I promise you that you will not regret one single moment of placing one foot in from of the other towards that Irn-Bru Ice-cream cone at the end of the trail in Ft William. Suggested supplies, backpack water bladder and water filter. Smidge spray (though the midges didnt get bad till the last two nights of the trail), and sufficient salty and sweet snacks, those will carry you, I promise. Nothing cures aching feet like a Lion Bar or caramel filled Digestive wafer. Take care on the trail and breathe deeply, you will love it. Sliante

9 months ago
9 months ago

Me and my friends walked this trail a couple of years ago. Absolute stunning landscape, changing every day as you walk towards the end. You can set up your tent along the trail near lakes or in the forests. Classic trail you should definitely checkout if you are in Europe.

over 1 year ago
over 1 year ago

Me and my friend were blown away by this trail. Changing scenery, well marked paths guided our way toward the endpoint. Would recommend to anyone. Option to use huts as basepoints if neede for family hike for example.

about 2 years ago
about 2 years ago

Eric Bennett Explorer

Instagram: @bennettfilm Videographer, Photographer from San Diego, CA currently living in Provo, UT

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