About the West Highland Way

154 km(96 mi)
Type of trail

Difficulty is highly personal. Be aware of the weather conditions as bad weather turns easier trails in difficult trails especially in the mountains.


Lodging means a mix of hotels, hostels or AirBnB’s.

Wild camping, Camping, Lodging
Elevation gain
3000 m(9843 ft)
Hills, Countryside, Forest
Some of the time
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The West Highland Way is undoubtedly one of Europe’s most popular long-distance hikes, and for good reason. The trail has everything to offer for both beginners and experienced hikers. Over five to seven days, the trail takes you along beautiful lochs (lakes) across the Scottish Highlands past the mountains of Glencoe. You will climb the Devil’s Staircase and camp in the wild at the most beautiful spots. Or you can opt for one of the cozy accommodations like the pubs and inns where you can relax after a long day of hiking. Along the way, you’ll encounter other hikers and locals in one of the many pubs along the route for a friendly chat.

The trail spans over 154 kilometers / 96 miles from Milngavie to Fort William. Known for its diverse landscapes, it takes hikers through the outskirts of Glasgow, along the serene banks of Loch Lomond, across the expansive wilderness of Rannoch Moor, and over the rugged terrain of Glencoe, culminating near the base of Ben Nevis, Britain’s highest peak.


Elmar Teegelbeckers

Passionate hiker Elmar spends months of his time on the trail. He’s usually on the lookout for hidden gems in one of his favourite countries such as Slovenia, Switzerland and Japan. He founded hiking-trails.com in need for a community and detailed information about the trails. Before this, he worked for the Alpine asscociation in the Netherlands[ (NKBV) but lost his heart to the trails.

With this website and socials, he hopes to shape an inclusive community for hikers all over world. No matter your speed, experience or level, you can get out there to enjoy the trails and connect with the heartwarming hiking community. Life is so much better outside and he hopes to inspire hikers to take their first, or next, step on the trail.

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The Trail

The West Highland Way accommodates hikers of varying abilities. The path is well-marked and traverses a variety of terrains, from flat and accessible sections to more challenging steep climbs, particularly in sections like the ascent of Devil’s Staircase. There aren’t very technical sections on this hike so it’s perfect for beginning long-distance hikers.

There are many accommodation options along the West Highland Way, ranging from wild camping spots to a variety of bed and breakfasts, hotels, and hostels for different budgets and preferences. The trail also offers opportunities for resupply and rest in small towns and villages, where you can explore local Scottish cuisine and culture. Ending your hiking day with a Scottish pie or Fish & Chips is the best!

The West Highland Way is not just a physical challenge; it’s an opportunity to experience Scotland’s rich history, with the route passing by historical sites, ancient ruins, and landscapes that have been the backdrop to significant events in Scottish history.

For those planning to hike this trail, it’s advisable to book accommodations in advance, especially during the peak season, and to prepare for Scotland’s unpredictable weather by packing appropriate gear. Whether you’re an experienced hiker or new to long-distance walking, the West Highland Way offers a well-supported and memorable experience through some of Scotland’s most iconic landscapes.


The West Highland Way can be hiked in 5 to 7 days depending on your preferences. Here we outline all the itineraries. If you hike the West Highland Way in 5 days and you’re also camping it can be quite challenging, and hiking the trail in 7 days and staying in accommodations will be very comforting.

The West Highland Way in 5 stages:

Stage 1: Milngavie – Balmaha, 32 km | 20 mi
Stage 2: Balmaha – Inverarnan, 34 km | 21 mi
Stage 3: Inverarnan – Bridge of Orchy, 31 km | 19 mi
Stage 4: Bridge of Orchy – Kinlochleven, 34 km | 21 mi
Stage 5: Kinlochleven – Fort William, 24 km | 15 mi

The West Highland Way in 6 stages:

Stage 1: Milngavie – Balmaha, 32 km | 20 mi
Stage 2: Balmaha – Inversnaid, 23 km | 14 mi
Stage 3: Inversnaid – Crianlarich, 21 km | 13 mi
Stage 4: Crianlarich – Inveroran, 24 km | 15 mi
Stage 5: Inveroran – Kinlochleven, 31 km | 19 mi
Stage 6: Kinlochleven – Fort William, 24 km | 15 mi

The West Highland Way in 7 stages:

Stage 1: Milngavie – Drymen, 19 km | 12 mi
Stage 2: Drymen – Rowardennan, 18 km | 11 mi
Stage 3: Rowardennan – Beinglas, 21 km | 13 mi
Stage 4: Beinglas – Bridge of Orchy, 30 km | 18 mi
Stage 5: Bridge of Orchy – Glencoe, 18 km | 11 mi
Stage 6: Glencoe – Kinlochleven, 18 km | 11 mi
Stage 7: Kinlochleven – Fort William, 25 km | 16 mi


Hiking the West Highland Way will give you plenty of options for your sleeping spot depending on different preferences and budgets. From wild camping in the Scottish Highlands to the comfort of cozy inns and guesthouses, there’s something for every type of hiker along this trail.

Wild Camping

For a lot of hikers, wild camping is a popular choice. The freedom to pitch a tent in the serene wilderness offers an unparalleled experience of Scotland’s natural beauty. Key spots like Conic Hill or the vast expanse of Rannoch Moor provide idyllic settings for those willing to carry their gear. However, be sure to adhere to the Scottish Outdoor Access Code, leaving a minimal impact on the environment and local wildlife.


Scattered along the trail, campsites offer more structure with basic amenities like toilets and sometimes even showers. For a more rustic and communal shelter, bothies — traditional mountain huts — can be found in more remote areas. These are usually very basic and require hikers to bring all necessary supplies.

Hostels, Bed & Breakfasts and Guesthouses

Hostels along the West Highland Way provide a budget-friendly option with a social twist. These accommodations often feature communal kitchens and common areas, making them a great place to meet fellow trekkers and exchange stories.

For those looking for comfort and local hospitality, B&Bs and guesthouses are dotted along the route. These family-run establishments offer a warm welcome and a hearty breakfast to fuel the day’s journey. They range from simple accommodations to more luxurious offerings, often with stunning views of the surrounding landscape.

Hotels and Inns

In the villages and towns along the way, such as Drymen, Tyndrum, and Kinlochleven, you can find hotels and inns. These provide a higher level of comfort like private rooms, bathrooms, and dining facilities. Booking in advance is recommended, especially during peak trekking season, as these accommodations can fill up quickly.

Best time of the year

The best time of the year to hike the West Highland Way is generally from late spring to early autumn, with May and September as the ideal months. These periods typically offer a favorable balance of milder weather, longer daylight hours, and less crowded trails, enhancing the overall hiking experience.

Note that midges, the small biting insects, are everywhere from June to August, particularly around Loch Lomond and the more sheltered areas of the trail. If you’re sensitive to bites or find them particularly annoying, May or September are better.

Safety & Gear

When planning this hike, consider several key factors to guarantee a secure outdoor adventure. As you plan, assess factors such as trail difficulty, length, elevation gain, and terrain, and then put them into the context of your abilities. The trail will feel different for everyone. Research using not only this website but also guidebooks, and talk with hikers who have hiked the West Highland Way and organizations in the area.

The Scottish weather can be unpredictable, with sudden changes that affect visibility and trail conditions. Always check the weather forecast before you start your day and be prepared for all conditions, including rain, wind, and occasionally even snow in higher areas, even during summer months.

Wear appropriate hiking shoes with good grip, as the terrain can be rocky and uneven. Dress in layers to adjust to changing temperatures, and carry waterproof clothing. Your backpack should include essentials like extra food and water, a first aid kit, a headlamp, and a lightweight emergency shelter.

Prepare so that you’re physically prepared for the challenge. The trail can be demanding, with long distances and some steep sections. Start with shorter hikes and gradually increase your distance in the months leading up to your trip. Listen to your body and take breaks as needed, you’ll get there!

Good to know

The most important thing when hiking the West Highland Way is that you pack good quality rain gear and plan your accommodation early, especially during peak season from May until September. Whether camping or staying in hostels and B&Bs, knowing where you’ll spend the night is a good feeling when you’re hiking the trail. No worries about resupply or water resources alongside the trail, there are plenty. Happy trails!

Point to point
Highest point
548m (1798 ft)


cover guidebook

West Highland Way

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Terms of Use: important to all visitors on this website. We strive to publish high quality content and information on this website. However it’s always possible that we’re missing out on some crucial information. In spite of the fact that this route, associated GPS track (GPX and maps) were prepared under diligent research by the specified contributor and/or contributors, the accuracy of such and judgement of the author is not guaranteed. Therefore, hiking-trails.com and contributors are in no way liable for personal injury, damage to personal property, or any other such situation that might happen to individuals hiking or following this route. Should you choose to hike this trail, this is always at your own risk. Check out our guidelines for safety hiking and Leave No Trace principles at the hiking 101 page.

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