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View Full Version : Backpacking Scotland's West Highland Way



DuneElliot
06-24-2019, 15:59
This trail was top of my list to do after I moved back to the UK from the US. I knew Scotland was one of the few places that rivaled the stunning places I had experienced in Wyoming, Utah and Colorado and the West Highland Way was as well-known as the AT.

https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/47942828021_1a94068cfe_k.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/2g3xwt8)20190521_150503 (https://flic.kr/p/2g3xwt8) by Dune Elliot (https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/), on Flickr


So if you are curious about this trail and what it's like, read on:


Day 1


Lots of traffic out of the south-east at rush hour made for a longer-than-anticipated drive to Birmingham where I spent the night in a lovely fellow Adventure Queen’s driveway (you’ll have to Google who the Adventure Queens are) who had offered me a place to park as a stop over on Friday night. However not only did I park for the night but I also enjoyed a couple of hours of great conversation and a glass of wine.


Sleep evaded me most of the night, and what sleep I did get was fitfull and restless. I was up with the birds and heading north a few minutes after 5am. It had rained during the night and rained off and on during the 5 hours drive to Glasgow until finally settling in 30 miles south of the city. I wasn’t feeling good about the impending hike in rain.I dropped off a resupply box with my return shuttle driver and found a parking space at the train station…the place most recommended by, well, everyone.


With the drizzly rain still lingering I knew I’d have to suck it up so I started getting ready and a little before noon we were standing at the obelisk at the official start of the West Highland Way. It felt a little surreal to be standing there, having seen this icon in so many pictures and videos of people who had done the trail before me….similar to the what I assume it must be like for those at the southern (or northern) monument of the PCT.


We followed the signs and were quickly away from the town center and walking well-gravelled paths alongside the creek. I had worn my full rain suit but was soon dying of heat despite the coolness of the day and the rain. I switched out to my poncho and was quickly feeling better.


The drizzle continued for a couple of hours and obscured the views that should have been stunning. It was hard to look around much when I had my head down most of the time trying to stay dry. The dog’s raincoats were doing their job for the most part but I quickly realized that my measuring had been sub-par and they were too short for their bodies.


Continue reading Part 1 here (where all the great pictures also are):

https://nomadicpawprints.wordpress.com/2019/06/01/backpacking-the-west-highland-way-may-2019-part-1/
Part 2: https://nomadicpawprints.wordpress.com/2019/06/09/backpacking-the-west-highland-way-may-2019-part-2/
Part 3: https://nomadicpawprints.wordpress.com/2019/06/16/backpacking-the-west-highland-way-may-2019-part-3/
Part 4: https://nomadicpawprints.wordpress.com/2019/06/24/backpacking-the-west-highland-way-may-2019-part-4/

RuthN
06-24-2019, 17:13
Thanks for this great trip report! I've been curious about some of these UK trails. I look forward to your summary post.

GreatDane
06-24-2019, 17:39
A couple of weeks ago I tripped over videos on youtube done by Abbie Barnes of, it seems, every possible hiking trail in the UK. The first one I watched was for the West Highland Way, and it is now officially on my bucket list. I was so excited, I texted a friend about it, who told her husband, who told a friend of theirs from Scotland who now lives here in Florida, and he immediately made arrangements to walk it this coming September when he goes home for a visit. If you do a Google search for "West Highland Way", there is a ton of information (official and unofficial) about the walk, where to camp or stay in hostels, bed and breakfasts and hotels, points of interest, ordering maps, and how to get to and from the beginning and end points. Plus, I think the Great Glen Way extends north from the terminus of the West Highland Way and goes all the way to Inverness.

Old Hillwalker
06-24-2019, 17:55
Here is another one to look at. A friend and I hiked this route before it was called the Cape Wrath Trail in 2009. We used a book published ten years (1989) earlier as a suggested route from Fort William to Cape Wrath. The book was "North to the Cape" by Denis Brook and Phil Hinchcliffe. I understand that now there are actually maps created for this hike. Scotland certainly has some wild and beautiful countryside except for the scourge of tiny biting flies they call Midges, but we here in the Northeast call No-see-ums. In Scotland they come in actually visible clouds. Check out the U Tube offerings of The Munroe Show with Muriel Gray. https://youtu.be/w8eNUrgY3YY The show is a bit silly at times (she is) but there is a lot of great hiking there in mountains that hardly go over 4000 feet. But many hikes start at sea level so a 3500 footer is really that.

Please excuse the editing and occasional incorrect place names. This was my very first attempt at video creation ten years ago. Hillwalker

DuneElliot
06-25-2019, 02:15
Here is another one to look at. A friend and I hiked this route before it was called the Cape Wrath Trail in 2009. We used a book published ten years (1989) earlier as a suggested route from Fort William to Cape Wrath. The book was "North to the Cape" by Denis Brook and Phil Hinchcliffe. I understand that now there are actually maps created for this hike. Scotland certainly has some wild and beautiful countryside except for the scourge of tiny biting flies they call Midges, but we here in the Northeast call No-see-ums. In Scotland they come in actually visible clouds. Check out the U Tube offerings of The Munroe Show with Muriel Gray. https://youtu.be/w8eNUrgY3YY The show is a bit silly at times (she is) but there is a lot of great hiking there in mountains that hardly go over 4000 feet. But many hikes start at sea level so a 3500 footer is really that.

Please excuse the editing and occasional incorrect place names. This was my very first attempt at video creation ten years ago. Hillwalker

I linked to a couple of videos at the end...the second one, the guy also made a brilliant video about the Cape Wrath Trail, and the Skye Trail.

JackieO
06-25-2019, 09:12
That was a wonderful trip report and fantastic pictures, It's a shame you got sick though.
Really looking forward to your 20/20 mumblings and ramblings post. :)
Thank you for sharing!

DuneElliot
07-16-2019, 01:32
Thanks for this great trip report! I've been curious about some of these UK trails. I look forward to your summary post.

Here you go. I hope it helps with anyone interested in hiking this trail.

https://nomadicpawprints.wordpress.com/2019/07/07/west-highland-way-after-thoughts-what-i-would-do-differently-and-what-i-would-keep-the-same/