Trekking the West Highland Way

One of the very best ways to see Scotland is to hike the West Highland Way. This 96 mile trail is well maintained and not particularly difficult. With the right preparation, even novice hikers can enjoy the trip. Campsites are available along the way, and it is permitted to camp outside of designated sites as well. You can even take your dog with you, as long as it isn’t lambing season.
Most people complete their Way trek in about a week. Spring and fall are particularly popular, as the scenery is beautiful that time of year. This can create a problem with campsite availability though, so you might want to consider other times of the year. If you are set on a spring or fall trip, try to avoid starting on a Saturday, which is when most people begin their trek.
There are pros and cons to every season of the year. Picking the right time to go can often make the difference between a great experience and a horrible week.

The West Highland Way is open through the winter, but only experienced hikers should attempt it this time of year. Snow drifts often block out the trail, making a map and compass your only hope of staying on course. There are also places where you will have no choice but to camp in the wild, which can be very unpleasant in the cold if you don’t know what you’re doing. On the plus side, you’ll have your choice of sites.


Spring is one of the most popular times to trek the Way, but the weather can be unpredictable. If you don’t think you can handle slogging through the rain all day, you might want to rethink your trip. Around the end of April and the beginning of May, lambing season is in full swing for local farmers. During this time, sections of the trail are closed to dogs. People can still hike through, but do be considerate about the work going on around you.
During July and August, the temperature will be high and you have a better chance of escaping rain for the week. Before you get too excited about this, though, keep the bugs in mind. Midges are tiny little bugs who love to swarm around people. And since people can be scarce up in the Highlands, you will be a prime target. There’s a reason most people skip these months on the trail.
The Highlands are absolutely gorgeous in the fall. Really the only downside to trekking this time of year is how many other people want to do it too. If you are planning on camping out in the wild for most of your trip, this shouldn’t be much of a problem. You might have to share a site with someone, but meeting fellow trekkers can be one of the best parts of the trip. If you were hoping to book rooms at the hotels and hostels along the way, be sure to plan well in advance as these can fill up months ahead of time.
Anyone who has any interest in trekking Scotland should most definitely hike the West Highland Way. It isn’t a difficult trip, but it does involve some preparation ahead of time, starting with deciding what time of year to go. While there are ups and downs to any decision you make, the only real regret you’ll have is if you decide to skip this fantastic trail.

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