West Highland Way

Thoughts on the West Highland Way

I was a little apprehensive about the walk initially, fearful of another Dales Way type wash out, but with Scottish Highland proportions. We knew how beautiful the highlands could be and hoped that we would experience it on our trip. As it turned out it was fantastic. The day we had, crossing Rannoch Moor was very wet, but, as a one off it was absolutely fine. To see the mountains and lochs under those sunny and warm conditions was a real treat and something we will never forget.

Another issue I had was the popularity of the walk, and we were concerned about just how busy it would be. This was one of the reasons we chose to go in April and at times it was as busy as I would like it to get. Going over Easter was also a potential mistake from the crowd's point of view, but in the event it was fine. Conic Hill was very busy and the path and the area around Balmaha had the feel of a busy bank holiday, but it was fine. So, if you like your own space and a little solitude, try April and the sun may also shine on you!

I would love to get to the bottom as to why so many people had issues with their feet. Almost without exception, everyone was wearing good boots and socks and no one really felt that the surfaces were that bad. So even if you are seasoned walkers, with good boots and socks, take the Compeed and the Zinc Oxide tape, you may well need them.

The people we encountered in the service industry were almost all, pleasant, helpful and willing to make our stay as good as it possibly could be. I would change very little in regards to our accommodation and eating arrangements, the only obvious exception would be Kingshouse.

The scenery was absolutely lovely and we liked the transition from the farmland of Milngavie through to the mountains of Fort William, and everything in between. As has been said, maps aren't required as the way is well sign posted throughout and on very well defined paths and tracks. My token Harvey strip map stayed stowed for the whole trip, not looked at once, the Trailblazer guide book will be the only thing you need.

As always, having completed it, the question has to be asked, would we do it again? As with the C2C, on one level I would say no, we wouldn't. The fabulous weather we had would probably mean that we could never hope to have it that good again. But, yes for the variety of landscape, the nice people, the good accommodation and the fact that it is an easy path from a route finding point of view, and it isn't too strenuous, we would. There are areas where there is no shelter and in driving wind and rain I imagine it would be quite miserable. However, we walked across Rannoch Moor in the rain and it wasn't too bad. Another journal writer said that although it was a good path to walk (and he had thoroughly enjoyed it), it had to take second place to the C2C. He said the C2C had changed him, it had given him a far greater sense of achievement, it was a far bigger undertaking and more of a challenge - I agree 100% with his sentiments, he is spot on.

We had had a great time, it is a fabulous walk and I can't quite believe it is now all over. Writing the journal brings it all back and allows us to hang onto what we did for just that little bit longer.

As for our next walk, Offa's Dyke is probably the favourite. I would love to do the Pennine Way but 3 weeks and 268 miles is a long time and a long way, but, never say never...

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