West Highland Way

West Highland Way

Infobox Hiking trail
Name=West Highland Way
Photo=WHW Rannoch-Moor.jpg
Caption=The sun breaks partially through the clouds in a rainy day on the outskirt of Rannoch Moor in late April 2008 on West Highland Way on the way from Bridge of Orchy to Kingshouse.
Location=Scotland
Designation=Scottish LDR
Length_km=152
Start/End Points=Milngavie
Fort William
Use=Hiking
ElevChange=
HighPoint=
LowPoint=
Difficulty=Moderate
Season=All year
Sights=
Hazards=Weather
The West Highland Way is a linear long distance footpath in Scotland, with the official status of Long Distance Route. It is 152 kilometres (95 mi) long, running from Milngavie north of Glasgow to Fort William in the Scottish Highlands, with an element of hill walking in the route. It is managed jointly by West Dunbartonshire Council, Stirling Council, Argyll & Bute Council and Highland Council and Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park Authority. About 85,000 people use the path every year.

History

The trail was the first officially designated long distance footpath in Scotland. The trail was approved for development in 1974 and was completed and opened on October 6 1980 by Lord Mansfield. [The West Highland Way, Terry Marsh 2003 ISBN 1 85284 369 1 Cicerone]

The route

The path uses many ancient roads, including Drovers' roads, military roads and old coaching roads and is traditionally walked from south to north. As well as increasing the sense of adventure, taking the route in this direction keeps the sun from one's eyes.

The route is traditionally walked in seven to eight days, although fitter and more experienced walkers do it in five or six. The route can be covered in considerably less time than this, but less hurried progress is the choice of the majority of walkers, allowing for appreciation of the countryside along the Way. Indeed, enjoyment of the natural surroundings of the walk are the primary motivating factor for many people following the route.

The path officially starts in Milngavie town centre, where a granite obelisk is located. Most walkers arrive at the railway station located close by. Milngavie is a town located on the northern fringe of the conurbation of Glasgow, and the path rapidly emerges into open countryside. It proceeds by way of country roads, an abandoned railway, the Queen Elizabeth Forest Park and scenic Conic Hill on the Highland Boundary Fault, to reach Balmaha on Loch Lomond. From here, the route follows the isolated, wooded, eastern shores of the loch via Rowardennan and Inversnaid to Inverarnan. Rowardennan is the furthest north road access is available on the east shore of the loch from the south. Road access to Inversnaid is from the east, via Aberfoyle.

The Way follows Glen Falloch northward to Crianlarich then north west along Strathfillan to Tyndrum. North of Tyndrum the Way enters Glen Orchy before crossing the desolate yet beautiful Rannoch Moor and descending into Glen Coe. From here, the route climbs the "Devil's Staircase" before a great descent into Kinlochleven at sea level. The final stage skirts the Mamore Mountains on an old military road and descends into Glen Nevis. From there, it proceeds into Fort William.

The last stage passes the foot of Ben Nevis, and many walkers crown their achievement by climbing the highest mountain in Britain.

Due to the large number of walkers being constrained to a single track, some parts of the Way have become badly eroded. However a considerable amount of work is undertaken to maintain the route so where sections of the way appear to have been eroded into tracks wide enough to drive a vehicle along, these are where the route is following sections of old military road, as with all well documented long distance paths.

Walkers seeking solitude should consider starting their journey away from the weekends.

When deciding the time of year to attempt the Way, it is good to know that midges (biting flies) and mosquitos begin swarming in May and last well into August, some years even September. Also, Scottish weather can be particularly rugged and must be respected with proper forecasting and gear.

tage 1: Milngavie to Drymen

The path officially starts in Milngavie town centre, where a granite obelisk is located. Most walkers arrive at the railway station located close by. Milngavie is a town located on the northern fringe of the conurbation of Glasgow. The path passes Mugdock Castle and Mugdock Country Park before emerging into open countryside and finally reaching he village of Drymen.

* Milngavie to Carbeth - 5 miles
* Carbeth to Drymen - 7 miles

This stage is approximately convert|19|km in length. [The West Highland Way, Terry Marsh]

tage 2: Drymen to Balmaha

After leaving Drymen the path enters Garadhban Forest before reaching the first major summit of the route, Conic Hill (a site of special scientific interestFact|date=June 2008) at convert|358|m. The village of Balmaha on the eastern shore of Loch Lomond is the next settlement reached.

* Drymen to Balmaha - 8 miles

This stage is approximately convert|13|km|0 in length.

tage 3: Balmaha to Rowardennan

The path heads in a northerly direction alongside the eastern shore of Loch Lomond passing through Rowardennan Forest before reaching the village Rowardennan.

* Balmaha to Rowardennan - 7 miles

This stage is approximately convert|11|km|0 in length.

tage 4: Rowardennnan to Crianlarich

The path leaves Rowardennan and heads in a northerly direction alongside the eastern shore of Loch Lomond, passing a cavern known as Rob Roy's cave , before reaching the village of Crianlarich.

* Rowardennan to Inversnaid - 7 miles
* Inversnaid to Inverarnan - 7 miles
* Inverarnan to Crianlarich - 6 miles

This stage is approximately convert|32|km in length.

tage 5: Crianlarich to Tyndrum

* Crianlarich to Tyndrum - 6 miles

This stage is approximately convert|10|km in length.

tage 6: Tyndrum to Glencoe

* Tyndrum to Bridge of Orchy - 7 miles
* Bridge of Orchy to Inveroran - 2 miles
* Inveroran to Kingshouse - 10 miles

This stage is approximately convert|30|km in length.

tage 7: Glencoe to Kinlochleven

Glencoe (Gleann Comhann in Gaelic ) is a glen in the Highlands of Scotland. It is often considered one of the most spectacular and beautiful places in Scotland, and is a part of the designated National Scenic Area of Ben Nevis and Glencoe. The narrow glen shows a dramatically grim grandeur, shut in on both sides by wild and precipitous mountains. Towards Invercoe the landscape acquires a softer beauty.

* Kingshouse to Kinlochleven - 9 miles

This stage is approximately convert|14|km in length.

tage 8: Kinlochleven to Fort William

* Kinlochleven to Fort William - 14 miles

This stage is approximately convert|22|km in length.

West Highland Way Race

An annual race along the full south–north distance of the West Highland Way has been run in its current form since 1991. The race starts at 1 am on a Saturday in the middle of June. The runners proceed non-stop along the convert|95|mi|adj=on route from Milngavie to Fort William. The current male record holder is Jez Bragg from Solihull with a time of 15:44:50 set on 24 June 2006. The female record holder is Caggy Hamilton with a time of 17:16:20 set in 2007.

Towns, villages or hotels along the Way

Listed south to north, with approximate distances from Milngavie, the West Highland Way passes the following towns, villages or hotels:
*Milngavie
*Beech Tree Inn, Glengoyne
*Drymen
*Balmaha, Loch Lomond; 30 km (19 mi)
*Rowardennan, Loch Lomond; 44 km (27 mi)
*Inversnaid, 54 km (34 mi)
*Inverarnan, 64 km (40 mi)
*Crianlarich, 75 km (47 mi)
*Tyndrum, 85 km (53 mi)
*Bridge of Orchy, 95 km (59 mi)
*Inveroran, 99 km (62 mi)
*Kings House Hotel, 115 km (71 mi)
*Kinlochleven, 130 km (81 mi)
*Fort William, 152 km (95 mi)

References

External links

* [http://www.west-highland-way.co.uk/ West Highland Way official website]
* [http://www.westhighlandwayrace.org/ West Highland Way Race]
* [http://purebound.com/trails/whw/west_highland_way.htm West Highland Way Walk Thru]
* [http://www.roomsinscotland.com/Walks/westhighlandway.htm West Highland Way Information]
* [http://www.walkinginscotland.org/ The West Highland Way by Walking in Scotland]
* [http://www.adventurejournal.com/ A personal account of walking and camping The West Highland Way] Including a summit camp on Ben Nevis at the end!
* [http://home.freiepresse.de/uwdel/whw.html A trekkers account of following the Way]
* [http://www.vocabulary-blog.com/?p=113 Along the West Highland Way :: Video and Images]
* [http://www.grough.co.uk/content/view/610/27/ An account of a September trek along the West Highland Way from outdoors news website grough]


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