A Walker’s Journal by Anthony Linick
The West Highland Way was named Scotland’s first official long-distance footpath in 1980; it has by now obtained National Trail status as well – and its popularity makes it among the most accessible of all British routes. It has if own “official” website at www.west-highland-way.co.uk and here, and at many other spots on the web you will find information on accommodation and baggage transfer providers. I’m sure that Gavan, my long-time walking partner, and I would have taken advantage of such opportunities in organizing our own walk – had these services been available in 1991.
The official distance is listed at 96 miles; we walked an additional ten miles because we had to leave the route on occasion to seek accommodation and also because we decided to walk from Glasgow itself to Milngavie, the route’s official southern starting point. I found a suggested itinerary for this prequel in Tom Hunter’s Constable guidebook. Today there are half a dozen rival publications, many with maps included and all listed for you online. If you want to carry your own supply of Ordnance Survey maps the Explorer sheets you would need are 342, 347, 348, 364, 377, 384, and 392. That’s a lot to carry (at two and a half inches to the mile) but the number of maps needed to complete the route does illustrate the serious nature of the enterprise.
We found the route challenging, yes, but mostly because of some long stretches and because of the up and down scramble required to negotiate the eastern shore of Loch Lomond. In fact, don’t be deterred by the “Highland” designation – the WHW is essentially a low level route and it rarely requires much in the way of vertical ascent. I would say the countryside is sublime throughout and our own adventures here remain vivid in the memory – it is no wonder that I refer to these moments on a number of occasions in my A Walker’s Alphabet: adventures on the long-distance footpaths of Great Britain – which is available from all the usual sites, from the publisher at www.authorhouse.co.uk or from www.authorhouse.com but also from www.amazon.co.uk or from www.amazon.com.
Finally, before we turn our attention to the trip journals themsleves, let me offer one additional suggestion. If you have two weeks of holiday time then consider having a rest at the northern terminus, Fort William, and then, striding out – in a northerly direction still – on the Great Glen Way. Yes, you can walk all the way from Glasgow all the way to Inverness – if you want a real challenge.
Our West Highland Way stages were as follows:
Day 1: Glasgow to Milngavie – 7 miles
Day 2: Milngavie to Drymen – 13 miles
Day 3: Drymen to Rowardennan – 14 miles
Day 4: Rowardennan to Inverarnan – 14.5 miles
Day 5: Inverarnan to Crianlarich – 7 miles
Day 6: Crianlarich to Bridge of Orchy – 13 miles
Day 7: Bridge of Orchy to Kingshouse Hotel – 12 miles
Day 8: Kingshouse Hotel to Mamore Lodge – 10.5 miles
Day 9: Mamore Lodge to Fort William – 15 miles