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Skye or West Highland Way Walk?

Hi everyone,

I'm planning a trip to Scotland in June, and would like to fit in a few day's of walking tour. I've narrowed the options down to either Skye or northern part of West Highland Way. I would love to do both, but not sure I have the stamina and time, as I want to fit in visits to Edinburgh and Glasgow. I will be traveling alone and by public transport.

Have anyone done walking tours in both locations? Which would you recommend as the more scenic/ varied landscapes? Thank you!

Posted by
5654 posts

Sorry that I can't comment or advise on which walk having only done the WHW. That said, in doing the WHW we spent several days in Edinburgh touring and getting onto British Sumertime before taking a coach to Glasgow and the local bus to Milngavie, start of the WHW.

We used a booking service (Contours Walking Holiday) that booked overnight accomodations, provided daily luggage transfers, and guide books, maps, and detailed instructions on getting to each overnight accomodation, You should note that that:

There are currently NO facilities available at Kingshouse, please be
prepared with enough water and supplies for this section of the route.
The nearest facilities are at Glencoe Mountain Resort.
https://www.westhighlandway.org/the-route/

Contours and other walking support companies are apparently providing shuttle transfers because of the rennovation of Kingshouse.

Contours offers WHW packages that can be walked in itineraries from as few a 5 walking days (22 mile days) to 9 walking days (14 mile long days). https://www.contours.co.uk/west-highland-way#WHW3

Most walkers walk south to north ending at Fort William. The advantage beside starting from Glasgow is the early southern walking stages are somewhat flatter allowing you to get to walking. The nothern section is hilly.

While I can't compare your two alterntives, based on our WHW experience, you can't go wrong walking in Scotland.

Posted by
712 posts

Hi Shiennart -

I've done the West Highland Way and hiked on Skye. If you are planning on using public transport then the West Highland Way seems to me to be your best bet, given that I don't believe there are too many options on Skye in terms of public transport. Also I'm not sure that there are too many 'trails' on Skye other than the Trotternish Ridge walk, which I haven't done (and I'm prepared to be howled down by others who will tell me there are plenty of point to point trails on Skye!).

I would suggest that most people who walk on Skye will be into ticking off peaks in the Cuillins and the Black Cuillins in particular and these are not easy strolls, but challenging hiking in very rugged country. I for one was happy to be in parties who were carrying, and experienced with, ropes and the accompanying paraphernalia (helmets, harnesses, etc., etc.).

The West Highland Way is a national trail and is designed for the walker only, although given that it takes a largely low level route, it's not to be taken lightly. If you need to do something that gets your hands out of your pockets there are plenty of of side trips you can do - we took several options to go up peaks after we'd completed a section or during the course of a section and, of course, we left a day at the end to scale Ben Nevis. The WHW does cover remote country especially as it gets further north, but you at least have more transport and accommodation options near or on the route than Skye might be able to offer.

That's not to say Skye is without merit, it is, in good weather, absolutely sensational. But the above is correct - you can't go far wrong with any walking in Scotland.

Whichever you decide to go for, have a great trip!

Ian

Posted by
742 posts

There is actually a Skye Trail, which was news to me.
I would likely opt for the northern bit if west highland way though, such delights as an evening in clachaig Inn is easier to come by than Skye.
Be more of a social walk too as there's almost certain to be a few folks doing each section each day.

Posted by
712 posts

In the back of my mind I half remember a Cameron McNeish programme about the Skye Trail. But by its very nature it will be remote and challenging and most likely a camping trip (although I'd need to check that out).

It will most definitely not have the delights of the Clachaig. Which means the West Highland Way wins again. There was a slightly dodgy bar we went into into Kinlochleven too as I recall.....

Ian

Posted by
5654 posts

Skye looks scenic but challenging: https://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/skye/skye-trail.shtml

There are no waymarks for the route and many sections do not even have
a path. The route includes a long ridge traverse - a very strenuous
journey with no easy escape routes - whilst other sections cross burns
which become impassable when in spate. The approach to Elgol is on an
airy coastal path that requires great care.

This walk should be left to the more experienced who can judge the
conditions for themselves and are competent with map and compass - but
for them this can be a slice of heaven.

The walkhgihalnds website had links to baggage transfer and walking package providers.

Skye looks like a road less traveled off the beaten path than the WHW. If you are traveling alone, the WHW may be a safer option in terms of needing assistance on the trail. The last two legs of the WHW have bus service bail out options back to Fort William. https://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/west-highland-way.shtml

Milngavie and Fort William and both accessible by both rail and bus
from Glasgow.

Citylink run a bus service between Glasgow and Fort William (and on to
Inverness / Skye) that can be used to reachthe stages along the way,
including Inverarnan, Crianlarich, Tyndrum, Bridge of Orchy and
Kingshouse.

Kinlochleven and Drymen are served by local buses. There is no bus
service currently to Rowardennan.

(The train from Fort Williams to Glasgow is a scenic ride.)

Posted by
940 posts

Hi, sheinnart,

There's a good mostly low level hike of about eight miles or so on Skye. You can approach it from several ways:

1) Bella Jane from Elgol to Loch Coruisk; cross the river on the stepping stones and head up the east bank of the loch; follow the trail up the saddle of Druim Hain, then down the other side in to Glen Sligachan. Follow the river to the Sligachan Hotel. If you get to the hotel early enough, you can catch the bus to Broadford and a connecting bus to Elgol.

2) Follow the trail from Elgol up the east side of Loch Scavaig as far as Camasunary, then continue up the east side of Loch na Creitheach to meet with the trail through Glen Sligachan, as described above.

3) Take the trail from the church at Kilmarie on the Broadford to Elgol road, over the Am Mam to Camasunary, then follow the trail as described in option two.

Happy hiking! If you're not camping, make sure that you have accommodation lined up, especially on Skye. The new hostel in Broadford usually has space if nothing else is available.

Mike (auchterless)

Posted by
3 posts

Hi Ian, Edgar, Richard, and Mike,

Thank you so much for providing such detailed and useful responses. I've only started looking for accommodation last night, and it seems this will determine the final choice. I already contacted the self-guided tours suggested to check if they still have availability. I will refer back to your comments once the decision has been made.

Thanks again!

Dewi

Posted by
712 posts

Dewi -

Let us know how you get on! And what you thought of your eventual trip!

Ian

Posted by
940 posts

Hi again, Dewi,

I just checked the Broadford Backpackers Hostel website. Looks as though they have available accommodation for all but three days in June. So if you end up hiking on Skye, and are stuck for other accommodation, it would be an option. It's walking distance in to the village of Broadford, where there are several good restaurants and a well stocked supermarket.

Mike (auchterless)

p.s.: Anyone else reading this thread, and stuck for accommodation on Skye may want to consider this option. Caveat: it's mostly dormitory accommodation; they have very few twins or doubles.

Posted by
3 posts

Hi Mike,

Thank you indeed for the information on the hostel availability. I found a group guided walking tour for Skye, and with some luck, I hope to combine this with a self-guided walking tour of North WHW.

Cross fingers!

Dewi