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West Highlands Way Trail/Edinburgh

We survived and returned back to the states this past Wednesday evening!!

We flew into Edinburgh, then bused down to Glasgow for a one night stay before taking the train to Milngavie to start the trail hike. Glasgow is a bit rougher, to us, than Edinburgh but is less expensive too. We stayed at the Grasshopper Inn right by the train station; stayed there based on suggestions from people on this forum. It's advertised as a luxury hotel but was a bit basic. People who worked there were very nice.

Train to Milngavie was no issue to get tickets and travel. Stayed over night in Milngavie, a small town, before starting the trail on August 27th. Bought Smidge spray for repelling the midges we heard so much about. Hiked about 12-13 miles to the village of Dryman. Stayed in a lovely B&B with very small beds and warm rooms! Second days hike took us to the Conic Hill heading towards our goaf 14.5 miles to Rowardennan. It was a national holiday so the trail was a bit crowded. And for me, brutal. After a few miles of gentle incline it became increasingly steeper. Reaching the top of the hill, a brief squall came up. And the descent was just as bad= large somewhat flat boulders that were very slick from the rain. Got into the small park/town of Balmaha and had some lunch. Knew I had to go another 7 miles to get to our hotel- my legs were pretty shredded by then.
Day three, I could not hike- too wiped out. My husband headed out for another 14 miles towards Inveraman- actually to Ardlui, which is across a loch and one takes a ferry to get there. He encountered wet weather for much of it, and he commented that that section of the trail was very difficult, with lots of clambering over large boulders and uphills. My challenge was finding transportation to reach Ardlui- I had to get a very expensive Taxi from Rowardennan back to Balmaha; then a ferry from Balmaha to a town of Luss; then a bus to Ardlui.
Day 4 hike was towards the town of Tyndrum. I started out with my husband but after about 4 miles, I knew my legs wouldn't sustain me. SO again, I turned back and got a bus into Tyndrum. Stayed at some cottages run by a very kind older couple. She even did our laundry (for a fee) which was wonderful.
Day 5 hike was 19 miles- spouse went without me. I caught a bus to Kinghouse-. I pre-booked a ticket and it turned out it was to the wrong place, so I had to purchase another ticker from the driver. Kinghouse Hotel has a bit of history and is just in the middle of nowhere, it seems. But the staff was nice, the room was large with a king sized bed! Food was pricey for dinner but it's the only place to eat. They also have a bunkhouse with many rough looking people who stayed there :)
Day 6 was a 9 mile hike to the town of Kinlochleven. Only day we encountered midges! I handled it pretty well- last few miles were very boring- going along with the water pipes and electric lines. Inn we stayed at was decent and again, lovely people who we encountered there.
Last hike was a 15 mile challenge to reach Ft. William. Hubby handled it just fine while I once again took a bus. We stayed in a lovely place called Myrtle Bank B&B. Ft. William is a bustling town and we were wishing we spent an extra day there. Lots of little shops and restaurants. On a beautiful loch.
WHW trail scenery was amazing and all the people we met each day were very nice and interesting! Each town/village was the same- friendly nice people!
Bus trip back to Edinburgh took about 5 hours total, with a bus change in Glasgow. We chose to stay at an airport hotel, the Moxey, because we had a 6am flight 2 days later and didn't want the hassle of getting transport .
Edinburgh Airport is very efficient and well run.
Edinburgh is a lovely city; lots of hills but great sights. We went to Berties Proper Fish and Chips and a had a nice lunch.

Thanks again to all who so kindly gave suggestions and advice!

Posted by
148 posts

Congratulations! No better way to see the world than by walking it! You earned a whisky -- or should I say whiskey? No matter. Well done!

Posted by
77 posts

Our flight attendant on the way back couldn't believe we didn't try any Scottish whiskey!! We just aren't whiskey drinkers. Something we'll have to try if we ever get back.

Posted by
5595 posts

Thanks for the trip report, further to your original thread.

It must be on another thread about the WHW that there is a series of videos from a lady called Lorna Jane which graphically describes and shows your experiences along Loch Lomond. She was able to power through but found it pretty hard going.

I know it's after the event now, but here's the link- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2-tA55t7q8o&list=PL6juXe_FUqYkAPByWqpLEmAVIQ0njbobd

That was a bit remiss of me on your original thread, not to post that. You might have been better prepared.

As an aside, and for others, there should have been a ferry across from Rowardennan to Tarbet to pick up the bus north. Not sure why that didn't appear on a search for you.

By the way it is whisky in Scotland, whiskey in Ireland, Sounds like a wee dram or two might have helped your tired legs!

Posted by
1445 posts

Thanks Deborah for letting newbies know that hiking in Scotland isn't an easy stroll. I don't think that you are soft...you just weren't ready. I was a Girl Scout and have hiked in the Olympic Mts and the Cascade Range and the Pacific Crest Trail.. But now I'm older and I personally would have had a terrible time and would have rather drive or take the train to look at castles and have tea. I like to do genealogy and learn about the history of a place. You can still enjoy quaint places and climb castle steps to get all the exercise you need. Maybe you should travel with another couple or small group where you can split up according to your interests.

Posted by
1593 posts

Wow! Deborah, I am very impressed with all the hiking you did. You should be proud of yourself. About the most I can do is 2 - 3 miles.
Good work!
Karen

Posted by
142 posts

Deborah, my hat is off to you for even attempting to hike that trail! You did great, and I hope you managed to find some moments of pure pleasure and relaxation in the midst of all the exertion and the bustle of getting from one place to another.

Posted by
1276 posts

Hi Deborah -

Thanks for the trip report. I hope you enjoyed your trip (as opposed to survived!) and I’m sorry that you found the West Highland Way rather challenging. You aren’t the first to be caught out by the rugged terrain and you certainly won’t be the last. It might be thought in comparison with other countries’ trails, which are longer and at a greater altitude, that trails in the U.K. are a comparatively benign stroll in the park, whereas the underfoot conditions and almost wilful ascending and descending (I’m looking at you, Cotswold Way!) give the lie to that!

I hope that despite the difficulties of your trip it’s only whetted your appetite to do more, if not on foot!

Ian

Posted by
3206 posts

Thanks for this. My SIL and BIL recently indicated that I'd be fine doing this by myself, but it sounds like I'd definitely want a walking companion in case of a fall on those rocks, etc.

Posted by
77 posts

Appreciate all the kind words from so many of you.

And I apologize if I sounded negative about hiking the trail. While I couldn't handle some of the trails, I still enjoyed the opportunity; met many nice people of all ages along the way; every village/town we stayed at the people were kind and helpful; trying new foods I never ate before was interesting; navigating public transportation is always an experience, but we've found that in the European and British countries it's still far superior to what we have in my state.

Thanks again- everyone! we're already discussing where to go in 2024. SO I'll be back on the forum in a few months with new questions:)