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West Highlands Way Trail/Glasgow

My husband and I are traveling to Scotland the end of August to hike the trail over 7 days. We signed up with one of the tour companies to make many of the lodging arrangements and luggage transport.

AM looking for anyone out there who has recently hiked this trail for any advice, suggestions, etc.

Also wanting input about flying in and out of Glasgow. We want to spend a few days there after our trail hiking is finished. looking for suggestions for lodging, sightseeing and restaurants.

Many thanks

Posted by
671 posts

We hiked the trail in 2018. It is one of the best trips we've ever taken! Be prepared for rain; we found having a good, brimmed rain hat helped tremendously, and it worked well for sun too. There are places to buy lunch and food along the way, but I found it helpful to take some energy bars to help me along the way. You might be able to buy some there, but I always stick several in my pack before leaving home.

In Glasgow, we stayed at the hotel right at the train station; I don't recall the name but it was in the RS book at that time. It was convenient, clean, very nice. Plus we were right at the station to catch the train to Milngavie to start the hike.

We really enjoyed a food tour we took with Glasgow Food and Drink Tour. It was fantastic!

Enjoy!

Posted by
78 posts

Thanks for that information. Did you hike the entire 96 miles? We live in Florida so no hills to really train on but my husband is very fit and I consider myself capable but recently twisted an ankle badly and am concerned about being able to handle the daily hikes, though the orthopedic doctor I am seeing feels I should be fine.

Posted by
180 posts

Deborah

I did a 50 mile, 7 day walking tour in 2019. I had a bum knee and took trekking poles and a knee brace. It worked great for me. You might want to consider poles and/or an ankle brace. Tip: we had backpacks from REI that had straps on the outside specifically made to hold trekking poles. These were a great help for when I didn't need the poles, like when we would come into a village.

Posted by
358 posts

What do you want to know about Glasgow airport? It's a regular international airport. best feature is probably the designated white taxis.

Personally I would head somewhere else rather than three days in Glasgow - Edinburgh is probably out due to the Festival, but Stirling perhaps. In all honesty, anywhere other than three days in Glasgow.

Posted by
78 posts

Wasn't asking about the airport- just wanted to know if Glasgow was a better choice than Edinburgh. Curious why you have a dislike of Glasgow? Are you suggesting tourists shouldn't spend time there?

Posted by
5735 posts

Some people on this forum have an irrational hatred of Glasgow. There is plenty of other material on this forum from people who have stayed in Glasgow, and enjoyed it, if you do a search.

Posted by
74 posts

I just finished hiking it with my husband in May. Each day is full of interesting scenery. The section between Rowardennan and the Drovers inn is really hard on the feet. A lot of rock scrambling and slow going. The hills were easy though we are from Colorado so there’s that altitude advantage for us. The trail was way rockier under foot than I had thought so my feet hurt at the end of each day. There are very few places with toilets so make sure to use them when you see them. The Devils Staircase got the heart pumping a bit but the views were wonderful at the top. Enjoy, it was a great time and we were so glad we did it.

Posted by
1318 posts

I thoroughly enjoyed my 3 days in Glasgow spending time in a mixture of museums, walking tours, admiring the University and all the great architecture. I stayed at the IBis City Center. The location great, not far from train and bus stations, comfortable bed, really cool designed bathroom, and nice bar for a wee dram.

Posted by
1318 posts

Also, I flew into Glasgow -no problems at all.

Posted by
1376 posts

Hi, Deborah,

I much prefer Glasgow over Edinburgh. It has a much better vibe, the people are friendlier, it's a lot less expensive, there are less tourists, and there is a lot to see and do.

As far as restaurants go, my personal favourite is the University Cafe on Byres Road. I guess that identifies me as being noticeably plebian. The cafe has been in the same family for over 100 years, and it is a go-to eatery for locals and students at Glasgow Uni.

My second favourite restaurant, Cafe Source, in St Andrews Square, closed during Covid, and never reopened.

You will certainly not run out of things to do with a few days in Glasgow.

Glasgow Cathedral
Necropolis
People's Palace
The Hunterian
Kelvingrove Art Gallery
Riverside Museum
Burrell Collection
Gallery of Modern Art
Tenement House Museum
Glasgow Police Museum
Scottish Football Museum at Hampden Park (Scotland's National Stadium)
Pollock House
Botanical Gardens
Provand's Lordship
Museum of Piping
Glasgow Zoo
Glasgow Uni
Etc.

As far as accommodation, there are several good quality hotels in the central part of the city, including Premier Inns, Holiday Inns, Jury's Inns, and the Grasshopper Hotel at Glasgow Central Station. There are a lot of good B&Bs out along Great Western Road, past the Botanical Gardens.

The best place for shopping is the "Shopping Z", which consists of Argyle Street, Buchanan Street, and Sauchiehall Street. If you can't find it there, you can't find it at all.

To quote the late Will Fyffe,

"I belong to Glasgow,
Dear old Glasgow town"

Or to quote the Big Yin (Billy Connolly),

"I wish I was in Glasgow
With some good old friends of mine"

Enjoy the West Highland Way, and enjoy Glasgow!

Best wishes for your travels.

Mike (Auchterless)

p.s.: The World Pipe Band Championships (AKA "The Worlds") will be held on Glasgow Green on the 18th and 19th of August, which means that lodging will be pricier and more difficult to find during that weekend.

p.p.s.: I just remembered a story that my dear friend Iain MacKintosh used to tell. He was a folksinger (told you I was plebian!), and one night when he was performing outside of Glasgow, he told the audience that he was from Glasgow. A heckler yelled from the crowd, "There's nothing in Glasgow but football players and prostitutes!" Iain said, "Excuse me, my wife is from Glasgow!" The man responded, "What team does she play for?"

Posted by
671 posts

We did hike the entire trail; took 8 days, and after 4 days we took a day off (took a day trip to Oban from Tyndrum). Other recommendations -- if you are unsure about the amount of daily walking, I strongly suggest using hiking poles. They just help me a little, particularly if I get tired. Also, taking a day pack that has a strap around your hips (doesn't have to be any type of major pack or big strap) helps take weight off your shoulders. Even though you don't have hills to walk on at home, I encourage you to walk, and maybe at least once before you go, you might make sure you do a 10-12 mile day. And then remember -- you have all day to walk to your next destination!

Posted by
78 posts

Appreciate all the comments and suggestions I've read so far.
Any boutique hotels one can suggest in Glasgow as opposed to the big named ones?
And how is the public transportation in Glasgow?

We were recently in Prague and their public transportation, whether buses, trams or the subway, were great- clean and easy to navigate and very efficient. Wondering if Glasgow offers similar?

And is there some sort of a sightseeing pass that is offered to save money overall on getting into various places?

Posted by
1376 posts

Hi again, Deborah,

The majority of the museums in Glasgow do not charge admission; however, donations are certainly welcome. This is another reason I prefer Glasgow over Edinburgh. It's a much more egalitarian city.

Public transportation in Glasgow is excellent. In addition to bus service within the city and train service to the outlying parts of the city, there is also the famous "Clockwork Orange" subway. You can check out the train and subway routes on the internet.

There are day passes available for combinations of the various transport systems, as well as a Hop On Hop Off bus service which will take you around to most of the sites. If you want the true Glasgow experience, though, you'd be better off taking public transport.

Unfortunately, I've never stayed in a boutique hotel in Scotland, but the Grasshopper Hotel at Central Station has received some good reviews here.

Hope that helps.

Best wishes once again.

Mike (Auchterless)

Posted by
1743 posts

You don't need any more testimonials about Glasgow, so I will just say I agree with everyone who says it's a great place to visit.

And I will second the suggestion of Grasshopper Hotel. It's right beside Central Train Station. Some rooms actually overlook the stations massive glass roof. Nice (if small) rooms, great staff, great breakfast, and free cupcakes and ice cream all day.

Posted by
78 posts

So am wanting some more specifics regarding the West Highland Way Trail. The tour company we signed with has made a strong suggestion we carry 2 liters of water per person each day. Is that really necessary? Are there any places along the trail that one can refill water containers?
And I know restrooms/bathrooms can be an issue. Just wondering how much of an issue for a woman? You men have it easy :).
The tour company also suggested getting box or bag lunches made for us each day from wherever we are staying overnight to carry with us. Wondering if that is necessary or if there are small villages along the way to get off the trail and enjoy a bite to eat and some drink.
Does anyone know if Fort Williams has laundry facilities the public can use?
I plan to read over the materials sent to us thoroughly and look at detailed maps of the trail, but getting information from people who have actually experienced it helps.
Thanks too for the suggestions of the Grasshopper Hotel in Glasgow. Will definitely check that out.

Posted by
671 posts

The amount of water you need along the way depends on the weather (at least it does for me). I don't recall hauling a lot of water each day. Also, as I recall every day except one (of the 8 we hiked) there were places to eat lunch along the way. One day, past the Bridge of Orchy, we ordered lunch from the place we stayed as it was in the Highlands and we were not going through a town. Also, the first day we had leftovers from our Glasgow Food tour that we ate outside a distillery. I recommend you ask the inn every place you stay as they will have recommendations on packing a full lunch, or being able to eat along the way. That being said, I always make sure I have some type of food in my pack in case I need it.

Along the same lines, I only remember a few times where I had a "nature break" along the way. Otherwise, there was a restroom where we ate lunch and that seemed to suffice (since I wasn't guzzling water).

Posted by
74 posts

We didn’t carry that much water each day. We did have our bnb pack one lunch and we spilt that on the trail the next day. There were very few places to stop and get anything and sometimes it was towards the end of the hiking day before we got to something so make sure to have some snacks or a lunch. Toilets were very few and far between each day. We did the Portuguese Camino years ago and there were lots of cafes or little shops along the way, the West Highland Way was not like that. It was more remote and there weren’t many conveniences along the hiking route. Your tour company literature will tell you how many miles each day to get to water or food, at least ours did ( Hillwalks). Feel free to private message me if you have more questions. We just did the WHW the first week of May so it is all fresh in my mind.

Posted by
1279 posts

Hi Deborah -

Two litres does seem like a heck of a lot of water, but I guess the weather will determine whether it’s necessary. We’ve recently enjoyed a decent spell of warm, clear weather (although it seems to be breaking now) and it does require a fair amount of water - I got through a litre and a half on a twelve mile walk today, plus a stop for a pot of tea, so that would be your two litres. I guess if it had been cooler and rainy then I’d have got through less, although the pot of tea would have been even more compulsory. I’d certainly take containers for two litres with you and make a judgment as to whether you need to fill them both/all once you are on site. It goes without saying that it’s better to use a guaranteed water source as opposed to en route sources, which may be just fine, but unfiltered or unboiled, what you find en route might not be able to be vouched for.

I’ve started using cold water tea infusions in one of my water bottles to add ‘interest’. I quite like the Strawberry and Melon one - available in many British supermarkets! When it gets colder I carry a Thermos flask filled with tea (obviously).

Again, with the packed lunches I’d experiment to begin with at least to see if you get through them. Of course there are places to pick up stuff but they might not be conveniently located. You may find that one lunch between two is sufficient to keep you going and you can top up as you come across places. I always carry a large bar of chocolate ‘for emergencies’ with me on trails like the WHW. Backed into a corner I’d plump for Cadbury’s Fruit and Nut as the ‘healthiest’ option! One thing is for certain, as you get further and further north into the Highlands options to stock up become sparser. I think, if memory serves, Tyndrum is the last place of any note until you reach Kinlochleven for instance. Tyndrum of course, is home to the legendary ‘Green Welly Stop’ which is a compulsory stop.

We had enormous fun on the WHW and I’m sure you will too. Fingers crossed for decent weather for you. One word of caution - I think everybody reaches the shores of Loch Lomond thinking it will be a sylvan stroll alongside the Loch. It kind of is but it’s also a hard, up and down, rocky assault course in places and for my money the toughest part of the whole walk. I was glad to see the back of it in the end!

And….another vote for Glasgow from me. Love the place!

Ian

Posted by
1376 posts

I highly recommend Stoats porridge oat bars, which are found in most supermarkets. They are great for carrying on a hike. They pack well, and they don't melt if the weather gets hot. Personal favourite is raspberry and honey.

Best of all, they're made in Scotland, so you're helping to support the Scottish economy.

Bon appetit!

Mike (Auchterless)

Posted by
78 posts

I'm finally getting around to reading all the various comments, suggestions, advice regarding hiking the WHW trail. We did go to REI several weeks ago and invested in the good day packs that provide extra support around the hips and bought 2 one liter water containers for each of. us. I also borrowed some trekking poles from a friend and we will be doing a 3 day dry run in North Carolina mountains in a few weeks- hoping to hike 10 miles, 3 days in a row. Not worried so much about elevation as distance.

Once we finish the trail in Scotland, we will have almost 3 full days in Edinburgh before flying back to the states. Looking for sightseeing suggestions and restaurant suggestions!

Many thanks everyone!

Posted by
1322 posts

I haven't walked WHW, but Great Glenn Way (GGW), so I can only give general comments.

Take a lunch with you, so you can eat when you are hungry (and tired); not when there is a place to eat.

Look here https://www.amazon.com/Portable-Female-Urination-Device-Women/dp/B09SHPQ2RX/ref=sr_1_1?crid=3D0RU19TD2JZW&keywords=women+peeing&qid=1689576173&sprefix=mens%2Btravel%2Bsling%2Bbags%2Bcrossbody%2Caps%2C872&sr=8-1.

Fort William is one of my favourite towns. There is a service laundry. Search for "Nevis laundry" on Google Maps, but they may be too busy. Perhaps you can call them and book a wash. It's 2 km from town center, but that should not be much of a problem after walking WHW.

Find a tall building at home and walk up and down the stairs with your day bag on. Remember going up is hard on the muscles; going down is hard on the joints. Walking poles really help when going down, but it has also helped me to flex my knees a bit to let the muscles take the shock of landing from my joint. The muscles will heal up during the night (if you are in shape), but the joints may be sore for weeks.

Stay together. When we walked GGW my knees got too sore (see above) so I had to skip a day. My wife walked it alone and got lost. Hurrah for mobile phones. I could direct her over the phone. After that we bought an extra battery bank to make sure we would not lose touch in a similar situation.

Posted by
1279 posts

Hi Deborah -

How is your injured ankle? It occurred to me, somewhat belatedly admittedly, that you might benefit from wearing a higher ankle hiking boot, to offer support to your ankle and with rugged soles to cope with the rocky surfaces you’ll encounter on the WHW. Personally, I buy my boots a full size larger than my shoe size and I wear two pairs of socks - a Coolmax (or similar) liner sock with a thicker sock (Merino or similar) over the top for additional cushioning. Cue US hiking You Tubers looking aghast! Note: there are as many theories about sock and boot combinations as there are stars in the sky! What works for you is correct. Granted these will not be much use in Florida, but you might thank me in Scotland! A friend of mine who did a lot of walking told me he thought you could do any walk in the U.K. in trainers (sneakers). Then his foot broke in two separate places spontaneously. Stress fractures. He wasn’t getting enough support from either his theory or shoes! He’s back in the boots (for the most part) these days, and even his ‘sneakers’ are heavy duty. Think Merrell Moab low cut but sturdier!

Other random thoughts: Yes to walking poles. Daypack with sternum strap if humanly possible (most have waist straps/belts). Midge repellent (Smidge) and midge head net just in case, although the little blighters might be on the wane by the time you arrive. Buy on arrival if only because Scottish midge nets apparently have finer mesh than US bug nets. Always remember The Devil’s Staircase was named by the poor sods who were tasked with building it, not by hikers who are compelled to ascend it. Scottish weather, particularly the wind as and when and if it gets up, will destroy your poncho or umbrella. Use a waterproof jacket. Only use an umbrella when zero wind or as a parasol when Scotland has an inadvertent heatwave.

Have a grand time!

Ian

P.S. Wear your WHW hiking shoes/boots while in transit, i.e., on the plane - just about everything else can be replaced if lost in transit but not your trusty footwear.

Posted by
350 posts

We hiked from Bridge of Orchy to Fort William in June 2022 (final 37 miles or so of WHW). We spoke to many people (including some super fit people) along the trail and consensus was the toughest part of the trail is the footing, at least on the segments we hiked. It is mostly uneven and rocky and can be hard on the knees in particular. As others have mentioned, hiking poles are a very good idea (we greatly regretted going without them) and rain proof clothing/gear/hiking shoes is a must. A rest day is worth considering if time allows.

Bridge of Orchy Hotel is a fine place to stop for a night or just a drink/dinner if you like. We also loved The Tailrace Inn in tiny Kinlochleven for an evening meal and a pint or two.

You'll love the trail, just be prepared as others have noted and you'll have the time of your life. Scotland is the absolute best.