I did a recce because I was going to lead this for RWH in October. Alas, that’s cancelled because the hotel and transport had huge price increases after covid, and it was no longer viable. But all is not lost, I know for sure this is an area to re visit, so if RWH dont find a way to run this tour, it will be one I’ll certainly offer myself in 2022. And this is why.
1. Every day is different. In so many ways. Slow worms and feral goats both provided the element of surprise. The occasional steep steps and boulders to scramble over, the long straight military track, the woodland paths.
2. A sense of history. Each day I learnt something new about the history of this land and landscape, from the early land formation, the geological fault lines, the fighting clans, Rob Roy, the Vikings, the fishing, the mining, the saints…the list goes on.
3. Feel remote. Rannoch Moor was spectacular in it’s emptiness. Inverarnon is a tiny collection of buildings in the middle of nowhere. Kingslodge is indeed just the one, now very substantial Hotel in the middle of nowhere. Long stretches of just nature. The highlands of Scotland offer quite a bit of this, but I thought the WHW might feel more ‘busy’ and developed. In some places it was, but great swathes of it were very quiet indeed.
4. The water. Waterfalls, bridges, lochs (Loch Lomond really is beautiful), cascading streams,
5. A proper journey and a sense of achievement.
6. Great places you can stay. The wild camping is lovely, and there seem to be many places for ‘semi’ wild camping, ie where there are usefully convenient loos and drinking water provided. My favourite discovery was the camping pods. They were everywhere and great value, my hobbit house here had everything I needed on a wet evening – heater, microwave, kettle, electric sockets, and some things I didn’t need (fridge, TV) and washing facilities just nearby. All for £35.00. I found some lovely bars and cafes to stop at, welcoming me with dripping rucksack and muddy boots. Bridge of Orchy and Kingslodge were great.
7. The side trips. You only need 8 days to walk this trail, so having two weeks was a wonderful luxury. Using the ferries on Loch Lomond is great, with fascinating commentaries. Highly recommended walks to Glen Nevis.and along the old pipeline above Loch Leven.
8. The train ride from Glasgow to Fort William. Stunning.
9. It’s a crescendo. The way starts gently, gentle walking, gentle countryside, pretty woodlands, and builds in drama to walking right up to Ben Nevis at the end. I couldn’t imagine walking North to South.