West Highland Way

« Back to Glossary Index

**History and Route Development:**
– The West Highland Way was Scotland’s first officially designated Long Distance Route, opening in 1980.
– Conceived post-World War II by Tom Hunter to protect Loch Lomond’s eastern shore.
– Surveyed extensively by geographer Fiona Rose in the early 1970s.
– Approved for development in 1974 and opened by Lord Mansfield in 1980.
– Co-designated as part of the International Appalachian Trail in 2010.
– The route is 154km (96 miles) long, running from Milngavie to Fort William.
– Primarily for long-distance walking, with sections suitable for biking and horse riding.
– Typically completed in seven to eight days, with fitter walkers finishing in five or six days.

**Route Sections and Landscapes:**
– Drymen to Balmaha: 13km (8 miles) long, including Conic Hill and Garadhban Forest.
– Balmaha to Rowardennan: 11km (7 miles) along Loch Lomond’s eastern shore.
– Rowardennan to Inverarnan: 19.5km (12 miles) with challenging terrain and natural beauty.
– Notable sites include Conic Hill, Loch Lomond, Ben Lomond, and Inverarnan.
– Diverse landscapes, water views, woodlands, and rugged terrain along the route.

**Ultramarathons on the West Highland Way:**
– Highland Fling Race: 85km (53mi) from Milngavie to Tyndrum.
– Devil o the Highlands Footrace: 69km (43mi) from Tyndrum to Fort William.
– West Highland Way Race: 153km (95mi) along the full south–north distance.
– West Highland Way Challenge Race: Covers the full route.
– Jez Bragg set a new record of 15h44m50s in the West Highland Way Race in 2006.

**West Highland Way Race Details:**
– Race established in 1991, starting at 1am on the Saturday nearest to the summer solstice.
– Idea initiated by Bobby Shields and Duncan Watson.
– Race route evolved since 1985 with increased distance and climbing.
– Dario Melaragni became race director in 1999.

**Resources and References:**
– West Highland Way Management Group provides FAQs.
– Scotlands Great Trails offer information on the West Highland Way.
– SNH reports provide insights into longer distance routes.
– BBC News and NPR have covered the West Highland Way.
– Detailed route information available on Walk Highlands and other sources.
– Jacquetta Megarry’s book ‘West Highland Way’ in its 5th edition.
– External links: Official website, guidebook, race information, geographic data, and media on Wikimedia Commons.

West Highland Way (Wikipedia)

The West Highland Way (Scottish Gaelic: Slighe na Gàidhealtachd an Iar) is a linear long-distance route in Scotland. It is 154 km (96 miles) long, running from Milngavie north of Glasgow to Fort William in the Scottish Highlands, with an element of hill walking in the route. The trail, which opened in 1980, was Scotland's first officially designated Long Distance Route, and is now designated by NatureScot as one of Scotland's Great Trails. It is primarily intended as a long distance walking route, and whilst many sections are suitable for mountain biking and horseriding there are obstacles and surfaces that will require these users to dismount in places.

West Highland Way
Rannoch Moor on the West Highland Way, between Bridge of Orchy and the Kingshouse.
Length154 km (96 mi)
LocationHighlands of Scotland
DesignationScotland's Great Trails
UsePrimarily intended for walkers
Elevation gain/loss3,155 metres (10,351 ft) gain
Highest pointDevil's Staircase near Kingshouse 56°40′35″N 4°54′49″W / 56.6764°N 4.9135°W / 56.6764; -4.9135, 550 m (1,800 ft)
Lowest pointsea level
SeasonAll year

It is managed by the West Highland Way Management Group (WHWMG) consisting of the local authorities for East Dunbartonshire, Stirling, Argyll and Bute and Highland, alongside the Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park Authority and NatureScot. About 120,000 people use the path every year, of whom about 36,000 walk the entire route. The path is estimated to generate £5.5 million each year for the local economy. As of 2019 about 100,000 people walked part of the Way each year, with 36,000 completing the route.

Notable wildlife that may be seen includes feral goats (descendants of those left from the Highland Clearances), red deer, and around the peaks sometimes golden eagles.[citation needed]

« Back to Glossary Index