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West Highland Way solo hike planning and preparation

The West Highland Way is one of the iconic trails in Europe, next to legendary hikes like the Laugavegur trail in Iceland and the toughest trail in Europe, the GR20So here’s my process of planning and preparing for my West Highland Way solo hike.

For readability, I chopped my post up in different stages:

  1. Settle on the idea
  2. Validate
  3. Settle on a date
  4. Lock-in the trip
  5. Create a rough day planning
  6. Creating a packing list
  7. Budget
  8. Extra

Before we start: West Highland Way

Elevation profile West Highland Way, by West Highland Way site
Elevation profile West Highland Way, by West Highland Way site

The West Highland Way stretches 154 Km from Milngavie to Fort William, taking hikers along a huge variety of scenery along the way, from countryside parks to loch-shores and open moorlands to steep mountains. Normally the route is completed from south to north – the Southern stages being considered easier, preparing you for the more demanding Northern stages.

While there’s plenty of campsites and wild camping is also permitted along the West Highland Way you can enjoy your visit in a much more comfortable and glamorous way. There are some amazing West Highland Way hotels so you can avoid tents if you prefer more comfortable accommodation. Even if you would rather camp you can still enjoy some great food or drink at a West Highland Way restaurant or pub.

Step 1: settle on the idea for my West Highland Way solo hike.

I am still finalizing my planning based on my year planning for hikes.

Step 2: validate my West Highland Way solo hike plans.

As I always do, I read/watch pretty much everything I can get my hands on. YouTube videos, official websites, blogs from other hikers, etcetera. Some sources I used (and very much appreciated):

That left me validating/working on these questions:

  • Where to stay. I’ll probably opt for a tent.

Step 3: settle on a date for the West Highland Way solo hike.

[To be added later]

Step 4: lock-in the West Highland Way trip.

[To be added later]

Step 5: create a rough day planning for my West Highland Way solo hike.

  • Day 1: travel to Glasgow, stay the night in Glasgow (Glasgow has an Indigo, one of my favorite hotel properties – see my review of the Antwerp Indigo Hotel), get key groceries (fruit, gas canister)
  • Day 2: travel to the trail, first day of hiking.
    • Milngavie to Drymen: 19 km
    • Drymen to Rowardennan: 22.5 km
  • Day 3: Hiking Day 2.
    • Rowardennan to Inverarnan: 22.5 km
    • Inverarnan to Tyndrum: 19.5 km
  • Day 4: Hiking Day 3.
    • Tyndrum to Inveroran: 14.5 km
    • Inveroran to Kingshouse: 16 km
    • Kingshouse to Kinlochleven: 14.5 km
  • Day 5: Hiking Day 4.
    • Kinlochleven to Fort William: 24 km
  • Day 6: Hiking Day 5
    • Ben Nevis (thanks Jannik for the tip)
  • Day 7: Day in Glasgow
  • Day 7: Travel home.

Fallback options

Especially since my experience at the Iceland Laugavegur trail and it’s fast-changing weather, I promised myself to make a backup planning. I’m planning to add some ‘buffer-days’ at the end of the trail – either as extra hiking days or at least to dry my tent in case of too many rain showers.

[To be added later]

Step 6: creating a packing list for the West Highland Way solo hike.

I created a first draft packing list for my West Highland Way solo hike.

[To be added later]

Budget for my West Highland Way solo hike.

  • Transportation
    X
  • Accommodation
    • Three nights in Indigo hotel Glasgow.
  • Food
    • X
  •  Extras
    • Permit

Total cost estimate – 

Extra

  • [To be added later]

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