Frequently Asked Questions
This section contains answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about the West Highland Way. If you have question that is not covered below please click here.
- Can I cycle the West Highland Way?
- Is wild camping allowed on the Way?
- Has the Scottish Outdoor Access Code changed the West Highland Way?
- Walking the West Highland Way in winter
- Can I light a fire when camping on the WHW?
- I cannot find an accommodation type at a particular location.
- How long is the West Highland Way?
- Do I need to use a map and compass?
- How long does it take to walk the Way?
- When is the best time to walk The Way
- Where can I get money?
- Should I book accommodation in advance?
- What about Lyme Disease?
- Can I take my dog on the West Highland Way?
- What about lambing on Conic Hill?
- Where can I leave my Car in Milngavie?
- Where can I leave my Car in Fort William?
- Are Midges a Problem?
Can I cycle the West Highland Way?
It is worth noting that the WHW was designed as a long distance walking route and consequently cyclists will come across terrain, underpasses and gates which were designed specifically for walkers. For example, the WHW passing under the A82 and West Highland Rail Lines, where headroom would require cyclists to dismount. Useful info at- www.scotoutdoors.com/features/cycling/mountain-bike-adventure-on-west-highland-way. www.trailscotland.co.uk/west-highland-way-in-a-day/ Cycling on hard surfaces, such as wide paths and tracks, causes few problems. On narrow sections, cycling may cause problems for other people, such as walkers and horse riders. If this occurs, dismount and walk until the path becomes suitable again. Do not endanger walkers and horse riders: give other users advance warning of your presence and give way to them on a narrow path. Take care not to alarm farm animals, horses and wildlife.
Is wild camping allowed on the Way?
Under the Scottish Outdoor Access Code, wild camping is permitted. This type of camping is lightweight, done in small numbers and only for two or three nights in any one place. Avoid causing problems for local people and land managers by not camping in enclosed fields of crops or farm animals and by keeping well away from buildings, roads or historic structures. Leave no trace by: Taking away all your litter; Removing all traces of your tent pitch and of any open fire; Not causing pollution. On the West Highland Way we also provide two designated backpacker campsites in addition to those already outlined within the Accommodation Section. They are intended for single night-stays and the only restriction is that we ask people not to light fires. The sites are: Garadhban Forest [453 918] north of Drymen (can be a bit midgy), and Inversnaid Boathouse [335 095] north of Inversnaid Hotel Camping without facilities is also permitted at Bridge of Orchy, Inveroran (400m West along the road from the Inveroran Hotel) and at Kingshouse Bridge. Please note that the facilities provided at the Hotels near these sites are only available to customers. For a list of campsites along the West Highland Way, please visit www.west-highland-way.co.uk To find out more about wild camping in Scotland visit the Mountaineering Council for Scotland Wild Camping website: www.mountaineering-scotland.org.uk/leaflets/wildcamp.html For further information on your access rights in Scotland visit www.outdooraccess-scotland.com. This is a very easy to navigate website which will answer any queries you may have. Camping Byelaws east shore of Loch Lomond see- http://www.west-highland-way.co.uk/newsarticle.asp?id=1255
Has the Scottish Outdoor Access Code changed the West Highland Way?
Responsible cycling is now allowed on the WHW. You are also now able to take your dog onto all sections of the Way, for most of the year, as long as it is under proper control. You are now able to do the Conic Hill section during the lambing season (although not with a dog in the enclosed lambing fields). Land managers will still be able to close sections of the way for short periods for your safety, if they are carrying out hazardous operations, but this should be clearly signed with a reason, a time limit and, where practicable, an alternative route in place. If you come across an obstacle to access which you feel is unreasonable, or has extended beyond its stated time limit, then contact your Access Authority - either the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park Authority, or Highland Council. For further information on your access rights in Scotland visit www.outdooraccess-scotland.com. This is a very easy to navigate website which will answer any queries you may have.
Walking the West Highland Way in winter
For most walkers the West Highland Way is a three-season walk and should only be undertaken in winter by fit walkers with good winter navigation skills. From November to March winter conditions can be expected on the West Highland Way therefore any walker undertaking the route during these months must be fully prepared and properly equipped. When the snow does fall, all the high ground in the northern half of the Way can be affected, especially the sections like ‘Blackmount’ and the ‘Devils Staircase’. During such times the path can completely disappear, particularly if strong winds are causing drifting. It is essential if such conditions exist that walkers should have a map and compass and be able to use them. Traversing slopes which have been caused by drifting can sometimes be hazardous and ice axes are preferred to walking poles at such times. Discussed above are the extremes. Many weeks between November and March are fine for walking. Wet and windy days are more common than snowstorms during the milder winters. Even the bravest of walkers can become demoralised during the winter months with the unpleasant weather and short days leading to them abandoning their walk. As the days stretch out in March and with spring approaching it becomes a bit more appealing to get back out walking again. But even in late winter and early spring the weather can throw up some nasty and unpleasant days so preparation and awareness must all be part of the plan.
Can I light a fire when camping on the WHW?
Wherever possible, use a stove rather than light an open fire. If you do wish to light an open fire, keep it small, under control and supervised – fires that get out of control can cause major damage, for which you might be liable. Never light an open fire during prolonged dry periods or in areas such as forests, woods, farmland, or on peaty ground or near to buildings or in cultural heritage sites where damage can be easily caused. Heed all advice at times of high risk. Remove all traces of an open fire before you leave. For further information on your access rights in Scotland visit www.outdooraccess-scotland.com. This is a very easy to navigate website which will answer any queries you may have.
I cannot find an accommodation type at a particular location.
If you do not find the type of accommodation you require at a location, try repeating the search using the "ANY" option from the 'Type' drop-down list.
How long is the West Highland Way?
The West Highland Way is 154km (96 miles) long
Do I need to use a map and compass?
The Way is waymarked along its length to help walkers follow the route. You should however be able to read a map and compass to assist with navigation if required.
How long does it take to walk the Way?
On average it takes six to seven days to walk the Way. This makes it ideal for a week’s holiday. At busy times it is easier to find accommodation by avoiding a Saturday start.
When is the best time to walk The Way
May is the most popular month for walking the West Highland Way, however this does place pressure on the availability of accommodation. The Way can be walked at any time of the year – Spring and Autumn along the Way are especially beautiful.
Where can I get money?
There are banks at Milngavie (various with cashpoints), Drymen (Royal Bank of Scotland with cashpoint), Crianlarich (cashpoint at Crianlarich Store and Post Office),Tyndrum (cashpoint at The Green Welly Stop), Kinlochleven (Royal Bank of Scotland, Thursdays only, no cashpoint) and Fort William (various with cashpoint). Please check the availability of services with your own bank.
Should I book accommodation in advance?
Throughout the summer the Way can be busy and at times accommodation is difficult to find. On this basis it is advisable to book your accommodation well in advance.
What about Lyme Disease?
There may be ticks along the Way - in particular when bracken is adjacent to the path. Ticks feed on blood and may carry Lyme Disease so it is advisable to wear long trousers when you are going through vegetation. At the end of the day check yourself to see if any have attached themselves to you. If they have they can be removed by taking a pair of tweezers and grasping them firmly where they are attached to the skin. Then gently twist anti-clockwise until the tick is free. Take care to remove the whole tick and not to leave its head in. If you do get tick bites and feel unwell seek medical assistance. More information is avalable at the dedicated Lyme Disease web site. (http://www.netdoctor.co.uk/diseases/facts/lymedisease.htm )
Can I take my dog on the West Highland Way?
Under the Scottish Outdoor Access Code it is now possible to take your dogs on the way on all sections for most of the year. This is because access rights apply to people walking dogs provided that their dog(s) is kept under proper control. The only section which can be closed to dogs is on the east approach to Conic Hill where there are two enclosed lambing fields. Under the Code dogs should not be taken into fields where there are lambs, calves or other young animals. The enclosed fields are closed to dogs for up to six weeks (the last three in April and the first three in May) but normally they are only closed for four weeks and occasionally three weeks, again around the last weeks in April and first Weeks in May. We normally receive confirmation of the exact dates in March. During this time there is a well signposted alternative route, which does not add any time or distance to your trek. Throughout the rest of the Way dogs should be kept under proper control, and should be kept under close control or on a short lead in areas of farm animals, public places, and in moorland, forests and grasslands during the breeding bird season (April to July). Lastly, it is your responsibility to pick up and remove your dog’s faeces if it defecates in a public open place. It is worth noting that it can also be difficult to book dog-friendly accommodation along the Way. For further information on your access rights in Scotland visit www.outdooraccess-scotland.com. This is a very easy to navigate website which will answer any queries you may have.
What about lambing on Conic Hill?
The only section of the West Highland Way which can be closed for lambing are the enclosed fields on the east approach to Conic Hill. During lambing time these fields can be closed to dogs. This can be done for up to six weeks (the last three in April and the first three in May) but normally it is only closed for four weeks and occasionally three weeks, again around the last weeks in April and first weeks in May. We normally receive confirmation of the exact dates in March. This closure no longer applies to people, although we would request that you respect the farming operations and keep to the path during the lambing season. For further information on your access rights in Scotland visit www.outdooraccess-scotland.com. This is a very easy to navigate website which will answer any queries you may have.
Where can I leave my Car in Milngavie?
There is no secure parking in Milngavie. You may however park your car opposite the police station, which is near the town centre. Please let the police know if you are leaving your car and give them the registration number and an emergency contact number.
Where can I leave my Car in Fort William?
There is no secure parking in Fort William. However the Tourist Board may be able to help
Are Midges a Problem?
Midges can be a problem at certain times of year, usually from June until August. The culprits are the pregnant females seeking blood in order to produce their eggs. You should carry a midge repellant with you just in case.