Trip Number: 13685A
Staff: Jenny Roberts
- Walk Scotland's world-renowned West Highland Way (95 miles)
- Discover the spectacular landscape of Scotland's Western Highlands
- Explore 18th-century Armadale Castle on the Isle of Skye
- Lodging, most meals and all gratuities
- All on-trip transportation
- Luggage transport each day
Photo: Barry Morenz
Rich in history, culture, and natural beauty, Scotland is known for its heather
moors, mist-shrouded mountain peaks, romantic lochs, pine forests, and meadows.
The national dress, bagpipe music, whisky, folk songs, and Gaelic language have
shaped an identity for Scotland that is recognizable all over the world. Our
route, the West Highland Way, offers a splendid walk and great introduction
to the majesty and variety of the Scottish Highlands. The first long-distance
footpath to be opened in Scotland, the trail is 95 miles long and wends its
way from Milngavie to Fort William, through areas with outstanding views of
the famous Loch Lomond, Rannoch Moor, and Glencoe. We will walk the full 95
miles, from south to north, with the prevailing wind at our backs and the marvelous
scenery becoming wilder as the days go by. On the last day, we'll visit the
Isle of Skye, just off the western coast of Scotland.
Plan to spend the night before our trip in the Glasgow suburb of Milngavie,
the official starting point of the West Highland Way. We'll meet for an hour
or so before dinner to talk about our trip and daily schedule, and then adjourn
to a local pub for a no-host dinner and a chance to get acquainted.
Photo: Barry Morenz
Day 1: Milngavie to Drymen (12 miles; total ascent 500 feet).
The trip officially starts today. We'll meet after breakfast at the trailhead
in town to hand over our luggage to the carrier who will shuttle the luggage
each day. From here until Loch Lomond, we will be walking in the ancient land
of Lennox, created in 1153 by King Malcolm IV and passed down to the House of
Montrose several hundred years later. We'll finish at the pretty village of
Day 2: Drymen to Balmaha (8 miles; total ascent 1,200 feet).
From Drymen, we will enter Garadhban Forest, and then climb Conic Hill to see
the stunning views of Loch Lomond and the Isle of Arran. Here we'll truly pass
into the Highlands -- we will be walking on the line of the Great Highland Fault,
which marks the geological transition between the Lowlands and the Highlands.
From here we'll walk downhill to Balmaha.
Day 3: Balmaha to Rowardennan (7 miles; total ascent 1,200
feet). Today, we will walk along the edge of Loch Lomond. This body of water
and its islands are spectacular, mirroring the mountains. Our path winds in
and out of attractive woods and bays, then into the Queen Elizabeth Forest Park
and the oak woods of Sallochy. From here it is just a few miles to Rowardennan.
In the afternoon, if time permits, we will hike to the top of Ben Lomond for
some terrific views of Loch Lomond and the surrounding countryside.
Day 4: Rowardennan to North Loch Lomond (14 miles; total ascent
1,785 feet). From Rowardennan, we will walk a glorious traverse through oak
woods. Looking across the loch, we'll have views of the Arrochar Alps, the crags
of the Cobbler, and the Tarbet Pass through which the Viking King Haakon dragged
his boats in 1263 to mount a surprise attack on the Lennox Earldom. The last
six miles bring us to North Loch Lomond for our night's stay.
Photo: Barry Morenz
Day 5: North Loch Lomond to Tyndrum (12 miles; total ascent
1,270 feet). Today we will climb and descend the Dubh Lochan hill and enter
Inverarnan. We'll then travel up Glen Falloch and along the east bank of the
River Falloch, passing many cascades and small falls on the way to Derrydaroch.
Near here is the Clachna-Briton, said to be the ancient boundary between the
prehistoric Scots and Picts territories. We'll take the old military road, built
in 1752 by the English after the Jacobite Risings, through Bogle Glen (Scottish
for ghost) and past the historic ruins of St. Fillans to the old mining village
Day 6: Tyndrum to Inveroran (9 miles; total ascent 1,225 feet).
The track out of Tyndrum is clear, broad, and easy, taking us on a gentle walk
to Bridge of Orchy. We will walk by Ben Dorrain, then past the viaduct to Auch
Glen with a wonderful view of Ben Mhanach. Finally, we'll cross the River Orchy
and head to our home for the night.
Day 7: Inveroran to Kingshouse (10 miles; total ascent 1,700
feet). Today, we will leave Inveroran and walk down the hill to Victoria Bridge
and the lovely Loch Tulla. From here we'll enter Rannoch Moor, a wonderful,
remote, and rugged place. This is truly wild Scotland, untamed and unchanged
Photo: Jenny Roberts
Day 8: Kingshouse to Kinlochleven (8 miles; total ascent 1,388
feet). A wonderful climb up the Devil's Staircase this morning takes us through
the area known as Glencoe, renowned for its awesome scenery and savage history
(the Glencoe Massacre of 1692). Charles Dickens called Glencoe "a burial
ground of a race of giants." We'll descend to the village of Kinlochleven,
on the sea loch of Loch Leven, with its magnificent views of the mountains.
Day 9: Kinlochleven to Fort William (15 miles; total ascent
2,400 feet). This final stage of the Way takes us into Lochaber -- like Lennox,
another ancient province -- and through the spectacular valley known as the
Lairigmor (Big Pass). From here we'll enter forestry land, passing the Iron
Age fort of Dun Deardail, then walk down the Glen Nevis road and into Fort William.
This will be our home for the last two nights.
Day 10: Day trip to the Isle of Skye. We'll take a short train
ride west to the small fishing village of Mallaig. From Mallaig we'll go by
ferry to the Isle of Skye. A short walk brings us to Armadale Castle, the historic
seat of Clan Donald. After touring the museum, strolling through the garden
paths, and stopping for lunch, we will catch the ferry back to the mainland
and return to Fort William for our last evening together.
Day 11: Fort William. After breakfast, we will pack our bags
and say our farewells. The trip ends here -- you may stay and become more familiar
with Fort William, or board a train or bus back to Glasgow to catch your flight.
Photo: Jenny Roberts
Transportation to the starting point in Milngavie and return from Fort William
is the responsibility of each trip member. Milngavie is a suburb of Glasgow.
Flights into Glasgow are frequent, and you can take a bus, train, or taxi to
Milngavie from Glasgow City Center. Other airports and train options are available
and can be discussed with the trip leader. Please talk with the leader before
securing any flights.
Accommodations and Food
Our shared accommodations will be at B&Bs, country inns, and guesthouses,
each offering a hearty Scottish welcome. Same-gender roommates will be assigned
to those travelling alone. Our luggage will be transported to our new accommodations
daily by a carrier service. The trip price includes all breakfasts, one lunch,
and all dinners. Lunch supplies can be purchased at local markets or packed
lunches can be purchased from accommodations on our route.
We will be walking 7-15 miles each day, with elevation changes of a few hundred
feet to 2,400 feet. This trip is for experienced hikers -- not because it is
an excessively arduous or difficult walk, but because we will be hiking 4-7
hours every day. The terrain is varied and includes wide smooth tracks in forests,
twisting paths over moorland, hillside paths, undulating paths in trees, and
field paths. Additionally, there are some sections of steep and rocky ground
that are not suitable for hikers lacking experience in such terrain. Adverse
weather will tend to increase the difficulty of the walk, especially in steep
or rocky areas. In the event a trip member needs a day off, transportation to
the next accommodation is not included in the trip price. Taxi or bus fare is
the responsibility of the trip member.
Equipment and Clothing
Photo: Barry Morenz
On Sierra Club outings, participants furnish their own personal equipment,
including items such as boots, clothing, a day pack, a basic first-aid kit,
and toiletries. You will not need a sleeping bag or tent. Participants also
furnish their own specialized equipment like binoculars, walking sticks, or
photographic equipment. The Sierra Club furnishes all shared group gear, including
a group first-aid kit, route-finding materials, field guides, maps, and most
meals, as already noted. A detailed equipment list will be provided after your
- Ordinance Survey (OS) maps are easily available in Scotland and show the
area in great detail. The following OS maps cover the West Highland Way route:
342, 364, 377, 384 and 392.
- The Rough Guide to Scottish Highlands & Islands, 6th ed. 2011.
A fine and recent guidebook to the area of Scotland we will be traveling in.
- West Highland Way, 4th ed by Charlie Loram, 2010 or The West
highland Way by Terry Marsh, 2003. Both are excellent small guides to
our journey but you only need one of them.
- Watson, Fiona, Scotland: From Prehistory to the Present. 2003.
This accessible introduction will familiarize you with the history of Scotland.
- Hostile Habitats: Scotland’s Mountain Environment. 2006.
This excellent guide is an introduction to the ecology and geology of the
region where we are hiking.
- Scott, Michael, Scottish Wildflowers. 2011. A lovely moderate-sized
guide to the common flowers of Scotland.
- Rob Roy by Sir Walter Scott and Kidnapped and Treasure
Island by Robert Louis Stevenson. Classic books of fiction written by
Photo: Barry Morenz
In land area, Scotland is almost equal to England, but has about an eighth
of the population, mostly south of the Highlands. For this reason there has
been no need to create national parks, and consequently there have been no access
problems. More recently, recreational pressures have raised the issue of creating
national parks to prevent fragile areas -- such as the moors around Loch Lomond
-- from damage or destruction. We will discuss the impacts that tourism brings
to all countries and the methods available to offset these impacts for individuals
and social organizations.
This trip requires a $200 per-person deposit. An additional payment of $300 per person is due six months prior to trip departure. International trip prices are subject to change and are based on double-occupancy or group accommodations as described above. Single rooms may not be available or may cost more than the listed price. If you have any questions regarding double occupancy, please contact the trip leader.
See the How to Apply for an Outing
section for more details on registering for this trip and details
about our Reservation and Cancellation
The payment of a deposit does not confirm you as a member on the
trip. Participants must be approved by the trip leader. After signing
up for this trip, you will be sent a confirmation packet containing
approval materials (Participant Approval Questionnaire, Medical
Form, Liability Release Form). Each applicant (including those on
the waitlist) must fill out these forms and promptly mail them to
the trip leader. The leader will review the approval materials and
notify you of your acceptance in a timely manner.
The Sierra Club accurately and fairly budgets and prices our trips. However, unforeseen costs such as devaluation of the dollar compared to other currencies and fuel surcharges assessed by our international providers may necessitate adjustment in trip price. We will make every effort to mitigate and absorb these fees. If a price increase is necessary, however, you will have 14 days after announcement to cancel without penalty.
Jenny Roberts is originally from Australia and has lived in the US for over 20 years, and resides in Carefree, Arizona. Jenny's love of travel arose from travelling around the world for 6 months with her family in her formative years and she has since spent more than over two years travelling independently internationally, visiting over 50 countries. She is very active in Sierra Club, leading numerous trips in the Southwest and Caribbean; for the past six years she has been a member of the Grand Canyon Chapter Excomm and is also serving on a National level committee. She finds leading trips and sharing the experience of travel with a conservation theme particularly rewarding.
Barry Morenz has lived in Tucson for over 30 years and loves to travel in the nearby mountains and canyons, as well as
throughout the American West. He has led Sierra Club trips for many years, and travels regularly to the Caribbean where he
enjoys the varied cultures, Mayan history and magnificent coral reefs of the region. A lifelong student, Barry enjoys studying
the natural and cultural history of the areas he visits, and experiencing with others the wild and historically significant places
of the world. The camaraderie of sharing adventure travel with other Sierra Club trip members is especially rewarding, as it
provides a way to educate people about the need to protect these fragile corners of our planet and leave an environmentally
sound legacy for generations to come.
General Notes About Sierra Club Trips