The West Highland Way – Haggis, History, and Hail

Trail 2 of the Highland zig-zag is underfoot now, with my second hike of the West Highland Way is done.

This trail holds a bit of a special place in my heart, having been my first long distance hike way back in 2019. Though me and my mom slackpacked it with a day bag that time, it kindled a love of long-distance backpacking that has led me to this hike now. 

This trail is one that never fails to stand out for one reason or another, and this time through was no different.



One thing I’ve discovered about my hiking preferences is that I really enjoy the social aspect of it all. My first thru-hike on the Long Trail was made all the better by the friends I made and hiked with along the way (shoutout to Crazy Cook, Runway, Mountain Berry, Sketch, Tarzan, and Panic if you’re reading). And while the RRW was a pretty solitary hike, the WHW was pretty busy, even this early in the season.

It went from seeing no other hikers for days to passing several groups every hour. 

Unfortunately, some footwear issues caused my hiking buddy who I set out on this trip with to drop out, which was definitely the thorn of the trip. That said, I managed to make some spontaneous new hiking friends to finish out the trail with, making the whole trip a lot nicer.

Though still not quite as social as the Long Trail, this aspect of the WHW was a real highlight.



As with any hike in Scotland, the weather was a big consideration during this trail.

In general, we got pretty lucky – a few beautiful days of golden sunshine, no absolute downpours of rain, and manageable temperatures throughout.

Even when we ran into a day of snow and wind across the exposed landscapes of Glencoe, our rain gear held, and it turned into one of the best days of hiking on the trail. Already one of the best views on the trail, Glencoe in the snow was a real sight to behold.

Preparation is key, and on this trail, the extra weight of a raincoat and rain pants paid serious dividends.



The WHW is very well settled, with the trail passing through some sort of village or town just about every 15 miles.

Because of this, we basically pint-blazed the whole trail.

The ability to pop out of the rain for a pint of the black stuff every day is definitely a unique advantage of this trail over anything I’ve hiked in the USA, and one we took liberal advantage of.



What else is there to say about this besides that the views were spectacular.

The WHW promises some of the most picturesque vistas that the highlands has to offer, and in this, it did not disappoint.

Even in bad weather, the highlands has a kind of barren beauty to it. 



Overall, for an easy hike with mostly gentle terrain, lots of good beer, and even better views, the WHW is a classic. With a zero at the end in Fort William (more on that to come) and two trails ahead of me, this time hiking solo, vibes are high.


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Comments 2

  • Tim C : Apr 2nd

    Hi Declan. I’ve really enjoyed your post about the Scottish Highlands. I’ll be starting the WHW on April 22. How did the trailrunners work out for you? I assume they’re not waterproof? I’m wondering just how wet/muddy the trail will be. Thanks! Tim

  • Donna : Apr 2nd

    Hi Declan, During the busier months how difficult would it be to get sleeping accommodations with little to no advance planning? Or would adding a tent to the pack be advised? I’ll be doing the Camino de Santiago starting early May. Considering heading to Scotland after. By the way, I’m really enjoying your descriptions of the trails. Thank you.


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