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The West Highland Way

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Planning on doing this with the other half towards the end of the summer.

Any PNB'ers done it? Any tips on anything from footwear to eateries? Should we use one of these bag couriers or are they a rip off?

We're not planning on rushing up in 4 days or something. More of a nicely paced amble so we can enjoy the sights and the little towns en route. We seen an 8 day itinerary which we quite fancied. Longest stretch in a day is 16 miles on the final leg to Fort William, shortest is 6 miles and gives us time for an afternoon/evening in Crianlarich.

All advice/tips welcome, thanks in advance.

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Aye, did it a few years ago.

Took four days to get to Kinlochleven, then an easy final day to Fort William and a pint at the hotel just by the end of the route! Wouldn't recommend doing that way though, as I had major blisters covering 20+ miles a day...

Getting boots that are comfy is the most important thing, since you'll be in them for hours and blisters are a total nightmare...test them out on various long walks well before you start...buy some of those Compeed things as they'll help when the inevitable blisterage happens...take a breathable, light-weight waterproof - my mate had a heavy jacket and almost died with the heat and sweat whilst it was raining...

It's pretty easy until you get past Rowardennan, then it gets really awkward up the side of Loch Lomond - not steep, but lots of tortuous ups and downs

Don't know about the baggage folk as we carried/camped, but it'll enhance your enjoyment of it all if you don't have a huge pack weighing you down each day.

It's really stunning though...alongside the loch, Glen Falloch, over Rannoch Moor to the Buachille...and a great feeling walking along Glen Nevis, under the Ben, with the finish in sight! Think i quite fancy it again now!

Beware the midge, especially if you camp near any rivers....take some Deet or whatever it's called...

Edited by RabidAl

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I did it a couple of years ago and would definitely recommend good boots. Sticks are handy as well. Make sure you have good quality waterproofs as well.

We used the bag couriers and they were great. Means you just need to carry waterproofs, food, drink and first aid stuff each day. Try and avoid bunk houses if you are taking the missus. We had 3 women in our group and they were not impressed.

1st day we did Milngavie to Drymen - piece of cake with a nice wee pub en route.

2nd day Drymen to Rowardennan - some dodgy wee bits on the side of Loch Lomond and a tough finish. Nice pub in Balmaha for lunch.

3rd day Rowardenan to Crianlarich - not difficult but a hell of a long day. Stopped at a campsite that had a nice wee pub for lunch

4th Crianlarich to Bridge of Orchy - pretty easy and stopped in Tyndrum

5th Bridge of Orchy to Kinlochleven - long day over Rannoch Moor with the devils staircase. We did it in the snow which was brutal. Another nice wee pub for lunch at Glencoe - soup was excellent.

Last - Kinlochleven to Fort William - pretty straightforward.

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Probably best doing it North to South......downhill as such.

I did it with my parents when I was 13yo in 5 days........last day was a hard slog.

Summer season walking boats should be fine. Take waterproofs and beware of the midgies!

Don't camp.....use Youth Hostels & B&B';s instead of carrying tents etc.

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We did it in September and never saw a midgie.

lucky you.....I was eaten alive! :(

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My advice would be 'take your time'.

I see people rushing around trying to do it as quickly as possible which entirely misses the point in my opinion. You can do it in 5 days, but I do it in 7. Of course if it is pissing down you want to get to the pub as quickly as possible but if it's not it's worth going off the path and have an explore off the beaten trail.

Advice

1) Boots, Waterproofs, Layers. You'll need good boots because your feet are going to take a pounding. Make sure they are walked in first and not new. It will almost certainly rain at some point so make sure you can keep yourself and your gear dry. You will also probably need a few layers. I've walked the way in snow blizzards in the first week of June!

2) Socks. Socks are really important if you don't want blisters. Wool socks reduce the chances of getting blisters by a big margin, especially over cotton socks. When you stop for a rest or some food, take your boots and socks off and let your feet breath and give them a wash if you can. If you can change your socks during the day, all the better. Getting a blister can spoil the whole trip so prevention is important.

3) Money. You'll probably need a wod of cash as there are few banking facilities on the way, especially between Tyndrum and Kinlochleven.

4) Travel as light as possible. Make sure you aren't carrying things you don't need. You won't need to carry much food and water as you can get that on the way.

5) Get out early. I've heard people complain about the WHW being too 'busy' but that's never been my experience. Get up and out early, give yourself plenty of time to get where you are going and you won't see too many people. One thing I like about doing the way is that you tend to see the same people every day who are doing the same stages at the same times and end up in the same pubs. By day 3 or 4 you might have a few new drinking buddies.

As for the route it's fairly straight forward. You can bypass Conic Hill if you want which is the most sustained climb on the route but I'd say it was worth the climb for the view of Loch Lomond and the climb is better than walking along side the road.

The Loch Lomond section after Rowardennan is the most difficult part, lots of steep climbs and dips, lots of roots and rocks. I used to split that section up with an easy half days walk to Inversnaid and stayed the night there but the last time I did the owner of the hostel was talking about selling up so I don't know if that place is still open.

When you get to Cashel Farm you might want to go off the WHW and walk along the road to Crianlarich. The path up the hill, in my experience, is always horrendously muddy as a herd of cattle churn up the boggy ground. I've walked it a few times and every time it was ankle deep mud all along that path to the forestry plantation. Some times you get cattle sitting on the path as well and they can be difficult to move or get around and can get a bit moody if they have calves. It's up to you though.

From then on it's mostly metalled road so not many problems apart from sore feet.

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I went on it last year with The DofE and we were all eaten alive by the midges, apart from that it was a great walk.

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Did it with the missus a few years ago and carried all our stuff and camped the whole way and did it over 7 days. We are both pretty unfit and do zero exercise and it wasn't too much of a challenge for us so I expect anyone half fit should be able to manage it easily.

Really enjoyable walk, no midges and no blisters which made it easier as well which brings me.on to my main tip!

TIP - Buy a couple of pairs of '1000 Mile' socks. Not sure how they work but they offer 100% blister free guarantee and they work trust me! The aren't overly thick and you don't need to wear another pair of socks with them (I think that would actually negate their effect) so make sure you pick up some of them online. Treat your feet well

Edited by DavidMcG

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I was considering doing this in one go to raise money for charity. Be pretty tough i reckon!

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I was considering doing this in one go to raise money for charity. Be pretty tough i reckon!

I think the record is about 19 hours. An early start and you could be in fort William for last orders

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What's the best time of year to give this a go? The plan was always to go in April but it didn't even cross my mind to suggest another month.

I've got a lot of free time May-June but was thinking it may be heaving with folk trying to catch the good weather.

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May-June would be heaving but it depends what you want out of it. Walking along with hundreds of others is my idea of hell but others enjoy the cameraderie, making pals, meeting up in pubs at night etc.

May-June is also prime midge season.

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What's the best time of year to give this a go? The plan was always to go in April but it didn't even cross my mind to suggest another month.

I've got a lot of free time May-June but was thinking it may be heaving with folk trying to catch the good weather.

I've walked in high summer and never found the way 'heaving' with people.

If you don't want to have it heaving with people start the walk away from the weekend or beginning of the week and avoid holiday periods. Most folk are going to start the walk Saturday, Sunday, Monday. So if you start from Milngavie on a Thursday say, there are going to be a lot fewer people walking the same daily stretches.

Again I mentioned it above but getting out on the way early makes a difference as well. If you can get out at 7.30am or 8.00am you are going to have a hour or more walking over most people on the same stretch.

If you plan it right you'll probably see a lot less people than on a typical munro.

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I've never done it before but went from Tyndrum to Kinghouse on Wednesday and Kingshouse to Fort William on Thursday. Was easy enough but I can see why people stop in Kinlochleven instead of powering through to FW.

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I've never done it before but went from Tyndrum to Kinghouse on Wednesday and Kingshouse to Fort William on Thursday. Was easy enough but I can see why people stop in Kinlochleven instead of powering through to FW.

I was with Smurh for these couple of days, though I've completed it 3 times before.

It's really not particularly difficult but people who aren't used to walking seem to think it has a pretty daunting reputation. Some boy in the pub on Wednesday night in Kigshouse was going on about 'how nothing prepares you for the West Highland Way'

The times I've walked it before, I did it in trainers. I wore my boots this time as they're new and wanted to break them in. I'd tied the laces a bit tight on my left boot on Wednesday and so my shin was hurting on Thursday. I put my boots in my bag and walked the last 16 miles in plimsoles, yes, plimsoles.

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Surprised no-one's mentioned Skin So Soft by Avon as a midge repellent. I've heard loads of people swear by it. Never tried it myself so maybe everybody's been bamming me up.

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Skin so soft used to be the nuts but they must have changed something in it as most people agree it doesn't work the way it used to.

Go for a bottle of smidge.

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HAven't read through all the posts yet, so if anything I say has been covered already, then appologies.

First of all - DON'T buy a pair of big stupid boots. Every pound on your feet is worth 20 on your back I was informed years ago. Decent trail shoes are better. I've done it a couple of times now in Inov-8 trail running gutties. Comfy and grippy. Not waterproof if it's pissing down, but dry very well.

Second - take your time and enjoy it. It's the best pub crawl in Scotland. 5 or 6 days is ideal to enjoy it without feeling rushed.

Third - the sherpa vans are great for the first time. Have them carry everything to your next stop, while you just swan around with a light daysack. Makes things much easier.

Fourth - doesn't matter what you use for the midgies. You'll get bit to some extent, especially Glen Coe I've always found.

Fifth - Don't be too stingy when it comes to footwear and waterproofs. Your shoes will decide just how sore your feet will be, so make sure they're comfy and well fitting. Cheap waterproofs won't get rid of sweat, so you'll end up soaked if wearing them for a while if it's pishing down.

Edited by Count Mongo del Fantastico

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