10 Top Tips - West Highland Way

Conic Hill, Balmaha on the West Highland Way

Conic Hill, Balmaha on the West Highland Way

The West Highland Way walk is one of Scotland’s best trails, from Milngavie just north of Glasgow to Fort William, a distance of 96 miles. I live in the village of Drymen, the typical first night stop. Drymen is where the popular route enters the National Park, as you continue past the village you get some good views of Loch Lomond. From Balmaha the route takes you along the eastern shores of the loch. 

I get to meet lots of the walkers, both in the village and along the route. Coming soon there will be a series of new guides for the See Loch Lomond website about all of the sections of the route, not just the ones that are in Loch Lomond & The Trossachs. These will hopefully be useful as part of the process of planning to walk either the entire route, or an individual section. 

Drymen on the West Highland Way

Drymen on the West Highland Way

10 Top Tips for Walking the West Highland Way

These tips are as the result of an appeal for advice to those preparing to walk the West Highland Way. I was going to base them just on my own experiences, but thought that I’d widen the field. I am glad that I did as I received many very useful suggestions, the best of which are featured here.

I appealed for suggestions via this website and social media, including the excellent West Highland Way Facebook group. I promised free See Loch Lomond t-shirts to all submitted tips that were published so there is a total of 10 t-shirt winners.

Thank-you to everyone that took the time to send a tip.. I have name checked the ones used here and have sent them their t-shirt. Naturally, there were some duplicates, so in those cases I picked one at random to determine who would win the t-shirt. 

If you’re planning a West Highland Way experience, I do hope that you find these top tips useful. Feel free to add any other thoughts and ideas in the comments box at the bottom. (Note they are not ranked in any way).

Tip 1 – Carry Some Change 

This was suggested by Julie Cain of Greenock. ‘Carry a small amount of loose change for the honesty boxes. We were completely blown away by these, it’s such a lovely gesture from the folks who maintain them, so remember to pay your way.’

Honesty Box, West Highland Way

Honesty Box, West Highland Way

Tip 2 – Give Your Feet A Rest

This was suggested by Gail Steel of Biggar. ‘Take socks and shoes off every 2 hours for 15 minutes to dry your feet and reduce the risk of blisters. As soon as you feel rubbing on your feet from shoes, apply Compede to affected area right away. This may prevent a blister forming.’

Tip 3 – Flipflops for Evenings

This was suggested by Stuart McCaw of Ayr. ‘Flip-flops or equivalent are a must for the evenings, also walking poles take the pressure off of the knees.’

West Highland Way. Walking Poles to help your knees

West Highland Way. Walking Poles to help your knees

Tip 4 – Be Safe

This was suggested by Pete Proff of Inverness. ‘Keep your mobile charged for emergencies. Ensure you tell someone your route and destination, then stick to it. Ensure all in your party know the itinerary in case you get split up.’

West Highland Way Route Marker

West Highland Way Route Marker

Tip 5 – Avon Skin So Soft

This was suggested by Em Malcolm from Fort William. ‘Don’t get midge spray, get Avon Skin So Soft Spray, just what the foresters use.’

Tip 6 – Look Back

This was suggested by Ainslie Aitken from Irvine. ‘Always remember to look back… some fantastic views can be missed.’

Water Dispenser, start of West Highland Way, Milngavie

Water Dispenser, start of West Highland Way, Milngavie

Tip 7 – Remember Vaseline!

This was suggested by Audrey Morgan of Prestwick. ‘Apply Vaseline to your feet at every sock change and cover up hot spots if you happen to get any with zinc oxide tape to prevent more damage.’

Tip 8 – Trailblazer!

This was suggested by Helen Donnelly from Glasgow. ‘I bought the WHW Trailblazer book which has been fantastic for people like myself who have never walked before. I would recommend to all.’

Tip 9 – Toilet Kit

This was suggested by Paula Winters from Houston. ‘While there are plenty of great places to stop along the way, there will be occasion when you get caught short. Carry a ‘behind a bush’ kit with toilet paper, hand sanitiser and some bags to take it away with you. Leave only footprints, take only memories.’

Tip 10 – Soak in the Beauty

This was suggested by Hayley Middleton of Sutton on Sea. ‘Take at least one spare camera battery, the views are stunning. Take time on your walk to simply ‘just be’ and soak in the beauty that Scotland has to offer. 

Enjoy the views! Conic Hill, Balmaha

Enjoy the views! Conic Hill, Balmaha

Once again a big thank-you to everyone who sent their ideas and suggestions in. Please do leave any extra suggestions in the comments box below. We are working on some new guides for the individual sections with lots of details and practical recommendations.

The Walkers Club

Finally a quick mention for the The Walkers Club, where you can get apps, journals and t-shirts about The West Highland Way.


This article and accompanying photographs are by Paul Saunders for See Loch Lomond. Visit Paul’s other websites, Paul Saunders Marketing & Paul Saunders Photography, for his marketing, photography & video services in Loch Lomond and beyond.

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