The West Highlands is easily one of the best hiking destinations in Scotland, and the whole of the UK (and Europe). So, where should you spend your time hiking in the West Highlands? Well, many hikers choose the multi-day (6–9 day) West Highland Way and yes, that’s a fine option. I had the pleasure of walking it over 7 days in 2018 and had a fantastic time. But, when it comes to hiking in the West Highlands, we believe there is an even better option.
We highly recommend 6 mind-blowing day hikes, all based in the West Highlands, which collectively, will provide you with an even better hiking experience than completing the West Highland Way. In short, this 6-day, 6-hike itinerary, includes the following West Highland trails:
- Day 1: Tarmachan Ridge
- Day 2: Bidean Nam Bian
- Day 3: Ben Nevis Mountain Trail
- Day 4: Ring of Steall
- Day 5: The Saddle via Forcan Ridge
- Day 6: Falls of Glomach
All of these West Highland walks are truly exceptional mountain trails, climbing much higher elevations than the West Highland Way. These 6 day hikes involve steep ascents to their respective peaks and summits, some via extraordinary ridgelines, providing unrivalled views of the sensational mountainous landscapes. In a nutshell, that’s why day hiking in the West Highlands is even better than hiking the West Highland Way!
Use this itinerary to help you plan your unforgettable hiking trip to the West Highlands and watch our video production below to inspire your travels.
Table of Contents
West Highlands: 6 Day Itinerary
The West Highlands of Scotland covers a considerably large area; so, there are many hiking trails to choose from. In fact, there are way too many to fit into 6 days. So, why a 6-day itinerary then?
For some context, Beck and I could only manage a 9-day trip to Scotland due to work commitments. We wanted to focus our attention on the West Highlands because it has the best mountain trails in the country; but, we also wanted to explore some other national parks.
So, we decided that on our way to the West Highlands, we’d spend one amazing day hiking in Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park (read here). After the West Highlands, we’d spend one (and a half) days hiking in the beautiful Cairngorms National Park exploring the Green Lochan and Ben Macdui and Cairngorm. With one day dedicated to driving home, that gave us 6 days in the West Highlands.
Even with 6 days, that still wasn’t enough time to fit in all of the best hiking trails in the West Highlands. Thankfully, we eventually noticed that some of the northernmost West Highland walks were located on the NC500 route. So, we decided we’d do a second 9-day trip to Scotland to cover these hikes at a later time. That’s why we didn’t include West Highlands walks such as Beinn Alligin, Beinn Eighe or Liathach. Other trails like Suilven and Quinag, we also left out, as these are technically located in the North West Highlands and would be covered during our NC500 trip.
West Highland Walks Included/Excluded in This 6-day Itinerary
By following our 6-day West Highlands hiking itinerary, we guarantee that the 6 chosen day hikes will absolutely knock your socks off!
Starting around the southernmost area of the West Highlands, the Tarmachan Ridge is a brilliant first hike, which will certainly whet your appetite for marvellous mountainous landscapes. Heading north to picturesque Glencoe, you’ll experience Bidean Nam Bian – a truly spectacular day hike, one of the best in Scotland. Onwards and upwards to Fort Williams, you’ll climb Britain’s highest mountain (Ben Nevis) and the even more spectacular Ring of Steall, which includes a mesmerising four Munros! Heading further north, you’ll have one more spectacular mountain trail and ridgeline to conquer – The Saddle via Forcan Ridge. To finish, you’ll hike to arguably the best waterfall in Britain – the Falls of Glomach.
Of course, the obvious omission to this West Highlands hiking itinerary is the unbelievable Aonach Eagach in Fort Williams, famed for having the narrowest ridgeline on mainland Britain. If you’re experienced with hardcore scrambling, feel free to add this to the itinerary to make it a 7-day trip. Otherwise, if you only have six days and you’re all about the mountain trails, you could swap out the Falls of Glomach for Aonach Eagach.
Also worth mentioning is climbing Ben Nevis by the Carn Moe Dearg Arete – a less crowded and more exciting route. We had actually planned to do this trail; but, with a painful knee flare-up, I decided it would be best to hike Ben Nevis via the Mountain Trail, which has far less elevation than Carn Moe Dearg Arete (1.3km vs. 1.9km).
Of course, there are some other shorter trails in the West Highlands that can be added to this hiking itinerary, and we’ll discuss those options a bit later on.
Day 1 – Tarmachan Ridge
- Type: Loop
- Distance: 13.7km
- Time: 4.5–5.5 hours
- Accumulated elevation gain: 855m
- Difficulty: Moderate
- Trailhead: Ben Lawers Car Park (free for National Trust members)
Travel Made Me Do It has personally rated each trail in this guide
The hike begins with a short flat trail through some lovely bushland and wildflowers. You’ll then cross a track and continue on a path that begins to ascend. With good weather, your climb should reveal exceptional views of the Ben Lawers range, Loch Tay and Lochan na Lairige. Initially, we didn’t get to enjoy these nice views due to the thick mist. If you experience the same poor conditions, don’t worry – depending on the weather (and your luck), this mist may begin to clear as time passes.
Your ascent will undulate and meander through the vividly green mountainside. Eventually, you’ll arrive at Meall Nan Tarmachan (1,043m), which has Munro status! Enjoy the first of many mountain peaks on this 6-day West Highlands hiking itinerary. Of particular beauty are the Glen Lyon ranges to the north.
Tarmachan Ridge, Meall Garbh & Beinn an Eachan
Would you believe that reaching the Munro isn’t the best part of this hike? Tarmachan Ridge is certainly the highlight of this route. So, after you’ve caught your breath atop Meall Nan Tarmachan, you’ll head in a southwest direction to navigate the winding ridge. No scrambling is required just yet, so you can really just focus on taking in your stunning surroundings. Eventually, you’ll descend the ridge, pass some lochs and once again ascend, this time via a rougher climb up towards the summit of Meall Garbh (968m). Staying on the main path, you’ll have the narrowest part of the ridge to hike – it’s absolutely epic!
Keep in mind, that after the narrow section, there is one steep rocky scramble to descend; but, it’s very short and isn’t too strenuous. If anything, it’s a good warm-up for some of the more intense scrambling you’ll be doing on other West Highland walks included in the itinerary.
Following the scramble, the path leads to another peak called Beinn an Eachan (1,000m), revealing gorgeous views toward Glen Lochay. From here, it’s possible to add another peak via a relatively short out and back to Creag na Caillich (914m); but, we’ll leave that up to you as it’s not part of the official route! Either way, for the return journey, you’ll descend from the lowest bealach. The descent initially crosses pathless boggy ground before reaching an obvious outward track. Whilst rounding the southern flanks of the ridge back towards the trailhead, the path passes some nice cascades.
SIDE NOTE: Despite being higher than 900m, Meall Garbh, Beinn nan Eachan and Creag na Caillich are all classified as ‘Munro Tops’ rather than Munros.
Day 1 – Extras
After completing Tarmachan Ridge, make sure to check out the nearby charming Falls of Dochart in Killin. It makes for a lovely stop before heading northwards to Glencoe for the next part of your West Highlands itinerary.
Admittedly, we’d initially planned to do a second hike on the first day of this itinerary. But, struggling with a sore knee, I decided it would be best to rest for the remainder of the day. However, if you still have more energy and a thirst to hike, we recommend Beinn a’Çhrulaiste from Altnafeidh, near Glencoe (7km | 4 hours | Elevation gain: 652m | Trailhead: Buachaille Etive Mor Car Park). There’ll probably just be enough time in the day for an out and back compared to the 11km, 5–6 hour loop, which gains the same elevation and starts at the same trailhead as the out and back route.
Day 2 – Bidean Nam Bian
- Type: Loop
- Distance: 12.8km
- Time: 7–8 hours
- Accumulated elevation gain: 1,315m
- Difficulty: Hard
- Trailhead: Three Sisters Car Park
The Bidean Nam Bian hike is set in one of the most beautiful places Beck and I have ever visited – Glencoe. So, we guarantee this trail will be one of your favourite West Highland walks. Fascinatingly, these mountain ranges can hold snow well into summer, so keep that in mind before setting off.
Right from the start, you’ll have magnificent views of the Three Sisters.
The initial flat trail soon meets a footbridge. On the other side of that, your steep climb between Gear Aonach and Aonach Dubh, up into Coire nan Lochan begins, following a series of majestic cascades.
Stob Coire nan Lochan
Eventually, you’ll turn right and cross a stream, aiming towards the foot of Stob Coire nan Lochan’s north ridge. Along the way, expect sublime views of the opposing Glencoe mountain ranges to your right, and the prominent peak of Stob Coire nan Lochan to your left.
At the foot of the north ridge, you’ll turn left and head to the summit Stob Coire Nan Lochan (1,115m). Interestingly, Stob Coire Nan Lochan doesn’t qualify for Munro status given its close proximity to Bidean Nam Bian! The hike requires mild scrambling at times, as you navigate large boulders on your way to the peak. After a physically tiring ascent, you’ll have phenomenal views at the top of Stob Coire nan Lochan (we didn’t take any photos up there; instead, we captured drool-worthy drone footage – make sure to check it out here).
Bidean Nam Bian (First Munro)
You’ll then head down from this summit, following a path on gentle scree that leads you towards Bidean Nam Bian (1,150m). This is Munro number one! Before reaching this next summit, there is another steep section to negotiate. Make sure to take the upward path that keeps to the left of this steep section, for an easier ascent to the peak.
Once again, there are mind-blowing views in all directions! From Bidean Nam Bian, it’s easy to pick out Loch Etive, the mountain ranges of Ballachulish, Aonach Eagach and Ben Nevis. In fact, it’s the perfect stop for lunch!
After you’ve re-fulled, it’s time to continue along an astonishing ridge that leads you to the second Munro of the day – Stob Coire Sgreamhach.
Stob Coire Sgreamhach (Second Munro)
The gorgeous ridge hike crosses a few minor summits and eventually descends to Bealach Dearg. From here, a short but steep out and back is required to reach Stob Coire Sgreamhach (1,072m). No scrambling is required; although, there are some steep boulders to negotiate. It’s without surprise that more mouthwatering views await. Expect marvellous views of Buachaille Etive Beag, Buachaille Etive Mòr, Ben Starav and Ben Cruachan.
The Lost Valley
After returning to the Bealach Dearg, you’ll descend north into Coire Gabhail, i.e. the Lost Valley. Admittedly, your initial descent is steep and a bit sketchy. A scree gully leading down has eroded considerably and we saw a few people really struggle down that path. We recommend an alternate pseudo-path that descends broken rocks to the right of the gully. Even in good conditions, make sure to take your time! The descent can be quite dangerous in wet and snowy conditions.
After a slow and careful descent, the trail gradually flattens, steering you to the left side of the valley. You’re sure to feel dwarfed by the surrounding mountain ranges. The valley soon narrows, passing a large flat expanse and then an area of large boulders. It was at this point that we lost the trail and needed to backtrack to find the well-defined path to the right of the valley. Following this path, you’ll soon pass a series of pristine cascading streams.
Exiting the valley to complete the trail involves following a pitched footpath, footbridges to cross over the river and a path leading through birch woodland. We found this final section of the trail a convenient time for some speed hiking, even though we were proper buggered!
What’s speed hiking? It’s our favourite hobby, and it could be yours too! If you enjoy hiking at a fast pace to work up a sweat, then you could already be a fan of speed hiking without even knowing it! Check out our guide to speed hiking here to find out if you’re already a speed hiker!
Day 2 – Extras
If you’re keen for another hike today, consider visiting the quaint Inchree Falls (Loop | 5km | 1.5hrs | Trailhead: Inchree Falls Car Park). We had initially planned to do this as our short afternoon hike after Bidean Nam Bian. But again, with a very sore knee, I thought it best to sit this one out, as we had many upcoming mountain trails to conquer in the days ahead!
Day 3 – Ben Nevis Mountain Trail
- Type: Loop
- Distance: 16.3km
- Time: 5.25 hours
- Accumulated elevation gain: 1,320m
- Difficulty: Moderate
- Trailhead: Ben Nevis Visitor Centre (£6)
Given Ben Nevis is Britain’s highest mountain (1,345m), the Ben Nevis Mountain Trail is a very popular route in summer, even during the week. We’ll be honest, due to the crowds and the fairly unadventurous and straightforward mountain path, the Ben Nevis Mountain Trail was probably our least favourite of the West Highland walks on this itinerary. As mentioned before, we’d highly recommend climbing Ben Nevis via Càrn Mòr Dearg Arête for a more challenging and quieter trail. Although, this route is for experienced hikers!
Despite the inevitable crowds on the mountain path, climbing to Ben Nevis is still a magnificent hiking experience. If anything, the easy-to-navigate trail will be a refreshing change given the more challenging and technical routes on this itinerary.
Keep in mind, that even if the trail is completely covered in mist at the beginning of the trail, in good conditions, it’s only a matter of time until you climb high enough to get above the mist. We found this with most of the West Highlands walks – a whiteout to start with and then glorious sunshine once we gained enough elevation. It means that after your hard work ascending, you’ll be rewarded with unbelievable views of clouds scattered among the mountain ranges.
The Ben Nevis Mountain Trail is really easy to follow; so, there’s no need for us to provide much of a trail description. Although, once you pass Lochan Meall an t-Suidhe, which will be to your left, you’ll arrive at a junction. Make sure to turn right to begin the tortuous zig-zag ascents up to the summit of Ben Nevis. Keep an eye out for the small waterfall on the way up and be prepared for some snow on the track, even in summer!
The Summit of Ben Nevis
Thankfully, the gradient eventually eases as you reach the vast summit plateau. There are various memorials, cairns and large slabs of snow. Be careful not to tread too close to the cliff’s edge, particularly on snow-covered areas.
Of course, standing atop the trig of Ben Nevis, and temporarily being the two highest people in the UK, is a once in a lifetime moment and one you’ll never forget.
Now, it’s time for lunch with a view. To escape the crowds, head to the southern face of the summit for uninterrupted views of, well, most of the Highlands! After you’ve re-fuelled, it’s time for the much easier descent. You’ll be surprised how much quicker it is to descend the Ben Nevis Mountain Trail – you may even go down in half the time it took to climb up!
Day 3 – Extras (Steall Falls)
- Type: Out & Back
- Distance: 4km
- Time: 1–1.5 hours
- Accumulated elevation gain: 100m
- Difficulty: Easy
- Trailhead: Upper Falls Car Park
Because the weather was so nice and we had finished the Ben Nevis Mount Trail quicker than we had expected (5.5 hours), Beck and I decided we would check out the nearby Steall Falls and the Nevis Gorge. It’s a short 5km out and back starting from the Upper Glen Nevis Car Park and only takes around 1.5 hours. We weren’t disappointed as the sunshine made for an extremely luscious and vibrant affair in the woodlands during the initial stages of the walk.
Once you emerge from the woodlands, you’ll continue up the glen with a cascading stream to your right and a superb valley floor ahead. After crossing the river or taking the steel-cable bridge, you’ll reach the spectacular Steall Falls. This waterfall is supposedly the second highest in Scotland, plummeting 120 metres down the rockface. Feel free to explore the base of the falls or retrace your steps to complete the route.
The short out and back to Steall Falls actually forms the beginning of the Ring of Steall route, which you’ll be doing tomorrow. So, it would make sense to skip this afternoon hike, as you’ll be doing it tomorrow anyway!
But, keep in mind, you’ll be needing an early start to complete the Ring of Steall as it’s a long day of hiking (8+ hours) and early in the morning, the weather is rarely as nice. This means morning mist may cause poor visibility of the falls and surroundings; so, your experience at Steall Falls may not be as enjoyable! Plus, given the Ring of Steall is a nearly all-day affair, you may not have as much time to relax at the waterfall.
Either way, you’ll be seeing Steall Falls today and tomorrow, or, just tomorrow!
Day 4 – Ring of Steall
- Type: Loop
- Distance: 17.6km
- Time: 8–12 hours
- Accumulated elevation gain: 1,680m
- Difficulty: Hard
- Trailhead: Upper Falls Car Park
The Ring of Steall is arguably one of the best West Highland walks and is considered a mountain classic. Other than the magnificent Steall Falls, the route takes in an incredible 4 Munros – An Gearanach, Stob Choire a Chàirn, Am Bodach and Sgùrr a’Mhaim.
We’ll now provide a brief trail description, picking things up from Steall Falls, as we’ve already described the route to Steall Falls above.
After passing the base of Steall Falls, you’ll have a steep climb up to the first Munro – An Gearanach (982m). Our views were initially scuppered by the low hanging mist. But, after a tough ascent, we could finally catch a glimpse of the stunning Highland scenery surrounding us.
The top of An Gearanach affords stunning views of Ben Nevis and Sgùrr a’ Mhaim. From here, there is also an awe-inspiring narrow ridge that forms the arête of An Garbhanach. You’ll continue along this ridge and nearing the end, there is a mild scramble to ascend.
Once your reach the top of the scramble, you’ll briefly descend before another steep climb to the second Munro of the day – Stob Coire a’Chàirn (981m).
In good conditions, expect brilliant views of the Grey Corries and eastern Mamores from Stob Coire a’Chàirn.
You’ll then descend the much flatter grassy southwest ridge that crosses a small summit before another steep ascent takes you to the third Munro of the day – Am Boadch (1,032m). Each Munro provides a different perspective on the surrounding mountains and the views from Am Boadch are yet another spectacular sight.
Devil’s Ridge, the Final Munro and the Descent
Following the third Munro, you’ll have the awe-inspiring Devil’s Ridge to follow. The narrow arête cuts through a mainly grassy path along the crest and leads you to the fourth Munro – Stob Coire a’Mhail (990m).
With yet another Munro showing off stunning scenes, you’ll find it hard to take it all in! So, park your bum, rest, eat your lunch and soak up this immense Highland scenery. From here, you’ll be able to see all of the epic ridges and majestic mountain peaks you have just conquered!
Well done on getting to the fourth and final Munro. Thankfully, there’s no more elevation to gain; but, what goes up must come down! Expect quite a long slog as you begin your steep descent down quartzite scree. It’s easy to lose your footing on the loose rock, particularly with fatigued legs, so watch your step.
The path eventually flattens as it becomes grassy near the bottom. To finish the loop, follow the quaint Riverside Path, cross Paddy’s Bridge and follow the road back for the remaining 1km or so.
Day 4 – Extras
After four challenging and physically demanding West Highland walks in four days, we’d recommend resting this afternoon as you still have one mammoth mountain trail tomorrow. However, if you’re looking for a more leisurely afternoon hike, consider Grey Mare’s Tail & Loch Skeen (4.5km | 1.5 hours | Trailhead: 55.4176,-3.2874).
Day 5 – The Saddle via Forcan Ridge
- Type: Loop
- Distance: 15.2km
- Time: 7.5 hours
- Accumulated elevation gain: 1,425m
- Difficulty: Difficult (Forcan Ridge Very Hard)
- Trailhead: Layby (57.17620, -5.364590)
Another crackin’ route in the West Highlands is the Saddle via Forcan Ridge. This trail takes in 2 Munros – the Saddle and Sgùrr na Sgìne, which unsurprisingly, offer more of the same – drool-worthy mountainous views. The hike begins with an undulating climb up to the col between Biod an Fhithich and Meallan Odhar.
After taking a left, you’ll head to the foot of Forcan Ridge – a challenging breadknife scramble that’ll get your adrenaline pumping. From the get-go, moderate scrambling is required to climb up the steep ridge.
After a few false peaks, you’ll eventually reach Sgùrr na Forcan, which shows off incredible views of the Forcan Ridge you are in the midst of conquering!
Scrambling continues along the ridge as you gradually gain more elevation. Make sure to take your time, you don’t want to be making any rash decisions up on the ridge. Feel free to use any of the flatter side-trails that avoid difficult and technical sections (don’t worry, it’s not cheating!)
Eventually, you’ll arrive at the Saddle (1,010m), where you’ll find a trig point and a great spot for lunch a little further along!
You’ll then descend to Bealach Coire Mhalagain, following a steep rocky trail that soon flattens and becomes boggy. Despite the awesomeness of the ridge scramble, for those less experienced, it’s possible to avoid the Forcan Ridge altogether by turning left at the foot of it. You’ll keep just to the right of a drystone dyke, which leads up to the Bealach Coire Mhalagain. You can then do an out and back to the Saddle from Bealach Coire Mhalagain.
Sgùrr na Sgìne (Second Munro)
To continue, there is a pathless ascent that initially meanders through rocky slopes. You’ll then reach a more defined path, which signals the beginning of the out and back section to the second Munro of the route – Sgùrr na Sgìne (946m). It’s steep going but no scrambling is required. The flat expansive summit provides sweeping views of the surrounding ranges. Don’t be surprised if you’re absolutely knackered after climbing up!
After you descend Sgùrr na Sgìne, the return journey begins over the northwest top and continues along a wide ridge to the minor summit of Faochag. You’ll then have a very steep descent directly down the northeast ridge, so take care! The path eventually flattens, passing a small picturesque stream and leading you to the road. Turn left, there’s only around 500m or so of road walking to complete the trail.
Day 5 – Extras
We don’t have any other hiking trails to recommend for today. But, we do think it’s time that you checked out a Highlands castle! Not far from the Saddle trail is the famous Eilean Donan Castle. We recommend checking out the Eilan Donan Lookout, before heading to the castle to check out the interior. At £10, the admission fee isn’t too pricey.
We booked in advance to guarantee a booking late in the day (last admission: 5 pm), so we didn’t have to rush doing the Saddle trail beforehand. When we visited in the summer of 2021, opening hours were 10 am–6 pm, meaning we only had an hour; but, that was plenty of time to explore the castle!
Day 6 – Falls of Glomach
- Type: Out & Back
- Distance: 18.9km
- Time: 5 hours
- Accumulated elevation gain: 820m
- Difficulty: Easy
- Trailhead: Parking opposite the entrance to Morvich Caravan and Motorhome Club Campsite
To conclude this incredible 6-day itinerary, you’ll finish with the longest hike of them all! But, the final hike is not a mountain trail, having less vertical gain than each of the previous trails. We’re talking about the hike to arguably the best waterfall in Britain – the Falls of Glomach.
SIDE NOTE: Would you believe an approximately 20km hike with 820m of elevation gain, would be a comparatively easy hike? Well, that’s how you might feel after tackling some monster mountain trails in the previous days. So needless to say, you’ll be pleased to hike to the Falls of Glomach, which has a much more forgiving trail!
Starting by the River Croe, the route initially meanders through the forest on a flat trail. If you’re lucky, you’ll see some deer frolicking nearby.
After passing through some more forestry, you’ll eventually arrive at a steep climb uphill. The trail is positioned to the left side of the luscious valley above the river.
Following a gradual ascent through the valley, the trail flattens and veers left. You’ll then follow a gently undulating trail through a very quiet and isolated mountainous area. Soon enough, you’ll descend a winding path, reaching a boggy section as you approach the gorge. Look out for frogs on this section of the trail.
The sound of the falls begins to register as you sight the top of the waterfall generated from Allt a’ Ghlomaich.
From there, a defined trail zig-zags down to a peer-down ledge which improves your view of the falls and provides an unparalleled lookout of the incredible gorge.
To finish the hike, simply retrace your steps back to Morvich! We actually passed one couple (and their dogs) on the way back and they were the only people we saw during the entire trail. Given the Falls of Glomach are truly spectacular and it was in the middle of summer, we were surprised with how quiet the trail was. Perhaps, it’s not a very popular route because hikers disregard a trail without a Munro to bag! So, expect a peaceful and quiet trail all year round!
Overall, the multi-tiered 113m waterfall is easily one of the best in the UK and despite not being a mountain trail, the hike still provides some of the best landscapes in the West Highlands. Certainly, for something other than a mountain trail in the West Highlands, the Falls of Glomach hike is a perfect choice!
Day 6 – Extras
After completing the Falls of Glomach trail, Beck and I made our way to the Cairngorms National Park to do the Green Lochan hike. We spent the next day hiking Scotland’s second-highest mountain – Ben Macdui on Beck’s birthday, before heading home the next day.
However, if you’re looking for another trail in the West Highlands, we recommend heading further north. Just over an hour away, on the NC500 route is the 7km Sgùrr a’ Chaorachain out and back trail, starting from Bealach na Ba. The 2-hour trail gains 375m of elevation and is a good option for a shorter afternoon adventure. You’ll find more details on this hike and others on the NC500 in this guide.
West Highlands Walks Recap
We hope this 6-day itinerary has helped you plan your West Highlands hiking trip. Certainly, there is more to hiking in the West Highlands than just the multi-day West Highland Way. In fact, we think you’ll have an even better hiking experience, taking on these 6 legendary West Highland walks, compared to walking the West Highland Way. Combined, these 6 West Highland walks will provide you with unparalleled joy and a sense of accomplishment.
Getting to Scotland
Flights: To do this trip from abroad, it makes sense to fly to Glasgow or even Edinburgh. When booking flights, you should use Skyscanner to search for the cheapest flights. When flying abroad, we always get the ball rolling with a Skyscanner search. Although, with the pandemic, booking directly with the airlines is a far safer option.
Additionally, if you’re UK or US-based, you should sign up to Jack’s Flight Club for the best flight deal alert service. By simply subscribing to the free weekly newsletter or buying premium membership, you could save lots of money on international travel. For the Aussies, we recommend subscribing to I Want That Flight for the best flight deal alerts, where you can usually find cheap flights with Jetstar or Tiger Airways.
Getting to the West Highlands
From Glasgow and Edinburgh, it only takes 1.5 and 1.5–2 hours, respectively, to reach the first of the West Highland walks in Killin. On this 6-day hiking itinerary, accessing some of the trailheads requires a car. If you don’t have one, we highly recommend Rentalcars.com for the best car hire deals. They have an unbeatable free cancellation policy, which is essential during the pandemic.
Accommodation – Camping
Admittedly, we booked this West Highlands trip fairly last-minute. So, when it came to camping, many of the more budget-friendly campsites were booked out. Essentially, we just had to book what was available, which meant paying more for camping than we would have liked to. Although, given Glencoe and Fort Williams are very popular tourist areas, it’s normal to pay above average for camping here. Thankfully, the, let’s call them – premium campsites, that we stayed at during our trip were absolutely phenomenal!
Keep in mind that campfires are not permitted at any of the campgrounds mentioned below.
Day 1 & 2 – Glencoe
The Glencoe Camping & Caravanning Club Site is a beautifully located campground in the West Highlands. You’ll have outrageous views of the Three Sisters and surrounding Glencoe mountain ranges. The amenities and facilities were top-notch! We paid £63.70 for 2 nights for a grass pitch with an electric hook-up. At this campsite, you won’t have to pay extra for a gazebo (awning).
Glencoe Camping & Caravanning Club Site is a great base for doing Bidean Nam Bian, as it’s less than a 10-minute drive away from the trailhead.
Day 3 & 4 – Fort Williams
The Ben Nevis Holiday Park is another campground with fantastic views of the surrounding Highlands, including views of, you guessed it – Ben Nevis. Being based in Fort Williams, you won’t be far from the trailheads of Ben Nevis or the Ring of Steall, making it a convenient location. For an electric tent pitch, we paid £50 for 2 nights, plus an extra £10 for a gazebo (awning).
Compared to the Glencoe Camping & Caravanning Club Site, we found the Ben Nevis Holiday Park slightly busier. The amenities and facilities were really good; but, again, a bit smaller than what we had experienced at The Glencoe-based campsite.
Day 5 – Morvich
For our final night in the West Highlands, we stayed at the Morvich Caravan Club site. The Saddle trail is located close by, and this campground is practically the trailhead for the Falls of Glomach hike; so, it’s a great base for these West Highland walks. For 1 night, we paid £23.90 for a non-electric tent pitch (electric pitches were booked out), which included the price of a gazebo (awning).
Being situated outside of the more touristic areas like Glencoe and Fort Williams, we found the Morvich Caravan Club site less crowded. Amenities and facilities are also really good here. The views of the Highlands are nice; but, not as epic as from the other campgrounds.
Five Hiking Gear Essentials For the West Highlands
These are our five hiking gear essentials for exploring West Highland walks. For a more comprehensive hiking gear list, check out our 66 Travel Accessories That You Must Travel With. Otherwise, for a general summary of everything you’d need for a trip, visit our Ultimate Packing Checklist.
- Merrell Moab Mid Gore-Tex Hiking Boots: these hiking boots are super comfortable and lightweight.
- The North Face Venture Jacket: a fantastic windproof/waterproof jacket.
- Osprey Skarab 30L Day Backpack: a great backpack for hiking, which has plenty of space to store your gear.
- The North Face TKA Glacier Fleece Jacket: an excellent warmth:weight ratio fleece jacket that’ll help keep you warm.
- Columbia Convertible Trousers: a value for money pair of water-resistant convertible trousers.
Five Camping Gear Essentials For the West Highlands
Camping in Scotland is a fantastic experience; but, you’ll need to have the right gear when visiting in summer to avoid being attacked by midges. They are notoriously vicious! Thankfully, there are a few helpful preventative measures you can implement to stop them from biting you. This involves having the right camping equipment, including the Camping Living Room, which is one of our best EVER purchases (see below). It works similar to a gazebo with walls; but, without the heavy poles/equipment and time-consuming setup. In fact, it’s most similar to a tent, considering its general design and how quickly it is to set up.
So, without further ado, these are our five camping gear essentials for the West Highlands. You can find more information on camping gear by visiting our in-depth packing checklist and travel essentials guide.
- Vango Banshee Pro Tent 300: a high-quality but affordable compact and lightweight tent, perfect for multi-day hiking.
- Vango Ultralite Pro 200 Sleeping Bag: this sleeping bag will keep you warm, particularly in cold climates.
- Sea to Summit Anti-Insect Mummy Style CoolMax Adaptor Sleeping Bag Liner: you’ll have a surprisingly warmer sleep with an extra layer and it’ll keep your sleeping bag clean.
- Sea to Summit Aeros Premium inflatable Pillow: a compact and convenient pillow to take camping.
- Head Torch: a necessary camping accessory to see where you’re going at night.
Excluding the Ben Nevis Mountain Trail and Falls of Glomach, the other West Highland walks on this itinerary are challenging to navigate and sometimes technical mountain trails. If you’re unfamiliar with the area, it can be easy to take a wrong turn without some basic guidance. So, we recommend using our Wikiloc maps for GPS guided directions. You’ll see many of our GPS maps sorted under the relevant trail on this page.
For those not so prepared, if you’re needing navigation help during your hike and don’t have any phone reception, consider using Maps.me. Although, you need to have at least downloaded the map of the general area beforehand.
- Weather in the Highlands in summer: Don’t be put off by misty mornings at the trailhead and poor visibility. If the weather forecast suggests good conditions, you’ll eventually climb above the mist and fog as you ascend the mountain.
- Beware of midges: We found that midges tend to leave you alone when you’re hiking. But, we’d still recommend wearing a strong insect repellent to stop them from gathering when you stop to take a rest or photo!
Would you prefer 6 day hikes in the West Highlands or the multi-day (6–8 day) West Highland Way? Let us know in the comments below.