UKH

West Highland Way Turns 40

© Dan Bailey

Today, 6th October, is the 40th anniversary of the opening of the West Highland Way. Scotland's original officially designated long distance trail, the 154km (96-mile) route has become hugely popular over the last four decades, attracting walkers from around the world.

Buachaille Etive Mor, one of the great highlights of the West Highland Way  © Dan Bailey
Buachaille Etive Mor, one of the great highlights of the West Highland Way
© Dan Bailey

Roughly 40,000 people walk the entire route every year, an influx of visitors that's thought to generate £5.5 million annually for the local economy.

Now classed as one of Scotland's Great Trails, the route from Milngavie, near Glasgow, to Fort William at the foot of Ben Nevis, takes in a diversity of scenery from lowland to highland. Key highlights include Conic Hill, the wooded east shore of Loch Lomond, Rannoch Moor, the Devil's Staircase out of Glen Coe, and the birch woods and spectacular sea loch at Kinlochleven.

Though it can be run in under 24 hours, the route is generally walked over 5-7 days, or longer if detours are made up the various Munros it passes.

See our stage-by-stage trail description here:

"I've watched thousands of West Highland Way walkers pass through my own village of Kinlochleven" said Councillor Andrew Baxter of Highland Council.

"Some stride. Some ramble. Some hobble. Some even run! They all have a shared determination to push on and walk all the way to journey's end in Fort William. There they rub aching limbs, sat next to the iconic "Sair feet" statue marking the Way's official end. All will have an enormous sense of achievement at their completion of an iconic walking trail. And unwittingly, many of us who see these hardy souls pass by, share in their sense of pride.

"Here in Lochaber, the West Highland Way is very much our way too! We are proud to welcome people from all around the world. We delight in hearing their tales from along the way. We nod with sympathy as they complain about aching knees and bleeding blisters. We point them in the the right direction when they lose their way. We welcome them into our B&Bs, hotels, cafes, restaurants and shops. They are part of our way of life. And when winter blows in and their numbers dwindle we long for their return next year. We know the crunch of walking boots on the West Highland Way means spring is not far away."

To mark the date, westhighlandway.org are running a virtual exhibition, including stories and photos from West Highland Way walkers, a series of videos, and a highlights film - see westhighlandway40.org

The celebration is part of a wider project, funded by the Scottish Government's LEADER programme, to support the future upkeep of the route by drawing in further investment and 'exploring income generation opportunities'. The project aims to ensure the long-term economic sustainability of the West Highland Way, and the rural businesses that depend on it.

This short film by one of the WHW's many users gives a good general flavour of the walk:


This post has been read 2,436 times

Return to Latest News


Support UKH

As climbers we strive to make UKHillwalking.com the kind of website we would love to visit, with the most up-to-date news, diverse and interesting articles, comprehensive gear reviews, breathtaking photographs and a vast and useful logbook system. As a result, an incredible community has formed around the site - we’ve provided the framework but it’s you who make the website what it is today. If you appreciate the content we offer then you can help us by becoming an official UKH Supporter. This can be a one-off single annual payment or a more substantial payment paid monthly or yearly which includes full access to Rockfax Digital and discounts on Rockfax print publications.

If you appreciate UKHillwalking.com then please help us by becoming a UKH Supporter.

UKH Supporter

  • Support the website we all know and love
  • Access to a year's subscription to Rockfax Digital.
  • Plus 30% off Rockfax guidebooks
  • Plus Show your support UKH Supporter badge on your profile and forum posts
UKC/UKH/Rockfax logo

No comments yet
Loading Notifications...
Facebook Twitter Copy Email LinkedIn Pinterest