The best time of year to walk West Highland Way

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The Best Time of Year to Walk the west highland way

The West Highland Way is a 96 (154 Km) mile Scottish National Trail.  The Trail takes walkers from Milingavie to Fort William, taking in an excellent variety of scenery, from moorland, open park, lochs, and tough mountain terrain. 

Most walkers complete the route from South to North, finishing in Fort William, with the chance to walk Ben Nevis as a final achievement. However walking in reverse is possible, but puts the harder miles at the beginning of the route. 

But when is the best time of year to walk the west highland way?

We recommend hiking the West Highland Way  April and June, and in September and October. The weather is generally milder at this time of year, with less chance of hot, or wet days, or even obscure cold days (We have had snow in April before!). During these months the ground likely to be dry and walking conditions therefore easier, and safer.

Accommodation along West Highland Way opens up between mid March and October, with transport links also ramping up their operations.

It’s also benefit to avoid August when all schools and universities have broken up. During this time expect busy trails, expensive or sold-out hotels and inns.

Whenever you decide to walk the West Highland Way, note that Scottish Weather is sure to be unpredictable, and plan for the worst.

Also, plan for the midges, which are probably worse than rain. Midges are worse between May-September, with the peak being in August. If bad accommodation options/prices and busy trails wasn’t enough, the Midges should convince you to book outside this month.  

Lets look at when to NOT walk the West Highland Way (if avoidable)

Let’s start with when, if you can help it to avoid walking the West Highland Way July and August (Midges!)

Often the months of July and August are hot, and the attractions along the path are filled with excited families taking time off for the school holidays. 

Accommodations are full and those available are expensive, and probably not great, and sure there’s a lot going on but you may not get the peace and quiet you hoped for. That being said, if you are younger and wanting to walk the path as part of a break from college or university, staying in hostels this time may be perfect for you, but please plan well in advance!

However, for the independent walker, looking for some calm away from the crowds I strongly recommend avoiding walking between mid July and the end of August. 

May – Almost perfect, but a few bank holidays

May is a busy month on the waking calendar with a few bank holidays. Regardless the weather is often good in May, with the spring bloom fading, and the summer flowers beginning to show. The bank holidays do however make booking accommodation tricky if your booking late in the year. They also create busy hotspots on nice days, with crowds pouring out of Glasgow and surrounding towns to enjoy the route and the local countryside. 

June & September – Less families, more walkers

June is often much quieter, and outside the holiday season, while September is again, the other side of the summer holidays. Both months tend to be busier with fellow walkers, yet quieter with the general public enjoying the long-distance route.

March, April & October – Quiet trails, but be careful of the weather

March, April, and October are the quieter months, however, the weather tends to be either glorious sunshine, or flooding the locality. Be warned, either is possible so don’t be disheartened if you find yourself walking 7 days in the rain. It does sometimes snow in March too.

But Whatever Your Choice...

British weather is temperamental. Sure, we get great summers here, but we can also get two weeks of rain in the middle of June. Prepare for the worst, and enjoy the best. Happy Hiking!

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