A Walk on Scotland’s West Highland Way

A friend once told me, “You can tell that God loves Scotland, because he cut off all the tops of the best mountains, and put them there.” At the time, I was living in Michigan, decidedly devoid of anything close to mountains. Since then, I’ve lived in the Cascades, hiked in the Himalayas and Rockies, and wondered at the Alps. I can say that the Scottish Highlands can hold their own against these majestic ranges.

About the West Highland Way

The United Kingdom is criss-crossed with dozens of long walking trails, and perhaps one of the most popular is the 96-mile West Highland Way in Scotland. There are small towns and villages along the Way, which follows old drovers’ roads and historic paths of the old Scottish clans, making it possible to walk from one warm bed and meal to the next. The route starts in Milngavie, just north of Glasgow, and finishes in Fort William. (Most people walk from south to north.)

A Perfect Snapshot of Scotland

Walking the route provides you with the opportunity to appreciate the subtle changes in the landscape as you approach, then cross the Highland Boundary Fault. South of the fault line are the Lowlands, geologically similar to continental Europe. However, north of the fault are the Highlands which broke off from North America and drifted to their current location. The mountains and hills of the Scottish Highlands are geologically part of the North American Appalachian range.

Walkers cross the Highland Boundary Fault, and can see it, from atop Conic Hill at the southern end of Loch Lomond.

Some of the things that are most commonly associated with Scotland come from historic Highland culture, specifically the tartan and smokey-flavored whisky.

Walking the West Highland Way provides a very scenic and excellent way to take in Scotland’s natural wonders. It gives you a sense of place that informs much of how the country’s history played out, such as the Jacobite uprising. You’ll come across sheep and heather, waterfalls and granite. And you’ll get to wonder at the tops of the best mountains from around the world.

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