We are pleased to present a new Solo Travel Destination Post from Susanne, a member of the Solo Travel Society on Facebook. Susanne lives in Austria, and submitted the following report about Scotland's West Highland Way. Do you have a solo travel destination that you would like to recommend? Submit your description here, along with a few photos, and share it with fellow travelers!
Solo travel rating: 1 (1 is easiest, 3 is most difficult. Please see chart below)
Languages spoken: English
Reasons to Walk The West Highland Way
I am a mountain girl and nature lover, which is quite natural, coming from Austria. When traveling around Scotland last year by car, I thought that it must be a perfect place for hiking, too. As Scotland grew very close to my heart during this trip I decided to return for a decent hiking holiday.
Back home I googled “hiking” and “Scotland” and up came Macs Adventure, a Glaswegian tour operator who organizes self guided tours in the UK as well as other destinations in Europe. After a bit of research I decided upon the West Highland Way, Scotland's most popular and longest trek. It goes from Milngavie (pronounced Mulguy) to Fort William – 96 miles in total.
I sent a request to Macs Adventure for the 8 day/9 night option, going for the “luxury” version, where they offer accommodation in hotels instead of B&Bs. As I was a solo traveler, I wanted to make sure to have a restaurant/pub on site. It was very easy to book with Macs Adventure: they organised the accommodation, luggage transfers, and extra days if needed. The only thing I had to take care of was organising flights and transfer to the starting point and transfer back to the airport, which is no big deal at all because the tour company provides all necessary links and addresses for transportation options.
Before I left for Scotland I received an information pack including a guide book, a very good hiking map, a list of all my hotels, and a 24/7 emergency number.
So off I went.
The whole trip was truly an awesome experience. Not only was I blown away by the landscape, but also by the Scots themselves. These are warmhearted and welcoming people, always friendly, with a very good sense of humor (which I really like). They offer the best whiskies (of course) you can think of and food you cannot get enough of.
One of my favorite spots was the Bridge of Orchy Hotel in, you guessed it, Bridge of Orchy. They put me in one of their newly built rooms with a private balcony overlooking the dramatic scenery of the Scottish Highlands. The food was fantastic, the bar was lively and packed with fellow walkers. I almost regretted that I couldn't stay for an additional day.
The trek itself is quite easy if you are an experienced hiker. There no mountains to climb, just two hills within 8 days. Still, you need to bring good shoes as some paths close to the shore of Loch Lomond can be a bit slippery. You should be fit enough to walk for 6-7 hours per day. You don't need to worry about carrying a heavy backpack, as your luggage is transferred. Make sure to bring some snacks and water along with you. Sometimes you will also encounter a little pub on your way.
I walked the West Highland Way at the beginning of June and was as lucky as one can be, because I had 7 days of pure sunshine and temperatures up to 23°C. There was no need for long sleeves or rain gear. Even the Scots themselves could hardly believe it! Thankfully, I didn't come across any midges, which can really be a pain. Still, I was well equipped with a mosquito repellent.
Another striking thing for me was that there was sunshine until 10:00 pm! Sometimes I actually had to draw the curtains in my room to get to sleep.
After 8 days of hiking, I finally arrived at Fort William, the outdoor capital of the Highlands. I was so happy that I had made it but at the same time heavyhearted because I had to leave the Highlands. I should have added another one or two days to conquer the UK's highest mountain, Ben Nevis. It would have been so easy because the tours start right near Fort William. I'll leave that for the next time!
I took the bus back from Fort William to Glasgow, which is a 3-hour ride through beautiful scenery, with time for re-living your trip and indulging yourself in sweet memories of the last week.
I booked an additional night in Glasgow to inhale the city spirit and experience the famed Glaswegian hospitality. This is no myth at all – according their slogan, “People Make Glasgow,” they made me feel safe and welcome. It was yet another unique experience of Scottish hospitality.
I can warmly recommend The West Highland Way to every solo traveler with the physical ability to walk it. It is easy, it is safe, and above all – it is so much fun!
Solo Travel Destination Rating System
Safety – 1 (1 very safe, 2 safe in most areas, 3 be cautious at all times.)
Language – 1 (1 English is first language, 2 English speakers easy to find, 3 English speakers rare)
Navigation – 1 (1 easy to navigate by transit or car, 2 poor transit, car necessary, 3 not easy to get around)
Culture – 1 (1 Similar to North America or Western Europe, 2 Different from above but relaxed and easy, 3 Challenging)
Average Rating – 1 (1 is easiest, 3 is most difficult)