West Highland Way in 3 and a bit days – planning

Planning the WHW would have been easier if it had been “in season” however I decided to do it in the off season due to work commitments and left over holidays. 96miles / 155km is some feat. Here’s my planning and thoughts with my logistics too. If you want to read my blogs. Links here, here and here.

Overview

Day 1 – 44kms / 27miles Rowardennan

Day 2 – 42kms / 26miles Tyndrum

Day 3 – 46kms / 28miles kinlochleven

Day 4 – 20kms / 12miles Fort William

Some rules for me:

I wanted to run light so decided to book accommodation and leave the tent at home.

I also wanted to run in the light. With less than 8 hours of daylight at this time of year I had a nice window to make it to my destination with time on my hands hopefully.

I also wanted to enjoy it. Running non stop and chasing the darkness wouldn’t have been fun. Also I needed to factor in possible winter conditions, a cold spell had fallen on the UK a week before so I needed to be weary of icy footing.

So I chose to split it in 3 days. Arrive at Milngavie on Sunday morning and run, finishing in Fort William catching the last train home.

However, all best laid plans will fail. It was incredibly difficult to find the right distances and accommodation options at that time of year. Most places shut at the end of September/ start of October it seems. So I ended up doing it over 4 tho the 4th was a short day.

First hurdle was to get to the start. The first train on a Sunday arrives at 10am. Losing 2 hours of daylight.

The first bus only at 0930. So I opted to get an early coach from Edinburgh to Glasgow and caught an Uber to the start.

I arrived at 7:30 to begin running.

1st day was 44km to Rowardennan Bunkhouse. Run by the National Trust for Scotland. The hotel down the road was open for food and drink but no accommodation. The YHA Rowardennan Lodge was closed for the season. Balmaha some 7miles sooner did have accommodation but the next stop after Rowardennan is Inversnaid Hotel. A pricey option. The bunkhouse at inversnaid is also closed. So the bunkhouse at Rowardennan it was and cheap at £20 with breakfast thrown in!

2nd day I did another 42km to Tyndrum. Passing no one and no open shops. The drovers Inn at Beinglas was open and an option if you wanted to do a longer first day but caution. The loch side path is slow going. I did 13km in 2 hours! Lots of scrambling. Could be done in the dark but not much fun! The Wigwam farm shop was closed too. But a trip to Crianlarich could offer accommodation but that’s 4km detour down the hill!

Tyndrum there’s plenty of accommodation. I stayed at the Muthu Ben Doran. £34 including breakfast when you book direct! There also a pub, cafe and a shop! I ate at the Real Food Cafe. amazing place! Highly recommend. I could have pushed 11kms onto Bridge of Orchy and stayed at the hotel but it was pricey. Also it would have been a long day and after that Loch Lomond stretch it took me a good 6.5hrs. Almost all my daylight. BoO is also quiet with the hotel being the only amenity.

Day 3 saw me go to Kinlochleven. It was 46km. The hotel at Inveroran is closed and the Glencoe ski resort has hobbit holes but you need a sleeping bag. It does however have an open cafe where I had hot tea. A good diversion.

Kings house is getting renovated so nothing there but it looks like a nice new bunkhouse will open soon. Kinlochleven didn’t have much for accommodation- the Trail race or the Mcdonald Hotel and Cabins. This is where I stayed – again book direct for good off season price! A good choice as it has a great bar, good food and breakfast. £45 for B&B.

I could have pushed onto Fort William as Day 3 was runable but I would have been pushing daylight. I only had 2 hours spare and on tired legs the road to Fort William is a tough one. If done it with tired legs before.

Day 4 was a short hop over to Fort William. 20km for me as there was a diversion due to forest works on the way (this lasts until April 2019!). Would have been 23km with more ascent. The diversion took me on tarmac road from 13km in.

I rolled into Fort William over 2hours and 20 mins in time for the 11:42 train to Glasgow.

So that’s how I did it. I’m not a fast ultra runner but I did run the flat and downs with hiking saved for the hills.

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