2013-04-09 20.06.20min

mckenzie mountaineering.... outdoor adventures

The West Highland Highway is our own unique high level version of the renowned and popular long distance trail, The West Highland Way. This fantastic and alternative trek takes us from Drymen to Fort William over several mountains, including many 'munros' (Scottish mountains over 3000 feet).

We start this challenging 9 day trek with a relatively easy first day though still covering a good distance. This section is part of the official West Highland Way route. (Drymen to Rowardennan). From Drymen we walk gently though Garadhban Forest with glimpses of lovely Loch Lomond and its many islands on our left, onto the summit of Conic Hill which allows us fantastic views on a clear day over the Loch and the mountains, including Ben Lomond and the Arrochar Alps. We descend into Balmaha Village which lies peacefully on the shores of the Loch, with an opportunity for lunch/refreshment stop at the warm and hospitable Oak Tree Inn. Our walk continues along the shores of Loch Lomond with some ups and downs offering fine views, and sections often hugging small bays around the loch giving many opportunities to dip your toes in! Accommodation is in a bunkhouse at Rowardennan with direct access to the Rowardennan Hotel for dinner, with fantastic views from its popular beer garden.

Day 2 takes us on an ascent of Ben Lomond - our first Munro on the trip and the most Southerly in Scotland. We take the less trodden Ptarmigan route over an interesting ridge to the summit, offering wonderful views back over the loch. From the summit cairn, we head north to another craggy 'top', Cruinn a Bheinn before descending through lovely moorland to pick up a small section of the West Highland Way, finally bringing us to the stunning cascade of Inversnaid Falls and the Inversnaid Hotel where we stop for a break/refreshments. From here, if energy levels allow, we have the option of climbing the very long rambling ridge line of another Hill, Beinn a' Choin (meaning hill of the dog - though people enjoy it too!) Alternatively, we can join a lovely varied section of the West Highland Way over a fabulous rocky path to the end of Loch Lomond with a wonderful view back down the loch and then a short section onwards to Beinn Ghlas Campsite (which offers great amenities including a bar/restaurant and outdoor fire pit) for our 2 nights stay either camping (or 'glamping' in their cosy wooden wigwams).

On Day 3 we ascend directly from our campsite via the Lovely Beinghalss Waterfalls and the serenity of Lochan Beinn Chabhair to the summit of Beinn Chabhair - our next munro, with its lumpy summit ridge offering fine walking over easily negotiated rocky knolls. From the summit we can see far onto Loch Long and the Trossachs on a clear day. We descend to Beinn Ghlas Campsite in the late afternoon in good time for an early evening stroll across the river Falloch to sample the ales and whiskeys and a wholesome dinner at the wonderfull and infamous 300 year old Drovers Inn.

On Day 4 we take an interesting and challenging route via a high pass to the airy summit of what is largely described as The finest Mountain in The Southern Highlands, Ben Lui - a graceful peak which dominates the skyline. The route is long and undulating but offers an exciting day out with some easy scrambling. We descend to the pools of Coire an Lochain, a lovely place for a break and then continue our steady descent down to our hiker huts accommodation on Pine Trees Campsite in the village of Tyndrum where we will be based for 2 nights. On this eve we prepare a fun barbecue serving up an unusual selection of meats for you to enjoy! (vegetarian options available too)

Day 5 again follows a small section of the West Highland Way on departing Tyndrum, before we turn off to follow a river to two large viaducts before starting the rugged ascent of Beinn Dhorainn, a fine hill celebrated by the Gaelic poet - Duncan Ban Macintyre. A wander up the Auch Gleann river takes us past the remains of this famous poets actual home.

Once on the summit ridge we may be treated to extensive views of the Black Mount range - our next days challenging hill traverse! From the summit we descend slightly to a high col before ascending our second summit of the day, Beinn an Dothaidh. We descend gradually joining a path downhill eventually reaching the small hamlet of Bridge of Orchy which is home to the River Orchy, one of the finest white water rivers in the UK. We take a much deserved refreshment stop in the Bridge of Orchy Hotel before our short drive back to Tyndrum and another night in our hiker huts at the lovely Pine Trees Campsite. The award winning Real Food Cafe is a few minutes walk away which offers a varied selection of good quality takeway/eat in food, as well as a great local pub just a few minutes further down the main street.

On Day 6 we take the short drive to Inveroran, which borders the barren and endless serenity of the huge expanse of Rannoch Moor -a renowned section of the West Highland Way ending at the Kingshouse Hotel. However for us it is the start of another great high level challenge in the crossing of the Black Mount Range, three large mountains linked by high ridges and rocky passes. Here we experience all the variety of Highland hill walking, including a secluded stream valley, a hidden corrie with a Lochan bringing us high up onto a plateau, then a traverse over bare granite slabs on steep slopes, followed by sharp ridge line walking with some easy scrambling…. a true test on stamina but with rewarding views and an experience of true mountaineering….. it's also a real bonus that we are greeted with the warmth of a cosy pub at the end of the descent on this long day! After a rest at the Kingshouse Hotel Bothy Bar we transfer you by car via the gorgeous Glencoe valley to our cosy and rustic accommodation tonight at Glencoe Independent hostel. We have the fantastic Clachaig Inn nearby which has been welcoming walkers and climbers for centuries and offers a large selection of whiskys and ales as well as serving great Scottish food.

Day 7, We depart Glencoe hostel and give you two great options of morning walks - the ascent of two enjoyable easier munros up a steep but steady path to a bealach/col then a short ascent on either side to the two Munros which make up the fine ridge of the Buachaille Etive Beag. These mountains offer fine views down to Loch Etive and over to the spectacular 'big brother' of our ridge - the Buachaille Etive Mhor. Alternatively you can opt for a shorter walk through the beautiful lost valley of Glencoe which is an intensively scenic and dramatic walk to a hidden basin within the mountains. The day doesn't end here though! In the afternoon we drive the very short distance to the start of 'the Devils Staircase" which is a section of the West Highland Way. This popular route takes us up a fairly steep but steady and easy going zig zag path to a bealach/col with wonderful views back to the Buachaille Etive Mor and Glencoe, and stunning views ahead to the rough terrain of the Mamore Mountains. As we start our descent north into the town of Kinlochleven, the Blackwater Reservoir comes into view on our right, the dam is almost a kilometre long and the longest in the Highlands with an interesting history.

Our accommodation tonight is in cosy hiker huts in the grounds of the Mcdonald Hotel which has an enviable position on the edge of town with fantastic views from its beer garden out to Loch Leven. Dinner can be taken in the welcoming bar of this friendly hotel.

On Day 8 we depart our hiker huts to almost immediately pick up the beginning of the final section of the West Highland Way route to Fort William, however we soon leave the main path to begin our alternative route - the ascent of Am Bodach , a fine peak with three ridges to its rocky summit. Its a lovely climb up to the col separating Am Bodach from the equally lofty top of Sgurr an Lubhair. The views from here are fantastic taking in the whole of the 'ring of steall' - a classic long challenging ridge walk with lots of exposed scrambling. We also have a fine view of the CMD Arete on Ben Nevis on a clear day. Once we have reached the rocky summit of Am Bodach we descend back to the col and ascend the short section to the summit of Sgurr an Lubhair and then descend via a hidden loch and through a wonderful long deep cleft in the mountains joining an undulating path down to Glen Nevis. In clear weather we always have the great bulk of Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in the UK in our vision. On reaching Glen Nevis we transfer to our bunkhouse for the next two nights, the spectacularly situated Ben Nevis Inn, which sits at the foot of the mountain path to Ben Nevis Summit. On this eve we cook a wholesome homemade dinner for you!

Day 9 is our final day of walking. We give you the option of tackling the summit of Ben Nevis either via the long but scenic mountain path or via the exciting CMD arete which as well as being a steep ascent, involves a fair amount of exposed scrambling and a head for heights needed. If you prefer, we can offer an alternative mountain ascent in the wonderful Nevis range and Mamores or maybe a shorter exhilarating low level walk through the Nevis gorge to the Steall Waterfall (second largest in Scotland). Whatever you choose, we promise this day will prove to be a fitting end to a challenging and exciting week of discovering some of the finest mountains of our beloved Scotland. We celebrate with a last night in the Ben Nevis Inn Bunkhouse, together with good food, whisky and beer and no doubt good chats about the whole experience of walking the wonderful and wild West Highland Highway!

If you have any further questions or special wishes, please enquire on our contact page or via email: info@mckenziemountaineering.com

For bookings please get in touch with us or fill out our booking form.

Photo crop (ripped edge A)
Photo crop (ripped edge A)

View From Col before the Summit of Am Bodach

View onto Loch Lomond, From Conic Hill