Sometimes when planning a hike, there are small features or attractions along the trail that can make your backpack feel a little lighter. If you’re thinking about doing a hike in Scotland, then one thing which will definitely put a spring in your step is the promise of a whisky at the end of the day. If there is one trail that promises some liquid strength like no other, it’s the West Highland Way.
Starting in Milngavie (just a stone’s throw from Glasgow and it’s transport connections) and ending 96 miles later at Fort William, above which looms Ben Nevis, the UK’s tallest mountain. , The flatter starting sections along Loch Lomond allow you to build your strength up before you enter the highlands and take in some of the most breathtaking scenery in the British Isles. You can spot ospreys and golden eagles hunting for fish, and you might be lucky enough to have some wild goats accompany you for a while.
However, no hike in Scotland could be complete without a dram or two, and the West Highland Way has some of the best distilleries and whisky shops in Scotland. Conveniently located a day’s walk from Milngavie, Glengoyne Distillery is the perfect place to put your feet up and enjoy a glass (or two) from “Scotland’s slowest distillery” (it’s worth the wait). The distillery is also a perfect opportunity to top up your hip flask for the next few days.
Once you leave Loch Lomond and civilisation behind, you may think that your whisky sipping days are over (for now), however, roughly halfway along the trail sits the Green Welly Stop. Having been open for over 50 years, this place has turned from a petrol station and coffee shop into a restaurant, outdoor shop, and fully stocked whisky store. What more could a hiker in Scotland want?
By the time you finish the trail in picturesque Fort William, you’ll probably also be in need of a celebratory dram or two. Ben Nevis Distillery is one of the oldest licensed distilleries in Scotland and offers tours, tastings, and everything else a walker/whisky drinker could desire. You can reflect on 96 miles of rivers, waterfalls and dramatic vistas while enjoying a sundowner looking over the lochs and mountains surrounding Fort William.
The West Highland Way offers a challenging multi-day hike, but with some rewards which are hard to find anywhere else in the world. Excellent public transport links from start to finish make this trail ultra-accessible if you are unable to drive. You can even get the train back to Glasgow from Fort William.
Finally, as if this cake even needed a cherry, wild camping is legal in Scotland. This means you have the flexibility to pitch up wherever you want (within reason) and have a cheeky dram of whisky while you watch the stars in true solitude.