Of all Scotland’s long distance trails, the West Highland Way is the most spectacular, travelling through an astonishing landscape, including the gorgeous surrounds of Loch Lomond and the iconic scenery of Glencoe. The trail stretches for 96 miles from Milngavie, on the outskirts of Glasgow, to the base of Ben Nevis, near Fort William.
Many walkers take around a week to hike the entire route, but some stretches provide popular day walks. Perhaps the simplest is the seven miles between the village of Tyndrum and the hamlet of Bridge of Orchy. An old military road lines the route, granting easy walking with few navigational issues.
With warmer spring air filtering through the glen, April is perfect for families (particularly those with younger children) to familiarise themselves with this dazzling slice of the Scottish Highlands, where brooding mountains vie, along with red deer and hen harrier, for your attention.
Bridge of Orchy also has a great hotel, providing post-walk refreshments before you catch the excellent bus service back to Tyndrum.
Heading out into the wild
The walk begins in the attractive village of Tyndrum, which has been a major junction within the Highlands for centuries – and with the busy A82 passing through the village and two railway stations, it continues to be so. At a West Highland Way signpost, turn right from the A82 on to an old military road, which climbs north away from Tyndrum. Very quickly you enter a fabulous landscape with the steep gradients of Beinn Bhreac-liath and Beinn Odhar creating a spectacular, natural channel for the walk to pass through.
A poet’s glen
In due course, the road passes under the adjacent railway line by way of a sheep creep (a gap that allows livestock to pass safely under the railway) and then descends into Auch Gleann, a glen where the renowned Gaelic poet Duncan Ban MacIntyre lived for a time during the 18th century. There are also two striking viaducts to admire at the entrance to the glen.
Bridge of Orchy
Cross a stone bridge, over the River Allt Kinglass, leaving a simple journey north-west around the precipitous slopes of Beinn Dorain (the subject of Duncan Ban MacIntyre’s most famous poem, Moladh Beinn Dòbhrain) to reach Bridge of Orchy railway station. Walk underneath the railway line to finish at the warm, welcoming door of the Bridge of Orchy Hotel.