Walking the West Highland Way poses different challenges at different times of the year.
This is not for the novice, faint hearted or inexperienced walker. People die on the mountains during the winter. It is easy to get lost in fog or snow. The warning aside it can also be a beautiful time of the year to walk. If you are lucky you may find yourself walking on chilly but bright days with a clear blue sky overhead. Do not walk on your own unless you are a very experienced hiker, go with friends or join a group.
The main advantage of walking in the winter is the peace and quiet. It will be easier to find accommodation, just check that where you plan to stop is not closed for any holidays.
April – May – June
April can be very changeable, feeling like summer one day and winter the next. The rainfall charts illustrate April as the second lowest rainfall month in Scotland.
May is the lowest rainfall month in Scotland and perfect for walking – so it can feel like half the world has decided to walk the West Highland Way. Generally May is the busiest month for walking, making accommodation very hard to find. This does not lend itself to flexibility. It means booking well in advance and following a strict timetable for each days walk. Camping is a good option at this time of the year, however it can still be cold during the night.
June has the same benefits as May, but normally without the crowds. There is a little more rain, but not much. The midges start to be annoying, but far from their worst. So June is a great time to be on the West Highland Way.
July – Aug
If you can possibly go at any other time of the year don’t choose these two month. The highlands of Scotland turn into a traffic jam. This is full blown tourist season. It is normally warm and damp, weather that the midges love. A midge bite is not sore, but hundreds of them make you itch constantly and sometimes they seem to have the ability to drive a sane person nuts.
Sep – Oct
All things considered September is my favorite month for walking in Scotland. Kids are back at school, less tourists, still warm, though there can still be a fair amount of midges especially during the first half of the way. Peace seems to returns to the mountains at this time of the year. I can walk without hearing someone’s mobile phone going off in the distance somewhere, and some days I can feel like I have the mountains to myself. The colors on the hills are magnificent, autumn has arrived, some of my best photos have been taken at this time of the year.
As the saying goes – you pay your money…