Sebastian Reichel

Hiking West Highland Way

I recently walked the West Highland Way, which is already described extensively on lots of webpages. In contrast to most suggestions I walked in the first April week to avoid scotland’s midges. Also I did not travel from hotel to hotel or even campsite to campsite, but with a backpack providing all resources for approx. 10 days and did wild camping near the trail.

Before the West Highland Way I did three other long distance hikes, all of them in the north of Sweden:

While no hike is the same, hiking in Scotland felt much different from hiking in Laponia: In Laponia you can walk multiple days in the same direction without coming in contact with civilisation - No streets, no power lines, only a walking trail, sometimes fixed with wooden beams and from time to time a bridge (often just fords, though). The West Highland Way most of the times goes near big streets and/or train lines. There are also some secluded areas, but just for a few hours.

The second big difference was the water supply. In Laponia I just used the water from streams near the trail. That’s melt water from the mountains and has really high quality. 90% of the streams were perfectly usuable :) In Scotland I did the same from time to time, but generally the water quality of the streams was worse. OTOH civilisation was never far, so I could just buy another bottle of waterIrn-Bru.

Another thing I did differently this time was the journey to the hiking trail: All tours to Laponia were done by train, which means 48h getting there and another 48h to get back. This time I used a cheap flight for most of the route instead, which was cheaper than the train connection to north sweden and much faster. The disadvantage is, that the camping gas must be bought on site and if there’s anything left in the bottle you can’t use it for the next trip.

Last but not least: With civilisation being around you can also easily check your mails while hiking. That’s something, that does not work in Laponia.

All in all hiking the West Highland Way was nice, but I prefer the more isolated areas of Laponia. No anoying streets with motor car noise, 360° beautiful scenery and streams with water being better than the one sold in bottles :)