Ooops – I failed on The West Highland Way

Ooops, I failed in my West Highland Way backpacking challenge!!! The challenge for me was to take it easy and complete it in somewhere between 6 and 10 days. 10 days should have been relatively easy for me, but I’d looked at options down to a 6 day itinerary as well just because I usually tend to do things faster than expected!

The guidebook that I’ve got says that the 6 day itinerary is for:

“fit hikers, and that after a warm up on day 1 every day is long and challenging and days 4 and 5 are extremely tough.”

Trekking the West Highland Way

Me being me, I was kind of hoping to be closer to the 6 day end of the scale but as this was my first proper hike I had the luxury of time to string it out to 10 days if needed and had promised to take it easy. I am after all now a middle-aged man on lots of meds due to heart issues. My days of athletic prowess are behind me!!

It didn’t help that conditions could only be described as wet. If it wasn’t raining it was pouring down and when that stopped it was replaced with horizontal hailstones or snow. It was even wetter under foot and was like sploshing through a stream most of the time. Long days with soaking wet feet didn’t do them much good. I dried them out overnight but had to put them back into soaking wet shoes every morning so they spent a good 12 hours each day wet and wrinkly and soon had numerous blisters.

With such bad weather there was no real desire to stop and chill very often and walking was more comfortable than sheltering in a little tent on my own so rather than start with a short day I just kept walking until it was getting closer to sunset. This ended up being the trend most days so I failed in my challenge to take it easy and smashed it out in 4 days – the guide book does have a 4 day itinerary but it is intended for runners not walkers and describes it as

“A very demanding itinerary for experienced long-distance runners. Every day is extremely hard so you will need to arrive at the start in excellent shape”

Trekking the West Highland Way

Pah – piece of cake, I was just strolling along! I didn’t run it. Well, not much of it anyway, sometimes I may have broken into a trot but not for far and only because it couldn’t be helped. So, I completed the entire West Highland Way as intended, I just didn’t succeed in taking it easy.


My feet did suffer from the wet though. Up until the last mile, as I’d done it so quickly and had time to spare, I was planning to just continue on and either walk back the way I’d come or more likely head off and do the Great Glen Way as well. The last mile put an end to that idea though. I developed some agonising foot pain and eventually decided it would be foolish to do more. Better to head home and let them recover properly rather than doing more damage.

Look out for blog posts about each day soon.

2 Responses

  1. Avatar forComment Author Mum x says:

    Wow well done and a bigger WOW about being sensible !

  1. Tuesday, April 23rd, 2024

    […] failed to take my time on the West Highland Way, and with feet and toes somewhat recovered I headed off into the local hills at the weekend. To […]

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Alan Cole

Alan is a Freelance Website Designer, Sports & Exercise Science Lab Technician and full time Dad & husband with far too many hobbies: Triathlete, Swimming, Cycling, Running, MTBing, Surfing, Windsurfing, SUPing, Gardening, Photography.... The list goes on.

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