Journeys worth taking

Highlands of Scotland

Great Self Guided Hikes of Scotland

Self Guided Hikes

Milngavie to Inverness in 12 Stages

Lodging

Hotels and Inns

Nights

13 nights (customizable)

Trip Details

Self Guided

Price

$ 2,500 USD per person

Transport

Trekking with Baggage Transfers

Pygmy miles

3,500

Experience
Experience
Itinerary
Pygmy miles
Accommodation
Practical info

Experience

Journey

The Great Self Guided Hikes of Scotland combines arguably the two most famous treks in Scotland - The West Highland Way and the Great Glen Way. Your trek begins in the small town of Milngavie, about 25 minutes north of Glasgow. Here you begin the long journey north along the West Highland Way. It is 95 miles to Fort Williams, the end of the West Highland Way and the start of the Great Glen Way. You'll then hike an additional 79 miles through the Great Glen to arrive at your end destination Inverness, located on the east coast of Scotland.

It is truly an epic journey. Some of the highlights of this combined itinerary include the beautiful highlands with all of the surround myth and lore, the highest mountain in Scotland - Ben Nevis and the mysterious Lochness. We've also designed the tour to take advantage of the best accommodation along the way. You'll always have a hot shower and a wee dram waiting for you at the end of the evening. 

Pygmy Elephant's standard itinerary is 13 nights, with 12 stages of hiking. This is a challenging tour that averages around 15 miles per day. We've designed the itinerary to fit nicely in a two week holiday, however it's possible to take a more leisured approach with up to 16 stages.

To lighten the load, we have included baggage transfers to keep you trekking light. Furthermore, your itinerary includes a customized handbook, all reservations, travel app, premium gps membership and GPX file, Before You Go email series and virtual trek briefing. 

Itinerary options

Adjusting the hike to your budget and preferences

The Great Glen Way of Scotland

$1,450 USD per person
  • 7 NTS / 6 STAGES
  • EASIER HIKING
  • HIKE ALONG THE GREAT GLEN
  • BAGGAGE TRANSFERS
Read more

The West Highland Way

$2,050 USD per person
  • 10 NTS / 9 STAGES
  • MORE CHALLENGING HIKING
  • HIKE FROM LOWLANDS TO HIGHLANDS
  • BAGGAGE TRANSFERS
Read more

Great Self Guided Hikes of Scotland

$ 2,500 USD per person
  • 13 NTS / 12 STAGES
  • MOST CHALLENING
  • HIKE HIGHLANDS AND GREAT GLEN
  • BAGGAGE TRANSFERS

Activities

Trekking

Walk 95.5 miles across stunning Scottish Highlands.

Place

The West Highland Way touches many quaint villages, remote hotels and ends in the bustling city of Fort Williams. Make sure your itinerary includes a stop at the Drover's Inn, an iconic pub and inn located in Inverarnan. Its inception dating back 300 years, the inn and pub was a key stopping point for drovers bringing their livestock down from the highlands to the markets located near Loch Lomond. It has seen it's share of notable guests, including the infamous Rob Roy. To add to the mystique of the inn, there are plenty of ghost stories to fill your mind with doubt as your head hits the pillow. Come on a weekend and enjoy some live music and craic with some locals. At the end of your journey lies Fort Williams, which is the home to Ben Nevis, the largest mountain in Scotland. Standing at 4,413 feet (1,345 m) above sea level, this giant of Scotland draws locals and tourists alike to its lofty peak. There is a tourist trail that one can take to the top, however it is still not an easy journey and should be done in fair weather. The city of Fort Williams is located at its foot and caters to the adventurous souls that come to its ranks via the West Highland Way or those that wish to spice up their holiday with a trip up or around the famous mountain.

The Great Glen between Fort Williams and Inverness slices through the north of Scotland allowing transport from the east to the west through a series of canals and lochs. Unsurprisingly, the Great Glen follows a geographical fault bisecting the country, with the Grampian Mountains to the southeast and the Northwest Highlands to the northwest. A "glen" is a Scottish term for a narrow valley, while a "loch" is a long lake, often with access to the sea. The most famous loch is surely Loch Ness, where stories of a large sea monster have garnered international attention since 1933, when the Inverness Courier described a "beast" and a "whale-like fish". The loch itself however, is beautiful in its own right. It is the largest body of water in Scotland by volume, plunging to 889 feet at its deepest with a surface area of 22 square miles. The area is enjoyed by locals and international tourists a like with hiking, fishing, boating and biking being its main outdoor attractions.

Itinerary

Track

Itinerary

The following itinerary is our standard, however it is just the starting point. This 13 night / 12 stage itinerary will be adapted to your preferences and budget. One of unique selling points is our ability to customize the tour to fit you! 

Day-1

Arrival to Milngavie

If arriving internationally, the easiest port of entry is Glasgow. We can optionally include a private transfer to Milngavie (pronounced "Mull-guy"), or you can easily arrange a taxi or even an uber quite cheaply. Settle in and get ready for your grand adventure through the Scottish Highlands.

Day-2

Hike Milngavie to Drymen (12 mi / 19.2 km)

Your first day remains on relatively flat terrain. It is an introduction to the Scottish Lowlands and will frame your journey with respect for the highlands. You'll traverse a mainly pastoral setting, interspersed with woods and lakes. If you're up for a short detour, make your way for a wee dram at the Glengoyne Distillery.

Day-3

Drymen to Rowardennan (14.5 mi / 23 km)

Today starts with a climb to Conic Hill. There is a slight diversion to a higher viewpoint from the trail. Make sure to travel to the top and have a grand sweeping view of Loch Lomond and the surrounding hills and cities. Afterwards, head down to Balhama, which has a coffee shop, grocery and pub. You'll then set out along the shores of Loch Lomond. You will alternate between views of the loch and the forrest that encapsulates it. The route is undulating, even if you do not gain much height overall. Prepare accordingly.

Day-4

Rowardennan to Inverarnan (14 mi / 22.5 km)

Your day starts out with a walk through a forrest. You should have little trouble reaching Inversaid, however there, the route takes on a more difficult pitch. Many believe that this is one of the more difficult sections of the tour. It flows up and down and can make the knees sore. The views here are worth the effort, with dreamy views onto the loch. Once at Inverarnan, hop across the ricer and double back to the ever popular "Drovers Inn" for a well deserved pint.

Day-5

Inverarnan to Bridge of Orchy (20 mi / 32 km)

You'll start the day off much easier than you finished yesterday. The route is now better maintained, following the course of an old military road. In 2.5 hours, you will reach Crainlarich, where refreshments and civilization can be found. Here, you can pat yourself on the back for reaching the half way point of the West Higland Way. Afterwards, march onwards and upwards, eventually reaching a pretty balcony path that extends to Tyndrum. It's important to remember that Tyndrum is the last major town until Kinlochleven. There will not be any general stores until then. You will then hike through a glen, skirting the Beinn Odhar. In the distance, you will see the pyramid of Beinn Dorain, which will keep you company until the Bridge of Orchy.

Day-6

Bridge of Orchy to Kingshouse (12 miles / 19.5 km)

This stage offers some of the best views of the tour. From Bridge of Orchy, you will start an ascent using an old military road. Once you reach the cairns, signifying the top of the ascent, you will have a view of Loch Tulla and the Black Mount. It's then a steady descent to Hotel Inveroran. After Inveroran, you will stray farther from civilization and the feeling of wilderness intensifies. As you head out, you will find imposing peaks on your left hand side, and sweeping views of lakes and stretching moors to your right. You'll reach the half way point at Ba Bridge. Not far away are the ruins of Ba cottage, one of the only places for shelter along this route. From there you'll continue to the Glencoe ski resort and Kingshouse, which serves as an oasis on this stage. Cozy up at the bar or restaurant and enjoy the simple luxury of the hotel.

Day-7

Kingshouse to Kinlochleven (9 mi / 14.5 km)

You will begin the trek with Buachaille Etive Mor looming large on your left hand side. Probably the most iconic mountain on the West Highland Way outside of Ben Nevis, the mountains name roughly translates to "The Great Herdsman of Etive". After hiking parallel to the highway with fantastic views of the surrounding hills and moors, you will reach the Devil's Staircase, which will lead you to the highest point of the trek at 550 meters. Splendid views abound and you will shortly forget the hard slog up to the viewpoint. It's then a steady but not to be underestimated descent to Kinlochleven.

Day-8

Kinlochleven to Fort William (16 mi / 24 km)

The final stage is long and your rest well deserved when you reach Fort Williams some 16 miles away. The day starts with an ascent of Kinlochleven to reach a viewpoint that looks down upon the "electric village", so named as it was one of the first villages in the world to have every house connected to electricity thanks to the Aluminum plant that was built at the turn of the century. You'll then continue through the Lairigmor (the great pass), which slices through the surrounding mountains giving walkers an easier, but meandering route, to Fort Williams. Congratulations! You've conquered the West Highland Way.

Day-9

FORT WILLIAM TO GAIRLOCHY - 10.5 MI / 17 km

Today, you will start out on your adventure through the Great Glen. In the shadow of Ben Nevis, the tallest mountain in Great Britain, you will head north out of Fort William. The day sees little elevation change and you hug the side of the Caledonian Canal. Quickly, you will find yourself close to Inverlochy Castle, well worth a quick detour underneath the railway line. You will then continue out of the surrounding towns of Fort William, passing Caol and Banavie. If you need a quick bite or refreshment, Banavie is the last location until you reach Gairlochy. Enjoy the engineering marvel of the canal and you will reach Gairlochy in approximately 4.5 hours from Fort William.

Day-10

GAIRLOCHY TO INVEGARRY 16.5 MI / 26.5 km

Today will be longer than yesterday. The scenery is also more varied as you will walk the entire length of Loch Lochy. You will be walking along forested paths and minor roads. It is an undulating path until you reach Laggan Locks, which can be done within 4.5 hours. Here, there is a small cafe (Eagle Bar), although you may not realize it, as it is inside of a converted Dutch barge. From here, you will divert along a side road to reach the trail to Innvergary. In another 2 hours, you will reach the comfortable and historic hotel in Innvegary.

Day-11

INVERGARRY TO INVERMORRISTON 16 mi / 25.5 km

Another long day, so steel yourself for the hike≥ You'll reach the modern swing bridge in a round 3 miles, however we recommend that you travel further to the older Bridge of Oich to cross over the river Garry. From there, you will rejoin the main Great Glen Way and travel along a level track near the Caledonian Canal. Once you reach Fort Augustus, you will be lead to the mouth of Loch Ness via a cascading series of locks. From Fort Augusts, you have two options: You can take the low route that hugs the lock, or take the high route and get a spectacular panoramic of the loch and the surrounding highlands. We recommend the latter. Today and tomorrow, have some of the finest views of the tour. The depth of Lochness extends to 230 m below sea level (755 ft) and the volume of water exceeds that of all lakes and reservoirs in England and Wales. It is truly a massive lake, and from this high vantage point, you can certainly appreciate its scale. Although you do have quite a bit of elevation gain, you'll reach Invermorriston within four or five hours from Fort Augustus.

Day-12

INVERMORRISTON TO DRUMNADROCHIT 14 MI / 22.5 km

Another day of beauty awaits, although at the beginning of the trek, much of the loch will be obscured behind hills. Taking the high route, you'll climb high up to 470 meters. On a clear day, you may be able to glimpse Ben Nevis, from whence you came days earlier. In a about an hour, you will reach a wooden, circular sculpture made of branches. The location is picturesque, so take out your camera to enjoy the panorama. You'll continue along the Caledonian Pine Forrest catching views of the Cluanie Mountains to the west. In another two hours, you'll reach a small stone wall only a few feet tall, which marks another good look out point along the trail. Continue down to Drumnadrochit for a well deserved meal and perhaps a wee dram.

Day-13

DRUMNADROCHIT TO INVERNESS 19 MI / 30.5 km

The distance says it all - this will be a long day. There is no sensible accommodation between Drumnadrochit and Inverness, although some people prefer to cut this section into two by using a taxi to and from the halfway point. The beginning half is the more peaceful of the two. You'll hike through the Abriachan forrest and on slow days, you may not see anyone else. Take time to enjoy the solitude. After around 4 or 5 hours, you will reach roughly the halfway point at an "Eco Camp" at the end of the forest. The owners live at a house in the woods and serve tea, biscuits, soups and other snacks to wary hikers, albeit for a somewhat inflated price. Still, it's worth a jaunt into the realm just to meet the eccentric owners. You'll then continue on alternating road and forest paths until you reach the city limits. Here, you will weave through green spaces as you approach your final destination at Inverness Castle. Congratulations, you've conquered the West Highland Way and the Great Glen Way!

Pygmy miles

Pygmy Miles Total

Challenge
Hiking
Bicycle
Sustainability
Miscellaneous
2500pygmy miles

Base Miles

Earn one Pygmy Mile for every dollar spent.

1740pygmy miles

Hike Miles

Earn 10 Pygmy Miles for every mile hiked

Total Pygmy Miles

4240pygmy miles

Accommodation

 

Premier Inn

Milngavie

A three star hotel that offers a comfortable night's stay before you begin your trek.

Clachan Inn

Drymen

A lively pub doubles as a charming Inn. Clean, modern and spacious rooms with shared bathrooms on the floor.

Rowardennan Hotel

Rowardennan

A secluded and family run hotel, the hospitality and location will surely impress.

The Drovers Inn

Inverarnan

The Inn dates back to the 18th century, replete with ghost stories. Locals from Glasgow come up and stay the weekend and most weekend nights there is live music. A must on the West Highland Way!

Kingshouse

Glencoe

An oasis. This four star hotel features stellar service, modern rooms and a fantastic restaurant. A favorite among West Highland Way walkers.

Highland Getaway Inn

Kinlochleven

Another pub that doubles as an Inn. The food is good and the rooms well equipped with ensuite facilities. No need to wander far for dinner or a pint!

Ashburn House

Fort Williams

A four star bed and breakfast, this family run establishment has stylish rooms with ensuite facilities. Breakfast is lavish and the hosts spoil you!

TIRINDRISH HOUSE

Spean Bridge

A charming B&B overlooking the mountains of the highlands. It is set on 12 acres of garden, yet in walking distance to downtown Spean Bridge. Pick and drop off from Gairlochy trailhead included.

Invergarry Hotel

Invergarrry

An award winning historic hotel, Invergarry is a four star hotel along the banks of the Garry River, in the middle of the highlands. Generous sized rooms and a fantastic brasserie can be found at the hotel. The brasserie is no slouch either, having accolades from Visit Scotland Taste Our Best Scheme, AA Pub Guide and also a member of The Scotch Beef Club.

BRACARINA HOUSE

INVERMORISTON

A family run B&B, the hospitality and knowledge of your hosts Heather and Robert are second to none. The spacious rooms have been recently renovated and the breakfast is hearty and plentiful. A perfect location for hikers to rest and recuperate for the next day's journey.

Lochness Inn

DRUMNADROCHIT

Built in 1838, although you will hardly notice it with the contemporary finishes, Lochness Inn is a favorite among hiker's on the Great Glen Way. The restaurant and bar serve highland fare and local whiskeys. The location is directly at the beginning of town, so you need not search far for this Great Glen gem.

Kingsmill Hotel

Inverness

Cap off your adventure in style. The Kingsmill Hotel is a luxury hotel, with everything you need to pamper yourself. A spa, bar with extensive spirit collection and a gastronomic restaurant are all here for your indulgence. You've earned it.

Practical info

When

jan
feb
mar
apr
may
jun
jul
aug
sep
oct
nov
dec
not available
average
optimal

The hiking season generally runs from the beginning of April to the middle of October. From November to March, snow is possible, which makes navigation more challenging. Furthermore, some of the guest houses close down during the winter. Midges, annoying biting flies are worst during the summer months, especially after heavy rains.

How

Self guided

Self-guided does not mean you are alone. We help you coordinate and plan your trip beforehand. Once you are on your way, we provide 24 hour customer service in case there are any issues on the trek.

Service categories

Pygmy Itineraries

The Pygmy Itinerary consists of:

  • Your customized Travel Handbook which includes maps, elevation gains and references to transport and alternative routes.
  • A virtual briefing before you depart.
  • Customer support throughout your trek via text and phone.
  • Access to a premium Gaia GPS app.
  • GPX file of the main road.
  • A Before You Go Email Series to answer the most frequently asked questions.
  • Customization and consultation of your itinerary. Booking of your reservations and handling logistics related to your trek.
 

Challenge Level

Technical Ability

Level : Low

Mental Strength

Level : Low

Physical Conditioning

Level : High

Price

The price starts at $2,500 per person for a 13 night tour, however we customize the tour to fit your budget and preferences. 

Included in the base itinerary:

  • 13 nights accommodation
  • Baggage transfers to keep you trekking light. 
  • Breakfast at all locations. 
  • Public transport explanation
  • Personalized App containing all documents and schedule.
  • Personalized itinerary with customization
  • Customer service: smoothing out the headaches 24/7
  • Transfer from Inverness back to Glasgow

Optional Add-ons

  • Travel insurance
  • Transfer from Glasgow to Milngavie (although uber or taxi is quite inexpensive and easy)
  • Rest days and free days in Fort Williams or Inverness

Excluded

  • Airfare
  • Public transport and taxi fees if used in situ

Talk to our Adventure Expert

Our Managing Director, Andrew, has been to over 40 countries in his quest for the perfect adventure. He has biked the death road in Boiliva, trekked 500 miles across northern Spain on the Camino de Santiago, cycled from Brussels to Florence and hiked the five sacred mountains of China. Pygmy Elephant is how he spreads his love for adventure and self discovery in the world.