Not the West Highland Way

Diversions over mountains, smaller hills or high passes for 8 of the WH Way's 9 stages

By Ronald Turnbull

NOT The West Highland Way describes alternative routes over mountains, smaller hills or high passes to all but one of the West Highland Way's nine stages, providing alternatives away from the main roads. With add-on day trips over Ben Lomond or Beinn Dorain. Includes 2 two-day routes for warm-up trips.



April to October, with May, June and September as the best months of all; a few routes have some access limitations during stag stalking from August to October; winter months are also enjoyable for tough types


Loch Lomond, Taynuilt, Crianlarich, Tyndrum, Bridge of Orchy, Kinlochleven, Corrour Station, Fort William


Moderate day walks over small hills and pathed Munros; pathless but grassy ridges and high passes; treks of two or three days on valley paths; a rough crossing of Rannoch Moor; map reading and compass/GPS skills needed on the more serious routes; some non-technical scrambling
Must See

Must See

Loch Lomond from overhead; sunrise from the summit corrie of Ben Lui; woods and waterfalls of River Leven; long, lonely Loch Etive; Glen Nevis from its bleak head down to its Himalayan-style gorge
21 Sep 2010
18 Apr 2017
17.2 x 11.6 x 1.3cm
  • Overview

    The West Highland Way is one of the finest of Britain’s long-distance paths. It passes through six separate mountain ranges, running from Scotland’s largest city, Glasgow alongside her longest loch, to the foot of Scotland’s highest mountains. But it runs close to a busy main road and avoids the mountain tops.

    NOT The West Highland Way makes the most of the surrounding area, taking in sights that the linear Way doesn't allow. It crosses Ben Lomond and Beinn Dorain, the charming Campsie Fells and the mighty Mamores, while the crossing of the Black Mount from Inveroran to Glen Coe represents the best pub-to-pub to be found in Britain. Much better to cross these mountains than to pass them on your way by.

    With mountain alternatives to all but one of the West Highland Way's nine standard stages, this guidebook takes you on a higher and wilder journey. By taking the best of what the standard Way has to offer and adding in all its diversions away from the linear paths, and get to the heart of what makes the West Highland Way so great.

    • 5 one-day hill outings described from Rowardennan, Inverarnan, Crianlarich, Inveroran and Fort William
    • 8 mountain alternatives create a fantastic 14-day walk
    • includes two 2-day backpack trips and 3 extended routes off the Way to Dalwhinnie, Inverie and as far north as Cape Wrath
    • all illustrated with OS map extracts and packed with ‘backpack facts’ for first-timers long distance walkers
  • Contents


    The High Road and the Low   

    When to go   

    Safety in the mountains   


    How to use this book   

    A Winter Not the West Highland Way   

    Part 1 The High Road and the Low   

    Milngavie to Drymen   

    1     Hill Option: the Campsie Fells   

    Drymen to Rowardennan


    Rowardennan to Inversnaid   

    2     Rowardennan Outing: Ben Lomond   

    3     Hill Crossing: Ben Lomond to Inversnaid   

    Inversnaid to Inverarnan   

    4     Hill Crossing: Beinn a’ Choin   

    5     Inverarnan Outing: Beinn Chabhair   

    Inverarnan to Tyndrum   

    6     Hill Crossing: Ben Lui   

    7     Crianlarich Outing: An Caisteal and Beinn a’ Chroin   

    Tyndrum to Inveroran   

    8     Hill Crossing: the Back of Beinn Dorain   

    9     Inveroran Outing: Ben Inverveigh and Meall Tairbh   

    Inveroran to Kings House   

    10     Hill Crossing: Black Mount   

    Kings House to Kinlochleven   

    11     Hill Crossing: Beinn a’ Chrulaiste and the Blackwater   

    Kinlochleven to Fort William   

    12     Hill Crossing: Mamores   

    13     Hill Crossing: More Mamores   

    14     Fort William Outing: Ben Nevis by the CMD Arête   

    Part 2 Beginnerish Backpacking   

    The excitement is in tents   

    Midges are unpleasant   

    May is the month   

    Shoulder-strengthening short trips   

    The off-route food-fetching formula   

    Stuff, stuffsacks, and throwing it all away   

    15     A mostly gentle two-day: the Back of Ben Nevis   

    16     A wilder two-day: Taynuilt to Bridge of Orchy

    Part 3 Away from the Way

    17     Dumbarton Start

    18     Wrong side of the Loch: the Arrochar Alps   

    19     The Etive Trek   

    20     Blackwater and the Lairig Leacach   

    21     Routes of Rannoch 

    Part 4 Roads to the Deep North   

    22     Corrour to Dalwhinnie   

    23     Fort William to Inverie   

    24     Spean Bridge to Cluanie and even Cape Wrath   

    Appendix 1:     Access   

    Appendix 2:     Useful information   

    Appendix 3:     Further reading

  • Updates
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    November 2015

    12: Hill Crossing...

    There is a finer crossing through the Mamores, longer than the original Route 12 over Sgurr an Iubhair, and more backpackish (as well as more sheltered) as it uses two passes and takes in the really beautiful bit of Glen Nevis. It starts as Route 15, then passes Coire an Lochain and runs between Binnein Mor and Binnein Beag to arrive high up in Glen Nevis. The paths are good, apart from a rough descent into Glen Nevis.
    Route information: distance: 27.5km; ascent: 850m, approximate time: 8½ hours; maximum altitude: 780m (flank of Sgurr Eilde Beag)
    (If you finish at Nevis Youth Hostel you save 3.5km.)

    16: A Wilder Two-day...

    Day 2: The footbridge across Allt Chabhar below Clashgour (NN237420) has been removed. Usually the stream can be forded: an alternative footbridge is 800 metres upstream, above Clashgour.

    19 The Etive Trek

    Day 3: Loch Etive Head to Kings House (new)
    Much nicer than the 6km of roadwalking up Glen Etive, there's an old path on the east side of the river to a footbridge at Dalness.

    October 2015

    WH Way Rowardennan to Inversnaid
    The 'little-used alternative path' has been radically smoothed and rebuilt (2014) so that it is now very comfortable and pleasant going, and there's no reason at all to prefer the less interesting track route above.
    Route 3
    Deer fences have fallen and been rebuilt. There's a new deer fence across Bealach Cruinn a' Bheinn, but it's possible to squeeze between the wires so as to get up Cruinn a' Bheinn itself. The old fence that used to pass over the summit has more or less vanished, so you'll need a compass bearing (northwest) for the best line off the summit. (Following the new fence around the west side of Cruinn a' Bheinn is possible, but has harsh tussocks and bog all the way.)

  • Reviews

    ‘All the other great routes between Glasgow and Fort William and beyond...These walks of varying lengths leave from different points along the West Highland Way so many can be reached by public transport. Some walks are for beginners and some more experienced backpackers. They take you over the hills you have probably seen from the West Highland Way and wished you’d had time to go up them.’

    (Backpack, Winter 2010)

    'A quirky title of alternative routes above and alongside the popular West Highland Way. They include mountain day-circuits and first timer backpacking routes, plus diversions over neighbouring hills and passes. Highly inventive and enjoyable.'

    (Walk magazine, Winter 2010)

    ‘Ronald Turnbull is well-known to readers of Strider and his books are always of a high standard being both serious and amusing. In his introduction to this latest production, he states that the idea ‘swam into his head’ as long ago as 1993 when a Czech friend phoned and asked ‘How is Scotland in February?’ Knowing what Scottish weather was like his five-day plan was thrown into confusion when the sun shone on two consecutive days. He does admit however that during an overnight camp his boots ‘froze to two rigid lumps’.

    Thus having walked bits of it, bits up and around it and even some bits backwards, the author finally walked the West Highland Way in 2008. He was however, ready to throw down a challenge and this book is the result.

    For those who enjoy a challenge this book is well-recommended.’

    (Strider, Winter 2010)

    ‘There may be comic appreciation in the title, but the content is serious. The audience is the passionate hill walker who fancies the West Highland Way with extras on the side, or who needs to walk from Milngavie to Loch Linnhe on the road less travelled, or who just wants a new challenge far from the crowds.

    Ronald Turnbull blends instruction with anecdote, bringing colour to navigation and humanity to camping in the Scottish hills. The descriptions of the 24 routes are clear and the right amount of detail is included.’

    (Scotland Outdoors, Winter 2010)


    Check out the review on the following website:

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Ronald Turnbull

Ronald Turnbull writes regularly for TGO, Lakeland Walker, Trail and Cumbria magazines. His previous books include Across Scotland on Foot, Long Days in Lakeland and Welsh 3000ft Challenges. He has written many other Cicerone guides, including Walking in the Lowther Hills, The Book of the Bivvy and Not the West Highland Way.

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