From Balmaha the path alternates between the Loch Lomond shore, natural forest, and headlands. There are numerous short steep climbs along this section of the route. The scenery, forest, and birdlife between Balmaha and Rowardennan are outstanding.
Leaving Rowardennan, the West Highland Way follows forestry roads and gently climbs high up above Loch Lomond, giving fantastic views over the water and towards the peaks of the Arrochar Alps. As you close in on Inversnaid the path narrows and becomes more undulating, passing over a spectacular bridge and waterfall as you arrive at Inversnaid Hotel.
The path from Inversnaid to the head of the loch is undulating with a generally rough surface. After passing Doune Bothy the path improves but it may seem a long two miles from Ardleish to Inverarnan. If you are staying across the water at Ardlui, look out for the sign pointing to the little ferry (2 miles before the end of this section). Walk down to the loch shore and call the ferry by raising the ball (you'll be returned to this same spot the following day). Otherwise, Beinglas Farm marks the end of your day. Leave the way and follow the signs for Inverarnan.
If you are staying across Loch Lomond at Ardlui Hotel, look out for the sign pointing to the little ferry (2 miles before the end of this section). Walk down to the loch shore to the Ardleish slipway and call the ferry by raising the ball attached to the flagpole, as per the instructions attached to the flagpole. The ferry only departs at certain times and will only cross the Loch if they know you are there.
The ferries depart from Ardleish slipway at 10 minutes past the hour from 09:10 until 13:10 then 15:10 until 19:10.
They will of course take you back the morning so that you can continue your walk. The following morning for the ferry returns from Ardlui on the hour from 09:00. If you are starting out later, please be aware that the last ferry before lunch is at 13:00
If you are not staying in Ardlui then Beinglas Farm marks the end of your day. Leave the way and follow the signs for Inverarnan.
Rest StopThe Oak Tree Inn
St Mocha Coffee Shop & Ice Cream Parlour
The Clansman Bar
At a few points the path joins or crosses the road which can be busy. Be careful if stepping out or taking photos when close to the road.
Please take your time walking alongside the Loch and be sure of your footing as the trail can often be slippy.
If you wish to carry a hardcopy map, we would recommend buying the West Highland Way map from Footprints. Alternatively, you may wish to print the daily maps directly from our app.
If you wish to bring a guidebook, we would recommend Trailblazer's West Highland Way: Milngavie to Fort William by Charlie Loram.
Macs Adventure Blogs
Using our decades of experience we have written several blogs containing helpful tips, daily wildlife information, lunch stops, where to eat, FAQ and more. Please follow the link below to read our West Highland Way insights:
Tips, hints and linksNoted on the interactive map are a couple notable points of interest. Click the icons on the map for more information.
Sturdy hiking boots, warm clothes and a waterproof/wind-break layer are all required. The weather can change quickly so be sure to take all equipment even if the weather looks okay.
Ensure your phone is fully charged; if you doubt the battery will last throughout the hike, it would be beneficial to bring a power bank.