“After a long day’s walk, everything has twice its usual value” – G. M Trevelyan, British historian and academic
Walking. It may sound simple enough for many people, but long-distance walks require some thoughtful planning and considerations. To fully enjoy your journey along one of Scotland’s best-loved walking trails, here are a few of the most common walking mistakes to avoid when venturing up the West Highland Way.
If you’re not accustomed to walking long distances, it’s a good idea to get some practise in before you venture to the Highlands. Set yourself a short distance to start with and gradually extend that distance so your muscles and stamina can become accustomed to continuous walking over a certain distance. Gradually build upon this distance and incorporate different terrains and in varying weather conditions so you can be prepared for whatever the trail throws your way. For more information on how to train for walking the West Highland Way, check out our guide.
The West Highland Way is well sign-posted throughout the entire 96-mile trail. However, we recommend that you carry a WHW map with you and consider the route before you go. To help you get your bearings, we have all the trail planning information available here. However, preparation isn’t just about your route, it’s also about your clothing and equipment essentials too!
Investing in a decent pair of walking boots is a no-brainer. However, a very common walking mistake is to wear your brand new shoes on the first day of your walk. New shoes will be stiff and require some bedding in, so be sure to do this before you set off on any long-distance trails; otherwise, you may suffer from pesky blisters and sores. For new shoes which haven’t been dirtied by the outside world, why not try breaking them in around the house first?
Jeans and loafers aren’t the ideal attire to be walking in. You’ll want clothes that help wick moisture away from your skin while remaining breathable to keep you cool, like merino wool, a technical fabric that is ideal for outdoor enthusiasts. We recommend layering your clothing so you can adjust your garments on the go to ensure your body temperature is always comfortable.
Food for Fuel
While there’s nothing wrong with snacking on a few Jelly Babies while walking, you need to consider proper nutrition that will help fuel your mind and body for an active day. Trail mix, seeds, nuts and fruit are packed full of good stuff that will help provide you with the energy you need to get you from point A to point B. However, with many delicious cafes, restaurants and hotels along the route, you may find yourself spoilt for choice when it comes to finding a wholesome Scottish meal.
The recommended daily intake of water is around 2-litres for an adult. As you exercise, your body gets hot and will begin to sweat to help regulate your core temperature. Fluids lost through sweating need to be topped up, so ensure you have some drinking water available throughout your journey. You’ll be able to top-up your water bottles at most public establishments.
Never underestimate Scottish weather, she can be quick to change at the drop of a hat. Even if the forecast is for sunshine, we recommend that you always keep a waterproof layer in your pack, just in case!