“In Scotland, there’s no such thing as bad weather, only the wrong clothes.”
Billy Connolly – comedian and actor
Scotland is famous for its wonderfully diverse climate where one minute it’ll be clear glorious weather, and 30 minutes later, it’ll be blowing a “hooley” – Scottish informal stormy weather. At times, it can feel like all four seasons have swept through the landscapes, often making clothing and footwear decisions rather troublesome.
The most popular method for planning what clothing to wear while venturing up the West Highland Way, is to use an effective layering system. This often comprises of a base layer to help wick moisutre away from the skin, offer breathability and warmth with most base-layers constructed from technical cotten, synthetic materials or merino wool blends.
A mid layer provides warmth typically in the form of a shirt, fleece or lightweight jacket, with an outer layer often being waterproof, like a jacket. The idea behind the layering system is that your clothing can breathe as your body warms through exercise, helping to keep your core temperature regulated. Depending on the weather, it may be necessary to add more layers for warmth or remove them to cool down as you travel.
When it comes to trousers or shorts, it’s a good idea to consider a few things. Ideally, you’ll walk something that is constructed from a lightweight material that offers wind protection and quick-drying capabilities – In other words, leave your jeans for the evening. Ensure your trousers or shorts are comfortable to walk in for extended periods of time, and as a bonus tip, carry a pair of waterproof trousers in your bag, just for any unexpected rainfall!
Other items of clothing to consider for walking the West HighlandWay include a warm hat and gloves that are shower-proof. Even if you don’t wear them all day, they’re considered an essential carry item. In the summertime, a hat or buff to protect your head and neck from the sun is a good idea, as well as carry suncream for additional protection.
Your feet are your contact points when walking, so it’s extremely important to consider your footwear and take care of your feet throughout your journey.
When it comes to having a comfortable walk, your boots are by far the most important item of equipment. Ideally, you’ll want to invest in a pair of sturdy walking boots which provide ankle support and waterproof capabilities. It’s recommended that you break your walking boots in before you set off on the West Highland Way, as new footwear often requires a breaking in period which can cause blisters. If you would prefer something lighter, then you may be able to walk the route in a pair of light trail shoes. However, it’s advised to be more mindful when traversing more rugged parts of the way as these shoes often don’t provide ankle support, or water protection.
When it comes to socks, it’s recommended that you opt for a material that has high natural fibre content. Some people prefer to wear thin liner socks under their walking socks with the advantage that they can be easily washed, dried and changed more often.
Don’t forget to consider packing a pair of leisure shoes, as you may wish to change into something lighter to give your feet a rest in the evenings.