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highland cow in front of the Buchaille Etive in the Scottish Highlands

The West Highland Way Trek - Walking, Whisky and Wizards

Challenge level: 4 out of 5

When can I go?

16 August - 24 August 2021 Limited Availability
Duration 9 days

What does it cost?

Registration fee (payable today) Info £199
Remaining amount
Total commitment Info

Can I still choose sponsorship?
Yes, if you'd like to fund your challenge through Sponsorship (whereby your chosen charity will pay for your challenge, provided you raise the minimum sponsorship target 12 weeks before the trek) simply get in touch and we can arrange this for you.

Please note that not all charities are happy to commit to the minimum sponsorship option. If you choose this option, we contact the charity you want to support on your behalf. If they are not happy with the minimum sponsorship option, we’ll let you know as soon as possible.

The West Highland Way Trek - Walking, Whisky and Wizards

Leave the muggle life behind and enjoy a ride on the Hogwarts Express on our bewitching West Highland Way Trek.

Together, we’ll hike through the famous Scottish Highlands, taste whisky fresh from a local distillery and finish with a ride on the world-famous Jacobite Steam Train, aka. the Hogwarts Express.

Setting off just outside Glasgow, we'll trek on clear paths and trails alongside the magical Loch Lomond and fresh-water rivers to its north. We'll wind our way through forested hills, ancient woodland and the amazing Munro and Mamore mountains, with views of Ben Nevis, the Glenfinnan Viaduct and the Buchaille Mor Etive in the heart of Glen Coe. 

Although the Highland Way doesn’t include Ben Nevis itself, we’re in for some epic climbs. Ascending the zig-zagging Devil’s Staircase and the Conic Hill, plus other hills, we give our legs a challenging workout and our eyes unforgettable panoramas.

Along the way, we’ll stop in traditional Highland settlements and camp amidst spectacular mountain scenery – the perfect escape after so long at home in lock-down!

Every step of the way, we can look out for highland cows, wild goats, golden eagles and ospreys. If we’re really lucky, we might spot an otter, JK Rowling’s favourite animal!

Crossing our finish line at the “outdoor capital” of Fort William, we end our adventure with a ride on the Jacobite Steam Train, aka. the Hogwarts Express! Widely named one of the greatest journeys in the world, we’ll enjoy breath-taking scenes of lochs, mountains and valleys featured in the Harry Potter films.

We won’t be able to see the wizarding school itself, as its protective enchantments make it invisible to muggles, but we can feel the magic in its vicinity, along with the rewarding ache and endorphins of walking 152km!

Your itinerary

Day 1
Milngavie

Our adventure begins when we first meet as a group in Milngavie, just outside Glasgow. We’ll send you details of our comfortable accommodation once you register for the trek and you’ll have all day to make your own way there.

Milngavie has fantastic transport links, including trains to Glasgow’s stunning city centre, so you may want to make the most of the opportunity to explore the city.

In the evening, we unite for a delicious group dinner and a briefing from our Challenge Leader. Then we retire for a good night’s rest before we commence our trek tomorrow.

Day 2
Milngavie – Drymen | approx. 19km/12 miles | +255m/837ft ascent

Rise and shine to our first day trekking. We lace up our hiking boots after breakfast at the hotel and trek through the exquisite Celtic countryside. Make the most of today’s fairly flat terrain, as it’s tame compared to the hills we’ll face on the days ahead.

Winding our way through lush, green hills and valleys, past beautiful rivers and lochs, we keep our eyes peeled for the elusive roe deer and the rare and majestic golden eagles that live in the Scottish Highlands.

With over half our day’s distance behind us, we reach our lunch stop at the world-class Glengoyne Highland Single Malt whisky distillery and tasting rooms. Here, we take a break from the hike with a fantastic tour of the distillery – and you can bet that we’ll taste its fine whiskies!

We refuel with a packed lunch and then we’re back on our feet to tackle the rest of the way to Drymen. At last, we approach the Trossachs National Park and Loch Lomond, where our accommodation and dinner awaits, just off the West Highland Way in Drymen.

Day 3
Drymen – Rowardennan | approx. 23km/14.5 miles | +651m/2,136ft ascent

We rise early to a big breakfast at the hotel for a mighty day of trekking ahead. A gentle start leads us back onto the main West Highland Way and on to the foot of the colossal Conic Hill.

Here, the real hiking begins as we climb as high as Quidditch players fly. We may long for broomsticks while we trek, but the view from the top rewards us bountifully for the ache in our legs.

Here at the top, we gaze across the chain of islands that connect the lowlands and highlands of Scotland. We can see the stunning Loch Lomond and a patchwork of lush fields and we might see some of Scotland’s iconic fluffy Highland cows.

While drinking in the view, we tuck into a packed lunch and descend the hill to enter the little village of Balmaha on the eastern shore of Loch Lomond.

We continue north along the shores of the loch and look out for the occasional osprey diving for fish. If we’re really lucky, we may spot some otters, which Potterheads will know are JK Rowling’s favourite animal and the form that Hermione’s patronus takes.

Having conquered today’s toughest climb, we enjoy a tamer trek through a magical ancient oak woodland and finally reach Rowardennan. This small settlement enjoys the backdrop of the mighty Ben Lomond and yet more expansive views of the lake. We settle down at our accommodation for dinner.

Day 4
Rowardennan – Inverarnan| approx. 22km/14 miles | +566m/1,857ft ascent

Waking early to breakfast at the hotel, we continue trekking north along the eastern shore of Loch Lomond.

We follow clear footpaths through historic forests bursting with life, the bright variety of vegetation well nourished from the neighbouring loch. It’s a long day of walking, but the scenery keeps us smiling and energised, with a picnic lunch along the way to revive us for the afternoon.

Reaching Inversnaid, we’re treated to a footbridge crossing that takes in a breath-taking 620ft waterfall cascading down into Loch Lomond, a scene that puts into perspective the power of nature.

As we put more distance behind us, our path becomes rockier and we’re likely to encounter a few crags and boulders, which just make our adventure all the more exciting. Still looking and listening out for osprey and golden eagles, we may also spot some wild goats that make navigating the rocky hills above us look easy.

Our day’s walk ends when we enter the postcard-perfect Highland hamlet of Inverarnan at the top of Loch Lomond. Here, we find our accommodation and settle down for a delicious dinner at the famous Drover’s Inn, renowned for its hospitality.

Day 5
Inverarnan – Tyndrum | approx. 20km/12.5 miles | + 1,857ft/566m ascent

Leaving our accommodation and views of Loch Lomond after breakfast, we spend the day following the River Falloch. The landscape opens to expansive views of soaring snow-capped mountains.

We undulate along tracks and old military roads over moderate hills, enjoying mainly smooth surfaces and vistas of the Munros, Highland mountains over 3,000ft/1,345m tall.

Nestled amidst this incredible natural scenery, we encounter the small, historic village of Crainlarich, an important transport link along the West Highland Trainline, the same line followed by the Jacobite Steam Train, aka. Hogwarts Express! We can’t be far behind the iconic wizarding steam train now, but you’ll get the awesome chance to ride it when we finish in Fort William, a few days from now.

From here, we push on alongside the River Fillan across the valley floor and pass the ancient ruins of St Fillan’s Priory. We now follow the River Cononish all the way to the village of Tyndrum. Here, we enjoy our well-deserved dinner and rest for the night.

Day 6
Tyndrum – Kinghouse | approx. 30.5km/19 miles | + 2,070ft/631m ascent

This is where we leave the muggle’s hike behind and get magical! Bidding Tyndrum goodbye, we prepare for two days of trekking with no sign of settlements.

We follow the West Highland Way route along the line of the Jacobite Steam Train and admire the incredible engineering of the train track. Winding our way through the mountains, we skirt the magnificent Ben Odhar and see the pyramidal peaks of Beinn Dorain towering ahead of us over the Bridge of Orchy.

Before long, we reach the menacing boggy Rannoch Moor, which you may recognise from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part One. Here, some of Voldemort’s followers (Death Eaters) board the train in search of Harry, but he is of course, far away hunting horcruxes.

Perhaps the Death Eaters chose this section of the trainline to trap Harry specifically, because it’s the wildest and most remote part of the entire Highland Way. As such, we’re treated to yet more jaw-dropping panoramas over endless natural scenery – the perfect escape after so long stuck at home in lock-down!

We end our day at the awesome Buchaille Etive Mor (The Great herdsman of Etive), recognisable from the James Bond Skyfall movie and perhaps the most photographed mountain in Scotland.

We’ve now reached the edge of the amazing Glen Coe, whose steep mountains, waterfalls and swooping valleys make it a top movie spot. Featured in Rob Roy, Braveheart, Skyfall and several Harry Potter scenes, it was also home to Hagrid’s hut in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Might we see Buckbeak, the proud and majestic hippogriff?

Tucked amidst this captivating natural scenery, we find our night's accommodation and enjoy a hearty dinner.

Day 7
Kinghouse – Kinlochleven | approx. 14.5km/9 miles| +1,329ft/405m ascent

Starting our day with a big breakfast at our accommodation, we head further towards the main Glen Coe and then turn south to meet the Devil’s Staircase.

A tough climb beckons and we zig-zag our way up to the highest point of the Highland Way, a whopping 550m!

Needless to say, the panoramas at the top reward us well for our ascent. Here, we catch our breath and revel in the spectacular views of the Buchaille and the fantastic group of mountains known as the Mamores.

From here, we should be able to glimpse Loch Etive and Glen Etive, where Harry, Ron and Hermione jumped off the back of a dragon in the final film, just after breaking into Gringotts, the great wizarding bank!

You’ll be pleased to know, we’ve conquered the toughest challenge of the day. Our trek eases as we wind through remote hills and finally descend to the first settlement we’ve seen in two days: the picturesque village of Kinlochleven.

With only one day left now to trek, we enjoy the warm welcome of hospitality and a good night’s rest.

Day 8
Kinlochlevn – Fort William | approx. 23km/14.5 miles | 1,998ft/609m ascent

Rise and shine to our final day’s hike. We’ve saved the toughest trek until last, but with the spectacular finish line of Fort William ahead, we tackle it with joy.

Fuelling up with breakfast at our accommodation, we commence with a steep ascent out of Kinlochleven. The gruelling climb gives us bewitching views of the surrounding mountains, the best of which we get at the top. Looking back at the great distance we’ve covered, we gaze over Loch Leven and Kinlochleven tucked in the lush valley.

Ahead of us lies the great pass of Lairigmor, which takes us neatly through the mountains. Following a rough path, we skirt the foot of the Mamores and round them to see the UK’s highest mountain, Ben Nevis. Standing proud at an impressive 1,345m, it makes a truly humbling view. We now descend through enchanting forestry plantations and trek our last stretch across Glen Nevis to Fort William, home to our finish line and the Jacobite Steam Train, aka. Hogwarts Express!

Fatigued and filled with an unforgettable sense of achievement, we freshen up at our hotel and toast our success with a celebration meal in the city.

Day 9
Fort William

This is the day we've all been waiting for! We are delighted to have organised a ride on the Jacobite Steam Train, aka. the Hogwarts Express, included in the challenge costs!

Boarding the train, we ride the same route featured in the films, sit in the Hogwarts’ students’ carriages and gaze out over key movie scenes, including the iconic Glenfinnan Viaduct, where Harry almost fell out of the flying Ford Anglia.

Named one of the world’s greatest journeys, you’ll find the ride amazing even if you’re not a Potterhead. Few people get to experience the rustic feel of a steam train and you’ll never forget the views across sparkling lochs and the surrounding mountains. What a way to end our Highland adventure!

Book my place

Funding options

Self Funded

Pay your registration fee and your challenge costs yourself.

£1,299

Pay the balance

  • Pay a non-refundable registration fee of £199, which is used to administer the challenge and pay deposits to suppliers.
  • Pay the challenge costs of £1,299 yourself 12 weeks before your challenge starts.
  • The challenge costs cover your food, accommodation, transfers, a ride on the Jacobite (Hogwarts Express) Steam Train, a tour and tasting session at the world-class Glengoyne Highland Single Malt Whisky Distillery, guides and medical support, including two doctors for groups with ten or more participants.
  • Choose to fundraise as much as you can for the charity, hospice or animal sanctuary of your choice or make a personal donation.
Book my place

FAQs
The West Highland Way Trek - Walking, Whisky and Wizards

We understand if you're worried about making plans right now because of COVID-19, but please rest assured that your health and safety are always our highest priorities.

We are delighted to be leading the industry with our 14-step initiative to minimise the risk of coronavirus.

If the challenge can’t happen on the planned date because of COVID-19, we would postpone the challenge until later in the year or early next year. We would, of course, let you know as soon as possible and give you the full details so that you can mark the date in your diary.

 

Your registration fee of £199 per person is used to administer the challenge and pay deposits to suppliers.

Your challenge costs of £1,299 cover:

  • Accommodation on a twin sharing basis
  • Meals throughout the challenge (except for your lunch and dinner on your free day in Fort William)
  • An exclusive guided tour and tasting session at the world-class Glengoyne Highland Single Malt Whisky Distillery
  • A ride on the the famous Jacobite (Hogwarts Express) Steam Train
  • Full event management and support - the Dream Team are on hand from the moment you sign up for the challenge to provide any help you may need and answer any questions
  • A team of first-aid and COVID-19-trained challenge guides
  • Carefully mapped out route, following the original West Highland Way as closely as possible
  • Extra protocols taken to protect you from COVID-19 - please see our ground-breaking 14-step action plan here
  • Your West Highland Way Trek medal

In addition to paying your registration fee (£199) and either self funding your challenge costs (£1,299) or fundraising the minimum sponsorship target, you will need to budget for your:

  • Personal travel insurance
  • Travel to and from Milngavie and Fort William, respectively 
  • Gratuities
  • Personal expenses
  • Lunch and dinner on Day 9 
  • Breakfast and lunch on Day 1, as our challenge begins in the evening.

You will need to bring your own water bottle and a two-to-three-season sleeping bag and you must wear comfortable hiking boots.

We'll send all participants a free Travel Safety Kit ahead of the challenge and it's essential you bring this with you to minimise both your own and your fellow participants' risk of COVID-19.

Your Travel Safety Kit will include hand sanitiser, anti-bac wipes and two face masks (one for each day of the challenge).

All meals are provided, but you may want to bring any snacks you want to nibble on along the way.

This trek is no walk in the park, but certainly suitable for ramblers and anyone looking for a challenge this autumn. It's the perfect motivation to get fit, improve your own mental and physical health and support your favourite charity in a magical way.

We'll trek for seven days straight, covering distances ranging from 12 to 19 miles, so we recommend that you're used to walking long-distance and can keep up to the pace of 5km (3 miles) per hour, nine hours per day.

Once you register for the challenge, we'll send you a realistic training plan. This builds up gradually over time so you'll be ready and raring to go by the time we meet in Milngavie.

Please don't be! The majority of people will sign up on their own and our Dream Challenges are renowned for the amazing camaraderie and life-long friendships made as our groups take on these incredible feats together.

Once you've signed up for the challenge, we'll send you a link to a private Facebook group for everyone registered for The West Highland Way Trek.

Please feel free to use this space to swap questions, advice and updates with your fellow trekkers on your training and fundraising.

You may also want to reach out to the fellow participants in this group to see if there's anyone in your local area you can meet up to train and fundraise with.

Absolutely. We encourage solo trekkers and teams alike to join us for the challenge.

Our Dream Challenges are renowned for their camaraderie, so it's a fantastic opportunity to strengthen bonds between teammates and/or make new friends there. 

Join us with your friends and family or take it on as a corporate challenge and show your commitment to corporate social responsibility while having the time of your life. You could even take this opportunity to raise funds for your charity of the year.

You can commit to a sponsorship target or choose to self fund with a personal donation or some optional fundraising.

Your luggage, food and water will be transported to our accommodation each day, so you will only need to carry a small day pack containing essential accessories and equipment.

We recommend carrying a small day bag with you as we walk, to keep your free Travel Safety Kit, water bottle (ideally at least two litres) and phone/camera, along with any other personal items you want to hand.

We'll start our challenge at the Premier Inn in Milngavie. Please make your own way there and factor the travel expense into your budget. 

Situated on the outskirts of Glasgow, the hotel has fantastic transport connections and is easily accessible by car. We first meet for our challenge briefing and dinner in the evening, so please make sure you arrive in time.

By Car
103 Main Street, Milngavie, Scotland
G62 6JQ
Sat Nav Directions: G62 6JQ
What 3 Words: ///spices.exchanges.pram

Directions:
Situated on A81, close to Loch Lomond and the start of the West Highland Way.

From M8(J16) turn right at traffic lights follow signs to Milngavie (A879) for approx. 5 miles.

Pass Murray Park Training Ground. Turn left at the traffic lights.

Next to the West Highland Gate Beefeater which is on your right.

From the M5 - Take Junction 23 and follow signs to Glastonbury.

By Train
The nearest train station to our accommodation is the Milngavie Train Station, 0.5 miles from the hotel, with regular trains to/from Glasgow city centre.

For accurate train times and information, please visit the ScotRail website.

Before the challenge

We don't meet until the evening on Day 1, but if you'd like to stay in Glasgow the night before the challenge and spend the day exploring the city, there are loads of accommodation options ranging in price. See the top ten rated hotels on Booking.com here.

We advise that you look into what precautions they have in place to protect you from coronavirus before booking. This handy guide from Healthline will help inform your choice of accommodation.

After the challenge

Our challenge ends after our ride on the Jacobite Steam Train. After this, please make your own way back home.

If you'd like to spend some extra time in this stunning part of the UK, there are lots of accommodation options in Fort William. See the top ten rated hotels on Booking.com here

This challenge includes a whole mix of accommodation on a twin-sharing basis, from a cabin and bunk-house in the wilderness to comfortable hotels.

The majority of our accommodation is on a twin-sharing basis, which is included in the challenge cost, however, as the locations we are staying along this trek are quite rural, there will be a mix of twin-sharing, triple-sharing and cabins of four people sharing. 

Our accommodation will be required to pass COVID-19 hygiene and cleanliness checks as part of our health and safety protocols.

You need to be 18 years old or over to take part in The West Highland Way Trek - Walking, Whisky and Wizards. There's no maximum age limit. One of the amazing things about this challenge is that it brings adults of all ages and from all walks of life together for one amazing event.

16 and 17-year olds may participate if given permission by the event organisers. Please get in touch with us to discuss this. Simply email events@dream-challenges.com and we'll be happy to help.

Yes, if you'd like to fund your challenge through Sponsorship (whereby your chosen charity will pay for your challenge, provided you raise the minimum sponsorship target of £2,598 12 weeks before the trek) simply get in touch and we can arrange this for you.

Please note that not all charities are happy to commit to the minimum sponsorship option. If you choose this option, we contact the charity you want to support on your behalf. If they are not happy with the minimum sponsorship option, we’ll let you know as soon as possible.

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