40th Anniversary

The West Highland Way celebrates its 40th anniversary in 2020.  Officially opened on 6 October 1980, the Way is the most established and best-loved of Scotland’s long distance walking routes, attracting a growing number of UK and overseas visitors.

To view the online exhibition celebrating 40 years and 96 miles, click here.


6th October 2020

West Highland Way anniversary celebrates 40 years of memories and looks ahead to bright future

40 years of memories and stories from Scotland’s most popular long-distance walking route from Milngavie to Fort William will be celebrated in an online anniversary exhibition.

The West Highland Way will celebrate its 40th anniversary on 6th October 2020 with the launch of this specially created online exhibition as part of a wider project drawing in investment to support the future of the route for years to come.

The route is completed by over 40,000 walkers every year and the figure is more than doubled by those that also enjoy walking short sections.  To celebrate its milestone birthday, the public has been contributing to the content of the exhibition by sending in stories, photos, videos and heart-felt moments from their time spent on Scotland’s most popular long-distance route.

The virtual exhibition will cover the 96 mile route, looking at milestone moments over the last 40 years.  Walkers, runners, cyclists, charity fundraisers and the route’s fans from across the world have contributed their stories.  There will be memories from those who walked the route in the early 1980s and adventurers who have tried to beat time and speed records right through to children as young as seven who have walked it this year.

Jimmie Macgregor, now in his 90th year and who inspired many people to walk the West Highland Way through his radio and TV programmes, plus spin-off books, during the 1980s and 1990s has given an exclusive interview and provides the welcome to the exhibition.

Features also include stories of marriage proposals, charity events in memory of loved ones and people who have enjoyed the route multiple times.  The West Highland Way has attracted painters, poets and musicians too and the exhibition attempts to capture a flavour from all those who have found it inspirational.

The celebration is part of a wider West Highland Way project, funded by the Scottish Government’s LEADER programme, to support the future upkeep of the popular route by drawing in further investment and exploring income generation opportunities.  The project aims to ensure the long-term economic sustainability of the West Highland Way, in its anniversary year, and the rural businesses and communities that depend on it.

Kenny Auld, Chair of the West Highland Way Management Group, said: “The online exhibition and film captures the spirit of 40 years of the West Highland Way.  You can sit back and enjoy the show from the comfort of your home and be inspired by the many people who have walked the 96-mile route. See the changing weather, enjoy the stunning scenery and wildlife, read the personal stories behind the walk and hear about the blood, sweat and tears that have gone into individual experiences, from the early 1980s to the present day.

“The exhibition may encourage you to plan your own West Highland Way adventure. Some people start by walking short sections and develop the confidence to walk the entire route to feel the exhilaration of completing a challenge. The health and well-being benefits that the Way has brought many over 40 years cannot be over-estimated and the quality and variety of the landscape brings people back year after year.

“As well as celebrating its popularity over the year, the 40th anniversary is also a chance to draw in future support and investment in Scotland’s first long-distance route and ensure it remains an experience that can be enjoyed by future generations.”

The online exhibition, also featuring a short 40th anniversary film, will be accessible via the website from 6th October.  Later this year, a few touring exhibits will be shown at various locations along the West Highland Way between Milngavie and Fort William until spring 2021 to enable even more people to be inspired by this iconic route.

For further details and access to the 40th anniversary exhibition, please visit www.westhighlandway.org

Notes to editors:

For further information or photos, please contact Jane McGeary, WHW Business Development Manager on 01389 722008 or whw@lochlomond-trossachs.org.

The West Highland Way (WHW) is managed by the Highland, Stirling, Argyll & Bute and East Dunbartonshire Councils plus Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park, which is the group’s lead body.

The West Highland Way, Scotland’s much loved long distance route, is celebrating its 40th anniversary on 6th October this year backed by funding from the LEADER programme.

The West Highland Way project is funded by the LEADER programmes of Forth Valley and Lomond, Argyll and the Islands, and Highland. LEADER is funded through the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the Scottish Government.

 

Additional quotes:

Bridget Jones, NatureScot Strategic Paths Manager, said:

“When our predecessor organisation, the Countryside Commission for Scotland, established the West Highland Way 40 years ago it was hard to think that it would become such an iconic and internationally-renowned route, helping millions of people from all walks of life to experience, enjoy and connect with some of Scotland’s best landscapes and nature over the decades.

“As the most popular and well known of Scotland’s 29 Great Trails, and the first of Scotland’s Long Distance Routes, it is great to have the opportunity to support the 40th anniversary celebrations.”

 

Councillor Andrew Polson, Joint Leader of East Dunbartonshire Council, said:

“We have been delighted to support superb efforts to create an online exhibition celebrating the 40th anniversary of the wonderful West Highland Way. Thousands of people – of all ages – regularly visit East Dunbartonshire because of the route, one of the jewels in Scotland’s crown, and it occupies a special place in the hearts of many. We’re keen to continue the collaborative work to ensure it goes from strength to strength.”

Councillor Vaughan Moody, Joint Leader of East Dunbartonshire Council, added:

“We have been working with Milngavie Business Improvement District to support the town as a key location – with many embarking on their own West Highland Way adventure from the town centre. I hope people continue to treasure this remarkable route in the years and decades to come, and that they enjoy a stroll down memory lane thanks to the new online exhibition from 6 October – www.westhighlandway.org.”

 

Councillor Andrew Baxter of Highland Council said:

“I’ve watched thousands of West Highland Way walkers pass through my own village of Kinlochleven. Some stride. Some ramble. Some hobble. Some even run! They all have a shared determination to push on and walk all the way to journey’s end in Fort William. There they rub aching limbs, sat next to the iconic “Sair feet” statue marking the Way’s official end. All will have an enormous sense of achievement at their completion of an iconic walking trail. And unwittingly, many of us who see these hardy souls pass by, share in their sense of pride.

Here in Lochaber, the West Highland Way is very much our way too! We are proud to welcome people from all around the world. We delight in hearing their tales from along the way. We nod with sympathy as they complain about aching knees and bleeding blisters. We point them in the the right direction when they lose their way. We welcome them into our B&Bs, hotels, cafes, restaurants and shops. They are part of our way of life.  And when winter blows in and their numbers dwindle we long for their return next year. We know the crunch of walking boots on the West Highland Way means spring is not far away.”

 

Convener of Stirling Council’s Environment and Housing Committee, Councillor Jim Thomson, said:

“We are proud that the iconic and much-loved West Highland Way is part of Stirling’s rich tourist offering.

“Thanks to its wonderful scenery, showcasing mountains, lochs, moors and so much natural beauty, after 40 years it remains Scotland’s most popular long distance walking route, attracting tens of thousands of visitors each year from across the country, Europe and around the world.”

Stirling Council: Vice Convener, Councillor Danny Gibson, said:

“The West Highland Way is one of the world’s most stunning walking routes, offering something for everyone, from short distance trails, to those who are up for the challenge of travelling its entire length, whether by foot or bike.

“Over 40 years thousands upon thousands have enjoyed the magic it has to offer and I have no doubt that it will remain a must visit destination for many more visitors into the future.”

 

ENDS.


The West Highland Way celebrates its 40th anniversary in 2020.  Officially opened on 6 October 1980, the Way is the most established and best-loved of Scotland’s long distance walking routes, attracting a growing number of UK and overseas visitors.

To view the online exhibition celebrating 40 years and 96 miles, click here.


15th July 2020

How Businesses found a (West Highland) Way to Adapt During Lockdown

All businesses have had to adapt during lockdown and hospitality and tourism operators along the West Highland Way are looking forward to welcoming back walkers with new products and services.

Gavin’s Mill, Milngavie

Gavin’s Mill, close to the start of the West Highland Way in Milngavie, operates as a Fair Trade and Zero Waste shop as well as a Café.  New health and safety measures have been introduced and the Cafe is now operating a ‘Food To Go’ vegan and vegetarian menu for takeaways. Physically distanced seating is located outside on the peaceful riverside terrace and deck areas.

A new Online shop, launched during lockdown, offers a click-and-collect and delivery service with a vast array of products, including Freedom bakery breads and Fair Trade food and gift items.

Julie Kelly, General Manager, says: “We’ve been working hard through lockdown to serve the community via our online shop and to ensure our Fair Trade suppliers are supported through these difficult times too.

Our fund-raising efforts to enable us to buy the Mill for the community have been slowed so we would like to encourage customers and walkers to browse our great products online or sample our new Deli-style Cafe menu and famous home-baking.”

Beech Tree Inn, Dumgoyne

The Beech Tree Inn is located approx. 7.5 miles from the start of the West Highland Way, providing a welcome stop for walkers.

Owner Lynne Alldritt says: “At the start of lockdown we decided to turn our restaurant into a click and collect grocery service. We were inspired to do this as we saw how difficult it was for people to get essentials, especially elderly people in our villages, and how hard it was to get delivery from big supermarkets. We offer same day collection and delivery for those who need it to our surrounding villages.

We are also working hard on transforming the beer garden so that we can have pre-booked customers in for food and drinks, with socially distanced tables and hand sanitising areas.  We are following the guidance to make sure we have the place as safe as possible for both our customers and staff.  We now have a limited takeaway menu to offer to walkers on the West Highland Way as we miss them too!”

Strathfillan Wigwams, near Tyndrum

Rena Baillie who manages tourism business Strathfillan Wigwams, part of Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) in the Loch Lomond & Trossachs National Park, has found several ways to keep busy during lockdown.

Firstly, bedsheets from Kirkton Farmhouse, rented out alongside the Wigwams, were given a new lease of life as gowns for NHS district nurses in Glasgow.

“Our group of five women made 70 gowns of which 18 were made by myself on a 1958 Singer sewing machine.  I also started making face masks for locals and relatives with the proceeds going to the Falls of Dochart Care Home in Killin, who do an amazing job.

Fiona from Glenorchy Farm came up with the idea for the flour hub when it became difficult to source from supermarkets.   At Strathfillan Wigwams, we were able to source bread flour from our suppliers, which was sold in the porch at the Artisan Cafe with an honesty box so that there was no contact between buyers. This supply of flour got lots of locals (adults and children) baking bread and cakes during lockdown.”

The Granite House, Fort William

The Granite House is a family-run gift shop on Fort William High Street, just a few metres from the iconic end of The West Highland Way.

Owner Alistair Ness says: “We decided to offer a free local delivery service during lockdown offering thousands of products, including jigsaws, Lego and craft related goodies to keep the kids and big kids busy.

This service, organised by sisters Katherine and Gillian, proved to be very popular and kept us busy despite the sharp drop in visitors to the Highlands. Gillian became a familiar figure on her electric bike, delivering birthday presents around Fort William.

Our lovely loyal locals have supported us during lockdown. However, we’re looking forward to the return of walkers on the West Highland Way and climbers on Ben Nevis as soon as possible!”

Notes:

Information and advice on the West Highland Way is available at www.westhighlandway.org or email: whw@lochlomond-trossachs.org.

The West Highland Way, Scotland’s much loved long distance route from Milngavie to Fort William, is celebrating its 40th anniversary in October this year backed by funding from the LEADER programme.

The West Highland Way project is funded by the LEADER programmes of Forth Valley and Lomond, Argyll and the Islands, and Highland. LEADER is funded through the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the Scottish Government.

The West Highland Way (WHW) is managed by the Highland, Stirling, Argyll & Bute and East Dunbartonshire Councils plus Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park, which is the group’s lead body.


Official Passport

A special edition of the West Highland Way official passport has been produced to celebrate 40 years of this magnificent long distance route.  You can buy your passport from selected retailers or online.

Official Merchandise

Coming soon – A limited edition range of merchandise will also be available from selected retailers.

Follow us

As we build to the 40th anniversary please follow us on Facebook, Instagram & Twitter and share with us in the celebrations of this special milestone.

 

The ‘West Highland Way: a more sustainable future’ project has been funded by the Forth Valley & Lomond, Argyll & Islands and Highland LEADER Programme through the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development.
Europe Investing in rural areas.

Latest updates: https://www.westhighlandway.org/notices/ Please Think, Check and Plan ahead.

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