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West Highland Way Wildlife

GoWalking holidays in Scotland attract a wide range of people for a variety of reasons. These can be anything from hoping to see more of Scotland’s gorgeous landscapes to putting fitness levels to the ultimate test. However, something that is a wonderful bonus to walking the West Highland Way is the Scottish wildlife you are met with along the way!

About the West Highland Way

The West Highland Way is a 96 mile walk from Milngavie to Fort William – home to Britain’s highest mountain. It is the most popular footpath for walking holidays in Scotland and it was the first official long distance route in Scotland.

It offers a range of views throughout Loch Lomond, the Rannoch Moor, Glencoe and of course, Ben Nevis.

Milngavie to Rowardennan

As you embark upon the West Highland Way, the walk out of Milngavie is made up of 200 acres of ancient woodland. In late Spring/early Summer, you can see rows and rows of beautiful Bluebells. You also may be fortunate enough to hear the song of the Jay or the drumming of a Great Spotted Woodpecker.

Facts about Great Spotted Woodpeckers:

  • Drumming is used by both sexes to make contact: the first drums are usually heard in early January, and they will continue until June.
  • Drumming has been recorded on many objects other than trees, ranging from weather vanes to metal poles.
  • Though insects are the staple diet, tree seeds supplement this in the winter, and birds’ eggs and fledglings in the Spring.

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Of course, there are also many mammals on the walk! The walk between Milngavie and Rowardennan occasionally offers the treat of the small roe deer. Following this, you’ll enter open country where it’s likely you’ll hear the famous mournful cry of the Curlew in the shadows of the Campsie hills.

Some people have even seen Buzzards!

In Spring, the woods beyond Drymen, you can hear the distinctive song of the Willow Warbler whose music signals its’ arrival from Africa. Once you move on to Conic Hill, you can hear the distinctive Raven sound leading you to Balhama.

The Loch side is the perfect place to view Ospreys as they fish before you head into 300 acres of woodland.

In the woodlands, you’ll see that the oak, birch, aspen, juniper and hazel trees provide the perfect home for summer birds.

Rowardennan to Tyndrum

On this part of the walk, the natural woodland really comes to life. You’ll see a range of beatiful, bright birds – Redstarts and Pied Flycatchers have found a home in Inversnaid. As you leave the woods, you may see the majestic feral goats with their swept back horns as they graze.

Once the countryside truly opens up, you’ll be able to scan for Golden Eagles – a real sight to behold and one that really has to be experienced in person. You’re also, at this point on the walk, entering Red Deer territory and the West Highland Way offers the opportunity to get close up with these stunning animals.

Facts about Golden Eagles:

  • Golden Eagles can be seen from up to a mile away
  • Once an eagle spots prey, it swoops down at a speed of up to 150 km/h
  • You can find Golden Eagles in mountainous areas of Europe and in Britain, they occur mainly in remote areas of Scotland.

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Tyndrum to Fort William

Once you begin to pass the slopes of Beinn Doran, you may be fortunate enough to catch a glimpse of the Mountain Hare. Brown in Summer, white in Winter! Up on the Rannoch Moor, the Red Deer, Britain’s largest land mammal (!) holds court. These stags and their impressive antlers are a fitting symbol of this beautiful remote region in Scotland.

After enjoying the Deer, you will be ready to take on the Devil’s Staircase. This area is hugely popular with Eagles, Peregrines Falcons and Dashing Merlins. If you’re lucky, you may get to see some of them while you’re braving the staircase!

Facts about Mountain Hares:

  • Mountain Hares tend to be active at night
  • Although they graze on shrubbery, they much prefer grass and eat this in warmer months
  • Their life span is very short – only 3-4 years on average!

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Do you want to see Scottish wildlife on the West Highland Way? Join us on a walking holiday!

At Easyways, we offer a range of walking holidays including the infamous West Highland Way. Our holidays can suit seasoned walkers and those who are just starting out, though, if you’re hoping to walk the West Highland Way, we do have some advice on preparation!

To find out more about EasyWays or the West Highland Way, please get in touch today – we look forward to hearing from you!