Walking the West Highland Way

Hi, newbie here :-)

I've had RA for 20 odd years, I'm 52 just now. I've always tried to stay active but sometimes RA has put its foot down lol

I have always wanted to walk the West Highland Way and I feel its maybe now or never but I don't know if it's just a step too far.

I have a year to prepare and obviously judge my body's reaction to longer hikes but just wondering if anyone has attempted/done this. The plan would be to do it over 7 days and stay in hotels so limited weight to carry and a hot bath at night.

Any advice appreciated, many thanks.


  • Anna
    Anna Moderator Posts: 658

    Hi @Carolyngee and welcome to the online community,

    You’ve had RA for 20 years and you’ve remained as active as possible. You’d like to walk the West Highland Way and would like some tips and advice from members who’ve walked it.

    First of all - good for you! It sounds like you know your own body and are giving yourself plenty of time to prepare.It will be interesting to hear if other members have walked the Way or other long distance paths.

    Ive linked to a couple of pages that you might find useful. The first is from the Versus Arthritis website and it gives you some tips and advice about walking:

    The second is a thread from the community where walking boots are discussed:

    Best of luck, and do let us know how you’re getting on!

    Anna ( mod)

  • Rina
    Rina Member Posts: 54

    Hi @Carolyngee and welcome!

    Like you, I’ve had RA for many years, with all its associated ups and downs, and last year I walked Hadrian’s Wall. Not as far or as difficult as the West Highland Way but it was great fun. We did about 10 miles a day over five days ( we just did the middle bit) I searched high and low to find the right boots and really lightweight waterproofs - probably know how important that is, but also we had our backpacks transported to the b & bs that we were staying in each night so we only had to walk with our daypacks - that made such a huge difference! There are loads of companies that do this if you have a look online.

    It was a brilliant experience and I hope the WHW will be the same for you!


  • Thanks Anna, I'll definitely check out those links as I have been starting to look into footwear too

  • Thanks Rina, that's encouraging to hear and well done you for doing that. Ive done various walks, hills etc but only for one day at a time. obviously, this year I plan to change that and build it up but how did you feel having to do it 5 days in a row....Im a bit concerned at how my feet/ankles will cope with that.....can I ask what footwear and waterproofs you settled on as my mind is boggling already lol

  • Rina
    Rina Member Posts: 54

    I wasn’t used to walking more than one day either so I was a bit nervous about it. I do walk about two miles each morning though and am pretty fit overall. I was really surprised at how well it went tbh - I was tired at the end of the day but I didn’t have any pain and no flare ups. Not carrying my rucksack made a huge difference as my neck and shoulders aren’t good.

    I bought men’s Keens boots in one size larger than my own - I tried loads and they were the only ones that were wide enough for me. I used them for my daily walks for about two months before the HW walk although they didn’t really need breaking in. I bought real wool walking socks and sock liners and I’d recommend you have a look for those too as they are miles better than polyester ( although others might think differently - it is all about what suits you). I bought the ankle support boots and they were great for climbing rocky paths.

    I ended up with berghaus waterproofs - not the lightest but def not heavy and very waterproof thank goodness as we had one day of rain from start to finish! I bought the trousers that have zips in the sides so they could come on and off easily.

    I have to say I did go with my husband and he had to help with putting on/ taking off waterproofs and taking things out of the rucksack for me. But as I said I have problems with my neck shoulders and hands so this might not be an issue for you.


  • Rina
    Rina Member Posts: 54

    Oh yes, just to add, I used one walking pole. I can’t grip well so I put the strap round my wrist and just leant on it when I was going downhill - it was the first time I’d used a pole and it worked well for balance.

  • Thanks Rina for all your advice, I'm so glad I posted :-)

  • jamieA
    jamieA Member Posts: 351

    Hi @Carolyngee

    What a great challenge - I'm impressed you've set yourself this walk.

    I live only about 10kms from the official start in Milngavie - though many people start their walk from Glasgow along the Kelvin Way and I see them regularly when I'm walking the dog. I've walked parts of it but never anything like the full way. I know quite a few people that have walked it and 7-8 days seems to be the standard target. Many of them used the forwarding baggage service successfully. I assume you're an experienced walker so will have all the kit so I'd only suggest a couple of things - a good camera for the stunning views and a good midge repellent 🙄. I remember coming across a family of 4 at Inverarnan kitted out in full beekeepers hats and veils.

  • alexander1
    alexander1 Member Posts: 70

    Go for it whilst you can I walked the Pennines, southern uplands and teeside way in my forties. Can hardly get upstairs these days.

    make sure whilst practising you do some steep incline work. I practised on South Downs but when I was up and down some of those hills I learnt the difference.

    I would also recommend zinc tape to try and stop rubs developing into blisters abs also a spare pair of socks.

    just in case of any skin rub metacam cream was the best ever

    good luck

  • stickywicket
    stickywicket Member Posts: 27,106

    After decades of RA and OA, I have absolutely no advice to offer but you do have my very best wishes and admiration. Go for it!

  • LisaO
    LisaO Member Posts: 3
    edited 20. Apr 2022, 18:24

    I an newly diagnosed aged 52. Walking is my sanity check! I know by my daily step count what I can or cant do... at the mo I am on between 7,000-10,000 steps a day to try and keep my focus! The last 9 months feeling my body change so much was a shock as I walk my horses as part of their therapy too( my young 4 year old horse has juvenile arthritis) our treatment has been similar!!!! so Walking is soooo good! I last walked the west highland way a few years ago so highly recommend as such a beautiful place!

    Good luck with your plans... every step is a step of hope towards better treatment for us all😊

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