FKT: Matt Girvan - West Highland Way (United Kingdom) - 2021-04-24

Route variation
Standard point-to-point
Gender category
Start date
Finish date
Total time
23h 21m 36s
GPS track(s)

A bit of a last minute plan for a mission after Scotland's Covid restrictions eased a little sooner than expected... I did the train-run-train trip to/from Edinburgh in less than 32 hours in order to avoid needing any accommodation, and hence comply with the restrictions at the time.

I left Fort William at 5:01pm on Friday 23rd April 2021, ran through the night and arrived at Milngavie at 4:23pm on Saturday 24th. This direction is less common, but made more sense for train times and meant getting the bigger climbs done on fresher legs (hence the start photos are at the 'end of the WHW' and vice versa). Total elapsed time of 23 hours, 21 mins and 36 secs (taken from Strava - the watch photos at the start/finish are just for additional verification but are a few seconds out). 24 hours was my target but I thought 26+ might be more realistic, so I was very happy to finish ahead of schedule.   

I travelled entirely solo, unsupported - I carried all my food and gear with me, only collecting water from streams and taking all my rubbish with me. My vest weight started at around 5 kg (including a litre of water, about 2 kg of food plus emergency gear (PLB, bivvy bag, first aid kit)). The weight did take a bit of a toll, but there aren't too many shops en route and stopping adds time, so I decided that unsupported wouldn't be much slower than self-supported. I ate about 4,000 calories (muesli bars, pizza, snickers, nuts and sweets) and fortunately had no real stomach issues.

I know the race/supported record is 13 hours 41 mins (blindingly fast!), but I was very surprised that I couldn't find much history of fast self/unsupported trips on this very historic and popular trail. I expect others have soloed it in under 24 hours before, so I'm interested to see if anyone comes out of the woodwork!

This was my longest day by about 45 km, and my longest solo day by about 70 km. The evening was awesome and the night went smoothly (not too cold, bright moonlight to guide me) but my legs were wrecked by the morning and progress was slow around the side of Loch Lomond. I probably walked nearly half the distance in the end. I had some low-key hallucinations in the hot afternoon and almost fell asleep on my feet towards the end... Plenty of tough stretches but all in all a great trip!