It was fifty years, in 1974, that plans were approved to create Scotland's first officially designated long-distance walking route and the West Highland Way opened five years later.

After the Second World War ex-RAF man Tom Hunter from Glasgow conceived of the idea of an official footpath, partly to protect the eastern shore of Loch Lomond from development.

Significant in its development was geographer Fiona Rose who surveyed the route over a year in the early 1970s, covering some 1,000 miles on foot.

We asked West Highland Way veterans to share their top tips for making the most of the experience.

"Pack for every eventuality," says John Waterton. "Don't fill your pack with rainproofs and windproofs only to find you need T-shirt and shorts all week (yes it does happen).

The Herald: Ben Lomond captured from the West Highland Way Ben Lomond captured from the West Highland Way (Image: Chris Bell)

David Black advises hikers to ignore those who say you haven't completed the West Highland Way "If you take the high road or walk around Conic Hill instead of over it."

He said: "Both alternatives are officially marked and in nearly every official guide book/trail guide."

It might seem obvious but David McClelland says it's worth reminding walkers to ensure they choose comfy footwear.

"I had really tender heels after a few days and could hardly stand but my friend has some triangular heel pad things which saved the day," he said.

The Herald:

Natalie Millar recommends soaking feet in apple cider vinegar twice a-week for six weeks before setting off to toughen the skin.

She said: "It was a suggestion from a nurse I worked with at the time. I personally tried this and it worked in preventing blisters."


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For those not taking her advice, blister plasters are a must, says Amanda Bendoris.

 "Otherwise like me you pay a premium buying them from hotels or the ‘WHW desperation tax’ I was told", she said.

"Savour every moment. As soon as you have finished you will miss it" says Simon Abernethy.

Richard Skinner added: "You’ll finish it, no problem, so my advice is to savour every moment, especially the stage across Rannoch Moor and into Glencoe.

"That was the single most amazing day I’ve ever experienced as a long-distance walker."

The Herald:

Fi Cavasco advises walkers to be vigilant for ticks while Jane Marsden encourages walkers to lighten the load and take advantage of baggage transfer services.

Pauline Docherty, from Glasgow, who completed the route last year with a group of friends, reminds hikers to drink plenty of water and "less beer".

"Whilst it's always sensible to carry a filter for emergencies, there are dozens of places to get clean water without using streams or waterfalls," added Andy Birkett.

"There are taps outside the Beech Tree, Inversnaid Hotel, Inveroran Hotel, Beinglas Campsite, Kingshouse, and at Balmaha near the statue; honesty shops at Turnip the Beet, Gartness, Drymen and Rowardennan; shops at Drymen, Balmaha, Beinglas, Crianlarich, Tyndrum, Inveroran Hotel and Kinlochleven - I've only once had to use stream water in all the times I've walked it."

Liz Kuebler Freeman says walking poles are a must while Brad Bentley advises campers to light a citronella candle to keep midges at bay. "Just don't set fire to your tent", he said.