There are a number of mapping options for walking the West Highland Way. We haven’t mentioned digital mapping here as that’s only a backup option and not a primary one! You will need a ‘paper’ map – ideally ones that are waterproof or otherwise well protected by a decent map case (Ortileb make some of the best).
1 Harvey’s XT40 West Highland Way Map – this is one of our recommended maps – it’s all on one, waterproof tough map. The only downside is that not everyone’s familiar with Harvey’s mapping (though we love it – especially the Mountain Maps rather than their 1:25k mapping)
2 Cicerone OS 1:25k West Highland Way Booklet. You get this for free with the Cicerone West Highland Way guidebook, but is rather small and while it might suffice instead of a map on parts of the first stage, you may feel happier with a proper map format. It’s not waterproof either.
3 Proper OS Explorer Maps. This may be practical for the latter stages, but for the first section you technically need THREE MAPS! While the paper maps aren’t waterproof, you can get waterproof Active Maps. They’re expensive and heavy, especially if you need to carry so many! One option is to post the used maps home, especially at the end of day one! Here’s a complete list of the OS Maps for the West Highland Way and a summary of the section covered on that map:
Ordnance Survey Explorer OL38 Loch Lomond South Map – The third map you’ll need on the Milngavie to Drymen Section of the WHW, but thankfully also covers part of the second section from Drymen to Balmaha,
Ordnance Survey Explorer OL39 Loch Lomond North Map – Finally, some value for money as you get to use a map for three sections! It covers the second part of the Drymen to Rowardennan leg, the third section of the WHW from Rowardennan to Inverarnan and the fourth section from Inverarnan to Tyndrum.
Ordnance Survey Explorer 377 Loch Etive & Glen Orchy – This map takes in the short section between Tyndrym and Bridge of Orchy and the bulk of the section from Bridge of Orchy to Kingshouse.
Ordnance Survey Explorer 384 Glen Coe & Glen Etive Map – This includes the final section of the Bridge of Orchy to King’s House and the section from King’s House to Kinlochleven.
Ordnance Survey Explorer 392 Ben Nevis Map – The final map covers the final leg of the West Highland Way from Kinlochleven to Fort William and the traditional ascent of Ben Nevis.
4 Ordnance Survey Landranger maps. These are great for planning, but we think they’re pretty useless for the micro-navigation you’ll need to do if ever you get lost.
Talking of navigation – visit our sister site – Mud and Routes – for a full course on how to use that map and compass – for free.