So you’ve come up with the crazy plan to walk the West Highland Way? Congratulations! You’re in for a truly magical experience. But unless you’re a sadomasochist, opting to use a West Highland Way baggage transfer service is a very sensible choice.
You see, the West Highland Way is an epic 96 mile trek across the magnificent Scottish Highlands. And they’re exactly as they sound – high.
The route is truly breathtaking with views across sparkling Lochs and dramatic green mountains that go on for miles. But it also involves a lot of steep climbs and difficult terrain. This means it’s not an easy trek, so any edge you can get is a bonus.
Having your bag carried for you is the ultimate hack. It allows you to simply enjoy the scenery without worrying how large your chiropractor bill’s gonna be at the end. And unless you’re a regular backpacker, could be the difference between finishing and retiring in painful, shameful, tear-soaked defeat.
Unless you’ve used one before, you’re likely not familiar with how West Highland Way baggage transfer services work. We’re gonna break it down for you, give you all the details and let you in on the numerous benefits.
You may also have noticed there are plenty of companies offering baggage transfer on the West Highland Way. For various reasons we chose to use Travel-Lite. So we’ll discuss why we opted for them plus give you a full review of their services.
What is West Highland Way Baggage Transfer?
In a nutshell, it allows you to drop and collect your bag at predesignated locations each morning and evening. You just let them know where to pick it up and where you want it to go.
Think of it like having a buddy grab your main backpack for you in the morning. They then make sure it gets to your next destination safe and sound. This leaves you get on with doing what you actually came for, walking the West Highland Way.
Like all the best ideas, the West Highland Way baggage transfer service is unbelievably simple. It just removes a lot of the hassle for you as a walker.
All you need to take with you each day is a small day pack with your essentials in. Travel-Lite then take care of your your big bag with all the other stuff you don’t need during the day.
All we carried was our food, our water bottles, waterproof jackets and basic first aid stuff. This meant our day packs only weighed a couple of kilos maximum. Trust us, the West Highland Way is difficult enough without having to unnecessarily carry around a lot of extra weight.
How Does West Highland Way Baggage Transfer Work?
Booking your West Highland Way baggage transfer couldn’t be easier. You simply fill in the booking form on Travel-Lite’s website to let them know your route in advance. You enter the exact stops you’re going to be making on which date.
For us this was a mixture of campsites, B&Bs and hostels/hotels. We wanted to experience a bit of everything on the walk! But it wasn’t a problem as Travel-Lite deliver your bags to absolutely any of the accommodation along the route.
On the first day of our adventure, we made our way to the famous sign marking the beginning of the West Highland Way trail in Milngavie. After the obligatory photos, we headed to the car park directly beneath.
Here we met Gilbert McVean, the owner, and his team and said goodbye to our 10kg rucksacks. The Travel-Lite team loaded them safely into their van, and off we went.
After about 5 hours walking they were there at the campsite we were staying at on the first night.
Each day was exactly the same process. In the morning we’d leave our bags where we’d found them the night before. Then when we’d arrive at the next accommodation our bags would magically be there waiting for us.
Travel-Lite run a van up and down the route each day, dropping bags off and collecting them at accommodation along the way. When you think about it, it’s pretty mind boggling the organisation that must go into it. But Travel-Lite have been providing a West Highland Way baggage transfer service for over 20 years now which explains why it runs so well.
How Much Does West Highland Way Baggage Transfer Cost With Travel-Lite?
This depends on what West Highland Way baggage transfer service you choose, as well as your number of bags.
You can pre-book it for the full journey or part of the journey. And you can even decide to enlist their help whilst you’re on the walk.
For between 1-3 bags going the full route from Milngavie to Fort William it costs £45 per bag. Divide that over the average of 7 days people take to walk the route and it’s under 7 quid per day. Pretty cheap.
The more bags you have, the cheaper it gets. Don’t take that as a suggestion to bring a tonne of baggage. But it’s a bonus if you’re walking in a group. For 4-6 bags the price comes down to £40, for 7-9 £35, and for 10+ just £30 per bag.
Many people also only walk a part of the route, or choose to complete the West Highland Way in stages. I met a lovely group of ladies in their 60s who told me that they could comfortably do about 3 days of walking in a row, so were completing it in 3 goes across the year.
That’s no problem, you can still use the West Highland Way baggage transfer service. Travel-Lite’s part-route transfer allows up to 3 stops (bear in mind Inversnaid isn’t included though). This costs £30 per bag.
If you find yourself part way along the route and realise you’ve made a big mistake by carrying too much weight, don’t worry. You can still sign up. For a single leg I believe it’s around £7 per bag. Just get in contact with Travel-Lite by phone for a quote if you find yourself in this situation.
We met two groups of lads who were struggling because they had seriously overpacked and undertrained. Naturally we told them about the West Highland Way baggage transfer service we were using, suggesting it may help. They immediately booked on for a couple of legs with Travel-Lite. It allowed them a bit of respite from trudging along with their massive packs.
How Safe is Travel-Lite’s West Highland Way Baggage Transfer Service?
Safety was a big concern for us. We always carry a fair amount of expensive gear in our backpacks that we need to be able to work. Combined, the cost of our electricals alone which includes laptops, cameras and various other stuff runs into the thousands.
Because of this our bags are like our babies – we protect them zealously! Travel-Lite’s service is fully insured which should put your mind at ease*.
Your bags are dropped off and picked up from secure luggage storage areas they have set up with each hotel, B&B, campsite and hostel. Sometimes this is a locked shed, others it’s a storage trailer while often it’s within the accommodation itself.
We had absolutely no problems and didn’t come across anyone who’d had any issues with regards to the safety and security of their bags.
Poor Weather Baggage Safety
Another big factor to consider is the weather. I’m going to be generous here and say that the weather in Scotland is changeable. Because of this it can also be a challenge to keep all of your stuff dry.
Imagine hiking for hours in the driving rain only to discover that your bag and its contents are soaked through. You’ve got nothing that’s not waterlogged to change into. Your electricals may get damaged. And you’ll have a job drying everything out in time for the next day.
This happened a couple of times with our daypacks. Virtually everything inside that wasn’t in a dry bag was soaked, despite having bag covers. You just don’t have this concern with Travel-Lite and you know that your main bag will arrive safe and dry.
*You’re not actually supposed to put laptops in the bags which Travel-Lite carry (we assume due to insurance reasons). But honestly we felt as though they were safer with them in the van than if we took the chance of carrying them on our backs in the rain.
The whole idea of a West Highland Way baggage transfer service was conceived by Gilbert McVean, the owner of Travel-Lite. When they started in 1995 they were the only company running the service.
Because it’s such a great idea, there are now numerous other companies that have replicated the service. But with Travel-Lite you get the peace of mind that they’ve been around for over 20 years.
They’re used and trusted by many of Europe’s biggest tour companies and booking agents to carry their groups’ baggage. This itself is testament to how good and reliable the service is. Plus, having personally trusted them with our bags and equipment, they get our seal of approval. So what more reason do you need?
West Highland Way Travel Insurance
If you’re not from the UK then DO NOT take a single step without making sure you’re completely covered. Sure, it’s not a technically difficult or dangerous walk. But there’s always the possibility that something doesn’t go to plan.
Whether that’s through illness or injury, or something happening to your equipment, it’s not worth taking a risk.
Sarah twisted her knee quite seriously on the third day. While it didn’t warrant a hospital visit, it did stop her from fully completing the walk. She had to catch the bus between a number of stages.
It also meant doctors and physio visits were required to rehabilitate the injury. Had we not been from the UK with access to free healthcare, it could have potentially been extremely costly.
For this reason we always recommend getting a travel insurance plan that definitely covers you for this type of activity. It’s just not worth messing around with.
Our preferred choice is World Nomads as they’re designed by travellers, for travellers. Their policies also cover you for numerous adventurous activities as standard. Get a quick quote below:
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Travel lover, professional writer and football (soccer) obsessive, James loves nothing more than getting outside and exploring little known corners of the globe. He’s also very partial to a drop of Guinness.