Is it faster to run or cycle the West Highland Way?

Walk Across Scotland recently organised and took part in a charity run along the West Highland Way, where we were also lucky enough to be joined by 4 cyclists who thought they would partake in the fun.

There were a number of questions to be answered before the event was organised, such as;

How many days should it take to run or cycle the west highland way?

Should we go north to south or south to north?

Can the West Highland Way be cycled?

Can baggage transfers be arranged?

Is it easier to run or cycle the West Highland Way?  Which would be quicker?

It was decided to complete the route in three days and from north to south:

Day 1 - 34 miles (Fort William to Inveroran Hotel), Day 2 - 28 miles (Inveroran to Inversnaid Bunkhouse), Day 3 - 34 miles (Invernsaid to Milngavie).

I am in no way a cyclist and, even though the perception was that it would be easier and take less time to cycle the route, I was more than happy to run the WHW in our small group of 7 guys. Having read a number of blogs and reviews of people of have cycled the WHW in the past, it became clear that cycling was a mighty prospect which should not be underestimated, particularly along the rocky sections of Loch Lomond and the gruelling climb up Conic Hill at Balmaha.

The WHW is obviously well know to us at Walk Across Scotland, at least from a walkers perspective, therefore, I had no misconceptions over doing it on foot - even though I had never attempted the full route in less than five days.  An average run/jog of four marathons is three days is a tough challenge for anyone, especially across rugged and mountainous terrain.

The challenge took place over the Easter weekend (18th - 20th April) and it ended up being an overwhelming success, which was helped by stunning weather from start to finish.  The cyclists had a truly gruelling experience, although they all absolutely loved the entire experience and would not change it for the world.  As for the runners - it was fabulous beyond words and easily the most enjoyable run I have ever done.  The cyclists were behind from the moment we entered the Glen Nevis Forest.  There are a number of hill climbs and rocky paths on the West Highland Way which call for bikes to be carried or pushed, which takes up a great deal of time.  As the runners did not have to worry about carrying awkward loads, they were able to disappear in the distance.  At least that meant the cyclists always had a couple of pints on tap at the end of each day.

The team ended up raising nearly £8,000 for Cancer Research UK (the total is still rising).  The entire event was a roaring success and WAS look forward to helping organise any future fund raising events on the WHW or any other walking/cycling route across Scotland.


Posted on May 22, 2014 .