PMR446 West Highland Way

A friend (non-amateur) will be hiking the West Highland Way in Scotland next month and is thinking of carrying a PMR446 radio. Are these frequencies typically monitored by anyone in that region in case of emergency or is this just a waste of pack space/weight?

I have no experience of PMR446 radios but I expect that they are similar to a cheap 70cm handheld. Given that, a lot of the West Highland Way is on old drove roads in valleys surrounded by high steep mountains and the range will not be very good. I don’t know the current situation but over much of the Way even mobile phone coverage was patchy a few years ago.

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Hi Chris,

As Brian alludes to - the West Highland Way is fairly devoid of population, except in the wee villages. Most folk use mobiles (cell phones) as the route follows, for a high proportion, main arterial roads and as such these roads have pretty good cell (2 & 3G) coverage. However on the northern section, the route diverges off along an old military road that heads into fairly big mountains. In this section you will struggle with any form of communications.

Interestingly. I first walked the West Highland Way when it was first opened in 1981? and boy was some sections of it ‘rough’. Now however the paths have been improved over the years and a great walk from South to North with fantastic changes in scenery. I did it in October with the vegetation turning russet and the first of the winter snows on the mountains. Great memories.



PS: Meant to mention. As your friend is planning to walk next month (April) advise them to be prepared for possible heavy snow (certainly on the higher sections) or they might be lucky and have glorious sunny warm Spring weather - which I hope is the case and if so the views will be stunning!!!

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I backpacked the WHW back in 2002 or 2003. The lake section you think is easy but it’s anything but. It zigzags up down left n right along the lake. Not the flat straight route you think it will be. I had great sunshine until I got past loch Lomond then it rained all the way to fort William. Great route, loved it. Lots of people ‘cheat’ lol and use a courier service for their bags and just day hike it every day instead.

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Chris, If I remember correctly I think I had bad sunburn when I did the WHW back in 1986. We had only one day of rain… but the clouds of Midges were terrible. We were experimenting with Goretex Bivy bags back in those days and didn’t take a tent. The long section alongside Lock Lomond is very picturesque but ROCKY underfoot.
The section to Kings House is inspiring…
Finally comment… I’ve been up Ben Nevis 3 or 4 times and still haven’t enjoyed a view… it seems to always be in the clouds when I’m there.

After the WHW we went up to Skye and enjoyed the Cullin and the walk up to the Old man of Storr…
Richard // Chris.

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To put this into context, I have enjoyed three separate weeks of wall to wall sunshine in the Scottish Highlands.
In fifty five years of regular holidays there…


At the beginning of July last year I experienced a solid week of non-stop rain in the South-west of Scotland and the Isle of Arran. As soon as I crossed the border into England on the homeward journey, the rain stopped.

Never again!

Walt (G3NYY)

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There aren’t many that can claim sunburn in Scotland… that’s for sure… :smile:

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One of my three weeks was in April last year - I must have used up the full supply, sorry Walt!:wink:

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I think that a PMR446 radio would be of no use at all. Better to leave it behind and carry more chocolate.



Beg or borrow a PLB from someone. Or buy one if you are that bothered.

Other shops and brands are available.