Scotland is a beautiful country in the United Kingdom. It is known for its stunning nature all around the country. Therefore, it does not come as a surprise that there are some of the best hiking trails in Scotland.
1. Hiking in Scotland
Scotland is a place with an amazing history, filled with folklore and Celtic mysticism. The country is said to be the birthplace of mythical creatures like selkies, kelpies, wolves, and many more.
The best time to hike in Scotland is from spring to autumn when the weather is slightly more favourable. But being prepared for the country’s unpredictable weather will certainly pay off.
With the diverse natural landscape of glens, forests, and moorlands, Scotland is a highly popular destination for tourists. There is something for everyone, whether you are an amateur hiker or a more experienced one.
Here are some of the best hiking trails in Scotland:
1.1 West Highland Hiking Trail
The West Highland Way is the most famous of the hiking trails in Scotland. This trail starts from Milngavie and extends for 155 kilometres, all the way to Fort William.
The West Highland Way trail also passes along Loch Lomond. After Loch Lomond, you will pass Beinglas, Tyndrum, and Inverornan.
The trail also passes through Rannoch Moor, Buachaille Etive Mor and even Glen Coe- one of Scotland’s most famous scenic landscapes.
In the Glen Coe, lies The Devil’s Staircase, a road up the mountain.
The walking trail lets out at Fort William where you can also hike up Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in the United Kingdom.
1.2 Carn Mor Dearg Arete Hiking Trail
Speaking of Ben Nevis, this is one of the hiking trails in Scotland that will take you up the dramatic mountain. Ben Nevis is called the King of Munros at a height of over 4000 feet.
A Munro is a mountain in Scotland that reaches over 3000 feet high. The Carn Mor Dearg Arete Route is the most interesting walking trail to scale the summit.
The “Tourist Route” is the most used of the hiking trails and therefore, the most crowded.
This hiking trail is also known as the route up Ben Nevis via the knife-edge Carn Mor Dearg Arete.
This trail ascends the Munro of Carn Mor Dearg and even consists of a ridge walk- one of the most picturesque in the UK.
1.3 Ben Arthur Hiking Trail
The Ben Arthur is one of the hiking trails in Scotland found in the Arrochar Alps.
The hiking trail leads up a mountain, The Cobbler, which is 920 metres tall. This hill is triple-headed and has one of the most distinctive outlines of any mountain in Scotland.
This walking trail can be taken from the Succoth car park in Arrochar. The route is distinct and can be followed easily.
It passes through stunning views of Loch Long and then reaches the foot of The Cobbler.
1.4 Southern Upland Hiking Trail
The Southern Upland Way is the United Kingdom’s first official coast-to-coast walk.
The trail travels from Portpatrick on the southwest coast to Cockburnspath on the east coast- a total of 344 kilometres.
Since the distance is so much, the hike takes about 12-16 days.
On this hiking trail, you can appreciate the allure of the Scottish borders. Hikers will take on over 80 mountains which are all under 3000 feet.
This is a walking trail often overlooked in Scotland, but it shows off Scotland’s nature at its best.
This is one of the best hiking trails in Scotland if you’re looking for an obscure way to explore the country.
1.5 Isle of Skye Hiking Trail
The Isle is stunning from top to bottom, but the skyline is dominated by the Cuillin mountains in one area.
The Cuillin mountain range can be divided into the Black Cuillin and the Red Cuillin. These two are separated by Glen Sligachan.
The Black Cuillin range is said to be the most challenging in the United Kingdom, with the highest point being 3254 feet. On the other hand, the Red Cuillin is only a Corbett at 2543 feet.
A Corbett is a mountain that is more than 2500 feet but less than 3000 feet. On the summit of these, there’s a great view of the mountain range and the Isle of Skye, depending on the weather that day.
1.5.1. Hiking trails in the Isle of Skye
The Clach Glas Bla Bheinn Traverse gives a classic scramble along a lofty ridge on the Isle of Skye.
The Dubh Slabs is also another famous hiking trail on the Isle of Skye. It offers the option of climbing the inaccessible pinnacle.
The inaccessible pinnacle is Sgurr Dearg, the second-highest summit in the isle, and is, in fact, a holy grail for hikers.
1.5.2 Hot spots
Some regular tourist attractions are the Fairy Pools and Old Man of Storr. The Fairy Pools are beautiful blue pools on the River Brittle and are linked to stories of selkies.
The Old Man of Storr is a walking trail in the north of the isle in ‘Trotternish’.
The outline of the mountain seems to resemble that of a wizened man; therefore, the route came to be known as the Old Man of Storr.
1.6 Rob Roy Hiking Trail
This hiking trail stretches from Drymen to Pitlochry. It is a route filled with the glens, rivers, and lochs of Scotland.
On the trail, we can admire the loch scenery, with the lochs of Venachar, Lubnaig, and Tay.
The hike takes a total of seven days and is dedicated to the honour of Rob Roy MacGregor.
Who is Rob Roy MacGregor?
He was a famous outlaw who lived in Scotland during the 17th and 18th centuries.
Sir Walter Scott also wrote a novel named after him, ‘Rob Roy’, with him as the protagonist. As a result, the outlaw was immortalized even in literature.
The Rob Roy Way follows the routes that the outlaw used in the Scottish countryside.
1.7 Stac Pollaidh Hiking Trail
Stac Pollaidh is also a mountain in the Northwest Highlands. It is only 613 metres high and lies above Ullapool, on the northwest coast of Scottish borders.
The hike takes only a few hours (one-way), and therefore climbing Stac Pollaidh can be treated as a single day out.
The trail has views of Assynt and the Summer Isles. The regular trail is a simple climb to the eastern summit through the top plateau.
However, for more experienced hikers, the true summit, on the west, can be climbed through a risky scramble.
1.8 Aonach Eagach Hiking Trail
The Aonach Eagach is the narrowest ridge walk in the United Kingdom. ‘Aonach Eagach’ is Scottish Gaelic for ‘notched ridge’. It is also one of the more challenging Munros to climb in the country.
This hike is treacherous, filled with dangerous rocks and paths that are often wet and slippery. Therefore, this trail is best for a more experienced hiker.
Best weather for climbing
The Aonach Eagach is considerably harder to scale in the winter than in the summer. Many hikers use ropes when walking this ridge during winter.
The summer season results in longer days, affording more hours of daylight to climb.
However, in the winter, the days are shorter. To clarify, this means you might have to either camp on the ridge or keep on the walking route even in the darkness.
1.9 Liathach Hiking Trail
Liathach is a Munro in Glen Torridon. It is considered to be the most beautiful Munro in Scotland.
The walking route consists of a lot of exposed paths, tricky ridge spots, and numerous steps. It is a steep climb on a well-set path.
There are also two Munros that you can climb on the way to Liathach- Spidean a’Choire Leith and Mullach a Rathain.
The magnificent view of Scotland from Liathach is indeed a must-see.
1.10 A Teallach Hiking Trail
A Teallach is one of three Scottish ridges known for their scrambles, along with Liathach and Aonach Eagach. It is a beautiful Munro on the Northwest side of Scotland, not far below Ullapool.
This is another hiking trail that is for those with more experience. It has been described as “mainland Britain’s most legendary Grade 3 ridge scramble” by the BMC (British Mountaineering Club).
A Teallach is made of Torridonian sandstone with steep gullies leading to the peak, which is 914 metres high.
1.11 Cape Wrath Hiking Trail
The Cape Wrath Trail will take you to the very top of the mainland. The hiking trail starts at Fort William and takes 15-20 days to finally complete.
The hike finally ends at Cape Wrath and is around 386 kilometres long. It is, in fact, considered to be the toughest long-distance hiking trail in the United Kingdom.
Cape Wrath is the point of the north-western side of the British mainland. This is one of the hiking trails in Scotland that passes through Knoydart and Assynt and its amazing wildlife.
The route is in a very remote area and you will most likely not bump into anyone for weeks. However, the nights can be spent in bothies. A bothy is a small hut or a cottage for use as a mountain refuge.
2. Hiking in Scotland Tips
The country, especially the north, gets a lot of snowfall from November to March. If you want to hike in that period, you certainly need to have the proper experience and gear.
The peak hiking season is from June to August as these are the busiest yet driest times.
The month of April is a toss of the dice, with anything from snow to sunshine. One must be prepared for all kinds of weather in Scotland.
As Scottish comedian, Billy Connolly, once said, “There are two seasons in Scotland- June and winter.”
To prepare for the unpredictable weather in Scotland, you will need to bring a waterproof raincoat along with a pair of boots that can support your feet, assist in climbing, and keep out the rain.
For camping, you will need a tent and a sleeping bag, both of which must be appropriate for warmth and wind.
If there’s snow, you will also need crampons, which are made for walking on snow and ice.
Watch Out for Midges
A midge is a species of fly that swarms and breeds near water and marshy areas. These blood-suckers are found in abundance on the hiking trails in Scotland. They are especially attracted to the scent of carbon dioxide and the body heat of humans.
They love the warm, damp, humid, and cloudy climate. However, they don’t like the wind. Midges cannot fly in winds beyond 7 metres per hour.
Fires aid in keeping them away, as does insect repellent. The months of May to September are when they are most active.
In conclusion, Scotland is a hiker’s paradise, offering a wide range of hiking trails that cater to everyone. Whether you are an experienced hiker or a casual nature lover, Scotland has it all.
So, lace up your boots, grab your backpack, and embark on an unbelievable journey through the best hiking trails in Scotland.
These trails offer an unforgettable experience for nature lovers who love the outdoors as well as experienced hikers seeking adrenaline. Happy hiking!
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