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Shrouded in historical beauty, the magnificent Scottish Highlands have been inspiring romantic writers and artists for centuries and have featured in Hollywood movies as the backdrop to countless adventures.

Trail runners and keen hikers will find a picture-perfect paradise of rugged mountains, rolling mists and serene lakes, whilst intrepid explorers will delight in the fairy-tale charms of the region’s undulating landscapes.

Thinking of booking a walking holiday in the UK?

Why not consider hiking the Scottish Highlands? Whether you’re a novice or a seasoned trekker, haul on your hiking boots and discover mythical monsters, ancient castles and fascinating Scottish folklore on one of the many scenic walks available to travellers.

WHY THE SCOTTISH HIGHLANDS?

Over one million people from the UK explore the Highlands on foot every year, and there is no reason why you shouldn’t either.

A rambling break in bonnie Scotland is the perfect choice for budget-conscious families, students, and couples, and with a range of cheap flight options available you can enjoy an escape without breaking the bank.

Whatever your ability, you can find the perfect trail in the Highlands of Scotland, where hiking paths are plenty.

ABSORB SPECTACULAR SCOTTISH SCENERY

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The area around Fort William is often considered the outdoor capital of the UK, making it the perfect pivot point for hikers of all levels.

Novice walkers can discover a range of popular beginner’s routes, including gentle hikes to fascinating landmarks including the Old Fort and Inverlochy Castle.

This region is also close to the foot of Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in the UK, making it the perfect base for mountain climbers.

Just to the South lies the sprawling volcanic valley of Glencoe, offering dramatic Highland scenery at its very best. Long distance strollers will love ambling along the peaceful Great Glen Way, a quintessentially Scottish 73 mile hike that should be on every wanderer’s bucket list.

Rookie ramblers can stick to easy flat routes found on one of the stunning coastal walks peppered with craggy old castles and plenty of caves, cliffs and sea stacks to explore.

This area is also a prime location for avid bird watchers, being able to boast of some of the most diverse bird life in the UK.

Afterwards, the towns of Wick and Thurso provide great stop-off points for those looking for a cosy bed and breakfast to relax and recuperate between walks.

Those seeking spectacular sea scenes should head to Northwest Sutherland – the best location for panoramic views of the Atlantic Ocean and Pentland Firth. This area is well-known for its remarkable geology and tundra-like landscape, so be sure to pack plenty of warm waterproof clothing.

Enclosed by unusual mountain formations, head down this spectacular region to find a haven of tiny sandy beaches to comb. There are plenty of fairy-tale forests to explore, including Borgie Wood near Bettyhill and Camore Wood near Dornoch.

To the west the ‘bone caves’ near Inchnadamph are an archaeologist’s paradise, where the remains of ice age animals and polar bears have been uncovered…

FOLLOW FAMOUS FOOTSTEPS THROUGH THE HILLS AND GLENS

 

Cinemagoers will know that the unspoilt Highlands have been used to film countless box office smash hits.

Harry Potter fans should visit the Glenfinnan Viaduct, the iconic single track railway that connects the muggle realm to the wizarding world in several of the famous films.

There are a number of easy-going short walks in this area with superb views of the lovely Loch Shiel, a huge freshwater lake in front of a magnificent mountain backdrop.

In the centre of the lake lies the stunning St. Finian’s Isle, the site of an ancient ruined chapel. Braveheart buffs should make their way to the gorgeous Glen Nevis Valley at the foot of Ben Nevis, the setting for much of the award-winning Mel Gibson epic.

READ MORE ACTIVE TRAVEL GUIDES FROM WANDERLUSTERS

GO OFF PISTE AND TAKE EPIC INSTAGRAM IMAGES

The farther away from civilisation you hike the more breathtakingly beautiful the views become, so for those that take pride in the holiday Instagram updates take note; boldly go where few find themselves and you’re in for a real treat. My recommendations?

Rothiemurchus Forest encompasses one of the largest areas of natural forest in Britain and boasts an exceptional array of wildlife. Explore the 10,000 hectares of ancient Caledonian forest, lochs, rivers, glens, and mountains with your camera in hand, the views are divine.

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The Cairnghorms are a mountain range in the eastern highlands known for their offering of outdoor activities. Take the Caledonian Sleeper train from London and wake up in this natural wonderland, your Instagram feed will explode the moment you step off the train!

The Callanish Stones are an arrangement of Neolithic standing stones that were the centre of ritual activity in the area during the Bronze Age. Catch a cracker of a sunset and the resulting images are quite extraordinary.

FIND FREEDOM ALONG THE MAMORES MOUNTAIN PATH

Experienced hikers can also follow in the footsteps of historical Scottish Independence icon William Wallace in the challenging trek along the spectacular Mamores mountain path – not for the faint of heart.

If you want to see some of the endemic wildlife roaming in their natural environment, you should definitely head to the breath-taking mountain region of Cairngorm, home to one of Scotland’s most celebrated National Parks. Watch out for rare species of wildlife like red deer on well-marked trails surrounded by incredible mountain vistas, rolling hills, voluptuous valleys and crystal clear rivers.

Those seeking glimpses of dolphins, seals, porpoises and waterfowl should take a jaunt to the gentle Easter Ross region, where the coastline is speckled with seaside villages and well-trodden rambling routes.

WHAT TO PACK WHEN HIKING THE SCOTTISH HIGHLANDS

Depending on the season you visit, your wardrobe will consist of a number of water wicking, water-proof, and breathable layers, however you will need woollen hiking socks and sturdy, supportive footwear whatever time of year you decide to hike.

BEST HIKING BOOTS FOR SCOTLAND

Tecnica Forge

Weight: 20.9 ounces (leather) 20.6 ounces (synthetic

Waterproofing: Gore-Tex Extended Comfort

Upper: Nubuck leather or synthetic

Sole: Vibram Megagrip

Check prices here.

Scarpa’s Zodiac Plus GTX

Weight: 19.2 ounces

Waterproofing: Gore-Tex Performance Comfort

Upper: Suede

Sole: Vibram Drumlin

Check prices here.

 

Some other items well worth packing are a PBA-free water bottle, sunscreen and midge repellent, a blister kit, and some energy bars.

Be sure to alert someone of your planned route and arrange check points with your fellow hikers in case you get separated. This guide is well worth a read if you’re planning to veer off well used trails.

What are you waiting for? Whatever your ability, grab your hiking essentials and get planning an unforgettable hike in the Highlands today.

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11 Responses

  1. overnight taj mahal tour

    What a great guide you shared! This post is really very interesting and amazing. Loved this.. I would love to do a hiking. Thank you so much for sharing a nice post and experiences.

    Reply
  2. Jenny

    I would love to do a hiking trip in the Scottish Highlands, especially to the Callanish Stones! They remind me of the stones from Outlander. The landscape looks amazing too
    Jenny | localleo.co.uk

    Reply
  3. Kendyl

    I’m going to be on Isle of Skye at the end of February and really want to get a hike in. I was looking at Bruach na Frithe but it looks like it may be too icy. My husband and I are avid hikers but aren’t used to ice axes. We would love to summit one of the Munros on Isle of Skye (something 7 hours max-we always go quicker than estimated times), but are open to something not so rigorous if there anything highly recommended at that time of year with great views. It’s hard to find much info about the trails online, especially weather conditions (I’m sure because it changes so much!). We’ll also be spending a couple of days around Inverness, a couple in Edinburgh and stopping at Glencoe on our way so any great trails around there are also welcome. Thank you for any advice!

    Reply
  4. Alesha Nomadasaurus

    Wow how beautiful. Thank you for the great guide. We have never travelled to Scotland but would love to one day. I always find myself looking up things about Scotland so I hope sooner than later. All of the hikes look spectacular and will definitely be on our list. We have never tried house sitting either. Will look in to it.

    Reply
  5. Steve Waldorf

    Looking for a backpacking trip in Scotland in this summer to celebrate our 25th anniversary

    Reply
    • Charli Moore

      Hi Steve,

      Thanks for your comment! Without knowing a little more about your travel style and the time of year you’ll be travelling it’s difficult to recommend a particluar itinerary. A great resource to start looking through is VisitScotland.com. They have a tonne of great info and inspirational content that will help you determine what kind of experience you’d prefer to book.

      Best of luck with your research.

      Reply
  6. Corinne

    Charli, We’re actually planning some time in Scotland this summer. I hope we can see most of the places you mention!

    Reply
  7. Forrest Mallard

    I loved hiking the West Highland Way last summer. For a backpacker’s budget, ‘a cheap hotel’ in the UK doesn’t exist. Just a bunk-bed in many hostels through Scotland is £16 to £20. However, in Scotland, it is legal to wild camp just about anywhere you can pitch your tent… even on private property. If you are willing to put up with the rain, and often a damp tent.. Scotland can still be cheap. Regardless of price, Scotland is still one of my favorite places.

    Reply
  8. Katie Driscoll

    Hi! I am looking to do my first solo backpacking trip and could not ignore Scotland as an option. I would like to go sometime between now and November of 2018. My budget is very very slim, as I’d like to be there for 6-8weeks under 5,000 if possible. Do you have any tips on what I MUST see or how to budget to make it all happen?

    Reply