Hiking in Scotland - Discover the best long distance walks

By Sierd van der Bij

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Hiking in Scotland - Discover the best long distance walks
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Scotland is a hikers' paradise! But which hiking trails in Scotland are the best and how should you include them in your itinerary? This blog is a guide to some of the best long-distance hiking holidays in Scotland. Everything you need to know about the best hikes in the Scottish Highlands, the islands, the central lowlands, and the Southern Uplands in the south of Scotland. Put on your hiking boots and let's go!

1. West Highland Way (96 miles / 154 kilometers)

This trek is generally from south to north and is the ultimate destination for your walking holiday in the Scottish Highlands. The West Highland Way starts in Milngavie near Glasgow and ends in Fort William, and takes about 7-8 days to complete. This trail runs through Loch Lomond National Park, the wilderness of Rannoch Moor, and ends near Ben Navis Mountain. You can climb both Ben Lomond and Ben Navis if you like and enjoy the spectacular views from the top.

It's a well-marked, popular route that usually attracts a lot of people, so you won't be walking it alone. There are many hostels and B&Bs along the route, but you can also stay in different bunkhouses, wigwams, or hotels if you want a more luxurious experience. But feel free to pack your tent and go for a real experience in the wilderness. 

1. West Highland Way (96 miles / 154 kilometers)

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2. Rob Roy Way (79 miles / 128 kilometers)

It starts in Drymen, near Loch Lomond, and ends in Pitlochry. It takes about 6-8 days to complete and the trail passes Trossachs, Aberfoyle, Lubnaig, Earn, and Callander among others. The Rob Roy Way was opened in 2002. The trail crosses the fault line that separates the Highlands from the Lowlands. The route follows old tracks along rivers and lakes and climbs over a number of passes that provide beautiful views of the surrounding mountains.

Rob Roy MacGregor is Scotland's most famous villain. He was a cattle thief and cattle trader who, through no fault of his own, went bankrupt and was subsequently declared an outlaw. Roy was liked to be told that he was a crook, but a good one: he would usually share his booty with the less fortunate and never wrongly hurt anyone. He is seen as the Scottish Robin Hood. You usually walk on asphalt, and there are many hilly stretches that can be quite steep, but there are plenty of beautiful sights, such as the railway heritage, the Glen Ogle viaduct, and the stone circle in the Fonab-forest.

There are plenty of places to stay along the way, except Strathyre and Ardtalnaig, so keep that in mind when planning your route.

2. Rob Roy Way (79 miles / 128 kilometers)

3. Great Glen Way (73 miles / 127 kilometers)

This is a lighter, slightly easier walking route, which goes from Fort William to Inverness. If you really feel like it, you can do both the West Highland Way and the Great Glen Way in one go, although we do recommend you rest in between.

The trail starts at the Old Fort and goes along the Caledonian Canal, and along the way, you'll pass Loch Lochy, Loch Oich, and Loch Ness. The route ends at Inverness Castle. Since you start near Ben Navis mountain you might want to consider climbing it first. Another highlight is climbing the stairs of Neptune on the Caledonian Canal.

The first part of the road is quite easy, but once you're halfway, you'll have to climb some steep slopes and walk through the woods, so be prepared. You should have no problem finding good accommodation along the whole route.

3. Great Glen Way (73 miles / 127 kilometers)

4. Speyside Way (65 miles / 116 kilometers)

The Speyside Way starts at Buckie and ends at Aviemore, but can be extended to Newtonmore or Tomintoul. Without the extension it will take about a week to complete this hiking holiday. The view from the Spey-valley is sublime. The trail starts at the mouth of the River Spey and goes upstream.

Along the way you can visit the distilleries of Aberlour and Glenlivet, or the Loch Garten Osprey Centre in Abernethy. This route is also called the Speysie Way Whiskey Trail. You will also be able to see many wild animals! Deer, red squirrels and wild cats all roam the highlands, so bring your camera! For the most part, the well-marked trail offers easy and level hiking, often on former railways, an old military road and forest tracks.

4. Speyside Way (65 miles / 116 kilometers)

The best season for your Scottish Walking holiday

As the old Scottish saying goes, 'bad weather doesn't exist, just the wrong clothes!' However beautiful Scotland is, the island's turbulent climate can be difficult to predict. January and February are generally the coldest months in Scotland when daytime temperatures average between 5 °C and 7 °C. July and August are normally the warmest months in Scotland, with an average temperature of around 19 °C.

The combination of mountainous landscapes and sustained winds from the Atlantic Ocean make the West Highlands one of the wettest and most windy places in all of Europe. Or, as we like to call it, atmospheric!

This is in contrast to the east of the country, from Inverness aside to Aberdeenshire and down to Angus, Fife, and the Lothians, where there is about as much (or less) rainfall as in New York, Barcelona, Rome, and even Rabat in Morocco.

Conclusion: Generally speaking, summer is the best time for your walking holiday in Scotland, but bring your raincoat with you just in case!

The best season for your Scottish Walking holiday

Your accommodation along the hiking trails

Perhaps the best thing about multi-day walking in Ireland is the fact that each stop is a village or small town, with the right accommodation for weary hikers. Depending on the route, this ranges from full-service hotels in cities like Glasgow to self-catering pubs, inns, and bed-and-breakfasts in the more remote areas. Availability of meals and other essentials follows a similar pattern: routes with many developed stops like the West Highland Way have more than enough options in store for you. But if you're going further off the beaten track, it's advisable to stock up on snacks and other essentials.

Tips for what should I bring with me when I go walking in Scotland?

Only you know exactly what to bring for your hiking style. Still, we have a number of tips on what you should take with you when you go hiking in Scotland.

Equipment

Investing in trekking poles or a walking stick is a good idea, and make sure you bring a compass and a durable backpack. For long-distance walks, we recommend a 60-liter backpack or a decent backpack. You'll need something big enough to carry your food and drink essentials and your extra layers of clothing and rain gear.

Clothing

A good pair of trekking shoes is mandatory (preferably in leather), as is clothing for cold weather (even if you travel in spring, autumn or summer) to protect you from stormy weather. As mentioned above, plan for rain. Make sure as much of your gear as possible is waterproof, and invest in a waterproof jacket and pants. Your waterproof clothing should be breathable and make sure the jacket has a good hood and neck collar

Maps

If you travel on your own, you can get hiking maps from the tourist offices in the specific province of your route

Tips for what should I bring with me when I go walking in Scotland?

Where can I book my walking holiday in Scotland?

At Bookatrekking.com you can book many treks in Scotland. We take care of all the details for you, give you personal trekking advice and give you the best service possible. Find all our offers for Scotland here. Our easy-to-use platform allows you to browse and compare different trekking options and find the perfect fit for your interests, abilities, and budget.

If you have any questions about a specific trek or need help choosing the right one for you, our team of Trekking Experts is here to assist you. Simply reach out to us and we will be happy to provide you with personalized recommendations and advice to help you plan the trekking adventure of a lifetime.

Is a walking holiday in Scotland not your cup of tea and are you looking for other epic adventures? Check out one of our following blog posts:

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