Scotland is so stunningly beautiful that it can sometimes look like an alternate universe. Its finest trails and majestic mountains are off the beaten track, so the best way to explore is to hike. Here’s our round-up of great hikes you won’t want to miss.
Dreaming of a Scottish Highlands adventure? Join our mini winter-wonderland trip to Glencoe – and discover areas of stunning natural beauty plus time-honoured traditions, with our Local Insider leading the way.
Climbing to the peak of Suilven, near Lochinver, is the closest thing to heaven on earth. Standing tall and proud – having supposedly scared all the other hills away – clouds dance around it like angels. Whether catching a glimpse from afar or analysing every meandering path up close, this gargantuan rock is breathtaking. At least eight hours should be allocated for a hike, as there’s a sizeable stroll required before embarking on the climb itself. As you ascend this marvellous force of nature, let the wind blow through your hair and absorb every ounce of its glory.
Avid hikers and walkers will sing Glen Affric’s praises. Begin your travels nestled in between the Kintail mountains and make way for Loch Affric. Make a pit stop at Dog Falls and take a well-deserved dip in the surrounding waterfalls to let that pure Scottish water work its healing properties. Expect Scots pines in abundance, and the chance to spy feathers in flight – this enchanting place is a prime birdwatching spot.
For those who want to lose themselves in a gloriously remote setting, Ardnamurchan is the perfect choice. The ominous, yet majestic trees and scenery will transport you to another plane. Take your pick from an assortment of walks and trails (some of which are unmarked) and choose your path. Some are easy, others less so. Either way, you’ll enjoy nature in its purest form.
Stac Pollaidh is not just a mountain, it’s a place where dreams are made. Venture to this supreme spot near Ullapool and embark on an adventure. Explore the nearby Sutherland moors and revel in the elements while cleverly navigating your way around the perfectly placed pinnacles. Expect great paths and a steep ascent towards the summit. This area is one of the many treasures of the Highlands, and a favourite of those in the know.
The Cuillin mountains
Consider the Cuillin mountains to be the Disneyland of Skye. When it comes to adventuring here, hikers are spoilt for choice. The Black Cuillin tend to attract more hardcore hikers, as they are quite challenging, requiring skill and even some rock climbing ability. The Red Cuillin are significantly easier, but just as stunning. At the top of these, you can get life back in perspective.
Doon Hill and Fairy Knowe
Who says that fairies don’t exist? Take a gentle hike to the very tip of Doon Hill and Fairy Knowe in Aberfoyle to find the legendary Faerie Tree. According to Scottish folklore, this is home to the People of Quietness. For wishes to be granted, you must circle the tree seven times. Just don’t go backwards – or the wishes won’t work. Little Celtic wings and tartan-coloured sparkles aside, this mystical land is only an hour from the centre of Stirling when approached by car, and makes for a relaxing and enchanting hike.
Timid hikers may want to step aside for this one. Aonach Eagach is one of the hardest hikes in the Glen Coe area. Be prepared and save stamina for some epic plateaus and challenging pinnacles. You’ll be rewarded, of course, with the view. Pause for a moment, take a breath of pure air and witness Lochaber in all its majesty. The descent is also not for the faint-hearted. Don’t lose your bearings in the Lost Valley, the glen where the MacDonald clan hid the cattle that they commandeered from the Lowlands.
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