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Best Hiking Trails in Scotland

Overview

This beautiful country in the northern part of the United Kingdom brings to mind craggy moors, towering cloud-capped peaks, windswept beaches. Scotland is prime hiking territory and there are trails crisscrossing the country. Hiking in Scotland often means bagging ‘Munros’ and there are plenty of them to bag.  The Scottish Highlands (southern, central and northern) are the main areas for hiking, along with Isle of Skye, Isle of Arran and other islands .  Some of popular areas are Cairngorm National Park, around Inverness and Fort William, and Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park.  The best months to go hiking in Scotland are May to September. Read on for more information on where and when to go hiking in Scotland.

Capital: Edinburgh

When To Hike in Scotland?

May – Sept: (drier, less midges in May and Sept, have long daylight hours;July – August: are warmer but more chance of rain, midges are abundant)

Oct – April: (colder, wetter, dark by 4pm and snow on the mountains)
Climate: Oceanic climate: rainy, cold, foggy.  Rain more abundant on the western side and Highlands. Midges (small biting insects) in the Highlands and islands are a huge problem.  They are present from late May to early Sept, most prominent in July – Aug.

Accessibility of Hiking

Easy: There are well-marked trails throughout and there are numerous books and website with a lot of useful information so that you can do proper planning. For remote areas, you want to extra prepare.

Transportation Required: Car; the Highlands are sparsely populated so public transportation isn’t as established in this area.  Some parts can be accessed by public transit: Walking and Hiking Routes by Train

Where to stay in Scotland:

  • Inverness – central Highlands
  • Fort William – central Highlands
  • Brodick – Isle of Arran
  • Portree – Isle of Skye
  • Luss – southern Highlands
  • Balmaha – southern Highlands
  • Tarbert – Isle of Harris
  • Castlebay – Isle of Burra
  • Lochboisdale – Isle of South Uist
  • Lairg – northern Highlands

Top Places to Hike in Scotland

The main hiking areas in Scotland are in the Scottish Highlands which are in the northwest part of the country, as well as on the Isle of Skye, and other islands. The Central and Southern Highlands are the most popular versus the northern part of the Highlands. There are only two national parks but many reserves and forest parks. Highest Mountain: Ben Nevis (1345m). A Munro is defined as anything above 3,000 ft (914 m), and there are more than 280 Munros in Scotland to conquer. Corbetts are over 2500 ft; Donalds are over 2000 ft

Filter out hiking places of Scotland by month

Click on the red map pointers to see more info.

Isle of Mull

Central Highlands

  • Cairngorm National Park – Cairngorms National Park Authority – largest national park in the UK.  
  • Inverness is capital of Highlands; jumping off point for the Highlands region
  • Fort William considers itself as the outdoor capital of the UK – The Outdoor Capital of the UK  
  • Climbing Ben Nevis (1345 m), highest peak in Scotland

Isle of Arran

Northern Highlands

Southern Scotland

  • There’s hills but don’t compare to the Highlands
  • Southern Upland Way – Southern Upland Way
  • Galloway Forest Park – highest point is Merrick (843 m); have a Dark Sky Park – Galloway Forest Park 

Outer Hebrides

  • Island group off west coast of Scotland, known as the Western Isles; includes main islands of Lewis and Harris, Uist, Barra, as well as the St. Kilda islands
  • Hebridean Way – well known 250 km trek through the archipelago; Walking in Outer Hebrides
  • Several books outlining walks on the different islands
  • St Kilda – wild and remote, the westernmost archipelago; can walk on Hirta, main island – St. Kilda Walking

Isle of Skye

  • Well known island, part of the Inner Hebrides
  • One of the best places to hike in Scotland – Hiking Isle of Skye
  • Top Walks on Isle of Skye
  • Cuillin Mountains; Cuillin Munros
  • Series of four walking maps by Charles Rhodes (available from Aros Centre and tourist office, in Portree)

Southern Highlands

Scotland's Long Distance Trails

Scotland has 26 Great Trails – Scotland’s Great Trails  – excellent site outlining all of them, a few of them are:

Scotland's Walking & Hiking Resources

Scotland Hiking Books: – numerous books

  • Rucksack Readers: Scotland guide books – Rucksack Readers  (15 books on long distance trails)
  • Paul Webster publishes numerous books on hiking in Scotland – Paul Webster Books on Hiking in Scotland
  • Walking the Munros Vol 2: Northern Highlands and the Cairngorms, Cicerone Guide, by Steve Kew, 2022, Cicerone Press 
  • Scottish Wild Country Backpacking: 30 Weekend and Multi-day Routes in the Highlands and Islands, Cicerone Guide, by Peter Edwards, David Lintern, Stefan Durkacz, 2022, Cicerone Press
  • Scottish Highlands: The Hillwalking Guide – 60 Day Walks, Includes 86 Detailed Trail Maps: Planning, Place to Stay, Places to Eat, by Jim Manthorpe, 2017, Trailblazer Publications
  • Walking the Skye Trail: A challenging backpacking route from Rubha Hunish to Broadford: Cicerone Guide, by Paul Webster, 2019, Cicerone Press
  • Scotland’s 100 Best Walks, by Cameron McNeish, 2015, Lomond Books
  • Scottish Bothy Walks: 28 Walks to Scotland’s Best Bothies, by Geoff Allan, 2020, Wild Things Publishing
  • Walking the Cape Wrath Trail: Backpacking Through the Scottish Highlands: Fort William to Cape Wrath: Cicerone Guide, by Iain Harper, 2021, Cicerone Press
  • Walking on Arran: Arran’s best walks, from low-level paths, to challenging mountain routes, by Paddy Dillon, 2019, Cicerone Press
  • The Hebridean Way: Long-distance Walking Route Through Scotland’s Outer Hebrides, by Richard Barrett, 2022, Cicerone Press
  • Walking on Harris and Lewis: 30 Day Walks Exploring the Islands, by Richard Barrett, 2023, Cicerone Press
  • Walking on Uist and Barra: 40 Coastal, Moorland and Mountain Walks on All the Isles of Uist and Barra, by Mike Townsend, 2023, Cicerone Press
  • Moon Scotland: Highland Road Trips, Outdoor Adventures, Pubs and Castles, by Sally Coffey, 2022, Avalon Publishing
  • Rick Steves Snapshot Scottish Highlands, by Rick Steves, 2018, Avalon Publishing
  • There are numerous general guidebooks which contain hiking information such as Lonely Planet, Rough Guide, Fodor’s, Footprint

 

Scotland Hiking Associations/Clubs:

 

Best Hiking Trails in Scotland: There are so many spectacular hiking trails in Scotland, these are just a handful

  • Ben Nevis – central Highlands
  • Sgùrr Alasdair – Isle of Skye
  • Stac Pollaidh – northern Highlands
  • Laithach – northcentral Highlands
  • Ben Alligan – northcentral Highlands
  • Beinn a’Chrulaiste –
  • Coire Gabhail – central Highlands

Easy Hiking Trails in Scotland:

  • Arthur’s Seat – Edinburgh
  • Glenfinnan Viaduct Trail – see the famous railway bridge in Harry Potter films
  • Old Man of Storr – Isle of Skye

Scotland Hiking Websites:

 

Scotland Weather site:

 

Scotland Official Tourism Organizations:

 

Scotland Hiking Apps:

 

Scotland Hiking Maps:

What Else To Do

  • Other great walking areas such as the Shetland Islands – Shetland Islands Walking
  • Golf
  • Whiskey
  • History
  • Castles
  • Wild beaches
  • Fishing
  • Mountain biking
  • Loch-ness monster hunting
  • Bird-watching – Shetland islands great for this

Other Important Points