The Scottish Highlands have been the backdrop for many a Hollywood movie. It is easy to understand why. The visual is a stunning landscape of sharp sloping hills, and rolling grasslands occasionally dotted with castles.
Movies like Skyfall, with its climactic ending sequence, or shows like Outlander that take advantage of the landscape as both a romantic and tragic backdrop, all knew what they were doing when they chose their setting.
Scotland is a sight and one best seen on foot. With so much land open for exploration. Why not make a journey out of it. You don’t need to be an expert to enjoy what Scotland has to offer.
Preparation For Scottish Highland Hiking
Any time you are planning an outdoor adventure preparations need to be made to ensure the best possible experience. It is important to understand what supplies you will need, what the environment will be like, and what you yourself are physically capable of.
Though much of the terrain of the Scottish Highlands isn’t overly challenging there are miles worth of trails to cover, especially if you intend to do as much as possible. It is best to at least be in respectable shape. It is perfectly fine to not be an experienced hiker, but you will enjoy the experience more if your conditioning is better.
Most importantly is footwear, make sure to wear something that has a durable sole, good grip, and waterproof protection.
Next, the rapidly changing weather in the Scottish Highlands needs to be considered. It’s best to dress in layers so you can quickly add or remove clothes as the weather changes.
Having a good water-resistant top layer will do a world of good to keep any precipitation off of your layers beneath it.
There are many train and bussing options to pick you up and bring you between trailheads. If you are looking to start and finish in different locations, it's good to have already planned out your transportation from these separate locations.
Scottish Bus Companies:
- First Bus
- Lothian Buses
Locations To Hike In The Highlands
With miles of possible hiking terrain, here are some beginner-friendly destinations that still offer fantastic sights and experiences.
Old Fort and Inverlochy Castle
Near Scotland’s western coast is the hike between Old Fort and Inverlochy Castle. The loop is circular and is about 2.75 miles (4.5km). There is are also many beginner-friendly coastal walks in the area to be enjoyed as well.
- Distance - 2.75 miles / 4.5km
- Time - 1 to 2 hours
This is a comparably short walk that visits the famous Glenfinnan Viaduct. It has stunning views of Loch Shiel as well as the viaduct. The path can be a bit challenging in places, but you can take your time as the overall distance isn’t too long.
- Distance - 2.5 miles / 4km
- Time - 1 to 2 hours
- Ascent - 128m / 420 feet
This is a fairly easy hike, but there is the option to extend the hike further into the mountains if you are feeling up to the challenge. This hike has great views of the mountains and of the river. This is a peaceful adventure that usually involves a picnic.
- Distance - 4.6 miles / 7.4 km
- Time - 2 hours and 10 minutes
The Callanish Stones
The Callanish Stones are a 5,000-year-old prehistoric site in Scotland. being the most iconic image of the Isle of Lewis, this is a must-visit spot in Scotland. In totality, the hike visits a couple of stone sites and is fairly quick in consideration.
- Distance - 2.25 miles / 3.75km
- Time - 1 hour
- Ascent - 158-ft / 48m
Great Glen Way
This is a long-distance stroll, but the terrain isn’t overly challenging. It is a 79-mile hike that can take three to four days but there are many communities to find lodging in along the way. This is a low land route with visuals of the lochs and canals to discover. Also, remember to keep an eye for the wildlife, as osprey, golden eagles, red kite and deer are present here.
- Distance - 79 miles / 127km
- Time - 3 to 4 days
There are a variety of trails in Cairngorms National Park, the mountainous region at the center of Scottland. There are miles and miles of trails here that allow you to explore this beautiful Scottish park. Here are several of the more popular trails in the region.
The Speyside Way is one of the four long-distance routes famous in Scotland. It links the Moray coast with the edge of the Grampian Mountains. It then follows the valley of the River Spey.
- Distance - 65 miles / 105km
- Time - 3 to 4 days
The Deeside Way is another long hike that runs from near the center of Aberdeen to Ballater. It follows the line of the Old Royal Deeside Railway through woodlands and farmlands.
- Distance - 41 miles / 66 km
- Time - 2 to 3 days
The Cateran Trail is known as one of Scotland’s Great Trails. It is a long-distance route that passes through Perthshire and the Angus Glens. It is a circular route divided into five parts. It follows old drove roads and ancient tracks across farmland, forests, and moors.
- Distance - 64 miles / 103km
- Time - 4 to 5 days