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January 14, 2022 5 min read
There’s something about the long-distance hike that feels very calming. It strips away the stresses of day to day life, leaving with a very simple existence. Walking for days on end with the only goal in mind being arriving at your next stop has a way of revitalizing you in a way only a a week in nature could. Scotland is the perfect place to experience this simple pleasure. Beautiful coastal trails, rolling hills, glittering expanses of open water serve up world class scenery making it a must for anyone keen on multi-day hikes. We’ve narrowed the list done to five routes to help inspire your next adventure!
Start: Glasgow | Finish: Fort William | Distance: 96 miles
Scotland’s first and most famous long distance hiking route, the West Highland Way encompasses some truly phenomenal terrain along Scotland’s west coast. The traditional route begins in Milgavie, in the suburbs of Glasgow and ends in Fort William which is the gateway to Ben Nevis (the UK’s highest mountain). The path is well-marked, making it the perfect introduction to multi-day hiking and is accompanied with stunning surrounds. You’ll navigate spectacular glens, bonnie loch shores and windswept moors. The walk gives a fascinating incite into the geology of Scotland as you transcend from lowlands to highlands. The trail also offers various options for accommodation to suit your needs, from the luxury of a hotel bed to the challenge of a wild camp. It’s even possible to have your luggage transferred from one hotel to another, so the only thing you have to carry is a day-pack. There is no correct time scale for completion, however, the most popular option is to tackle the route in six to seven days. This allows you to really make the most of the trip, take in the experience and keep the 15 + mile days to a minimum.
To read more on The West Highland Way click here.
Start: Fort William | Finish: Cape Wrath | Distance: 230 miles
The Cape Wrath Trail, often regarded as the UK’s most challenging multi day hike. It’s a challenging but rewarding expedition that takes you through some of the wildest and most beautiful parts of Scotland. Spanning 230 miles, this trail usually takes 15-20 days and runs from the highland town of Fort William to Britain’s most north-westerly point, Cape Wrath. An expedition of this calibre takes some serious planning but you’ll be rewarded with everything you could hope for. You’ll take in stunning woodland, glens, mountains, rivers, sea cliffs and much, much more. Pioneered by photographer David Paterson, the trail is unmarked and as such walkers must have expert level navigation skills as well as being able to be self sufficient in some of Scotland’s most unforgiving terrain. You’ll need to do this in high summer to have your best shot at completion when rivers will be at their lowest, and the kinder conditions will make traversing the landscape a little easier. As Scottish walks go, the Cape Wrath Trail definitely stands out if you want to take on a challenge of epic proportions.
Find out more on The Cape Wrath Trail here.
Start: Fort William | Finish: Inverness | Distance: 79 miles
Another great introduction to multi-day hiking, the Great Glen Way stretches 79 miles from coast to coast and tracks Scotland’s longest glen. You’ll get the chance to explore the shores of Loch Ness, Loch Lochy and Loch Oich while also incorporating scenic forest trails and of course, the Caledonian Canal. One of the walks most impressive sights is Neptune’s staircase – an amazing feat of engineering that see’s the canal rise by 19m via a series of steps. It’s an interesting spectacle and a great spot to stop for lunch. The path is relatively flat and follows a well-marked footpath and usually takes 4-7 days for completion. In 2014, a higher-level route was introduced between Fort Augustus and Drumnadrochit, if you're up for the added challenge, it’s well worth it to soak in the breath-taking views.
Find out more on The Great Glen Way here.
Start: Portpatrick | Finish: Cocksburnpath | Distance: 210 miles
Another big one, the Southern Upland Way is Britain’s first officially recognised coast-to-coast long-distance footpath, taking you from Scotland’s west coast to its east coast along the Southern Uplands. The Southern Upland Way follows a remote footpath that runs from Portpatrick and goes all the way to Cockburnspath. This is a challenging trail, cutting across a variety of terrain, as such it’s only advised for seasoned walkers who ar familiar with navigation and map reading. The trail has a habit of leading you over the hills, rather than following the flatter valley floor. The major benefit of taking the hilly route is the staggering amount of views on offer. Along the way you’ll be passing attractions such as Rhins of Galloway, St Mary’s Loch, the River Tweed, and Traquair House, Scotland’s oldest inhabited house. The walk usually takes anywhere from 12-16 days to complete and you’ll need to bring your tent as accommodations options are very sparse in some stretches. Mountains, forests, moorland and rugged coastal outcrops make this one of the finest walks for experiencing Scotland’s mystical beauty.
Find out more on the Southern Upland Way here.
Start: Drumnadrochit | Finish: Morvich | Distance: 44 miles
If isolation and adventure is what you seek, then you’ll love this trail. The Affric Kintail way runs for 44 miles from the shores of Loch Ness to the remote settlement of Morvich on Scotland’s west coast. This is a wonderful cross-country route, usually completed over 3-4 days. This walk is recommended for more experienced hikers, as you’ll be journeying into some of Scotland’s remotest areas including the upper reaches of Glen Affric meaning, navigation skills are essential. The trail journey’s on drove roads, passing though ancient woodlands and navigating expansive glens steeped in history. The remote nature makes accommodation more of a problem so be prepared for some wild camping! However, you will get the chance to stay over at Scotland’s most remote youth hostel, located in the heart of Glen Affric – a refuge for many.
Find out more on the Affric Kintail Way here.
If you think we’ve missed any or want to share your favourite trail, let us know in the comments!
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