Choose Your Hike

We offer different tour grading levels depending on the balance of physical challenge and comfort level that you require

Gentle Hikes

Our Gentle Hiking Tours are designed with the part-time hiker in mind.

People for whom taking photos, meeting the locals and enjoying a long lunch are as important as the hike itself.

Look out for the 🥃 symbol: These tours have a strong focus on whisky and spend a large portion of their itineraries in the heart of the Speyside Whisky Region with some of its most famous distilleries (Macallan, Aberlour, Glenfiddich, Cragganmore, Glenlivet).

Average Hiking Distance: 16-17km (10-10.5 miles) per day Average Hiking Time: 4-6 hours per day

5-Day / 4-Night Gentle 🥃 Aberlour - Ballindalloch + Dufftown Loop from £649 per person View Itinerary
6-Day / 5-Night Gentle Ballindalloch - Aviemore from £759 per person View Itinerary
7-Day / 6-Night Gentle Aberlour - Aviemore from £849 per person View Itinerary
8-Day / 7-Night Gentle 🥃 Aberlour - Aviemore +Dufftown Loop from £959 per person View Itinerary

Moderate Hikes

Our Moderate Hiking Tours will suit people who are used to regular exercise.

Hikers will appreciate the chance to cover plenty of ground each day without going beyond their limits.

Look out for the 🥃 symbol: These tours have a strong focus on whisky and spend a large portion of their itineraries in the heart of the Speyside Whisky Region with some of its most famous distilleries (Macallan, Aberlour, Glenfiddich, Cragganmore, Glenlivet).

Look out for the 👣 symbol: This itinerary covers the entire Speyside Way trail from Buckie to Aviemore

Average Hiking Distance: 22-24km (13.5-15 miles) per day Average Hiking Time: 5-7 hours per day per day

5-Day / 4-Night Moderate Ballindalloch - Aviemore from £649 per person View Itinerary
6-Day / 5-Night Moderate Craigellachie - Aviemore from £759 per person View Itinerary
7-Day / 6-Night Moderate 🥃 Craigellachie - Aviemore + Dufftown Loop from £849 per person View Itinerary
8-Day / 7-Night Moderate 🥃 Fochabers - Aviemore + Dufftown Loop from £959 per person View Itinerary
9-Day / 8-Night Moderate 👣🥃 Buckie - Aviemore + Dufftown Loop from £1029 per person View Itinerary

Challenging Hikes

Are you the type of hiker who sets off in the morning and doesn’t stop until they reach their destination?

If yes, then our Challenging Hiking Tours will be just right for you.

Look out for the 👣 symbol: This itinerary covers the entire Speyside Way trail from Buckie to Aviemore

Average Hiking Distance: 25km (15.5 miles) per day Average Hiking Time: 6-8 hours per day

5-Day / 4-Night Challenging Ballindalloch - Aviemore from £649 per person View Itinerary
6-Day / 5-Night Challenging 🥃 Craigellachie - Aviemore from £759 per person View Itinerary
7-Day / 6-Night Challenging 🥃 Fochabers - Aviemore + Dufftown Loop from £849 per person View Itinerary
8-Day / 7-Night Challenging 👣🥃 Buckie - Aviemore + Dufftown Loop from £959 per person View Itinerary

Trail Info

The Route

The Speyside Way Whisky Trail starts at Buckie on the coast of the Moray Firth, a large roughly triangular inlet (or firth) northwest of Inverness. The trail follows the coast to the mouth of the river Spey at Spey Bay. Here the route turns south and follows the course of the river to the town of Fochabers and onwards past Rothes, located on the other side of the river, to Craigellachie. Rothes is home to a number of well known distilleries, such as Glen Grant, and the famous Macallan distillery is located near Craigellachie.

At Craigellachie many hikers pay a visit to the fascinating Speyside Cooperage, where whisky barrels are made and repaired using traditional methods, before taking a detour on the Dufftown loop, which passes the Glenfiddich Distillery and Balvenie castle. The Speyside Way then continues along the Spey past Aberlour, home to Walker’s famous shortbread, towards Ballindaloch.

Here many hikers will take another detour which crosses some higher ground as it leads from Tomintoul to Glenlivet, with its distillery, and back to Ballindaloch. After Ballindaloch the trail again shadows the River Spey on its way to Grantown-on-Spey where the route enters the Strathspey, or wide valley of the Spey. From Grantown the route leaves the river Spey for a while and passes through Nethy Bridge and close to Loch Garten, with its Osprey Visitor Centre. From Boat of Garten the trail follows the tracks of the Strathspey Steam Railway to Aviemore and you might see passing steam trains.

Aviemore has been the finishing (or start) point of the Speyside Way Whisky Trail for many years. It is located at the edge of the Cairngorm Mountains which form part of the UK’s largest national park. The town is famous for outdoor sports and is known as the winter sports capital of Scotland. The route is currently being extended past Aviemore to Kincraig and onwards past Loch Insh to Ruthven Barracks near Kingussie. However, at the time of our last visit in early 2019 this work had not been completed yet.

Terrain Overview

For much of the route the Speyside Way Whisky Trail follows fairly level and well-maintained footpaths and tracks. They often run beside the river and on former railway tracks and pass through woodlands and heather moors with good trail surface throughout.

While the route slowly ascends from the mouth of the Spey towards Aviemore the climb is generally slow and gentle. The main route stays in the valley of the Spey and for the most part looks towards the hills and mountains rather than climbing into them. The exceptions are the Dufftown Loop and the Tomintoul Spur which are more undulating and cross higher and, in places, more exposed ground. But here as well the paths are good and the climbs are short and not difficult.

Aggregate ascent over the whole route is approximately 2,400m, and there are almost no sustained or steep climbs. The highest point on the Speyside Way is Carn Daimh with 570m above sea level. It is located between Tomintoul and Glenlivet, on the wildest and most spectacular section of the trail.

Elevation Profile (Main route, not including the Dufftown Loop and Tomintoul Spur)

Elevation Profile Speyside Way Whisky Trail

Terrain by Stages

Buckie to Fochabers: Gentle, well maintained trails along grassy paths and forest tracks, with a short section of road walking through Portgordon. Initially beside the North Sea, then turning inland, next to the fast-flowing River Spey.

Fochabers to Craigellachie: Roads, forest tracks and paths. Fair amount of up and down, slightly muddy in places. Long sections of asphalt walking.

Dufftown Loop: First half to Dufftown offers easy walking along an old railway line followed by more rugged trail from Dufftown to Aberlour. One steep but short climb.

Craigellachie to Ballindalloch: Flat terrain next to the River Spey on paths and tracks along the line of the old Speyside Railway.

Tomintoul Spur: Clearly defined paths and tracks across beautiful, though exposed, mountain side and moorland. A gentle climb to the highest point on the trail at Carn Daimh and a moderate climb to the hill of Deskie between Glenlivet and Ballindaloch. Can be slightly muddy in places.

Ballindalloch to Grantown-on-Spey: Rolling hills and forest tracks interspersed with sections along the old railway line.

Grantown-on-Spey to Aviemore: Pleasant hiking mainly along the old railway line but also on peaceful forest paths and tracks.

Why Choose Hillwalk Tours?

 

The biggest choice of itineraries for the trails we offer, guaranteed!

We want you to explore these areas of outstanding natural beauty at your own pace, with nearly 400 itineraries to choose from across 21 different trails (and we’re always looking to add more).

We book your tour direct, always!

We don’t book third-party companies to organise tours for our customers. We don’t resell tours from other third-party companies. We always directly book and operate all of our tours ourselves.

Creating memorable self-guided hiking tours is all we focus on, nothing else!

We just focus on creating and organising self-guided hiking tours, and nothing else! And we’ve been doing it for quite some time (since 2008), with over 20,000 hiking tours taken with us so far, and growing…

You can access your tour information easily!

You will receive a designated Hillwalk Tours account where you can login to access all your tour documents, trail GPS file, and other important details. Access your tour information anytime, anywhere, and on any device.

We don’t do off-the-shelf guidebooks!

We personally walk each trail we offer & create our own detailed route notes. By doing so, it allows us to provide you with more itineraries, route options and alternatives than any other walking tour company!

We come highly recommended by other hikers!

Our tours & service have consistently received 5* reviews from walkers. Check out our reviews on GoogleFacebook & Tripadvisor.

 

You can start your tour on any day / date you like!

We don’t confine you to book your tour on specific dates. Instead you can book your tour to start on any day / date you like during the walking season.

 

We have itineraries to match your fitness levels!

We provide 3 levels of hiking tours; ‘Gentle’, ‘Moderate’ & ‘Challenging’, which are designed to suit all types of fitness levels and abilities of hikers – so whether you’re an experienced hiker or a beginner, there’s something for everyone.

 

You can walk at your own pace!

As all our tours are self-guided, you can walk the trails at your own pace as opposed to adhering to a strict schedule, allowing you the freedom to enjoy the beautiful nature & surrounds.

 

We’re here to support you 24/7!

You can reach us by phone 24/7 if you ever need additional support while on the trail.

We have a very low booking deposit!

Our booking deposit of €100/£100 is one of the lowest, if not the lowest, in the industry.

Prices / What's Included

Length of Tour Price Per Person ( £ ) Single Supplement ( £ ) :¹
5 days / 4 nights 649 350 BOOK NOW
6 days / 5 nights 759 370 BOOK NOW
7 days / 6 nights 849 390 BOOK NOW
8 days / 7 nights 959 430 BOOK NOW
9 days / 8 nights 1029 470 BOOK NOW
¹A single supplement is an additional charge for walkers booking single accommodation (a room for one person). The total tour price per person requesting a single room is the price per person plus the single supplement.

What’s Included in the Price?

  • Stay in our friendly, family-run guesthouses
  • Relax in comfortable en-suite bedrooms*
  • Big breakfasts will keep you going all day long
  • Luggage? Don’t worry, we’ll move it for you!
  • Detailed maps, route notes and GPS tracks mean you’ll never get lost
  • Walking directions written and updated by the Hillwalk Tours team
  • Local alternative/supplementary route options based on local knowledge
  • Our waterproof map-case keeps your maps and documents dry
  • If you need to contact us, we’re here 24/7 to help
  • Insider tips on the best places to eat and drink**
  • Explore the local history and culture in our fascinating guides
  • Discover the most interesting attractions on the trail
  • Need info on transport? We’re happy to help

* Unless already booked out in which case we’ll try to secure a private bathroom

** You will have the opportunity to purchase picnic lunches and evening meals each day. If you are staying in a remote location, your hosts will usually look after this for you upon request.

Please Note:

We occasionally charge additional supplements on the Speyside Way Whisky Trail for tours starting during the high season. This is due to higher costs involved in booking our upgrade option or in cases where our normal accommodation suppliers do not have availability, and an alternative, more expensive, supplier is sourced with your approval.

We do not book visits to distilleries and other attractions and those visits are not included in your tour.

Extra Days/Activities

The Speyside Way Whisky Trail combines great hiking with some of the best whisky in the world. Treat yourself to a day off along the way!

Here are some places we recommend you stop and spend an extra day. We will organise any additional accommodation required – just let us know when you are booking your hiking tour.

Craigellachie / Dufftown / Ballindalloch: Spend a day in the heart of the Speyside whisky region and take tasting tours in some of the nearby distilleries. (Some visits may require the use of a taxi. Note that we do not book visits to distilleries and they are not included in your tour price.)

Aviemore: Scotland’s Adventure Capital: Get your adrenaline pumping with activities from gorge walking and mountain biking to abseiling and white water rafting.

Grantown-on-Spey: Kick back and take a day off to explore this pretty little town – visit the Craig Bar for some of the best pies in Scotland.

Booking Extra Days

  1. Choose WHERE you wish to stay.
  2. Decide HOW MANY NIGHTS you need.
  3. Go to the BOOKING FORM and fill in the ‘Extra Nights Required/Other Requests’ section

The costs of extra nights during your Speyside Way Whisky Trail hiking tour start from £70 per person per night and from £80 for single hikers who will have their own private room. 

Please note that if you book any extra nights in a location not included in your tour itinerary, you will have to make your own arrangements to transfer your bags to this location. Please also note that we do not book visits to distilleries and other attractions and that those visits are not included in your tour.

Accommodation

Staying at the very best accommodation during your time in Scotland can transform a “good” hiking tour into a “great” hiking tour.

That’s why, at Hillwalk Tours, we take the quality of our accommodation partners seriously. So much so that you will find we strive to only work with high-quality and well-reviewed accommodation. Additionally, most of our accommodation partners have been personally checked by a member of the Hillwalk Tours team to ensure your comfort.

As keen hikers ourselves we know you’ll want somewhere relaxing to put your feet up in the evening. A place where a warm smile from your hosts makes you feel welcome as soon as you step through the door. If your hiking gear gets wet, it’s nice to know that you can dry it or, if you ask, it may even be taken from you and returned nice and dry the next morning.

Comfy beds, en-suite bathrooms (where available), tasty breakfast menus, and a friendly & cosy atmosphere – these are all the things that we like so you can rest assured that we’ll do our best to find them for you as well.

To find out more about the types of accommodation you can expect to find on a Hillwalk Tours walking holiday, read here: Accommodation on your Walking Tour

In addition, if you’d like to stay an extra night at any location during your hiking tour, just let us know.

Please Note:

Due to limited accommodation options in some locations on your tour, we may need to book you into accommodation which will require transfers to/from your hike start/end point or where you will have private bathroom facilities instead of an ensuite. We may also need to book you into the same accommodation for more than one night to cover multiple locations. The cost of this is covered in your basic tour price and will not affect your tour itinerary.

In general, we try to book accommodation which is as close to the local amenities as possible. If you are staying in a remote location (where access to local pubs/restaurants is not feasible), the hosts of the accommodation that you are staying at will ensure that you are well fed.

Travel Info

Getting to and from your Speyside Way Whisky Trail hiking tour is easy… when you know how!

In your hiking pack, you will receive all the necessary public transport information you need to make your journey as convenient as possible.

In the meantime, if you’d like to do some advance planning yourself, here are our tips:

Departing from Aviemore or Ballindalloch after your Hiking Tour:

Use public bus or train services to Inverness, Edinburgh and Glasgow. You possibly have to take a taxi from Ballindalloch to Aberlour due to infrequent bus services.

Travelling by car?

If you would like to leave your car at the first or last accommodation on your tour, for the duration of the tour, then you can directly contact the accommodation owners before the start of your tour to check that this is possible. We will provide contact details for the accommodation provider.

FAQ

About our Scotland Hiking Tours

WEST HIGHLAND WAY: I am a solo walker, can I take a tour on the West Highland Way?

In recent years, it has become increasingly difficult to book a single room along the West Highland Way. Many B&B’s along the trail do not have single rooms and are simply unwilling to take solo walkers in their double/twin rooms, unless they are part of a larger group (e.g. a group of three people). For this reason, Hillwalk Tours can only offer walking tours for solo walkers along the West Highland Way in the months of March, April & October. Unfortunately it’s not possible for us to book West Highland Way tours for solo walkers in all other months. For a solo walker who is part of a larger group, we will continue to try and book a single room (maximum of one) throughout all months of the walking season. We are of course still offering walking holidays for solo walkers, without restrictions, in all of our other hiking regions in Scotland, England, Ireland and Spain. Thank you for your understanding.

What is a self-guided hiking tour?

A self-guided hiking tour means you are hiking without a guide.

Hillwalk Tours will provide you with all the resources you need to successfully complete the trail alone or in the company of good friends. We’ll plan your route, transfer your bags and show you all the best places to visit but you decide whether you want that extra hour in bed in the morning! All this gives you the freedom to enjoy the trails and the wonderful countryside at your own pace.

Find out more about the benefits of a self-guided hiking tour in comparison to a guided tour here.

How are the hiking tours graded in terms of difficulty?

Choosing the right hiking tour can be tricky. It’s important to consider the balance of physical challenge and comfort level that you require. To make your decision easier, we have drawn up a menu of Gentle, Moderate and Challenging hiking tours.

Before we explain the difference between the various grades, it is important to note that each hiking tour within a specific region follows the same official hiking trail. For example, if you choose to go walking in Kerry in Ireland, it doesn’t matter whether you pick a ‘Gentle’ tour or a ‘Challenging’ tour – you will still be walking along the official ‘Kerry Way’ trail. To make these walking trails more accessible to all walkers, we have either 1) picked out the sections of the walking trails that are less demanding or 2) shortened the average daily hike between accommodations.

  1. Same Trail, Easier Sections: For example, on the Kerry Way in Ireland, our ‘Gentle’ tours are restricted to the less demanding sections of the trail while our ‘Challenging’ tours cover the entire trail including the most difficult sections.
  2. Same Trail, Shorter Distances: For example, on the Hadrian’s Wall Path in England, you can walk the entire trail on a 8-Day Challenging Tour, a 10-Day Moderate Tour or a 11-Day Gentle Tour. However, while the Challenging tour requires you to keep up a brisk pace of 23km (14.5 miles) per day on average, the Moderate tour has a more leisurely average of 18km (11.25 miles) per day and the Gentle tour only requires an average walking distance of 15km per day.

Below is a general overview of each tour grading level. Note that the figures for ‘Average Daily Hike’ and ‘Hiking Time’ may vary between regions. Poor weather conditions can affect the average hiking time which is based on a person of normal fitness walking at a moderate speed of around 4km/h (2.5 mph). The hiking time takes into account the terrain covered but not the time required for lunch stops, photos, etc. For more details on daily distances, the level of ascent and the terrain the trail crosses; refer to the itinerary page of each individual tour.

Gentle

12-18km (8-11 miles)  3-6 hours

Our Gentle Hiking Tours are designed with the part-time hiker in mind. While you can still expect some climbs, these tours offer the shortest average daily hikes, which in turn means less ups and downs. This will give you plenty time to enjoy the sights and scenery, take photos, have a long lunch and, if necessary, negotiate the more tricky sections of a walk.

Moderate

 16-23km (10-14 miles)  4-7 hours

Our Moderate Hiking Tours will suit people who are used to some regular exercise or who have done some previous hiking. They offer longer but still manageable daily hikes and should give you a little more of a challenge without going beyond your limits. There will be more climbs in a day but harder days are generally followed by easier ones. Of course, you will also still have time for a relaxed lunch and to take photos.

Challenging

 22-30km (14-19 miles)  5-9 hours

Our Challenging Hiking Tours are designed for the experienced hiker or those walkers who love a good challenge. They offer the longest daily hikes with more elevation gain and will often test your endurance by having you walk all day. Of course, as with all of our tours there will be a hot shower and the finest local hospitality waiting at the end of your walk to re-charge your batteries each evening.
Why book with Hillwalk Tours?

Our core purpose at Hillwalk Tours is to create experiences that make people happy. Some of the ways we try to achieve this, and ensure you have the best possible experience with us, include;

The biggest choice of itineraries for the trails we offer, guaranteed – We want you to explore these areas of outstanding natural beauty at your own pace, with nearly 400 itineraries to choose from across 21 different trails (and we’re always looking to add more).

We book your tour direct, always – We don’t book third-party companies to organise tours for our customers. We don’t resell tours from other third-party companies. We always directly book and operate all of our tours ourselves.

Creating memorable self-guided hiking tours is all we focus on, nothing else! – We just focus on creating and organising self-guided hiking tours, and nothing else! And we’ve been doing it for quite some time (since 2008), with over 20,000 hiking tours taken with us so far, and growing…

You can access your tour information easily – You will receive a designated Hillwalk Tours account where you can login to access all your tour documents, trail GPS file, and other important details. Access your tour information anytime, anywhere, and on any device.

We don’t do off-the-shelf guidebooks – We personally walk each trail we offer & create our own detailed route notes. By doing so, it allows us to provide you with more itineraries, route options and alternatives than any other walking tour company!

We come highly recommended by other hikers – Our tours & service have consistently received 5* reviews from walkers. Check out our reviews on GoogleFacebook & Tripadvisor.

You can start your tour on any day / date you like – We don’t confine you to book your tour on specific dates. Instead, you can book your tour to start on any day / date you like during the walking season.

We have itineraries to match your fitness levels – We provide 3 levels of hiking; ‘Gentle’, ‘Moderate’ & ‘Challenging’, which are designed to suit all types of fitness levels and abilities of hikers.

You can walk at your own pace – As all our tours are self-guided, you can walk the trails at your own pace as opposed to adhering to a strict schedule, allowing you the freedom to enjoy the beautiful nature & surrounds.

We’re here to support you 24/7 – You can reach us by phone 24/7 if you ever need additional support while on the trail.

We have a very low booking deposit – Our booking deposit of £100 is one of the lowest, if not the lowest, in the industry.

Do you offer guided hiking tours?

Guided hiking tours are not available from Hillwalk Tours.

However, don’t be put off doing a self-guided hiking tour. With help from the documentation that you are provided in advance i.e. Route Notes & Directions, Local History & Attractions, Places To Eat / Evening Meal Suggestions etc., you are well prepared, making it perfectly manageable to complete the trail by yourself – and without missing out on any of the local information & history as you walk along the trail!

When can we start our Hillwalk Tours hiking holiday?

You can start your hiking tour on any day / date you wish within the walking season. Generally, the walking season for most of our hiking tours takes place between March to October, but there are some exceptions. Please see the individual trail pages for further information on the start and end dates of the walking season for each individual trail.

Does a 7-Day tour include 7 days of hiking?

Our 7-Day tours include 5 days of hiking. The first and last days of all our hiking tours are travel days used to transfer to/from the town where your hike will begin/end. If you would like to hike for 7 days, simply select one of our 9-Day tours.

Does a 7-Day tour include 7 nights of accommodation?

Our 7-Day tours include 6 nights of accommodation – specifically the first 6 nights on your hiking tour. Your tour finishes on the seventh day when you check out of your last B&B.

What is a single supplement?

A single supplement is an additional charge for walkers booking single accommodation (a room for one person).

This is due to the fact that most accommodation providers price their rooms for double occupancy, meaning that they don’t discount the rooms even if they are only occupied by one person. Furthermore, accommodation providers have outlined that the cost of cleaning the room is the same regardless of how many people are in it, and also the potential cost of giving up a double occupancy (or more) sized room for just one person at a cheaper rate, when they could sell the room to more than one person at the normal rate, is too high.

Therefore, the total tour price for individuals who request a single room is “the price per person plus the single supplement”. This added supplement covers the extra costs associated with accommodating a single person in their own room.

Can we bring our dog?

It is not possible to bring your dog on a Hillwalk Tours hiking holiday. Unfortunately, the majority of our accommodation providers do not accept pets of any kind. Furthermore, on many of the trails you will pass through farmlands where livestock are present, and where dogs are not permitted as a result.

Can we buy bus/train tickets in advance of our trip?

Yes, most bus and train tickets can be purchased online in advance of your trip. Specific transport information is available on the tour pages of each hiking region. See the Travel Info section for each tour for more information.

Upon booking you will also receive a step by step public transport guide which will outline some potential public transport options you can take in order to get you from your arrival airport to the start location of your tour.

If we arrive by car, where can we park while we are on our hiking tour?

We can generally arrange for you to park at your first accommodation.

If you are bringing your car, please contact us in advance.

About Luggage Transfers and Accommodation

Will we have to carry our own bags during our hiking tour?

No, on all our Scottish hiking tours your luggage will be transported to your next accommodation each day as you walk and will arrive before 4pm. Weight limits apply to each piece of luggage, and vary from trail to trail, so please refer to your walking pack documents and communications sent to you in advance of your tour for the maximum weight limit allowed per bag on your selected tour.

What type of accommodation will we be staying in?

You will mostly be staying in traditional Scottish Bed & Breakfasts (B&B’s) / Guesthouses and small Hotels during your hiking trip. B&Bs / Guesthouses are often private lodging houses, where the friendly hosts welcome travellers into their homes. To ensure your comfort, most accommodation you will stay in has been personally checked by a member of the Hillwalk Tours team. At your accommodation, you can expect a warm welcome, en-suite facilities (where available) and a tasty breakfast each morning (but usually no other meals).

For more details on the types of accommodation you can expect to find on a Hillwalk Tours walking holiday, read here: Accommodation on your Walking Tour

 

Can we get a list of our accommodation before we leave?

Yes, you will receive a list of all accommodation that you will be staying in prior to the departure of your travels. Once final payment for your tour has been received, you will be sent an email with a digital PDF copy of your walking pack documents such as your route notes, accommodation details and evening meal suggestions etc. It’s within PDF copy of your walking pack documents that you’ll be able to find what accommodation you will be staying in each night*. You will also be posted a walking pack (either to your home address or the first accommodation on your tour) which will include essential physical items for your tour such as the required maps for the trail and luggage tags.

*If you’d prefer to receive a physical copy of your full walking pack documents too, it’s essential that you reply by email within 48 hours of booking your tour in order to let us know.

Will our accommodation be close to the local town/village?

In general, we try to book accommodation which is as close to the local amenities as possible. If you are staying in a remote location (where access to local pubs/restaurants is not feasible), the owner of the B&B / Guesthouse or Hotel that you are staying at will ensure that you are well fed.

Please be aware that occasionally, due to the limited supply of accommodation, we may have to make reservations for you at a nearby B&B / Guesthouse or Hotel and arrange transfers to and from the walking trail accordingly. In most locations, this is not a concern but in certain places, availability can be an issue. For more information, just have a chat with the person who is booking your tour.

What is the difference between a ‘twin’ and a ‘double’ room?

A ‘twin’ room is a room for two people with two separate beds. A ‘double’ room has just one large bed (for two people).

For more detailed information on the different room type options, please see the following page: Room Types

About Your Walking Pack

What’s included in my walking pack?

Once final payment for your tour has been received, you will be sent an email with a digital PDF copy of your walking pack documents such as your route notes, accommodation details and evening meal suggestions etc. You will also be posted a walking pack (either to your home address or first accommodation on your tour) which will include essential physical items for your tour such as the required maps for the trail and luggage tags*.

*If you’d prefer to receive a physical copy of your full walking pack documents too, it’s essential that you reply by email within 48 hours of booking your tour in order to let us know.

A breakdown of the documents and items you can expect to find in your walking pack are as follows;
– Route notes (prepared by a member the Hillwalk Tours team who has walked every step of your tour)
– Detailed hiking map(s)
– A high-quality waterproof map-case
– Full details of your accommodations and where you will be staying
– Our tips on the most interesting attractions to visit along the trail
– A look at fascinating local history
– A guide to the best places to eat and drink
– Safety information, emergency contact details & the country code for walkers

Do you provide GPS data?

You will find GPS coordinates for each overnight accommodation on your tour in your walking pack, which you will receive prior to departure. Additionally, you will find the GPS coordinates for the trailheads (i.e. the start and end points of your daily hikes) for most of our tours.

GPS tracks for your walking route will also be provided and available to download prior to your tour. Please note that while we are reasonably confident that the tracks are correct and up-to-date, we recommend that they are not used as the only tool for navigation. The most important means for navigation should be the way markers along the trail, our route notes and the maps we provide in the walking pack.

How many walking packs are provided?

Once final payment for your tour has been received, you will be sent an email with a PDF copy of your hiking documents. This PDF document can then be forwarded to as many people within your walking group as you’d like.

For the walking pack which includes physical items such as luggage tags, map-case, maps etc. and which will be posted to you (or awaiting at your first accommodation) – one walking pack will be provided per four people. Therefore, for a group of 1 – 4 people, one walking pack will be sent. For 5 – 8 people, two walking packs will be sent, etc.

What language will my walking pack be in?

The contents of your walking pack (route notes, accommodation information, history, etc.) will all be in English.

About Fitness Levels

How fit do we need to be to take a hiking tour?

We believe that the beauty of the Scottish countryside should be enjoyed by everyone.

We try to provide trail itineraries that cater to a large range of hikers & abilities. To achieve this, we provide 3 different levels of difficulty i.e. Gentle, Moderate, and Challenging itineraries. The difference between each level of difficulty is in the average distance that you will walk each day. It does not differ in relation to the elevation, as the exact trail will still be followed. Therefore, the same elevations (the up’s and down’s) of the trail are usually present regardless of the level of difficulty. Depending on the trail, you may find in your route notes some alternative & easier route options for sections of the trail in order to help you navigate & bypass more difficult parts of the trail, but this isn’t always the case.

It’s important to note that levels of difficulty provided by Hillwalk Tours should only be used as a guide against where your own level of fitness is at, and what you feel you will be able to manage on a daily basis. At the end of the day, it’s you that knows your own level of fitness best. We strongly encourage you to review the distances & walking times for each itinerary that you may be considering, along with any additional notes on the specific tour page, in advance of booking.

What is the difference between Gentle, Moderate and Challenging Hiking Tours?

The difference between these tours is the distance that you will hike each day:

  • Gentle tours cover an average of 12-18 km (8-11 miles) per day
  • Moderate tours cover an average of 16-23 km (10-14 miles) per day
  • Challenging Tours cover an average of 22-30 km (14-19 miles) per day

For a more detailed breakdown of how we grade our hiking tours, please see the following question: Tour Grading

Can we take a rest day?

Yes, we are more than happy to organise an additional night for you at any location along your tour.

Suggestions on interesting places to take a rest day are available on the tour pages of each hiking region. See the ‘Extra Days/Activities’ section of each tour for more information.

About Money, Flights and Insurance

Will there be ATM/Credit Card facilities along the hiking route?

ATMs (cash machines) are available in most larger cities, towns and villages. Remember that your home bank will likely charge you for withdrawing money overseas. Additionally, if you have a debit card, you can often get cash through the ‘cashback’ system at some shops and pubs when you make a purchase with the card (ask for ‘cashback’).

Credit and debit cards can now be used for payment almost everywhere. However, there are still some smaller businesses that may only accept cash, such as smaller shops, B&Bs (for packed lunches) or taxis (for transfers to or from restaurants). We therefore recommend that you carry some cash (local currency) with you as a back-up.

Contactless card payments are also increasingly accepted in many places (please check daily card limits in advance of use).

What currency do I need for my hiking holiday?

The currency used in the United Kingdom (i.e. England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland) is Pound Sterling (£). Therefore, if you are taking any hiking tour in Scotland you will need Pound Sterling.

Are flights and transport to the start of our hiking tour included?

Flights and transport to the start and from the end of your hiking tour are not included on our tours. However, we do provide a detailed step-by-step guide of suggested options on how you can make it to the start location of your hike by public transport from numerous major airports. In addition, for further travel information, see the ‘Travel Info’ section on the individual tour page for each trail.

Do I need to buy insurance?

Although travel insurance is not required to take a hiking holiday, we strongly encourage you to take out adequate insurance cover prior to travel.

Unfortunately 3rd party travel insurance is not available through Hillwalk Tours, and must be booked separately.

Tour Grading

Which Scotland Hiking Tour Should You Choose?

Choosing the right hiking tour can be tricky. It’s important to consider the balance of physical challenge and comfort level that you require. To make your decision easier, we have drawn up a menu of Gentle, Moderate and Challenging hiking tours.

Before we explain the difference between the various grades, it is important to note that each hiking tour within a specific region follows the same official hiking trail. So, if you choose to go walking along the West Highland Way, it doesn’t matter whether you pick a ‘Gentle’ tour or a ‘Challenging’ tour – you will still be walking along the official ‘West Highland Way’ trail. But to make these walking trails more accessible to all walkers, we have shortened the average daily hike between accommodations for the gentle and moderate tours.

  • Same Trail, Shorter Distances: For example, on the Rob Roy Way you can walk the entire trail on a 6-Day Challenging Tour, an 8-Day Moderate Tour or a 10-Day Gentle Tour. However, while the Challenging tour requires you to keep up a brisk pace of 31km (19.5 miles) per day, the Moderate tour has a more leisurely average of 19.5km (12 miles) and the Gentle tour only covers a relaxing daily average of just over 15km (9.5 miles) per day.

Below is a general overview of each tour grading level. Note that the figures for ‘Average Daily Hike’ and ‘Hiking Time’ may vary between regions. Poor weather conditions can affect the average hiking time which is based on a person of normal fitness walking at a moderate speed of around 4km/h (2.5 mph). The hiking time takes into account the terrain covered but not the time required for lunch stops, photos, etc. For more details on daily distances, the level of ascent and the terrain the trail crosses; refer to the itinerary page of each individual tour.

Gentle

12-18km (8-11 miles) 3-6 hours
Our Gentle Hiking Tours are designed with the part-time hiker in mind. While you can still expect some climbs, these tours offer the shortest average daily hikes, which in turn means less ups and downs. This will give you plenty time to enjoy the sights and scenery, take photos, have a long lunch and, if necessary, negotiate the more tricky sections of a walk.

Moderate

16-23km (10-14 miles) 4-7 hours
Our Moderate Hiking Tours will suit people who are used to some regular exercise or who have done some previous hiking. They offer longer but still manageable daily hikes and should give you a little more of a challenge without going beyond your limits. There will be more climbs in a day but harder days are generally followed by easier ones. Of course, you will also still have time for a relaxed lunch and to take photos.

Challenging

22-30km (14-19 miles) 5-9 hours
Our Challenging Hiking Tours are designed for the experienced hiker or those walkers who love a good challenge. They offer the longest daily hikes with more elevation gain and will often test your endurance by having you walk all day. Of course, as with all of our tours there will be a hot shower and the finest local hospitality waiting at the end of your walk to re-charge your batteries each evening.

How To Book

How do I book my hiking holiday?

1. Browse through our website to find your preferred hiking trail.

2. Choose the type of hiking tour you want to take: ‘Gentle’, ‘Moderate’ or ‘Challenging’.

3. Next, identify the number of days you want to spend on your hiking tour.

4. Click the ‘Make a Booking’ button on the top right of our webpage.

5. Finally, fill out our booking form and make a €100 deposit per person.

What options have I to pay for my tour?

Deposits and Final Payments can be made using:

1. Credit Card – through PayPal, for Euro Payments, or through Stripe, for Sterling Payments

Paypal is used by 180 million people worldwide to make secure online credit card payments. Please note if you have opened a PayPal account at any stage in the past, you must log in to your account in order to make the payment.

Stripe is a quick and secure way to accept credit card and debit card payments online. Stripe handles millions of transactions every year for businesses around the world and is now the preferred payment partner for many major companies.

2. Bank Transfer – Instructions & account details on how to make a bank transfer payment can be found on our booking form and also within the final payment email. Alternatively, you can contact us directly for the required account details.

After I book, what can I expect?

1. If you paid by credit card or debit card, you will receive an e-mail within 24 hours verifying receipt of your booking form and deposit payment.

In this email, you will be asked to confirm your tour details. If you paid by bank transfer, payment will take a few days to reach us. Therefore you will receive your email confirmation and request to confirm your tour details shortly after we have assigned the bank payment to your booking form. In this case, you may receive an automatic email outlining that a booking form has been received, but no deposit has been received – you can disregard this email.

2. Once your confirmation is received that all details on your booking form are correct, we will begin making the arrangements for your tour. Therefore, the sooner you send us this confirmation, the sooner we can start to book your tour.

3. After all the arrangements for your tour have been confirmed (this process can normally takes between five to ten working days) you will be sent a breakdown of the balance outstanding for your tour and a due date for payment.

4. Once your final payment has been received, we will send you an e-mail confirming receipt.

5. PDF soft copies of your walking pack will then be sent to you by email which will include all your tour details, and physical items required for your tour (e.g. maps, luggage tags etc.) will be posted to your home address, or to the first accommodation on your tour where it will be waiting for you on arrival. Alternatively, if you have requested that your full walking pack be printed, this will also be either sent to your home address or to your first accommodation on the tour where it will be waiting for you on arrival.

6. You will receive an automated email from us, one week in advance of your tour start date, providing you with some additional information to help with your preparation before travel.

7. During your tour, if you have any issues, you can reach us 24/7 on our emergency contact number which is found in your walking pack.

8. After your tour has finished, we will send you a feedback form in relation to your tour and how it all went. We place a huge importance on our customers feedback and experience of our tours, so when you have some free time, we strongly encourage you to fill out this feedback form as it helps us to continue to provide a high quality service and to further improve where necessary.

9. Lastly, if you would like to tell others about your experience with Hillwalk Tours, you can leave an online review on our Google, Facebook or Tripadvisor pages.

Don't Forget..

ESSENTIALS:
Please note: A detailed ‘Recommended Equipment List’ will be included in your walking pack.

WATERPROOF JACKET AND OVER-TROUSERS – You never know when you will need protection from wind and rain – so prepare for unpredictable weather by packing a waterproof, breathable jacket and over-trousers.

BASE LAYER – This is what you wear against your skin and the best options are breathable and wicking fabrics instead of cotton. They will move moisture away from the skin so that you feel more comfortable when you are walking.

FLEECE – It keeps you warm in ethe cooler months and on top of the hills, and will allow you to shed layers when you are working hard in the summer.

LIGHT AND COMFORTABLE TROUSERS – Make sure you choose trousers that are stretchy or allow enough space to move your legs freely. Denims are not suitable for hill walking and dry very slowly once they get wet.

WICKING SOCKS – Choose non-cotton socks that fit well and will move moisture away from your feet to stop them feeling sweaty. This will help to reduce the likelihood of blisters and ‘hot spots’.

FOOTWEAR – We recommend you bring comfortable, waterproof, lightweight shoes or boots, that provide good ankle support and offer good grip on rock, grass and mud. Remember that the trails in many of our regions can become quite wet and muddy, after periods of rain.

  • If you are taking a walking tour on the Great Glen Way, we recommend you choose your footwear carefully and bring something suitable for prolonged sections of hiking on asphalt or hard packed dirt.
  • (T) Many walkers find hiking shoes sufficient and often more comfortable for the Speyside Way Whisky Trail, and for walkers hiking the asphalt section from Callander to Lochearnhead on the Rob Roy Way
    • Our tip: If you buy new boots or shoes for you holiday, make sure to try them out on one or two longer walks before your tour!

BACKPACK / RUCKSACK (with Waterproof Cover or liner) – To store all your essentials and keep them dry – including extra layers of clothing, your waterproofs, first aid kit, camera and your lunch, snacks and drinks. Don’t forget how important it is to stay hydrated and bring at least 1 – 2 litres of water per person each day, depending on the weather!

WARM HAT & GLOVES – They can be essential in many regions, even in the summer, at higher altitudes and on exposed places.

CASH – Bring some cash to pay some smaller businesses that may not accept credit or debit cards, such as smaller shops, B&Bs (for packed lunches) or taxis (for transfers to or from restaurants).

FIRST AID KIT & FOIL BLANKET – It’s a good idea to have a small, basic first aid kit to deal with little injuries such as sprains, scrapes, cuts and blisters. Good things to bring are plasters & wound dressings, sterile cleansing wipes, pain killers, tweezers (for splinters & ticks), bandages, zinc oxide tape or elastoplast tape (for blisters or sprains) and a foil rescue blanket to keep you warm (or cool) in case of an accident.

WHISTLE & TORCH – In the very unlikely event you need to signal for help (whistle) or if your walk takes longer than expected and you end up walking in the dark (torch).

MOBILE PHONE – We recommend that you bring or purchase a mobile/cell phone. It will allow you to contact your accommodation and transfer providers from the trail and call for help in an emergency.

  • Visitors from other European Countries: Most European billpay and prepay customers can use ‘roaming’, but check with your operator for the best rates before you travel.
  • Visitors from the United States, Canada and elsewhere: Make sure that you have a GSM/UMTS phone compatible with European networks and a roaming service / suitable phone plan for the country you are travelling to. If your phone is unlocked and GSM/UMTS compatible, you can also purchase a UK SIM card from a variety of mobile phone stores and supermarkets and use it in your own phone.
  • Alternatively, you can purchase a cheap pre-pay phone when you arrive. It is possible to buy a basic pre-pay phone for as little as £15. You can then top-up with vouchers or a credit/debit card.
  • Make sure your phone is fully charged before you start your walk. You might not always have a phone signal on the trail but, in general, the level of coverage is quite good.

PLUG ADAPTER (/CONVERTER) – Three square pin plugs are used in the UK – voltage is 230V.

ADDITIONAL SUGGESTIONS:
SUN CREAM, SUNGLASSES AND SUNHAT (April to Sept) – Let’s hope you’ll need those!

MIDGE/INSECT REPELLENT & MIDGE NET (May to September only) – More important for Scotland, but can also be useful for other regions. Our tip: Smidge – a product developed in Scotland and considered the UK’s #1 Midge Repellent Spray.

CAMERA – Vital for capturing photos of the stunning scenery along your trip, which help you brag to your friends about your holiday.

COMPASS – A compass (and the ability to use it) is a good idea.

WALKING POLES – Assist forward movement, reduce impact on your knees, and help with balance in difficult terrain. A pair is best but many hikers also just use one.

GAITERS – By covering your upper boot and lower leg these help to keep your feet and trousers dry in wet grass and boggy terrain.

EARPLUGS – We know how important it is to get a good night’s rest. However, as there may be other guests in the guesthouse with different plans for their night, we recommend bringing a pair of earplugs to ensure sweet dreams!

During Your Tour

Is there specific check-in and check-out times at each accommodation?

Your room will be ready each day from 4pm at the latest and sometimes sooner.

Check-in times to your accommodation is generally not before 4pm. You may be able to check-in a bit earlier (e.g. around 3pm), but this is not guaranteed. To request an earlier check-in time, please contact your accommodation host in advance to discuss.

If you expect to arrive later than 6pm to your accommodation, please inform you accommodation hosts in advance (in particular B&B’s & Guesthouses). Reasons for this can be that your flight is delayed, that you are still on the trail or because you might have stopped for food or a drink before check-in. By letting them know in advance, it allows the hosts to plan accordingly and to also put their minds at ease that you are OK.

Check-out time is usually 10am , but it can vary, therefore it’s often best to discuss check-out times with your accommodation hosts directly.

 

What time will my luggage arrive at?

Your luggage will arrive by 4pm each day.

What types of breakfasts are available?

A tasty breakfast is important to prepare you for the day of hiking & adventure ahead. At your accommodation you can find either, a hot breakfast, a continental breakfast, or perhaps even both!

In some cases, where we have no other option but to book you into accommodation where no breakfast is served, we will deduct the cost of the breakfast from your tour price which can instead be used to purchase breakfast in a nearby café / restaurant.

Most accommodation hosts will always try and cater for dietary requirements as best they can, provided they are notified in advance. Therefore, if you do have any dietary requirements (e.g. vegan, vegetarian, etc.) please let us know in the “Any Dietary Requirements/Allergies?” field on our booking form when booking.

Please note, not all businesses may readily accommodate dietary requirements, such as vegetarian, vegan, gluten free, etc., especially in more remote and rural areas. If you require a specific diet, we recommend you enquire in advance or talk to your hosts. You may also find it useful to download an app such as Vanilla Bean or Happy Cow, both available on Android and iOS, to help you find a venue which meets your needs.

Where can I get a packed lunch? Can I pick this up along the trail?

In your Route Notes, we list places where you should expect to find at least one café, pub, shop or restaurant along each day’s hike. However, opening times can change, some places may only open in afternoon, and businesses can close unexpectedly. We therefore recommend you also check with your accommodation hosts where you can get lunch the next day, either along the route or at the start of the hike.

If it is unlikely that you will be able to purchase food or drink during the day, you may wish to purchase a packed lunch before you start in the morning, especially if it is a long hike. If there are no shops nearby, your host will be able to provide a packed lunch at a reasonable price on request.

Most accommodation hosts will always try and cater for dietary requirements as best they can, provided they are notified in advance. Therefore, if you do have any dietary requirements (e.g. vegan, vegetarian, etc.) please let us know in the “Any Dietary Requirements/Allergies?” field on our booking form when booking.

Please note, not all businesses may readily accommodate dietary requirements, such as vegetarian, vegan, gluten free, etc., especially in more remote and rural areas. If you require a specific diet, we recommend you enquire in advance or talk to your hosts. You may also find it useful to download an app such as Vanilla Bean or Happy Cow, both available on Android and iOS, to help you find a venue which meets your needs.

Where can I get an evening meal?

You can generally buy an evening meal in one of the local restaurants, cafes or pubs close to your accommodation. If there aren’t any restaurants/cafes/pubs in the local area, evening meals can be obtained from your host.

Most accommodation hosts will always try and cater for dietary requirements as best they can, provided they are notified in advance. Therefore, if you do have any dietary requirements (e.g. vegan, vegetarian, etc.) please let us know in the “Any Dietary Requirements/Allergies?” field on our booking form when booking.

Please note, not all businesses may readily accommodate dietary requirements, such as vegetarian, vegan, gluten free, etc., especially in more remote and rural areas. If you require a specific diet, we recommend you enquire in advance or talk to your hosts. You may also find it useful to download an app such as Vanilla Bean or Happy Cow, both available on Android and iOS, to help you find a venue which meets your needs.

Will there be drying facilities at my accommodation?

The majority of accommodation hosts will be able to assist you in drying your clothes and boots.

What is the difference between kilometres and miles?

1 kilometre = 0.62 mile
1 mile = 1.61 kilometres

How do I deal with animals on my hike?

Many of the hiking trails can pass through private farmland. This means that farmers can have their livestock (such as cattle, sheep, goats etc.) grazing in the same fields that you walk through. Some livestock may look intimidating. However, don’t worry, you will find these animals are actually quite timid. Continue walking in a normal fashion (do not run) and you should have no problems. In addition, take note of any signs which the farmer may have put up.

You can find more information on how to deal with animals on your hike in the Safety Information & Country Code document you find in your walking pack.

Will I have cell phone reception?

Most areas have mobile / cell phone reception, even while you are hiking. However, you may pass through some remote areas where reception will be either limited or unavailable entirely.

It is important to note that, if you are ever in an emergency, mobile/cell phones can still contact the emergency service numbers even without mobile/cell phone reception.

Will our accommodation have Wi-Fi connection?

Yes, in most accommodation Wi-Fi is available, however it’s not guaranteed. In addition, due to the remote locations of some accommodations, the Wi-Fi quality may not always be the best.

Are the trails clearly way-marked?

Yes, in general most routes are very clearly way-marked with a marker directly before and after each turn. If you are ever in doubt, you can also check the Hillwalk Tours route notes or maps provided in your walking pack.

Will my hiking tour involve taxi transfers?

Yes, it is possible that your tour may include taxi transfers to bring you to and from the trail. The reason for this is;

  1.  Due to limited accommodation options in some locations on your tour, we may need to book you into an accommodation which will require transfers to/from your hike start/end point.
  2.  Due to limited accommodation options or no availability in accommodation, we may need to book you into the same accommodation for more than one night to cover multiple locations, in which case taxi transfers will be required to bring you to and from the trail.
  3.  Due to minimum night stay requirements in accommodations on certain trails, we sometimes have no other option but for you to stay multiple nights in the same location and use transfers to get you to and from the trail.

The cost of these taxi transfers bringing you to and from the trail is covered in the tour price, and they will not affect your tour itinerary i.e. you will still walk the exact route as listed.

Climate

The climate of Scotland is temperate, and tends to be very changeable. It’s not uncommon to experience all four seasons in one day! The warmest months are July and August with temperatures at an average 17 °C. Rain falls throughout the year and April, May and June are normally the driest months. Annual rainfall in the western Highlands can be more than 3,000mm while the east coast receives an average of less than 800mm. The prevailing winds are from the west and southwest, and are a constant feature in the islands and Highlands.

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