To the uninitiated, the prospect of hiking through the wilds of northern Scotland may seem quite daunting. And I wouldn’t blame you myself! What with the soaring crags of Ben Nevis and Ben Macdui, the howling winds and lashing rain, and of course the sea monster lurking beneath the dark waters of Loch Ness! OK, that last one was a joke, but you never know…
In reality, Scotland is one of the most accessible and straightforward countries for hikers in Europe and indeed the world. Thanks to self-guided hillwalking tour operators like Hillwalk Tours, walkers can avail of the assistance and benefits brought about by an established team of experts. What’s more, Scotland’s main walking and hiking trails are actually very easily reached from the main airports and population centres. Yet before you know it you’ll be right out in the thick of it, surrounded by nature and stunning wilderness.
And hiking in Scotland doesn’t mean you need to get blown about in a tent all night either. When you embark on your expedition through a tour operator like Hillwalk Tours, you’ll be put up in warm, cosy bed and breakfasts each night. Here you’ll also be given a full feed the next morning before another day of hiking. And the weather isn’t always that terrible either, so often you’ll arrive at your overnight accommodation warm and dry already.
Finally, it’s not all mountains you’ll have to hike through either. Hillwalk Tours also offers the Speyside Way Whisky Trail, which is mostly flat thanks to following a former railway line. And it’s the perfect option for those wishing to sample some of the world’s finest blends on their way. The Fife Coastal Path is another great option as it is mainly low lying but still offers spectacular coastal scenery and wildlife.
In case you still don’t believe me, here’s six clear reasons why hiking in Scotland is easier than you think:
Although the scenic hiking trails of northern Scotland take you through some of Europe’s most spectacular, wild and remote scenery, the trailheads are quite conveniently situated. In fact, the start and end points for the routes are surprisingly closer to civilisation than you think. As such, it’s extremely easy to arrive in Scotland from overseas and hit the trails before you know it. For example, both the Speyside Way Whisky Trail and the Great Glen Way are located right next to Inverness, a small city right in the north of the country but boasting an airport which is busy enough, flying passengers in from across Europe.
In fact, the Great Glen Way actually finishes right in Inverness, making it even easier to put your feet up for the night and fly onwards for your Euro trip or take a train to continue your Scottish adventure. Meanwhile back down south, the West Highland Way and the Rob Roy Way are both very convenient to Scotland’s two main cities and airports, located in Glasgow and Edinburgh. Not only that, but the West Highland Way commences in the suburbs to the northwest of Glasgow, meaning that one could feasibly walk from the city centre or even the airport to the trailhead. Now that’s not something you can say about every remote hiking trail! Finally, the Fife Coastal Path starts in North Queensferry, located just outside of Edinburgh, making it one of the easiest trails in Scotland to travel to.
|Hiking Tours in Scotland|
|Self-guided tours from £409! Accommodation and bag transfer included.|
Unlike back in the old days, walkers now have the option of booking a self-guided hiking trip from tour operators like Hillwalk Tours. This opens up a world of possibilities now in terms of flexibility and a variety of package options. For example, hikers can book as few or as many people into their group as they wish. Your overnight accommodation will be sorted, and you are usually provided with other small pieces of assistance as well which add up to make for a much more comfortable and enjoyable experience as a whole. These small extra bits of help and guidance include things like packed lunches from your B&B, airport and/or city transfers, maps, route notes, pre-planning and preparation packages, and even inspirational photo books containing images of the highlights along your selected route in order to whet your appetite before you depart. The latter also helps you in selecting which optional route variants you wish to undertake based on your desired sights and experiences.
We’ve been over this in some detail already in this article, but I must reiterate just how much of a help it is to have your accommodation pre-booked for the entirety of your walking holiday in Scotland. Gone are the days of having to plan, book and coordinate every single night of your hiking trip. Gone too are the days of needing to sweat it out in a muggy tent on warm summer nights, under attack by mosquitoes each time you open the fly net. As you’re eating your breakfast at your B&B each morning, you can get your fill for a good day of walking. And as you’re still off the beaten track, your overnight accommodation will boast exceptional views in the rugged mountain scenery – just without needing to carry a heavy pack and tent up those mountains first!
Booking your walking holiday in Scotland through a self-guided tour company means you can freely and flexibly shorten or expand upon the usual walking distance and route. For example, Hillwalk Tours caters to walkers of all experience and fitness levels. This means they offer alternate routes which are more or less challenging. Their varying options for distance travelled and time during which this is undertaken means they can flexibly cater for your desired pace and distance travelled each day.
The Weather’s not all bad
Yes, Scotland is fairly far north and as such susceptible to some stormy weather coming in off the Atlantic. However, despite its famed rainy and windy conditions, it isn’t always that bad. When’s the best time to visit Scotland for outdoor hiking trips, you might ask. Well, fortunately Scotland does have a drier period between late March and early June. While the temperatures are still cooler at this time, it makes for beautiful scenery as the peaks around you are often still snow capped. July and August are warmer and still offer up plenty of dry days as well. The autumn months of September and October can be nice too before the temperature begins to drop again for the winter.
It’s not all mountains!
While many of the long distance hiking trails in Scotland rise up and down the ridges and valleys surrounding its beautiful lakes, there is one trail which is surprisingly flat. The Speyside Way Whisky Trail in the northeast of the country mostly follows former and current railway lines, meaning that the gradient is extremely shallow. As such, walkers gradually ascend from the town of Buckie on the north coast towards Aviemore on the edge of the Cairngorm Mountains. What’s more, hikers along the Speyside Way Whisky Trail can also avail of the world’s finest Scotch Whiskies as they sample them one after the other along their journey. And that’s right from the source at the famous distilleries dotting the trail.
Finally, the Fife Coastal Path is one of the finest coastal trails in the UK and unlike many of the other famous coastal routes, doesn’t require a significant amount of ascent and descent up and down to cliffs. The path has a gentle gradient throughout and passes award-winning beaches, woodlands, charming, historic little harbour villages, nationally important estuaries and wildlife reserves. A highlight of the route is also a visit to St. Andrews, considered the “home of golf” but also with a fascinating history. This includes one of the oldest universities in Scotland as well as the remains of a castle and impressive cathedral.
For further information about how easy and accessible hiking in Scotland is, head on over to the overview page for Scotland hiking tours at the Hillwalk Tours website. Feel free to get in touch with us if you have any specific questions or want to make a booking to visit Scotland this summer.