5 hikes to capture the essence of Scotland


From a casual stroll taking in the beauty of your surroundings to an epic adventurous trail that tests your stamina; nothing can beat Scotland when it comes to luxurious hikes – the dramatic landscapes will take your breath away.

Given the current climate and limitations on air travel, we are being encouraged to venture outdoors and explore more of what the UK has to offer. A fantastic way to indulge in the beauty of the UK is by foot through utilising some of the most incredible hiking trails scattered across our shores. So to start us off, we wanted to guide you to some of Scotland’s most magical walks.

Loch hikes

Scotland is renowned for its lochs, and many have been made famous due to their attractions and well-known myths.

The Great Glen Way provides a scenic route from Fort William to Inverness including a visit to the mystical Loch Ness. This walking adventure is a total of 120 km in distance and can be completed within 7-8 days either self-guided or as a private tour.

Throughout the route, you will come across a number of stops for restaurants serving local delicacies and there is plenty of accommodation on offer if you need to put your feet up. This journey takes you from coast to coast through glens and high mountain ranges, the perfect way to take in the beauty of Scotland.

For anyone who enjoys the sight of wildlife in their natural habitats, then Loch Lomond is for you. You may even get the chance to catch a glimpse of the infamous fallow deer; this hike is a great way to get back in touch with nature!

Coastal hikes

Head to the North of Scotland and you will come across the great Assynt coastline. The hike on offer here starts from an old grain mill and heads towards the unmissable and very rare, white sands of Achmelvich beach. The unique formation of the area makes it a popular route for walkers as does the famous Suilven Mountain that towers over the coastal scene at 731m high.

Achmelvich is not only known for its beauty but also for the diverse wildlife that can be seen on its shorelines, including seals, otters and white-tailed eagles.

Another coastal walk that is perfect for the history enthusiasts is St Magnus Way in Orkney. The total distance of this walk is 20km and tells the story of the life and death of St Magnus, Orkney’s patron saint. Whilst on this walk you can discover the local Church and you if fancy laying on the sand, head to the Sand of Evie.

Island hikes

For hiking beginners there is a perfect one-day hike which is just a short ferry journey away from Stromness on the Island of Hoy.

The Old Man of Hoy is a formation of red sandstone that can be seen from some of Britain’s highest sea cliffs. When standing on these cliffs on a clear day, you also have the incredible opportunity to view the entire stretch of Scotland’s northern coast.

For adrenaline junkies, this next hike is packed with steep inclines and rocky routes. The hike is none other than the Summer Isles on the Isle of Eigg.

The highest point on the island of Eiggs reaches an astounding 393 metres tall. This island is known for its beautiful views and sights of the neighbouring islands can be seen such as Skye and Ardnamurchan.

Adventure-led hikes

The Scottish National Trail is a must do favourite that runs the length of Scotland. The hike consists of a 864 km trek from Kirk Yetholm to Cape Wrath and is referred to as a ‘mission’ for hiking lovers and the best way to capture the essence of Scotland. Visiting along the way parts of the River Tweed, the Union, Forth and Clyde Canals, the West Highland Way, the Rob Roy Way, and Cape Wrath Trail.

The trail starts off straight forward but progressively becomes more challenging as you head North. On route there are many sights to see and explore with the added option of accommodation, restaurants; a great way to discover the culture and heritage of the Scottish Towns.

Highland hikes

Lastly to the North of Glen Coe is the mountain Beinn a’Chrulaiste. Its bulky and rounded outline makes this magnificent feature stand out on your travels. There are a number of websites that have listed walking trials that enable you to really take in this enormous and truly spectacular sight.

One of the most celebrated highlands is Lochnagar which rises above one of Scotland’s corries with an altitude of 1155m. Two routes that are by far the most popular with hiking experts are from Spittal of Glenmuick and the other is called ‘The White Mounth Munros circuit’.

Carl O’Neill is the Sales and Marketing Director at The Kings Ferry Group. The Kings Ferry Group offers a VIP travel service, specialising in luxury coach and executive car hire.

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Comments (21)

  1. Tim says:

    I’m not really a metric sort of person so I had to do a quick conversion for the 864 kilometres of the Scottish National Trail. When you do the maths it comes out as an epic 536.8 miles, if you stick to the path.

    As someone who has done the mere 80 odd miles of the Dales Way, I have the utmost respect for anyone who gets anywhere near to completing all 536 miles.

    Even if you managed 25 miles a day, which might be difficult on that sort of terrain, you would be looking at around 22 days to finish the trek. If you are working that is going to make a big dent in your annual leave allowance.

    • Carl O'Neill says:

      Definitely a challenge to complete in stages! I’ve set myself the task to complete within 6-12 months- Wish me good luck!

    • Steven Ham says:

      You are wise to give yourself some time to prepare. I am sure that you are experienced and well-prepared. A trek like that is huge. You should be doing regular mileage to ensure that your boots are broken in and that your feet are ready for the challenge ahead. From my limited experience of some shorter terms you’ll also be requiring a few thousand calories more every day. Good luck with the training and the trek.

  2. Caroline Bartlett says:

    I think there’s a real appetite for some long-distance treks at the moment. I’ve had a couple of marketing e-mails from companies promoting long distance treks.

    Lock-down has really changed a few of my friends. Back in March they struggled to get anywhere near their hour of exercise. Then when it was permitted they ramped up their walking mileage. So many of my friends are still working from home that they do a 2 hour walk before or after work.

    Now that they’ve got a good level of fitness they are champing at the bit to do a more challenging walk and also one where they get a lot more variety of landscape to see.

    It’s amazing how a minute virus has changed so many lives and not always for the worse.

    • Carl O'Neill says:

      I completely agree with you. At the beginner of lockdown only having an hour a day to exercise seemed like a positive to get out the house and set yourself challenges that you may not of even thought about- especially for individuals that were working from home or on furlough. I know of a lot of people now that have been getting their 10,000 steps a day and looking at new routes and adventures to explore.

      This virus has been a massive impact on our world and it is inspiring to see people being positive and thinking of their wellbeing.

    • Harry says:

      Yeah, this does sound a little tough. After being inside for many weeks, it’s hard getting back into an exercise routine. On some days, it’s been really helpful though. Trying to stick to it myself!

    • Carl O'Neill says:

      I have found it useful to aim for my 10,000 steps a day. I have been amazed how many steps I just do from being in the house and then my walk a day gets me to my target.

  3. Gerald says:

    I’ve never been to Orkney nor had I heard of the St Magnus Way. As my joints are aching and ageing and creaking, 20km seems a fair challenge to me. Maybe even spread over two or even three days. Going for a walk with a purpose, learning some local history along the way, appeals to me much more than just marching for the sake of it.

    • Carl O'Neill says:

      There is so many hidden treasures within this nation that don’t require a lot of walking. Learning and exploring along the way might distract people from the distance they have travelled by foot. Definitely having a purpose gives people more motivation.

  4. Lorna says:

    I’ve got a friend living up in Scotland and she adores it there. She’s lived there since she was a little kid and wouldn’t dream of moving now. She tend to holiday up there one a year too because there are so many gorgeous places to stay and she likes hiking too as well as biking. I’ve never been but she’s said before how I should go up there one day. It’s a shame the train is so expensive from the south up to the north of the country, but maybe one day. I’d definitely like to go, maybe as a road trip to save a bit of money by driving or going by coach. There really are some beautiful parts of Scotland here, and you’ve shared some lovely photographs. I think more folks will be looking at staying within the UK for their travels this year and probably next year too, so it’s a good opportunity to explore more of what our country has to offer without flying else across the world.

    • Carl O'Neill says:

      With the current climate it has become popular to have a stay-cation and what better place to visit! The UK definitely has more hidden gems that many people have not seen and given the restrictions of travelling overseas, i believe that it is perfect time to book a UK holiday.

    • Jeremy says:

      Do you know where in Scotland? I’ve been thinking about visiting there for quite some time. I know Glasgow is an interesting city to visit obviously. But I’m wonder what other places might be worthwhile for a visit.

    • Carl O'Neill says:

      Edinburgh is always a popular destination that people have recommended and to go visit the castle. Inverness is perfect for a highland holiday and the scenery is breath-taking. Loch Ness is neighbour to Inverness and you can go see if you can spot the Loch Ness Monster!

  5. Achyut says:

    thank you it is a really good blog for Hiker you wrote about scotland we think scotland is famous for a bagpiper, but you explain different hike with days it is really nice to thank you for this blog with a picture.

  6. Tonya says:

    The Scottish Trail is a 864-km trek? I couldn’t even finish a 5km-run without stopping or walking every few minutes. That’s how bad-a-shape I’m in. Not a laughing matter nowadays as the need to be healthy is ever more important. But my mind is just comparing as to how much time it would take for a regular hiker to finish such a trail of that length. I’m sure sight, sound, and health benefits are all worth it. I’d probably do an 8th of the trail when I have the chance. Soon, I hope, as all I’m thinking about it outdoor traveling and avoiding typically crowded places. It sure is a changed world.

    • Carl O'Neill says:

      All the hikes are definitely perfect to do outside on holiday and away from any crowds. That particular one will test your walking skills! It is one to do in sections not in one go… set certain parts of the hike over a number of trips and challenge yourself everytime!
      Fitness and health has definitely become more of a focus for me during these uncertain times and what better way to, plus see some amazing views.

  7. Kevin says:

    I know my dad would love something like this. He’s really good at trekking or at least he’s in good enough shape to do Ironman races all around the world. I’ll have to show him this … we’ve been talking about different places to travel to and I know he’s got his eye on Europe. Would really love to check this out and enjoy the local gastronomy there too.

    • Carl O'Neill says:

      Given the current climate I would definitely recommend making the most of somewhere in the UK. Scotland treks seems to be a perfect match for an advanced hiker like your dad, and I recommend taking a camera to capture them amazing views.

  8. Lindsey says:

    Truly amazing, I love seeing the different views along the coastline. You can’t really appreciate something like that unless you actually go there. I’m left with a vivid picture of Scotland after reading this post.

    • Carl O'Neill says:

      Thank you Lindsey for your lovely comment. Scotland is a beautiful destination to write about and I enjoyed exploring into what it has to offer! Definitely going to be travelling there soon and experience what i am researching.

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