While there are numerous trails all over the world, Scotland, with its raw and scenic landscape, is one of the ideal places to hike as there are many different trails suitable for different types of hikers.
Scotland constitutes over 800 islands with many beaches, pristine valleys, towering mountains and wild coastlines, so there are innumerable places to see and explore the rich culture and history of the Scots.
The best hiking trails in Scotland will lead you to places where you can encounter geological formations, glistening rivers, and waterfalls, climb jagged peaks and explore the sites where kings and clans clashed in this mythically rich land.
Whether you are looking for wilderness in the mountains, a beautiful scenic view or off the beaten track experience, read on for the most rewarding hike you can experience in Scotland.
- Best Beginner Trail: Arthur’s Seat, Edinburgh
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Situated at 822ft above sea level the ancient volcanic city is a short walk from the city’s Royal Mile and Edinburgh Castle, Arthur’s Seat forms the significant part of the Holyrood Park. This place is one of the best hiking trails for beginners because you can get to the peak from all directions, depending on the ease you are expecting.
The green slopes from the east that rise above the Dunsapie Loch is an easy leisure walk suitable for children and senior citizens, whereas the Salisbury Crags offer a more challenging route for rigorous hikers and adventurers. The location provides a spectacular view of Edinburgh city and an array of various birdlife sightings. It is rich in history, mythology and folklore.
- Easiest Trail: Falls of Clyde and New Lanark, Lanarkshire
The World Heritage site is known for dramatic waterfalls that glisten as you hike along the riverside and the numerous species of birds in the adjacent forest. There are over 100 different species of birds recorded in this region alone, so be ready to feast your eyes on the sky and the lush woodland along the way through the thick green forests and rocky rivers.
- Best View: Stac Pollaidh, Assynt
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The little rocky crest elevated at 2008 ft in Northwest Highlands is one of the most popular hiking tracks in recent years. Because of its low elevation, the hike takes only about three hours through lots of steep gullies and pinnacles that was created by weathering since the last Ice Age.
Walking the steep pathways covered in lush green grounds is an experience that people often dread, but the view at the summit is panoramic and sensational due to the low height of the mountain. On reaching the top, hikers can also get a view of the spectacular Inverpolly Forest and the nearby peak like the Suilven and the Atlantic. Several natural rock formations like The Sphinx, Madonna and Child and Lobster Claw are some of the incredible sandstone pinnacles that make the hike an enthralling experience.
- Best Coastline Hike: The Achmelvich Beach
With a hiking duration that is fewer than two hours even at a slow pace, the Achmelvich Beach covers a trail distance of 6 kilometers. You can head to the beach through Hermit’s Cast which is also known for being the smallest castle in Europe.
Known for the diverse wildlife along the coastline of Assynt, you will find creatures such as the cute otters, seals, and cetaceans. The hike to Achemelvich will reward you with the impressive view of the pristine beach and turquoise sea that constitutes as one of Scotland’s cleanest and prettiest beach.
- Most thrilling walk: The Saddle, Kintail, South Glen Shiel
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Located at an altitude of 1010 meters high, the Saddle connects the Meallan Odhar through the Forcan Ridge. With hikers having to scramble halfway, the sight is one for adrenaline enthusiasts. It takes familiarisation to get through this ridge as there are several “bad steps” towards the summit but Saddle is accessible by vehicle through the A87 route as well. The walk, however, will have a better reward with the striking view of the Five Sisters of Kintail and Knoydart which is something that will keep you visually and mentally satisfied for days.
- Most dramatic Trail: Ben Alligin, Torridon
Located in Torridon, Ben Alligin, also known as The Jewel Mountain, constitutes one of the best locations to scramble through. The 10 km long rocky terrain is so steep that it takes a lot of slouching throughout the way. Situated at 50m above sea level, the summit of Ben Alligin is 986meters high.
Besides the thrilling route and challenging trail, the reason people often go through this hike is due to the breathtaking view of Lochcarron and Kinlochewe. If you are lucky enough to reach the summit while the weather is at its finest, you can relish on a panoramic view of the lakes below and even distant Skye and the Outer Hebrides.
- Best Munros: The Fisherfields Round, Fisherfield Forest
The Great Munros of the Fisherfields Round lies at the height of 257m in the Highlands of Fisherfield Forest. The walking route is 28.2km long and due to its difficult path, most hikers usually split into five stages for two days, camping in the wilderness. The track usually starts from Shenvall which lies at the foot of the An Teallach Mountain.
The horseshoe route, which has five Munros, is considered as one of the most testing expeditions even for experienced hikers.
The terrain consists of steep hillsides, narrow ridges, easy scrambling, many river-crossing and even a nasty bog. However, the picturesque scene while passing through Sgurr Ban, Bein Tarsuinn and the Ruadh Stac Mor diverts the discomfort of the path. Since there is no public transportation around, it is indeed a place for the energetic adventurer.
Other exhilarating hiking trails that genuinely capture the scenic beauty of Scotland that you can explore are:
- The Great Glen Way
- The Ring of Steall, Mamores
- Suilven, Assynt
- Isle of Eigg, Summer Isles
- Lovers’ Stone, St Kilda
- Old Man of Hoy, Orkney
- Dun da Lamh, Inverness-shire
This article was brought to you as a guest post by Paul McCormin of ActiveAuthorities.com. He, along with his friends Gary and Richie, run the blog as a means to encourage active living, especially at older ages. Please follow if you are interested in more hiking articles, as well as more health-related information.