We love Scotland and clearly we are not the only ones, as the country was represented with 12 entries in ITV’s Top 100 Britain’s Favourite Walks – a survey taken by more than 8,000 people. Out of these 12 places we have composed our own personal top 6 of the best hikes in Scotland.
Whether you are interested in short hikes to undertake in one or a couple of days, or for those who are after some of Scotland’s best long-distance walks, we hope that the list appeals to each and every one of you.
#1 Ben Nevis
Britains’ highest peak, Ben Nevis can be readily ascended in a day and is rightfully so leading our list of best hikes in Scotland. Much loved by not just the Scots but most of the population in the British Isles, Ben Nevis stands at 1,345m and its summit is actually the collapsed dome of a very ancient volcano. Different hikes lead to the top of the mountain of which the Pony Track is by far the most popular route. If you don’t succeed in your first attempt, perhaps you can get some inspiration from the 19th century poem written in the visitor’s book of the Ben Nevis hotel.
Want to know what the word ‘ben’ means? Read about it in this very handy list of hiking terminology.
>> Take a little detour when you are walking the West Highland Way or Great Glen Way and include a hike to the top of Ben Nevis.
#2 Great Glen Way
The Great Glen Way takes walkers to explore the heart of Scotland on foot. The route follows a fault line that was created 380 million years ago (read more about this here) and stretches for 73 miles (117 km) through the Scottish Highlands. In eight days, we take you to explore Fort William, the shores of the famous Loch Ness, paths along canal towpaths, forests and eventually to discover the ‘capital of the highlands’: Inverness.
>> Follow the Great Glen Way with Sherpa Expeditions between April – October.
#3 Falkirk Wheel
One of the 10 highlights on the John Muir Way is Falkirk Wheel, a unique structure as it’s the world’s only rotating boatlift. The lift only opened in 2002 and allows boats to efficiently connect between the Union Canal and Canal of Froth & Clyde. In the past this took up almost an entire day when boats had to negotiate through a flight of 11 lochs. The design of wheel has been described as “a form of contemporary sculpture” by the Royal Fine Arts Commission for Scotland and by modeller Kettle as “a beautiful, organic flowing thing, like the spine of a fish.”
If you book in advance you can go up on a boat in the wheel, ask our team for details.
>> Find the Falkirk Wheel on Scotland’s Coast to Coast walk, in itself a fantastic route that we think should actually have been included in the list of Britain’s Favourite Walks.
The Memorial Park in the pretty Victorian spa town of Pitlochry is the end of the Rob Roy Way. There are various walks to and around town and with Sherpa Expeditions you will follow an old railway line embankment through forest and including a steep descent. Once in Pitlochry, you will understand why this is such a popular town amongst visitors. It became popular as a tourist resort from the mid-1800s when Queen Victoria started to visit and a railway line was opened. The town has a population of below 3000 and much of its old-world charm is still visible today through many stone Victorian buildings and a shelter made out of cast iron on one side of the high street.
>> Hike the spectacular Rob Roy Way and finish in the pretty Victorian spa town of Pitlochry.
#5 West Highland Way
From the south of Loch Lomond to Fort William and Ben Nevis, this famous footpath connects Britain’s largest lake with its highest mountain. The route is a step back into history: many stages follow military roads that date back to the 1700s and used to link the Highlands to the Lowlands, as well as hotels that originated from droving inns that operated for centuries. All in all, it proves to be one of the best hikes in Scotland.
>> Learn much more about the West Highland Way, from the best time to visit, culinary highlights and some of our favourite viewpoints.
#6 Arthur’s Seat
From Arthur’s Seat, a volcanic hill near Edinburgh, you have fantastic views over the city. Besides this, you’ll even be able to look over the port of Leith, part of the Firth of Forth Rail Bridge and the waters of Firth of Forth fjord. Arthur’s Seat today is basically surrounded by Edinburgh so it makes for an easy-to-arrange hike, for example as an add-on to your walk or when you spend extra days in the Scottish capital. After an initial climb, you can easily do a loop around the hill. If you do this anti-clockwise up the steps for the steeper section and then follow the slope down from the summit, you can then wind down on the easier track to return to your start point. On a leisurely pace and including time to take in the views, this should take you no more than two hours.
>> Do a diversion on day 9 of the John Muir Way and walk up Athur’s Seat for fantastic views.
We have some suggestions for further reading for those that are interested to know more about the best hikes in Scotland or ITV’s Britain’s Favourite Walks. Or if you have any queries, please do contact our team of travel experts.