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Appropriate footwear for Highland walks/hikes

Looking for suggestions regarding the type of shoe or boot to wear while in the Highlands. We are used to hiking in dry rocky climate with hiking boots. Any comments for us?

Posted by
5784 posts

A properly fitted (and tested) shoe/boot that is waterproof/reistant, with traction soles. Big decision is low/mid height walking shoes vs ankle supporting boots.

A good discussion:

If you’re taking a leisurely three-kilometre stroll in your local
park, you can get away with your old worn-in trainers. If one of these
long-distance walking trails is on your bucket list, however, you’ll
need some good quality footwear. There are many quality brands of
hiking footwear but, if you’re looking to go on a long-distance trek,
the specific variety of shoe or boot is what you’ll need to consider


Posted by
461 posts

It depends on what sort of walking you are planning to do. Do you know what sort of places you will be walking? The Walk Highland website is the best source of ideas for Scotland. As well as having a key for difficulty underfoot, they also give a grading for 'bog factor' which tells you how wet it will be underfoot. This is the important bit. Many walks go across peat and this can be very wet underfoot, so you do need waterproof footwear.

I always wear boots. If you have a pair of comfortable well loved boots that are waterproof, you will be fine.

Posted by
926 posts

Wesley’s is right. Boots, with some degree of waterproofing at least. Even at the height of summer it can be wet underfoot (and if you are unlucky, overhead too). Main cause is the peat which acts like a giant sponge but also the paths can become wet even when rocky, especially after rain.

Posted by
5669 posts

If I plan on walking/hiking in Scotland I aways have water proof hiking boots. I find the trail are rougher than my midwest past had. Yes you have bog, but you have lots and lots of rock too! So I have good ones that provide ankle support have good soles and are waterproof. I took up using a walking stick a few years ago. I also have rain pants, and a really good rain jacket. You don't want rain to stop your trip.

Posted by
796 posts

Definitely waterproof shoes of boots. Consider gaiters for stream crossings and bogs. It's like hiking in the early spring with lots of snow melt.

Posted by
23 posts

Thank you for all the comments. We will definitely bring our hiking boots, and a bit heavier waterproof jacket and pants for those wet days. KS

Posted by
5669 posts

Just have to comment that there are all kinds of wet days. I am not sure I can get all the Scottish meaning into this, but will try. First there are the truly dreich days. These are gloomy, pouring down rain days. These are the days when even the heartiest walker gives pause before setting out. On those days you can become drookit. Then there are misty days when it can move between a drizzle (smir is the Scottish word, but I never heard my friends use it) and a downpour (goselet is another new Scottish word for me.) On those days you try decide if the sun will peek out or not, or can you plan your walk for the misty bit or at least have a shelter (bothy, a word I've definitely used.). Then there is a bright day. This doesn't tend to mean blazing down sun. Rather it means the sun is getting through the clouds. You always walk on a bright day. A soft day is another day to walk. It means it's a bit misty, but the sunny is probably winning and the temperature is warm. Even in July you can experience pure baltic weather. I remember arriving in Inverness one summer and thought maybe I had time traveled as it was near freezing whereas Amsterdam had been in the 80s when I left that morning. I think that when you have a day that is pure sun all day, you just say it's brilliant as it is that in every way.

While I was checking on some my vocabulary, I found this lovely blog. It reminded me that photography teacher told us that you get better color on a misty day than a bright one. So wrap a plastic bag around your camera and have it at the ready. Also, one other thing this is not to put you off hiking in Scotland. It is wonderful. I must have take 10-12 walking trips where we hike 6 out of 7 days and I can only remember 3-4 when our guide showed up and said quite brightly, that it was a shopping day. :)

Posted by
304 posts

I’m doing a hiking tour in June and waterproof boots are “strongly recommended”. I don’t think the weight of the shoes is an issue- I got Altra Lone peaks, very light- and I would never wear boots otherwise, but the wet is the concern. I also plan on checking into cheap knee high gaiters when I get there, also for the wet. These are things I would never need hiking at home but it doesn’t rain here.

Posted by
5669 posts

I miss my Scotland walks--damn knee. Have fun. I bought my rain pants in Scotland on one of my trips. FYI there are several outdoor equipment shops in Edinburgh, mostly in New Town. BTW think about getting a midgie hat. You won't need every day, or even all day, but if you run into them, you will be happy you have your hat. Mine came in its own lovely little stuff sac. I also brought some strong REI DDT type repellent. You may have your own preference.