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Hiking in Scotland

I'm bringing 15 college students to Scotland for about 6 days. I believe we will spend 3 days in Edinburgh, and then I'd like to go to another base city/town to be able to do some beautiful day hikes--the kind of moderate hikes you can do with tennis shoes or good walking shoes. We will have backpacks and be using public transportation, hopefully staying in hostels. I could rent a bus or van if necessary. My experience with the big bus tours has not been good--too expensive and too much time spent in a bus rather than walking.
So basically I'm looking for a good base to go to from where we can get maybe 2 good day hikes. Any castle ruins would be a plus.

Thank you for any ideas.

Posted by
1464 posts

I would check the Scotland National Parks site for Hiking Ideas. Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park isn't too far from Edinburgh and Glasgow. There are plenty of accomodations at all levels from camping to farmhouse bed & breakfasts to castles in the area.

Posted by
7567 posts

We did some hiking on the Isle of Skye last August, quite a bit of a drive from Edinburgh but truly a great location. We didn't stay there (although used its handy restroom :-) ), but a hotel in Sligachan ( ) caters to hikers and mountaineers.

Back on the mainland, driving thru Glen Coe in the pouring rain, we noted that, if the weather had been nicer (or had we been up for a slog in the rain) some outstanding hiking opportunities would have been throughout that glen, although maybe not so many castles.

Posted by
5678 posts

Hi Peggy, You have a great idea, for them. The only think that I would caution you on is that Scotland's trails tend to be very muddy and boggy. And they are rocky, so it is much better if you have bonafide hiking boots.

Here are some suggestions.

  • Aviemore--You will easily find accommodation. There are lots of hikes in the area. My only concern is getting you to them from your accommodation. There is a contact us link and you might contact them and ask for their suggestions. It may be that staying at Rothiemurchus would resolve the issue for you. I see that they have a link to groups. I've hiked in this area several times and it's quite beautiful. In fact, my Facebook page currently features a picture from there. It is in the Cairngorms.
  • Perthshire--Dunkeld/Birnam are also on the main railway north from Edinburgh. The area is beautiful and there are some lovely walks in the area. As a bonus, there is a wonderful pub with traditional music where you can rest your weary legs with an ale or whisky after a day of walking. Dunkeld also has historical significance, and who doesn't want to say that they went for a walk in Birnam Wood? :) I've usually stayed in a B&B, but it looks like there is a Hostel. The Taybank, used to also have rooms, but they are under renovation right now. You could email them and find out their plans. It was very affordable when I looked a few years ago, but with new management, it's hard to say what the rates will be. It's good to see that they still plan to have the music! And, if some want to see another castle, you can take the train up to Blair Atholl and see the castle. It's an easy walk from the train station.
  • Fort William--This is, of course, where Ben Nevis is located, but you don't have to climb Ben Nevis. There are easier hikes. I have only gone there with a car, so again, I am not sure what is accessible directly from town without further transportation.
  • Think about the bus again. I used to stay in Strathpeffer and we would have a guide and a small bus that would take us to wonderful day hikes. The hike wasn't chosen until we knew what the weather would be like as from Strathpeffer you have lots of options. The best part about this is that you can get to walks in the west more easily. Clearly, to do something like this you would not have to stay in Strathpeffer, you could stay in Inverness itself for that matter. If you want to explore this, I can contact a friend of mine and see if she knows anyone who could work with you on it. My friend used to run these types of tours herself, but isn't right now. PM me if you want me to pursue it.

Of all these suggestions, Perthshire would be the simplest. But all would be great trips.


Posted by
1657 posts

I would suggest checking the sites of the heritage bodies, NTS, Historic Scotland, the government countryside agency , Scottish Natural Heritage, and also the RSPB for ideas of where you might want to go. Both the NTS and RSPB are big land owners in their own right.

SNH will also help clarify the right to roam laws in Scotland which are different to the rest of the UK.

Posted by
5678 posts

Here is a link to Scotland's National Nature Reserves.

And here is the link to the two National Parks.

Posted by
459 posts

This link is to a great site all relating to hiking in Scotland. I am from the US and I used it to plan a 10 day trip based around hiking. With a short visit you will see the ratings of the hikes, the areas where they are located and suggestions from the folks that manage the site as well as hikers that make the treks and post replies including pictures.


The Fort William, Glen Coe area was very nice but it is a 3 hour plus drive from Edinburgh...they have a decent youth hostel there near Ben Nevis as well.