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Scotland - Hiking - Fort William or Isle of Skye

Good Afternoon,

My wife and I are planning a vacation to go to Scotland and we will primarily be spending it hiking.

We want to stay at just one location and we are thinking either Fort William or Isle of Skye.

Can anyone offer a recommendation or a different suggestion?

Thank you,
Bob

Posted by
5502 posts

We also did a Contours walking holiday ending up in Fort William but started from Milngavie near Galsgow. The West Highland Way is a new classic walk. As LP notes, Contours books accommodations, provides luggage transfer service and supplies maps and self-guided route instructions. Fort Williams is a good base for walking Ben Nevis. We enjoyed the variety of topography and scenery of a point to point walk.

I should note that Contours offers the planning flexibility of number of days of walking and adding rest days or extra days for peak bagging side trips.

The point to point walking tours are a car free experience. We took a local bus from the Glasgow bus station to Milngavie, then returned from Fourt Williams by train to Glasgow then London by way of the Lake District. Not having to deal with a car is freedom to roam.

If you really want to base camp, get a Lonely Planet Walking in Scotland guide book and plan accordingly.

Posted by
448 posts

Bob,
My wife and I stayed 4 days in Fort William and hiked and spent 4 days on Skye and hiked and loved both areas. This is a tough call. I particularly enjoyed the Glen Coe area for hiking while staying at Ft. William but we visited the viaduct to see the train chug thru at Glenfinnen and it ws great and we hike around Ben Nevis, but not up the mountain itself due to time and old legs (60's couple). I had put the hike up Ben Nevis for our last day and after doing Glen Coe area hikes and others we did an easier hike the last day.. We had a great B&B just south of Ft. William, Hunting Tower Lodge. Food in area was great!

But, if I was only choosing one spot I would do Skye. We did several hikes in the Trotternish Penns. area and down around Carbost, where our B&B ws located. If I return (I hope to) I would spend a week on Skye. The hikes were varied for what you see and how difficult you want them to be, we had blast on Skye. Things are spread out a bit and the night life where we were was hard to get to (pubs were great though) so you have to plan your evening meals to be able to hike, rest, eat/drink.
http://www.blabheinn.scot/ These folks were great for our B&B on Skye, give them a look.

I based most all of our hikes and where we chose to visit by using the walkhighlands web site and the book those folks put out regarding hikes. It was a great resource and after I spent time getting familiar with it I used it for directions, hiking ideas, and planning. We also found the Ordnance Survey maps for Skye a must have for driving on the isle. I envy your trip!
http://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/fortwilliam/fortwilliam.shtml
http://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/skye/

Dave, Bedford, Indiana

Posted by
13 posts

Good Morning Everyone,

Thanks to everyone for their responses.

How is the public transportation on Skye? My wife and I will not have a car.

Thank you,
Bob

Posted by
448 posts

Bob, We had a car so I cant speak too well regarding public transport. I think it is rather thin on Skye and getting to hiking sites might be difficult. Someone posted earlier about going to Portree and hiring a tour but I'm not sure how that work out for hiking. I would suppose Ft. William would have more public trans and with heavy planning for bus drop off and pick up you can pull it off. It would not have worked well for our trip. Good luck!!

Posted by
5502 posts

My wife strained her knee on the leg from Kingshouse to Kinlochleven. She and a Dutch walker were able to take public transit (bus) from Kinlochleven to Fort William. I would imagine that you could take bus 44 to Kinlochleven and walk the track back to Fort William. You can walk to the Ben Nevis trail head from Fort William.

Posted by
2565 posts

Knowing you will not have a car, you're probably better off with the Fort William area. Public transport on Skye is limited.

Posted by
5461 posts

If you don't want to have a car, had you thought of doing a walking holiday? Sadly, the guide that I've used isn't offering walks anymore, but I have to say it was marvelous. We based in Strathpeffer so that we could go east, west or south depending on the weather. The tough part about basing your entire trip on Skye or even in Fort William is that you are stuck if the black cloud descends on the West. I did this holiday 5 or 6 times. It was a great way to walk without having to deal with transport. My tour had a most ten people and usually it was fewer. There is huge variety in the type of service, the level intensity, etc. And on my tour I was the only American. I had friend who went with REI and his tour were all Americans. Frankly, it was incredibly affordable. I wish I hadn't torn my meniscus so I could go again! Look at Walk Highlands Link. Visit Scotland has links for Walking Holidays and you can just google as well. Just remember that walking = hiking in UK speak. :) Here's a company that I would likely look at. For less than £1,000 you have transport from Edinburgh, 6 nights B&B, 6 dinners, and 6 packed lunches. You'll have to pop for your own alcohol.

Pam

Posted by
79 posts

The hiking in Skye is great. We were there this past summer. But only if you have a car--otherwise it would be very difficult to get to all the locations. If you can rent a car for any period of time, I would go to Skye as there are a lot of very interesting things to see. If no car, I would agree Ft William area or maybe Glencoe area

Posted by
5502 posts

As a general alternative to rental cars, if you can reach Fort Williams by train or coach, you can use taxi services to get you to trail heads and arrange for return trip pick ups.

Posted by
1737 posts

I can recommend MacAdventure for your hiking trip. We just completed one in Alsace France, and it was great. MacAdventure is based out of Scotland, so --- how much support and knowledge do you think they have? LOTS !

http://www.macsadventure.com/us/holiday-finder?page=1&cat1=Scotland&cat2=Walking&grade=-1&month=-1&keyword=&search_tours=search_tours

We haven't hiked Scotland yet, it's on my bucket list, and we'll most likely do it in 2018. Work gets in the way of me traveling in the good months of June-Aug..and off season there can be pretty rainy I guess!

Love self guided, since they set up the route, arrange the B & B or hotel and transport your luggage. No thinking/planning, except what to pack!

Our plan is to probably do the Great Glen Way first, then return to do another route...I do want to get to Ft William first trip.

Posted by
5461 posts

Ellen, September is a great time to visit Scotland. :)

Pam