Scotland is a walker’s paradise, with a wide variety of walking for all ages and abilities. The relative proximity of areas of wilderness to cities, towns and villages make it easy to experience the great outdoors without having to venture too far from civilisation.
Walking is an incredibly popular pastime in Scotland with thousands of people heading for the hills at weekends to enjoy fresh air and great scenery. From way-marked forest tracks to mountain scrambles, ridge walks to long-distance routes, there is something for everyone in Scotland’s countryside.
Mountain & hill walks
Scotland may not have the tallest mountains in the world – the highest, Ben Nevis, rises to a height of 1334m (4409ft) – but it makes up for it with easily-accessible dramatic scenery.
While much of the focus is on the Munros (mountains over 914.4m / 3000ft) there are also numerous smaller mountains and hills which are classified as:
Corbetts (hills between 762m & 914.4m / 2500ft & 3000ft)
Grahams (hills between 609.6m & 762m / 2000ft & 2500ft)
Donalds (hills in the Lowlands over 609.6m / 2000ft)
Marilyns (hills with a prominence of at least 150m / 492 ft)
The north and west of Scotland are where the majority of the mountains are found, including the Cairngorms and The Cuillin on Skye, while the Borders are home to the rolling hills of the Southern Uplands.
Scotland’s relatively compact size means that true wilderness can be found just a few hours’ drive from the main population centres making it easy to get out and explore the beautiful countryside.
Munros are mountains in Scotland with a height of over 3000 feet (914.4 metres), and are named after Sir Hugh Munro, a keen mountaineer and a founding member of the Scottish Mountaineering Club. There are 282 Munros in total and the practice of attempting to climb them all is known as Munro-bagging.
Long-distance walking routes
There are numerous long-distance walking routes, now known as Scotland’s Great Trails, criss-crossing Scotland which are perfect for those with a keen sense of adventure and a desire to explore the countryside. Taking several days to complete, they can be a good way to see Scotland at a slower pace and in greater detail.
The most famous of the routes is the West Highland Way but there are several other long-established trails passing through other parts of the country.
154 kilometres / 96 miles
The West Highland Way climbs its way upwards from Milngavie (on the edge of Glasgow) in Central Scotland to Fort William in the Highlands, passing through beautiful countryside and along the shore of Loch Lomond.
117 kilometres / 73 miles
The Great Glen Way starts where the West Highland Way finishes, in Fort William. As its name suggests it passes through the Great Glen along Loch Lochy, Loch Oich and Loch Ness – keep your eyes peeled for Nessie – before finishing in the capital of the Highlands, Inverness.
340 kilometres / 212 miles
The Southern Upland Way traverses the south of Scotland from Portpatrick on the south-west coast to Cockburnspath on the east coast, winding its way through the rolling hills of the Southern Uplands.
105 kilometres / 65 miles
The Speyside Way follows the valley of the River Spey from Aviemore in the Cairngorms through prime whisky country to the north coast of Banffshire where the river flows into the Moray Firth at Buckie.
103 kilometres / 64 miles
The Cateran Trail is different to the other long-distance routes in that it is circular, starting and finishing in Blairgowrie, passing through the glens of Perthshire and Angus.
148 kilometres / 92 miles
The Rob Roy Way is an “unofficial” route – it isn’t sign-posted – which runs from Drymen to Pitlochry, taking walkers through areas associated with Rob Roy MacGregor.