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    Scotland’s Long Distance Trails

    5 min read

    By Meike Burgess, Marketing Manager
    More by Meike

    I'm On My Way

    There is nothing quite like the challenge of a long distance trail, the simple satisfaction of putting one foot in front of another to get yourself somewhere different. Scotland is home to incredible scenery, ranging from rugged mountains to luscious woodlands, atmospheric moorland and epic coastlines. Scotland’s varied landscapes mean that it’s unsurprising that over 25 well-known long distance trails are scattered across the country, varying in length and difficulty. The ones listed below are some of our favourites and bookable experiences with us.

    The West Highland Way

    West Highland Way

    Paddling in Loch Lomond on the West Highland Way

    Heading north on the West Highland Way

    The West Highland Way is Scotland’s best known and first official long-distance trail. It is traditionally walked from Milngavie in the south to Fort William in the north. The route passes some of the best scenery in Scotland and has become a must-do activity for locals and visitors alike.

    The magic of walking in Scotland can be distilled into this walk. It’s the sense of challenge, purpose and camaraderie that envelope this love letter to long-distance hiking. This famous route travels along the ‘bonnie banks’ of Loch Lomond, across the atmospheric Rannoch Moor, past dramatic Glencoe and over the high pass of the Devil’s Staircase before finishing in Fort William, at the foot of Britain’s highest mountain, Ben Nevis.

    The West Highland Way is generally completed over 6-8 days, depending on fitness levels, time available, and accommodation vacancies. On our guided West Highland Way holiday, we complete the journey over seven days, with the longest day being 23km of walking. Our self-guided travellers can choose to do the route over 8 or 9 days.

    Tip: Taste the fish & chips at the Real Food Cafe in Tyndrum. Genuinely some of the best you can get in Scotland.

    Read our Essential Guide to the West Highland Way.

    The Speyside Way

    speyside way walking

    The Speyside Way is well on its way to becoming a classic long distance trail. Walking up along the banks of the River Spey, hikers get to know a region made famous for its whisky production. Although easier than other Scottish long distance walks, it takes in a great variety of scenery. Starting from the fishing village of Buckie, you’ll soon leave Scotland’s scenic east coast behind and head into lush countryside comprising of heather, ancient woodland and mountain views en-route to Newtonmore deep in the Cairngorms National Park.

    The route originally ended in Ballindalloch but was then extended to Aviemore in 2000, and again to Kincraig and Newtonmore 20 years later. The best opportunity to sample a dram is on the section between Craigellachie and Ballindalloch. Plan for a short detour to Aberlour, home to a distillery offering tours and tastings or during the next section from Ballindalloch to Grantown-on-Spey stop by Cragganmore which also offers tours, although bear in mind that these need to be booked in advance.

    Tip: If extending your route from Aviemore to Newtonmore, take the detour at the Uath Lochans to go up the Farleitter Crag. The views are phenomenal.

    For inspiration for the things to do once you’ve reached the Cairngorms, read our Top Things to Do in the Cairngorms blog.

    The Rob Roy Way

    Scotland's Long Distance Trails

    Rob Roy Way

    The Rob Roy Way is definitely the hidden gem of the long distance trail scene in Scotland. This route combines spectacular scenery with fascinating history. It’s a good challenge too, as all days are between 15-25km worth of walking over mixed terrain. Much of the route follows a disused railway line so the gradients are not too challenging. Along the way, you’ll walk through beautiful forests, past impressive waterfalls and all in the presence of magnificent mountain views.

    The Rob Roy Way was opened in 2002 and passes through the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park, and notably across the Highland Boundary Fault line where the Highlands meet the Lowlands.

    The name of the route takes inspiration from the famous Scottish bandit, Rob Roy, often referred to as Scotland’s Robin Hood. The trail traverses a landscape that Rob would have known like the back of his hand from his life as a cattle drover and outlaw. It also passes through areas connected to Rob Roy, like Balquhidder where you’ll find his grave.

    Tip: Drop by the Highland Chocolatier when you pass Grandtully to load up on some delectable treats or even enjoy a lush chocolate tasting session.

    Learn more about Rob Roy here.

    The Great Glen Way

    Great Glen Way

    The Great Glen Way traverses Scotland from west to east, following the Great Glen fault line which almost splits Scotland in two. Traditionally starting in Fort William, you’ll walk 117km along the entire lengths of Loch Lochy, Loch Oich and Loch Ness to finish at Inverness, capital of the Highlands. Lochside walking is interspersed with forest, hillside and sections along the famous Caledonian Canal, an impressive feat of engineering designed by Thomas Telford. The Caledonian Canal links the west and east coast via canals and these three lochs. Because of this, you’ll pass several impressive locks en route, like Neptune’s Staircase by Fort William and the locks in Fort Augustus.

    On days four and five you’ve got the option to choose between low and high routes, which are roughly the same distance. The high routes involve more undulating landscapes with significant steep sections but are worth the effort for the views.

    Tip: Grab lunch or drinks at the Eagle Barge Inn, a converted Dutch barge at Laggan Locks, an atmospheric and fun spot to enjoy the scenery.

    Long Distance Trail Trips

    Meet the Author: Meike Burgess

    “Having grown up travelling across the world I've developed an addiction to all things spice and to travel! When it was time to go to university I wandered off to Scotland for a new adventure and now 10+ years later I've not managed to leave yet. Scotland's welcoming culture, beautiful scenery and a Scottish man captured my heart. Moving to Scotland has made me develop a passion for the outdoors and I love heading out for an explore.”

    View profileMore by Meike

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