The Scottish mountains may not have the height of their Alpine cousins, but what they lack in altitude they more than makeup for with grandeur.
No matter how much time I spend walking in the Highlands, I’m never let down by the mind-blowing views and sense of wilderness that these incredible mountains offer. Incredible hikes have one thing in common, drama.
UPDATE: We re-visited our most dramatic walks in the Highlands blog and wondered what could help you see more of the best hikes we describe.
We’ve added 360 degrees Google views of each hill walk, that you can spin around and see the amazing and different views of Scotland from the top of these hikes. We hope you like them and if you’d like to experience Scotland’s incredible hikes then join a guided walking holiday.
So without further ado, if you’re going to walk the Highlands, here’re in no particular order are our top five hikes in Scotland:
Before heading out on one of the most dramatic walks in the Highlands (or any really) always check the conditions, we recommend the Mountain Weather Information Service for the most up to date and accurate information.
Location: Kintail | Highest Point: 1010m | Distance: 13km
The Saddle is one of the few Scottish mountains to be regularly known by its English translation. It’s a highly sought after Munro and a fine addition to any hillwalkers log book.
At 1010 meters high, the Saddle gains its spot in my top five due to the ridgeline connecting the Saddle and its neighbouring top, Meallan Odhar, known as the Forcan Ridge. This ridgeline offers a challenging grade 1/2 scramble, with lots of exposure for those with a head for heights to enjoy. There is also the Forcan Ridge “bad step” to negotiate, so it’s good to familiarise yourself with the route before attempting. For others, however, there is an opt-out path that avoids the technicalities whilst retaining the character of the mountain. Although it’s easily accessed from the A87 road between Shiel Bridge and Loch Cluanie, the walk itself rewards those that complete it with outstanding views back across to the north of the 5 Sisters of Kintail and to the southwest towards Knoydart.
Consider some easy ways to stay safe outdoors when taking on a new route with some challenging sections.
“The walk rewards those that complete it with outstanding views back across to the north of the 5 Sisters of Kintail and to the southwest towards Knoydart.”
Use your mouse or finger to scroll around 360 degrees on the image below. The image was shot in May. See if you can find the snow patch.
Location: Torridon | Highest Point: 986m | Distance: 10km
Ben Alligin is one of my favourite mountains and up there with the best day hikes in Scotland. It’s located in one of the most dramatic locations, Torridon. Its Gaelic name translates to “Jewel Mountain”. Perhaps a beautiful mountain would be a more pragmatic translation. It’s easy to see why.
As far as dramatic walks in the Highlands are concerned then Torridon has its fair share and the journey through Ben Alligin is no slouch. It’s one of the classic views across Upper Loch Torridon on the A896 loop from Lochcarron to Kinlochewe. You start the walk at just 50m above sea level and the highest point is atop Sgurr Mhor at 986m – this is a walk that is sure to get your heart pumping but the ascent isn’t the only thing to raise your pulse. Ben Alligin offers some of the most stunning scenery in the Highlands. On a clear day, the views are as far as Skye and the Outer Hebrides and for me, it makes Ben Alligin one of the best mountains in Scotland.
The “Horns of Alligin” offer grade 1/2 scrambling and again this can be avoided easily without detracting from the experience.
Explore the magnificent mountains in our exciting and challenging High Points of Torridon and Wester Ross hiking tour.
Use your mouse or finger to scroll around 360 degrees on the image below. It’s a truly stunning vista that one single photo can’t quite capture. Spot the summit cairn, sea views and take a virtual walk along the ridge.
Location: Fisherfield Forest | Highest Point: 1019m | Distance: 29km
Is this perhaps the ultimate dramatic walk in the Highlands? The Fisherfields are also known as “the great wilderness”. This walk takes in a group of no less than five Munros and a Corbett (formerly a Munro!) which lie in the heart of this rugged expanse.
Starting from a bothy named Shenevall which lies at the foot of the neighbouring An Teallach (a mountain for those seeking a more technical adventure), the round is normally tackled in a clockwise fashion taking in Bein a Chlaidheimh, Sgurr Ban, Mullach Coire Mhic Fhearchair, Beinn Tarsuinn, A’Mhaighdean and Ruadh Stac Mor to complete this horseshoe, before returning back to the bothy.
Due to the length and nature of this walk, it’s often split into two days with a wild camp in the middle, but with Shenevall offering a great base it can also be tackled in one long day. If you are going for a multi-day hike it can be difficult to decide what to pack.
Wilderness Guide Jonathan Willet has shortlisted the essentials for a multi-day hike.
Use your mouse or finger to scroll around 360 degrees on the image below. The immediate view is looking out across Dubh Loch and Fionn Loch towards Poolewe, with the Letterewe Forest hills in the mid-ground and Torridon hills in the background.
Location: Mamores | Highest Point: 1099m | Distance: 16km
This circuit is another walk for ambitious “Munro baggers” taking in four mountains that sit over the 3,000 feet threshold high enough to qualify them for this lofty title.
Starting in Glen Nevis, at the foot of Britain’s highest peak, Ben Nevis, you follow the river into the hills. The Falls of Steall is one of the most impressive views in the Highlands and at 120m high, it is Scotland’s highest waterfall with a single drop. Whilst the route has no technical difficulties as such, there are some very narrow sections of the rocky ridgeline to negotiate, which only adds to the feeling of grandeur. This hill walk takes in 4 Munros; An Gearanach, Stob Choire a Chairn, Am Bodach and then traverses the Devil’s Ridge, a 1km section of relatively easy yet airy and exposed walking to reach Sgurr a’Mhaim. Expect a big day out for even the fittest of hikers.
Confused about the difference between Munros, Corbetts and Grahams? Find out here.
Use your mouse or finger to scroll around 360 degrees on the image below. It gives you a stunning perspective on Scotland’s highest waterfall and glimpses of Glen Nevis through the leafy greenery.
Location: Assynt | Highest Point: 947m | Distance: 20km
Maybe last but certainly not least in our list of the most dramatic walks in the Highlands, this truly unique mountain rises almost vertically from sea level in a great fin-like shape. Nick-named the “2D Mountain” and resembling a Toblerone, this hill offers an incredible vista and a truly magnificent day out.
Whilst it is often climbed approaching from the west near Lochinver, I’d highly recommend the long walk in from the east, through wild and rugged terrain, for a true wilderness feel to the day. There are many lines of ascent, from straightforward yet steep, to technical climbing and scrambling.
Use your mouse or finger to scroll around 360 degrees on the image below. Easy to see why Suilven made this list. It’s the sugarloaf mountain of Scotland and as you’ll spot in the picture Loch Veyatie is often used as an access point for Suilven if you want to wild camp expedition by canoe through the myriad of shimming lochs in Assynt.
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