With hundreds of walking routes, Scotland is a hiker’s paradise. Plan your next Caledonia day hike with these ideas.
From the gateway hills of Lowlands to the far reaches of the Highlands, there are hundreds of beautiful walking routes across Scotland. The whole country is one big hiking playground, so deciding which walk to take can be difficult. To help you out, here are some of the best day hikes in Caledonia.
Quiraing Hill Circuit
Situated on the northern coastline of the Isle of Skye, the Quiraing Hill Circuit is the quintessential Scottish walk. This 3-hour loop-hike is perfect for taking panoramic shots. It’s been a must-visit destination for landscape photographers that are visiting the UK.
The route hike is quite short in length, only 4 miles. However, there are some steep sections, as well as sections with big drops, so you should be prepared for the challenge.
As you wander past plateaus and cliffs, the remnants of an ancient landslide, you will be gasping with delight. To be able to enjoy inspiring views over the Torridon Mountains and across Staffin Bay, pick a sunny day for the hike.
The Shore Walk, Edinburgh
With over 15 miles of waterside walkways, the waterfront of Edinburgh is absolutely spectacular. Before you make your way to the quaint Village of Cramond, make sure to grab a takeaway bacon roll from the Boardwalk Beach Club in Silverknowes.
With its lovely whitewashed cottages and riverboats, Cramond is a local’s favorite for a Sunday wander. When you are done strolling through the village, head to the River Almond. Here, the route joins the Old Mill Trail.
Then, follow the route to the entrance of the Dalmeny Estate. When you get there, you will join the famous John Muir Way. This section of the trail runs along the Firth of Forth, leading you to Queensferry. It offers spectacular views of Barnbougle Castle and the surrounding beaches.
The Shore Walk ends in South Queensferry, where you will be rewarded with some of the best Forth Bridge viewpoints. A designated UNESCO world heritage site, Forth Bridge remains one of the greatest cantilever bridges in the world.
The whole trail is about 10 miles long and takes 5 hours to complete. Since it’s largely made up of quiet pavements, estate tracks, and the Union Canal towpath, it is fairly easy.
Arthur’s Seat, Edinburgh
Just as Cape Town has Table Mountain and Rio has Corcovado, the capital city of Scotland has Arthur’s Seat. Described as “a hill for magnitude, a mountain in virtue of its bold design” by Scottish travel writer and novelist Robert Louis Stevenson, Arthur’s Seat is an 822-foot peak that rises at the heart of Edinburgh.
The easy, 4-mile route up the volcanic crest starts at the Scottish Parliament and veers south-west. Along the way, you’ll enjoy a wild piece of highland landscape, covered in patches of gorse, and featuring an array of lochs, glens, and hills.
When you get to the top, pause to take in the sights and sounds. Arthur’s Seat offers a great viewpoint of the ramparts of the castle and the spires of the Old Town. To make the most of your day hike, return via Duddingston Loch.
No list of walking routes in Scotland would be complete without the legendary Ben Nevis, or “Big Ben.” It is the largest and most famous peak in Britain.
The Mountain Path, the main trail that leads up the mountain, is about 5.5 miles of uphill walking. As about 150 thousand people climb Ben Nevis Mountain every year, the path is wide and well-maintained.
It’s best to walk the route on a clear day because the vistas from the top are jaw-dropping. If you are a regular hiker or mountain climber, you should be able to complete the trail in 5 hours. If not, it will take you 7 to 8 to get to the top. As long as you have the gear and the know-how, you can expect a spectacular hike.
If you want something more than a day adventure, do know that the West Highland Way, one of the greatest long-distance routes in Scotland, ends near Ben Nevis. There are many people who like to walk this famous trail north to south.
Loch An Eilein Circuit, Cairngorms
If you are not up for an expedition through the primeval expanse of the Cairngorms, the highest mountain plateau in the British Isles, trek around Loch An Eilein. Loch An Eilein is a mesmerizing sheet of water located on the edge of the ridge.
Nestled in the Rothiemurchus Forest, Loch An Eilein reflects the magnificent surrounding pines. The car park is the best place to join the flat 4.5-mile loop track.
However, it would be a shame not to make a detour to the quiet shores of Loch Gamhna. Here, you can ponder the melancholy of the ruinous castle set on an island in the loch and watch the contours of the hills rising above the pines. It is a perfect spot for idle lingering.
From our guest author, Anna: I love getting out hiking during the weekend and have completed a few long multi-day hikes including twice on the Camino de Santiago for 4 weeks and then a Camino route in France for 2 weeks. I have also had the pleasure of hiking up Ben Nevis, hiking all over Ireland, and my favorite: 3 weeks in the Canadian Rockies.