Hiking in Scotland: Lochs, Munros and Fun!

path-358538_640If you like to hike, Scotland’s rugged terrain and friendly people mean that you’ll have plenty of opportunities to do so in a welcoming hiking environment. Scotland is a country filled with incredible beauty, from inland lochs (“lakes”), mountains (or “Munros” as they are called by the Scots when they’re speaking of the 284 Scottish mountains more than 3000 feet high) and thousands of miles of scenic coastline. Bed and breakfasts, camp sites and youth hostels are plentiful as are the opportunities to view breathtaking landscapes, wildlife, old castles, abbeys and canals.

Scotland has a national “Great Trails” network (formerly known as the “Long Distance Routes”), filled with long distance hiking routes (25+ miles each) across the country. The routes have full signage and are easily accessible. There are trails to places of historical interest and to mountainous and loch-filled places, like the Southern Upland Way, the Three Lochs Way to Argyll and Bute, and the West Highland Way, and more trails that follow Scotland’s rivers, canal towpaths, railroad lines and long coastline. You can check the Great Trails website for more details.

One of the best ways to hike in the Scotland as a tourist or resident is to join a local Ramblers Scotland group. Ramblers Scotland sponsors frequent, organized walks with the locals, and you can choose from hundreds of group walks for all ages and abilities every week. All of the walks are led by their experienced walk leaders and if you’d like you even can help the organization preserve Scotland’s hiking trails, too. If you’d prefer to walk independently, their website has a “Find a route” search option that lets you find a walking route in an area to enjoy with family and friends.

Another great way to hike with a group for free is to join one of Scotland’s many hiking Meetup groups. You’ll find several hiking groups (including Scottish dog walking and hillwalking groups near big cities like Glasgow, Aberdeen and Edinburgh.

One of the most popular hiking routes in Scotland is the West Highland Way, a 96-mile trek that starts in Milngavie, follows the shores of Loch Lomond, the Devil’s Staircase, and then finishes at Gordon Square in Fort William.

The Southern Upland Way with 212 miles of trail is Scotland’s longest hiking trail, and it starts near Edinburgh at Cockburnspath on the North Sea and ends at Portpatrick on the Irish Sea.

The Great Glen Way starts where the West Highland Way ends in Fort William, follows the Caledonian Canal between the Northwest Highlands and the Grampian Mountains, and ends at Inverness on the east coast. Be sure to check out the famous Loch Ness (and monster!) en route.