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Scotland’s Most Scenic Hikes

By James C

Scotland is home to some of the most beautiful scenery in the world. It’s no wonder that walkers the world over choose to find flights to Scotland to experience it the best way possible: with a pair of hiking boots, a stick, and a windbreaker. Of course there are plenty of walks to choose from, but these are by far the most scenic that Scotland has to offer.

The Water of Leith

Photo by law_keven

Start your walking holiday in Scotland with flights to Edinburgh and a walk so picturesque you won’t believe that you’re in the middle of a city. The Water of Leith River flows from the Pentland Hills to the Port of Leith. The 20.5km walk by the riverside begins in the sleepy suburb of Balerno just South of the City, easily accessible by public transport. The first part of the walk goes through a shaded dell, with beautiful trees and ruined mills. The path then takes hikers through the inner city towards the pretty Dean Village and bohemian Stockbridge area of the city. This is the perfect place to stop for lunch, or you can press on to The Shore where there are plenty of bars to toast your walk with a pint of locally brewed beer.

The West Highland Way

Photo by Kenny Murray

Be sure to bring your camera along on this 152.8km walk through the West of Scotland. To begin take the train to Milngavie (pronounced “Mul-guy”), and end in Fort William at the foot of Ben Nevis. The West Highland Way meanders through wilderness and forest, taking in some of Scotland’s most beautiful and well known sights: from Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park to the mysterious Glen Coe. The route is very challenging, with many hardy walkers giving up before reaching the mountainous ascent of the Devil’s Staircase. The walk is lined with inns, hotels, and campsites so you’re unlikely to go hungry or without sleep.

The Southern Upland Way

Photo by Bods

Rivalling the West Highland Way for scenery, the second of Scotland’s great walks is actually longer than the Highland counterpart. Beginning at Portpatrick the 341km walk passes through Galloway Forest Park and holds the honour of being Britain’s first official coast to coast path. Ambitious walkers only need apply, although some sections are great for families and daytrippers.

The Fife Coastal Path

Photo by Florian Seiffert (F*)

Although the West Coast is considered the best coast when it comes to scenic walks, anyone who has taken the 150km Fife Coastal path from Culross to Newport on Tay will disagree. The path takes in beautiful award-winning beaches, quaint fishing villages, and of course the town where Prince William met his wife: St Andrews. Perhaps the most demanding stretch of the walk is the Via Ferrata outside Elie. This part of the walk involves a lot of scrambling, aided by chains in some areas. It’s best to wait an hour after high tide before attempting this section.

St Cuthbert’s Way

Photo by lunaman

The Scottish Borders provide stunning scenery to rival even that of the highlands. Mountains, lochs, and beautiful ruins form the basis of St Cuthbert’s Way: 100km  from Melrose in the West to Lindisfarne in the East. This walk may be a bit of a cheat, as it does cross the border into England.  Starting at Melrose Abbey, one of the most beautiful examples of 12th Century architecture still standing in Scotland, the walk ends at the ruined Lindisfarne Priory on the island of Lindsfarne. This walk crosses over with a number of famous walks, including the Southern Uplands Way and the Roman Heritage Way.

James C is an online media professional who loves both hiking and Scotland–especially when they are combined. 

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2 Responses to Scotland’s Most Scenic Hikes

  1. Jeremy Branham May 9, 2012 at 4:43 pm #

    I seriously didn’t need to read this. I already love to hike and want to go to Scotland badly. This is beautiful and awesome but not very helpful right now 🙂

  2. Vicky June 5, 2012 at 8:49 am #

    Gorgeous photos! We are starting our backpacking trip in Asia in September but we will eventually make our way over to Europe and hopefully Scotland. Will have to check out these hikes!

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