SCOTLAND’S BEST HIKING TRAILS; RURAL EDITION
It’s time to get adventurous. You may need to go out of your way to get to these ones but we promise it’ll be worth it. This blog aims to give a taste of what’s available on these trails, here is our selection of Scotland’s best hiking routes, rural edition!
The Southern Upland Way - Traquair to St. Mary’s Loch
Distance: 11 Miles
Duration: 6-8 Hours
It seems wrong not to hone in on the trail that passes closest to home, the southern upland way! For this hiking route, we’ll be focusing on a short portion of this enormous walk that is 212 kilometers in total, stretching across the South of Scotland from coast to coast. The section from Traquair to St. Mary’s Loch is around 11 miles and should take you roughly 6-8 hours. It’s a moderately difficult walk with fairly even terrain and usually not much mud.
It’s a really beautiful walk that starts in Traquair Village, reaching up onto the hills after Traquair Kirk and carrying on up here on the beautiful moors where the views are truly stunning. Later on you come down from the hills to walk around the Loch, which on a clear day reflects the sky like a mirror. If you want to go onward from St. Mary’s Loch you can head toward Beattock. You ascend up from the loch into a more forested area that then brings you up onto the moorland of the hills once again. Following this you will be led down back into the valley, following a small beautiful burn that has little waterfalls along the way. This is another beautiful journey as you are now in the Ettrick Valley and the journey to Beattock will pass further rivers and even a little bothy.
The Southern Upland Way in general is definitely a bucket-list Scottish walk, even if most of us won’t manage to take the three weeks or so it would take to do it all at once, breaking it up into smaller pieces can be just as rewarding.
The West Highland Way - Tyndrum to Inveroran, Inveroran to Kingshouse
Duration: 10-12 Hours
Stretching from Milngavie to Fort William the West Highland Way is another lengthy Scottish trek of 96 miles long that, as the name suggests, travels on the West coast up to the Highlands. There are 8 mini-sections within this journey and we will be focusing on two later parts, Tyndrum to Inveroran and Inveroran to Kingshouse. However, you can tackle any part of the Way if you get a hold of the West Highland Way book that was newly released in 2020. It’s a worthwhile purchase if you’re serious about attempting this adventure and has the added benefit of donating 25% of it’s profit back to protect the trail. A win-win!
So Tyndrum to Inveroran. To start with this is where you will want to stock up on any essentials as there are no real amenities until Kinlochleven. It won’t feel like you need them for the first stint though as you follow a little road around the bottom of the towering hills above as you wander toward Bridge of Ochry. Beinn Doran will be in constant sight, boasting whatever natural shades of heather and gorse that are appropriate for the season, and making you feel like a little hobbit walking among dormant giants. You’ll climb up onto the hills in a short but steep ascent and then reach the top for a fantastic view over Loch Tulla, down again and you reach Inveroran.
Continuing on you are beginning on what is usually described as the most scenic and dramatic part of the West Highland Way, although the weather will probably be critical to whether you skip or suffer through this section. This is because from Inveroran you reach Rannoch Moor - an extremely open and exposed moorland which can be as stunningly beautiful as it can be bitterly cold and unforgiving. But as the saying goes ‘there is no bad weather, just bad clothes!’. Maybe all you’ll need is a FINDRA merino base layer, a simple mid layer and one of our Stroma jackets, you may not even notice the weather! After you’ve crossed the moor you will walk through more valleys of dramatic mountains around you and reach the Kingshouse Hotel and hopefully get to rest for the day!
Loch An Eilein
Distance: 4.5 Miles
Duration: 2 Hours
This is a significantly shorter walk that wraps around Loch An Eilein in the Cairngorms and is just too magical not to include. It should take you around 2 hours to complete this trail which is around 4.5 miles long. It's a really great place if you have kids or if you’d just like to take in the scenery as the paths are very clearly marked and no section is too challenging.
You’ll have to bring a car for this one and start off in the car park which marks the beginning of the trail. There's also a visitor center if you fancy a visit. You climb up from here into a pine forest, where you pass a little white cottage which may remind you of Goldilocks and the three bears! You walk through the pine forest for a little longer, taking in the views of the loch which appears through the trees, some of which are hundreds of years old. Then the rest of the walk is around the lochside where you will be able to see a small island that holds a 14th century castle!
This is a great place for a picnic on a sunny day and you’ll likely want to spend more time here than just a couple of hours. If you’d like a longer walk you can extend this trail by including Loch Gamha in your route.
Walking the West Highland Way is a worthwhile purchase if you’re serious about attempting this adventure and has the added benefit of donating 25% of its profit back to protect the trail. A win-win!