Blessed with amazing diversity of geography and history, Scotland is an incredible destination for hiking and climbing. Barren and rocky mountains rise from moorlands pocked with heather, thistle, and wildflowers. Long valleys with deep and mysterious lochs (lakes) divide the mountain ranges. While some roads bisect the Highlands, passenger trains are the most efficient mode of transportation.
The Scottish Highlands are among the least-populated areas in Europe, and much of the region is uninhabited except for scattered farms and villages. Trails lace the Highlands, leading to mountain tops before dropping to villages and small inns. Highlights include: train travel through the Highlands, hikes on classic trails and ascents of peaks including Ben Nevis (highest peak in the British Isles), and accommodations in local inns and small hotels.
This is typically a summer/early fall trip, for weather and environmental reasons. For info on safety issues and protocols, contact Mountain Madness. Here’s details, from Mountain Madness:
Days 1-2 Depart from home. Arrive and overnight in Inverness. Free time to explore and relax, post flight.
Day 3 Travel to the West Highlands, go for a spectacular two-hour trek (about 3.5 km/185-metre elevation gain). Overnight at Edencoille, Kinlochleven.
Day 4 The Devil’s Staircase. You will hike a stage of the famous West Highland Way trekking route, trekking the most challenging stage and crossing the high point of the route, a pass known as the Devil’s Staircase. About 14 km/500-metre elevation gain, approx. 5 hours. Overnight: Edencoille, Kinlochleven.
Day 5 Ben Nevis. Leaving Glencoe, a short transfer north takes us to Torlundy by the town of Fort William. This is the “true” starting point for a hike up Scotland’s highest mountain — Ben Nevis. It may only be 1,345 metres high, but starting from sea level makes it challenging. We scale this classic mountain via the dramatic ridge, Carn Mor Dearg. Later we enjoy a celebratory pint in the Ben Nevis Inn—a fabulous old stone bar that’s the traditional place to recover from this hike! Overall, a 17.5-km/1,506-metre elevation trek, about 10 hours. Overnight: Edencoille, Kinlochleven.
Day 6 Glencoe’s Peaks. Today we hike in Glencoe itself, with several fantastic mountains to choose from, such as Buachaille Etive Mor or Bidean nam Bian. Hiking is as good as you’ll find anywhere in the world. Afterwards enjoy a beer, dinner and maybe some live music in the Boots Bar at the Clachaig Inn at Glencoe. Approx 14 km/1,000-metre elevation hike, about 6–8 hours. Overnight: Edencoille, Kinlochleven.
Day 7 Kintail. Transfer northwest to the mountainous region of Torridon, a haven for many of Scotland’s classic peaks, including the Five Sisters of Kintail. A stop at Eilean Donan Castle, then onwards to Torridon, a 7-km/700-metre elevation hike, about 4 hours. Overnight: Tigh An Eilean, Sheildaig.
Day 8 Enjoy an easier hike today, with various options for amazing mountain hikes in Torridon. A guide will discuss options, and you can choose as a group (Ben Damph, Beinn Alligin are options) Overnight: Tigh An Eilean, Sheildaig.
Day 9 Loch Clair. On your final day, enjoy an easy, low-level hike to stretch the legs, the circuit of Loch Clair. Afterwards journey to the Highland capital Inverness, arriving mid-afternoon for our farewell dinner together. Overnight in Inverness.
Day 10 Depart Inverness and fly home.
- Phone: 800.328.5925
- SM: @MountainMadness1984, @mountainmad
- Length/Departs: 10 days/custom dates available; contact Mountain Madness for details
- Accommodation: Cozy inns and pubs
- Price: check with operator for current pricing
- Difficulty/Physical prep: This trip involves trekking about 5-8 hours a day, with large elevation gains of 1,000-2,000+ feet OR 305-610+ meters a day. There are multiple days of this level of trekking throughout the trip. Mountain Madness recommends that overall, as a guideline, you should be in great physical shape, and doing about 4, one-hour workouts per week before the trip. Also, you should include in your prep routine (a few times) hiking with a small pack for several hours, with altitude gain if possible.