Where to Go For the Best Hikes in Scotland
Strap on your walking boots; we’re about to explore the valleys, glens, and hills of Scotland.
According to someone wiser than us, every journey starts with a single step, and that’s never been more true than when you’re planning a hiking holiday around Scotland. Though in our case, every journey starts with a thousand open tabs as we research the best places to go, and of course, where to stay once we arrive. Here at Plum Guide, we’ve (very kindly) saved you the hard work and trekked from the Highlands to the Borders to discover where to find the best hikes in Scotland.
If you’re interested in trying a varied range of walks on your hiking holiday to Scotland, Fife is a must-visit. There are hundreds of walking routes and coastal paths around this Scottish county, taking you through ancient forests and dramatic seascapes that no one would ever believe are all within an hour’s drive of each other. The Fife Coastal Path is undoubtedly one of the most popular and best hikes in Scotland; you could choose to tackle all 183km of it if you really want to, but our advice would be to choose a section and spend a pleasant afternoon wandering along the coastal cliffs and beachy rest stops. There are sections for every level of hiking ability and experience, so everyone from beginners to pros can take part. Further inland, the Maspie Den walk takes you through a scenic woodland complete with waterfall and native deer. If you’re looking for the most stereotypically Scottish holiday snaps of all time, here’s where to take them – just don’t forget your kilt.
The capital city may seem a strange destination to suggest when looking for the best hikes in Scotland, but then again, Edinburgh is no ordinary capital. You can enjoy some exceptional hikes without even leaving the city limits, and if you’re travelling with kids we can’t recommend it highly enough. Arthur’s Seat is the perfect two or three hour climb to undertake with children, with the relatively easy route to the top ideal for little legs. Similarly, Calton Hill is just minutes from bustling Leith Walk and offers an exciting scramble in the heart of the city, with plenty of historic ruins to stop and admire (or, let’s be real, pose beside). There’s also plenty to do on rest days, from exploring the castle to splashing the cash in Princes Street’s luxury shops to simply wandering the city – though if you ask us, getting up some of those steep Edinburgh streets is a hike in itself.
The Lowlands is a bit of a catch-all term for anywhere in Scotland that’s below the Highland Fault Line; it’s also a catch-all destination. Everyone from culture vultures, beach connoisseurs, and of course, avid hikers are lining up to enjoy a holiday in the Lowlands, and who can blame them? Skip the queue and shack up in some of Plum’s most beautiful homes (and trust us, we don’t say that lightly) before getting outdoors to explore some of the best hikes in Scotland. If you’re really struggling to narrow the Lowlands down to just one place, we recommend Midlothian – it’s a relatively central area, with lots to do and good access to other Scottish councils if you fancy a day trip. Some of our favourites include the Glencorse Reservoir walk and the woodland hike through Roslin Glen with a stop at the chapel made famous by The Da Vinci Code. Even if you’re not a fan, the intricate 15th century carvings of Rosslyn Chapel are more than worth the small detour.
As the name may suggest, much of the land here is, well, high. If you just love the burn in the back of your calves as you struggle to the top of a hill, you’ll find some of the best hikes in Scotland in the northernmost regions. There’s a good scattering of Munros here, including Ben Nevis – the highest mountain in the British Isles, summiting these staggering peaks is no easy feat and shouldn’t be attempted by novices. If you’re looking for more of a romantic stroll through some beautiful scenery than a vertiginous trip to the peaks, then we recommend checking out Alladale Wilderness Reserve. It’s got hills, glens, and all the romance of the Highlands, with hikes you can tackle in just a few hours. Which leaves you plenty of time for an intimate dinner at nearby restaurant Crannag Bistro before heading back to your Plum escape in the Highlands.