Spectacular Hill Walks in Scotland
Live out your Braveheart fantasies on Scotland’s most spectacular hills.
Is there any feeling more satisfying than standing on top of a hill and surveying the land below like you’re a rebel or a royal in some oh-so-dramatic period piece? Climbing something gives a sense of achievement rivalled only by that experienced when you find the perfect home for your holiday getaway. And you’re in luck, as Plum Guide can help with both. Ain’t no mountain high enough to keep our home critics from scouring the land to find the very best in luxury accommodation, and ain’t no valley low enough to keep us from guiding you towards the most spectacular hill walks in Scotland. Hiking holiday sorted.
Let’s get the lingo out of the way first – bagging a Munro, in Scottish parlance, means climbing one of the country’s 282 mountains that stand over 3,000 feet tall. Munros vary greatly in difficulty from simple hill walks to those that should only be attempted by real pros (no prizes for guessing which category the Inaccessible Pinnacle falls into) so in true slacker efficient fashion, we’ve found you the easiest. Ben Lomond is set within the scenic Trossachs National Park, so less confident members of your party can enjoy a nice stroll beside the loch while you tackle the mountain. It’s one of the most popular hill walks in Scotland, with thousands traipsing through the oak woods to the peak every year. Taking between 5 and 6 hours for the average walker, this is a full-day activity that we’d recommend saving for a clear day – mainly so you can appreciate the views from the top. We’d also recommend getting a good bottle of wine to reward yourself when you get back to your Plum home. You’ve just bagged a Munro, after all, and we think that’s worth celebrating.
It’s not often you get to climb up the side of an extinct volcano in the middle of a capital city. Arthur’s Seat is a unique hill walk in Scotland (and perhaps the world) that’s relatively easy even for those of us who are more sofa-dwellers than summit-seekers. The views from the top make it the perfect place to take pictures; you’ll often see honeymooners, loved-up couples, and even proposals on the top of this hill. We’ll let you in on a little secret – this climb is even easier if you ascend from Dunsapie Loch rather than Holyrood Park, as you’ll bypass the craggier areas and there are clearly defined paths to follow. Depending on which route you take (and how often you stop to snap photos of the view over Edinburgh) climbing Arthur’s Seat takes about two or three hours, which leaves you plenty of time to grab a pie and a pint at The Sheep Heid Inn, one of the city’s oldest pubs which sits near the foot of the volcano.
In the 18th century, Schiehallion was the site of an experiment aiming to weigh the world using an array of baffling theories and calculations -- your visit here will probably be less scientific in nature, but hopefully a bit more scenic. This Munro in Perth and Kinross is so popular that in 2000, around 20,000 people made it to the top and the trust that owns the mountain had to create a new walking path to handle the number of visitors. Though it’s not a technically difficult climb it does take about four to six hours to complete, so we recommend bringing a picnic and a big group of friends to spur each other along as you hike up through the native woodland. Keep an eye out for the flocks of sheep and red deer that call this mountainside home, and make sure to save your energy for the final rocky outcrop near the summit.
If you peruse any hiking books or guides to hill walks in Scotland, you’ll start noticing a lot of Bens cropping up. No, they’re not all named after a particularly prolific hiker; beinn is the Gaelic word for mountain. Now that’s a fact you can impress your hiking companions with on your next summit. Bennachie is (a little confusingly) not a mountain itself, but rather a range of hills in Aberdeenshire that are notable for their natural beauty and remote location. The highest peak is Oxen Craig at 1732 feet, but we’d recommend heading for Mither Tap - at 1699 feet it’s only slightly lower, and it offers much better views over the countryside below. It takes up to four hours to get up and down Bennachie’s summits, making it the ideal after-lunch activity. Fair warning, though – it is Scotland and even the sunniest days can get quite cold, so make sure you’re dressed warmly for the climb. We also recommend getting a good bottle of whisky to enjoy in front of a crackling fire in your Plum home, just to make certain you’ve chased any last chills away. It’s medicinal, after all.
The UK’s largest National Park, the Cairngorms has been crowned one of the most beautiful places in the world by pretty much every travel guide you could name, us included. The lochs and valleys of this Highlands hideaway offer spectacular scenery, diverse wildlife, and of course, some of the best hiking around. With much of the land used for deer stalking rather than for agricultural purposes like grazing sheep, the Cairngorms is also amongst the best hill walks in Scotland for those with dogs.
There are a number of Munros within the park. If you feel like challenging yourself, the namesake mountain of Cairn Gorm is a five or six hour climb, the perfect route for more confident hikers due to trickier stretches. For a more gentle version with views just as impressive, head up the Cairnwell, which can be done easily in a day. But perhaps the most popular is Lochnagar, or 'dark Lochnagar' as Lord Byron dubbed it when he visited. It does take around seven hours, but the views (and the literary links) are more than worth it.