Fiona Outdoors logo My independent guide to the best of Scotland outdoors

Must-do hikes in the north of Scotland

Written by Fiona

June 28 2024

The rugged beauty of the Scottish Highlands, in the north of Scotland, offers some of the most breathtaking and challenging hikes in the UK. From towering peaks to serene lochs and winding rivers, this region is a paradise of scenery for outdoor enthusiasts. 

Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or a casual walker, the diverse landscapes and hiking trails will leave you in awe. In this guide, we’ll highlight must-do hikes in Northern Scotland to show you what this stunning region has to offer. Before you start hiking, stay connected with a Scotland eSIM so you can have access to maps while out in the wilds, as well as share the beautiful sights with family and friends back home. 

Ben Nevis ascent

So many people want to hike Ben Nevis because it’s the tallest peak in the UK. Rising to 1345m and located near the outdoors town of Fort William, it’s a mountain magnet. Be prepared for a busy tourist path and make sure you have all the right clothing and equipment for scaling the peak because the weather is freqently very different at the top, compared to the base.

The most popular route starts at the Visitor Centre in Glen Nevis and extends to 10.5 miles for a round trip. 

As you ascend, the path takes you through lush greenery and the higher you go, the more dramatic the scenery becomes. On a clear day, the summit offers panoramic views stretching across the Highlands and beyond. Keep your eyes peeled for wildlife, such as red deer and birds of prey.

Cairngorms National Park

The Cairngorms National Park is a great destination with a huge range of routes to enjoy. From gentle walks through ancient forests to strenuous hikes up rocky peaks, the Cairngorms in Scotland has it all.

Cairn Gorm mountain rises to 1245m yet it is surprisingly possible for many people to walk the route because the car park is located at more than 600m elevation. There is a path to follow but, again, you should be aware that the conditions can be very different on the lower slopes compared to the high plateau. ,Make sure you wear solid footwear and take clothing to suit cold, wet and windy conditions.

Another bigger challenge is to complete a walk along the Lairig Ghru. The pass rises to high point of  high point of 835m amid a remote landscape, so, again, you’ll need adequate experience and equipment to stay safe.

For easier walks, check out trails around Loch an Eilein at Rothiemurchus, near Aviemore.

Loch Ness.

The Great Glen Way

Spanning 79 miles from Fort William to Inverness, the Great Glen Way is an iconic long-distance hiking trail in Scotland. This trail follow the natural fault line that divides the Highlands, offering varied scenery and rich history along the way.

Starting in Fort William, you’ll walk alongside the Caledonian Canal, with the majestic Ben Nevis behind you. As you progress, the trail takes you past the mystical Loch Ness. The journey concludes in Inverness, which is a vibrant small city, known as the capital of the Highlands.

The Great Glen Way is perfect for people seeking a multi-day hiking adventure with a mix of natural beauty and cultural landmarks.

You can walk or cycle the Glen Affric route.

The Affric Kintail Way

For a hiking trail in Scotland that’s off the beaten path, try the Affric Kintail Way. This 44-mile trail starts in Drumnadrochit, near Loch Ness, and ends in Morvich. The route takes you through the stunning Glen Affric, often hailed as the most beautiful glen in Scotland.

One of the most unique things about this hiking trip is the location’s extraordinary biodiversity, with opportunities to see red squirrels, otters and a variety of bird species. This trail is perfect for those looking to immerse themselves in Scotland’s natural beauty without the crowds.

Liathach Ridge in Torridon

For those seeking a big adventure – and if you have the relevant experience – Liathach Ridge in Torridon is a must. This 7.5-mile hiking trail is known for its spectacular ridge walk and panoramic views of the Torridon peaks.

Starting in Glen Torridon, the ascent is steep and challenging, but the views from the ridge are some of the most spectacular you’ll ever see in Scotland. You’ll also ned a head for heights because the ridge is precipitous in places.

Staying connected in the wild

The Northern Scottish Highlands offers a treasure trove of hiking experiences that cater to every type of adventurer. From the iconic Ben Nevis to the secluded beauty of Glen Affric, these trails showcase the best of what Scotland has to offer. 

While exploring the remote beauty and hiking trails of Northern Scotland, staying connected can be a challenge. This is where a good eSIM with reliable coverage like Nomad’s Scotland eSIM, can make all the difference. With seamless internet access, you can easily share your adventures, navigate trails and more importantly, stay in touch with loved ones and get easy access to emergency services should things go wrong.

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