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Hiking in Northwest Scotland — exploring the magical Scottish Wilds

Alex Foxfield

Hiking in Northwest Scotland — exploring the magical Scottish Wilds

Hiking Collection by komoot

6

Tours

22:45 h

39.7 mi

11,425 ft

The Northwest Highlands of Scotland are simply magical. An ocean-ravaged, island-studded coastline gives way to some of the oldest exposed land on the planet, building blocks that were laid down as long as 2,600 million years ago. From these foundations rise monstrous mountains; some are brutally built, others are shameless exhibitionists, all are defiant in their individuality.

Here, the Gaelic names given to the mountains, rock formations, waterfalls, lochs and pinnacles lend them an evocative and timeless air: Am Buachaille, Liathach, An Teallach, Suilven and Beinn Alligin. Switch the meaning to English and you get the Herdsman, the Grey One, the Forge, Pillar Mountain and the Jewelled Mountain. Add in those already Anglicised — the Destitution Road, Cape Wrath, the Great Wilderness — and you soon realise you are dealing with a landscape that oozes atmosphere and a hint of malevolence.

This Collection explores some of the region’s most breathtaking landscapes. From coastal trails to secluded, golden beaches and towering sea stacks to adventures on some of Britain’s greatest mountains, there’s a hike here to suit everyone. The wildlife is just as stunning as the scenery; the mountains support eagles and ptarmigan, countless deer roam the moorland and out at sea dolphins and whales are often sighted.

The Tours in this Collection range from 2 to 12 miles (4 to 19 km) in length and vary in difficulty. We have broadly ordered them in terms of challenge, with the easier coastal walks coming first and the more strenuous mountain hikes towards the end. Each of the mountains involve at least some scrambling, though anything harder than grade I is avoidable, making the routes suitable for all reasonably fit hikers.

Nevertheless, the remote nature of these hikes means that self-sufficiency is key. Take plenty of food and drink, a spare power bank, waterproofs and warm layers. In summer, sun cream is essential, while insect repellent is a good idea if you are to keep the midges at bay. At the end of each day, check yourself for ticks and have a tick twister ready, should you have picked up one of these nasty little hitchhikers.

To make the most of your exploration of the Scottish Wilds, we would recommend spring and autumn. Winter, though undoubtedly spectacular, can be savage and you are also restricted by the short daylight hours. During this time, the mountains are out of bounds to those without mountaineering skills and equipment. Summer does have its benefits, though busier trails, the heat and the midges mean that the shoulder seasons are our preferred option.

The city of Inverness is known as the ‘capital of the Highlands’ and makes for a great base or place to launch an expedition into the region. The city has an airport, though making use of its rail links with Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen is a much greener way to access the area. Londoners also have the option of the Caledonian Sleeper, an overnight rail service that splits into three, terminating in Aberdeen, Inverness and Fort William. Once in the Highlands, the best way to get around is by car, especially if you are visiting remote beauty spots.

One of the best ways to experience the Scottish Wilds is to plan a wild camp or a stay in one of the region’s many bothies. Some of the Tours in this Collection start or end at a bothy, giving you the chance to truly immerse yourself in the wilderness, though you should always take a tent just in case the shelter is full. A stay in one of these unique mountain huts is a quintessential Highland experience.

So, grab your backpack and prepare for truly incredible wilderness hikes in the magical North West Highlands.

On The Map

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Tours & Highlights

  • Map data © OpenStreetMap contributors
    Intermediate
    02:23
    4.66 mi
    2.0 mph
    600 ft
    575 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    The Old Man of Stoer is one of Scotland’s great sea stacks. This dramatic pillar of Torridonian sandstone rises just off the Stoer Peninsula and, along with the nearby hill of Sìthean Mòr, makes for a grand hiking objective. With majestic birdlife, the chance of spotting whales and dolphins, a rugged coastline and sensational views towards the inselberg mountains of …

  • Intermediate
    02:34
    6.10 mi
    2.4 mph
    525 ft
    450 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    In the far northwest of Scotland is a beach thought by many to be the finest in Britain. Like a haven amidst the storm-tossed coast south of Cape Wrath, Sandwood Bay’s golden-pink sands stretch enticingly, backed by a freshwater loch and with stunning views to Am Buachaille, a huge sea stack. This glorious amble takes you across peat moorland to …

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  • Intermediate
    01:56
    2.62 mi
    1.4 mph
    1,425 ft
    1,425 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    The term ‘microadventure’ is absolutely embodied in Stac Pollaidh, a 2,008-foot (612 m) mini-mountain that rises in weird and wonderful shapes above Inverpolly’s watery hinterland. It’s just over a mile (2 km) from car to summit, but what a mile it is! Stac Pollaidh is an immense rocky playground, beloved by climbers and scramblers alike. The views are otherworldly, right …

  • Difficult
    05:54
    11.4 mi
    1.9 mph
    2,250 ft
    2,250 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Assynt is a region of unique beauty and geological wonder. Here, long-departed glaciers have gifted us with a land liberally dotted with beautiful lochans, wild moorland and mountains unlike any others in the UK. These are inselberg peaks that rise in defiant isolation, each one with its own oddball character.

    Among this idiosyncratic family, Suilven is undoubtedly the most visually …

  • Difficult
    05:51
    6.55 mi
    1.1 mph
    3,325 ft
    3,325 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Sure-footedness, sturdy shoes and alpine experience required.

    Torridon is an ancient and magical landscape, lorded over by a trio of massifs that all have a place in Britain’s mountain pantheon. Liathach takes centre stage, a behemoth that rises out of nowhere in a brutal display of mountain might. Quartzite-capped Beinn Eighe is a sprawling monster, a range in itself. More graceful is Beinn Alligin, whose twin summits …

  • Difficult
    04:07
    8.36 mi
    2.0 mph
    3,300 ft
    3,600 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    In a region known as ‘the Great Wilderness’ is a legendary, huge and downright frightening massif. The fact that a mountain this remote is still frequently cited as Britain’s finest tells you that, in An Teallach, you’re dealing with something special. In Gaelic, An Teallach is ‘the Forge’, conjuring up an image of a dark and powerful entity.

    A complex …

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Collection Stats

  • Tours
    6
  • Distance
    39.7 mi
  • Duration
    22:45 h
  • Elevation
    11,425 ft

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Hiking in Northwest Scotland — exploring the magical Scottish Wilds

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