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From the rolling green Lowlands to the staggering peaks of the Highlands, Scotland’s walks have got to be some of the best in the world. This is a country of breathtaking beauty and extreme wilderness where each peak is accompanied by a sweeping valley. The coastline is so rugged you’d need a lifetime to walk its 6,000 mile (9,600 km) length and we haven’t even got to the islands yet.
Mainland Scotland has more than enough trails around lochs, over mountains and through valleys to keep you busy but its islands are also a hiker’s paradise. With many easily accessible, hikes on Scotland’s islands give you multiple landscapes all in one go.
There are endless walks for every type of hiker and there’s little the country can’t provide. Is it summits you want to reach? Does the idea of exploring dense woodland filled with birdsong spike your curiosity? How about skimming stones across the water with your toes digging into sand? And all, of course, while keeping a stash of shortbread in your jacket pocket.
Scotland’s got it all, you just need to begin.
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Scotland is famed for its wild and dramatic scenery, particularly in the Highlands where ancient castles overlook vast lochs and the UK’s highest mountains stand as a backdrop. The glens are deep valleys which sweep between peaks with single lane roads cutting through the dramatic landscape. Hikes in Scotland’s north west can be so remote you might not see others for days, leaving you free to experience the magical landscape all by yourself. In such isolation, remember to plan ahead with a first aid kit, a means of communication and appropriate clothing.
The Lowlands, while not a designated region, are roughly the portion below Edinburgh and Glasgow. Woodlands and rolling hills dominate the landscape in much of the Lowlands providing some of the best hiking trails in Scotland. Just north of the huge Galloway Forest Park is Dalmellington, a fantastic place to stargaze as it is one of the darkest places in Europe. If you’re camping on your hiking trip, you can expect to be illuminated by nothing but starlight on a clear night. Wild camping is permitted across much of Scotland too, giving you ultimate freedom to create your own adventure.
Scotland doesn’t end with its fantastic mountains, abyssal lochs and bountiful woodlands, it also has a coastline to fall in love with. Its western islands provide some of the country’s most incredible landscapes whether you’re on them or looking at them across the water. Scotland’s walks around the Isle of Skye are amongst the most well-known and you can climb the Old Man of Storr, amble in the Fairy Glen and go for a chilly swim in the sea if you’re feeling brave.
Scotland’s wildlife mirrors its landscape; beautiful, bold and breathtaking. On land you can see the country’s vast population of deer. The red deer are perhaps the most famous but if you’ve got a keen eye, you can see roe, sika and fallow deer too.
Red squirrels are rare in the UK, only surviving in small enclaves mostly on islands. The Scottish Highlands is home to an established stronghold though so look upwards into the trees in places like Gight Wood and Loch Ard Forest.
Red kites, osprey, golden eagles and the wonderful puffins are all resident in Scotland, making its skies as impressive as its land. In the water, otters, dolphins, seals and basking sharks can be spotted if you’re on the right coastal path at the right time.
Walking in Scotland offers surprises around every corner, no matter where in the country you are. From relaxed woodland strolls to summiting Ben Nevis, this country has everything and more.
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