Explore Great Glens and Fells with Walking Holidays in Scotland

It’s easy to forget how much of Scotland is still wild and under-explored. Hiking Scotland’s hills have often figured as a way of finding respite from the frenetic pace of the city.  For those looking for a challenge think The West Highland Way. An island escape, The Isle of Arran. For a more leisurely walk in Scotland, following the Caledonian Canal and Loch Ness – look no further than The Great Glen Way.

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Overview of Scotland's Walking Routes

The most northerly region of the UK also contains the most mountainous terrain, with the highest mountain in Britain (Ben Nevis) towering over Scotland's distinctive highlands. Generally, the south and central lowlands are characterised by gentler forested areas in comparison to more rugged features of the north. Scotland's topography is divided between mainland and islands and dominated by the cavernous lochs sprawling across its landmass - 90% of the standing fresh water volume of Great Britain lies within Scotland.

Explore highlands, lochs and deep glens in Scotland's areas of iconic natural beauty. Your walking holiday can take you into areas full of echoes of Scottish history. Walk the romantic Rob Roy Way in Scotland's Southern Highlands; or along the shores of Loch Lomond with its islands set against stunning mountain backdrops and up the Devil's Staircase on the West Highland Way; or the beautiful Isle of Arran, ‘Scotland in miniature’. End you time walking with a day in Edinburgh, for a final experience of Scotland’s fascinating history.

Castle Urquhart and Loch Ness
View over Loch Ness and Castle Urquhart

Best Time to Walk in Scotland

Scotland is significantly colder and wetter than England and Wales. For this reason it is best to avoid the winter months (November through to March), which can be very dark and gloomy. The warmest months, and best time to visit are from May through to September. Dry weather cannot unfortunately be guaranteed, but the days will be warmer, lighter and better for walking.

As with the rest of the UK, the school holidays run from mid July until the end of August, and so those wishing to miss the crowds should avoid these times.

Those hoping to walk the West Highland Way or the Great Glen Way should also be aware of the much hated ‘midge’. These tiny, biting insects exist in high numbers in the north-west of Scotland and are at their worst during the hottest months, especially August. For this reason, May, June and September can be better months to visit the Northwest Highlands.

West coast Isle of Arran

Traveling to Scotland

By Plane: The quickest way to get to Scotland is by plane. Scotland has 3 international airports, Edinburgh and Glasgow in the south and Aberdeen in the north. Edinburgh and Glasgow both have excellent transport links into the rest of Scotland, whilst Aberdeen is slightly more isolated.

As Scotland is quite far from London, it is generally easier to fly directly into a Scottish airport rather flying into a London airport and then making your way up to Scotland. However there are regular daily flights into Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen from all of the major London airports. Likewise if you are starting your holiday in a different part of England or Wales, you will find regular flights to Scotland from most British airports.

By Eurostar/ Train: If travelling from mainland Europe, the UK can be reached by train from Paris, Brussels and Lille using the Eurostar. The Eurostar arrives in London, and from there you will find excellent train and bus connections up into Scotland.

A train from London to Edinburgh or Glasgow will take approximately 4 ½ hours. Both cities then have excellent train connections into the rest of Scotland. Alternatively, you can use the Caledonian Sleeper, which is an overnight sleeper train from London to major Scottish destinations, including Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dundee, Aberdeen, Inverness and Fort William. It is a particularly good option if you travelling to northern Scotland.

Other major British cities with good train connections into Scotland include Newcastle, Leeds, Manchester and Birmingham. You should book train journeys as far in advance as possible to avoid expensive fares.

By Ferry: If traveling from mainland Europe, there is an overnight car ferry from IJmuiden in Holland to the city of Newcastle, which lies just south of the Scottish border. The journey takes 17 hours, although a cabin is included in your fare. From Newcastle, there are very good transport links into Scotland.

It is also possible to travel by ferry from Northern Ireland to Glasgow.

Scotland Client Reviews

4.9/5 based on 17 reviews
"A great first experience of walking holidays, and Scotland!"
- September 2018
"Isle of Arran was really special - fine walks (including some challenging walking). The accommodation was very comfortable. What made it for me though was the friendliness of everyone I met."
- May 2018
"We want to thank you and others at Celtic Trails who made our recent holiday so delightful. We enjoyed all the B&B hosts we met, the weather co-operated, and we completed our walk with a sense of the beauty of the coastline and the excellence of the trail itself."
- September 2017
"We have hiked in the US, but this was our first European hike. Really enjoyed it! Thank you!"
- July 2017
"This holiday was the easiest to plan, we enjoyed not having to worry about the daily details. Though we have never attempted a walking holiday before – we were more than pleasantly surprised! Nathan took care of all the details, we are looking at our calendars and planning our next trip!"
- February 2016
"Wonderful isolated landscape with a great B&b to end the walk. We hardly saw anybody on the Cataran Trail. Some parts not so well waymarked, but no problems. Well organised as with all Scotland holidays we have taken with you."
- October 2015
"To my mind it is a wonderful adventure - lots of exercise & beautiful places to see, without the burden of a backpack or the worry of finding suitable accommodations."
- July 2010
"We had a wonderful time and thank-you for all you have done for us!!"
- June 2015
"Overall I had an amazing time! I walked from end to end & met so many interesting people on the way, at the end of every day. I appreciated the warm hospitality & the clean comfortable rooms to spend the night. Thanks so much for organising this holiday for me. It was unforgettable!"
- June 2014
"IT WAS PERFECT. Just magnificent, magical and atmospheric. The accommodation was excellent, all was totally smooth and though the weather was kind, it was really good to know Celtic Trails were there if things hadn't gone so smoothly."
- May 2010
"Can't think of anything which is in your control that could be improved upon. We have done a lot of long distance walks & you provide everything we would expect."
- September 2014
"We were placed with all of the accommodation, we thank you for helping us with out requests.' 'We found everyone most welcoming & met some lovely like minded people along the 'way', Thank you!"
- April 2010
"We wanted to thank you again for all your hard work arranging our walking trip in Scotland. We had a fabulous time everywhere we went. The B&B's were excellent and the scenery & history marvelous. None of our expeditions in the UK has ever been managed as well as you have done. For this we are truly grateful. We will be in touch with you for our next walk."
- June 2014
"Really enjoyed talking with people we met in the accommodations, restaurants, shops, etc. Thank you for working with our time criteria as another company told us they could not book those same dates."
- April 2014
"We had a wonderful time and will definitely do another one of your walking holidays."
- September 2016
"Thanks for good information, flexibility and a good trip (and good weather!)."
- August 2015
"All in all another fantastic walk, and thank you very much indeed once again for all your trouble. We hope everything holds up for next year, and all being well we will be in touch in the new year to plan the next project(s)."
- September 2014
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Walking in Scotland Destination Guide

Medical Cover

No vaccinations are required for entry into Britain. All citizens of the EU are entitled to free medical treatment under the National Health Service (NHS). If you are travelling from outside the EU you will receive free treatment from the Accident and Emergency Unit, but not if you are admitted into hospital or receive treatment at a general doctors surgery. Consequently health insurance is highly recommended.

Money

Most shops, hotels and restaurants accept all major debit and credit cards, although you should always carry a bit of cash on you, particularly when visiting more rural areas or when using small businesses. You will also find an ATM in most small towns.

Tipping is expected in most cafe’s and restaurants but not mandatory. Anything between 5% and 15%, depending on the quality of service is acceptable. It is not necessary to tip bar staff as you will usually order and collect your drinks at the bar.

Internet and Phone coverage

Good, speedy internet and phone coverage in Scotland is generally clustered around the more urban areas, although reception in rural areas is generally reliable. That being said, you should always be aware that that in more remote areas coverage is patchy, and in places like the Cairngorms National Park - coverage is sporadic at best. It is increasingly common to have free wi-fi in cafes, hotels and B&Bs but not guaranteed.

Travel Documents

Citizens of the EU are free to visit the UK for any length of time with just their passports, whilst those from the USA, Canada, Australia, South Africa and New Zealand can visit for 6 months with just their passports. Those from other countries will need to look into Visas. Once you have arrived in Scotland, you are free to cross the borders of England and Wales without having your documents checked again.

Getting Around

Celtic Trails will arrange necessary transfers for yourself and your luggage for the duration of the walk. This is included in the price of the holiday, but does not include transport to the start of the walk. We are very happy to arrange private transfer to the start of your walk at an additional cost. Alternatively, there are the following options:

Train: The entire UK has an excellent train network and it is the most popular form of public transport because it is comfortable, safe and fast. It covers all cities and most towns and is also suitable for travelling on with large pieces of luggage.

In Scotland, most train routes centre on Edinburgh and Glasgow. From both of these cities you can travel north along the east coast towards Aberdeen, along the west coast towards Fort William and also through the centre towards Inverness. There are also train routes going south along both the east and west coasts.

In order to check train routes and times visit www.nationalrail.co.uk. If you would like advice on which is the nearest train station to the start/end of your walk please get in touch. Train tickets can be bought on the National Rail website or at the train station on the day.

Coach: Coach travel is often one of the most affordable ways of making long journeys across the UK (but not necessarily the quickest). National Express (www.nationalexpress.com) and Megabus (https://uk.megabus.com/) are the main long distance coach companies in the UK serving major towns, cities and airports. Tickets for long distance coach journeys should always be bought in advance from the company’s website.

Bus: Buses (generally smaller than coaches) are used across the Scotland for shorter journeys. There are thousands of bus routes and you will find a service running through most towns in Scotland. They are particularly useful in more rural parts, where there is not a train service. Tickets are bought from the bus driver. Timetables in Scotland can be checked at http://www.travelinescotland.com/ .

Taxi: Travelling by taxi is not cheap but it is the most convenient way of travelling if you only have a small number of journeys to make. If you are in particularly rural area or need a taxi late at night, it is advisable that you book a day or two in advance. Taxi journeys should always be booked in advance unless you are in a major city or airport. Celtic Trails are very happy to provide you with the numbers of local, trustworthy taxi companies and also to book a taxi if enough notice is given.

Car: If you plan to drive to the start of your walking holiday, please let us know as we can provide advice on where to leave your car whilst walking

an to drive to the start of your walking holiday, please let us know as we can provide advice on where to leave your car whilst walking.

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Enquire about walking in Scotland
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