Glenshee Walking Cateran Trail

Walking Holidays in Scotland

Our Scottish Walking Holidays

Explore highlands, lochs and deep glens in Scotland's areas of iconic natural beauty. Your walking holiday will 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.

Below you can find a complete list of our walking holidays in Scotland.

Why walk in Scotland?

Scotland is by far the most mountainous country in the United Kingdom as well as being the most remote. Indeed it is so mountainous, that the Scottish even have their own name for any mountain exceeding 3,000 ft (914m), a ‘Munro’. There are 282 Munros in Scotland, whereas there are just 15 mountains of that height in Wales and a mere 7 in England! Such mountainous scenery makes for a very dramatic walking holiday, yet you do not need to be able to scale a Munro in order to enjoy walking here. Scotland is covered with beautiful long distance pathways that follow the lower land in between the mountains, allowing you to enjoy the best of your surroundings without the physical strain.

With great mountains come great lakes, and Scotland has plenty of these too! Known as lochs, they intersperse the mountains and are far bigger and deeper than any you will find in England or Wales. Surrounding these lochs, are mile upon mile of native woodland, beautiful mountain peaks and perhaps even the odd ancient castle harking back to a time when Scotland was ruled by clans. Together they make for a unique but iconic landscape full of untouched beauty, plenty of history and brimming with wildlife.

Our top 5 reasons to visit Scotland

  1. The Mountains: Need we say any more? Mile upon mile of craggy snow capped peaks – quite simply the most impressive mountain ranges in the entire UK.
  2. The History: Robert the Bruce, William Wallace, Rob Roy – Scottish history is overflowing with patriotic heroes and exciting tales of war and intrigue, and it is all brought alive by the ancient castles and churches that still line the landscape today.
  3. The Wilderness: Dominated by vast, wild countryside where animals often outnumber people, Scotland has hundreds of miles of uninhabited land, making it a wonderful location for a walking holiday.
  4. The Capital: No visit to Scotland is complete without a trip to Edinburgh. Not only is it an extremely beautiful city, but it is also one of the most lively and cultural of any in the UK. Particular highlights include the Edinburgh fringe festival, Burns Night and their New Year's celebration, Hogmanay.
  5. The Welcome: Last but certainly not least is the Scottish welcome. The Scots are known for being warm, outgoing and fond of a good whisky, guaranteeing visitors to Scotland a proper welcome.

Walking in Scotland

With its endless supply of challenging peaks, Scotland is a haven for energetic adventurers, yet it also has much to offer those looking for a gentler, long-distance walking experience being home to some of the UK’s most popular long distance pathways.
If you’re looking to experience Scotland’s most mountainous scenery, you will need to head north to the ‘Highlands’. The largest of these mountains, including Scotland’s highest peak Ben Nevis, are in the Northwest Highlands, and can be enjoyed on the challenging West Highland Way or the more gentle Great Glen Way. Alternatively there is an excellent selection of walks in the Southern Highlands, taking in Scotland’s two National Parks the Cairngorms National Park and the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park. The Rob Roy Way links both national parks, whilst the gentle Speyside Way follows a beautiful valley path around the Cairngorms.

South of the Highlands are the Central Lowlands, home to Scotland’s two major cities, Edinburgh and Glasgow. The land is generally flatter here, yet it does boast one of Scotland’s most varied and exciting walks the John Muir Way, which takes you the entire width of the country past coastline, lochs and hills.

In the southernmost part of Scotland are the Southern Uplands, which border England. The walking here is generally easier, and includes two fascinating historical walks, the Border Abbeys Way and St Cuthbert’s Way.

Finally, let’s not forget the coastal walking. Scotland’s coast has a very wild and unique beauty, which can be best enjoyed on the Fife Coastal Path or if you’re looking for a real escape on an island walk around the Isle of Arran.

Best Time to visit 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.

How to get 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.

Getting Around Scotland

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

Essential Travel Info

Travel Documents
Scotland has the same immigration and visa requirements as the rest of the UK, which will be checked upon you first arrival in the UK. If you arrive in England first, you will not need to go through passport control again when you enter Scotland.

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
Scotland uses the same currency as the rest of the UK, pound sterling (£), although the notes (paper money) do look different to those used in England and Wales. It is fine to use both the English notes and the Scottish notes in Scotland. 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.

Language
The main language in Scotland is English and it is spoken by the entire population. However, Scotland does also have its own native language called Scottish Gaelic. Gaelic is an ancient Celtic language still spoken by approximately 1 – 2% of the population. You are most likely to hear it spoken in the Highlands and the outer islands. You may also see it used in place names .

Internet and Phone coverage
Because Scotland is quite rural there are many areas where you will have limited mobile phone coverage and mobile internet. For this reason it is best to plan ahead and not rely on them when you are out and about. In towns and villages there will generally be phone reception but not always mobile internet. It is increasingly common to have free wi-fi in cafes, hotels and B&Bs but not guaranteed.

Scottish Culture

Until 1707, Scotland was independent from the rest of Great Britain and so it has developed a very unique and distinct culture, which they are very proud of. Like Wales and Ireland, some of this is derived from their heritage as a Celtic nation, but some has more modern roots.

Key Facts
Flag: St Andrew’s Cross (White diagonal cross on blue background)
Patron Saint: St Andrew (30th November)
National Flower: Thistle
Population: 5 million
Capital City: Edinburgh

Creative Arts

As hosts of one of the world’s largest and most famous arts festivals, The Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Scotland is a proud supporter and protector of the arts. Their literary heritage is particularly strong, ranking Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (author of Sherlock Holmes), J.M. Barrie (Peter Pan), Sir Walter Scott, Robert Louis Stevenson (Treasure Island), Irvine Walsh and of course Robert Burns amongst their literary heroes. Visitors to Scotland should also keep an eye out for traditional music and dance performances, which play a big part in Scottish culture. In the musical arena, bagpipe performances are world famous whilst folk music is also very popular, with the Shetland Islands hosting one of the world’s most highly respected folk festivals. Many folk performances will also incorporate a Ceilidh, a traditional energetic folk dance, where everyone is welcome to join in. Alternatively for something a little more refined, we would highly recommend watching a Scottish Country Dance or Highland Dance performance.

Sports
Football is without a doubt the most popular sport for watching and playing in Scotland and has been for many generations, with rival teams Celtic and Rangers being the two most popular and successful teams. For those looking to play a little sport, Scotland is home to some of the world’s most famous golf courses. Or alternatively cycling is fast becoming extremely popular, inspired by Scottish Olympic champion, Sir Chris Hoy.

Food and Drink
If there is one item you must sample when visiting Scotland, it is their whisky. Whisky accounts for an enormous 13% of their national exports and you will see whisky distilleries all over the country as well as specialist whisky bars. With over 100 distilleries to choose from, you are sure to be passing by at least one one your travels. For a whisky infused walking holiday see our Speyside Way Walking Holiday.

Scotland’s food tends to be very traditional and often meat based. Their most famous national dish is Haggis, a savoury dish made up of minced sheep’s heart, liver and lungs mixed with oats, onions and herbs. It is not to everyone’s tastes but we would certainly recommend giving it a go. A more modern dish that Scotland takes credit for is the ‘Battered Mars Bar’. It is far from being healthy or refined but does sum up Scotland’s love of rich food!

Below you can find a complete list of our walking holidays in Scotland.

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Border Abbeys Way

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Borders Abbey Way is a leisurely walking route located in Scottish Border country – a little known and unspoiled corner of Scotland. This particular route was beloved by Sir Walter Scott and featured in many of his novels.

  • 7 nights
  • Easy
  • Feb to Oct
  • Scottish Borders
  • £505 to £730

Cateran Trail

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Walking The Cateran Trail Follow in the footsteps of the Caterans on an incredible walk across the heart of Scotland. At 64 miles (103km) this fully waymarked walk explores beautiful scenery such as verdant glens, picturesque woodland and divine waterfalls. Highlights of the Cateran Trail walk include: Blairgowrie – a quaint market town flanked by … Continue reading Cateran Trail »

  • 6 to 7 nights
  • Moderate
  • Mar to Oct
  • Central Scotland
  • £450 to £505

Fife Coastal Path

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Discover Scotland on foot by traversing the sublime Fife Coastal Path. This 117 mile coastal walk runs from the Forth Estuary in the south to the Tay Estuary in the north. It’s a terrifically scenic walk which takes in glorious sandy beaches, historic castles and caves, fascinating wildlife and fishing villages.

  • 7 to 8 nights
  • Easy to Moderate
  • Mar to Oct
  • Eastern Scotland
  • £570 to £620

John Muir Way

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Scotland’s newest walking trail, dedicated to Scotsman John Muir, founder and the ‘father’ of the US’s National Parks John Muir Way is Scotland’s newest and perhaps most exciting walking trail. The long distance route runs coast to coast across the heart of Scotland. Named after the 19th-century Scottish-American naturalist John Muir, the walk is a … Continue reading John Muir Way »

  • 10 to 11 nights
  • Moderate
  • Mar to Oct
  • Southern Scotland
  • £885 to £960