Hiking in the Highlands of Scotland

West of Stirling

The Central Belt Hills

The hills in the Central belt of Scotland are geologically not part of the highlands but part of the Southern Uplands. These hills are characteristically rounded but rise up straight out of the central belt plain.

Merrick and Galloway hills above morning clouds

Dumfries and Galloway

The southern uplands of Scotland are a range of hills between the Central Belt of Scotland and the border with England. Dumfries and Galloway are the western most hills in this range and also the nicest. The hills have similar characteristics to both the Lake District and the Highlands of Scotland.

The escarpment of Hart Fell's SE ridge

The Moffat Hills

The hills are much smoother and grassier than the hills of Galloway. Few cliffs & outcrops exist on these barren slopes and paths can often be noted by their absence. In spite of these features, the hills command wide open views both north to the central belt and south to the Lake District.

Beinn Luibhean (west) and Beinn an Lochain seen from Beinn Chorranach

Loch Lomond and the Arrochar Alps

This area is less than one hour drive from Glasgow and is thus one of the busiest mountain areas in Scotland with it being as busy as the Lake District and Snowdonia

The northern slopes of Ben Cruachan

Crianlarich - Bridge of Orchy & Loch Awe

There's a high density of big mountains here with Ben More and Ben Lui both exceeding 1100m. There are plenty more summits above 1000m including the classic Beinn Dorain and Stob Ghabhar found near Bridge of Orchy.

Meall Garbh and An Stuc seen from the northwest

Killin, Loch Earn & Loch Lyon

The mountains here are generally a lot more rounded and grassy compared to the mountains in the western and central highlands. There are some exceptions, the Tarmachan ridge is a superb ridge while An Stuc on Ben Lawers has some good steep work on it. The hills of Glens Lyon are linked by high bealachs while the Lochay hills are more isolated.

Stob Coire Sgreamhach and the Beinn Fhada ridge

Glen Coe

Glen Coe is spectacular, the mountains here thrust out from the ground steeply into narrow ridges, alpine corries and shapely peaks with deep ravines and the best pub in Scotland. It can't be stressed too much how grand it is and it is justifiably popular.

Ben Nevis seen from Sgurr a' Mhaim in the evening

Fort William

Fort William is surrounded to the east and west by wild, spectacular summits. While many don't lie in view from the town, don't be fooled by the low foothills shielding the great peaks.

Aonach Beag and Beinn Eibhinn

Ben Alder and Lochs Ossian and Laggan

This area is one of the desolate spots in Scotland. It's also the east-west transition where the shapely peaks of the west steadily transform to the big rounded hills of the east.

Sgurr na Ciche seen from the other end of Loch Quoich

Knoydart & Loch Quoich

Knoydart has some very spectacular scenery. Many of its summits lie out on a peninsular that is bounded by Loch Nevis to the south and Loch Hourn to the north. The only permanent habitation, Inverie isn't linked to the main road network but completely isolated but for three boat services a week getting through.

A lone shelter sat in front of Carn Liath

Pitlochry & The Drumochter Hills

Pitlochry is the principle town in this section and right on the edge of the south east highlands. The area covered is pretty large and includes some quite remote hills like those fringeing the Tarf valley along with some very popular hills including Ben Vrackie and Shiehallion.

The impressive south eastern corrie of Braeriach seen from Ben Macdui

Aviemore & The Northern Cairngorms

The Monadliath are quite featureless while the Cairngorms offer the largest plateaux above 4000ft. The Monadliath doesn't offer much by way of dramatic crags while the Cairngorms do. Although the Monadliath are lower, its plateau is vast. Excellent cross country skiing can be had when the hills are in condition.

The southern flank of Beinn a'Bhuird seen from Glen Quoich

Braemar & The Southern Cairngorms

The area that you can walk in is vast and includes the Cairngorms to the north, Glen Shee to the south, The Dee valley and Lochnagar. Small foot hills lie next to the river Dee, these rising up to the massive mountains of Lochnagar and Ben Avon. This scenery continues westwards from Braemar to the Linn of Dee.

Glas Moal as seen from Mayar

Glen Clova / Glen Esk

Glen Doll is in the South Eastern Grampians. The river in Glen Doll drains into Glen Clova, which extends out south eastwards to the flatter country on the coast of Angus. Most of the available walks are confined within the glen.

Mullach Fraoch Choire seen from A' Chralaigs north ridge

Glen Shiel

Glen Shiel has some of the most extensive rugged mountain scenery in the highlands. The only contestants to this claim lie in Knoydart and Lochaber. It has the sharpest peaks on the mainland covering such a large area and the large number of munros in the area act as testament to that fact.

The Strathfarrar Summits

Glens Affric, Cannich & Strathfarrar

The two big glens of Affric and Cannich stretch out westwards for many miles while further north the glens of Strathfarrar and to a lesser extent Strath Conon hold more hillwalking potential. All these glens provide opportunities for some visits to the remotest summits in the UK.

Looking out from Beinn Eighe

Strathcarron, Torridon & Loch Maree

The mountains around Torridon take on a different form compared to those mountain areas further east and south. The mountains stand out separate and proud rather than linked by huge long ridges. They really are quite unique and the general area is regarded as the finest in Scotland.

The Fisherfield Forest

The Fannichs & Fisherfield Forest

This entire area is one big remote region by scottish standards. The eastern extremity of this area starts at Garve and stretches westwards for 40miles. The north - south extent is about twenty miles. In it lie no public roads, hardly any dirt tracks for that matter.

The west ridge of Ben More Coigach

Ullapool, Assynt and the Far North

The mountains around Ullapool are some of the best in the country. The choice of mountains to climb is enormous. Those mountains north of Ullapool extending up to the north coast generally rise right out of the lochan studded moorland forming narrow ridges, large cliffs and superb views.

The Paps of Jura seen from the Islay Ferry

Arran & Jura

The Isle of Arran, is a spectacular island in the Firth of Clyde sandwiched between the Kintyre Peninsula and the Ayrshire coast. It has the reputation of being scotland in miniature.

The final rise to Ben More seen from the north


Mull lies just off the coast from Oban and forms the mouth of Loch Linnhe. It's quite mountainous though not with serrated peaks like Arran, Rhum and Skye. These peaks are generally rounded but with very steep sides.

Sgor Dearg seen from Banachdich


Well, Skye for a long time has struck a chord of fear in my heart. All those guidebooks talking about razor sharp ridges with plummenting drops either side put me off the Island for a long time. It raises your senses and the term "spatial awareness" has a completely new meaning.