When you visit the Highlands you don’t have to look far before spotting mountains! These magnificent masses were formed way back in the ice age and have helped shape Scotland into the beautiful country it is today. They are often used as a backdrop to many tourist photos and marketing campaigns, however, in more recent years it’s become a popular hobby to climb to the top and take in the spectacular views they offer which stretch for miles over the Scottish wilderness.
Hills in Scotland are actually categorized by their height, Grahams (over 2000ft), Corbetts (over 2,500ft) and the biggest – Munros, which are any mountain over 3000ft. A trend that seems to have taken off in recent years is ‘Munro Bagging’ which is when an individual will set out to ‘bag’ all of the 282 Munros, a difficult feat if you are short for time as these Munros are spread out across the length of Scotland however many still manage to do it! Don’t let the height fool you though, Munros are often easier to climb than many of the smaller hills, due to their popularity many of them now have well-made paths making it a heck of a lot easier to hike over than their heathery, less popular, smaller neighbours (which often offer views which are just as incredible!)
If you fancy a day in the hills then we have some great recommendations to suit all abilities!
Look North from the Highland Capital of Inverness and you’ll see the lone mountain Ben Wyvis standing tall. At only an hour’s drive away, this Munro is popular amongst locals with many venturing up on their days off (the car park fills up quickly!). With its well-marked path and easy walk-in, Ben Wyvis provides a short day as far as some hill walks go, usually taking no more than 2 hours to get to the top. Unlike many other Munros once you’re at the top you have around a mile to walk before you reach the trig point, this gives you plenty of time to take in the spectacular views of the surrounding areas. A great choice of hill for first time Munro baggers!
For the more advanced hill walker, the Beinn Eighe national park a.k.a Torridon has some of the most iconic Munros in Scotland. The huge, sandstone layered mountains leave any visitors to the area in awe of their splendour and their rocky pinnacles provide the ultimate adrenaline-pumping challenge for many a hillwalker to overcome. If you have a fear of heights and sheer cliff edges, these hills are not for you…don’t worry though as there are many lower land walks in the park which offer beautiful views of the mountains from the ground. If you do decide that you are up to the challenge then any of the Beinn Eighe mountains will be sure to impress but the most popular of all is the mighty Liathach, 2 Munros for the price of 1, the traverse of its ridge will be a hard one to forget!
Should the rocky pinnacles of Liathach leave you wanting more, then not far away in Dundonnell you’ll find what has been described as ‘the finest mountain in Britain’…An Teallach! Get your scramble on as you traverse its pinnacles including ‘Lord Berkleys Seat’ a huge pinnacle overhanging Coire Toll an Lochain, apparently Lord Berkley would sit atop the pinnacle smoking on his pipe, he was either brave or stupid as this is certainly not for the faint-hearted!
If you would love to experience the rocky grandeur of these hills but would rather something with a little less height then Stac Pollaidh in Assynt is a must-do. This Graham stands at a modest 612 meters and is a prominent feature in the land with its unusual shape. The walk is a circuit with the option of steering off to the first summit, the true summit however does require a certain amount of scrambling. This hill would be suitable to take older children if you are just sticking to the first summit option and wanted a family day out. The views are stunning looking over to Achiltiebuie and the Summer Isles and on really clear days you can see the Hebrides. If travelling back through the town of Ullapool then reward yourself for all that climbing by stopping in at the Seafood Shack for some delectable grub!
The Cairngorms national park is another popular choice for those looking for a hillwalking adventure. There are routes where you can spend a few days hiking and climbing multiple Munros or if you are looking for a shorter, simpler day then Sgor Gaoith in Glen Feshie ticks all the boxes. With a well made path pretty much all the way to the top, a scenic walk through ancient pinewood and a dramatic craggy top with views down to Loch Einich, this makes for a super day out.
Whatever your fitness level, a walk up a hill is always good for the soul, and nothing beats reaching the top and taking in the beautiful views that surround you. Scotland has an abundance of fantastic scenic walks, but the website www.walkhighlands.co.uk is a superb place to find the popular and also the less travelled routes.
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