The Scottish highlands may not be as tall as their Alpine relatives, but they more than makeup for it in beauty. So, if you’re planning to hike in the Highlands, here are our top five Scottish hikes, listed in no particular order.
1. Saddle Mountain
One of the few Scottish mountains that is frequently referred to by its English name is The Saddle. It makes a wonderful addition to any hillwalker’s logbook and is a highly sought-after Munro.
The Forcan Ridge, which connects the Saddle and its neighbouring top, Meallan Odhar, which stands at 1010 meters high, gives the Saddle its place among my top five. For those who prefer heights, this ridgeline offers a difficult grade 1/2 scramble with loads of exposure.
There is also the Forcan Ridge “bad step” to negotiate, so it’s good to familiarise yourself with the route before attempting. Others, though, have a choice that ignores the details while maintaining the mountain’s personality.
The walk itself rewards those who finish it with exceptional views back across to the north of the 5 Sisters of Kintail and to the southwest towards Knoydart, despite being conveniently accessible from the A87 road between Shiel Bridge and Loch Cluanie.
2. Beinn Alligin
Beinn Alligin is situated in Torridon, one of the most stunning places. “Jewel Mountain” is the translation of its Gaelic name. Perhaps a more accurate translation would be a stunning mountain. It’s easy to see why.
Torridon has its fair share of tense hikes in the Highlands, and the trip through Beinn Alligin is no slouch either. It is a typical view of Upper Loch Torridon from the A896 loop that connects Lochcarron and Kinlochewe. This is a walk that is sure to get your heart racing, but the ascent isn’t the only thing to make your heart race.
You begin the walk at just 50m above sea level, and the highest point is atop Sgurr Mhor at 986m. Some of the Highlands’ most breathtaking landscapes can be found at Beinn Alligin. With vistas that extend as far as Skye and the Outer Hebrides on a clear day, Beinn Alligin ranks among the top mountains in Scotland, in my opinion.
3. The Fisherfields Round
Is this possibly the Highlands’ most dramatic walk? “The great wilderness” is another name for the Fisherfields. This hike passes through the centre of this untamed area, where no less than five Munros and a Corbett (formerly a Munro!) are located.
The round is typically completed clockwise, passing Bein a Chlaidheimh, Sgurr Ban, Mullach Coire Mhic Fhearchair, Beinn Tarsuinn, A’Mhaighdean, and Ruadh Stac Mor to complete this horseshoe before returning to the bothy, which is located at the foot of the nearby An Teallach (a mountain for those seeking a more technical adventure).
This walk is frequently divided into two days because of its length and nature, with a wild camp in between, but because Shenevall makes a great base, it can also be completed in a single exhausting day. Making a decision on what to carry for a multi-day hike might be challenging.
4. The Ring of Steall
Aspiring “Munro baggers” can complete this circuit by walking around four mountains that are higher than the 3,000-foot mark and thus qualify for the prestigious title.
You begin in Glen Nevis, at the base of Ben Nevis, the tallest mountain in Britain, and then follow the river into the hills. The Falls of Steall, Scotland’s highest waterfall with a single drop at 120 meters high, is one of the Highlands’ most impressive sights. The route has no technical challenges per such, but there are some extremely small rocky ridgeline areas to cross, which just heightens the sense of majesty.
A Gearanach, Stob Choire a Chairn, Am Bodach, and the Devil’s Ridge, a 1 km section of relatively easy but airy and exposed walking, are included in this hill walk, which also includes 4 Munros. This hill walk ends at Sgurr a’Mhaim. Even the fittest hikers should plan for a long day.
Maybe last but certainly not least on our list of the most dramatic walks in the Highlands, this absolutely unusual mountain rises almost vertically from sea level in a magnificent fin-like shape. This hill, known as the “2D Mountain” and resembling a Toblerone, provides an amazing view and a truly wonderful day out.
Even though it is frequently scaled approaching from the west near Lochinver, I’d highly recommend the long walk in from the east, through wild and rugged terrain, for a truly wilderness-like experience for the day. There are numerous ascent routes, ranging from easy but difficult to technical climbing and scrambling.