Distance: 3.7km/2.25 miles
Time: 2-4 hours
Ben A’an is a mountain that’s small in stature compared to many Scottish mountains, but it offers spectacular views that rival those from mountains twice its size. Situated in the heart of the Trossachs, the location of Ben A’an in central Scotland makes it far more accessible than some of the bigger mountains in the far north of the country, particularly if you’re spending time visiting Scotland’s biggest cities. It takes roughly an hour and 20 minutes to drive there from Glasgow, and around an hour and 45 minutes from Edinburgh.
The route up from the car park takes a recently improved path that’s very easy to follow, taking you up a steep climb that levels off fairly quickly, offering you a glimpse of the pyramid peak of the hill. This is a great place to stop and have a snack before continuing up the path which now becomes rockier. Eventually, you’ll be rewarded as you reach the summit, which gives fantastic 360-views of Loch Katrine and the surrounding mountain ranges. The walk returns down the same path.
Long-distance hiking trails
There are several long walking trails in Scotland, but the West Highland Way and the Great Glen Way are two of the best. Don’t be daunted by the term ‘long distance’! The beauty of these walks is that you can choose whether to tackle them all at once (over several days, of course - although there are running races on both routes where competitors tackle the paths in one continuous run if you’re feeling brave!), or you can choose to do a shorter walk along the route.
If you’re looking for something a bit more remote, there are also plenty of coastal walks in Scotland. Head to Moray to see if you can spot some dolphins between Bucke and Cullen, as well as enjoying the picturesque natural formations of Bow Fiddle Rock and The Whale’s Mouth. For a romantic getaway, head to the Isle of Canna in the Hebrides and walk around the entire coastline of the small island before admiring the historic remains of A’Chill at sunset.
Distance: 151km/96 miles
Stretching from Milngavie, just outside Glasgow, to the Highland town of Fort William, this 96-mile route was Scotland’s first long-distance walking trail, and remains the most popular to this day. It’s extremely well way-marked along the route, meaning there’s little chance of getting lost, and it avoids any high summits, so it’s suitable for most walkers with a decent level of fitness.
The entire walk offers fantastic views, and it’s an incredibly varied route, from the rolling lowland hills just outside Glasgow, passing along the shoreline of beautiful Loch Lomond, before entering rugged Highland territory, through the vast expanse of Rannoch Moor before heading towards the bustling town of Fort William, which has a train station, making it easy to head further into the Highlands to explore more, or back home.
If you choose to walk the entire route, there are several natural places to stop along the way for the night (although if you’re camping be aware of the local by-laws around Loch Lomond which prohibit wild camping. In most of the rest of the country, you can camp freely where you please.) If you’re thinking of tackling a shorter section instead, consider walking up the Devil’s Staircase in Glen Coe for some of the best views on the route, or take on the section between Kinlochleven and Fort William.
Distance: 118.5km/73 miles
This path stretches from the end of the West Highland Way to Inverness, the capital of the Scottish Highlands, taking you from coast to coast. This path is another low-level one, although there’s also the option to take a higher route between Fort Augustus and Drumnadrochit for more dramatic views. If you love the Scottish lochs, this path is a great one to pick, as it runs along the entire length of both Loch Lochy and Loch Oich, offering ample spots to rest and drink in the views. Again, you can tackle this path over a few days or simply take a stroll along it for a few hours before turning back. If you’re choosing this option, the most accessible starting points are Fort William and Inverness.
Getting there by train
Avanti West Coast goes as far as Glasgow and Edinburgh, but the Scottish railway system extends as far North as Thurso, passing through the Highlands and stopping at places like Aviemore, Fort William and Inverness. You can book any train journey through our Journey Planner, even if the stations and services aren’t run by Avanti West Coast.
Some walking routes have public transport access, with bus routes that take you close to the start, whilst for others, you’d be better off hiring a car. Whatever hikes you decide to tackle with your friends, make sure you plan ahead and do your research. Decide on several hikes located in one area, around Fort William, in Assynt, or even on Skye, and you can make the most of a few days away. Remember that Scottish weather can be a little unpredictable at times, so pack for all weathers and try not to let a little rain ruin your fun!