Why Scotland for your walking holiday?
Walking holidays in Scotland
If you’re into walking and hiking you’ll probably consider a walking holiday at some point. Once you’ve decided that you’d like to go hiking, your next consideration will be the destination. Depending on where your home is, walking holidays in Scotland could come quite high up the list of possibilities. Scotland has all the usual hiking advantages. When you add in the reasons for ranking Scotland over and above other destinations around the world, then you may well find yourself visiting Scotland in the near future.
It goes without saying that Scotland is a stunning country and the Highlands in particular are gorgeous, but why pick any of the walking holidays in Scotland? There are so many thousands of other destinations around the world which you could choose.
Scotland has world beating access legislation. There is no law of trespass here, so long as you are not on someone’s grounds or garden. Obviously you need to be responsible. It is not acceptable to disturb livestock or leave rubbish behind you. You are expected to “Leave No Trace” or in other words “Take nothing but photos, leave nothing but footsteps.” However, in return you can wonder at will across the landscape and do not need to stick to defined footpaths.
Access to the high hill tops in the UK has developed very differently in Scotland than in Europe. In Europe, there has always been a strong tradition of taking livestock to the high alps for summer pasture, but the land was not privately owned. In Scotland, vast tracts of land belong to private estates but the high land is not considered particularly valuable. It is not good pasture and is not very fertile. Common access has always been taken for granted and until the Land Reform Act was published the lack of a trespass law and the responsibility of landowner and land user were not clearly defined. Now responsible access is everybody’s right, but the key to this is to act responsibly.
Private land ownership in Scotland has meant that there are not a lot of waymarked paths across the high hills.
If you are considering walking holidays in Scotland, bear in mind that freedom of access also means freedom from signage and waymarked paths.
No altitude sickness –
Much as the world may sneer at our mountains, thinking them just bumps on the landscape; while they do not reach the towering heights of Everest, they should still not be taken lightly. The decided advantage to mountains of lesser stature, however, is that though you can have spectacular views and expend a significant amount of energy climbing up them, you will not suffer the detrimental side-effect of altitude sickness.
No large predators –
The bear and the wolf etc have all been extinct in Scotland for some time. If you are very lucky you may encounter a shy adder sun bathing on a mountain slope, but they are rare and not usually deadly. So no poisonous snakes or spiders either. We like to keep our irritating pests small and inconvenient: the tick and the midge!
Scotland’s hills are nice and compact. You can have an amazing adventure in a day if you so wish. Then you can still return to partake of your home comforts at the end of the day. You can also – if it becomes necessary – travel a relatively short distance (up to 2 hours) and experience a completely different day’s weather than you can see from your kitchen/lounge window.
For example, Andy once had a private guiding booking from a group of ladies staying in a cottage in Glen Feshie. When the day dawned, it was raining steadily. Andy drove over to meet the clients – who were showing a distinct lack of enthusiasm for heading out. He persuaded them to give the walk a try and drove from Glen Feshie round to Ben Vraikie, near Pitlochry. On Ben Vraikie there was no rain and the hill top was clear. It may even have been sunny. Whereas back at home base it was one of those dreich days of rain and grey light all day. Know your weather patterns and you can still have a good day out.
Plenty of options –
There are such a wide range of options in Scotland, even if you only visit the Highlands, that you’re spoilt for choice. Before you start to choose your hike, you need to decide which parameters are most important to you.
There are famous viewpoints to discover; lochs to circumnavigate; historic sights to see; Munros (282 in total) to climb; Corbetts to climb, Grahams to ascend and Marilyns to collate. Where do you start to choose?
Reminder of risk
Remember though that hiking and mountaineering are hazardous activities by their nature and you have to accept an element of risk yourself if you choose to enter the mountain environment without a guide. The weather in Scotland changes in an instant. Even if the day looks calm and sunny when you set out, it could end up a completely different season by the end of the day. Please make sure you are well-equipped (see our suggested kit list for ideas). Check out our blog on gearing up for the autumn
Always check yourself over for ticks at the end of the day, particularly if you have been walking through rough undergrowth.
Make sure you pack some Smidge.
Still – there is nothing more exhilarating, relaxing and refreshing than a day out in the hills
Check out our walking holidays in Scotland