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So you’re considering going on a hiking holiday? Firstly; great choice. Not only is hiking extremely beneficial to your health and wellbeing. But it’s also a cheaper way to travel and allows you to experience the essence of a place. Hiking holidays are becoming increasingly popular, but there is the question, how to choose a hike in Scotland when there’s such a wide range available?

mountains of scotland

Stac Pollaidh, Assynt, Scotland – north of Inverness

How to choose a hike for you

The first thing to consider is if you want to go on a hike or a walk.

Do you want or need a guide? Fortunately, Scot Mountain Holidays have a range of group hiking holidays, tailor made tours, and private guiding options available, so you’ll definitely find the right hike for you. But to ensure you’ve found the perfect hike you do need to consider certain aspects.

Are you intending to go on an inn-to-inn hike? Follow a long distance trail? Or do you want to get into the mountain wilderness areas and have a truly unique and off the beaten track experience?

Are you quite happy hiking on your own but you’d like some guidance on choosing routes, support with transport? Find out about Scot Mountain Holidays self-guided options for the more adventurous.

 

Availability

Tours with Scot Mountain Holidays range from weekend getaways to seven days long. With tours running throughout the year, all that is required is for you to decide on your availability.

Hiking group poses at the top of one of Scotland's mountain peaks.

Hiking group celebrate reaching the top of one of Scotland’s many mountains

Choose a season

Choosing a season is one of the most important decisions in finding the right hike for you. Spring and summer are the most popular hiking periods and also provide the most pleasant hiking conditions. Perfect for those with families or first time hikers. Autumn is a wonderful season for hiking due to the beautiful colours, the changing environment and lack of climbing traffic. Autumn is suitable for everyone, and ideal for those who prefer a cooler temperature. Winter is considerably more difficult to hike in, and we recommend winter hiking for those confident in their abilities. This is due to the additional gear required and the added challenges of often hiking through snow. Winter is however often a more rewarding experience, with the raw beautiful scenery, clear winter views and the satisfying sense of accomplishment.

Level of difficulty

Scot Mountain Holiday tours are graded on a level of difficulty from two to five, with five being the most difficult. When considering how to choose a hike in Scotland it’s important to take into account your own level of fitness and choose a tour suited to you. For an overview, refer to the Scot Mountain Holidays grading system.

All Scot Mountain Holidays tours are all inclusive. So, all you need to do now, is chose a hike. To ensure the experience pre, during and post hike is completed stress free for you, Scot Mountain Holidays will take care of the rest.

Autumn Colours: the best walk in the Cairngorms National Park

Mountains and Malts - whisky themed hiking

Hiking in the Highlands exploring the footsteps laid by smugglers of old

Where should you go for the best autumnal pictures you can get in the Cairngorms National Park? It’s a secret! But one we’re willing to share for our local area. We don’t think it will spoil things too desperately as you can only get to this route if you’re driving and there is no parking for buses or coaches.

If you come to stay at Fraoch Lodge, no doubt you’ll be looking for some hiking advice. It’s only natural, we are very knowledgeable, especially as Andy is a mountain leader, with a well-deserved reputation as a walking guide. Even our international guests in the height of the summer months are looking for some help finding good quality hikes.

Autumn in the Cairngorms

Hiking in Scotland

Hiking through the varied habitats of the Cairngorms

Is this the prettiest time to visit the Cairngorms? There might be some debate about that as many find the snow-clad hills of winter stunning. However, there can be no debate about this being the most colourful time of year.

Where to go

Our top pick would be a hike in Glen Feshie. Glen Feshie is definitely one of the prettiest parts of the northern area of the National Park. If you’re hiking a there and back route along the bottom of the glen, this is a route we would recommend for almost all abilities and can also be turned into a mountain biking adventure.

For a more adventurous route, or to turn the hike into a circuit feel free to consult with Andy or book his services as a guide.

Autumn hiking in the Highlands of Scotland

Autumn colours in the Cairngorms

Start of the hike: Achlean Car Park (Start Grid Ref NN850985)

Finish of the hike: Achlean Car Park

There’s no public transport option to access the start of this hike.

Total route includes ascent of the Munro summit of Mullach Clach a’Blair.

Habitats: Pine Forest, moorland, mountain tundra

Distance: 22.5km / 14 miles

Time: 7 – 8 hours

Ascent: 785m

 

If you don’t want to go all the way to the summit of Mullach Clach a Blair, it is still a perfectly lovely walk to go along the river Feshie as far as you want or until the bothy before returning to your car. You won’t pass through as many habitats and won’t come across ptarmigan, but you might still see roe or even red deer, numerous forest birds including the ever present chaffinches and possibly Scottish crossbills if you’re lucky.

You might also want to consider a mid-level hike. Watch out for our blog on the most popular hike in the Cairngorms: Meall a’Bhucaille.

 

5 hiking breaks in the Cairngorms

using the sleeper service:

Sleeper discount available with Scot Mountain Holidays (see below for details) 

There’s a lifetime of walking opportunities here in the Cairngorms National park, unfortunately most of us don’t have a lifetime to explore all those possibilities, and we have to squeeze in the chances to visit the Highlands into our busy lifestyles. The sleeper service from London to Aviemore makes the most of the limited time windows you might have. If you then combine the sleeper with an organised trip, you’ll not waste a minute.

Autumn hiking

Hiking in the autumn (Cairngorms, Highlands)

Advantages of the sleeper service

Leave London after a full day’s work (train departs about 9pm) and wake up in the mountains. Then at the end of your trip, get in a full day’s walk/ride/challenge (and even have time to shower) before departing from the Highlands and waking up back in the Big Smoke ready for a full day at work.

Organised hiking opportunties

Make even more of the limited time you have available by joining an organised group or booking a local guide. The guide/tour company will take on the responsibility for organising the logistics of your trip leaving you free to concentrate on the hiking.

Some tour companies (as opposed to individual guides) will offer fully inclusive packages where they organise the accommodation, the transport, the meals and the guiding, so all you have to do is pack your hiking gear and book your train ticket.

Red deer in the Cairngorms

Monarch of the Glens (Cairngorms)

Autumn hiking Highlands:

Try one of these organised hiking packages this autumn and spring:

Mountains and Malts:

Linking 2 of Scotland’s iconic themes – whisky and walking – this tour is a must for any active would-be whisky connoisseur. We’ll be walking in whisky country following the complete whisky story including a visit to the Speyside Cooperage (where the whisky barrels are formed), touring a distillery and finally going behind the scenes at the Whisky Castle in Tomintoul (an independent whisky shop, stocking unusual and one-off Scotch malt whiskies)

Full details and booking links here.

Malt Whisky

Sampling Scotland’s top export

Cairngorm 4000ers:

A challenging mountain adventure conquering all 5 of the Cairngorm peaks over 4000ft. Also attempted by Challenge Sophie (though her time was limited so they didn’t master all the peaks).

Full details and booking links here.

Gentle Giants

A weekend of high peak walking in the Cairngorms. We’ll head out to master Cairngorm and Ben Macdui, taking routes at the brink for the most amazing views and sunset colours (we hope).

Full details and booking links here.

Wild scenery of Scotland

Glorious wild scenery for the Cairngorms National Park

Spirit of the Cairngorms

Experience all the habitats of the Cairngorms from the ancient Caledonian pine forests at the foot of the mountain massif, rich in foraging opportunities and home to roe deer and the rare Capercaillie and crested tits; to the moorland where red grouse roam and finally explore the high mountain massif where if you’re lucky you’ll encounter reindeer and ptarmigan, who only live at altitudes above 800m.

Full details and booking links here.

Hiking in Scotland

Hiking through the varied habitats of the Cairngorms

Wild Cairngorms

Spring Watch and Autumn Watch are very well-known wildlife programmes on BBC television and always contain a focus on wildlife here in the Cairngorms National Park. 3 out of 5 of the Big Five (Golden Eagle, Red Deer and Red Squirrel) make their home here and for good measure you can also find ptarmigan, Capercaillie, crested tit and pine marten. All in all, if you’re keen on encountering the wild beasties in their natural habitats, you’ll love the hikes we’ve put together here.

Full details and booking links here.

Sleeper special

If you do decide to take advantage of the less busy autumn period to head up to the Highlands, now you can take advantage of the special sleeper discount we have added to the above trips. (Not available over bank holiday weekends.)

Take the sleeper to Aviemore and back and save £60 per person!!

Autumn hiking Highlands

Autumn Sunset in the Cairngorms

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