Experience the wild beauty of the Outer Hebrides and Cairngorms National Park
To visit Scotland is to step back in time. Its rolling highlands, isolated beaches, dramatic crags, pristine lochs and brooding skies make it one of the most dramatic landscapes in Europe. Our exclusive itinerary covers the best of the country’s wildest, most beautiful and most far-flung corners. You’ll traverse the Highlands and Outer Hebrides along varied terrain, enjoying a perfect balance of heart-pumping hikes, sightseeing excursions, and time to relax. Along the way, you’ll visit Cairngorms National Park, see the Callanish standing stones, pay homage to the famous Loch Ness, enjoy a tasting at a famous whisky distillery and watch a Harris Tweed weaver at work. So sip on a wee dram and watch your magical adventure unfold!
7 Days of moderate and easy hiking on a combination of good trails, and “off-trail” terrain, including mud, rocks, sand, and wet grass.
- Experience the raw wildness of the Outer Hebrides and the gorgeous, windswept terrain of Cairngorms National Park
- A photographer’s dream world—vibrantly changing colors in one of the most naturally beautiful areas in the world
- Settle in at charming inns and receive an insider’s welcome (from distilleries to traditional weavers) thanks to our resident Scottish guides
Duration: 9 days Start Location: Inverness, Scotland End Location: Inverness, ScotlandDownload Detailed Itinerary
Day 1 : Arrive in Scotland, Welcome Briefing & Dinner
Meet in Inverness. In the afternoon, we have a short transfer to Loch Ness. We then transfer to the hotel where, after checking into our rooms, we have a welcome orientation to discuss the trip. An opening night dinner then provides the opportunity to meet the other travelers and discuss the trip further.
Day 2 : Travel to the Outer Hebrides
After an early breakfast, we leave the hotel at 8:15 a.m. and transfer to Ullapool (1 hour). We then take the ferry to Stornoway in the Outer Hebrides, arriving in time for lunch. In the afternoon, we visit the incredible historic sites of west Lewis: Callanish Standing Stones, the broch and the Blackhouse Village. A lovely coastal walk links some of these sites making this a great way to ease ourselves into the trip. Transfer to Harris, and stay overnight. (Easy Hike: 6.5 miles, minimal ascent, mainly good trails.)
Day 3 : North Harris Hiking – Sron Ulladale & Huisnish
We explore the stunning scenery of North Harris and visit some amazing beaches. We begin with a hike to the overhanging cliff of Sron Ulladale, a magnet for extreme rock climbers and golden eagles alike! Great mountain and sea views are all around. Returning from the hike, we relax on beautiful Huishnish beach before returning to the hotel. (Moderate Hike: 6.5 miles, 328’ ascent, good trails throughout.)
Day 4 : Toe Head & the Golden Road
We begin with a walk at beautiful Luskintyre beach, perhaps visiting the local Harris Tweed weaver, Donald John, to see him at work. We continue south to Toe Head, a wonderful wee peak with unbeatable coastal views from its summit (1,197'). We then complete a circuit of Harris by travelling back north via the ‘Golden Road’ on the east coast. This is a stunning road with amazing views at every turn. (Moderate Hike: 7 miles, 1,312’ ascent, some rough ground.)
Day 5 : Travel to Loch Ness via the Isle of Skye
We take the late morning ferry from Harris to the Isle of Skye. On Skye, we explore the Trotternish Peninsula with hikes at the Quiraing rock pinnacles and possibly to see the Old Man of Storr as well. We then transfer south, passing the spectacular Black Cuillin mountains before crossing the bridge onto the mainland and continuing, past Eilean Donan Castle, to our accommodation in Fort Augustus, located at the southern end of Loch Ness. (Moderate Hike: 5 miles, 490’ ascent, reasonable trails, some rough ground.)
Day 6 : Cairngorms: Nethy Bridge to Boat of Garten Hike
We transfer to Nethy Bridge in the Cairngorms (90 minutes) to begin a 3-day point-to-point hike through the Spey Valley. We follow a good trail through pine forests to beautiful Loch Garten. Here, we visit a nature reserve where it is common to see red squirrels and ospreys nesting. We continue around Loch Garten and Loch Mallachie before reaching the peaceful Highland village of Boat of Garten, where we overnight. If we have the inclination, we would then make an afternoon excursion to a nearby whisky distillery for a tour and tasting. This is, after all, Scotland’s prime whisky making centre. (Easy Hike: 6.5 miles, minimal ascent, good trails throughout.)
Day 7 : Aviemore to Uath Lochans Hike
We'll enjoy a relaxing morning in the village – choose to join a short riverside hike or simply relax back at the hotel. Late morning, the steam train arrives and we hop on board for the short journey to Aviemore. From Aviemore railway station, we'll hike through Scots Pine forests to reach peaceful Loch an Eilean, which is named after the island on the loch. We pass the loch and continue on quiet forest trails with regular mountain views to the Uath Lochans. These beautiful lochans form part of the Inshriach Nature Reserve and are a wonderful place to end the hike with a celebratory local dram by the shoreline. We return to our hotel at Boat of Garten and enjoy dinner in a local restaurant. (Easy Hike: 6.5 miles, minimal ascent, good trails throughout.)
Day 8 : Hiking to the Cairngorm High Plateau
We like to end our hiking trips on a high so today we’ll venture onto the high plateau of the Cairngorms. Home to 4 of the 5 highest mountains in Scotland, the rolling plateau is split by several deep valleys with the results of the last ice age clear to see. Starting from a high elevation road, we still have a further 1,950 feet of elevation gain before we reach the high plateau. Once gained however, we hike through a sea of mountain tops with outstanding views in all directions. We return to our hotel at Boat of Garten for a memorable final night dinner in a local restaurant. (Moderate Hike: 7 miles, 1,950’ ascent, good trails throughout.)
Day 9 : Transfer to Inverness, Depart
After breakfast, we transfer back to Inverness for onward air or rail transfers. Those who are travelling to Edinburgh or Glasgow by rail will be transfered to the Aviemore Railway station.
PLEASE NOTE - The itinerary may be subject to change at the discretion of the guides having regard to weather conditions and other factors. This itinerary is graded “Moderate.” It has been designed to be enjoyed by people with reasonable hiking fitness although no previous experience of hiking is required. The hikes are mostly towards the more gentle end of the moderate grade, although there are some hikes in the Outer Hebrides where we will be hiking ’off-trail’ for a while - this is all part of the Scottish hiking experience. However, all hikes are conducted at a leisurely pace. The underfoot terrain will vary from good trails to open moorland and mountain tops. Consequently, it can be muddy or rocky underfoot at times but no scrambling is involved.
POST TRIP EDINBURGH EXTENSION (unguided)
Day 1: Day-9 of MTS tour 'Hiking Wild Scotland.' Transfer from Aviemore Railway Station to Edinburgh by train. Overnight the 4-star Bruntsfield Hotel.
Day 2: Free day to explore Edinburgh. Overnight the 4-star Bruntsfield Hotel.
Day 3: Depart from Edinburgh Airport.
PRICE: $695 per person (double occupancy)
- 2 nights' accommodation in a superior room at the 4-star Bruntsfield Hotel, with breakfast each day
- Train travel from Aviemore to Edinburgh (optional upgrade to 1st class: $50 supplement)
- A brief guide to Edinburgh, with recommended activities and places to dine
For travelers requiring a single room, there would be a supplement of $250.
DATES: Best time to go: June - September Departures: Jun 26, 2015 - Jul 4, 2015 Jul 31, 2015 - Aug 8, 2015 Sep 4 - 12, 2015
Properties shown are representative of the accommodations we use on this trip, may not be inclusive of all accommodations we use, and are subject to change.
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