Experience the wild beauty of the Outer Hebrides and Cairngorms National Park
Scotland’s rugged beauty is unparalleled. With its steep, rolling highlands, brooding skies, rocky isolated beaches, dramatic crags, and pristine lochs, it’s no surprise that this country has cultivated such proud and spirited folk heroes as William Wallace, Rob Roy, and Mary Queen of Scots! That pride runs deep in our local hiking guides—the best ambassadors we know to usher you through Scotland.
Our adventure traverses the Highlands and the Outer Hebrides along moderate terrain, providing a perfect balance of heart-pumping hikes, sightseeing excursions, and a little time for relaxation. Pay homage to the mysterious Loch Ness, then hike along the island chain of the Outer Hebrides to visit the Isles of Harris and Skye, where you’ll discover their culture, history, wild glens, and stunning coastlines. Dive into Scotland’s prehistoric history through a visit to Callanish standing stones, said to have predated the Egyptian pyramids. Explore Cairngorms National Park for three days of hiking, where you’ll visit nature reserves and whisky distilleries, and ride on a steam train. Friendly Scottish hospitality abounds, so pull up a pint and spin a yarn with us in this wild, mystical land.
7 Days of moderate and easy hiking on a combination of good trails, and “off-trail” terrain, including mud, rocks, sand, and wet grass.
NOTE: 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.
- Immerse yourself the wild beauty of the Outer Hebrides and Cairngorms National Park on hikes lead by our passionate and knowledgeable local MTS guides
- Enjoy a nostalgic steam train ride through the Scottish countryside; pay homage to the mysterious Loch Ness; visit an osprey reserve, a famous whisky distillery, and a local tweed weaver
- Custom designed for MTS to take our guests into the most beautiful and hard-to-reach corners of Scotland’s expansive wild country
- Experience the warmth of Scottish hospitality through charming hotels and inns
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 overnight.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
DATES: Best time to go: June - September Departures: Jun 27, 2014 - Jul 5, 2014 Aug 1 - 9, 2014 Aug 29, 2014 - Sep 6, 2014
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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