Help me plan my Scottish walking tour!
February 22, 2011 4:04 PM   Subscribe

I am planning a Scottish walking tour this summer (around the middle two weeks in July). Do any of you fine Mefites have any recommendations for companies or don't miss routes?

We want to walk around 12 - 20 miles a day, and would prefer to have the bulk of our luggage portered (not that there would be much.) We would also like breakfast, lunch and lodging to be included in the price. We are each willing to spend around $2000 (not including transportation to England/Scotland, transfer, dinner, tips). We're both around 40, so we're not looking to climb mountains, but we're not afraid of some elevation gain...
posted by shrabster to Travel & Transportation around Scotland (9 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
For modest hills, a nearby natural protected forest region, Loch Lomond and goodness knows how much other Scottish history you can't go far wrong with using Stirling as a base of operations. Trust me, I was named Dougray.
posted by dougrayrankin at 4:29 PM on February 22, 2011

Oh wow, I've done a couple distance walks in Scotland, and would go back to either one in a second!

For pure, empty highlands, I'd pick the West Highland Way. Most people walk it north to south, from Glasgow to Fort William. It's 100 miles long. I walked the north half in 3 days during college. For that trip, I carried my bag and stayed in hostels or cheap B&Bs in tiny towns along the way. There are better options, including luggage portage, for those with more $$ than a cheapskate student! Fairly easy walking, rolling hills, nothing particularly steep. Empty highlands, distant lakes, cloud shaddows moving across the plains. One of my favorite memories is walking through the middle of a small herd of highland cattle - beautiful, impressive creatures!

For more greener views, try the Great Glen Way. This one is 73 miles long, usually walked west to east, from Fort William to Inverness. For this one, walked over 5 days a few years ago with a bit more of a budget, my sister and I stayed in nice B&Bs in towns along the way. Depending on the place, you could sometimes get a packed lunch to take, or dinner the night you got there (and of course, breakfast at all of them). We'd decide according to the availability of towns along the way. If we'd be passing through a town the next day, we'd buy lunch there, if not, we'd try to get a lunch ahead. Oh, and we had our bags portered, after the first day of carrying them was not much fun! Gorgeous lake views, including Loch Ness. A bit more hilly than the other walk. More foresty too, and a few nice towns along the way.

Since Fort William is the ending or starting point for both of these, I have to include one more attraction in the area. It's only a very short hike, but Steall Falls (also known as the Higher Falls) is well worth a visit if you're in FW. You walk through a rocky gorge, following the river. It opens into a beautiful valley with the river crossing it, and the falls at the end. There are often sheep around, and lots of mud all 3 times I've been! The way to the falls includes a cable bridge over the river - I love that bit, my sister insisted we find a different way back across the river. This is quite possibly my favorite place in all the world (so far!). Oh, and FYI, the falls is seen in the background of a couple Harry Potter movies, if you've seen those. Behind the dragon pit in Goblet of Fire, and the backdrop for the quiddich match in Order of the Phoenix, I think it was. Honestly, didn't really see the match at that point - was too excited to see the falls!

If you have any questions, feel free to memail me. The Highland Way was a while ago, but I'd be happy to recommend B&Bs along Great Glen Way if you're interested. Happy walking!
posted by dorey_oh at 5:22 PM on February 22, 2011 [5 favorites]

Seconding the West Highland Way and the Great Glen Way! I did them back to back over two weeks and it was great.
posted by princelyfox at 5:52 PM on February 22, 2011

Thirding and forevering the West Highland Way. I highly recommend it for exactly what you are requesting. Your timing will be perfect, the pacing will be perfect, and you can do it for that price. I walked the Way last summer and managed to get engaged on the banks of Loch Lomond. It was definitely a once in a lifetime trip.

For a company to arrange bookings and luggage transfer, I highly recommend Wilderness Scotland. They are not the cheapest option out there, but they are very responsive and very professional. Their price will not include lunches, but it will cover breakfast and lodging.

This trip, all of the arrangements, and details about each of the stops are still very much fresh in my mind, so feel free to memail for more specifics. I would love the chance to talk it up.
posted by TrarNoir at 6:31 PM on February 22, 2011

For all your highland walking needs.
posted by adamvasco at 3:55 AM on February 23, 2011

I'd pick the West Highland Way. Most people walk it north to south, from Glasgow to Fort William.

Just in case of confusion - I think that should be:

Most people walk it south to north, from Glasgow to Fort William.
posted by penguin pie at 5:02 AM on February 23, 2011

Thanks, penguin pie. Yes, I meant to say south to north.
posted by dorey_oh at 7:29 AM on February 23, 2011

Fort William's lovely. You can spend a few days just hiking around that area.
posted by schmod at 12:15 PM on February 23, 2011

The West Highland Way is wonderful, I agree with everyone above. I started the walk thinking I'd carry my pack the whole time, but joined up with travel-lite after the first day. They'll take your luggage between each stop for a very reasonable price (~40 £) for the whole route. It really made my trip much more pleasant to only carry a small daypack instead of the full pack. I did the walk a few years ago, but I'd be happy to give recommendations for hostels and B&Bs along the Way if that would be helpful.
posted by kms at 3:34 PM on February 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

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