5 Wild & Beautiful Hikes In The Highlands
5 wild & beautiful hikes in the Highlands, if you want to go hiking in Scotland, the Highlands offer some of the very best places to do just that. From the countless munros of Cairngorms National Park to charming coastal walks to climbing Britain’s highest mountains, the Scottish Highlands has hikes for every taste and experience level, from complete beginners with young kids to seasoned outdoorsmen and women looking to push their boundaries with a multi-day hike or some munro bagging.
As Inverness is a popular base for people looking to explore the landscape of the Highlands on their Scottish getaway, we’ve decided to share five of our favourite hikes and walks near this wee city to make your hiking holiday planning a breeze. Read on to discover some of the best hikes in Scotland for all experience levels.
Pull on your hiking shoes and pack some midge repellant – it’s time to take on the brave wilderness!
Best hike for beginners
If you just want to stretch your legs a bit, the Fairy Glen walk beginning in the village of Rosemarkie is a great option. Located a half-hour drive from Inverness, this walk is only two miles long and takes you through an enchanting woodland and past two small waterfalls.
The area is called Fairy Glen due to the fact that once upon a time, local children would dress a pool next to the spring with flowers to ask the fairies believed to inhabit the area to keep the water clear.
Kids will love hearing about the fairies of the glen and setting wildflowers down in the water. The walk follows a clearly marked footpath and can easily be combined with a walk along the beach at Rosemarkie or a visit to Fort George. Do wear good walking shoes with decent traction as the path at Fairy Glen gets muddy after rain.
Best hike for families with young kids
While the Fairy Glen is a magical walk to take with slightly older kids, it might be a little more difficult for toddlers or if you’re out with a buggy. If this is you, head to Brodie Castle and walk around the woodland and pond on the lands of this historic castle.
While not exactly set in the wilderness, this pleasant little walk is great for young kids and combines well with a visit to Brodie Castle. Located 25 miles from Inverness, a visit to the castle and a walk in the woods makes for a great day out for the whole family.
This two-mile-long walk takes you around the woods around the castle and its private lake. The walk is famous for its daffodils in the spring and if you’re lucky, you might even spot some otters in the pond!
Best hillwalking hike
If you’re more of a seasoned hiker and would like to stretch your calf muscles by scaling a munro, head to the Cairngorms National Park to take on the Cairngorm and Ben Macdui. The latter is the second-highest mountain in the UK, making it the perfect addition to your bucket list. Despite this, even when combined with the slightly lower Cairngorm, this hike should only take you about six to eight hours.
On your walk, you get to enjoy some truly magnificent, unspoilt views over the munros dominating the Cairngorms landscape. As this is a pretty remote route, there are no facilities available on this hike, so get your caffeine fix and use the bathroom at the starting point, the Aviemore ski centre, before hitting the trail
This hike follows a very popular route but does require solid navigating skills, making it more suitable for experienced hikers.
Best hike if you have one day
For a full day of hiking, you’ve got seemingly endless options in the areas around Inverness. However, one of our firm favourites is the Loch Affric Circuit. This 11-mile hike takes you around the picturesque Loch Affric. This trail is remote, tucked far away from the hustle and bustle of major roads or towns, yet it only takes a little over an hour to get to the circuit’s car park from Inverness city centre.
The trail is relatively flat, offering a very pleasant day of hiking in the brave wilderness, accessible to beginners and seasoned hikers alike. This hike takes you through beautiful moorland scenery and past some of Scotland’s oldest pine trees. Completing this trail should take you between 4.5 and 6.5 hours.
Best hike if you have a few days
The South Loch Ness Trail takes you across the length of Loch Ness and takes around 2-3 days to complete. Combining beautiful views over the loch with a number of historical sites, farms and even a waterfall along the way, this route packs a lot in for a relatively short multi-day hike.
Taking you through the villages of Dores, Inverfarigaig, Foyers and Whitebridge before concluding in Fort Augustus, this long-distance walk gives you many opportunities to catch your breath and grab a tasty pub lunch or a good night’s sleep in a bed and breakfast along the way.
From Fort Augustus, you can grab a bus back to Inverness, where you can celebrate your achievement with a pint of something refreshing – or maybe even a spa day to really treat yourself!
Need a hotel in Inverness?
A hike in the Scottish Highlands makes for the perfect addition to your trip to Inverness. All the hikes we’ve outlined above are within easy reach of Inverness, making the unofficial capital of the Highlands the ideal base from which to discover the trails around it.
Conveniently located right in the centre of town, opposite Inverness Castle, Palace Hotel offers you a chance to get a good night’s sleep after exploring the great outdoors. If you had a spot of bad luck and got caught in the rain during your hike, warm back up in our sauna or steam room before enjoying a filling meal in our new brasserie.