Hiking the Highlands

Hiking the Highlands

by Addison Takats
Stripes Europe

When in Scotland, you can’t escape the land’s wild beauty. It’s untamed, unruly, and absolutely breathtaking. I highly recommend taking a few days away from the history of the cities to hike and wander about the highlands. But, as with all things Mother Nature, you need to be smart about it. Here are some tips.

1. Know your limits.

We hiked with family, and the majority of us…okay, all of us…were not avid hikers, just visitors who wanted to get out and explore. Because of this, we stuck to simple but still beautiful trails and mountains. Choose your trails/mountains wisely. Ben Nevis was an all-around favorite!

2. Be prepared.

Bring plenty of trail snacks and water! Many of these hikes are pretty decent drives, and you might not be able to stop by a gas station and pick up supplies easily. This goes for some hiking safety basics too. It never hurts to carry around some Band-Aids (or plasters if you want to sound like a local), wipes and Neosporin! And not to sound like a mom but dress for the hike! You can always take extra clothes off, but you can’t put them on if you don’t have them. The weather in Scotland can change in a millisecond, and it’s usually not very visitor-friendly. Do you like experiencing rain, snow, and extreme sun all on the same day? Great! You’ll love this!

3. Go with a guide.

This isn’t a necessary step but, it helps. Even if you just have family or friends in the area who know where they are. I’m lucky to have family-galore in Scotland, and taking them with us, made the trip a million times less stressful. There are also plenty of guides for hire if it’s something you would like to add to your trip. There’s no shame in the guide game!

4. Stick to the rules and the path.

Scotland is wild. That is no joke. There are moors, beasties (bugs), midges, wild animals, oh my! And while Scotland does abide by a right-to-roam policy (a policy that allows you to pretty much hike anywhere without fear of being persecuted for being on private land), there’s just a lot of uncontrollable variables. If you’re new to hiking, do yourself a favor and stick to the path. Also, if you’re interested in taking advantage of the right-to-roam policy, make sure to do all the necessary research first and be as respectful as possible.

5. Enjoy every second.

Hiking the Highlands is truly one of the most enjoyable memories I have. I loved every second. Being surround by family in one of the most beautiful places on earth is something I’ll never forget. We took pictures, breathed in the incredibly fresh air, and turned our faces to the sun whenever we got a chance. If it’s not already on your bucket list, add it. You won’t regret it. Now that my husband and I have started our family, we’re itching for our little one to be old enough to lace up some hiking boots and take to the highlands!

Fun Facts about the Highlands:

  • Ben Nevis is the tallest mountain in the British Isles.
  • Kilts were born and bred, starting in the Highlands.
  • The Highlands cover almost 10,000 sq miles
  • The Isle of Skye is home to the magic “Fairy Pools.”

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