The geologist and writer Archibald Geikie once noted; "nowhere in Europe does colour come more notably forward in landscape than in Scotland." From the Scottish Borders through the highlands and islands a walking or cycling tour in Scotland is a truly unforgettable experience. We pick our top 5 Scottish walking and cycling tours.
1. The West Highland Way
Loch Lomond seen from Conic Hill. Photo T Bennett: #MacsMoment 2014
The West Highland Way has been at the heart of Macs Adventure since the company was founded in 2003. Scotland's most popular long distance trail attracts walkers from far and wide, and aside from the spectacular highland scenery it is the warm hospitality and camaraderie amongst walkers that is often mentioned when people reminisce about walking the West Highland Way. Starting in the leafy suburbs of Glasgow the 96 mile route takes the walker past whisky distilleries, charming rural villages, along the shores of Loch Lomond, through the Trossachs National Park before emerging on the wild expanse of Rannoch Moor in the shadow of Buachaille Etive Mor. The walk continues on to Kinlochleven via the infamous 'Devil's Staircase' before reaching the UK's highest mountain Ben Nevis and the finishing point in Fort William. The West Highland Way is Scottish Highland scenery at its best. Note: our most popular trip is already fully booked for some dates in 2017, get in touch now to avoid disappointment.
A highland cow sits in front of Buachaille Etive Mor
2. Arran Coastal Way
Looking along Arran's beautiful coastline.
Arran is arguably Scotland's most beautiful island. Often described as Scotland in miniature, the landscape can only be described as stunning: from forests that stretch right to the coast, striking green pastures and the mountainous areas in the north of the island. The only way to explore this island is on foot. Visually stunning, Arran also has many historical sights to explore including the prehistoric stone circles on Machrie Moor, Kings Cave where Robert the Bruce is reported to have sheltered on his journeys to Ireland, the 2000 year old fort known as the Doon and the Neolithic Giant's Graves which pre-date the Egyptian pyramids. The Arran Coastal Way is a week long trip that takes in the best of the scenery including the highest point on the island, Goat Fell. Did we mention that Arran has its own brewery and distillery?
Arran's rolling hills. Thanks to Barrie Logue.
3. Scotland's Lochs & Glens
A typical view along the route.
Explore Scotland's lochs and glens by bike, soaking in the unique landscape of the Scottish Highlands. Begin your cycling adventure in the bustling holiday town of Callander, known as the gateway to the highlands, the town lies beneath wooded crags immediately south of the Highland Boundary Fault where the Highlands meet the Lowlands. After learning about Rob Roy Immerse yourself in rich clan history as you cycle past castles through the rugged Trossachs hills and then onto Highland Perthshire. Enjoy cycling alongside the tranquil Loch Katrine and perhaps a trip on the 100 year-old Sir Walter Scott steamship. Other notable sites on this week-long cycling trip include Loch Tay, The Falls of Dochart, Taymouth castle and the Victorian spa town of Pitlochry.
The Falls of Dochart
4. The Great Glen Way
The view from Corpach
Stretching 79 miles from Fort William in the west to Inverness in the east, the Great Glen Way takes you through beautiful forests, past peaceful canals and alongside brooding lochs, including the famous Loch Ness. The walking route follows the Great Glen fault where two tectonic plates previously collided forming the series of lochs and mountain ranges that divide Scotland. The walking is on well marked paths that are mostly canal and loch-side. Although a popular long distance trail, the Great Glen Way is much quieter than the West Highland Way. The small villages along Loch Ness are a real highlight, with Fort Augustus and Drumnadrochit being particularly pretty. The Great Glen Way is a fantastic Highland escape, challenging at times but overall easy enough to complete as your first long distance walk.
Urquhart Castle on the banks of Loch Ness
5. The Highlands and Isle of Skye: Rail & Hike
The Jacobite steam train on the Glenfinnan viaduct
Rail & hike holidays are a popular format, especially in countries where the rail journeys are spectacular. The Highlands and Isle of Skye Rail & Hike is one such trip which includes railway journeys on two of Britain's most spectacular and remote lines: the famous West Highland Line on the Jacobite steam train and the North Highland Line. Explore the largest of the inner Hebrides, Skye, home to breath-taking natural wonders such as The Old Man of Storr, the Quiraing and the Cuillin mountain range all of which can be seen on this walking tour. As well as Skye, time is spent in the cities of Edinburgh and Inverness and affords plenty of time to exploring castles such as Urquhart, ancient battlefields at the Culloden exhibition, Loch Ness, distilleries and centuries-old Highland estates.
The Old Man of Storr