There’s few places more beautiful and remote then the Scottish Highlands, so where better to grab your day pack and head out on foot for a days adventure over the magnificent mountains, serene lakes, through the rolling mists and exploring the fairy-tale like landscapes inspiring many a Hollywood movie.
Trail runners and hikers will love the challenge with the backdrop of picture-perfect views, ancient castles and fresh Scottish air.
Island of Hoy, Orkney Archipelago
Leave the truck behind and take a ferry across to the island of Hoy, walk along some of Britain’s highest sea cliffs and enjoy the iconic red sandstone sea stack, known as the Old Man of Hoy.
Along the way keep your eyes out for skuas and peregrine falcons which hunt along the cliffs and on a clear day, you can see as far as Cape Wrath on Scotland’s north coast. The track here is well-defined and easy to navigate.
The island of Hoy is in the Orkney archipelago, the islands hold historic Neolithic sites, seal colonies and tall sandstone cliffs which make for a great day trip from the mainland when travelling the North Coast 500.
You can park in the secure, long stay carpark in Scrabster, operated by Scrabster Harbour Trust and just 800m from the terminal. Tickets can be purchased from the Northlink Terminal.
Catch the 1h 30 ferry across to Stromness and then hop on the 30 minute ferry to Hoy Island. The hike should take around 4 hours round trip.
Stac Pollaidh, Assynt
Stac Pollaidh is a favourite for tourists and locals alike to hike in Scotland. Around a 2-4 hour hike and standing at just 613m, once you reach the top you will be rewarded with jaw dropping 360-degrees views, which is why we recommend it’s well adding this one to your North Coast 500 to do list.
With stunning views over Assynt to the north and the Summer Isles as well as Achitibuie to the south and west, its 360 degrees of beauty. The track is well laid out, climbing up steep winding paths, however the climb to the ridge is steep and its a bit of a scramble to reach the true summit but its pure wilderness and provides panoramic views second to none to well worth the effort.
Start your hike at the Stac Pollaidh car park on the banks of Loch Lurgainn.
There is a circular route which takes you around the base of the pinnacles, or you can return the same way if you’d rather.
2-4 hour hike.
Faraid Head, Durness
A flat 8.5 kilometre loop track loop, near Kinlochbervie which has stunning views of the bluffs and ocean with beautiful wild flowers along its route.
Puffins, seals and even minke whales also make their homes around the headland of the quiet haven of Faraid Head. Head across the white sands of Balnakeil beach and onto the trail through the dunes for a beautiful coastal hike with great views over Cape Wrath and lots of nesting birds on the cliffs.
3 miles north of Durness
Around a 2 hour walk
Baddidarrach to Achmelvich Beach and Alltan’abradhan
Another great route for the wildlife enthusiast, keep an eye out along Achmelvich beach as basking sharks, seals, ospreys, otters and white-tailed eagles can quite often be seen.
The coastline of Assynt is littered with picture-perfect sandy beaches interspersed with sea-stacks and rugged cliffs. Start on the trail from Baddidarrach in Lochinver, then head towards the stunning Achmelvich Beach (no dogs allowed in high season) and follow the path to a hidden cove and old mill in ruins. Also worth a visit is Hermit’s Castle, Europes smallest castle.
Siloch Mountain, Wester Ross
For those looking for a challenge, Siloch munro (mountain) otherwise known as ‘the Spear’ is a tough, full days walk with some steep, rough terrain and at times pathless but it’s great for hikers who love a challenging munro and the summit views over Loch Maree and into the Fisherfield wilderness are sensational.
The picture-postcard Loch Maree is home to over 60 islands with numerous rare birds as well as sea-eagles which were reintroduced here in the 1990s. The islands have been designated a Natural Reserve to protect them and their habitat.
The summit is at 981m
One of the better known and most northerly mountain in Scotland, Ben Hope is an isolated peak rewarding its hikers with a magnificent viewpoint.
3 kilometres south of the head of Loch Hope, it’s a simple Munro to tackle and a great way to spend a day taking in Scotlands beautiful highlands.
There are two routes, a quick and easy trail starting from near Dun Dornailgil broch to the South, or a longer, harder route from the shores of Loch Hope which includes a bit of scrambling. Either way, it’s a rewarding climb with stunning views of the vast wilderness and the ocean beyond.