The whole of Scotland offers superb opportunities for hillwalking and the freedom to roam responsibly in wilder parts of the countryside, with some of the finest Highland climbing areas in the ownership of bodies such as the National Trust for Scotland and the John Muir Trust (www.jmt.org); both permit year-round access. Bear in mind, though, restrictions may be in place during lambing and deerstalking seasons. It’s worthwhile picking up the booklet Hill Phones published by the Mountaineering Council of Scotland (MCofS; www.mountaineering-scotland.org.uk), which provides walkers with detailed information for hiking safely during the stalking season. In addition, the green signposts of the Scottish Rights of Way Society point to established paths and routes all over the country.
There are several Long-Distance Footpaths (LDPs), such as the well-known West Highland Way, which take between three and seven days to walk, though you can, of course, just do a section of them. Paths are generally well signposted and well supported, with a range of services from bunkhouses to baggage-carrying services, and are a great way to respond to the challenge of walking in Scotland without taking on the dizzy heights.
sun shining through winter treesThe excellent and reliable Ordnance Survey (OS) series are usually available from local tourist offices, which can also supply other local maps, safety advice and guidebooks/leaflets. A wide range of maps, are available from most of the good outdoor stores scattered around the country (most notably Tiso), which are normally staffed by experienced climbers and walkers, and are a good source of candid advice about the equipment you’ll need and favourite hiking areas.
For relatively gentle walking in the company of knowledgeable locals, look out for guided walks offered by rangers at many National Trust for Scotland, Forest Enterprise and Scottish Natural Heritage sites. These often focus on local wildlife, and the best can lead to some special sightings, such as a badger’s sett or a golden eagle’s eyrie.www.hillphones.info
Daily information for hill walkers about deerstalking activities (July– Oct).www.outdooraccess-scotland.com
All you need to know about the Scottish Outdoor Access Code.www.visitscotland.com
Wildlife highlights the fauna and flora you may spot on a walk.