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Hiking in Scotland: where to walk on the wild side

If you've got a head for the Highlands, and you’re happy to get your feet (very) dirty, these mountainous hikes in Jura, St Kilda and the Hebrides are perfect for you. Here are the most beautiful places for camping and hiking in Scotland, whether you're feeling the Cape Wrath, or you want to know more about Rannoch Moor.

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Isle of Jura, Scotland

Jura sits in the middle of the Inner Hebrides on the West of Scotland, which you can reach by ferry from Tayvallich on mainland Scotland. Whilst many of the Inner Hebrides are lush and green, Jura is mountainous and bare – perhaps that’s why the population is around 200. There are seven estates on the island of Jura, only one road, and of course, the whisky distillery. If you’re arriving by car you’ll be passing the distillery in Craighouse. It’s the perfect excuse to fill up your hip flask before embarking on the trek up to Corryvreckan Whirlpool – an underground mountain off the coast that turns into a whirlpool when the tides change.

How to get to the Isle of Jura, Scotland

There is a passenger ferry from Tayvallich on the mainland, but if you’re up for a road trip, you can catch the car ferry from Port Askaig on Islay. You can reach Islay by car or bus from Glasgow.

Cape Wrath, mainland Scotland

This is the most northwesterly point on mainland Scotland, but to reach it, you’ll have to take a small passenger boat from East Keoldale Pier, then take a mini bus for 11 miles along a dirt track road until you reach the Cape and the lighthouse. Once you reach it, you can make the return trip, or hike the further 15 miles to Sandwood Bay. The white and (occasionally) blue sea makes the ideal backdrop for a night of camping. Check out more of our the best beaches in the Hebrides and Highlands of Scotland here. What’s more, this route is only available over summer, and if you’d prefer to explore it with a group, check out the Ultra Runners of Cape Wrath – they run the 15 mile route every year. Tough stuff!

How to get to Cape Wrath, Scotland

You’ll have to drive up to Lairg on the north coast of Scotland, or, if you’re rather far away a far away to begin with, catch a flight to Inverness, then drive up to Lairg. From there, you can catch the ferry to Cape Wrath, which departs from Keoldale Pier every day from May to September. To get to Cape Wrath from here, you’ll have to take a small minibus, which doesn’t go over 15mph due to the bumpy road. The journey will take around 40 minutes. You could also hike from the pier to Cape Wrath, or vice versa – just make arrangements with your bus driver.

Knoydart Peninsula, mainland Scotland

This is a different version of a digital detox. On Knoydart Peninsula, there’s no mains electricity, and you’ll be off grid for most network providers. Don’t worry though – the Old Forge pub and the tiny waterfront village of Inveruie usually have rooms you can book into for your two-day mountain trek over the Peninsula. You can do the trek by foot from Kinlochhourn, Glenfinnan or Glen Dessary, or hop on the ferry from Mallaig and get to the Peninsula in comfort. Not keen on navigating the island alone? Wilderness Scotland offers trekking and sailing tours around the island, so you can explore in comfort.

How to get to Knoydart Peninsula, Scotland

Catch the ferry from Mallaig to Inveruie, which departs daily over summer, or challenge yourself to the 16 mile hike to Knoydart. You’ll be rewarded with stunning cliff face views, and you have the option to catch the ferry on the way back.

Rannoch Moor, north Scotland

This moor is hidden between Loch Lomond and the Cairngorms National Park, but it shouldn’t be over shadowed. This was actually where the classic Trainspotting was filmed, but to get to the exact location you’ll have to trek for 10 miles. Luckily, the Moor of Rannoch Hotel is there to save your feet if you don’t fancy wild camping. See more of Scotland’s incredible views (worth hiking for) here – have you seen the beach on the Isle of Harris?

How to get to Rannoch Moor, Scotland

You can reach Rannoch Moor easily with a train to Rannoch Station and Corrour Station. You can also drive on the A9 from Edinburgh or Glasgow – each journey will take a few hours, depending on the weather. There are multiple hikes and a handful of hotels too.

St Kilda, Outer Hebrides

St Kilda was famously abandoned in 1930 (if you ever go to Australia, you’ll notice many of the Kildian’s settled just outside of Melbourne in a suburb called St Kilda). Once it was abandoned, the island was acquired by the Marquess of Bute, a keen ornithologist, who gave the village to Scotland’s National Trust. Since then, the archipelago has become a sanctuary for 210 species of birds. You can visit the islands with Hebrides Cruises on board a converted vessel, and if you’re feeling daring, camp in Britain’s most remote camp site on the island of Hirta – 100 miles away from the mainland. This is one of the best places to see the Northern Lights, too.

How to get to St Kilda, Scotland

Hebrides Cruises offer an expedition around archipelago with knowledgeable guides, wildlife watching opportunities and hikes. You can also get to St Kilda on a day trip from the Isle of Skye.

Ready to explore more of Scotland? Book your flights, compare car hire from any main airport and check out the hotels in Scotland with Skyscanner.

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