Known for it’s cuddly highland cows, otherworldly rock formations, and eye watering scotch whiskey, Scotland is the perfect getaway for those wanting to experience raw adventure in the UK. This post will cover the highlights of our 10 day spring adventure through beautiful Scotland.
With so much of our time spent indoors the past year we decided to base the trip around walking 50 miles along the Northern section of the West Highland Way. We added Edinburgh and Isle of Skye as bookends to give us a well rounded tour of the country.
- Edinburgh, 3 days
- Hiking the West Highland Way, 4 days
- Isle of Skye, 3 days
What to Pack
If you travel to Scotland in spring, come prepared for downpour. During the hike, I wore water repellent trekking pants with waterproof hiking boots and sweat wicking top layers under a waterproof shell. There are lots of blog posts from experienced hikers that can guide you on exactly what supplies to bring for a multi-day hike in the highlands, I found this one to be helpful. I also brought city clothes in a roller bag that we trusted to baggage freedom while we were on the trail.
We took the train from London to Edinburgh and in just 5 hours we found ourselves in a medieval fairy tale. Edinburgh is in the top 5 most beautiful cities I’ve been to, full of history and gothic allure. It was the home of J.K. Rowling when she wrote the majority of the Harry Potter books and although none of the movies were filmed there, it serves major wizarding vibes. We enjoyed exploring the Royal Mile and and pub hopping through old town. The next day we visited Edinburgh castle, which has a great audio-tour that feels like being transported into Game of Thrones. We were struck by the friendliness of the people, which was especially great after spending most of the past year in lockdown. After 3 days eating and drinking our way through the city, we vowed to come back in winter for the Christmas markets.
West Highland Way
Crianlarich – Bridge of Orchy – Kings House – Kinlochleven – Fort Williams
The next morning we woke up early for a long distance taxi to take us to Crianlarich, our starting point for the West Highland Way. The town of Crianlarich is very small so the trailhead was easy to find. As we took our first steps into the forest, we felt our stresses melting away. After a few hours the trail gave way to a hilly, dry landscape where we spent the rest of the day marching toward pastel mountains in the distance. Eventually we made our way into a valley called the Bridge of Orchy. Although the walk had been mostly flat we were shockingly sore! Invest in good footwear!! We slept well that night, nervously anticipating how our bodies would feel after 3 more days.
- Eat/Stay: Bridge of Orchy Hotel
Our second day took us 13 miles to Kings House, along the iconic Scottish moors. We spotted a herd of Red Deer in the hills which was a welcome sight after feeling completely alone for so long. That night we stayed at Kings House Hotel which dates from 1750 in the aftermath of the Jacobite Uprising. Surrounded by mountains, the valley is famous for scenes from the James Bond movie SkyFall. We had an unforgettable dinner watching the deer and baby ducks foraging near the stream as the sun went down on Glen Coe.
- Eat/Stay: Kings House Hotel
The next day we set off for Kinlochleven. This day was by far the hardest but the scenery gave us a welcome distraction. We experienced all the diversity of the Scotland highlands; from mountain scrambling, hills, moors, lake views, and finally the descent into the town through a lush woodland. By the time we got to the town we were exhausted and grumpy but our mood was lifted when we noticed a small fairy garden along the road.
After a good nights rest we started our final day. There was a bit of scrambling to get out of Kinlochleven but we quickly reached Lairigmor aka “the big pass”. We shared the path with a herd of highland sheep, who kept us entertained by their shrieking bleats. Eventually we made our way into a gorge where everything was completely still and quiet. We tried to bottle that feeling of solitude but before we knew it Fort Williams was in sight and we began the descent into the city.
We felt elated by our accomplishment of hiking 50 miles but also a bit sad that this chapter of our Scotland adventure was over. Our walk had been a peaceful escape from our busy lives where time to think was abundant and our only job was to walk until we reached the next town. Although we were sore, we felt recharged. That night we celebrated with a lobster dinner beneath a spectacular pink sunset over the shores of Loch Linnhe.
Isle of Skye
The next morning we rented a car from Fort Williams and drove to the Isle of Skye, stopping briefly to explore Glenfinnan viaduct (famous for the Hogwarts train scene) and Dunvegan Castle. During the drive we listened to Dram Talk podcast to learn about island whiskeys we were about to taste.
After crossing the bridge onto Isle of Skye we wove our way to Slingachan, known for the starting point of the Black Cuillin, the UK’s most challenging mountain range. We were so exhausted from the trek that we didn’t do anymore hiking while we were on the island but we would have loved to climb Old Man of Storr. Although we had a car, driving on Skye was stressful due to many roads being single lane so we took a tour to see the highlights including the Fairy Pools, Fairy Glen, Kilt Rock and others. The weather didn’t cooperate due to heavy wind and rain but the tour operator kept us entertained with his heavy Scottish accent and questionably authentic pirate slang. We ended our time on Skye with an indulgent lunch at Three Chimneys, which we were very lucky to get a table at as they had just reopened!
- Eat/Drink: Three Chimneys (make a reservation as soon as you read this!! It books up months ahead), Seumas Bar, Talisker
- Stay: Slingachan Hotel
Hope you enjoyed this summary! Please reach out if you’re planning a trip – I’d love to share my other tips! 🙂